Saturday, 7 January 2017

What is it with supermarkets never being able to make nice packaging? You obviously have to excuse the 'value' range of products, because they're crap and don't pretend to be anything otherwise. The problem comes with those own-brand products that are priced damn near the real deal. To try and sell this to customers, supermarkets jazz up the packaging and make it look all pretty and official. Well, that's the plan, but we all know turds have a certain resistance when it comes to being polished.

I think nothing proves my point much better than this... thing. Filled with "ooh, shiny!", and just about every piece of the colour wheel, it manages to stand out but look completely bland and generic all at the same time. Frankly, I think that's some achievement, and I tip my hat to Asda for coming up with such a thing.

It's quite clearly meant to rival that Smarties Sharing Block I looked at a short while ago, but I'm still yet to find the white version of the Smarties widely available, so for the time being, Asda (and other supermarkets) have the monopoly. Like the Smarties bar, Asda have got that same crappy plastic wrapping, which has the same re-seal abilities as a used plaster. Probably the same desirability, too.

Once you peel back the wrapping, your first thought will be "where's the nearest intensive care unit?" White chocolate is already a slightly off-putting colour as it is, but now it looks like the bar has an exotic disease. I may be joking around here, but I'm not joking when I say this is one of the most unappealing bars I have seen for quite some time.

When you put that thought to one side and break away a chunk, you realise that, no, it isn't Ebola, it's just a knockoff Smartie encased in the chocolate. Now you can breath a sigh of relief, wipe that sweat off your brow, and begin tasting the chocolate.

Upon putting it into your mouth, you'll quickly discover this is not one of those bars that just melt into a creamy delight in the mouth. It has that weird 'fake gloss' feel that, for the initial few seconds, feels like you've got a Lego brick in your mouth. No taste instantly bursts though, so you have to bite down to explore further.

After doing so, you find that things aren't too bad at all. The fake Smarties have nothing going for them, but the white chocolate itself is perfectly serviceable. It won't blow you away by taking you into a sensory wonderland, but it was enough to raise my eyebrows - that was when I realised looks are deceiving. It's not overly sweet, but that just makes it more tolerable to have in larger quantities, should you want to get fat and not see your fiftieth birthday.

And here's the real knocker: it's just 45p. That's it's standard price. For that price, I can recommend this bar with confidence. Obviously if you never liked white chocolate in the first place (in other words: you're a blatant racist), this bar will do nothing to change your mind, but considering this thing costs less than to use the bloody toilet in some London train stations, you can't really waste your pennies.

Buy it?     Yes, almost impossible to go wrong, even if it does look, er, off...

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to revisit the iconic kids animation that is Tom and Jerry, for the old and proven reason of Why The Hell Not®. When I watched the show avidly 10-15 years ago, the classic antics of cat and mouse used to almost literally send me rolling across the floor in fits of laughter. To me, it was near perfection. Fast forward to today, and I didn't have quite the same reaction. I was smiling, and perhaps even sharply exhaled through my nose a couple of times, but I had obviously outgrown the show somewhat. But as I sat through a couple more episodes, the old charm wiggled its way back into me. After half an hour, I was laughing once more, though perhaps this time at the casual racism more than the slapstick violence.

A couple of days ago, I decided to revisit the iconic chocolate bar that is the Smarties Sharing Block, for the old and proven reason of Why The Hell Not®. When I used to eat this bar avidly 10 or so years ago, the blend of Smarties surrounded by creamy chocolate used to almost literally send me crazy, craving for more. To me, it was near perfection. Fast forward to today, and I didn't have quite the same reaction. I was appreciating it, and perhaps even enjoyed the sensation of hitting a Smartie, but my taste buds had obviously outgrown the bar somewhat. But as I munched through a couple more lines, the old charm wiggled its way back into me. After half the bar, I was satisfied once more, though perhaps this time at the casual racism more than the slapstick violence. Wait, what?

Yes, if you didn't quite get the message through that slightly convoluted introduction, the buzzword I'm likely to use the most in this review is nostalgia - at least from my (admittedly relatively young) perspective. You see, I remember always having these Smarties chocolate bars when I was younger - it would always be my go-to treat, both the milk and white versions. And yet, for reasons I can't quite fathom to this day, it just sort of stopped abruptly. I can only assume the chocolate bar more or less vanished from the shelves, because I didn't see it for quite some time. I never forgot that taste, though.

If we jump back to the present day, we can find the Smarties Sharing Block bars more or less in any decent sized shop these days, though I'm struggling to find the individual bars still. They've been back for at least a couple of years now from what I remember, but only now have I decided to take the plunge and revisit the bar. I have to be careful here, as rose-tinted glasses can be one hell of a manipulator. Time to be serious... to the best of my ability.

The wrapping is the classic 'LOOK AT ME' Smarties deep blue, with all the colours splattered on and the logo looking reassuringly familiar. It is one of those pseudo-foil wrappers that are actually just plastic, and therefore have zero re-wrapping abilities for later consumption. Considering how patronisingly Nestlé points out the servings on the back, you'd think they'd provide some sort of 'save for later' thing. Even Cadbury does that, and that's impressive, considering they're basically Satan now. Thanks Mondelez.

One thing you also note on the packaging is just how many smarties are supposedly in each chunk. It's a bit of a stretched truth though; there's nowhere near as many Smarties as the image suggests, but with that being said, you never go through a mouthful with no Smarties at all. So I guess there's nothing really to complain about there.

The chocolate is creamy - really, really, really creamy. It's unmistakably Nestlé - which is to say unremarkably OK - but it's like someone was pouring cream into the mixture and, whooooops, accidentally poured the whole lot in. It's a decent taste overall, and I can see clearly why my young self liked it, because it reminds me a lot of Kinder chocolate. It's also the kind of chocolate that grinds on the back of the throat after a little while. It's not amazingly moreish either, but I guess I shouldn't complain about that really.

For 120g, expect to pay £1, which is a decent price for what you're offered. You will never be fooled into thinking you're eating something premium, but if you like your Smarties and milky chocolate, then there's not too much to go wrong with here. You can accept no imitations for this one. Oh, speaking of imitations, stay tuned for future posts...

Buy it?     If you like creamy chocolate, go for it



Search For Historic Posts