Thursday, March 18, 2010

Kit-Kat Attack

My favorite part of any Little Tokyo visit? Hitting the markets to find new and unusual Kit-Kat flavors.

I think everyone knows by now that Japan takes the cake in Kit-Kat flavors, manufacturing all sorts of different varieties across the country. (Read about it here.)

I'm not about to spend $20 for a Shoyu-flavored Kit-Kat (although I'm DYING to try it), so a $3 bar at one of the Little Tokyo supermarkets will have to do.

Above, a recent haul from downtown. Chestnut, Strawberry, white chocolate, some sort of coffee flavor, among others. But that's just the surface -- I look at roundup and want to try them all.

Ad Age recently wrote about the Japan Kit Kat phenom as well:

Nestle has upped the ante for the most creative only-in-Japan product by creating 19 unique flavors for Kit Kat, one of the best-selling chocolate candy bars in the world and the No. 1 brand confectionery brand in Japan.

Besides the regular chocolate variety, which must seem mundane to Japanese by now, Nestle has come up with variations that reflect the local produce and palate of each region. There are some staple flavors like miso, soy sauce and green tea, but the list doesn't end there.

Kit Kat varieties now range from yubari melon and baked corn from Hokkaido island to green beans and cherries from Tohoku in northeastern Japan to uzu fruit and red potatoes from Kyushu island at the southern-most tip of the country. The Kanto region, including Tokyo, contributed the sweet potato, blueberry and kinako (soybean) flavors.

The strategy started three years ago with a handful of flavors but has escalated into a national phenomenon. It's also unique to Japan, so Kit Kat lovers in other countries shouldn't expect to see exotic local flavors. (Kit Kat is owned by Nestle, but is produced in the U.S. under license by The Hershey Company).

Each flavor is only sold in the region for which it was created, a distribution strategy that has turned limited edition Kit Kat packages into coveted souvenirs for domestic travelers.

Yes, we've written quite a bit in the past about our Kit-Kat obsession -- including our 2007 haul from Friend of Franklin Avenue, Santos. Roundup here.

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