Kit Kat (History, Marketing, Flavors & Commercials)

The Kit Kat Bar is one of the most recognized candy bars in the world. It is sold on every continent and has various flavors depending on what country you’re in.

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Here is the history of the Kit Kat Bar and how it became an internationally recognized brand. Starting from when it was created by the Rowntree’s company to after it was sold to Nestle in 1988.

Kit Kat

The beginning of the Kit Kat Bar

The Kit Kat Bar was originally created by Rowntree’s, a confectionery company located in York, England.

Before Rowntree began developing the chocolate, they would trademark the names Kit Cat and Kit Kat in 1911. Names that were originally used for a type of mutton pie that was eaten by a group called “The Kit-Cat Club.” Their club meetings were also held in a pastry shop owned by a chef named Christopher Cat.

The Rowntree’s would start using the names Kit Cat and Kit Kat in the 1920s for their box of chocolate crisps. 

They would sell these boxes of chocolate crisps along with their other box of chocolates known Black Magic. An affordable version of luxury chocolate that the Rowntree’s created.

Unfortunately, the original Kit-Cat Chocolates were discontinued shortly after being introduced.

The Kit Kat Bar gets recreated

After the original candy was discontinued, it would be brought back thanks to a suggestion of a Rowntree’s employee. This employee suggested that the company “make a snack that a man could take to work in his pack.”

The Rowntree’s loved this idea and quickly began developing a type of chocolate that workers could take with them to work.

This is how they came up with the 4 finger bar that would be the design for the candy. Originally, they would call this chocolate bar the “Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp”, which they released in 1935.

Then in 1937, Rowntree’s changed the name of the candy to the Kit Kat Chocolate Crisp.

The Kit Kat’s early success

After being introduced in 1937 and after successful advertising campaigns, the Kit Kat became one of England’s most popular candy bars. It became so successful that after three years of existence, the Kit Kat would be exported to international markets.

From 1940 to 1950, the Kit Kat was exported to Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland. The candy would also quickly become popular in these markets.

The Blue Kit Kat Bars

The Blue Kit Kat Bars
BLUE KIT KAT

From 1944-1947, there was a milk shortage from World War 2 within the UK. This led to the use of milk chocolate being suspended during this time period.

The Rowntrees would be forced to change their Kit Kat recipe to meet the new ration laws that were put in place. They replaced the red Kit Kat packaging with a blue package and started making the candy with dark chocolate.

After 1947, the ban on using milk chocolate was lifted and Rowntree’s brought back the original Kit Kat Bar recipe.

The iconic Kit Kat slogan

In 1957, Donald Giles, who was the executive of JWT London was hired by Rowntree’s to create an advertisement. Giles would come up with the iconic Kit Kat Bar slogan that is still used today.

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“Have a break. Have a Kit Kat” 

The Kit Kat would quickly become one of the world’s favorite candy bars after this advertisement.

The Kit Kat Bar Expands its global reach

By 1970, the demand for Kit Kat Bars were at an all time high across the world. Rowntree’s would start the decade off by building a new distribution factory in Germany to meet the European demand.

Shortly after the construction of their factory in Germany, Rowntree’s would reach distribution deals in the US and Japan. The Hershey Chocolate Company would have the distribution rights in the US and Fujiya would have the distribution rights in Japan.

Both of these markets loved the Kit Kat Bars and quickly became one of the most sold candies in each country.

Rowntree’s is bought by Nestle

In 1988, Nestle would purchase Rowntree’s for $4.6 billion dollars and own the rights to the Kit Kat Bar. They owned the rights to distribute Kit Kat Bars in every country, except in the US.

Nestle would quickly begin building distribution plants in Malaysia, India, and China to meet public demand for the Kit Kat Bar.

Nestle’s battle with the Hershey Company

Nestle originally wanted to expand distribution of Kit Kat Bars in the US, but were stonewalled by the Hershey Company. This was due to the original deal that was agreed upon between Hersey’s and the original Kit Kat Bar owner’s Rowndtree’s.

In the original contract between the two stated that Hershey’s could continue distributing Kit Kat Bars on one condition. The condition was that the contract would be upheld as long as Hershey’s wasn’t sold to another company.

Today, Kit Kat Bars are still made and distributed by the Hershey Company within the US. If you’ve ever eaten a Kit Kat Bar in the US and different countries, you’ll notice the flavor is distinctly different.

Kit Kat Bar advertisement in the US

Within the US, the advertisement for the Kit Kat Bar also had an incredibly popular advertisement campaign. Since the 1980s, a jingle has been used in every American Kit Kat Bar commercial.

“Gimme a break! Gimme a break! Break me off a piece of that KIT KAT BAR!!!”

Numerous musicians and actors have done commercials for Kit Kat singing this jingle.

Kit Kat Chocolatories 

The global success of Kit Kat bars has led Nestle to make Kit Kat Chocolatories worldwide. These are incredibly large candy stores that only sell Kit Kat products.

Currently, there are Kit Kat Chocolatory stores located in the UK, Australia, Canada, Japan, and Brazil, where Kit Kats are produced. Each store has every single flavor available that is made in their respective countries.

Variations of the Kit Kat Bar

Since the original Kit Kat Bar came on the scene, Nestle and Hershey have made different variations of the chocolate bar. Here are some of the more notable variations of the Kit Kat Bar.

The Original Kit Kat Bar

The Original Kit Kat Bar
ORIGINAL KIT KAT

Still the most popular type of Kit Kat Bar is the original 4 finger bar that was created in the 1930s. No design changes have been made to the bar since other than the packaging that went from aluminum wrap to plastic.

Snack Sized Kit Kat Bars

Snack Sized Kit Kat Bars
SNACK-SIZED KIT KAT BARS

The next variation of the Kit Kat bars was the snack-sized two-finger bars. A smaller variation of the bar for those that want a lighter version of the Kit Kat Bar.

Kit Kat Big Chunk(Big Kat)

Kit Kat Big Kat
KIT KAT BIG KAT

In 1999, the Big Chunk(Big Kat in the US) was introduced into the market. A larger candy version of the Kit Kat that is one big chocolate covered krisp bar.

Kit Kat Pop Chocs(Pops)

Kit Kat Pop Chocs
KIT KAT POP CHOCS

The last variation of the Kit Kat Bar were the Pop Chocs or Pops. A miniature version of the candy in bite sized form that is sold in small bags to buckets.

Kit Kat Dark 

Kit Kat Dark
KIT KAT DARK

The dark chocolate Kit Kat was originally made during WW2 in Europe due to a milk chocolate shortage. Once the war ended, and milk chocolate became more readily available, the dark chocolate version was discontinued.

Decades later, Nestle would re-release their dark chocolate bar as Kit Kat Dark. This flavor and Kit Kat White Chocolate were huge hits in every market where Kit Kats are sold.

Kit Kat’s Controversy With Greenpeace

In 2010, Nestle received bad publicity from the environmental activist group Greenpeace. Members of the activist organization released a video of the destruction of orangutan habitats in Indonesia. 

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They claimed the culprits were employees of Nestle harvesting trees for palm oil. Which is one of the key ingredients for making Kit Kat bars.

Nestle would partner with The Forest Trust and establish new responsible sourcing guidelines to deal with the blowback. Ensuring that they wouldn’t be involved in any more deforestation and have a fully sustainable palm oil harvesting method by 2015.

Nestle claimed in 2017 that 53% of the palm oil they purchased was responsibly sourced. 

Kit Kat Logo

Buy Kit Kat Online

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Old time candy

The Evolution of the Kit Kat Wrappers

For decades, the Kit Kat wrapper stayed relatively the same throughout many generations. A bright red wrapper with the words ” Kit Kat ” was put right in the center.

Hershey would also use the standard red and white colors for their Kit Kat wrappers. The only difference is that Hershey would use a larger bold font than the one Nestle used.

Nestle and Hershey used the same standard tin foil wrap until 2001 when they switched to flow-wrap plastic. Hershey would also adopt Nestle’s slanted eclipse logo that both still use today.

Kit Kat Flavors

The first alternate Kit Kat flavor released internationally was an orange flavored Kit Kat in the 1990s. Since then there have been numerous flavors of Kit Kat Bars released throughout the world.

Some of the more known Kit Kat Flavors released internationally or Japan include:

  • Strawberry 
  • Orange 
  • Banana 
  • Strawberry w/ Milk
  • Duplo Berry 
  • Green Tea 
  • Cheese & Lemon Cake 
  • Cafe Latte 
  • Honey White
  • Takagi Passion Fruit
  • White Miruku Shitate
  • Leite de Hokkaido 
  • Fruit Salad
  • Special Winter Strawberry 
  • Cherry 
  • Leite Nasu White 
  • Bean Azuki 
  • Almond 
  • Kiwi 
  • Hokkaido Azuki Beans
  • Sakura Saku
  • Hokkaido Milk 
  • Matcha Milk 
  • Caramel 
  • Cookies & Cream
  • Waguri 
  • Bitter 
  • Caramel Macchiato 
  • Azuki w/ Vanilla 
  • White 
  • Soy Sauce
  • Soy Flour
  • Dainagon Azuki beans 
  • Potato
  • Apple
  • Chocolate Drink
  • Jasmine Tea
  • Semi Suite 
  • Sparkling Strawberry 
  • Milk w/ Coffee
  • Veggie Flavored
  • Milk Tea
  • Caramel Aroma
  • Sakura Matcha 
  • Raspberry 
  • Raspberry & Passion Fruit
  • Cola & Lemon Squash
  • Bitter Almonds
  • Zunda 
  • Plum & Soda
  • Vanilla Aroma
  • Brown Sugar
  • Cocoa
  • Little Pepper 
  • Tiramisu Green Tea 
  • Banana Bar
  • Red Beans
  • Big Flavor Pudding 
  • Wine & Chocolate
  • Blueberry Cheesecake
  • Hazelnut & Strawberry
  • Citrus Golden Blend
  • Pear
  • Soy Green
  • Shinshu Apple 
  • Potato
  • Cinnamon Biscuit
  • Pancake
  • Grape Mousse 
  • Soy Sauce
  • Corn
  • Watermelon
  • Half Bitter
  • Maple
  • English Tea w/ Milk!
  • Wafer

Why Are There So Many Kit Kat Flavors In Japan?

Kit Kat became widely popular in Japan and is currently the 2nd most-sold candy bar in the country. The demand for Kit Kat has led to a wide variety of different flavors that are exclusive to Japan.

It may lead you to wonder why there are so many Kit Kat flavors in Japan. If you look through the list of Japanese Kit Kat flavors, you’ll notice that many of the flavors are fruit flavored.

One of the big reasons for this is that in Japan, there’s a high demand for fruit-flavored candies. This is due to the price of produce in the country being quite expensive as all fruit is imported.

Many Japanese citizens don’t have access to fruit, so they resort to buying fruit flavored candies.

New Kit Kat Flavors 2022

In 2022, Kit Kat announced they were releasing two new Kit Kat products to various markets. Kit Kat Duos and Kit Kat THiNS.

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Kit Kat Duos

Kit Kat Duos
KIT KAT DUOS

Kit Kat Duos are a combination of two flavors mixed into the two and four-finger Kit Kat bars. One flavour on top and another on the bottom that is meant to complement one another.

As of now, there are currently three Kit Kat Duos flavours available for purchase. The strawberry+dark chocolate, mint+dark chocolate, and mocha+chocolate.

Fans of Kit Kats can expect more Kit Kat Duos flavours coming to the market in the future.

Kit Kat THiNS

Kit Kat THiNS
KIT KAT THINS

Kit Kat THiNS were the other newest Kit Kat Bar variations released in 2022. These are snack-size Kit Kat bars that are placed in a sharable pouch. Kit Kat THiNS are currently available in 2 flavours: original chocolate and chocolate hazelnut.

Kit Kat Dark Ingredients

  • Cocoa Mass
  • Sugar
  • Wheat Flour
  • Palm Kernel
  • Palm, Coconut, and Vegetable Oils
  • Modified Milk Ingredients
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Sunflower and Soy Lecithins
  • Yeast
  • Sodium Bicarbonate
  • Calcium Sulphate
  • Salt
  • Protease
  • Xylanase
  • Natural Flavors

Why Don’t Kit Kats Taste The Same On Each Continent?

If you have eaten a Kit Kat in different countries, you’ll notice that the taste is not the same. There are two reasons for the difference in taste between countries and continents.

  1. Different Owners
  2. Available Ingredients

Nestle is the main owner of the Kit Kat name and brand. They own the rights to produce and sell Kit Kat products in every country in the world, aside from the United States.

This is due to the Hershey Company owning the right to sell and produce Kit Kat products in the US. Along with owning the right to produce Kit Kat bars, Hershey also uses their own recipe that differs from Nestle’s.

The availability of ingredients in each country also influences the flavor of Kit Kats in different countries. For example, Nestle uses 66% milk chocolate in Europe, and in their factories in China, they must use whole-milk powder.

Kit Kat Ingredients By Country

As mentioned in the previous section, the ingredients for a Kit Kat are different in various regions worldwide. Here are some of the different ingredients used to make the Kit Kat in different parts of the world. 

Kit Kat(United States)

  •  Sugar
  • Wheat Flour 
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Nonfat Milk 
  • Chocolate
  • Refined Palm 
  • Kernel Oil
  • Lactose (milk) 
  • Milk Fat
  • Soy Lecithin
  • PGPR (emulsifier)
  • Yeast
  • Artificial Flavor
  • Salt
  • Sodium Bicarbonate

Kit Kat(Europe)

Throughout Europe, the Kit Kat is made with 66% milk chocolate, and the other ingredients are as follows.

  • Sugar
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Cocoa Mass
  • Dried Whole Milk
  • Cocoa Mass
  • Lactose
  • Proteins From Whey
  • Whey Powder
  • Emulsifier (Sunflower Lecithin)
  • Butterfat 
  • Wheat Flour
  • Sugar
  • Vegetable Fat
  • Cocoa Mass
  • Yeast
  • Sodium Bicarbonate
  • Salt, 
  • Emulsifier (Soya Lecithin)
  • Flavorings

Kit Kat(Canada) 

  • Sugar
  • Milk Ingredients
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Cocoa Mass
  • Whey Powder
  • Lactose
  • Soya Lecithin
  • Polyglycerol 
  • Polyricinoleate
  • Wheat Flour
  • Sugar
  • Modified Palm Oil
  • Cocoa
  • Sodium Bicarbonate
  • Soya Lecithin
  • Yeast
  • Natural Flavor

Kit Kat(Asia)

The ingredients for Kit Kats made in China are generally the same as in Europe, except for two ingredients. Chinese Kit Kat factories use whole-milk powder instead of whole-milk and ship their cacao beans from West Africa.

Kit Kat Nutrition

Serving Size:1 bar (1.5 oz) (42g)% Daily Value*
Amount Per Serving
Calories218
Total Fat 11g17%
Saturated Fat 7.5g38%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.5g
Cholesterol 4.6mg2%
Sodium 23mg1%
Total Carbohydrates 27g9%
Dietary Fiber 0.4g2%
Sugars 20g
Protein 2.7g
Vitamin D 0mcg0%
Calcium 52mg4%
Iron 0mg2%
Potassium 97mg2%
Caffeine 5.9mg
  • The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Kit Kat Bar’s Global Reach

The Kit Kat Bar in its almost 90 year history has firmly become one of the world’s most popular candy bars. They are sold in over 16 countries around the world with millions of Kit Kat Bar products sold each day.

Pictures of Kit Kat

Modern Kit Kat Advertising Campaigns 

Aside from the great taste and convenience, one thing that helped boost Kit Kat bars to global popularity is advertising. We’ve already mentioned the “gimme a break” advertising campaign, but here are some more advertising campaigns from Kit Kat.

The Chunky Kit Kat Flavour Vote

In 2012, Nestle wanted to release new flavours for the Chunky Kit Kat in the UK market. They let the people decide which would be the new Chunky Kit Kat flavour.

Customers chose white chocolate, double chocolate, peanut butter, and orange. Peanut butter would win the contest with 47% of the vote, but the other flavours would become available years later.

Android Mobile and Kit Kat

In 2013, Google released the 4.4 version of its Android operating system. They would call the system “KitKat” as an homage to the chocolate bar.

Google was able to secure a license from Nestle with no money given in the agreement. The execs of the Nestle UK branch believed the publicity would earn them a lot of money.

Nestle ran a contest with Android where a handful of Kit Kat wrappers would win customers Nexus 7 mini tablets.

The Golden Ticket Draw

During Big Brother Series 7 in the UK, Kit Kat was a sponsor of the reality series. They ran a golden ticket contest to advertise the show. 

Nestle put 100 golden tickets at random in Kit Kat wrappers throughout the UK. Those lucky enough to find a golden ticket were given a chance to become part of the Big Brother cast. Surpassing the normal auditioning phase that the show puts contestants through.

Kit Kat Commercials

Kit Kat FAQ

Who makes Kit Kat?

Nestlé acquired the Kit Kat brand as part of its purchase of the Rowntree business in 1988.

How many calories in a fun size Kit Kat?

Kit Kat Fun Size (2 fingers) contains 89 calories.

How many calories in a Kit Kat?

There are 218 calories in a 1 Kit Kat bar.

How many Kit Kat flavors are there?

In total, Nestlé has calculated that there are over 1,500 possible different combinations flavors for customers to choose from but typically there are about 40 different flavors of the Kit-Kat mini available at any given time.

How many calories in a mini Kit Kat?

There are 87 calories in 1 bar (16.7 g) of Kit Kat Mini.

When was Kit Kat made?

KitKat was invented in 1935 in York and was originally named the ‘Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp’, before being renamed ‘KitKat’ a couple of years on.

What is in a Kit Kat?

The ingredients of Kit Kat are Sugar, Wheat Flour (contains Calcium, Iron, Thiamin, and Niacin), Milk Powders (Whole and Skimmed), Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Butter, Vegetable Fats (Palm, Shea, Mango Kernel, Sal), Lactose and Proteins, from Whey (from Milk), Whey Powder (from Milk), Butterfat (from Milk), Emulsifier (Lecithins), Yeast, Raising Agent (Sodium Bicarbonate), Natural Flavourings.

How Many Kit Kat Bars Are Produced Each Year?

Between Nestle and Hershey in the US, an estimated 17 billion Kit Kat bars are produced each year globally. Meaning that every person in the world could be given two Kit Kat bars with some still left over. Around 200 million of those bars are sold in the US alone

How many Kit Kat flavors in Japan?

Japan is home to over 300 unique flavors of Kit Kats created exclusively for certain cities, regions, and seasons.

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