Japan has a Kit Kat for every taste

NEW YORK • This is pretty much all anyone needs to know about the popularity of Kit Kat in Japan: There are nearly 300 varieties.

In addition to the (dare we call them) classics, such as wasabi and purple sweet potato, new flavours are regularly introduced.

In February, Nestle, which distributes the candy in Japan, released a sake flavour in time for Valentine's Day.

For a few weeks in December, shops sold a single stick, not the classic duo, covered in dark chocolate and coated with gold leaf for 2,016 yen (S$25).

Even for a country where shoppers can find fishball-flavoured Pringles potato chips and adzuki bean-flavoured Pepsi, actual gold candy seems extreme, but the Kit Kat holds a special place in Japan's culinary universe.

Kit Kat's name echoes the Japanese phrase "kitto katsu", or "surely win", and is often sent as a gift to students before college entrance examinations.

It is the country's most popular candy, according to Nestle, which does not release sales figures.

Kit Kat is so popular that it is sold at high-end department stores, Kit Kat-only speciality shops and even post offices, and it is so ingrained in the nation's snack culture that nearly every region has a signature flavour sold only in that part of the country.

As a result, a hungry traveller could eat scores of different flavours of Kit Kat.

Here is but a sample of recently available flavours: Adzuki Bean; Apple; Blueberry; Butter; Cheesecake; Chili; Coconut; Edamame; Green Tea; Green Tea (Sakura); Green Tea (Uji); Hazelnut; Kobe Pudding; Matcha; Miso; Passion Fruit; Pear; Perfect Balance Citrus (orange, lemon, lime); Plum; Purple Sweet Potato; Roasted Tea; Rum Raisin; Strawberry; Strawberry Maple; Wasabi.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2016, with the headline 'Japan has a Kit Kat for every taste'. Print Edition | Subscribe