‘A chocolate bar that a man could take to work in his pack up (packed lunch)‘ was the bright idea from a Rowntree’s employee which led to the creation of one of Britain’s best loved brands, KIT KAT®, which was born 75 years ago this month.
Since that momentous day in 1935, KIT KAT® has firmly established itself in British culture, spreading its chocolate fingers far and wide that is sold in more countries than any other chocolate brand.
KIT KAT® has factories across the globe, producing a staggering 17.6 billion fingers every year. In the UK alone more than one billion KIT KAT® products are eaten every year. Three million KIT KAT®s are made every day in York about 564 KIT KAT® fingers are consumed every single second.
From humble beginnings in Yorkshire, a mere £1,750 investment was all that was needed to launch KIT KAT®, giving the start it needed to go on and become the global confectionery brand it is today. KIT KAT® is now manufactured in 14 countries and sold in over 70 territories around the world from Algeria to Japan. In October, a new factory will open in Dubai to cater for the growing demand for KIT KAT® in the Middle East.
The launch of KIT KAT® Chunky in the UK in 1999 heralded a new era of innovation as KIT KAT® targeted new consumers looking for a bigger chocolate snack. KIT KAT® Senses arrived on shelf in March 2008 offering the same crispy wafer and smooth milk chocolate we all know and love – but with an indulgent hazelnut praline centre.
Earlier this year, Nestlé UK launched Fairtrade certified four-finger KIT KAT® in the UK and Ireland, marking the latest milestone in the development of the UK’s favourite chocolate biscuit bar.
David Rennie, Managing Director of Nestlé Confectionery in the UK, attributes the success of KIT KAT® to the fact it has stuck to its roots:
“With a brand that’s 75 years young it’s important to celebrate reaching this milestone, but actually the most important thing is to plan for the future. This is a brand that started life in York and started an important trend in Britain at that time. It is a great product with a great taste, as well as consistent brand qualities; all ingredients that have allowed a British invention to grow to become a much-loved global brand with a special place in consumers’ hearts far and wide. KIT KAT® has stayed close to its traditions and they will remain a guiding light for the brand in the future.
“We know that consumers want to know that the brands that they love behave responsibly. That's why Nestlé launched the global Cocoa Plan in 2009 which led to the introduction of Fairtrade certified four-finger KIT KAT®, a significant moment in the brand’s history. The Cocoa Plan is Nestlé’s way of supporting cocoa farmers, their families and communities to secure a better future. Our vision is to help cocoa farmers run profitable farms, respect the environment, have a good quality of life and for their children to benefit from an education and see cocoa farming as a respectable profession.”
Robert Opie, Founder of the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising, sums up why KIT KAT ®has been such a phenomenal success:
“Clearly, any brand that can sell a billion bars a year has reached iconic status and certainly one that has survived 75 years and is still one of Britain’s favourite brands cannot be anything else than iconic. We’ve grown up with it … we take it every day in our shopping bags … we just love it … it is just one of Britain’s favourite brands.”
TOP FACTS YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT KIT KAT®
- More than 1 billion KIT KAT® products are eaten in the UK every year – the equivalent of 564 fingers every second!
- 17.6 billion KIT KAT® fingers are eaten across the world every year.
- The largest single retail outlet for KIT KAT® is Dubai Duty Free, which sells over 1 tonne per day.
- The KIT KAT® name first appeared on a boxed assortment of chocolates that Rowntree’s made during the 1920s (they trademarked the name in 1911). The Assortment was named after an 18th century Whig literary club and had a picture of its proprietor, Christopher Catling (Kit Cat) printed on the box. In 1931, the firm decided to focus on a handful of strong brands and the Kit Cat assortment was a casualty of the decision.
- Due to a wartime milk shortages in 1942, KIT KAT® temporarily changed its recipe and was sold as a plain chocolate variant in special blue wrapping.
- In 1958 the ‘Have break, have a Kit Kat’ advertising sloganwas introduced to the public.
- Over the years, KIT KAT® TV advertising campaigns have left a lasting legacy, featuring stars such as Roy Kinnear, Sue Pollard, Roy Keane, Kelly Brook and Girls Aloud.
- The 1989 Panda KIT KAT® advertisement featured in Channel 4’s “100 Greatest Adverts” poll in 2000.
- Japan produces over 40 different flavours of KIT KAT®, including Wasabi, Strawberry Cheesecake, Lemon Vinegar and even Cucumber!
- The Chinese version of KIT KAT® is sold in a plastic bag due to the humid weather in the region.
- Every five minutes enough KIT KAT®s are manufactured worldwide to overshadow the Eiffel Tower, while a year’s GLOBAL production would stretch around the London Underground more than 350 times. KIT KAT® is now produced in 14 countries: UK, Egypt, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Algeria, South Africa, Germany, Japan, China, Malaysia, India, Turkey, Venezuela, Spain, Mexico and Bulgaria.
- Fairtrade four-finger KIT KAT® first appeared on shelves in the UK in January 2010. This followed the launch of the Nestlé global Cocoa Plan which committed £65 million investment over the next ten years in programmes to address the key economic, social and environmental issues facing cocoa farming communities.