My lifelong love affair with the Kit Kat bar
My love affair with the Kit Kat bar began at the impressionable age of eleven. Every morning my father would buy a copy of the Daily Telegraph and a packet of Players Navy Cut for himself and a four finger Kit Kat for me.
The only questionable purchase in those days was the newspaper as my father was a lifelong trade unionist. The cigarettes did for him in the end and maybe the sugar soaked Kit Kats will have just as deleterious an effect on me.
My trophy was carefully placed in the breast pocket of my school blazer and eaten quietly in a corner of the playground. School boy etiquette did not requiring sharing. To this day, the Kit Kat is the default accompaniment to my mid morning cup of coffee.
I have flirted with Twirls, Twixes and Wispas, and all have their place in the somewhat obsessional larder of my mind, but none has surpassed the Kit Kat in my affections. There are a few bars in the basket tin as I write. The two finger version is the UK favourite biscuit consumed at 2 million bars a day.
The Kit Kat bar was dreamed up by a worker in the Rowntree factory, Willy Wonka would have been proud of him. He suggested a snack that “ a man could take to work in his pack” and the red foiled bar, which celebrates its eightieth birthday this year, has always been promoted for the working break with the slogan “ Have a break – have a Kit Kat”. It is a blokes bar.
I was astounded when earlier this year the European High Court refused to let Nestles ( who inherited Kit Kat with the take over of Rowntree) copyright the distinctive four finger bar that snaps apart. Sometimes the law defies common sense. Of course, it is a Kit Kat! Where was the judge brought up?
There have been clever variations on the basic bar. The limited edition orange or mint flavour for example; the oh so indulgent but temporary five finger bar and, of course, the chunky, which to my mind, has too much wafer and not enough chocolate.
Now my favourite snack is under attack from that shining knight of culinary correctness, Mr Jamie Oliver. As a nation we eat far too much sugar and schoolboys aged eleven are especially at risk. If there is to be a tax on sugary drinks as Jamie proposes, then a tax on Kit Kats will surely follow.
For the first time in my life, I have read the small print on the wrapper and can confirm that each bar is 48% fats and 26% sugar. The only consolation is that the sugar is fairly traded.
Hard on Jamie’s heels come an impressive report from Public Health England which ministers have sat on for several months. It calls for sugar tax, restrictions on advertising and supermarket promotions. ( Have you noticed how W H Smith always offer discounted chocolate at the till?) The report proposes a long term reduction in the sugar content of all our favourite drinks and snacks – a kind of slow detox to wean me off a Kit Kat.
Childhood obesity is a massive problem costing the NHS over £5 billion a year. One in 10 preschool children are overweight, one in 5 ten years olds and one in four adults, including this columnist.
Contrary to popular opinion, obesity is not easily treated. Diets only provide remission and bariatric surgery is the only sure solution. Our bodies and our brains crave for ever more sugar until eating becomes an addiction. Prevention is the only way forward.
A welcome but unlikely champion of the Kit Kat bar emerges in the form of David Cameron who may not be aware that in laboratory tests rats prefer a shot of sugar to a sniff of cocaine. Sugar is more addictive.
A Number Ten spokesperson confirms that the Prime Minster has his heart set against the sugar tax. He believes there are more effective way of tackling childhood obesity.
This may be right wing libertarianism or it may be a reluctance to take on the food industry. Either way the message is clear. Vote Conservative – have another Kit Kat.
I have been diagnosed by my wife as suffering with FOBO. This new condition stands for ‘fear of being offline’ and so the loss of my mobile phone one evening last week led to a sleepless and agitated night.
According to Seventeen, the authoritative source for FOBO sufferers, most young people are “totally addicted to their phones” and are convinced that having the world at their finger tips on a screen is “sugar awesome”. Losing your phone, according to Seventeen, equates to losing your bestie.
So thank you to the school girl quietly studying in Hexham Library who spotted that I left my phone behind and handed it in. And thank you to the librarians who returned it the following morning with a smile. There are good people in the world. Should I reward them each with a Kit Kat and post a message on Facebook?
published in Newcastle Journal on 2nd November