The 10 best chocolate bars
Scrivens sat at the end of an elongated red brick shoebox row of shops. There was a hardware store, a greengrocers, a hairdressers, a rather strange woman’s clothes shop – which for some reason sold toys – and finally Scrivens, a strange L-shaped grocery cum newsagents. It was here where you spent your pocket money. You’d lean your bike against the window and head in, straight to the angled display of chocolate bars. A sensory overload of colours, shapes and tastes. There are so many memories tied up with the first thrill of autonomy, to hold in your hand that coin which is yours, to do with what you want. What do you spend your money on? Sweets obviously!
They claim that 70% of chocolate bar purchases are impulse driven but there’s so much more to confectionery than the confectionery itself. Often those decisions are based just as much on what happened years ago, as it is on what is in the present. The texture and luxurious taste are only one small part of the nostalgic feeling that one associates with that indulgence.
Despite manufacturers constantly rebranding and repackaging trusted franchises, people have grown up with them and they are an integral part of peoples lives. You can’t underestimate the joy of running ones fingernail along the foil covered crevices of a four bar KitKat. The disappointment of getting the letter p, again, on your Smarties lid. The thrill of a free piece of cardboard with a Bounty or the anticipation of laying your Mars Bar on its front and disrobing it, revealing bit by bit your opulent quarry.
Whilst I have become a self-confessed chocolate snob, I acknowledge and appreciate the role that these bars have had in my life. So in a tribute to the everyday enemy foot solider in the battle of obesity, I decided to find the best ten chocolate bars of Britain. Obviously there has to be criteria. Without rules we’d be looking at confectionery chaos.
No solid chocolate bars – Dairy Milk, Yorkies and Buttons are all out.
It has to cost under a pound – so no fancy continental creation, or family sized treats.
No seasonal products – Cream Eggs a no go, despite being an annual event these bad boys are only (supposedly) available between Boxing Day and Easter.
Has to be currently available – No place for Drifters, Spiras or Treets.
Most importantly it has to be chocolate based – Jelly Tots, Tooty Frooties and Haribo are all firm favourites, but no chocolate, so no place on the list.
This is my top ten
Invented in 1937 in Slough, it’s hard not to include this as the first entry on the list, it feels like the ultimate indulgence. I have spent many hours refining the best way to devour one. First chill the bar for 30 minutes in the fridge. Cut off the ends of the bar with a sharp knife, then lay the unwrapped bar on it’s top and make two incisions, where the sides meet the bottom layer of chocolate, along the length of the bar. Carefully chisel out the nougat section, so you’re left with the top, caramel and sides in a U-shape. Eat the nougat, fold in the sides and enjoy.
Fry’s Chocolate Cream
It’s the confectionery equivalent to a PG Wodehouse story. Each of its seven sections of fondant filling are enrobed in a crisp dark chocolate, reminiscent of when sartorial elegance was part of everyday life. It actually feels like you’re waiting with your Man at the railway station, ready for a spot of shooting in the country. It’s one of the few chocolate bars which carries in its taste, the heritage the brand has.
The brouhaha that went with the launch of Cadbury’s Twirl was simply a waste of time. There was already an incumbent on the coated rippled chocolate throne. It cost more than a Flake and tasted so much more like luxury, despite being made of Galaxy chocolate – which some have described as waxy, oily and cheap.
Overly sweet without any feelings of decadence, this nougat-biscuit combination has unique properties. If you feel like a Double Decker, there is nothing similar with which to replace it, should you not have one to hand. There are memories of raisins lurking in the biscuit base, but I’m not sure whether they were meant to be there.
Whilst other pocket money treats came in flimsy paper wrapper, Smarties lived in a sturdy cardboard tube. With its alphabet-embossed coloured plastic lid and beautiful smooth rounded edges, it was the perfect diameter for little hands. Now in a flimsier hexagonal tube, with more colours, the wonder of having that many sweets in one packet is undiminished.
Never has a snack item got the balance of chocolate to interior more correct than the Crunchie. From the golden wrapper to the rich golden interior – it’s a party in a bar. Due to its composition it’s impossible to eat without chipping the chocolate from the honeycomb for at least a part of the experience. There is something pleasingly gender neutral about the Crunchie.
Recently bought into the Dairy Milk stable, this was always sold as a seductive luxury item. Sensuous and seductive, from the gentle curves of the bar (which, for some reason, always reminded me of a Ford Sierra) to the unctuous caramel interior. Like all good treats, the Caramel shares the feeling that even though you’ve finished, there should be another piece left
Targeted at women and sold as a lighter option to the more substantial bars on the market, this is a mistake. Although these crisp malt and chocolate spheres are lightweight, it’s the sheer quantity that give them their gravitas. With so many in a bag, a good rhythm can be established. I did go through a phase – which lasted about 10 years – of counting the amount in every bag I ate, 13 was a bad day, 20 a very good one, normally it was 16-17.
Surprisingly high in calories and remarkably bland in chocolate satisfaction. None the less there is something very alluring about the twin bars of a Twix, least of all the ways in which to eat them. Do you bite off the caramel first, or the biscuit? Nibble or bite? It is always more satisfying than you think and whilst a lot of confectionary doesn’t quite live up to there billing, the Twix does.
Munchies are what Rolos want to be when they grow up. Carrying a premium price, each gold-tipped tube contains chocolate cubes filled with caramel AND biscuit! I always feel a touch nauseous after eating a whole pack, but take this as a sign of value for money.