The Kit Kats you find in American stores offer layers of chocolate and crisp wafers. But in Japan, Kit Kats go far beyond chocolate, with flavors like ginger ale, soy sauce, creme brulee and banana. We asked a Tokyo-based reporter why that is — and asked NPR staff members to sample some of the flavors.
NPR's Lynn Neary talks with Tokyo-based reporter Lucy Craft about the unique candy market in Japan.
And to see how those flavors translate to other countries – like the U.S. – we asked NPR staff members to try some samples and tell us what they think.
Kit Kat Taste Test: Notes From A Crunching
With such a wide range of flavors needing to be sampled, we lined up testers from across NPR's divisions. To encourage natural and objective responses, subjects tasted the candy in separate sessions.
Participants: Steve Inskeep (host, Morning Edition), Jamie Tarabay (National Desk), Lourdes Garcia-Navarro (Foreign Desk), Jon Hamilton (Science Desk), Linda Holmes (Arts Desk), and Patrick Jarenwattananon (Music Desk).
Royal Milk Tea
Inskeep: Like tea in the Mideast.
Tarabay: There's something in the middle of this that's harking back to my childhood.
Garcia-Navarro: Tastes like boarding school tea -- comforting but not very nice.
Hamilton: Plain weird.
Holmes: I don't even know what that taste is, but I was not a fan.
Jarenwattananon: Tastes like a wafer from childhood.
Inskeep: Could use a little soy sauce.
Tarabay: It smells gross. I can't taste anything. It smells weird. It's not even savory.
Garcia-Navarro: Beyond gross. It tastes like sushi that's gone off.
Hamilton: Falsely advertised. Perhaps a bit of salt.
Holmes: It smells very much like soy sauce. It's a very odd taste to me.
Tarabay (making a face after being told the flavor too late): Oh my God. I don't eat cantaloupe.
Garcia-Navarro: Unusual but edible.
Hamilton: Tastes like an after-dinner liqueur.
Holmes: Like a Jolly Rancher, but the aftertaste is intensely not good.
Tarabay: I can smell the corn in that ... a bit of corn-flakishness in there.
Hamilton: A Kit Kat for the heartland.
Garcia-Navarro: Why would you ever make a Kit Kat this flavor?
Holmes: That is the NASTIEST THING I HAVE EVER EATEN.
Jarenwattananon: The only thing corny about this is my response.
Inskeep: A hint of tart.
Tarabay: It smells like Cherry Ripe. [A Cadbury candy bar, it turns out -- ed.]
Hamilton: Actually tastes like one of those chocolate-covered cherries.
Holmes: Appropriately, it tastes like a slightly fruity Kit Kat.
Jarenwattananon: Complex, fruity, dark. Yes, I used these words to describe a Kit Kat.
Inskeep: Starts out very creme, then gets a little too brulee.
Tarabay: Now I'm disappointed, because it smells like it.
Hamilton: Torch the top and you've got yourself a fancy dessert.
Garcia-Navarro: Transports me to France. Not.
Holmes: Smells fake-caramelly.
Jarenwattananon: That was the best high fructose corn syrup I've had in a minute.
Inskeep: Tastes like Starburst.
Tarabay: It's very sherbety, but it smells like a Starburst.
Hamilton: A wake-up call!
Garcia-Navarro: The best one so far.
Holmes: Tastes like gum or citrus candy. Or vitamin C tablets. Not bad.
Jarenwattananon: I didn't think that could exist.
Tarabay: A whisper of steeped green tea -- altogether pleasant.
Holmes: I like this one. Not trying too hard. It has a slight aftertaste of something sinister, though. ;
Jarenwattananon: Disappointingly, neither here nor there. So much wasted potential.
Intense Roasted Soybean
Tarabay: It's a very rich chocolate. Nice and rich, and darker.
Garcia-Navarro: Peanut buttery, but just not as nice.
Hamilton: It does invoke the classic Kit Kat.
Holmes: It's actually not that intense. It's ... soybeany.
Jarenwattananon: False advertising.
Tarabay: I can't taste the strawberry or the cheesecake in this.
Jarenwattananon: Tastes like fake strawberry flavor and not particularly good fake strawberry flavor.
Cafe Au Lait
Tarabay: As soon as you put your tongue on it, it tastes like black coffee with milk in it.
Hamilton: Smooth and delicious.
Holmes: This bears absolutely no resemblance to coffee, but I wouldn't spit it out.
Jarenwattananon: That's some good use of Yellow No. 5.
[Others declined to sample.] Copyright 2010 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.