We’ve touched on some of the more exotic Japanese Kit Kat flavors in past posts, but with over 80 flavors created to date (and more varieties hitting store shelves every year), the taste combinations that Japanese candymakers come up with are becoming increasingly bizarre.
Quick, guess what the most popular flavor of Kit Kat is in Japan right now. Go on, take a wild guess.
Did you guess original? Strawberry? Green tea? Believe it or not, the top-selling variety of Kit Kat in Japan is soy sauce [pictured above]. But what may be even harder to believe is that soy sauce isn’t even close the the most unusual flavor available in Japan today.
At the moment, just 19 varieties are currently available in Japan. Here just a quick run down of some of the flavors (past and present), arranged by category:
Sweet: Berry wine, golden peach, custard pudding
Savory: Grilled corn, miso, sweet potato, jacket baked potato with butter
Beverage-inspired: Ramune soda, Earl Grey tea, caramel macchiato McFlurry
Weird: Camembert cheese, pounded soybean paste, lemon vinegar
So what’s the secret to the success of the Kit Kat brand in Japan? It turns out that the answer is part marketing and part linguistic coincidence. Kit Kat is very similar to the phrase “kitto katsu”, which is a common sentiment of good luck (the phrase literally means “You shall surely win!”). Because of this, Kit Kats have become a small good luck charm given out to students taking school entrance exams.
The other half of the Kit Kat success story has to do with marketing. Capitalizing on the Japanese tendency to “Catch ‘em all”, varieties of Kit Kats are quickly introduced and then pulled from the market to increase demand. In addition, certain varieties of Kit Kats are based on regional tastes, and are not always available nationwide.
For example, in the far north of the country, flavors currently offered include yubari melon and the previously mentioned grilled corn. Meanwhile, candy lovers visiting the southernmost tip of the Japanese islands can find limited edition flavors such as red potato and yuzu citrus.