Monday, September 28, 2009

Cookie Plus Kit Kat

If the Cookie Plus Kit Kat doesn't sound very exotic to you then that's because it's not. Cookies and chocolate were meant to go together and frequently do. But that doesn't mean this wasn't a perfectly good Kit Kat. It just meant that I wasn't nervous to try it like I was the Apple Vinegar Kit Kat.

To start with this box of Kit Kats was 80 yen more expensive than a regular Kit Kat, but it came in a cute box. For 200 yen you got ten Kit Kat bites. These are even smaller than the minis, consisting of one square bite instead of fingers. Small but delicious. And each bite is 48 calories so I had 3-4 each time without feeling guilty. It's milk chocolate, so I like that. A vanilla cookie, (similar to the ones I used to dunk in Kool-aid during Children's Church,) is crumbled up and layered above the wafer. This gives it a little bit of an extra crunch and adds some sweetness. It tastes like chocolate and cookies - a match made in heaven.

Overall it's very edible. It's the first Kit Kat that I could really see being marketed successfully in the US. However, that means it lacks the creativity that I've come to expect from my Japanese Kit Kats. So while four of these with some ice tea makes for a great snack, it was lacking adventure.

Final Score: 6.5

Next up I try something with a little more Japanese flavor - Kinako Ohagi Kit Kat!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Kit Kat Special Release Map

Turns out I wasn't even looking for half the Kit Kats I should have been while traveling this past week. There are special release Kit Kats for certain cities and regions only. Check out this crazy map that shows where to find what and when. I might have been able to grab three of those in Tokyo alone. Although we did manage to snag some of the Green Tea Kit Kats that are especially for Kyoto.

Click here for a larger version

Of course they are also available on the internet if I want to pay 840 yen with shipping. I'm going to have to decide here soon how far I want to take this project. Do I stick with the general release Kit Kats and shop in my local conbinis or do I extend my search to internet shopping as well. Part of the fun is trying to find all the flavors in different stores and coming across ones I wasn't expecting to see. It's like a treasure hunt. But getting candy in the mail would be fun too. And really can I leave Japan next year without ever trying the Soy Sauce Kit Kat?

What do you think readers?

Kit Kat in a Can

You can get some truly odd things from vending machines here in Japan. There are vending machines that dispense umbrellas, ice cream, beer, hot soup, and condoms. My friend Nathan swore he found one in Nagoya once that sold plastic figurines in compromising positions. But mostly they sell drinks. At least out in the inaka where I live they do. So I was pumped to find out that somewhere out there they were selling Kit Kat in vending machines. But in order to do so they have to give the Kit Kat a little disguise. If it's going to be hanging out next to the Boss Coffee and the Iced Green Tea then it needs to look a little more like a drink. The solution? Kit Kat in a Can!

Unfortunately, my small town didn't have any vending machines selling them. Fortunately, my friend Kristin came to visit and she shares my obsession so she didn't mind going into almost every conbini we passed and scoping out thousands of vending machines while in Tokyo and Kyoto on the hunt for new Kit Kats. We finally found the Kit Kat Cans in a vending machine at Ryoanji Temple, famous for its beautiful rock garden.

The truth is that these aren't really cans, as I could see as soon as I peeled off the wrapper. But Kit Kat in a Jar doesn't really have the same ring to it. (And you really can't know how hard it is for me not to write Kit Kat in a Kan because I really am that korny.) The can in the machine made it look like the chocolate bars were bursting out of the jar but really they were safely sealed inside. For 200 yen you get four chocolate minis - eight small fingers. That's a little more than what you would pay at a store but I suppose you're paying for the convenience of being able to soak in the serenity of the Zen rock garden at Ryoanji while munching on a Kit Kat. We saw one more vending machine selling Kit Kats and it was at Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion, so it's possible they are targeting tourists.

I'm not sure I would buy one again since they are more expensive but I was truly grateful that they were available. On the day we happened across them we had skipped lunch and I had been threatening to gnaw Kristin's arm off so coming across an actual snack in a vending machine saved her from an armless fate. The fact that it was a Kit Kat only made it better. I give this a high rating for ingenuity and for novelty's sake but I'll keep buying my Kit Kats from the 7-11. (I say that like I have a choice. I did mention there are no vending machines with Kit Kats within miles and miles from here right?)

For even weirder vending machines concessions check out this site. And tell me what's the craziest thing you've ever seen!

Final score: 9

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lots of new Kit Kats

I spent last week gallivanting around from Tokyo to Kyoto and home again with lots of stops at almost every Lawsons, 7-11, AM/PM, and other conbinis I could find. (Almost every because if I'd stopped in every one I wouldn't have seen anything else!) I came home with a Kinako Ohagi Kit Kat, Cookie Plus Kit Kat, Caramel Kit Kat Bites, and a Kit Kat in a can. Sadly, I did NOT find Sports Drink Kit Kat anywhere, but I'm still holding out hope. Otherwise, expect lots of reviews coming soon!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sour Orange Kit Kat

This is one of the few crazy flavored Kit Kats that is not also a crazy color. Just looking at it, it looks like a regular milk chocolate Kit Kat. I always get excited about the milk chocolate ones since I prefer milk over white chocolate (and dark above everything else.) But so far they have been disappointing. Maybe it's because I have higher expectations for them than the white chocolate varieties or maybe they're just not as good. Either way the Sour Orange Kit Kat was slightly disappointing but still very edible.

Despite its generic look it had a very strong orange smell, a fake orange smell I'm afraid to report. It smelled more like something you would clean your bathroom with than a nice ripe mikan. Biting into it, the orange flavor is quite intense. It defnitely packs a punch. They aren't kidding when they call this a Sour Orange Kit Kat either. There is sourness throughout, from beginning to finish, thanks to the sour powder added to the wafers (advertised on the back of the bag as being invigorating.) If I liked Orange flavored chocolate then I would probably be a fan of this Kit Kat, but alas my feelings are pretty mild when it comes to citrus-y chocolates. There was also a weird hint of a soap taste at the end. I don't know if that was simply because I had soap on the mind thanks to the fake orange smell or what but it wasn't pleasant. It reminded me a bit of the Rose Kit Kat in that way.

Overall, I would give this a middle rating. I will definitely finish the bag (I served them with tea yesterday to a friend) but I wouldn't buy a second bag of minis. If you like oranges with your chocolate however I would suggest checking this one out.

Final Score: 5

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Vegetable Juice Kit Kat

Yup, you read that right - Vegetable Juice Kit Kat. From the get go I was nervous about eating this one. I've had good experience with some of the more weird flavors (I loved Apple Vinegar for instance) and I've had some bad ones (the Rose Kit Kat was particularly bad.) So I wasn't sure which way this one was going to go. It went okay...for awhile.

To start with this Kit Kat is a collaboration between Nestle and Ito En. Ito En sells green tea and other beverages. Nestle makes snacks. Together they came up with the Vegetable Juice Kit Kat based off one of Ito En's drinks. In order to be better informed about the taste the Kit Kat was attempting to mimic I bought myself some juice.

First of all, let me say that I am not a drinker of vegetable juice. Just opening this up and drinking it was nerve wracking. I drink tea, coffee, and pop. On rare occasions I drink orange or pineapple juice. But on a regular basis, I prefer to eat my vegetables not drink them. Ito En's vegetable juice smelled horrible. But the taste was better than I expected. It was not too sweet with a sharper taste. Apple and carrot stood out although the picture hints that there are several other veggies and fruits involved. It wasn't my favorite but I could see why some people might like it.

Now onto the Kit Kat. It was made with white chocolate and was light orange in color. Unlike the juice it had a pleasant yet very generic sweet smell. It tasted sweet, and like the juice it was the apple and carrot taste that shone through, although much milder comparatively. Once again it was a taste I wasn't particularly fond of but I could maybe see where other people might like it. It ended on a sour note, saving it from being too sweet.

Up until this point I was having a very blah kind of Kit Kat experience. I didn't especially like it, but I wasn't gagging either. And then I decided, hmmmm I wonder how they taste together. Does the juice complement the Kit Kat? Were they meant to be consumed together? The answer: Absolutely not!!! Together they are pretty disgusting. I almost couldn't finish the Kit Kat after washing down one bite with the Ito En juice. I still have the second Kit Kat because I just couldn't bear the thought of eating any more of it. For that reason I am giving this the low score of 3. Nestle and Ito En's marketing ploy got me to buy their products but I won't be a repeat customer.

Final score: 3

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Kit Kat Dark

This isn't actually a Japanese Kit Kat but instead comes all the way from Hong Kong. I was super excited to try it because while I enjoy a lot of the fruitier flavored Kit Kats they are usually made with white chocolate and I'm not usually a white chocolate fan. I prefer dark chocolate over everything else.

This Kit Kat though was not worth my excitement. Do you see that picture with the dark chocolate and the wafers? Well it's a lie! I bit into my first finger to find no wafers at all. It was just a bar of plain dark chocolate and not even good dark chocolate at that. It was much too waxy. I don't know if this was an aberration or if all of the Kit Kat Darks come this way but I was severely disappointed. This one merited the low score of a 2 since it hardly qualifies as a Kit Kat without the wafers.

Final score: 2

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Umeshu Soda Kit Kat

I'm back in Japan and ready to eat some Kit Kats! I was worried I would miss some of the summer flavors after being gone for 6 weeks, but my friend Miyuki was kind enough to grab some for me. Thanks Miyuki! First up on my return was the Umeshu Soda Kit Kat.

I love umeshu soda. It's my drink of choice when I dine out here in Japan. A plum liqueur mixed with soda water, it has a sweet and sour taste that I really enjoy. So I was really interested in trying this one.

The Kit Kat is a light green color and has a generic fruity smell to it. The white chocolate lends to the sweet side but there is a sourness in the wafers. In fact, on the back of the box it talks about a soda powder in the creme to give it a fizzy taste but the effects are mild. In the end it's not a super close match to the taste of a umeshu soda but it's still a flavor I enjoyed. I've never had plum candy in Japan but my friend Marie likened its taste to the plum candy she used to eat as a kid. We both liked it. I would definitely eat this one again.

Final score: 6.5/7

New Scores

I've decided to implement a scoring system to better rank the different Kit Kats I try. A 10 is the very best - Woohee, stockpile it while it's available to last me a long long time good. And a 1 is the very lowest - why oh why did I put this in my mouth *gag* kind of bad. With everything else in between. And don't be shy! Weigh in with your own scores as you get to try them.