Pop culture — Kit Kats in Japan

Cracking the Secret: The Irresistible Popularity of Kit Kats in Japan

Cracking the Secret: The Irresistible Popularity of Kit Kats in Japan

Kit Kats may be a beloved treat around the world today, but their journey to global fame began with humble origins. Let's embark on a historical exploration, tracing the evolution of Kit Kats from their inception to becoming a cultural icon in Japan and a delight for chocolate enthusiasts worldwide.


International Origins

The story of Kit Kats starts in the United Kingdom in 1935 when the Rowntree's confectionery company introduced a chocolate-covered wafer bar called "Kit Kat." The name was inspired by a London literary and political club in the 17th century, known as the Kit-Cat Club. The bar quickly gained popularity, thanks to its crispy wafer layers and smooth milk chocolate coating.

Rowntree's Kit Kat

Exhibit of British foods in the 1940s during World War II. Pictured in replica of wartime packaging, Rowntree's Kit Kat returned to red packaging after the war.
Source: Wikipedia.org


Introduction to Japan

In 1973, Kit Kats made their debut in Japan when Rowntree's established a partnership with the Japanese confectionery company, Fujiya. Initially, Kit Kats were only available in their classic milk chocolate form, captivating Japanese consumers with their delightful taste and unique shape.

Old Japanese Kit Kat commercial by Fujiya. 

Japanese Innovation and Regional Flavors

The turning point for Kit Kats in Japan came in the early 2000s when the brand introduced the now-famous matcha green tea flavor. This breakthrough flavor marked the beginning of Kit Kats' transformation into a cultural phenomenon in the country.

Kit Kat Matcha Kit Kat Matcha
Kit Kat Matcha sold in Japan 

Recognizing the Japanese preference for unique and seasonal flavors, Nestlé, the parent company of Kit Kat, began releasing a diverse range of regional and limited edition flavors. Each flavor represented a specific region's culinary heritage and ingredients, creating a sense of pride and connection for consumers. The regional flavors quickly gained popularity, turning Kit Kats into sought-after souvenirs for both locals and tourists.


Cultural Significance: Kitto Katsu!

The cultural significance of Kit Kats in Japan cannot be overstated. The phrase "Kitto Katsu" (meaning "surely win" or "good luck") bears a phonetic resemblance to "Kit Kat." This fortuitous connection sparked a marketing strategy that positioned Kit Kats as a good luck charm during important exams and life events. Today, Kit Kats are commonly exchanged as gifts to wish someone success or to convey positive vibes.

Kit Kat in Japan


Global Expansion and Unique Flavors

Thanks to the popularity of Japanese Kit Kats, Nestlé began introducing unique flavors from Japan to international markets. Matcha green tea, sakura cherry blossom, and other Japanese-inspired flavors made their way onto store shelves worldwide, captivating chocolate enthusiasts eager to experience these tantalizing creations.

Kit Kat Japan Sake Masuizumi Flavor

Kit Kat Japan Sake Flavor

Available only in Japan

Kit Kat Collectibles and Customization

As Kit Kats gained global recognition, they also evolved into collectible items. Limited edition releases and collaborations with popular brands, anime series, and celebrities added an element of exclusivity and desirability to the brand. Kit Kat Chocolatory stores, both in Japan and internationally, offered customers the opportunity to customize their Kit Kats with unique coatings, fillings, and toppings, further enhancing the personalized experience.

You can make your own Kit Kat in KitKat Chocolatory Miyashita Park Shibuya Shop


From its inception in the United Kingdom to becoming a cultural phenomenon in Japan and a global delight, the journey of Kit Kats is a testament to their irresistible appeal. The introduction of regional flavors, the cultural significance of "Kitto Katsu," and the ability to customize and collect Kit Kats have all contributed to their enduring popularity. As we savor each delicious bite of a Kit Kat, we celebrate the rich history and the innovative spirit that has made this chocolate wafer bar an international sensation.

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