Wednesday, November 15, 2017

All I do is win win win no matter what

When the Japanese travel, it's generally expected to return with omiyage (gifts of regional specialties) for their friends and family. You'll see a lot of options of pre-wrapped omiyage at train stations and gift shops. In addition, regional, limited edition, and seasonal treats are incredibly popular just to try, and not necessarily as gifts. Blake and I have enthusiastically embraced these two traditions, especially the latter.

Additionally, in our experience, flavors in Japan are generally true to whatever they say are. For example, fruit flavored candy tastes remarkably like that fruit, and it's delicious. Give me Hi-chews over Starbust any day, though I still like both.

Finally, the Japanese are fond of clever word play, relying on both the sound of the language and the written language. They aren't so much about rhyming, as it's a lower and simpler form of poetry, which is haiku does not rhyme. But finding some way of saying something with a double meaning in a humorous way is definitely a good thing.

So, putting all that together, it makes sense that Kit Kat (with a little help from Nestle's marketing team) has really taken off in Japan. The name "Kitto Katto" sounds like "kitto katsu" which means "You will surely win!", a popular saying from parents to their children about to take an exam, or other similar situations. Giving students Kit Kats during exam season has become popular, and Nestle has taken that even farther by developing regional, seasonal, and other limited flavors. Word is they've created more than 300 flavors since 2000 to capitalize on this.

We have absolutely succumbed to this marketing. It's become a hobby to keep our eyes open for new Kit Kats while we are out and about and we have been well-rewarded.  Here's what we've found so far. (I apologize in advance for any photo that's rotated in a weird direction - the file is rotated in my editor, but loads here wrong. Thank you for your patience.)

Ginger - Very yum. Winter flavor.

Chocolate flavor, but only available for sale at the Japanese post office!

2017 is the year of the rooster - so cute!

Sakura (cherry blossom) & Roasted Soy Bean - This was okay. Spring flavor.

Wasabi - Surprisingly tasty, just a bit of a kick. 

Chocolate mint - Always a good combination.

Japanese pudding with Easter shapes in the Kit Kat - I liked this flavor, but the cute factor was the best part.

Strawberry cheesecake in a Mt. Fuji shaped box, because why not? Definitely good.

Iwazumi Yogurt - Found in Kyoto. Thumbs up.

Strawberry Cheesecake

Cookies and cream - again, always a winner

Hokkaido Melon - actually tasted like melon, quite good.

Sakura (cherry blossom) matcha (green tea) - I'm pretty meh about this.

Yokohama regional flavors - Citrus and throat drop. Yes, throat drop. Menthol throat drops are considered a candy in Japan. The citrus was quite good. The throat drop was so gross to me that even just the memory of the flavor gave me the gags.

Looks like a variety of flavors here - We did not buy this, but it was a sizable Kit Kat shaped box.

Halloween Japanese pudding - the wrappers had some sort of sign language lessons on them.
Our favorite and the most interesting find so far has been the pudding flavor Kit Kats you bake, yes, bake, which have something a creme-brulee like taste when they are done. It took us two tries to figure out how to do them in our large oven (instead of a toaster oven as suggested on the packaging and what most Japanese homes have), and it's quite a lot of work for a couple of Kit Kats, but oh my gosh is it worth it. It's suggested to serve with ice cream, and we will definitely try it that way soon! These are available now, and I'm planning on buying some more bags later today!
Ready to go in the oven

Slightly melty in the first stage of baking

And done! Let it cool a bit before eating - SOOO GOOD.

Not pictured (that I can remember) - dark chocolate, strawberry, green tea, raspberry, cranberry almond, and sake. Sake has alcohol, so we haven't tried it, and green tea just isn't our, ahem, cup of tea as a flavor, but the others were quite good. Even the gross ones have at least been an adventure to try. Can't wait to see what else we find!


Doranda said...

awesome! Where do you get the ones to bake?

AmandaStretch said...

I found mine at Picasso/Don Quixote!

Giggles said...

I could definitely try several of those. Except the tea ones.

Cough drops are candy in Brasil as well. But they don't like root beer because it tastes like medicine.

AmandaStretch said...

Same here! Root beer is not common here. You could find it at the temple, but maybe that was for the Americans?