Exploring far-flung flavor variations with musician Nick Davies.
Photo by Sylvie Schuresko.
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Halloween is looking very different this year, but one thing remains: a lack of impulse control when it comes to sweets. For Nick Davies of the Madison jangle-pop outfit Gentle Brontosaurus, that means documenting the wide world of Japanese Kit-Kats.
“I started to miss making impulsive decisions in the store, or browsing the candy aisle,” Davies says. Usually, he’d be sharing his unusual candy finds with friends and with his bandmates at practice, but for now the reviews he’s been posting on Twitter will have to suffice. Plus, he has a birthday coming up and we all need to treat ourselves right now.
Davies said he doesn’t mail-order candy regularly, but has had a penchant for Japanese Kit Kats since learning about the Japanese pastry chef Yasumasa Takagi. Takagi is responsible for expanding Kit Kat’s one chocolate-base flavor to over 400 variations since his time at the company, and 20 of those flavors landed in Davies’s lap this year. He reviewed them all in the thread linked above.
This year’s special Halloween Kit Kat flavor is apple pie. Condensing a whole pie down to a two-and-a-half-inch rectangle chocolate wafer is a hard task: Davies noted that tastes “a bit chemical” and is, for whatever reason, purple. I wouldn’t associate apple pie with spooky season—it’s for the slightly later part of fall—but at least one Japanese exporter of snacks and toys says it’s a notable fall flavor and papers over that distinction.
Buying candy online can be temperamental. The origin of Davies’ specific package of candy is hard to nail down. Davies said he purchased these Kit Kat varieties from an Amazon shop called AllMyGoodies, which sells everything from toilet bowl cleaners to surplus tuna cans. I’m a glutton for dead-end Google searches, and Davies noted that he thought the business was based in Miami, but the return address was in Kentucky and the package got stamped in Delaware along its journey. The business name of the Amazon seller is You Are DVINE, a registered LLC in Florida. The name and email address associated with their filings matches the website and social platforms for a floral boutique of three separate names, D’VINE Creations, DVINE Creations Luxury Florals, and DVINE Floral and Events. Tracking down the true origins of items shipped by the behemoth online retailer is painfully confusing, even with something as heavenly as these treats.
For Davies, the standout flavor of the bunch was the adult sweetness double matcha. Adult sweetness, or Otona no Amasa, is Kit Kat’s more bitter, sophisticated approach to flavors. This specific flavor quite literally has double the normal amount of matcha in it. “If you like matcha,” Davies says, “why mess around with anything less?”
Of the 20, the most appealing to me was the mango. Mango is to me as matcha is to Davies, and we can both agree that devouring an ungodly amount and immediately getting sick sounds like a great way to spend a night away from the Groundhog Day hamster wheel of infection rates and election news Wisconsin is now grappling with. Sick of the endless hellscape? Slam some whey powder, palm oil, and lab-grown flavor extractions to numb the pain. The neighbor kids aren’t getting any this year anyway.
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