Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sorry, British Chocolate Really IS Better Than American

People who grew up in the Commonwealth (as I did) or in Britain, know the taste of Cadbury's chocolate, Kit Kats and Mars Bars. So do many Americans, since the same candy bars are available here.

But to expats, the stateside candies just don't measure up to the familiar products at home. Some can still recount their reactions to the first taste.

Disappointment! Disenchantment!!

Before one screams "snob!" - let me add that there is material evidence of a different formulation in the products from the US, and those from the UK, Canada and Australia.

I was thrilled to read an article in the New York Times this week: The World’s Best Candy Bars? English, of Course.

Kim Severson writes:

"According to the label, a British Cadbury Dairy Milk bar contains milk, sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, vegetable fat and emulsifiers. The version made by the Hershey Company, which holds the license from Cadbury-Schweppes to produce the candy in the United States under the British company’s direction, starts its ingredient list with sugar. It lists lactose and the emulsifier soy lecithin, which keeps the cocoa butter from separating from the cocoa.

"The American product also lists “natural and artificial flavorings.”

Every expat is screaming, "I told you so!!!"

People get passionate about this. A Bay Area man featured in the NYT article characterizes the discussions as “religious arguments.” “I haven’t met a Canadian who likes a Hershey bar, but Americans think you’re crazy when you say that, because they think everyone loves a Hershey bar.”

As my parents live in Australia, I receive packages annually with these precious treats. Cadbury bars (in many more varieties than available here), my personal favorite - Cadbury's Flake, a stick of crumbly chocolate best stuck into a scoop of ice cream on a cone. Violet Crumble ("it;s the way it shatters that matters"), Mint Aero, and fabulous Australian cookies by Arnott's. Tim Tams in particular.

And, by the way - Tim Tam fans - where are you? Let's form a club, and eat our Tim Tams the way I saw on So Graham Norton: nibble off the opposite corners of a cookie, then dunk one of those corners into a cup of hot tea while you suck up the tea from the other open corner!!


ADDED: I just read on a Wikipedia article that this ritual goes by several names: "The Tim Tam Slam, also known as the Tim Tam Suck, Tim Tam Explosion, Tim Tam Orgasm, Tim Tam Straw, Shot-gunning a Tim Tam, Tim Tam Party, or just plain Tim Tamming is the main form of Tea Sucking and involves biting off opposing corners of the Tim Tam and then using it as a 'straw' to suck up a hot beverage (usually tea, coffee, hot chocolate, liqour such as Irish Cream, or Milo) and then, just before the biscuit falls apart, it is placed in the mouth."


Where can you get Tim Tams and all these other candies, if you don't have family or friends to send them to you? Well, look online, or head to Leavenworth, WA. Whenever I go there I try to stop in at the Australian Store (on Front Street) to stock up on these products. Yes, an Australian store is an oddity in a Bavarian town, but thank goodness it's there, for lovers UK/Australian chocolate and candy!

To some, there's also a difference in the taste between Coca-Cola made here and in the Commonwealth. To the best of my knowledge, it's because the US product is sweetened with corn syrup rather than with cane or beet sugar, as in the UK, Canada (and even Mexico).