Galaxy chocolate review

After my post about the Malteaster Bunny, fellow blogger, David, suggested I do a comparison of Galaxy chocolate bars.

I’m not a huge fan of Galaxy chocolate, so this is probably not something I would have thought of doing for myself. However, always willing to eat chocolate for a good cause, I obtained a small selection to taste and review.

From the various options available, I picked the three that appealed most when I was faced with the shelf of choices at my local supermarket – Smooth Milk, Roasted and Caramelised Hazelnuts, and Caramel:

3 Galaxy Bars

It used to be, in my youth, that Galaxy was Galaxy. It was a relatively humble chocolate bar, not one to big it up with fancy fillings and different varieties. It left that sort of carry on to the likes of Cadbury, who have always (at least as far back as I can remember) been keen on giving the customer a number of options with their standard Dairy Milk bar, such as Dariy Milk Fruit and Nut and Dairy Milk Whole Nut.

I have the feeling that there may be two types of people in the world, or at least in Britain: those who favour Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate and those who prefer Galaxy.

I am, virtually always, in the former category. Having made this distinction, I should perhaps be comparing a Galaxy bar and a Dairy Milk bar, but alas I didn’t have any Dairy Milk and I did have three large bars of Galaxy. Another time.

Of the three that I chose, the Smooth Milk was the only one I was familiar with, but I had high hopes for the nut one, seen in the middle here:

3 bars in a toast rack

The outer paper sleeves of the bars were very similar, but each one had a distinctly different colour of inner foil wrapping:

Galaxy bars coloured foil inners

Inside, the three bars looked very similar, except that the Caramel one had larger chunks than the other two:

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The Caramel chunks also had a more rounded top than the others. The shape reminded me of a peculiar bed I once slept in in the south of France, which was a bit like a narrow treasure chest on legs. I spent the entire night trying not to roll off it, particularly as it was quite high off a hard wooden floor.

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Unlike the bed, however, the Caramel chunks were filled with sticky sweet caramel, which oozed out satisfyingly when bitten into:

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The Smooth Milk chunks had an asymmetrical cross section and a very sweet taste, although not quite as sweet as the Caramel:

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The Roasted and Caramelised Hazelnut chunks also had an asymmetrical cross section. Due to the addition of the nuts, they were slightly less sweet than the Smooth Milk chunks:

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As I’ve already incidated, Galaxy chocolate is not my usual nibble, and I was reminded why this was when I tasted these three bars. For my taste, Galaxy chocolate is too sweet. I say this as a fan of chocolate and multitudinous other sweet snacks, and I’m not quite sure if it’s solely due to sugar content or if there’s something more subtle at work.

If I were buying Galaxy again, I would a) go for a smaller bar, and b) probably opt for the Smooth Milk or the Roasted and Caramelised Hazelnut, rather than the Caramel, which was the sweetest of them all.

After finding them too sickly, I wondered what to do with all the leftover chocolate. In my usual manner when faced with such dilemmas, I fell back on bunging it in some scones:

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When I’ve made chocolate scones before I’ve grated dark chocolate into the mixture, and for some reason that worked better with a scone than Galaxy Smooth Milk, at least in my opinion. To my mind, these scones were, like the chocolate on its own, a bit too sickly sweet.

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Given my definite preference for Cadbury, I wondered if there was any situation in which I would choose Galaxy instead.

Since the sweetness of Galaxy was the thing that struck me most, it would seem to be the ideal treatment for shock. A nice hot cup of tea and a slab of Galaxy chocolate would be more to my taste than a very sweet cup of tea on its own, and so for that reason I’m thinking of Galaxy more as a medicine than a sweet snack.

Despite my own preference for Cadbury’s chocolate, the fact remains that Galaxy is an enormously successful global brand, having gone from strength to strength since its creation in 1810. It now exists in at least 10 different varieties, and that’s not including the Easter egg versions.

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Outside the UK, the same chocolate is known in some places as Dove, although why that name was chosen in place of Galaxy I really have no idea. It seems an odd choice, given the astronomical connection between Galaxy and its manufacturer, Mars.

Incidentally, I recently learned from a newspaper article that three members of the Mars family are amongst the richest people in the world, featuring at joint 36th place in the Forbes World Billionaires List. As with most of the people on the list, the three Mars family members are in their 70s and 80s. Being the heirs to a huge confectionery company obviously hasn’t done their general health too much harm, but I can’t help wondering about the state of their teeth.

Note for Geoff, who suggested long ago that I do a review of Willie’s chocolate – sorry I still haven’t got round to this. I did buy some from Provender Brown for a friend but I haven’t tasted it myself yet…the day will come, I’m sure!

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Battle of the 70s

How dark to you think dark chocolate should be?

This is not necessarily the definitive answer, but according to the European Union (click to see Wikipedia article), in order for chocolate to be ‘dark’ it must contain at least 35% cocoa solids (the same article states that the US has no official definition for dark chocolate). By contrast, something like the Cadbury’s Twirl (milk chocolate) contains ‘a minumum of 25% cocoa solids’.  When I think of dark chocolate, I expect it to contain at least 60% cocoa solids, and in today’s little investigation I’ve decided to compare two bars containing 70% cocoa solids.

There are many different makes of dark chocolate, and if I were doing this thing properly I would have a wider sample range, but since this is really just an excuse for me to try out different chocolate, I’m comparing Green and Black’s with Divine (I should have taken a photograph of them nicely wrapped up together but unfortunately I had already started eating them before it occurred to me):

Part of my non-scientific approach to this was to purchase bars of different sizes. The Green & Black’s bar shown is the 100g size, whereas the Divine one is 45g. The reason for this is that I happened to see the small size of Divine the other day when I fancied some chocolate and then yesterday in Tesco I noticed that Green & Black’s chocolate was on special offer in the 100g size. It’s all down to practicalities.

Both companies are fully Fairtrade certified, so thumbs up to that in the first instance. They’re also both attractively packaged, in my opinion, and immediately recognisable due to their design.

First up: Green & Black’s. Here’s what greets you when you peel off the outer paper layer:

The foil inside continues the Green & Black’s font from outside the packet, and reinforces the fact that what you’re about to nibble on is organic. Very reassuring. As nice as the foil is, you need to remove it to get at the chocolate, and this is what faces you when you’ve done so:

Close up each individual rectangle carries the Green & Black’s leaf motif, apart from the rectangle at the bottom right, which is unique and special and wants to grab your attention with its distinctiveness:

The rows and columns of little chunks are segregated by channels that lead you to believe it would be easy to break them up into single blocks. In my experience this is not the case. They’re almost tolerant of you trying to break them into columns, but when it comes to rows they like to give you the run around. How often I have tried to break them into rows I don’t know, but I have no recollection of it ever having been successful. I tried for this investigation and all I got were bits like this, defiant in their refusal to break as I wished them to:

On the up side, the way they break makes the chocolate look inviting (whether this demonstrates conchoidal fracture or two directional cleavage I wouldn’t like to say, but either way it looks rather nice to me).

Most importantly, what does Green & Black’s 70% chocolate taste like? Well, here are my thoughts, and you may well disagree with me. The words that came to mind when I munched on a piece were: dark, bitter, sweet, tangy, lively and complex. Of these, the tanginess was what probably impressed itself on me most.

Very good, and now to the Divine:

The foil inside a bar of Divine is uniformly gold, certainly less interesting than the Green & Black’s. However, before you even get to the foil it has a few little tricks up its sleeve. End on, with this small bar at least, it demonstrates just how much thought has been put into the wrapper design:

When you open the wrapper, a pleasing symmetry of design is evident:

The imprints on the bar itself are very different from those on the Green & Black’s, but I’m not sure what they’re like on the 100g bar; obviously I will need to buy one and have a look.

To my mind, there is nothing linking the design on the outside of the packaging with that on the chocolate bar. Where there is a satisfying balance on the Green & Black’s bar and its packaging, no such balance exists with the Divine bar. You may consider it to be a good thing, this self-effacing gesture on the part of the Divine bar. Perhaps, it’s telling us, the taste will speak for itself. I endeavoured to find out. The individual blocks seemed to be too big for one mouthful and so I tried to bite into one. This was not an easy task, due to the thickness of the chocolate.

However, what I was hit with was a very welcome taste. One word entered my mind when I tasted this chocolate: smooth. Not for Divine, the tangy liveliness of the Green & Black’s. This chocolate had a laid-back, relaxed attitude and a smoothness I didn’t detect in the Green & Black’s. Also, unlike the Green & Black’s, it left no bitter after-taste. The sensation I had after eating this chocolate was that I had drifted off for a minute or two into a land of peaceful meadows, where all my cares and worries had been lifted and I felt happy and at one with the world.

And so, the verdict. Which did I like best?

What I would say is this. If you’re about to enter a martial arts competition – you’ve got your pjyamas on and your belt tied neatly round your waist – you need a chocolate bar that will stir the sinews, make you feel alert and vibrant and ready for action. In this case, I would recommend opting for Green & Black’s. The complexity will stimulate different areas of your brain, allowing your feet and arms to move in unison and enabling you to fly through your movements with ease and fluidity.

On the other hand, if you’re having a relaxing day off from the Ju-jitsu, you would be much better off with the Divine bar. Sink into your favourite chair with a nice cup of tea, or lie on the soft grass staring up at the blue sky and the fluffy white clouds, and let the smooth dark chocolate of Divine relax body and soul, refreshing and repairing your tired limbs and bringing peace and clarity to your mind.

There is, in my opinion, a time and a place for each of these wonderful chocolate bars and I would recommend keeping a small stock of each in your medicine cabinet.

The Cadbury Challenge: Flake versus Twirl

When it comes to Cadbury’s chocolate, I have long held the view that the Cadbury’s Twirl is my favourite chocolate bar:

When I’m doing my ‘proper’ job at sea, there are teams of cooks who look after all the catering during the voyage. No unauthorised personnel are permitted to cook on the boat and so what we eat is determined largely by the cooks onboard. Being a reasonably health-conscious* vegaquarian, this is not the ideal situation for me, because meals are largely meat-based and there can be a lot of fried food. There are certain foods I miss at sea: my breakfast bagel, scones, cakes, and various veggie food I enjoy cooking at home, and although I would like to take more of my own food with me, there simply isn’t the luggage space. However, one thing I do always make room for in my luggage is a big bag of Twirls.

The Twirl first burst onto the scenes in the 1980s, and is now Cadbury’s best-selling chocolate bar. Hardly surprising, when you eat one and realise the absolute genius of the product.

It is based on the concept of the Cadbury’s Flake, which has been around since the 1920s:

The Twirl, in its standard form (there are several deviations available), consists of two bars of Flake, each coated in a thin layer of chocolate. The Flake is a single bar, slightly longer than the Twirl, and exists without the extra chocolate coating:

Even if you’re not familiar with Cadbury, you may well have seen a Flake, or something like it, sticking out of an ice cream, for the Flake has been a popular addition to ice cream cones throughout the decades, in the form of the ‘99‘ (there are suggestions about the derivation of the name on Wikipedia, which can be viewed by clicking on ’99’ above).

The Flake came into existence, the way many great inventions do, as a by-product of something else. In the 1920s some eagle-eyed employee of Cadbury’s noticed that when excess chocolate dribbled over the moulds used to create other bars, it fell off in folds leading to the trademark flakiness so central to both the Flake and the Twirl:

I do remember having a passion for Flakes pre-Twirl, but since I was born in 1972 I didn’t have much opportunity to establish them in my diet before Twirls came muscling in and stole my heart. The question that has been troubling me is this: is the Twirl really better than the Flake?

Today, I set out to find the answer. In order to start my investigation, I had to obtain both a Flake and a Twirl, which was an extremely easy task as my local shop very handily stocks both in profusion.  I got them home, opened them up and, as you can see, took some photographs of them, before diving in for the taste test. As shown below, the Flake (on the right) is slightly larger in perimeter than the Twirl:

The outside edges of the Flake are heavily textured with lots of visible folds, while the Twirl is encased in a smooth outer shell that barely suggests the interesting structure beneath:

According to the ingredients and nutrition information on the packaging, the two products are almost identical. They only differ in tiny ways in terms of typical values per 100g. The Flake apparently contains very slightly fewer calories, a bit more protein, a little less carboyhdrate and just 0.1g of a difference in fat, fibre and sodium than the Twirl. Why these differences should exist at all, I really can’t tell but perhaps one of my intelligent readers could enlighten me.

So, down to the important bit of all this: eating them. I started with a bite of the Twirl, which was quite a clean and neat operation:

And then, carefully because I know what sort of crumb trouble can ensue with this manoeuvre, bit into the Flake:

As you can see, eating a Flake is a messier procedure than eating a Twirl, which is the major thing against the Flake, in my opinion. On the up side, if you eat it carefully enough and manage to save all the crumbs (particularly if you catch them in the wrapper and make a chute out of it, down which the crumbs can slide straight into your mouth) there is the enjoyable prospect of the ‘extra’ bits at the end when you’ve finished the main body of the confection.

But what of the taste? Well, at first I really didn’t detect any difference in taste, but the more I went on with it the more I became convinced that the Flake tasted slightly creamier. However, I’m a bit suspicious that this could actually be down to the texture rather than the taste. Since it doesn’t have the outer coating to break through, the Flake melts immediately in the mouth whereas the Twirl takes a bit longer to disappear on the tongue. Could this result in a creamier tasting Flake? I don’t honestly know. I think I will have to try and induce some volunteers to test this out in a blind tasting.

So, what is the result of this investigation? Well, based on this one trial I think that if I had to choose a favourite taste and texture combination, I would – surprisingly to me – choose the Flake. On the other hand, in terms of portability and ease of scoffing, I would opt for the Twirl. I should imagine that this means I will continue to take Twirls offshore with me, but perhaps when I’m at home I’ll veer more towards the Flake.

Welcome back old chum!

* you may take issue with this, given the number of cakes I devour, not to mention bars of chocolate