Breaking the Mould: The Story of KitKat®

-  New exhibition delves into the one of the world’s most popular chocolate bars -

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York’s Chocolate Story has launched a new exhibition exploring the history of KitKat®. Opened on 30th March 2019, Breaking the Mould: The Story of KitKat® uncovers the secrets behind one of the world’s most popular confectionery brand.

KitKat® was created in York over 80 years ago and today a staggering four million KitKat® bars are produced every day in the city. Guests can explore the bar’s history, origins and impact in the new exhibition. 

In 1935, Rowntree’s Marketing Manager George Harris was inspired to create a new type of chocolate product when a factory worker left a note in the company suggestion box: why not make something to eat in a “pack up”. Harris set to work, making a simple treat that appealed to everybody, was snack-sized and easily affordable. Thus, the KitKat® was born. 

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From humble beginnings in York, the KitKat® has gone on to be a dominating force in the world of confectionery. More than 4 million KitKat® bars are produced every day by Nestlé’s York factory alone. In 2010, KitKat® was certified by Guinness World Records as the world’s most global brand and in 2014 was named Time Magazine’s most influential confectionery bar of all time.

“There’s never been a product quite like KitKat®; everybody knows what it is!” said Exhibition Coordinator Bernie Fleck. “This exhibition offers a unique insight into the history of York’s most iconic export. We all have a memory associated with KitKat®; from the snack in your packed lunch, to the rare and wonderful treat you picked up in Japan. Its story is a fascinating one, involving ground-breaking marketing, revolutionary manufacturing and 17th Century mutton pies!”

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Some interesting KitKat® insights:

KitKat® is actually named after a pie

In 17th Century London, baker Christopher Catling became famous for his mutton pies. The pies were affectionately named Kit Cats, after an abbreviated form of the baker’s name. These pies became popular with a group of political and literary elite who would gather in Catling’s pie shop. In time, this group became known as Kit Kat club. It is from this club that first an assortment box of chocolates made by Rowntrees was named and later the chocolate bar itself.

The Blue Kit Kat

Due to rationing and food shortages throughout WW2, the KitKat® recipe was altered in order to avoid impact on customer loyalty they became blue.

KitKat® bars are very popular in Japan

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The Japanese phrase ‘Kitto Kattsu’ roughly translates as ‘you will surely win’ / ‘good luck’. By chance, the phrase sounds remarkably similar to ‘KitKat®’. This good fortune lends itself to the popularity of the bars where they are given as tokens of good luck. There is even a box on the back of the bar in which you can write a message, wishing the recipient success.

Nestlé Japan produce over 40 flavours of KitKat® including such wondrous taste-bud temptations as Wasabi, Green Tea, Baked Potato, Chocobanana, Blueberry Cheesecake, Cinnamon Cookie and Hokkaido Melon with Mascarpone Cheese amongst others.

Some more fascinating KitKat® Facts

  • Prior to the ‘Have a Break’ slogan Kit Kat® was marketed as ‘The Biggest Little Meal’ and ‘The Best Companion to a Cup of Tea’.

  • Over the years, KitKat® TV adverts have featured stars such as Roy Kinnear, Sue Pollard, Roy Keane, Kelly Brook and Girls Aloud.

  • The filling between wafer layers in a KitKat® is made from other crushed up KitKat® bars

  • Attached to a weather balloon, Nestlè sent a KitKat® into space in 2012 in support of the record breaking sky dive by Felix Baumgartner.

Breaking the Mould: The Story of KitKat® opened at York’s Chocolate Story on 30th March 2019.