Kit-Kat; Bend Me, Shape Me, Anyway You Want Me

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Hello Kit-Kat fans. Hmmm, we really need a name for Kit-Kat fans don’t we, like Trekker. Kit-Katatonics? Kit-Kategorically insane? Kit-Katastrophically poor social skills? I’ll work on it.

Anyway Kat lovers (Katchers? Oooh  like that one, Kit-Katchers.) today marks what is probably going to be my last Kit-Kat review for some time. My supply of Japanese stock has drastically declined and I’m too poor to import more at the moment. Yes, I know, you’re shocked. You figured I’d be rolling in kickbacks from big chocolate by now, but alas no. Shockingly Nestle have not seen fit to pay me for my efforts. Probably has something to do with how I compared one of their products to shit the other week. So unless Nestle U.K. starts cranking out new flavours or somebody donates me some this is my stash entirely depleted.

Also today is a weird one. Having just done so many weeks of new flavours this week is more about shape and format changes than anything else. So without further ado let’s dig into.

Caramel Pudding Flavour Kit-Kat Bites

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Kit-Kat Bites are a variant of Kit-Kat I have not discussed before on this blog but I have come across them ‘in the wild’ as it were. They consist of a series of wafers and chocolate crème, just like a Kit-Kat, but wrapped up in a chocolate ball rather than as a bar. I haven’t reviewed them before because, well, to me they aren’t Kit-Kats. My love of Kit-Kats lies in how the Japanese have taken something so British and radically changed it for their own palate and their own culture. But it still has to fundamentally be a Kit-Kat. Wafer, crème, chocolate, two bars and you can break the bars in two. To me these aren’t Kit-Kats but another creation entirely. But, a friend got me them and it would be very rude not to review them.

So this review is going to be discussing the concept of a Kit-Kat bite itself and also this particular flavour, caramel pudding. Hopefully this doesn’t taste too much like pudding because I’m really not a fan. Custard, quiche, flan, all those various egg based treats I find have a horrible texture to them. I have no issue with scrambled eggs weirdly but custard just puts me right off. Caramel, on the other hand, is one of my favourite flavours so I’m hoping this is a lot more caramel than pudding.

The packet is baffling. Most of it seems to make some kind of sense. We have the logo, fine, it’s still too big and it still doesn’t need the red border but okay you have to have the logo, I get it. We have a picture of some caramel pudding, again, fine. We have multiple pictures of the bites themselves, again, this is fine and I appreciate that we get multiple images since it sells the idea you’re getting a bag full of bites. The only kind of nod towards cleverness is the web of caramel, which is okay but spoiled a little by the solid white background. Not exactly the most interesting colour.

Those are all expected Kit-Kat elements. What I cannot comprehend is the massive logo in the bottom which says “Big” in English and “ritoru” (little) in Japanese. Well not really Japanese, katakana symbols but for an English word. The Japanese use katakana to represent words borrowed from other languages. For example caramel pudding has no translation into Japanese so they say “kyarameru purin” and spell it using katakana letters. That’s all fine and dandy, but big (okii) and little (chisai) have words in Japanese, why say big little? And why is half in roman letters and the other half in katakana? And why say big little at all? What does it mean? I mean it’s the second largest design element after the logo. Hell, they even have it written around the edge of the wrapper. I have frankly no idea what it could mean at all. Does it mean the bites are a mix of big and little? No, because I opened it and they all seem to be of uniform size. Maybe this is a big packet of little bites? Well, maybe but it’s the same size as all the other Kit-Kat bite packets. My best guess is that they’ve renamed the entire brand from Kit-Kat bites to Kit-Kat Big Little but I’d have to see other packets to confirm this. If you know the answer to this mystery please tell me because I am frankly baffled.

So that’s enough confusion, how do they taste?

Firstly I have to tell you about the smell, opening this packet unleashed one of the nicest smells in the world. It smells like cinema popcorn freshly popped with toffee applied. Or a fudge shop. Basically it smells of hot caramel and that earthy, nutty yet sweet aroma happens to be one of my favourites. It’s also not something even caramel sweets usually smell of, let alone caramel flavoured chocolate. It also doesn’t smell of egg which is a good sign.

The Bites themselves aren’t really balls but more like misshapen cubes with the corners filed down. The balance of chocolate to wafer is waaaaay off for a Kit-Kat. Or anything really. Wafer is flavourless crunch, you need it for texture, nothing more. With a regular Kit-Kat you get a nice big slab of chocolate on top but with these the chocolate evenly coats the wafer thus you get much less chocolate to wafer in each bite. As such the first thing you taste is likely to be bland, inoffensive wafer. The chocolate only comes through as you chew it.

I will say this, the chocolate does seem to be slightly better than regular nestle chocolate. It may still have the gritty problem most nestle chocolate does but it’s hard to say since the wafer gets everywhere. It’s actually a bit like the chocolate on a milk dud.

The caramel pudding flavour is quite hard to pick up on really. It’s definitely in there, particularly in the aftertaste but the quantity of wafer deadens it. I wouldn’t call this pudding. You get caramel, yes, but nothing pudding like at all. Mostly what you taste is wafer, then regular chocolate, then caramel and then an after taste which is bitter and frankly a bit sickly at the same time. There are so many Kit-Kat flavours that taste of caramel, like the sweet potato flavours for example, but the flavours called caramel mostly taste of sickly sweet nothing. These are pretty horrible actually and as I continue to eat them they’re making me feel a bit ill. A shame because they smell so promising but mostly they’re just gross.

70% Cocoa Solids

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A British flavour and one with a few stories behind it.

Britain as a country is increasingly becoming more and more obsessed with food, where it comes from, how it’s made and that it’s delicious. Despite the jokes about British cooking being terrible we’re 8th in the world for Michelin stars as a nation with London being 6th in the world as the city with the most (surprising nobody Japan and Tokyo are number one in each category, they really love their food over there). Most of those jokes really come from American G.I.s in World War Two stationed in the U.K. and eating our food, neglecting to realise that whilst America’s food supply was largely unaffected by the war Britons were rationed and had to make do with things like powdered egg. Have you ever eaten powdered egg? It’s shit. There’s no getting around it, it’s fucking disgusting. But they knew it was disgusting back then too. We didn’t eat it because we liked it or because we didn’t know better. We ate it because there was no alternative.

But a generation of kids grew up learning to cook in the war and their legacy ruined British cuisine for a good 20 – 30 years; really only starting to recover in the late 70’s. Flash forward to now and cookery programmes are almost as ubiquitous on British T.V. as they are in Japan.*

Consequently we’ve all learned that we’re supposed to find out the percentage of cocoa solids in our chocolates and that some chocolate bars can have as little as 15%. I’m not sure what the ideal is but I’ve had a 92% cocoa chocolate bar once and that was fowl. I think you’re supposed to aim for 70 to 80 percent. And so preying on vague understandings gleaned from the television we have 70% cocoa solids Kit-Kat.

This is also a bar where a higher proportion of the proceeds goes to the cocoa plan. You can find out more about the cocoa plan here.

Basically it’s a project run by Nestle, in conjunction with Fair Trade, to invest in cocoa growing nations such as The Ivory Coast by buildings schools, investing in new agricultural equipment and supporting farmers with new disease resistant cocoa crops. I haven’t been able to find out much about it but I’m slightly dubious. Nestle does not have a good reputation for ethical treatment of Africans, particularly in the realm of freebies. For those who don’t know the most egregious scandal Nestle was involved in was giving free samples of formula milk to mothers in Africa and promoting it heavily as a better alternative to breast milk. Said free samples were worked out to last just long enough for the mother’s own milk to dry up. At which point the freebies were cut off forcing poor African mother’s to buy milk they struggled to afford. It’s a similar tactic to drug dealers and just a monstrous strategy all round exploiting some of the world’s poorest and neediest people. If you want to know more there is a wealth of information out there and I’m not the man to get it from. My understanding though is that this practise has ceased now. I’m slightly dubious about giving farmer’s disease resistant crops since it sounds like a similar scam to what Monsanto has done with disease resistant corn but I have no evidence to back up that feeling at all and what information I could find out about the cocoa plan has seemed broadly positive.

It’s also part of Fair Trade now, as are all standard Kit-Kats. Fair Trade isn’t quite the angel it makes itself out to be either but it’s still better to buy Fair than to not.

So, possibly dubious but well meaning politics aside how is it?

The wrapper is a standard Kit-Kat wrapper but shinier (oooh, shiny) with a swirl of dark brown and highlights in gold. The colour choice and simplicity really sell that this is a sophisticated, adult product. I love the simplicity of British Kit-Kats. When you compare it to the utter mess of Japanese designs it’s striking how much better the use of a few elements is. It really makes it stand out on a shelf and makes it much more aesthetically appealing and cohesive.

The chocolate is surprisingly dark, almost black. This is darker than most dark chocolate I’ve eaten and has that distinctive cocoa smell to boot.

I like dark chocolate, I like the richness, I like the complexity of the taste mixing bitter notes with sweet ones and even tangy ones. This is good dark chocolate. It could stand to be a little sweeter for my palate but you can’t fault this at all. This is definitely an adult Kit-Kat and a Kit-Kat for chocolate purists. It’s tough to eat a four bar serving though. The richness and bitterness is very powerful and makes it hard to eat more than one bar at once.

Sometimes simple changes are the best. Take a Kit-kat but give it better chocolate, and you get a Kit-Kat with better chocolate, and what’s not to like about that.

*This is a huge exaggeration. Nobody will ever come close to matching the proliferation of food on Japanese T.V. Formats and ideas that have nothing to do with food will just stop and eat some food frequently. I’ve seen episodes of anime stop to give me a recipe for making curry. In fact I watched a programme starring SMAP** once. SMAP are a boy band and so most of the programme was them singing, which you’d expect. Then they interviewed Harisson Ford about Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull which is outside the normal boy band purview but is still within the realms of sanity. Then they cooked him dinner?! In fact here is a video.

Harrison Ford and Smap Part 2 by smokyo

Marvel at Ford’s utter confusion as to what is going on. He does like the soup though

. I’d love this! I’d love to watch a show where every week the Spice Girls make a celebrity his tea. You can call it “Cooking with Spice.” It would be a mega hit. I’m right here Channel 4, I’m not doing anything right now, call me. Let’ make it happen.

**On another tangent one of the guys from SMAP once got arrested for being drunk and naked in a public park early in the morning. When arrested he reportedly told the police “what’s wrong with being naked?” This is, and always will be, my favourite thing about SMAP and the most interesting thing I know about any Japanese singer.

5 Finger Kit-Kat

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Five Finger Kit-Kat

FIVE! FINGER! KIT! KAT!

I

I don’t even

FIVE FINGER KIT-KAT!!!!!!!

Japan gets fucking lemon vinegar. That’s based on a drink people outside Japan don’t even know is a drink. Australia gets honeycomb flavours. We get the same original style, but with an extra finger.

This, this is supposed to be innovation right here. This is British ingenuity. This is possibly a symbol of everything wrong with this country.

Five, finger Kit-Kat.

What can I say? What can I possibly say? This has utterly defeated me. My niche on the internet is applying thought and care to something ephemeral, this should be right up my alley. But what can I say? It’s the same but more? That’s all it is, the same but more.

Five, finger, kit, kat.

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The wrapper has a yellow streak on it. That…that’s something.

*sob*

A five finger Kit-Kat.

Why five fingers, why make more? Don’t they know this country is struggling with obesity? Do we need more chocolate? Were people crying out for this? Were people honestly looking at the four finger version and thinking; “I like that, but it just doesn’t fill me up?” No, no, nobody was thinking that.

A five finger Kit-Kat.

I almost admire the chutzpah. I almost admired the testicular fortitude this required. To put this out there takes balls of epic proportions. Balls that are exactly like regular balls, but bigger. Almost like a Kit-Kat that’s, exactly like a regular Kit-Kat….but bigger.

A five finger Kit-Kat.

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To look at the inventiveness from Japan and the interest that sparks on the internet and then to turn around and do this. It’s a failure of imagination of epic proportions.

I imagine men, men in suits, men with cigars. Mad men type men talking like this;

“Right guys, we need to come up with a genius idea, something that will capture imaginations, something that people will love”

“I got it boss!”

“What is it kid?”

“We’ll do a four fingered Kit-Kat….but instead of four fingers.”

“Yeah?”

“Five fingers.”

And then everyone applauds and sends out for more hookers and blow.

A five fingered Kit-Kat.

Wow.

Just, wow.

You know what, this has inspired me. This has inspired me to write a haiku.

Five fingered Kit-Kat,

In your laziness you show,

a strange genius

Well. I guess I’d better eat it.

It tastes like a Kit-Kat. It’s been so long since I’ve eaten a regular Kit-Kat I have actually forgotten what they taste like. They’re nicer than I remember.

Five Fingered Kit-Kat. Like a Kit-Kat, but with one more finger.

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