Yesterday one of our new students, Atsushi, brought as a gift to the school a box of green KitKats. That is, KitKat’s infused (to judge from the illustration) with green tea. A singularly Japanese take on the KitKat, in other words.
There is a famous scene in Quentin Tarantino’s film Pulp Fiction where Vincent (John Travolta) explains to his partner Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) some of the little differences he experienced while representing their drugs cartel in Europe. A quarter-pounder is not called a quarter-pounder, for instance, but a Royale; in Belgium you can get a glass of beer in a movie theatre; and in Holland they put mayonnaise on their fries, not ketchup; and so on.
The green KitKat is most likely a marketing exercise, not evidence of cultural drift. Cultural drift is most often expressed in the basic foodstuffs – bread, cheese, beer – which have had time to evolve and diverge. Hence a conversation I had with a Russian student some time ago, who very polite enquired why English bread comes wrapped in cellophane, tastes of nothing, and has the consistency of wood pulp. Is it not, she asked innocently, an important food?
It is an important food, and we produce very fine bread if you know where to look. But I suppose the margins on a loaf of bread are very low, and independent bakeries struggle to stay open; people get their bread from the supermarket, and supermarkets sell convenience, and sliced bread, as we all know, is, well, the best thing since sliced bread.
The green KitKat, like the blue Smartie, or the loaf of white sliced bread (invented, 1928, in the USA), is not so much an evolved food as the work of a mad scientist. However, I have a weakness for white sliced bread (very nice toasted with a lot of very yellow butter and maybe a dob of Marmite), and in the interests of cultural exchange I sampled a green KitKat, and found it, a little disappointingly, to be just a KitKat.