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So what have I been writing about these last few months. We’ve done some film reviews, we’ve started a long series all about the Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles, I’ve discussed adaptation extensively.

Hmmm, I think it might be time for me to talk about Kit-Kats.

Yes, Kit-Kats. Despite not having lived in Japan for 3 years I have retained my ability to find special Kit-Kats remains. This time it’s due to a donation from a friend of mine so thank you Kaori Yoshikawa, and if you’re interested in reading about Kit-Kats then you should all thank her too.

Incidentally if anyone in future wants to donate some kit-kats to me to review, or any Japanese foodstuffs, I am more than happy to do that. You can find me on twitter at RAdamHalls if you have a suggestion.

So Kaori gave me three flavours, two of which are green tea variants and the final one of which is a passion fruit flavour. I think I’ve discussed green tea enough on this blog to be honest and these flavours don’t seem to be adding anything new so we’ll just talk about the packaging briefly and then move on to the real star of the show, passion fruit.

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So let’s start with the pink one. Well it’s a very attractive box, the contrast of pink and green works nicely and it avoids being overtly cluttered. We have a picture of a cup of matcha which looks very inviting (do not be tricked, matcha looks significantly nicer than it tastes ) and some beautiful pink sakura blossoms. All in all this is a well composed Kit-Kat package.

Oh and there’s some Kanji on there, and hey! Just for a change this is Kanji I can read, one of them says Sakura and the others say Matcha and…

Oh hell!

This is a new flavour isn’t it. I’m going to have to review it again.

Arse biscuits.

Yes, a little research and reading the back of the packet confirms it, this Kit-Kat is flavoured with both matcha which I’ve reviewed many, many times before and sakura (i.e. cherry blossom) which I have not reviewed before.

I have had sakura tea before though and my main impression of it was that it was really salty. Really salty. Saltier than you’re imagining. Picture some seawater, now add some salt, now boil it for a bit so some of the water evaporates, now ejaculate into it. Saltier.

Which is not what you’d expect something called cherry blossom to taste of. You’d probably imagine there’d be some cherry aspect to it. But nope, just water and salt. Does that sound like an appetising cup of tea to you? Probably not, and if it does consider seeking a doctor, your tastebuds are broken.

It was basically a thoroughly unpleasant experience and not one I ever hoped to re-create so you can imagine I’m absolutely thrilled to have to try a sakura matcha Kit-Kat.

For any Japanese people reading this that’s an example of sarcasm, you might refer to it as an “American joke” and look bemused.

Oh well, before we get to that let’s look at the individual wrapper.

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It’s actually one of the best individual wrappers I can remember seeing and uses a pattern that’s completely new too. Rather than having one massive Kit-Kat logo in the middle that spoils the design it has a pattern of smaller red Kit-Kat logos repeating along with sakura blossoms, kanji and the English name all set against a patterned pink background. It’s very attractive and it makes sense, you have already bought the product by the time you see the indivdual wrapper, you don’t need yet another big red logo slapped in the middle. It’s not like you’ve forgotten in the time it tales you to take the individual wrapper out of the box that you’re eating a Kit-Kat.

Or does Kit-Kat think that people will forget? That because it’s pink and not red they’ll undergo some kind of existential crisis and break down into some kind of fit if they don’t see a Kit-Kat logo?

Nah, it’s probably a marketing rule thing.

It’s in the tasting that I have to own up to a problem with these particular three flavours. They didn’t make it through their journey over seas and then sit around in my flat in the middle of the hottest heatwave in the U.K. on record entirely unscathed. Instead they’ve melted into one big chocolatey wafery mess that will probably prove a detriment to the eating somewhat.

You never know though, it might be an improvement.

But with that in mind let’s give it a shot, sakura matcha. How does it taste?

If you said like every other matcha Kit-Kat I’ve ever eaten then…you’re wrong actually. I know I was surprised too. I went into this fully expecting it to be boring and samey but this is nice, really really nice and quite distinct from other green tea or matcha flavours. For starters it isn’t too sweet, nor is it too bitter. If anything the main flavour is cream. It does taste of green tea, obviously but it has a really strong, smooth creamy feel to it that it is absolutely delightful both flavour and texture wise.

And then in the aftertaste the saltiness of the sakura comes through. But whereas in tea it was disgusting in chocolate it works. It cuts the sweetness considerably and livens up the taste buds so the green tea and creamy notes really sing. If you’ve ever had a white fudge pretzel flip (I have confused every non-American and every Brit not my age) it’s similar only not as sweet and with a subtle green tea flavour to it. It’s really very moreish actually and works extremely well with a real cuppa.

This one was a bit of a revelation, I expected something disgusting but it’s a complete and utter winner.

So what about the other flavour?

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Well no luck with the Kanji this time but some research reveals this is Uji Matcha, basically a kind of very refined, very high quality matcha. I’m not the world’s biggest matcha fan and have absolutely no idea what Uji matcha tastes like or how it is distinguished from regular matcha.

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The package is okay but a touch busy. I like the use of black as  main colour, it really let’s the colours of green and red work together rather than clashing and adds a touch of sophistication. It’s also something I associate with Japnese tea houses which often have polished black wood as their main colour with highlights of red, gold and green. The off kilter design reduces the clutter and I really like the umbrella which is one of those quintessentially Japanese things. The only part I don’t like really is patterned cloth in pink and purple which adds a clashing colour and makes it unclear what exactly we’re looking at. Rather than a box of powdered tea it makes the green section look like some kind of cloth which is kind of confusing.

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The individual wrapper is similar to the sakura matcha just not as nice. Same repeating pattern but instead of gorgeous sakura leaves and pink we have tea leaves and green. It’s still a great wrapper though and so much more adult and inviting than most Kit-Kat wrappers.

Flavour wise it’s green tea, bitter but quite fresh and with a very refreshing after taste. It’s also not too sweet and, like the sakura matcha, surprisingly creamy. It’s a green tea Kit-Kat ultimately which are a dime a dozen but it’s a really good green tea Kit-Kat which can’t be said for most of them.

And it manages to avoid the soapy and waxy  chocolate problem

Finally we have passion fruit.

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The box is a really lovely colour. It’s a got gradient fade on it and is in various hues of yellow and orange but it just looks so warm, summery and inviting. It’s also not too busy for a change and I like the layout choice of using the trail of biscuit to lead your eye down from the Kit-Kat logo to the picture in the bottom right.

I do have two massive problems with it though.

Firsly the colour of the Kit-Kat in the picture is really close to the colour of the background so it kind of blends in. If it were me I’d have made the bottom right of the box purple so the Kit-Kat picture really pops. Also the pictures of the passion fruit are too small, not nearly delicious looking enough and they’re red? Now I’m not someone who use passion fruit all the time or anything but in my experience passion fruit are purple aren’t they? In fact i just did a google image search and got this back.

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That is a decidedly purple fruit, am I not right? There are few things in life more purple. Grimace from McDonalds, The Phantom and Ronnie (y’know Purple Ronnie? Nope, just confused all non-brits. Google it Americans) maybe but a passion fruit hAs to rank highly on your top ten list of purple things. However, the one on the box is, at best, maroon. Not the colour of a passion fruit at all. And that seems like such a weird design choice considering purple and yellow are contrasting colours and go great on packaging together. I wonder if the artist is colour blind, or has some kind of fear of the colour purple. Maybe he read The Color Purple the novel and forever associates it with lesbians. Maybe he got so distracted thinking of lesbians that he couldn’t possibly paint a purple passion fruit. I mean a passion fruit is kind of yonnic (I just gave you an awesome new word peeps, it’s the vagina equivalent of phallic, use it and impress your friends) so I can see where the lesbian fantasies might start.

Do you ever stop, read what you just wrote and have a little cry? No, me either. I stop, read what I’ve written and shrug nonchalantly, like a Frenchman. I’m half cut and it’s a fucking Kit-Kat, you’re all lucky I’m this coherent.

Where was I? Oh yeah, maroon passion fruits.

I can only assume it was done so the fruit wouldn’t clash with the Kit-Kat logo but it’s not something they’ve ever been concerned with before.

The individual wrapper is even worse, look at it.

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It’s plain yellow with a slight gradient, a Kit-Kat logo that is absolutely massive and loads and loads of text. No interesting or pleasurable aesthetic features just text on a plain background. What a terrible lazy effort.

Well, with packaging this bad, hopefully the Kit-Kat tastes better.

Unfortunately it isn’t great. For starters not only is it waxy, really waxy, waxier than any Kit-kat I’ve had recently but it is also weirdly gritty. I was prepared to put that down to the abuse it’s suffered in the heat but neither of the green tea flavours were gritty in the slightest and this is unpleasantly gritty to the extent that its hard to eat.

The flavour isn’t too bad. It starts off bland and then hits you with a really powerful hint of fresh, fruity passion fruit flavour. It is unmistakably passion fruit and if you like that flavour (and I do, I’m a massive passion fruit fan) it’s very realistic and very nice. And then it fades almost instantly back to blandness again.

It isn’t too sweet at least, being part of the “adult sweetness” range and that can be a problem for passion fruit flavoured products.

Overall I’d call this one a dud. Although it does a nice job of recreating the flavour of passion fruit the texture is simply disgusting and hard to get past.

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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.

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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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The end is nigh my friends, here we have the last two Kit-Kat flavours from my massive Kit-Kat box. It has been a long strange journey, we’ve had green tea and roast green tea. We’ve had two cheesecakes and some traditional Japanese sweets, We’ve been to a place that technically doesn’t exist and ignored some that do. And now we’re ending it all with some wasabi and some bright purple potatoes. Never let it be said I don’t end with a bang.

Shizukoa Kanto Wasabi

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I have had Wasabi before. I was not best pleased, my reaction was basically, this is unpleasant, no, actually it’s creamy, no wait it’s unpleasant, wait, no, creamy again, no, wait, unpleasant. Not impressed.

I am pleased to find out this comes from Shizuoka prefecture though. Last time I got these I bought them from Tokyo, hence I naturally assumed they were a Tokyo thing but actually they come from Shizuoka, that makes a heck of a lot more sense as Shizukoa is up in the mountains and wasabi roots grow in the mountains. I’m still baffled why the wrapper looks so tropical and Okinawan though. It is an attractive wrapper at least with a strong design that’s aesthetically interesting and a nice colour balance.

The Kat still stinks, and still triggers my desire to vomit before I even eat it. I’m not sure why as the smell isn’t really all that unpleasant in the manner say, a fart or garbage is but it does something to me that triggers my gag reflect straight away. It also doesn’t smell of wasabi.

I think this time around I can taste the wasabi slightly more strongly but it still isn’t very strong and it still lacks the fire and heat. Well not totally, but it isn’t the heat one expects of wasabi. I don’t find it unpleasant though just, bland. Wasabi promises a fiery and unique chocolate experience but it’s mostly just creamy white chocolate. The aftertaste is horrible too, really very bitter. If anything, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, this could stand to be a bit sweeter.

 

Okinawa Beni-Imo 

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This is one most people will probably raise an eyebrow for but that I am very enthusiastic about. Beni-Imo are purple fleshed sweet potatoes and they are amazing! Some people are probably aghast at potato flavoured sweets but the clue is in the sweet part guys, sweet potatoes are sweet and make a great flavour for all sorts of puddings, drinks and ice creams. They also have caramel notes, nutty notes and earthy notes. If you like cinnamon, toffee or butterscotch sweet potato ice-cream will probably suit you quite well.

And purple sweet potatoes even more so. Have you heard of bubble tea? Bubble tea is a milk and tea drink filled with tapioca bubbles that is popular across all of Asia. Here’s a photo for the uninitiated.

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In one shop in Kobe they would make you bubble tea in a multitude of flavours. Everything from apple to strawberry to green tea to banana to sweet potato. I went to this shop fairly early on in my time in Japan and long before I learnt how to read Japanese so I just pointed and guessed at a flavour. I though purple was grape or blueberry and was very surprised when a friend pointed out I had ordered sweet potato. However, I was delighted. Beni-Imo bubble tea was one of the most amazing drinks I had my whole time there and is one of my favourite things in the world, hands down.

Beni-Imo are common to all of Japan but are especially cultivated in Okinawa, a series of small tropical islands hundreds of miles away from the rest of the Japan. Okinawa is pretty much its own place with its own culture, cuisine and even a dialect that is very distinct from normal Japanese. It even has unique ethnic groups not found in the rest of Japan. It’s similar to Hawaii in terms of its cuisine and culture and also in that it is swamped with Japanese tourists every summer. Consequently it is full of people needing to buy Omiyage and nestle have seized upon this ruthlessly.

The packet is fun, the illustration isn’t of a purple sweet potato but rather a Beni-Imo flavoured dessert of some kind which I feel is a bit of a cheat. It is a nice looking dessert though. This is also one example where it has lots of different colours but it works, mostly because the main colour is white. That means the pinks, purples, greens and blues pop more without clashing with something else like they do on the brown sugar wrapper. It’s also redolent of the Okinawan art style and patterns. It’s ultimately just a bright fun wrapper and that kind of fits Okinawa too, a sunny resort kind of place that’s also bright and fun.

The Kat is a disappointingly pale purple since Beni-Imo are usually so rich and dark but it smells very strongly of Beni-Imo.

It’s a bit disappointing actually as it’s quite bland. Usually my first bite gives me something, a flavour or at least sweetness but this is just an empty nothingness on the tongue. It’s not overly sweet at least but it mostly tastes of the wafer and that’s a big no no. As you chew flavours do develop and they’re absolutely sweet potato flavours. We have sweetness, nuttiness, earthiness, even fruitiness peculiar to purple fleshed potatoes. It’s a very complex and adult flavour and it hits every part of your palette beautifully. It also has a nice after taste with the earthiness lingering in your mouth long after the sweetness has passed. This isn’t the best sweet potato Kit-Kat I’ve had (now there’s a sentence most people can’t say) but it’s still a very good and very adult flavour. A touch bland to start with it eventually blooms into a complex variety of tastes that is really satisfying and delicious, a great way to end this box.

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Kyoto is the biggest tourist attraction in Japan. If you’re thinking of visiting you only need to see two cities to get a sense of the dual sides of Japanese culture. Tokyo represents everything modern, sleek, technological, otaku and inventive about Japan. It’s Japan as it is now. Kyoto is Japan as it was for nearly a thousand years, a city of temples, shrines, museums, historical sites, geisha, parades and festivals. It’s a time machine in city form where every corner you turn unveils yet another shrine, yet another icon of Japanese culture or of its refined past.

So of course it warrants not one but three whole flavours dedicated to it, flavours we’re going to discuss today.

Cinnamon Cookie

Well now, here we have a flavour I’m actually excited about for a change. These are based on Yatsuhashi, a kind of biscuit from Kyoto. I know them more as bridge cookies than cinnamon cookies but they are flavoured with cinnamon so that moniker is accurate at least. Why bridge cookies? Well they’re supposed to resemble one particular bridge in Kyoto due to their slightly humped shape. Although there is an image of these cookies on the packet it’s a bit small so here’s a picture.

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As you can see there is a slight bridge shape to these. Oh and here’s a bonus, they are AMAZING!

Cinnamon is one of my favourite things in the entire world and I am a sucker for any cinnamon flavoured treats. I particularly love Yatsuhashi, and one company in particularly that makes a set of them frosted with either chocolate, strawberry, or, best of all, green tea chocolate.

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If you ever find yourself in Kyoto and see that smiling face above BUY THEM! You will not regret it. Those biscuits are straight up divine! I mean if you can’t trust my opinion when it comes to biscuits whose can you?

I bought a packet every single time I went to Kyoto. In fact I’m not alone there. Pretty much every school kid in Japan has to visit Kyoto at least once because it has, oh, 70% of all the countries important historical artifacts and sites in one city. Similar to Washington D.C. for American kids except the Government these days is in Tokyo. And when those kids visit Kyoto they almost always buy some Yatsuhashi as their Omiyage.

Clearly nestle is enraged at losing this Omiyage battle and so, Yatsuhashi Kit-Kats.

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The packet is okay. There is one clever design element here which is that the red portions of the packet are not straight blocks. Instead they are slightly curved reflecting the curved nature of the biscuit, and the bridge. Beyond that it’s a simple, handsome black and red design with a picture of a Yatsuhashi. It’s still too cluttered but it’s better than some other efforts.

How do they taste?

Well firstly they smell of cinnamon and whilst we have white chocolate it’s speckled with what is either genuine Yatsuhashi fragments or cinnamon fragments. Either way my anticipation is building.

Oh that, that is damn good.

Give me a moment people.

Awwww, awww yeah.

Well, these are delicious.

I’m a little biased on this one. I love cinnamon, I love Yatsuhashi and this tastes exactly like Yatsuhashi. I was always going to like them if they taste like Yatsuhashi. Actually, even better, it tastes like the chocolate covered Yatsuhashi I used to buy. The fragments of actual Yatsuhashi baked into the Kit-Kat chocolate carry all the taste and some of the texture. The rest of the texture is in the chocolate, the wafer is totally lost and really resembles a biscuit more than a Kit-Kat. It isn’t too sweet, it isn’t too sour, it isn’t waxy, and it isn’t soapy. It isn’t really like a Kit-Kat at all really but it is oh so very good. The main taste you get is a sweetened cinnamon with all the complexity that spice can provide really so you get sharp spicy notes, brown sugar notes and deep nutty notes. It’s a rich flavour that hits all the parts of your mouth.

Ultimately it’s a cinnamon biscuit though. Now that happens to be one of my favourite things in the world, your mileage may vary but I’m calling it now, this is my favourite Kit-Kat.

Yep, historic day guys. Note it down, Kit-Kat reviewing has reached its apex, I have found the greatest Kit-Kat.

Shame I only get two in this box.

Matcha Green Tea

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The Ur, the platonic ideal, the number one Kit-Kat somebody thinks of when discussing japan is of course the green tea Kit-Kat. Specifically Matcha green tea, a kind of green tea powder that is incredibly bitter.

I have written about some green tea variant dozens of times as nestle seems to keep trying to reinvent the wheel with it. Green tea tiramisu, fluffy green tea, green tea for adults, etc. But this one here is the original green tea kit-Kat, the daddy of them all.

It’s a shame then that the packaging is a big let-down. Although it goes the smarter route of using an asymmetric design it wastes most of its space with a big old slab of pale green colour. I’d forgive it if Matcha was a pale green colour but it isn’t Matcha is deeply vibrantly green. It’s green like a crayon or a yucca plant, not green like pea soup or a hospital wall and this Kit-Kat by far resembles the latter.

Frankly that pale institutional green colour always conjures up vision of hospitals and dentists for me so it isn’t exactly selling me the flavour here.

Although the Kat itself is worse as they’ve coloured it the green of a very ill person’s stool. This is diarrhoea green. Food should not be this colour. Well, not when you eat it anyway. It does smell nice though. Although faint it has a nice clean refreshing smell that does strongly resemble Matcha.

And it eats just fine. I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it a million more. Real Matcha tastes of very little except bitter and the trick with it is to pair it with something sweet to cut the bitterness and release the refreshing tea flavour. Kit-Kat side steps this by adding sugar and making it taste sweet to begin with. That means you mostly have sweet nothingness and a slight tea flavour. It’s waxy but creamy and probably too sweet. It also has a horrible aftertaste similar to what you get with artificial sweeteners. But it does kind of work, it’s not bad whilst you eat it and it does pair quite well with some real tea since it is so sweet.

Our final Kyoto flavour is

Hojicha,

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a kind of green tea that is roasted to turn the leaves brown making it similar to a black tea but with less caffeine. I’ve never actually heard of Hojicha and apparently it is a relatively modern invention created in Kyoto in the 1930’s. Sadly it’s slipped under my radar as I do like the sound of it. Consequently I can’t tell you if this Kit-Kat tastes like Hojicha, just whether it tastes nice or not.

The packet is similar to the green tea, asymmetric but with a big old slab of pale yellow nothing for much of the wrapper. It does one up the green tea as it doesn’t put me in mind of a hospital and it also has a nice detailing on the left side of a rose, evocative of an old fashioned tea room.

 

Well, if the last Kat was ill person’s shit coloured this is just straight up regular shit coloured. Honestly I have to take a photo of this to share it with you all.

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My photography skills can’t really capture the awfulness of it. That is not an attractive colour for a chocolate bar, or indeed anything. Avoid pale browns guys, it isn’t a good look.

It also lies and makes you think you’re getting real chocolate but nope, brown coloured white chocolate. Brown, coloured, white, chocolate. That’s just evil Nestle.

It has no smell at all and a taste that is hard to place and hard to describe. It’s not as sweet as Matcha and actually tastes more like green tea than Matcha does with a much more consistent tea flavour throughout. But there are other flavours in here too. There’s a kind of burnt flavour, particularly in the after taste and something I can only describe as tasting the way rotting leaves smell. That’s not entirely unpleasant despite the metaphor I chose in fact it’s distinctly autumnal.

I like this a lot more than the Matcha and its worth comparing them since they are very similar in taste except this is a touch less sweet, a touch stronger in the tea aromas and also has that added extra something that I’m struggling to place. It has a horrendous after taste though, not only do you get the sweet artificial sweetener taste but a taste of burnt that sits in there for ages. It kind of spoils the rest of the biscuit, fortunately that just means it pairs well with a mug of tea, or indeed some Hojicha I’d assume.

Hello Kit-Kat fans and welcome back to the ultimate box of Kit-Kats. Last time we discussed the box itself, this time we’re going to dig into some of the Kit-Kats it contains.

Niigata Pear

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So apparently we can’t spring for English on the box but we’re now putting French on the wrappers. Maybe every wrapper will have a different language on it to signify the country it’s aimed at. As if to say “French people, we think you’ll like the pear flavour, it compliments wine, cheese and surrendering to Nazi Germany.”

But more than likely it’s because Japanese people think putting stuff in French makes it fancy and elegant. This is something they do with terrific frequency. I’d mock that but my country does exactly the same thing and we hate France so that’s us effectively openly acknowledging that France just is classier than the U.K. Which, to be honest, it is.

Le Lectier is the name of the variety of pear and although originally from France it is grown in Niigata and is considered a local speciality there. It’s a white pear with a very smooth texture and is very strongly fragranced. Or so the internet tells me, I’m not a pear connoisseur and if you probed me my ability to blag that I am would crumple swiftly.

Packaging wise I love that this Kit-Kat. It’s simplified, a simple cream background, a contrasting black stripe and an image of a pear. It’s more reassured and more elegant than the busy clutter of most designs.

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Smell wise this reeks of pears straight away, indeed it might be one of the most strongly scented Kit-Kats I’ve come across, appropriate for a pear that is supposed to be so strongly scented and aromatic.

Flavour wise it’s pretty assured too; the pear is a strong initial note on the palate and persists through right until the after taste which is almost sour with pear flavour. But there is a depth to the flavour too. One gets a sweet burst (with pear) to start, a kind of creamy taste and texture in the middle (with pear) and finally a sour pear aftertaste (with pear) to finish (with pear, did I mention this is really strongly flavoured of pear?).

The only problem is our old friend, waxy coloured chocolate, makes a return so whilst the flavour is lovely the texture is pretty foul.

The waxiness also means that it coats the roof of your mouth with the slightly sour aftertaste and that can be a touch unpleasant. No worries with that though, wash this down with some green tea and it pairs really nicely. This is a delicious flavour, easily one of Nestlé’s better efforts.

Tokyo Brown Sugar Syrup

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Since I learned my lesson from Tohoku that the English lies I assumed that there was more to this than just brown sugar syrup and did some research on the Japanese name Kuromitsu and it turns out… to be entirely accurate.

Kuromitsu is not really a Tokyo thing so I’m not entirely sure why this is the specialty picked for Tokyo so much as it is an old fashioned and traditional method of sweetening all manner of old fashioned Japanese sweets and desserts. Basically it’s molasses but thinner. If anything it should be an Okinawan specialty since that’s where sugar cane grows in Japan. I guess they’ve given it to Tokyo because of the old fashioned connotations and Tokyo, despite its reputation as a modern metropolis, is a historical city with lots of old fashioned crafts still practised there. This is something you’ll probably comment on if you visit Japan, the mix of the modern and the historical in close proximity. If you ask me that, above anything else, really informs and defines Japan and the Japanese character.

The wrapper is appalling. For once I actually don’t mind the logo since it blends into the main body of the wrapper and the main body has a nice gradient colour to it that really gives it some class and an old fashioned feel. We get a picture of the inviting looking brown sugar syrup and the blue strip is cleverly incorporated into the design. It looks like the flags Japanese businesses used to use to advertise their shops in the past and which you’ll still see on any shop trying to evoke a nostalgic theme.

Then it spoils all of this nostalgia and the air of history and tradition by covering the other side with random coloured squares. That doesn’t say traditional Japanese culture to me, it says Rubik’s cube.

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The smell is actually fairly unpleasant. I’ve never smelled Kuromitsu so I couldn’t tell you how accurate to real life it is but it certainly does smell sweet and I can imagine this being similar to a brown sugar. There’s something else here though, almost a rancid odour, like when meat smells sweet but you know that it means it’s bad. It’s not something chocolate should smell of, or indeed meat.

Taste wise it’s very similar to brown sugar or molasses, very sweet but actually sweet in a way that is different to refined sugars, it has a flavour and a complexity to it. There are burnt flavours, nutty flavours, caramel flavours; it’s a surprisingly complex taste.

The way I usually write these reviews is to eat part of a finger, write my thoughts and eat it some more as I type so I keep the flavour in mind whilst writing. With this Kit-Kat my initial reaction was that it was very unpleasant, I couldn’t have told you what exactly I disliked about it thought but mixed in with the sweetness and the nuttiness was another note that was intensely unpalatable. However, the more I eat this, the more I like it and I can no longer place that unpleasant note at all. In fact this is really, really nice. I’d most compare it to sweet potato, which is one of my all-time favourites, and it shares the same flavour profile of sweet potato; sweet caramel notes with something earthy underneath it all. It even avoids the problem of waxy coloured chocolate.

The aftertaste is a bit sour but this works really well with tea or coffee actually which should clear the aftertaste up considerably.

Kyushu Amaou strawberry

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Kyushu is the third largest of the main islands and it is awesome. It might possibly be my favourite part of Japan. I only visited there once but I had such an amazing time, the people seemed so much friendlier than in Tokyo or Kyoto, the countryside was gorgeous, the weather was gorgeous (if too hot) and the food was phenomenal. It was all the things I liked about Japan just more so.

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I did not know it was famous for strawberries but apparently Amaou strawberries (literally big sweet strawberries) are something of a delicacy there, particularly near the city of Fukuoka. Apparently these strawberries are of such high quality they can fetch a dollar each easily.

This is another quirk of Japan, stupidly expensive fruit. See this watermelon?

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This watermelon sold for $6,100 dollars. Well maybe not this exact example but certainly something very similar. Now that’s an extreme example but cantaloupe melons routinely retail at prices around $30 , I bought one in the supermarket today for about $2. I’ve never entirely grasped the reasons for this but it has something to do with how Asian counties use fruit as a gift instead of things like chocolates and wine.

The packet is great. Rather than have a picture of one strawberry they turned the entire background into strawberries which when you have a product with such a dominant colour as red makes perfect sense. This is really eye catching without being overly busy. Frankly the apple and green tea favours in the same box should have done the same thing. It also helps stop the image from being too crowded since you don’t have so many clashing colours.

Disappointingly we don’t have real chocolate but white chocolate. However there is no doubting this will taste of strawberries since the smell is overpowering. Actually it smells less like a strawberry than it does a strawberry milkshake, specifically a burger king strawberry milkshake.

I may have mentioned this before but I have boycotted Burger King and McDonalds for life due to their business practises that I have no desire to support. This is pretty easy for me since I’m not a huge fan of their food. I am however in love with their strawberry milkshakes, they don’t taste quite like strawberries and they have a texture milkshakes should not have (I know they use potato as a thickener and that’s what probably does it) but there’s something just divine about them. The smell of this Kit-Kat is giving me a serious nostalgia trip and wearing down my resistance. If I don’t finish this review quickly I may have to get myself to a McD’s ASAP.

The flavour is the total opposite though. Rather than being that familiar artificial strawberry flavour (you know the one, all strawberry sweets taste of it.) it is remarkably like a real strawberry. It even has the tartness that usually gets washed out in strawberry sweets. This is delightful. It’s sweet to the taste, tastes and smells very evocatively of strawberries but has a tartness that cuts the sweetness and makes it perfectly balanced. It’s slightly soapy but again that tartness cuts that down and makes it palatable. It also has a lovely creamy finish which pairs so well with strawberries. It even has a nice aftertaste, not too chemically or creamy and still redolent of fruit.

I can’t tell you if this tastes like an Amaou strawberry but it is leagues better than any strawberry flavour Kit-Kat has done before.

Ladies and Gentlemen feast your eyes upon this.

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Although I usually write about the seasonal specialty Kit-Kats on this blog there is another major variety of special Kit-Kats; area based flavours. These are Kit-Kat flavours that can only be bought from one specific place in Japan. Usually these come in a very nice presentation box and take the form of the two fingered Kit-Kat mini. What they’re perfect for is Omiyage. Omiyage is a Japanese practice wherein when one goes on holiday one has to bring back presents from that vacation for all your co-workers as a kind of apology for having been away and left them to do all the hard work. Since you have to get Omiyage for everyone in your office these usually need to be small individually wrapped presents, usually cakes or biscuits, which you can just leave on their desk.

Omiyage usually has something do with the specialty food of the region as well, which is another big Japanese cultural idea, food tourism. Japanese people strongly associate certain foods with certain areas in Japan. Hokkaido is famous for lamb, potatoes, butter and corn, Hiroshima with fresh seafood and a kind of okonomiyaki called Hiroshimayaki, Kobe, where I lived is famous for beef, Awaji which is nearby, is famous for onions, and so on and so forth. Japanese people think nothing of going to these places specifically to eat these foods, indeed there are special tours set up to do nothing but take busloads of gourmet tourists to some special area of Japan to eat the local delicacy and drive back again. In fact I’d go as far as to say that if you went someplace like Kinosaki and didn’t eat crab there Japanese people would stare at you like you’d been to Pisa and not seen the leaning tower. To them eating the local delicacy is the main reason for the trip in the first place.

Japanese culture is really focused on food guys; you’ll notice it fairly quickly if you ever visit.

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As part of its on-going effort to become the most successful western import since baseball, trains and beer Kit-Kat is firmly placed to exploit the intersection between Omiyage, food tourism and laziness. Go to Niigata, what’s that famous for, pears? Well you can hardly bring back 40 odd pears on the bus. Ah but you can bring back pear flavoured Kit-Kats for your colleagues. And thus a whole new thing to collect was born, the area specific Kit-Kat.

Indeed I’ve written about such things before on this site. We’ve had strawberry cheesecake and wasabi  and we’ve also had hot red pepper and apples.

Also I notice one of those posts is entitled Kit-Kats the Final Chapter. Oh how little you knew 2010 Mummyboon, how little you knew.

Enter a new player into the game though, people like me, aka sad lonely people with little going on in their lives who like to collect Kit-Kat flavours. I will grab every variety I see and stopped just short of planning journeys to places to get new Kit-Kat varieties (in that I never travelled to a city especially to get a flavour, I have been to special train stations and places within cities I know you need to go to get a flavour. I’m sad, not insane.)

Alas I thought I would never get all the regional varieties, I certainly would never have cause to travel to someplace like Niigata or Tohoku if I returned to Japan. Thus I felt I would never sample all the regional specialty Kit-Kats a nagging, gnawing thought that would keep me up at night and haunt me in my darkest hours. The dark break time of the soul if you will.

But…

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Just for people like me Nestle came out with one single box containing all of them, all 15 regional specialties!

Finding out about this was one of the happiest and most depressing moments of my life. Happy because I was overjoyed that such a beauteous thing could exist in this world, depressing because I  knew I would never be free of my debilitating addiction to buying new Kit-Kats.

It’s a mental illness people, does nobody realise this blog is just an elaborate cry for help!?

Do you know how much this cost me to buy? £50.00, that’s about $75.00. When I showed this to my fiancee I pleaded with her to stop me buying it. The conversation went something like this.

“Sweetheart have you seen this?!”

“Oh wow, that’s awesome, are you going to buy it?”

“It’s £50.00.”

“Really?! That’s a lot of money.”

“I know but I kind of have to buy it don’t I? I mean I can blog about it and Kit-Kats are kind of my thing.”

“But £50.00?”

“But I have to right?”

“You do what you think is best darling.”

So I bought them, posted the fact that I had bought them on a popular social networking site and heard this from the other room.

“You actually bought them!”

She was clearly less than pleased with my monetary expenditure on 30 bars of chocolate. Evidently giving me choices and free will is some kind of test to determine if I will make the correct choices.

Which I did not. I suspect some of my ability to choose things will be curtailed in the future.

But she didn’t realise that I have no free will where Kit-Kats are concerned. I am a slave to my compulsions and she needed to stop me by telling me no, I was not allowed to spend money on chocolate bars from Japan.

This relationship needs a lot less mutual trust and a lot more her telling me what to do.

So I bought it, and it arrived, and I jumped up and down and ran round the house like a 5 year old on amphetamines because it is glorious.

There’s so much to talk about here I can’t do it justice in a single blog post so I’m going to start today by describing the overall display box it comes in and then dealing with the individual flavours one by one as quickly as I’m able. Daily, if all goes to plan.

So let’s look at the box, and what a box it is.

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The outer cover is gloriously monochromatic, red and white. The colours of Kit-Kat, the colours of the Japanese flag, the colours of glory!  We have a nice big Kit-Kat logo but surprisingly most of the box is more concerned with selling this as a Japanese thing. We have Mt Fuji, sakura blossoms, maple leaves and patterns similar to origami paper. The only stereotypical Japanese things we’re missing are samurai, robots and tentacle porn. I guess that’s because the real target market for this is people visiting Japan or living outside of Japan and they’re selling this as a souvenir for the whole country.

Except in that case why is almost all the text in Japanese? Are translators really that expensive? Does the Japanese hide numerous jokes about the pathetic weirdos willing to shell out for such a product? Sadly my own Japanese skills don’t extend that far and when I tried to make my live in translator (see fiancee above) she just smirked, looked at me funny and walked away laughing. I’m not entirely sure what she meant by that.

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The actual lay out is a bit of a kludge, the logo in the top left and Fuji in the bottom right make sense but we have a weirdly bare part in the middle right and a weirdly busy layout in the top left. Also we have a box explaining where the Kit-Kats are hiding, because apparently Nestle thinks most people can’t figure out what perforations might mean. Thanks Nestle, I sure can’t guess that I’m supposed to open them up to get my chocolate. If you hadn’t explained I would have just stared at the box in mute fury that there clearly aren’t any Kit-Kats in it.

Although thinking on maybe people prepared to pay £50.00 for 30 chocolate bars can be assumed to be quite stupid.

The real magic happens though when you open the box and unveil these contents.

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Again everything here is selling an image of Japan first and foremost with the Kit-Kat brand really subservient to the idea of Japan as a brand and of Kit-Kat’s being a Japanese thing (which they’re not, they’re British). The only big Kit-Kat thing we get is another logo and even that is tucked out of the way, instead all the elements here are intended to evoke a certain Japanese feel. I mean it’s a map of Japan guys; it’s hardly going to evoke Bud Leigh Salterton.

But that map has loads of little symbols and other Japanese iconography, we get the famous bear from Hokkaido catching a fish, two dudes sharing a bath together, Mt Fuji, Shisa dogs from Kyushu, lots and lots of Japanese things and…

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wait…

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Is that a camel? In Japan? Are, are camels a Japanese thing?

To the internet…

Sooooo according to this guy  and a few others camels are not native to Japan but there is a small desert area in Japan called Tottori and camels are kept there for the benefit of tourists.

So it’s a non-native animal in a tiny area known mostly for the fact that it differs from the eco-system in the rest of Japan. Hardly representative guys, maybe some tanuki would be better? Are the Nestle Japan offices located in Tottori or something? No apparently they’re in Kobe.

Wait, Kobe! Oh man! I lived there for three years, I never knew that! I could have gone on a pilgrimage and met the guy responsible for the new flavours! What a waste! Oh man now I feel depressed.

I’d better eat some chocolate to cheer me up.

Not a Kit-Kat though, I’m starting to go off them a bit.

Ha, had you fooled. No, I’m hopelessly addicted, to my eternal shame. No fear of me giving up on the Kat. As the kids call it.

No, no they don’t. The kids don’t call them that. I think I’m just rambling now.

Two last things about the packet I’d like to draw your attention to. Firstly I like the use of the golden clouds. Here they’re only meant to fill up negative space and make the packet more aesthetically pleasing but they also convey a certain sense of ancient Japan and harken back to a Japanese drawing technique I’ve always liked.

Check out this image from Christie’s for a sense

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Although that’s a small image you can see that we have lots of images surrounded by golden clouds. In a sense this is an early form of sequential art (or comics if you’re not a pretentious arty type person like myself) with the clouds serving the separate individual scenes in a story, in the image above the story is the tale of Genji. Of course modern Japanese sequential art (or Manga if you prefer) uses standard panel borders, just white lines but I’ve always liked golden clouds, they add an air of fantasy and an atmosphere of history and elegance to a piece. They’re something uniquely Japanese and they really set a tone.

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Last cool thing about the box it’s kind of like an advent calendar with several boxes, each containing two Kit-Kat minis and also with a picture in each box building up a new picture of Japan once you’ve opened every box. If your country doesn’t know what an advent calendar is they’re calendars with an image on the front and several windows, one for each day of advent or more normally these days one for every day in December. People use them to count down to Christmas. When you open the window you get a different picture of a traditionally Christmassy thing (angels, bells, snowmen, holly, etc) and usually some chocolate.

This is similar in that you open a window, get some chocolate and see another picture only without the Christmas theme.

Oh man Kit-Kat advent calendar, I need to pitch that one. Man why did I not realise the offices were in Kobe all along. So many wasted opportunities.

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So let’s try our first flavour. Let’s start at the top right and work our way down to the bottom left, Japanese reading style. So we start with Tohoku and Edamame.

Edamame is an increasingly common snack outside of Japan but not so common I don’t feel the need to show off my superior foreign cultural knowledge to you. Ha ha, I have been to a foreign land and you have not peasant, come let me explain these strange green beans to you.

Edamame are soy beans boiled and salted in their pods. They have a nice savoury taste and go very nicely with a beer, making these possibly the first Kit-Kats intended to be eaten with a beer than with tea.

I heartily endorse this approach, indeed I want beer flavoured Kit-Kats as soon as possible and on my next trip to Kobe I will be making a special visit to the offices to explain my ideas (it can have sherbet so it’s fizzy and everything).

The packet confuses me because although the English on the back of the box promises me that this is an edamame Kit-Kat the picture on the front is clearly not some edamame.

Here is some edamame

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Here is what we have a picture of

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The Japanese says zunda edamame and some goggling mostly returned references to zunda Kit-Kats but I did eventually discover that zunda is a kind of cake made from a paste of ground up edamame

So it is a cake, and thus, not intended to be eaten with beer at all.

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Before we move on can I point out how disgusting that stuff looks? I’m sure it is delicious but it looks like someone already ate it once and it didn’t agree with them. That particularly shade of baby poo green has to be one of the least appetising colours a chef can achieve. It’s almost artistic how gross that looks. Not helping, the fact that its pasty and glistening, it really helps sell the vomit comparisons in my brain.

Anyway moving on…

Also this means the English is lying to you guys either maliciously or possibly because translators are even more expensive than I thought.

Design wise the packet is basic but fine. The Kit-Kat logo is still too big and, par for the course with minis, the design is far too cluttered. I do like that the name of the flavour is shaped like a soybean, that’s a cute touch, I also like the Japanese font used which is kind of fresh feeling.

So soy bean cake flavoured Kit-Kat, how does it taste?

Like bland sweetness.

This Kit-Kat tastes of something, it doesn’t taste like white chocolate, it also doesn’t have the usual waxy or soapy taste of a coloured chocolate Kit-Kat but it emphatically does not taste of edamame and I couldn’t tell you what it does taste like. It’s not unpleasant though, it’s a nice clean flavour reminiscent of a melon almost. It also has almost no aftertaste and wipes your palate clean straight away. That makes it quite refreshing in a way which is unusual for chocolate. I’d compare it to eating sugar then drinking a glass of water, sweet without any particular flavour and then gone.

So that’s it today guys. We’re working our ways through these Kit-Kats over the next few weeks so come back next Saturday and see what bizarre flavours Nestle has ready for us.

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I have a big Kit-Kat related announcement to unveil to the world shortly but before then I have some Kit-Kat related house cleaning to do. Literally, in that these things are taking up space in my house. So let’s discuss a few more of the internet’s favourite chocolate bar. Okay my favourite chocolate bar. Okay, my chocolate bar I have inescapably affixed myself to despite not really liking them all that much.

Cookies and Cream

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We’re starting off with an English flavour for a change and one that seems designed to stick around for a while rather than being a strictly temporary thing, cookies and cream. Obviously this is a pretty standard flavour combination  but it’s a slightly odd one because, well, kit-kat already is a biscuit, so you’re doing at least in part a cookie flavoured cookie. That seems a little redundant. This is only available as part of Kit-Kat’s multipack line, a long strip of foil containing 8 x 2 fingered standard smaller Kit-Kats. The same line also does a mint and an orange flavour and once upon a time, long, eons ago, did a caramac flavour that was my favourite sweet in the world as a child. CIMG4322

And speaking of childhood the kats inside this packet are a huge nostalgic throwback. You see Kit-Kat nowadays usually comes packaged in a plastic wrapper, it’s cheaper, it’s less wasteful and it keeps the chocolate fresh. But it used to come in a foil wrapper with a bit of paper around the foil with the logo and design printed on it. Obviously that used to be cheaper until cheap plastic production became the norm. But in the multipack line the individual kats are foil wrapped! This is incredibly exciting for me and deeply nostalgic. For those of you who don’t know there is a set way you must open a foil Kit-Kat. And god help you if you do not abide by this in my presence, no jury in England would convict me because we all know this is the only right and proper way. First, you remove the paper sleeve, preferably whole. Then you run your finger along the middle of the foil in between the two bars of the KitKat opening up a thin slit. Then with the foil still on you break the bar in two. This means each individual bar still has its own foil wrapper attached, keeping them fresh if you want to space out your eating which was one of the original reasons Kit-Kats were so popular and which is something no child has done in the history of ever. Other than being foil wrapped the rest of the packaging for the cookies and cream is dull and functional, red colour, blue colour, picture of a cookie and some cream, big logo, calorie info, yawn, yawn, yawn. I will give it props for making the individual wrappers solid blue rather than feeling the need to cram some red on there. CIMG4323

The chocolate is two toned with standard Kit-Kat chocolate on the bottom and white chocolate on top applied in a sort of wavy fashion so it isn’t evenly mixed. The smell is pure old fashioned regular Kit-Kat with no suggestion of creaminess. The taste? Really, very good. I wouldn’t have called this cookies and cream but the mix of chocolate and white chocolate works well as you’d expect. I also think the white chocolate is a cut above what most companies use since it is nice and creamy not just cotton wooly. There is no depth of flavour though, you get chocolate, you get cream and then you get ultra sweet and an after taste that’s just pure saccharine (despite this apparently not being artificially sweetened). The uber sweet after taste works well with tea though and really that’s what you need a Kit-Kat to do.

Ujimatcha Latte

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Yet another green tea variant but one that ties in to the cookies and cream quite nicely since it has a layer of chocolate on the bottom too. Unlike the cookies and cream though we have solid blocks here no mixing of flavours. Japan doesn’t like colours mixing. I’ve mentioned matcha before on this website and how I really don’t get it. Matcha is the special green tea made from a concentrated green powder. If you’ve ever seen anyone mention Japanese tea ceremony this is the stuff they use. It’s not regular green tea (which I like) but an incredibly bitter blend that is basically undrinkable on its own. Typically it isn’t drunk on its own though but rather combined with a ridiculously sweet cake, or mixed into a drink with other sweeteners. I get that mixing sweet and bitter is nice and adds depth of flavour but matcha is typically too bitter and the cake too sweet too work for me. It works quite well as a Kit-Kat flavour though since the sweet chocolate nestle makes contrasts with the bitterness of the flavouring, I don’t know how adding more chocolate would help though. CIMG4375

Whilst the U.K. has fairly standard kit-kat packaging Japan makes it in seemingly any size they like. The U.K. has chunkys, four bars and two bars. Japan has four bars, two bars, two bars but shorter (minis) chunkys, single bars, single bars that are thicker than a normal bar and here we have a single bar which is thicker than a normal bar but also shorter. I’ve photographed it next to a single bar from the U.K. for comparison. I don’t know what the thinking behind that is but I assume it has something to do with when and with what you’re supposed to eat each flavour. Or maybe a result of the factory machines running idle, I dunno, I’m an insider with nestle. Hmmm, I really should get one of those. I can suggest flavour combinations and ask what the hell they were thinking with lemon vinegar. Starting with the main packet I remember why I reviewed the packets in the first place, they’re hilariously over designed. I count 18 distinct design elements on that image and that’s not including the calorie information, that is ridiculous. Do we really need 2 separate labels telling us that this Kit-Kat is fuwafuwa (fluffy)?  Or 3 telling us it’s ujimatacha latte flavoured (2 in Japanese, 1 in English)? Other than the over design there’s some not bad stuff going on here. Other than the big splodge of eye spoiling red the colours work well. The kat itself is brown on the bottom, green on top so the packet is brown on the bottom, green on top. But the swirls and the various shades of green give it some visual interest. They also evoke the colours of starbucks which is never a bad thing if you’re selling a coffee or tea flavour. I like how the green colours seem to be rising like smoke from the latte. I also like the addition of white, a colour from the latte, to break up the colours and help the kat photo pop from the page.

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The individual wrapper has the same problems and strengths, nice colours that work well together and suggest coffee shop, overly designed with too many elements, plus a big eye spoiling red splodge. So how does it taste? Well firstly it smells really strongly of green tea the minute you open the packet. And these Kit-Kats are fairly old by now, I got them before X-Mas, so I can only imagine what they smelled like fresh. Unless the odour has had time to develop. Like a fine wine. Vintage Kit-Kats? No, better not give them ideas. The first thing I noticed is there’s about half the wafer you’d expect and a lot more chocolate. And the fluffy chocolate lives up to its billing. From the picture I was expecting something similar to an Aero (if you’re not British google it) but it actually just is really soft chocolate. Really soft, softer than I can remember tasting before. It’s almost more like a mouse but just slightly firmer than a mousse would be. Taste wise it’s the reverse of what I’d expect, rather than being bitter with a sweet aftertaste the sweetness hits early and then the bitter matcha flavour cuts through. It’s nice and creamy though with a soft milky finish assisted by the fluffy chocolate. This has remarkable depth of flavour and subtlety for a Kit-Kat and doesn’t commit the cardinal sin of most kit-kats, even green tea ones, of being way too sweet. This is a nice, balanced, adult biscuit. The chocolate is advertised as milk but I think its darker than regular nestle chocolate anyway. This is a winner here guys, so much so that I’ve eaten three just to do this review.

Gran Wafer

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Now they’re just being silly. Less a flavour and more a concept here we have an inside out Kit-Kat, a deconstructed Kit-Kat, a Kit-Kat with the wafer on the outside. Madness! Now, I spend a lot of time on this website moaning about the shitty, shitty chocolate nestle makes and how it mostly tastes of soap. But it isn’t like the wafer is the saving grace of the Kit-Kat. Nobody likes wafer, nobody craves more wafer. Wafer is not exciting. It’s there to provide a texture and taste of nothing, that’s all it does or indeed can do. You need it to add structure and crunch to chocolate it is not an end in itself. Ah but this is “Gran Wafer” not plain old regular wafer, it’s darker in colour. So maybe the wafer is flavoured itself and that makes up for it, or it’s some kind of special wafer. Since Gran could mean literally anything maybe it makes you orgasm in your mouth. Let’s see. CIMG4377

Once again they’ve created an entirely new size for this flavour. This time we’re as thick as a regular bar but less than half the size, but a little bit taller. It’s also packaged differently, coming in a fancy box instead of a bog standard bag and containing 10 kats, which is more than you usually get in a box. For once the red isn’t an eyesore. Since this isn’t a flavour per se but more a different style of Kit-Kat using the red and white makes sense. They’ve also improved the basic design, adding a gradient and some gold to make it look more expensive and adult. They’ve also added some brown to the colour scheme to denote lovely yummy chocolate and again to be a bit more adult. It’s all the same Kit-Kat colours but it looks like a far classier product. We’ve even got gold foil lettering! And a little gold thing with crossed hexagon pattern announcing sakusaku wafer (crispy wafers). Because why not ad an elaborately designed gold thing, people like those right? CIMG4379

The individual wrappers keep the red gradient and gold colours but spend most of the space on the back explaining how you open them, which turns out to be unnecessarily fiddly. I have never struggled to open a kit-kat before but this required me to find a specific unmarked area and pull in opposite directions, spilling wafer crumbs all over myself. Not a good start. The wafer is certainly much crispier, in fact it’s a much chewier and chunkier biscuit over all. It’s not flavoured though that I can tell. The chocolate is much, much richer than a regular Kit-Kat. In fact it almost tastes more like cocoa powder than chocolate. That’s a good thing because, as mentioned previously, nestle chocolate is usually terrible but this is nice, rich, even slightly bitter. However, the extra wafer and the cocoa powder add up to a slightly unpleasant texture that coasts your mouth so the slightly bitter after taste tends to linger for a good long while. Whilst the richer chocolate is nice the extra wafer adds nothing really and I’d have rather had a dark chocolate regular Kit-Kat. Overall these aren’t brilliant but they are an improvement on a regular Kit-Kat and they would work well with tea or coffee. Well, that’s all for this week, next week is the last of my pokemon reviews and then the week after we start looking at every regional Kit-Kat ever. Yes, you heard me, all of them. All £50.00 worth. God help me I am a sick man.

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