This isn’t The KitKat Story. If you search for ‘history of kitkat‘ in essence you just get this handy graphic repeated ad-infinitum in slightly altered text form;
Without doubt, anything with 86 years of history will need boiling down a bit, and whilst the exact reasons for not having access to milk are many and varied, nonetheless the Dark Chocolate KitKat is an indictment of how close to the wind the country sailed during the Second World War. And I remember a broadsheet Sunday Supplement type interview with a fairly young Brand Manager, in the mid to late 90s, explaining how proud they were that there was no KitKat ice cream, no KitKat milkshake, etc… and how they had no plans to change that any time soon. But…
…you can buy a Dark Chocolate KitKat intentionally now of course, then again you could always buy a Dark Chocolate KitKat knock-off* (*No, it wasn’t – legal Ed.) from a then-rival 30 years ago…
Here’s a genuinely clever, by agency standards, advert that doesn’t feature above;
We could just fast forward through the next 80 or so years after blue period KitKat, what’s interesting about the KitKat from a vending perspective is that it must be the only item in history that initially had to have not only a special (and ever changing) vending size for the mechanical era, but also then when those days were over, had to have a special vending pack for the multi-choice machine era. We can’t actually find the picture of one, being a Rowntree era KitKat, but in a now standard flow wrapped package, marked up with the friendly words ‘VENDING PACK’, but I will keep my eye out at abandoned landfill sites.
It was in 2001 that the specially wrapped vending KitKat became obsolete; it even made the mainstream press, in an era when they didn’t rely on PA wires and PR industry puff pieces to quite the same extent as now;
I know, this isn’t a terribly exciting aspect to the KitKat’s history, but it is one that Mr Google has proven isn’t being talked about elsewhere* (*maybe there’s a reason for that? – Sleepy Legal Ed.). Suffice to say that in the mechanical era, it was foil all the way.
Still is for the two finger ones – but if you go into the likes of Aldi or Lidl on a bad day, you’ll be staring into the future as they often sell plastic wrapped 2 finger bars now.
As you can see the official Rowntree Machines, made by Deans of Nottingham, that’s the white metal ones by the way, existed in an era of 6d, 1/ or 5p, or 2/ or 10p coins in multiples of 1 or 2. The red and wooden machines were approved and licenced by Rowntree, but only ever sold standard 4 finger retail bars, and were not adjustable for bar size.
The official machines though were supplied with a quite variable magazine, which was handy because even if the ability to adjust pricing by doubling the same coin was a simple matter, it was never possible to accept, say 15p by inserting 1 x 10p and 1 x 5p coin. It simply wasn’t that complex a mechanism.
Therefore, a variety of special weight and sized vending KitKats were created over the years, because at the time most vended KitKats were sold through these dedicated machines. This even included a special vending size 5 finger bar! Again, we don’t have any pictures other than the
one two (updated!) below, sadly, but if you squint at the montage above, one of the machines extra stickers does perhaps assure the buyer they will get 20p’s worth of KitKat for the presumably above-inflation 10p rise.
To finish off – a couple of galleries. Firstly, we have the official Rowntree’s manual that would have been included with a new machine, that includes some very optimistic profit predictions! (To save or view at full size, long hold on a phone, or ‘right click’ with the mouse).
And a machine in detail;