The exam season is in full swing and I came across this in the local post office. You can buy a packet of Kit Kat, stick a stamp on it and send it through the post as a good luck message.
But why Kit Kat? Well, you probably know that you can't have a single consonant in Japanese; consonants are followed by a vowel (except for 'n'). So Kit becomes 'kit-to' and Kat becomes 'ka-tsu'.
Now 'kitto' means 'certainly, for sure'. And 'katsu' means 'to win'. So we have a good luck message: kitto katsu きっと勝つ 'you're sure to win', i.e.pass your exams.
I hail from near York where Kit Kat originated in the Rowntrees chocolate factory. Childhood memories of winding down the car windows to smell the After Eight, and the brick around the factory windows white with Polo mint powder. But that was another age. Nestle took over Rowntrees and Kit Kat went global. So here in Japan we have aduki flavoured Kit Kat, eda-mame Kit Kat, green tea Kit Kat, and pink Kit Kat at cherry blossom time. But Kitto Katsu takes the biscuit (if you'll pardon the expression). The Yorkshire marketing people in Rowntrees of old could never have dreamed that one up!Cheers,
Correction: I'm told on good authority that the Kitto Katsu idea was bandied around in conversations with Rowntree Mackintosh's then JV partners, Fujiya, in the late 1970s. So apologies to all Yorkshire marketers.