Kit Kats are a delicious chocolate snack now known worldwide. You’ve seen their red packaging in your local supermarket, and probably tried them at least once! In Japan, Kit Kat is even more famous, a national snack icon that has spread its reputation worldwide.
But why are Kit Kat so popular in Japan? What flavors are the most popular in Japan? What do Japanese Kit Kats taste like? All those questions and more will be answered in this article, so keep reading to learn everything you need to know about Kit Kat in Japan.
Let’s answer the most asked question first: why are Kit Kats so popular in Japan? Well, actually, it’s because Kit Kats in Japan are a symbol of good luck. They are even used as a good luck charm for students taking exams.
This has to do with the name. Actually, in Japan, Kit Kats are known as a symbol of good luck because of the way the brand name is pronounced in Japanese. More specifically, it’s a good luck charm for exam students. That’s why their peak sales are always just before exams!
The brand name “Kit Kat” was transliterated into “kitto katto” (キットカット) in Japanese, which phonetically sounds close to the phrase “kitto katsu” (きっと勝つ). This can be translated as “you will surely win”!
Kit Kats are therefore a symbol of encouragement, and the company capitalized on this image to boost their sales through smart marketing campaigns!
The Kit Kat snack, as we know it, originally comes from London. It first appeared in the mid-1930s and later exported during the 1940s.
It’s only much later, in the 1970s, that it arrived in Japan. After gaining traction in the 2000s, it’s not constantly a top-selling snack in the country.
Nestlé is the company that makes Kit Kat in Japan, and in most countries worldwide, and this, since 1988, when Nestlé acquired Rowntree's and took over manufacturing and sales in Japan.
To give you some more data, Kit Kat sales in Japan have increased by about 50 percent since 2010 since the new marketing strategies have been applied by Nestlé.
Kit Kats are produced in 2 factories owned by Nestlé in Himeji, near Osaka, and in Kasumigaura.
You may have seen some original packaging from Japanese Kit Kats, the most popular being green, and that we’ll talk about later! But in reality, there are many, many more flavors, and types available in Japan.
In fact, Kit Kat flavors vary by region and seasons! Regardless of the time of the year, though, the most popular package is the Kit Kat mini, consisting of two bite-sized pieces. On a normal day in Japan, if you tour the supermarkets and convenience stores, you can find 40 different flavors at anytime.
However, some unique flavors and limited releases happen regularly! Those may feature an exclusive package design with a classic flavor, or premium ingredients such as seasonal fruits, high-end chocolate and more!
In total, since Nestlé acquired Kit Kat, they have released over 300 unique flavors in Japan. Japanese people are very sensitive to seasons, and proud of their local fruits and agriculture. Therefore, you can find unique flavors available in some cities only if they are harvesting a specific fruit, like pears or strawberries for example.
Japanese Kit Kats taste delicious. Every flavor is unique and full of aromas that you’ll have to try to make up your own opinion. From creamy ones, to soft and fruity chocolate bars, there are some for every liking!
But let’s go over some of the flavors that are most requested.
The most popular of all is probably the Kit Kat with the green packaging. This one is infused with concentrated matcha, and a light for your senses. There are actually several variations of the matcha Kit Kat in Japan, with deeper or lighter flavors.
Nestlé mixed some ground tea leaves to enhance the flavors and provide some health benefits of green team. Hence, the name “Matcha no Chikara”, meaning “The power of Matcha”.
You may have seen a gold packaging going around. This Kit Kat is caramel-flavored, and mixed with white chocolate covering their classic wafers!
The pink packaged Kit Kat is without a doubt one of the best: the sakura mochi. This is a classic Japanese sweet eaten during the cherry blossom season. Nestlé Japan perfectly focused on capturing the traditional flavor in their popular Kit Kat bar. The result is lovely. The flavors are delicate, the chocolate is soft and lightly flora with a gentle sweetness from the azuki bean powder that they have blended it!
So here is a list of some more unique flavors from Kit Kats in Japan! Feel free to explore for yourself:
This is a question that comes back often. Does the sake-flavored Kit Kat contain alcohol? For those of you that don’t know, whereas in the west, sake typically refers to Japanese alcohol, the term sake (酒) simply refers to alcohol generally speaking in Japan.
Kit Kat famously flavored one of its chocolate bars with the taste of sake, the traditional Japanese rice wine (日本酒, nihonshu). Does it contain alcohol? Yes, the original sake flavor contains 0.4% of alcohol per bar. So if you have an allergy, be careful!
“Which Japanese Kit Kat flavor is the best?” is a very hard question to answer, and all answers will be subjective. However, here are 2 of the unique and popularly praised flavors of Japanese Kit Kat that you may want to try!
There is no one most popular flavor of Kit Kat in Japan. However, the most popular kind of Kit Kat in Japan is the mini — a bite-size package of two ingots — and Nestlé estimates that it sells about four million of these each day.
Now, one last question that regularly comes up: why do Japanese people write at the back of their Kit Kats?
In fact, the packaging of Kit Kats in Japan has a blank space at the back for you to write a message, but why?
This links to the reason why Kit Kat became popular in Japan in the first place! As the name sounded like an encouragement, especially for students, Nestlé made it possible to write an actual message of support at the back of their snacks! You can even send those by post with a Japan Post approved packaging!
It has become a custom to trade Kit Kats with friends before exam, and to write words like “Good luck:” or “You can do it:” at the back of the snack.
Now, if you want to try one of those Kit Kat flavors, why not check out ZenPop's Snack subscription box, and see which Kit Kat is currently available in your monthly sweets box!