This week we've decided to challenge ourself to a chocolate bar knowledge quiz. We didn't score badly at all, but the problem is that when you spend your days educating people in eating good quality chocolate, you really don't eat that many mainstream chocolate bars. So, we thought we should really find out more about traditional chocolate bars. Whilst I still prefer my own handmade chocolate bars on most days, there is a time and place when only Twix will do! Each week, we are challenging ourself to find out more about popular chocolate bars, bring you their rich history and describe the taste too.
We'll update this blog post with more information, photos and history from the wonderful chocolate world!
Magdalena & Nick
Well known UK chocolate bars
Most popular chocolate bars
KitKat and KitKat Chunky
What chocolate covered wafer bar was originally called Rowntree's Chocolate Crisp when it was first introduced in 1935? No idea. OK, another clue. It has two or four individual finger bars, each made up of three layers and each coated by layers of usually milk chocolate. Oh and it comes wrapped in silver foil. Yes, Kit Kat, of course!
Sold in a blue wrapper during the second world war, the familiar red packaging came into being in 1947. Early advertising proclaimed Kit Kat as 'the biggest little meal' and something to enjoy with a cup of tea. The famous advertising slogan 'Have a break; have a Kit Kat' dates from the late 1950s. This theme was the plot of a popular TV ad from the late 1980s where a zoo photographer takes a break to have a Kit Kat and misses seeing pandas performing a dance routine.
Kit Kat Chunky hit the shelves in 1999 and you may have also tasted Kit Kat Orange. A more recent variety features ruby cocoa beans and comes in a pink wrapper. In Japan, Nestle have introduced over 200 variations alone since 2000 such as matcha and soy sauce.
Back in the UK, you can bet that up and down the country there are thousands of workers settling back for a cuppa and breaking into a Kit Kat whatever its flavour.
Cadbury Dairy Milk Caramel
Aero and Aero Mint Fudge
'A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play'. That was the hook line of the TV ad for Mars in the 1970's and 1980's. It featured an array of bronzed beached torsos enjoying the sun while and playing beach volleyball and then splashing in the sea to go surfing. More like California than Cromer. As a recipe for keeping the doctor away, it's more appealing than eating an apple - but probably a calling card for a visit to the dentist. And yet, ironically, the Uk version of the Mars Bar has always been more popular than its American equivalent. It's a case of one name, two people and two recipes.
A recipe for success in the UK, but not necessarily across the Pond. So what are the differences between the two bars and why are the stars, or should that be planets, not aligned in the same confectionary solar system?
The Mars bar we eat in the UK is made with milk, caramel, chocolate and nougat. Whereas, for consumers in the US, the ingredients don't include caramel which is replaced by toasted almonds and the nougat is covered in milk chocolate. In the US, the Mars bar is often compared to Snickers and the UK version is more akin to Milky Way, although more substantial and filling in texture.
'Like Father, Like Son' goes the popular saying. But what happens in a business when the Father and Son don't get on? In the case of the Mars family, the son moves to the UK, Slough to be precise, and makes his own chocolate bar, based initially on his father's Milky Way creation, first invented a decade earlier in the 1920's. It's a good job Sir John Betjeman's friendly bombs didn't fall on Slough, because Mars bar production has continued interrupted there since 1932, enjoyed by millions, although probably not at the beach.
In the heady world of nostalgia everything seems bigger and better. I'll leave others to decide if Mars tastes better than before (the company claims to have reduced the level of saturated fats without changing the taste). But if you remember the Mars bar you ate as a kid as bigger, then your memory is definitely not deceiving you. Between 2008 and 2013, the company, which is still family owned, reduced its size by 20%. This didn't affect it's share of the market and the distinctive black wrapper and red encased font is as popular now as when Frank C Mars gave the bar the family name nearly eighty years ago.
Ask anyone what the Swiss are famous for, and the chances are that chocolate is going to be right up there with making cuckoo clocks, banks, mountains and being neutral. Lindt's development of the conching process, revolutionised the making of chocolate truffles and solid milk chocolate came about through Nestle's ground breaking production of condensed milk
Probably the most famous Swiss confectionery bar is Toblerone. Its iconic series of joined up triangular shapes neatly combines the country's expertise in making exquisite chocolate and love of climbing alpine peaks. First made in 1908 and still produced in the Swiss capital of Bern, we have Theodor Tobler and his cousin Emil Baumann to thank for this distinctive towering addition to the chocolate landscape.
I'm not sure if it was ever going to be called the Baumann bar, but coated in honey and almond nougat, Toblerone still stands out in both size and shape. In fact, the name appears to be a clever combination of Tobler's surname with the Italian word torrone - which describes a southern european nougat confection made from honey, sugar and eggs with toasted almonds
Opening of the triangular pieces is an art in itself. It can be as hard as break open as one of the legendary Swiss vaults but once cracked the rewards as well worth it. The uncompromising milk chocolate exterior gives way to a soft and sweet centre which literally does melt in the mouth - like a glacier ice patch in summer.
The Swiss may have a reputation for neutrality but the decision to change the content of Toblerone left very few people on the fence.
In 2016 two peaks were removed and larger gaps were introduced between each peak, in two of the bars in the United Kingdom, to cut the weight of the bars and reduce costs, while retaining the same package size. A case of global warming perhaps or erosion, perhaps? Or just the usual measure to respond to rising costs? Either way, there was an avalanche of protest.
Despite changes in its size, a Toblerone is still likely to stand and stick out of any children's Christmas chocolate stocking.
Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate Bar
Cadbury Double Decker
In the mid 1970's, Cadburys had the clever idea of naming a new chocolate bar after the iconic red British Double Decker buses. However, the bar itself was never red, and currently in the UK has blue overlay on orange colouring. In keeping with the name, it consists of a light nougat milk chocolate topping with a lower cereal based crispy filling. At one stage it even contained raisins but marketing surveys indicated that consumers wanted to get their raisins elsewhere and so they were dropped. Another short lived ingredient was nuts.
I would describe it as a great chewy, crispy, cereal combination - a must for the comfort eater - but don't try it for breakfast.
Wispa Mint Double Decker Time Out Orange
Are you be-twixted? It's not actually, (to my knowledge) a tag line for advertising Twix chocolate bar, but perhaps it should be! With a biscuit base coated with caramel and typically milk chocolate, Twix first appeared in the UK in 1967. In many European countries it went under the name Raider for many years. In the US, where it was launched in the late 1970's, there have been many additional flavours, such as Peanut Butter. Twix Java with coffee flavoured caramel, expresso and milk chocolate sounds appealing with a caffeine infusion of any sort. Across the globe, Twix has also featured milk dark and white chocolate versions as well as orange. There's even been a Twix with mint flavoured caramel.
It's definitely one of my favourites, perhaps because of the extra layer of chocolate between the biscuit and the caramel that gives Twix it's satisfying feel good taste and makes the chewing all the more rewarding. Another sign that Twix is enjoyed the world over, comes from cultural references to the bar in episodes of Seinfeld and most recently, Orange is the New Black.
Get your fix and don't be be-twixted!
Another chocolate bar also from the Mars family and also with a nutty flavour is Topic. It's probably one of their lesser known brands. But I remember it from the tv ad with the line 'Topic - a hazelnut in every bite'. It was first introduced in the early 1960's and has a reddish orange wrapper. Inside the letter 'O' there's a hazelnut with a green leaf. Give it a try and take a bite to see if the advertising claims still hold true!
Mr Big Wispa
Cadbury Bournville Dark
Who says a chocolate bar has to be sleek and glossy with a smooth, even texture? Picnic Bar is lumpy and when I first bought a bar I was disappointed as I thought someone had squashed it. Peanuts, puffed rice and even raisins are added to a biscuit base and covering in chewy nougat with caramel and milk chocolate.
Made by Cadburys, Picnic has proved popular since 1958. Various advertising campaigns have focused on its unconventional, uneven shape, calling it 'Deliciously ugly'. In appearance it does look like something a child might bring home from school after a cooking lesson. But that's part of the appeal. A mass of chocolate is a feast for the eyes and the stomach alike - something to be eagerly eaten in one go; not savoured slowly in small pieces.
Making Picnic bars is not likely to feature on the national curriculum, but definitely a chocolate bar for everyone and all occasions - not just picnics.
Time Out Bar Thorntons Orange Jazz Thorntons Fudge Blues
Cadbury Dairy Milk Freddo Bar Nuts About Caramel
It was know as Marathon in the UK and Ireland until 1990. It consists of nougat and caramel covered in milk chocolate. Bite into a bar and you'll be sure to crunch into a sticky mass of peanuts. Yes, its Snickers. British chocolate fans like myself might be surprised to learn that when the Mars corporation changed the UK name to Snickers, they were just reverting back to the name the bar is known by in the United States. Indeed, the name itself is reputed to derive from that of the favourite horse of the Mars family.
Snickers was first introduced to the American market as far back as 1930. In the 1980's tv adverts for the bar in both the UK and the US, featured an open hand full of peanuts which would then open and close rapidly and change into a Snickers/Marathon bar. Do you find Snickers satisfying? The people interviewed in the tv ad did! 'Snickers really Satisfies' was one of the commercial slogans as was 'Packed with Peanuts'. I certainly liked the taste but usually needed a drink soon afterwards perhaps because of the salt from all those peanuts!
I can recall my mum back in the late 1970's cutting a Marathon bar into three pieces for my brother, sister and myself to share after Sunday lunch. We used to compare sizes to see who had got the biggest slice and the most peanuts.
Galaxy Ripple Kinder Bueno
Kinder Bueno White Milky Lunch Nuts About Caramel Double Chocolate Milky Bar Milky Way Crispy Rolls Wispa Gold Peppermint Cream
Fry’s Turkish Delight
It's not just a delight, it's Fry's Turkish Delight. Not only that 'it's Full of Eastern Promise' or so the tv advert goes. Whatever the individual claims, Fry's can truly claim to have a long and rich chocolate history, pioneering several ground breaking and cocoa grinding techniques along the way.
Founded by Joseph Fry, a Quaker, in the mid 18th century, the Bristol based, the company made the first solid chocolate bar in 1847. Not long after came the first filled chocolate sweet in 1853 and then in 1866, Fry's Chocolate Cream launched mass produced chocolate bars into the British market. Confectionary shelves and shops the world over have never been quite the same again. Fry's Turkish Bar (later renamed Turkish Delight) first appeared in 1914 making it one of the oldest chocolate bars to be in continuous production.
The year 1914, of course, marked the start of the First World War, during which Britain was at war with the Turkish Ottoman Empire. I wonder how that went down with the troops? I've no idea if Lawrence of Arabia enjoyed a bite of Turkish Delight or two in his tent in the middle of the Arabian desert during his war time campaigns. Fry's merged with Cadbury's in 1919 but the name has continued to appear on bars ever since and the current wrapper is a shade of pink and purple in colour in the UK with a light yellow star above the name. The actual Turkish Delight is rose tinted surrounded by milk chocolate. A perennial favourite. And guaranteed to get a reaction from children, one way or another, tasting the sticky glucose syrup mixture inside for the first time.
What day of the week are you reading this blog? There's a one in seven chance it will be a Friday. In which case 'Get that Friday Feeling' and have a Crunchie Bar. First mentioned in the 1935 children's book 'National Velvet', Crunchie came out in 1929, manufactured by Frys. The honeycomb toffee centre is cut up using jet of oil which create sharp, jagged edges which are then covered in milk chocolate and cooled.
In the UK, Cadburys, the current maker and Britvic, combined to make a limited edition Crunchie Tango. Have you tasted Mint or Champagne flavoured Crunchie? Or perhaps Crunchie Blast with it's popping candy filling?
I've always found the honeycomb toffee to really stick in my teeth, no matter how much chocolate it's coated in. So, I guess I'll have to get my FridayFeeling some other way.
Yorkie Nut Drifter
Galaxy Caramel Double Chocolate
Galaxy Excellence Dark Dubble
Perhaps less known chocolate bars Daim – milk chocolate with a crunchy almond caramel centre
Dairy Milk Orange Crunch White Whole Nut Chocolate Cream
Milk Chocolate Honeycomb Caramel Whip
A taste of paradise? Yes, we're talking about Bounty. Remember the tv advert asking if you are a Bounty Hunter?
Moist tender coconut covered in rich dark chocolate. But it wasn't always that way.
Initially, when Bounty was first introduced in 1951, it was only available in milk chocolate. The milk chocolate bar comes in a coral blue wrapper, while dark chocolate is in a red wrapper. Made by Mars, over the years, there seem to have been limited editions featuring other tropical ingredients. Such as cherry, in Australia, mango in parts of Europe and even pineapple in Russia.
Remember the scene in the tv comedy Gavin & Stacey when Ness is handing out mini chocolate bars to started guests as Christmas presents? 'Bad luck you got the Bounty!' as if it's the booby prize.
TV chef Nigella Lawson probably wouldn't think so because she included a recipe for a deep fried Bounty bar in one of her cook books. I have to confess that Bounty (dark chocolate) is one of my favourites. I can chew away on the strands of coconut for ages extracting every ounce of moisture from a single strand. So Ness can give me a Bounty Bar any time and not just on Christmas day!
Crunchie Explosion Chocolate Orange Bar Bitz Mint Aero Honeycomb
Known for it's distinctive bubbly texture, Aero was originally made in 1935 by Rowntrees of York in the UK.
Bite into a bar and you'll see thousands of tiny air bubbles which then gently collapse and melt as you suck the chocolate. As far as I understand it, the ingenious technique involves allowing air pressure into the heated chocolate and then releasing it from the firm chocolate shells, creating pockets of chocolate bubbles inside.
Little wonder one of Aero's trademarks is the line 'Feel the Bubbles Melt'. The top of each section has the Aero name on it with an exploding series of bubbles of various sizes being released from the last letter of the name. Oh, Oh, Aero! Over the years, various advertising campaigns have focused on the bar's aerated qualities with links to flying or being lifted away with an Aero. The bubbly bar has also been eaten while in a bath - full of bubbles, of course. Although successful worldwide, Aero doesn't seem to have appealed to the American market quite as much. Any ideas why?
I have to confess that as a kid, Aero was one of my least favourite chocolate bars. It never felt or seemed substantial enough for me. However, having just tasted a Peppermint flavoured bar, purely in the interests of research, I could be persuaded to change my mind. Just as well, because of all chocolate, Aero lends itself perfectly to desserts, hot chocolate drinks and ice creams. More research required, I think!