If a food isn’t Instagrammable, can it really exist? Would the Kit Kat have gotten as far as it did if the ’gram had existed back in 1935? How can you market a candy that’s just... plain brown? It probably mattered less back when photography was black-and-white.
Kit Kat has had to adapt to changing times. Its new limited edition flavor, Birthday Cake, scheduled for release in early April, looks very nice in full color.
The wafers inside are the same as they have always been—as several Kit Kat employees have explained, you don’t mess with what you’re best known for. But the outside is white crème flavored with vanilla and decorated with crunchy sprinkles.
The new Kit Kat was revealed last month at Hershey headquarters in Hershey, Pennsylvania to a group of 10 journalists and influencers, who were assured that they were the only non-Hershey employees in the world to know about it and were not to tell anyone else, lest Hershey agents track them down and spirit them back to Pennsylvania to be drowned in the secret chocolate river that runs beneath the factory. Sorry, no, not that last part, only because there’s no chocolate river (probably). A room in the Hershey research and development facility had been turned into a facsimile of a child’s birthday party, with party hats and horns and a cotton candy machine. (There is no cotton candy involved in the Birthday Cake Kit Kat. The woman on the marketing team who had organized the party had always just wanted to play with a cotton candy machine.)
“How can you have birthday cake without sprinkles?” asked Justin Kukura, Hershey’s senior manager of chocolate development, aka, creator of new Kit Kat flavors. This was clearly a rhetorical question that left no room for anyone who preferred chocolate birthday cake to speak up.
“It has a fantastic flavor, and there’s that color and visual element,” Kukura continued. There’s no water in white crème, so the sprinkles don’t dissolve and their color doesn’t bleed. Vanilla itself is universally appealing. Also, it’s easier to see colored sprinkles on a white, rather than a brown, background.
But how does it taste? Like most birthday cakes, Birthday Cake Kit Kat is best in moderation. It’s very sweet, and it tastes just like a sugar rush. (It was right after I tried the Birthday Cake Kit Kat, after tasting several other prototypes, that I realized there is such a thing as too much Kit Kat.) The sprinkles do give it a nice crunch. But it’s no Mint + Dark Chocolate Duo. Or even a Lemon Crisp. It reminds me of the birthday cakes from the bakery in my hometown, which were beautiful on the outside but overly sweet from the frosting and dry and dull inside. Kit Kat should remember that an Instagram is just for a moment, but a wafer is forever.
Still, I’m glad Kit Kat is experimenting with new flavors. That gives it plenty more chances to get it right.