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Kit-Kat

Hey Mummyboon, why you no post?

Well, I got married! And between all the planning and a full time job that is basically writing things for the internet my urge to blog has not been high.

But I know what my fans want and that’s Kit-Kats.

Take it away Toffee Treat

Toffee Treat Kit-Kat

Okay so, the latest U.K. Kit-Kat variant is Toffee Treat. They have done toffee Kit-Kat’s before so this isn’t terribly exciting but let’s give it a shot.

So the packaging is… dull; basically a standard Kit-Kat wrapper but with a quarter given over to a light brown box showing us the name and the individual kat. It’s… fine. The main thing I like about it is the off register font for ‘Toffee Treat’ which promises wackiness.

Flavour wise it’s, it’s toffee. Quite nice, caramelly, and…

Can I be honest with you guys?

I’m just not feeling it.

It’s a toffee flavoured Kit-Kat. They’ve done these before. Growing up we had Caramac Kit-Kat’s which were the bee’s knees, legs, shins and entire lower half. This is fine but I don’t know what to say about it.

Basically I’m not that excited to talk about Kit-Kat’s today.

That’s because I want to write about Oreos instead.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Oreo Red Velvet Oreo S'mores Oreos

So at my wedding the lovely, beautiful and generally great person Liz Anistranski gave me some limited edition Oreos as a wedding present.

Liz knows me very well it seems because I am super excited about these. They’re just as creative and bizarre as the best Japanese Kit-Kats but they’re also All-American and so represent an exotic diversion for me.

I am possibly too excited about limited edition biscuit flavours, sorry, sandwich cookie flavours.

Oreos don’t have the same cultural impact over here as they do in the states. Up until about a decade ago they weren’t even available in U.K. supermarkets and even now we only have the standard versions. They’re nice but they’re not the ubiquitous childhood classic Americans think of them as. That honour probably goes to Kit-Kats. As such they’re seen as very, very American to British people and Nabisco have enhanced that reputation by combining them with 3 equally quintessentially American things. Red Velvet Cake, S’mores and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

The packaging for all 3 is very similar but that’s okay because I think it works great. Basically a big Oreo logo with a picture of the object they’re flavoured for in the background and a picture of what the individual Oreo cookie looks like in the bottom right. It’s a well-designed and expertly comped image that makes sense, isn’t over cluttered and looks attractive. Looking at them standing there on a table how could you resist their charms?

There are some little American touches that make me laugh like the enormous bit of copy saying “ARTIFICIALLY FLAVOURED,” in all caps no less. It takes up the same real estate on the packet as “limited edition” or the name of the flavour, both of which are actually USPs. It’s like they’re proud to be artificially flavoured. I assume the size and the fact that they have to include this information is mandated by law but in the U.K. we’d still try not to draw attention to that whereas in America they’re all; “fuck that pansy shit, none of your natural girly bullshit in these cookies just good old fashioned American ingenuity.”

Oreo Warning

I also love to pieces the little instruction on the side telling me how to open them properly. That’s just adorable. I could make the typical Americans are dumb comment here about how Americans need to be told how to open a packet of biscuits but frankly I want more food to feature cute little stop signs on the side.

Red Velvet

Red Velvet Oreo

Red Velvet is red, white and blue, the true colours of France, the U.K., The Netherlands, etc. Seriously why are Americans so proud of their flag colours? Nearly everyone has a red, white and blue flag. It isn’t that special guys.

Anyway the cake on the packet is somewhat off putting with its violent shade of red but all that delicious cream cheese frosting sure is pretty. I also love the little place name stand telling us that the crème is cream cheese flavoured. They could have just added the copy directly but the little stand immediately conjures up backyard parties, weddings and the 4th of July (I assume, different culture and all I have no idea if people ever have place names on the 4th of July but dammit that’s what it made me think of). This packet is practically singing “Stars and Stripes Forever” as it encourages you to eat cake.

The actual cookies are closer in colour to actual red velvet, thankfully and the cream cheese crème might be artificial but it 100% captures cream cheese frosting as a flavour. Initially I wasn’t a huge fan of these as the cream cheese has a faintly sour quality which is, whilst accurate, unexpected in a cookie. They’ve grown on me though and despite being an artificially flavoured American cookie they’re not too sweet, something I was worried about. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want to eat more than 1 or 2 in one go but I was worried that one bite would put me into a diabetic coma, so I’m pleased they’re not as sweet as I was anticipating.

My big complaint is that the crème feels weirdly gritty. It’s okay with the crunchy biscuit to hide it somewhat but on its own the crème feels like toothpaste, not nice. Really nice biscuit though. Oreos have always had a little bit of salt in them which lifts the super sweet crème and makes them kind of moreish (well for kids, as I say, too sweet for an adult). These have that slight saltiness and with the sour crème it’s a surprisingly complex flavour profile.

S’mores

S'mores Oreos

Of the 3, these are my absolute favourite and it’s all about the biscuit. They could have just made regular chocolate Oreos with marshmallow filling and called them s’mores and it would have worked. But they went for graham cracker biscuits. Not only do the pale golden cookies look nicer but they look more like a s’more and having that visual similarity really helps sell that these are s’more flavoured.

I should probably explain for Brits what a s’more is. It’s toasted marshmallows sandwiched between 2 graham crackers and with a piece of chocolate included. The heat from the marshmallows melts the chocolate and you have a gooey, crispy treat that’s a delightful combination of flavours and textures.

Americans are probably shocked right now. “You don’t know what s’mores are?” No, we don’t. See, we don’t have graham crackers and without graham crackers you don’t have s’mores. Graham crackers are big biscuits that come in flat layers like crackers. They’re probably most similar to the biscuit you get on a custard cream except lightly spiced with cinnamon. And guys, I love me some cinnamon. The nutty cinnamon flavour really meshes with the sweet marshmallow and rich chocolate to make an amazing treat. I was introduced to s’mores by American friends in Japan and have wept ever since for my wasted childhood and the lack of graham crackers in the U.K.

So from what I can remember, these taste astonishingly like s’mores. The biscuit is doing most of the hard work. It looks, tastes and has the texture of a graham cracker. But it’s not all biscuit. Chocolate crème is no big deal but whatever wizards managed to capture the taste of marshmallow in crème form have powerful arcane abilities indeed. They need to be on a list in case they use their magic for evil. I didn’t even realise marshmallows had a distinctive flavour beyond generically sweet until I ate these. They’re almost marshmallowier than a marshmallow.

Incidentally, my spellchecker recognises “marshmallowier” which is delightful.

One final bit, again they could have just written “Graham flavored cookie” but the little wooden board helps sell the idea of camping and making s’mores by the fire. It’s a nice touch.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Oreo

This variety doesn’t get a cute little sign telling you what flavour it is instead just opting for the Reese’s logo for understandable but disappointing reasons.

It does have an image showing you that these are 2-toned crèmes with half chocolate and half peanut butter. Which is cool…but if the biscuit is chocolate flavoured why don’t we just have all peanut butter crème?

So unlike Oreos, Reese’s products have definitely made a splash in the U.K. Peanut butter wasn’t really a thing when I was a child. It came in jars; odd people had it on toast instead of the more socially acceptable jam or Marmite and sometimes foreign people made satay with it.

Now it’s huge. Peanut versions of chocolate bar favourites, peanut butter ice-cream, peanut butter crisps and snacks, there are even peanut butter Kit-Kats.

And Reese’s led the way. From peanut butter cups being a niche product they’ve spearheaded the peanut butter revolution into U.K. supermarkets and their curious blend of salty/sweet peanut butter (that’s been dried and made oddly paste like) with decidedly not great chocolate that still somehow contrives to be OMG YUM! is now everywhere.

As such I know what a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup tastes like.

This tastes like one, almost exactly. But even more so it smells like one. If you were blindfolded you would definitely think you were about to eat a peanut butter cup, and then the crunchy biscuit would shock you.

It’s no surprise that cookies and peanut butter work well together nor that peanut butter and chocolate is a great combo, so unsurprisingly these are great. And with the slightly salty peanut butter and slightly salty Oreo biscuit they’re verging on savoury. Okay, that might be overstating it as they’re still incredibly sweet but the salty flavour profile makes them a bit moreish and balances the ultra-sweetness.

A brief google reveals that Nabisco has whole heartedly embraced the limited edition world with cookie dough, banana split (bleurgh), cotton candy, key lime pie and even birthday cake all hitting shelves in recent months. I might just have a new hobby on my hands.

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Time to get back to my roots!

Nestle has a new Kit-Kat flavour and you know what that means.

Yup it’s time for another dose of “bring pretentious about mediocre chocolate!” WHUT WHUT! (throws up hands)

(realises he is sitting alone in his living room)

(puts hands down)

(sobs once, gently, and quietly)

(takes deep breath)

(steadies self)

(begins)

So the new Chunky Double Caramel is a bizarre beast. It’s a Kit-Kat Chunky divided into only 2 sections, one with a smooth caramel and the other with a crunchy caramel.

Starting with the wrapper then and it helpfully makes this all clear for us with an illustration showing a cross-section of the Kit-Kat and the contrasting caramel centres.

Oh and as a warning from the future, said illustration grossly exaggerates the amount of caramel you’re getting here.

Beyond that I have most of my usual complaints. The wrapper is far too busy with three different logos fighting for space and no attempt at any kind of evocative design. It’s just, how can we fit all this copy on here in the way that looks least crap. It is shiny and gold though.

Oooooh, shiny.

So taste test then and…HOLY SHIT!

When did Kit-Kat chocolate get this good?

I usually moan that Nestle chocolate is soapy, waxy, vaguely pasty, bland and too sweet. This is still very sweet but it’s smooth, creamy and delicious. It tastes way more like real chocolate than any Nestle product I’ve had in years. I mean, it still isn’t great but it is a marked improvement. Well done Nestle.

In contrast the wafer has gone to shit. I’m used to the wafer being inoffensive but competent, it is there to be crispy, nothing more. This wafer though, is soggy. And that’s a big no-no. There is no redeeming a soggy wafer in a biscuit,it’s just inherently unpleasant and it nearly ruins this. And I have no idea why. I’ve written something like 80,000 words on Kit-Kats at this point and I don’t think a soggy wafer has ever been an issue. Was it a trade-off for the nicer chocolate? Is it something to do with the filling?

Anyway onto the caramel. The smooth one is what you’d expect, the standard caramel you get in a chocolate bar. Similar to Cadbury caramel or Galaxy caramel. It makes the whole thing waaaay too sweet but I think it might have been salted slightly which does make the caramel itself taste nice (and might also be the reason the chocolate tastes so much better).

The crunchy caramel is a sort of caramel crème paste filled with bits of hard caramel. It too is slightly salted and the caramel crème itself tastes nice but makes the whole affair too sickly. The crunchy bits do help with the soggy wafer a little bit though so I’ll give the edge to this half of the pair.

Also the word caramel has ceased to have any meaning as I proof read this. Caramel, caramel, caramel.

Caramel.

Caramel.

Aftertaste wise both are hugely chemically and sweet. Like drinking anything with saccharine in it (even though it is pure sugar all the way). Having said that it is soooo sweet that it pairs quite well with unsweetened tea and the tea counteracts the aftertaste quite nicely.

Overall a success! Sweet, salty caramel and much nicer chocolate than I was expecting. Sort out whatever has gone wrong with the wafer and you have a winner here. I don’t understand the half and half gimmick at all though.

Noisette French Kit-Kat

An unusual Kit-Kat for you all this time around, not a Japanese one, not a British one, not even an American one, but a French Kit-Kat.

I picked this up on my recent holiday to Normandy and, as with everywhere I ever go, most of my fun was had wandering through supermarkets looking at the differences between foods there and at home. When you’re a tourist the best chance you’ll ever get to experience what life is like in another culture is to go their supermarkets and note the differences. For example, Dutch supermarkets are all small, they don’t have the big out of town centres we have in the U.K. because everyone cycles everywhere and so can’t do the weekly big shop we do back here.

French supermarkets have to be amongst the world’s very best. They’re all absolutely enormous for starters and home to a cheese section so glorious it made me weep to behold it. Plus so much booze, just so much booze. Although not enough ale, and since I require both good cheese and good ale to thrive I’m limited to living in either the U.K. or The Netherlands so far.

Anyway I noticed a few odd Kit-Kat products, some Kit-Kat balls which we’ve discussed on this blog and before and a snack that was some Kit-Kats packaged together with some plain yoghurt. I did not eat this as plain yoghurt makes we want to vomit and other than that addition it’s just a regular Kit-Kat.

But they do have one flavour we don’t have in the U.K. and that’s noisette or hazelnut.

Not much to talk about with the packaging this time, it’s identical to a Kit-Kat chunky packet back home except green. I learned that green is kind of a standard noisette packaging colour in France the same way we make red crisps ready salted despite red and salt having no connection.

Incidentally I’ve noticed a few supermarket crisps start doing cheese and onion as blue and salt and vinegar as green. I know Walkers does this, we all know Walkers does this and we’re all in agreement that the people at walkers are insane to do this right? Red is Ready Salted, Blue is Salt and Vinegar, Green is Cheese and Onion, Pink is Prawn Cocktail, Dark Pink for Smoky Bacon, Brown for Steak and Onion and beyond that if you’re making up other flavours use what colours you like but those first 7 are a constant. Don’t give in to Walkers people, we need to shun them for their deviancy.

I expected this to be the same as the Hazelnut flavour that was in last year’s chunky champion contest but weirdly it isn’t. That had a layer of hazelnut crème on top of the wafers but this has something that isn’t a crème really. It’s whiter, grittier and less of a smooth paste. It’s pretty much a proper praline rather than some praline flavoured paste. The closest thing in taste I can compare it to is a Kinder Bueno which it really does resemble with the praline filling, wafer and chocolate.

It’s a nice praline too, not too sweet, really creamy, nicely nutty and with a real depth of flavour. I can taste four or five different distinct flavour notes in there which is impressive for a Kit-Kat. And it doesn’t have a sickly sweet aftertaste either; instead it’s nice and mellow.

I wonder if it says anything about our two nations that France chose hazelnut and we chose mint. Is it because mint has warlike associations with spearmint and arrow mint whereas the French are nutty? Is it because mint is a bold sharp natural flavour whereas the French prefer something smoother and more sophisticated?

Nah, but it probably does have something to do with how they like to put Nutella on everything.

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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.

UjiMatcha4

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.

yogurt_passionfruit_second

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.

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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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.

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