Random Japan: The Kit Kat Post

So before I set about giving away at Christmastime the massive collection of different flavours of Kit Kat that I’d amassed (56, give or take), I decided to catalogue and take a few photos. I owned everything you see in the photos, at one point or another.

Shown flavours include Green Tea, Cola/Lemon Soda dbl pack, Cherry Blossom Green Tea, Bitter Almond, Sweetened toasted soy flour with mochi (I think), Cherry, Raspberry, Cherry Blossom Milk Tea, Semi-Sweet, Sparkling Strawberry (different than regular strawberry), vanilla, royal milk tea.

This might be a better view. Here at the left we can see apple and Melon, and along the bottom we see Ginger Ale, Dark Chocolate, Dark Chocolate Chunky, Green Tea Chunky, Sweet Potato Chunky, Banana Chunky.

I had amassed a lot of some flavours, and very few of others. Some were rarer and harder to find. Some were given as gifts. Some are… well, they’re old. I mean I’ve kept them in the fridge, but I might’ve been keeping Ginger Ale in the fridge since it was released 3 years ago. Luckily shitty chocolate has infinite shelf life.

Here’s a few of the single ones I have. That’s regular (yeah, they’ve got regular Kit Kats in Japan), Sweet Potato, Chestnut maybe, Anin dofu (a desert made of tofu that tastes like marzipan), and the ubiqutous cheese.

These little mini-kit-kats would be sold by the bag, 20 a piece. It’s part of the culture of Japan, of sharing things particularly in the workplace. You bring in a bag of unique candy, and they’re usually themed by season (warm sweet potatoes for the winter) or by location, and then you bring back a ‘to-share’ bag to the office to show and tell and share about wherever it is you went.

The Cheese Kit Kats come in a gift-box.

Here we have… well, the giftsets of Kit Kat. They come in pretty boxes with 12 little mini Kit Kats in them, and these are the upscale buy-them and share-them Kit Kats. They’re awesome.

Also notice: they have city or region names on them. Funny story, this is because these are generally only sold in the area listed. Go to Yokohama, get the Strawberry Cheese Cake Kit Kat. Or, apparently, Anin Dofu is also a Yokohama flavour. Kawagoe for Sweet Potato, Shizuoka for Wasabi. I’m sure there is greater cultural significance to this that’s lost on me, but frankly? It’s not that important.

You see, all of these items are ALSO available at Narita Airport. All of the gift-set flavours shown, plus a healthy assortment of the small bar/boxes. There’s a specialty foods shop or candy shop, near the food court, on the 4t floor of Terminal 1. It is import Kit Kat mecha. I found 4 flavours in Tokyo that they didn’t have at this shop. I found 14 flavours at that shop that I never saw anywhere in Tokyo. It’s worth finding, and don’t stop at the first shop that sells Wasabi or Sakura Kit Kats. Keep up the search!

So I realize this is crazy.

I don’t really collect much of anything more. I’ve stopped buying most comics, I get rid of graphic novels as often as I buy new ones. I kinda hit critical mass on the toys, and I only picked up one or two on each of the last few trips to Japan. But the urge to collect hasn’t gone away. For example: I also have a slightly disturbing collection of miniature foods… I buy them when I miss being in Japan, or just to cheer me up. Kind of like the Kit Kats. Though I assure you my current weight has almost nothing to do with them. The irony of my insane collection of chocolate? I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, I’m much more of a fan of potato chips than cookies.

I just like unique and strange things, and unique and strange flavours, and the combination of the familiar and the outre and the fact that a lot of them taste pretty delicious.

But to the outside observer, like my husband whom I dragged into no fewer than 100 Japanese convenience stores looking for “rare Kit Kats”, this must seem insane. I am, literally, hoarding food. That’s the kind of behaviour that gets you put on special television shows.

I don’t want to be on a special television show.

So at Christmas I put one of every flavour I had into a bag and put that away, collection intact. Then I spent a month giving away everything else. Sharing it with friends in the spirit of the season. Except for a small bowl of singles sitting on the table leftover from my Christmas party, they’re all gone now. They were delicious, and weird, and outre. Adventurous friends tried some, less-adventurous friends pretended to (I found a sealed Wasabi Kit Kat on my bookshelf a few days ago). But yeah, now I am no longer… Well alright maybe I am crazy because I still kept one of each, but at least that’s a blogging project.

Oh, I will blog each flavour individually soonish. I just wanna make sure I have the time to do it first.

So that is the story of the Kit Kats. Or at least as much as I can explain. The rest I seriously recommend tracking down for yourself, at your local Asian candy store, importer, or online at http://www.asianfoodgrocer.com/ every once in a while.

But honestly? Get yourself to Japan, even if only to the airport gift shops.

– Chris

14 Replies to “Random Japan: The Kit Kat Post”

  1. Incredible. So, um, are there like, Kit Kat flavors that one might in North America expect to find with chocolate? Like, peanut butter? Caramel? Peppermint maybe?

    Anyway, amazing. I think collecting is fun, too. A few months ago I more or less randomly decided I would start collecting Sherlock Holmes books. I do like the character, but I’m not really a dedicated fan; I just concluded that there are so many endless pastiches and revivals that if I proceed in a dilatory fashion, a collection of them could keep me occupied for a very very long time.


  2. Iā€™m sure there is greater cultural significance to this
    The Japanese do seem to be very into having regional specialties. I’ve seen sweet potatoes as a Kawagoe specialty in other contexts.

  3. I’ve had the salt & caramel one before, but apparently that’s child’s play. Hell, it even tasted kind of good. Lesson learned: Never bet against the Japanese and their love for combining two good tastes into one bad one.

  4. Matt- Nope. I think there’s been one or two caramel ones over the past 8 years, but not regularly available. No peanut butter. No mint.

    Actually, mint is a VERY rare candy flavour in Japan. Almost non-existent.

    Yeah the collecting urge is there for sure, although I manage to keep it in check most of the time. My husband has a collection of ties–hundreds of them. That’s still only on 3×10′ wall of them though. A friend of mine has a whole basement full of import toys, and he’s always acquiring more. I think the collecting thing is part of why I like nerd Japan so much. Heh. Congrats on starting your own…!

    James- Totally makes sense. Wherever we travelled in Japan there’d be little ‘regional’ snack foods. Hokkaido certainly is proud of their dairy, for example… I guess Strawberry Cheese Cake is a Western food, from the port of Yokohama? šŸ™‚

    Tina- Yeah, that seemed to be the least favourite of people who tried them at work. It’s… it’s not terrible? Not my favourite though. šŸ™‚

    TCP- Actually some of them really are great. The cola and lemon-soda flavours are amazing.

  5. Chris, thanks for the response. I suppose that my dream of a mint Kit Kat will have to remain in the realm of Skittlebrau, and my dream of a peanut butter Kit Kat… will have to be satisfied with a peanut butter Twix. Heh.

  6. I so wish I could go exploring for some of these Kit Kats. I saw a green tea flavor during a lay over in the Narita airport on my way back home, but the package was way too big to take back home with the huge stack of sweets my mother and I were already buying. There’s really so much exploring for foods I’d love to do in Japan, but my picky eating habits will probably get in the way. I lose weight every time I go there since I can’t stomach fish and won’t eat pork. ^_^;;

  7. One thing I wish I picked up more of in Japan were the crazy Kit Kats I saw there. If I’m lucky maybe the local Asian markets will have a Dark Chocolate or Green Tea one, yet I’ve never seen anything like the ones I saw over there. And even then I never saw this beautiful madness you’ve captured here.

  8. Hi, nice collection. Just to clarify, you don’t have any of the boxes left that you would be willing to sell?

    With reference to mint kitkats from ‘Bitter Matt’, Australia had them 5 years ago called ‘Mint chill’. Look em up!


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