1. Kit Kats
There’s nothing wrong with a chocolate American Kit-Kat, but Nestlé has made over 200 different varieties of it for Japanese snackers since 2000, with flavors like Green Tea, Soy Sauce, Cantaloupe, Raspberry Passion Fruit, Creme Brulee, Golden Citrus, Banana, Cafe Au Lait, and Strawberry Cheesecake.
Japanese Kit Kat fans even got to vote in a contest to bring back a favorite past flavor last December, which meant tastes like Lemon Cheesecake, Caramel Pudding, and Tiramisu had a chance to live again.
Suntory, Japan’s Pepsi distributor, launched Pepsi Special last month. It’s a cola with “ingestible dextrin”, a nutrient specially designed to decrease the body’s fat intake. The FDA doesn’t allow American soda to be fortified with nutrients like that, so if you want to buy a bottle, buy a plane ticket.
And if you’re willing to run the risks with regular sugary soda, there’s always that seasonal Pepsi Mont Blanc flavor released in Japan in the winter of 2010. It’s got earthy tones of coffee and chestnut, to go along with a hint of vanilla, and a twinge of jealousy in every soda drinker reading this sentence in the Western Hemisphere.
And get ready for December 11th, because that’s when folks in Japan get to enjoy Pepsi White. It’s clear, it’s orange-flavored, and it’s got an adorable variety of cartoon snowmen on the label. Pepsi White proves that Japan’s not only better at classic Pepsi, but they’re also better at failed weird versions of Pepsi.
3. Pizza Hut Stuffed Crust Pizza
December isn’t just a time of delicious Kit Kat and Pepsi varieties in Japan. It’s also the time of year for ideas like Pizza Hut Japan’s “Winter Double King”, a pie featuring toppings like beef, king crab, potatoes, corn, and eggs. Biggest highlight: a stuffed crust piled with nuggets of mayonnaise-filled shrimp.
And don’t forget their “German King” pizza. If this were poker, Pizza Hut Japan sees your pizza crust stuffed with cheese, and raises you this monster edge loaded with cheese and sausage and bacon.
4. Fast Food Burgers
Burger King Japan rolled out this Pumpkin Burger as a limited-time fall special this year. Those big thick slices of “pumpkin” are actually fried kabocha squash (known as “Japanese pumpkin”), which means this burger’s an exotic treat and a perfect match for your standard October latte.
Burger King also celebrated their five-year anniversary in Japan by offering an all-you-can-eat special to every customer for five days straight.
And don’t go thinking Japanese McDonald’s didn’t rise to BK’s challenge, because they took the whole burger game to another level with this deep-fried macaroni seafood salad burger. While other countries eat burgers with boring beef patties, this seasonal bad boy boasts a patty of shrimp and macaroni, crusted with breadcrumbs, then deep-fried to perfection.
5. Potato Chips
Japan’s Calbee potato chip company made sweet, beautiful, processed-food-synergy love with Japanese KFC, creating these Ginger Salt Chicken Potato Chips. The chips are sold at convenience stores, and then the bag has a coupon redeemable at KFC for actual chicken.
Japan’s also proud to boast potato chip flavors like ‘shrooms and bacon, tandoori chicken, and caesar salad, along with this adorable commercial proving that all potato chip pitchmen should be dogs.
6. Ice Cream
Then there’s the city of Yokohama, where you can hit up their annual Ice Cream Festival for out-there flavors like Beef Tongue (the 2008 fest’s most popular kind). Or you can dig into this giant group sundae from Yokohama’s Red Brick Festival.
Japanese whiskey maker Suntory (remember them from the magic fat-blocking Pepsi?) released a Rolling Stones 50th Anniversary Whiskey to celebrate the band’s longevity. There are only 150 bottles being made and they’ll probably all get snapped up by locals. So enjoy your well-deserved Mick Jagger whiskey, Japan. You’re kicking ass at every other unhealthy treat, and you deserve a stiff drink at the end of the food-crazy day.