Battle of the flaky chocolate confections

If I were to list my top ten Cadbury’s chocolate bars, the following three would certainly be in it: Twirl, Flake and Time Out.

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Each of these bars exists as the result of a serendipitous event. Back in 1920, inside the Cadbury’s factory, one of the employees noticed a curious phenomenon. When the moulds used for making chocolate bars were full, excess chocolate dribbled over the edges in a thin stream. When it cooled, the stream formed thin flaky layers of chocolate. These layers proved to have a nice texture for nibbling. Enter: Cadbury’s Flake.

Ten years later, someone had the bright idea of combining Flakes with ice cream, and the ’99’ was born.

Image courtesy of ebay.co.uk.

Image courtesy of ebay.co.uk.

There’s an entertaining newspaper article about 99s here, which refers to the problem of ‘angle-angst’ suffered by those who are concerned about how the Flake is stuck into the ice cream. But I digress. Back to the treats in question.

Flake, Twirl and Time Out all contain the same flaky, layered milk chocolate to a greater or lesser degree.

For an unadulterated flaked chocolate sensation you need look no further than the original creation, the Flake. In its usual form it comes as a single length of flaky chocolate that crumbles very easily.

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Flake from above.

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Cross section of Flake.

The Twirl is more or less a Flake coated in a smooth layer of milk chocolate. It usually comes in a twin pack with bars that are shorter in length than Flake.

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Twin bars of Twirl from above.

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Cross section of Twirl.

Like Twirl, Time Out used to come in a twin pack, but nowadays I see it far more frequently sold as single bars in a multipack. Unlike Flake and Twirl, Time Out could arguably be categorised as a biscuit rather than a chocolate bar. My local supermarket stashes it in amongst the biscuits and not in the confectionery section. The reason for this is that in addition to the folds of flaky chocolate there are two layers of wafer, as seen below.

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Time Out from above.

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Cross section of Time Out. Note flaky chocolate layer sandwiched between layers of wafer.

Here are the three items together for comparison. At the top is the Time Out, in the middle is the Flake and at the bottom are the twin bars of Twirl.

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For many years I declared my favourite chocolate bar to be the Twirl. Although passionate about the taste of the Flake, its crumbly nature has often been a source of anxiety. I find it more or less impossible to eat one without dropping minute crumbs of chocolate onto my clothes, which then melt into small brown blobs in the fabric, which upsets me. In the past year or two I’ve rediscovered the Time Out, which virtually disappeared from British confectionery shelves for ages, and I began to ask myself if this old friend was a real rival to the mighty Twirl. The Twirl, incidentally, is one of Cadbury’s bestselling items.

There was only one thing for it: a taste test.

Having more chocolate than would be advisable to eat on my own, I issued an invitation to the delightful assistants to join me in this endeavour. They graciously accepted.

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Hot beverages were made and bits of chocolate bar were put on a tasting plate.

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We each tasted them in the same order: Flake, Twirl, Time Out, sipping at our tea and coffee between chunks.

As always, the delightful assistants took their jobs seriously. They tasted each morsel carefully,

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before making appropriate notes about the experience.

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Starting with the Flake, delightful assistant no.1 described a “pleasant texture”. Delightful assistant no.2 also mentioned the texture, with the following observation: “the taste comes late because the initial sensation is dominated by the texture, the roughness, the crumbliness, the dryness…”

Of the Twirl, delightful assistant no.2 wrote that the “taste of chocolate comes with the first bite” while delightful assistant no.1 noted that the “chocolate coating creates a more solid, less transient impression”.

Finally, the Time Out reminded delightful assistant no.1 of a Kit Kat and was, in her opinion, “less distinctive than Flake”. Delightful assistant no.2 had this to say of it: “the biscuit in the centre suggests that this is more than a chocolate treat: it is a meal, full of essential nutrition.”

When asked to rank the three in order of preference this is how they fared:

Delightful assistant no.1 – Flake, Twirl, Time Out

Delightful assistant no.2 – Twirl, Flake, Time Out

Lorna – Flake, Time Out, Twirl

In my case, there was quite a tussle for top spot and Flake only just edged it past Time Out. What surprised me a great deal about this was that, having tasted all three at the same time, the Twirl – for many years my preferred chocolate treat – was positively lagging behind the other two in third place. However, as I said to the delightful assistants (who have become well trained in purchasing the odd Twirl for me as a treat), I shouldn’t like this ranking to make anyone think I’m no longer interested in Twirls. I am extremely happy to consume Twirls and I still think them a tip-top confection.

Is this how things will remain from now on, I wonder, or will my allegiance change again the future? I think it would be wise to conduct regular taste comparisons to keep tabs on the situation.

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Amusing napkins for chocolatey fingers.

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32 thoughts on “Battle of the flaky chocolate confections

  1. Well, I couldn’t sleep so am up at 2 a.m. reading about your flaky chocolates…very enticing indeed 🙂
    I love a Twix bar…which aren’t flaky but have a wonderful shortbread cookie, creamy caramel, enrobed in double thick chocolate…excellent with tea.

    • Sorry to hear about the sleeplessness, I hope seeing all this chocolate hasn’t made it worse. I’m very familiar with the Twix – an excellent confection, although sadly one that gives me toothache (I think it must be the caramel).

  2. Must admit that Flake is my favourite. But Twirl would be a close second. Love the invitations to the Delightful Assistants (and their replies!)

    • If it weren’t for the chocolate crumbs I’d say Flake is pretty much a perfect chocolate bar. Glad you like the invitations, I wasn’t sure whether or not to put them in but I’m pleased I did after reading your comment.

  3. When we visited England in 1982 with our 8 year old daughter, (her first visit) she fell in love with the Flake chocolate bar and the 99 of course. Loved the taste test and your new header is great. Xo

  4. Do the delightful assistants realize they had become an online legend . I do hope they are being paid well lol.
    My choice has to be flake, twirl then time out .
    Love the serviette .
    Cherryx

    • The delightful assistants are well aware of their celebrity. They’ve really outgrown this blog but they allow me to feature them to keep my blog statistics up. They’re paid in chocolate, cake, tea, etc. which seems to suit them quite well. I see you’re in full agreement with delightful assistant no.1, that’s a feather in her cap. Those are amongst my favourite serviettes (delightful assistant no.1 has a substantial collection of the things).

  5. Ahhh, the Flake! I fell in love with it when I first had one – I would have been about six. Nothing compares. I know what you mean about the crumbs, though! I think your invitations to your delightful assistants (and their replies) are top notch! And I love your Dad’s opinion of the Time Out being ‘full of essential nutrition’. I shall never hesitate about buying one, ever again. Love the cartoon you found, as well! A delightful post, Lorna! 🙂

    • Thank you kindly, Jo. What a memory you have. I don’t recall my first taste but I do remember Flakes from my childhood. It is a good phrase, ‘full of essential nutrition’. I must agree with my dad on that point, I’m convinced that chocolate is an essential part of a well balanced diet.

  6. Thank goodness I finally tasted the Flake and the Twirl, as Hershey’s is removing US access.
    British chocolate is so much better that they can’t handle the competition. Invidious gigantic conglomerate! I can’t understand why there isn’t rioting in the streets.

    Love the formal invites and responses.

  7. Flake used to be my all time favourite until Twirl was invented. Twirl has all the benefits of Flake but is less messy to consume.
    Your delightful assistants must love this chocolate research you are doing.

    • My thoughts exactly on the benefits of Twirl, Heather, but if you can cope with the mess (which is challenging), there is something meltingly marvellous about the Flake. I must say, the delightful assistants are extremely willing participants.

  8. Are you taking on any more assistants for the project… with high level research qualifications. These are lethal posts. I have never, to my knowledge eaten a Twirl or a Time Out… but I want one now (after the Flake of course).

    • A wider range of participants is a good idea, but the logistics might be tricky. The delightful assistants held their own tasting with friends after the previous wafer biscuit challenge and it was interesting to see the comments. One of them chose Prince Polo as his favourite and he isn’t even Polish. I’m surprised to hear that you’ve never partaken of a Twirl or a Time Out. I’d like to know what you think, in comparison to the Flake, if you do try them.

    • I’m glad you appreciate our tireless efforts, Annie. The Time Out is a fine confection, although unfortunately not vegan. The Kit Kat seems to be a popular choice all over the world.

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