Sunday, October 14, 2007
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.