Nestlé may have struck gold with the release of a new type of Kit Kat made using special “ruby” cacao beans. The new flavor, Kit Kat Chocolatory Sublime Ruby, was launched in select stories in Japan and South Korea on 19 January 19 2018 and shows signs of being a hit.
The first limited run of 5,000 bars in Japan has sold out and there is even a small black market–or pink market if you prefer–of people reselling the chocolates at a slightly marked up price online.
In September 2017, the Swiss chocolatier Barry Callebaut announced that they had developed a brand new type of chocolate, using ruby cacoa beans.
Historically, there have only been three other types of chocolates in existence, according to the company: dark, milk and white. Ruby chocolate is “the fourth chocolate.” The beans have a pinkish red tint and unique taste; they are cultivated in Brazil and the Ivory Coast, among other countries. Chocolate aficionados have eagerly awaited the first ruby chocolates to be released since last summer.
Nestlé claims to be the first the company to turn the beans into a product. In Japan, the Sublime Ruby Kit Kats were first sold individually at 400 yen ($3.60) for a single package from January 19-25, either at Kit Kat boutique stores or online. From February 1, you can purchase five or seven-piece assorted flavor Valentine’s Day boxes, each including two Ruby Chocolate Kit Kats, that will sell for about $16 and $21 respectively. The main retail shop in Tokyo’s Ginza area will also be offering a Ruby Hot Chocolate set in their cafe, that includes one Ruby Kit Kat, for 1000 yen ($9).
Kit Kat has been a tremendous success in Japan, partly because the name when pronounced in Japanese, sounds like “Kitto Katsu (きっと勝つ)” which translates as “you (he, she) will surely win.” The company, through clever marketing, convinced Japanese consumers that Kit Kats were auspicious gifts to give to those applying for college or seeking jobs.
Nestlé has launched over 350 different Kit Kat flavors over the years, including the highly successful green tea version, as well as wasabi, cherry blossoms, beni imo (vermillion potato) and even azuki bean sandwich versions. The firm never has all the flavors available at the same time, but many kinds can be purchased at airports as souvenirs or at boutique Kit Kat stores. It should be noted that some variations have been less successful than others. Last year, Throat Candy (のど飴味) flavored Kit Kats did not appear to do well. These whitish Kit Kats were poorly rated on a website devoted to appraising chocolate snacks, although you might like them, if you like medicinal mint chocolate-chip ice cream, and some ended up on the discount racks of convenience stores.
The Sublime Ruby edition was designed by a top Japanese pastry chef, Yasuma Takagi, who has spearheaded many Kit Kat creations. Of course, I tried these pinkish delights before writing this. They had a distinct flavor and pleasant sourness that was slightly like a tart berry, but also with a mild sweetness that was reminiscent of milk chocolate.
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Chef Takagi, is quite proud of his work, commenting in press materials: “I am extremely honored to be part of this landmark moment in the history of chocolate, with which I have worked intimately for over thirty years. I have created an especially simple Kit Kat that allows you to enjoy the characteristic fruity fragrance and subtle acidity of Ruby cacao to the fullest. Enjoy wonderful flavors that have never been experienced before.”
Nestlé suggests that since their new Kit Kat is such a rare and precious chocolate, you should want to give some to that “special person” in your life on Valentine’s Day. It is not a bad sales pitch.