Sunday, October 14, 2007

"Chestnut" KitKat

Living in Japan means that you will see new variations on two types of items on a continuous basis. One of those items is Pocky. For the two or three people who don't know what those are, it's an unsalted pretzel stick which has been dipped in various sweet coatings. The "core" version is chocolate but there is an ever-changing kaleidoscope of varieties of these items. Some of them are rather absurdly similar to one another such as the "Men's Pocky" which looks like a slightly darker version of regular Pocky (or maybe it's bigger, I never bought one but it's chocolate).

The other item with a constant stream of variation is the venerable KitKat. At the moment, the newest versions are caramel and chestnut. Since I'm not a fan of caramel, I avoided it but my husband tried it and thought it was pretty good. I did rejoice at the appearance of the chestnut one since I am a great fan of all things related to either hazelnuts or chestnuts. Though I can't be sure, I believe that this particular flavor is seasonal and probably was released in previous years but I wasn't looking at candy at the right time and missed out before. I do know there was a chestnut "KitKat" which was essentially a sugar wafer (no chocolate coating and more and bigger wafers).

The bar is very pale with a hint of beige. The inside seems to be layered with what one would hope is chestnut cream. With some inappropriately high expectations, I gave it a try. The first taste seemed sweet without much flavor and with a hint of what seemed to be coconut oil (though I believe it is some other sort of oil). The next bite had only the tiniest hint of something vaguely resembling chestnut. When we read the ingredients on the back, we saw that chestnut is the 8th ingredient after "yeast" so there's not much in it. The over-riding taste is, unfortunately, an overly sweet white chocolate with the tiniest whiff of something else behind it but not necessarily chestnut.

This is actually not an uncommon experience when trying the various flavored Kit-Kats in Japan (such as the green tea one). Most of the non-chocolate varieties seem to be very sweet white chocolate with coloring and artificial flavoring of various degrees of intensity. I guess part of the problem with making so many different types is that they are probably not equipped to do any sort of special combinations because they're working with the same machinery all the time and can't do much to enhance the flavor beyond pour new essences or chemicals into their vats of white chocolate. While this bar wasn't bad, it was far from the bee's knees and even a chestnut aficionado like myself wouldn't partake of it again.


Miko said...

I tend to travel around Japan a lot, and I've discovered that there are regional KitKats all over the place, along with local versions of various other popular sweets. I'm such a sucker for novelty, so I buy them all and hand them out as souvenirs for my friends and students.

I'd never eaten chestnut in my life until I came to Japan! Is it popular in other lands too?

Anonymous said...

Men's pocky is a little thicker and harder; made to put in alcoholic drinks. They don't taste all that great alone.

Shari said...

I think chestnut is popular in Europe mainly as a component of a mont blanc (chestnut paste) and in the U.S. around Christmas time.

I love the novelty of the varieties as well and sent my sister the brandy and orange one and a my friend Shawn a green tea one. I'd probably send more but I tend to be relatively selective in what I send. I do think these make great souvenirs though as you do!

Decaf, please said...

Green tea KitKat, I want to try that! I wonder if I could get it at an international food store in the US.

The chestnut KitKat sounds disappointing. I don't like white chocolate much anyway.

Shari said...

I didn't try the green tea one but the friend I sent it to was unimpressed. Though he likes green tea, I think green tea in the U.S. isn't the same as green tea in Japan. Japanese green tea flavor is grassy.

Thanks for taking the time to comment!

Mark said...

ahh you all missed the splendor of the Mens Pocky!! Its bitter dark chocolate!!!!! i hate milk chocolate... alot but i love the darker more complex flavor of dark chocolate. so much so that i keep a Lindt and Spugnelli 85% cocoa bar in the freezer at all times. Chestnut KitKat.. sounds gross to me. but then again. i have never liked them anyway.

Tea said...

I too love all things chestnut. Whenever I see anything "chestnut" flavoured, I almost always have to buy it (depending on the price heheh). You should try the chestnut pocky - SO good! I find that pocky is better at flavouring their snacks more so than kitkat. Great blog! ^_^b