Why are there so many blocks of plain chocolate? And please, for the love of God, get those raisins away from my Picnic bar.
There aren’t many subjects on which I could reasonably be considered an expert.
Daniel Silva books, the Best Hollywood Chris (Pine)’s filmography, every pair of dungarees available for purchase on ASOS. And chocolate. I eat a lot of chocolate. Expensive chocolate in thick, expensive packaging and cheap chocolate in whispers of plastic and foil. I am an equal opportunity chocolate consumer: I’ll eat them all.
It’s fortuitous, then, that I moved from my native Australia to the UK, because you lot are also a nation of chocolate eaters. There are more than 50 different varieties of corner store bars, and almost all of them are unique to this country.
Ever in pursuit of service journalism, and also because I figured it would be a good way to get someone to subsidise my chocolate habit, I declared that I would try them all and rank them as an objective, impartial outsider for this very website.
To preserve the sample size, we decided to exclude all the chocolate bars that have made it to Australia. Crunchie, for example, which has just been added to Cadbury’s Miniature Heroes box, exists Down Under. (In fact, we have a superior version called the Violet Crumble, whose honeycomb has more structural integrity than a Crunchie, but that’s a story for another time.) So I didn’t taste test a Crunchie. On the other hand Double Deckers, a chocolate bar I had never seen or heard of before moving to London, were ripe for the testing.
Forthwith, a definitive – by which I mean entirely subjective – ranking of chocolate bars from worst to the very, very best:
I hate it. It tastes like papier mached peanuts.
When I am very old and on my deathbed I will still be thinking about how so many of the chocolate bars available for purchase in the UK are just plain chocolate. Nothing special. No bells and whistles. Just… chocolate. What’s the unique selling point? Who in their right minds would opt for a boring block of unadorned chocolate when they could have something with caramel or biscuits in it? And why is there such a crowded market in, of all things, plain chocolate?
All this to say Bournville tastes like cooking chocolate and it’s not good.
Once the initial excitement of looking at this elegant, beige-coloured block wore off, I saw it for what it was: sugar overload in a bar. So creamy. So sugary. It was all a bit much.
Everything I knew about this chocolate bar was that it was sexist, and so I was predisposed against it from the start. It did not redeem itself. Too sweet, too gritty, leaving a weird sugary film in my mouth.
An absolutely enormous bar that feels hefty, like it is weighed down with a secret. There is the appearance of getting bang for your buck with a Double Decker, though it is hard to break into pieces, so it’s not really one for sharing. Why would you, though? I wouldn’t want to inflict that fake nut flavour and gritty, sugary texture on even my worst enemies.
Ed’s note: This has deeply, deeply upset me. Double Deckers are beautifully chewy and crunchy at the same time, making them the ultimate multi-taskers of the chocolate world. It is for this reason that I described myself as a Double Decker when I was (somewhat ridiculously) asked by a job interviewer which chocolate bar I would be. You haven’t just insulted Cadbury’s: you have insulted me.
We have Picnics in Australia, and let me tell you, this is a raisin-studded interloper. At first, it tastes like the bars of my home, and then the fruit kicks in and everything is all wrong. Picnics should be nutty and crunchy, not soft and sweetly fruity. (Full disclosure, I do not like raisins so the Picnic went into this handicapped from the outset.)
Dairy Milk Buttons
See above. When I asked some people in the Stylist offices why there were so many plain chocolate bars, they responded that Buttons are in a circle shape. That’s not enough of a point of difference to make me excited about yet another plain chocolate offering.
Tastes like raw Brownie mix, and not necessarily in a good way. It was around this point in the taste test that the sugar rush started to kick in.
If I wanted to eat something with wafers, I’d eat a Time Out.
Not that it really matters, but the retro packaging is fun. It’s very easy to break, so if you are looking for a bar to share this could be the one for you. The nougat whip is light but very, very teeth-chatteringly sweet.
This is a hefty bar that feels substantial. It breaks easily with a nice ‘cracckkk’ sound, making it the best bar to share among friends. It was crispy, chewy and satisfying.
Another plain block of chocolate, elevated in this instance by the fact that the chocolate itself is high quality: creamy, smooth and not too sweet. This is an unpretentious bar of chocolate, classic and timeless like a Chanel bag.
In order to spare myself from yet another plain block of chocolate, I opted for Wispa Gold over the OG Wispa. This was a pleasant surprise, full of deliciously sticky caramel, albeit incredibly messy to eat.
This is the last bar I taste, and honestly at this point all the chocolate bars have melted in my brain into a single, coagulated chocolate mass. Anyway, it’s good. Plain chocolate again, because you all seem to love a plain chocolate bar so much, but it’s hefty and firm, with a good balance of creaminess to sweet. I never want to eat another chocolate bar again.
These are lovely and dangerously moreish. I ate the whole packet before I realised what I had done. Like a more substantial, elevated packet of Smarties. A true gentleman’s chocolate.
Ergonomic and so user-friendly, this bar breaks easily with no mess. Light, crunchy and with just a hint of caramel, it went down a treat.
Could this chocolate bar be any prettier? Each little bit is a tiny orange segment, and you can smell that sugary citrus when you open the bar. I expected it to be filled with cream but it’s actually flavoured chocolate, which is even better. I adore this. 5 stars, would definitely eat again.
Very caramel-y, in the best possible way, and the biscuit element is a lot of fun. I absent-mindedly ate the entire sleeve in a matter of minutes, all the while thinking about how I couldn’t wait to buy another packet and eat them in one go, too, which is the mark of a superior chocolate bar in my opinion.
I went into this experiment laughing about Galaxy bars and feeling quite smug in general about the very concept of so many plain chocolate offerings in he UK, and yet I ended up with a Galaxy bar on top. This is – and I cannot stress this enough – a very good chocolate bar, but I maintain that its superiority is because it has some oomph that elevates it above all the others competing for the crown.
This bar has intrigue, it has a little je ne sais quoi, it has delicate shards of rippled chocolate encased in a second chocolatey exterior. It’s plain chocolate, yes, but designed in a way that keeps you guessing with every bite. To paraphrase Oprah: This is the chocolate bar I never had. This is the chocolate bar everybody would want. This is the chocolate bar that everybody deserves. I don’t know a better chocolate bar. I don’t know a better chocolate bar!
All of this is just my humble opinion as an outsider. I didn’t grow up with these chocolate bars, they aren’t baked into the bones of my childhood. I have no nostalgic memories with them, though I’m very much looking forward to making some with Galaxy Ripple and Terry’s Chocolate Orange.
Tell us which chocolate bars you love the most. What are your favourites? Which ones do you despise? And which chocolate bar would you save in a fire? Share your choices with us, and let the great chocolate debate rage on.