Last week, I found out about a new foodie TV competition in the UK. Our Hairy Bikers are presenting the 5-part 'Chocolate Challenge' series, which started on Channel 5 earlier in 2020. After the success of baking and cookery contests, this does feel like a logical next step.
It pits 7 amateur chocoholics against both each other and the annoying stickiness of melted chocolate. Tasks so far include 'invent a new chocolate bar' and 'make 20 identical bon-bons'. The creation challenges also ask for naming and branding, and that adds to the fun. I'm sure you can imagine me sitting there like "who the hell's going to buy a chocolate called THAT?!"
The winner of Chocolate Challenge will have the amazing opportunity to work with Nestle, to eventually create a brand new... KitKat flavour. To be launched nationwide at some later date.
When it comes to KitKats (and chocolate in general), I've been spoiled rotten by Japan.
Japan has literally hundreds of KitKat flavours. That tally covers seasonal flavours, limited editions, 'alcoholic' ones (0.02% alcohol, calm down), and types you can only get in certain shops or areas. (Imagine London or Birmingham having exclusive KitKats you can't buy in other cities. It's like that.)
Since I got to Osaka, I've tried as many of them as I can. My first bumper review of KitKat flavours involved 8 boxes, and I pick up new ones every few months. Sometimes, they come along in my suitcase as Japan souvenirs for friends and family.
The UK market is slowly seeing more flavours arrive, but not even half the amount Japan's got. I'm not counting potential combos from the KitKat Chocolatory 'create your break' website, only officially released ones. And last I checked, I wasn't stuffing my face with a white chocolate and marshmallow KitKat I got from the supermarket, so there we are.
So to me, the idea of launching one new KitKat flavour in the UK as a competition prize... I just feel sorry for everyone back home. Will they ever know the joys of the strawberry cheesecake KitKat? Rum and raisin? Apple pie? That pumpkin pudding one that only comes out at Halloween?
Most people won't, but there is a way if you're keen - the Japan Centre online shop to the rescue! More chocolate fingers than a toddler who found the 'secret supply' in the cupboard. They've even got the wasabi KitKats, for those who dare.
At least I'm enjoying the rest of the Chocolate Challenge show. The Hairy Bikers are always a good laugh, and some of those choco creations have made me drool. Along with numerous 'behind the scenes' shots of the factory to match every challenge...
It'll be interesting to see who wins - and which shiny new flavour the UK ends up with. If it's something Japan hasn't done before, I'll be stunned. Seeing as most contestants used the same flavour 'idea' at least twice by the 2nd episode, I think I already know what they'd 'invent'.
Can someone make a TV show about Japanese sweets next, please? I think the rest of the world should know what it's missing out on.