Friday, September 29, 2006

Head to Head: Milky Way & Mars (Canada & UK)

I’m not quite sure what possessed me to do this array of bars, but here it is.  Readers write in and ask what sorts of American candy they should take with them as hostess gifts or ship to friends overseas as quintessential American bars. The Milky Way is right up there, as one of the earliest bars that Mars developed (1923).

It’s a bar that I should love, after all, it’s supposed to be a malted milkshake in a bar.


There are several iterations of this bar both here and abroad. I got a hold of the American versions of both the milk chocolate and dark versions and the UK Mars (milk chocolate) and Canadian Mars Dark (dark chocolate).


The bar is called Milky Way in the United States but everywhere else on the planet it’s known as the Mars. (There was once an American Mars bar, but that’s since been renamed Snickers Almond ... there is a bar called Milky Way in the rest of the world too, but that’s like the American 3 Musketeers bar.)

I haven’t had a Milky Way bar in about 10 years. I’ve always thought they were too sweet, but after breaking one open the smell of malt was really compelling, making me doubt the wisdon of my embargo. The nougat here is the highlight, a medium color of fluffy, slightly grainy nougat covered with a stripe of caramel and covered in milk chocolate.

The flavors go nicely together and the caramel has a slight salty note to it that balances out the very sweet and only passably smooth chocolate. The malt is earthy and brings flavor to the bar.


The UK bar known as Mars has a similar cocoa colored and grainy, fluffed nougat covered with a stripe of glossy caramel and then milk chocolate. The caramel here was noticeably smoother, but the maltiness was much more subdued and replaced with a milky flavor.


The American bar is on the left and the British on the right. There was a difference in size, the British slightly larger at 62.5 grams over America’s 58.1 grams. The UK bar as slightly longer and a little taller.

Recently the standard bars started to appear in darker coats. Back in 1936, based on the success of the Milky Way bar, Mars introduced the Forever Yours bar. It remained in the Mars product line until 1979 when it was discontinued. Customers complained and the Milky Way Dark bar was introduced in 1989 and then the name changed to Milky Way Midnight in 2000.


Milky Way Midnight - beautiful dark bar with little folds of chocolate on the top. The dark chocolate has a little reddish tone to it. Inside is a fluffy white (with a yellow tone) nougat and a stripe of caramel. Smells slightly smoky and very sweet. The caramel dominates in this bar and its sweet stickiness isn’t completely offset by the smooth but otherwise flavorless dark chocolate.


Mars Dark - a stunning dark bar with glossy dark brown chocolate. Inside is a fluffy white nougat (with a slight yellow tone) and a stripe of caramel. The nougat on this one seemed slightly grainier but still sweet and only slightly less overwhelmed by the caramel. The chocolate, though pretty still doesn’t add much of a flavor counterbalance for the whole bar just a smooth texture.

The wrapper on the Mars Dark bar is a bit of a blunder, if you ask me, as it seems to indicate milk chocolate by its lighter, creamy color over the black package of the Mars bar.


So, you’re wondering what the difference is? The American one is on the left and the Canadian on the right. The Canadian bar is larger, by .1 grams. The ingredients list is virtually identical as well. The only difference on the labeling is that the Canadian one lists the true trans fat content at .1 grams (American food does not have to be labeled if it’s less than .5 grams).

The important thing to note is that the milk chocolate and dark chocolate versions differ in more than their coats. The nougat is markedly different. The dark bars are missing the malt component, and instead have the vanilla nougat (that’s found in the American Snickers Almond bar). The difference between the American and foreign bars isn’t that marked and I think that fans should be happy with either when they’re traveling. I give all bars a 6 out of 10.

Overall, I wish that the Milky Way Midnight or Mars Dark really was just a dark chocolate version of the Milky Way/Mars bar - I think the combo of dark chocolate and malted goodness would be great. But Mars must not believe that (I’m not sure if the Forever Yours had the malted nougat or not ... honestly I think it’s wrong to muck with too many ingredient variations and try to stick the same name on it). I might pick one of these out of a bowl of miniatures, but I’ll stick to the See’s Awesome Nut & Chew Bar as my favorite nougat candy bar for now.

Related Candies

  1. Snickers Rockin’ Nut Road Bar
  2. Head to Head: M&Ms vs Koppers Milkies
  3. 3 Musketeers Mini Mix
  4. Snickers Dark
  5. What does that Mars code mean?
  6. Head-to-Head KitKat vs KitKat!

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:23 am Tracker Pixel for Entry     CandyReviewMarsCaramelChocolateMaltNougat6-TemptingCanadaUnited KingdomUnited StatesHead to Head

  1. I nabbed at Midnight mini from my daughter’s trick or treat bag a few years back and loved it!  Bought the full size bar a month or so later and it wasn’t half as good.  Strange.

    Comment by April on 9/29/06 at 8:04 am #
  2. I’m sitting here snacking on “SweetTarts Squeez” - it’s liquid SweetTarts. Might wanna give this a whirl, Cybele - I found it at the drugstore.

    Comment by Tindy on 9/29/06 at 1:13 pm #
  3. I’m also a big fan of the Midnight bar.
    Far tastier than the “daytime” version.
    The US mars bar fell off my tasty list after they changed the recipie a few years ago.  The “more satisying” version didn’t impress me either.

    Comment by Brad on 9/29/06 at 1:13 pm #
  4. I was drooling over this description of the Forever Yours bar, which DID have real malt-flavoring in the nougat, to answer your question.  Why in the name of Forrest Mars would they get rid of this?:

    For more beuts we’ll never get the chance to eat, see:

    Comment by Joanna on 9/29/06 at 2:11 pm #
  5. Cybele's avatar

    Joanna - the Pecan Pete sounds really good (Pecans, nougat & dark chocolate)!

    April - sometimes I think the minatures are better. I think prefer the Snickers minis.

    Tindy - I tried the Squeez earlier this spring ... um, well, I suppose I’ll have to post about it at some point.

    Brad - I’m glad to hear I’m not nuts that it was different as the Forever Yours (which I had particular trouble finding shortly before it was discontinued).

    I have to say after eating four rather similar bars I’m not really keen on having anything else for a while ... maybe some more Fresh Mint Skittles.

    Comment by Cybele on 9/29/06 at 2:16 pm #
  6. I also prefer the minis.  I am not a huge Snickers fan, but I like the minis—esp. frozen.  As for Milky Way, I also prefer the minis.  Must be the ratio of chocolate to filling.  Oddly, I like the regular Milky Way room temperature better than the Milky Way Midnight.  But freeze the two of them, and the Midnight wins by a landslide.  Has anyone else given this a try?

    Comment by Karen on 9/29/06 at 6:05 pm #
  7. on that page Joanna linked to, i noticed

    Sportsman’s Chocolate Bracer - “A Man’s Chocolate”, described in the ad copy as “a real chocolate especially pleasing to a man’s taste”.

    So perhaps “Men’s Pocky” wasn’t the first of the genre!

    Comment by Tricia on 9/30/06 at 7:54 am #
  8. There’s a Milky Way Midnight ice cream bar that’s nice, too.  Minis always taste better because the capped ends give them more chocolate to inside.  Mini Reese’s cups are the same deal.  I never even tried the “big cup” Reese’s because I knew it would be off.

    Comment by Dave on 9/30/06 at 10:59 am #
  9. I have always preferred 3 musketeers.

    Comment by claudia on 9/30/06 at 11:59 am #
  10. Awwww, man! Now I gotta try this for myself! raspberry

    I’ve always loved Milky Way as a kid, especially over Snickers (hate the nuts). Seeing the cut side-to-side comparions, I have to say the Mars look heftier and….yummer. Is it just a visual thing? Please say so!

    Comment by Sera on 9/30/06 at 5:13 pm #
  11. A while back I asked you about what chocolates there are in china.  My main interest is chocolate, I didn’t look at other stuff.  I just got back.  I didn’t have that much time to look but it looks like there is nothing much good.  You got some standard bars, like Kit Kat.  Mainly you’ve got DOVE bars all over the place other than Kit Kat and some scary waxy as someone described it “chocolate” that did not contain coco butter at all. As a tour guide said, there is not good chocolate in china

    Comment by Janet Shum on 9/30/06 at 8:01 pm #
  12. I love Milky Way Midnights, especially the mini ones.  Although I do think they should make a dark chocoalte Milky Way with the malty nouget.

    Comment by g on 10/02/06 at 4:45 am #
  13. Are you familiar with the Visible Mars Bar Project? Conducted in the 1990s by students at the University of Southhampton, its aim was to scientifically compare U.S. and English Mars Bars and Milky Way Bars. Fortunately for the sake of posterity, the Web site recounting their results is accesssible.

    Comment by annulla on 10/03/06 at 6:06 am #
  14. Cybele's avatar

    annulla - on the first Snickers Almond review I did, I found this page: which is also an archive of what the Mars bar used to be. I’m sure in 10 years folks will be referring back to this page in the same fashion!

    g & Karen - I think I’m gonna have to go with you on minis too. I haven’t seen the midnight minis though.

    Tricia - lol re: Men’s Pocky!

    Dave - I’ll have to find the ice cream bar, that’s probably something I’d find at the 7-11.

    claudia - I like the idea of 3 Musketeers, but I always find a whole bar too sweet ... unless it’s frozen, then it’s pretty phenomenal.

    Sera - no retouching, these were pretty stunning looking bars (and pretty fresh).

    Janet - I didn’t really have much confidence that China would have good chocolate, though they’re known for some exquisite hard candies. Though Russia was like that during the Soviet era and they’ve now retraced their candy roots and are producing some nice stuff, maybe China will catch up.

    Comment by Cybele on 10/03/06 at 7:41 am #
  15. actually
    the milky way bar is identical to the canadian mars bar.  they made no changes whatsoever between the two products.  most if not all milky way bars are still made in canada and they are produced in the same warehouse as the mars bar (hence the same product)

    Comment by mike on 10/06/06 at 6:55 pm #
  16. Actually, just so you know, at least in Mexico and Russis they are known as Milky Ways and Mars are something different.

    Comment by Masha on 10/10/06 at 11:27 am #
  17. I am in the camp of those feel that a Forever Yours bar should always be refered as such; never “Milky Way Dark” or “Milky Way Midnight”. Mars had debased it’s heritage by reducing Forever Yours from a marque to a model of a marque. The same is true of the former Mars bar. Well, we know better!

    Comment by Will on 11/14/06 at 12:10 pm #
  18. I live on Long Island N.Y.  Have been looking
    for Mars Toasted Almond Bars for the longest
    time. Does anyone know where I can purchase
    the candy bar?  Thank You

    Comment by ron on 2/05/07 at 5:12 am #
  19. Just a small point—The American Mars bar is not the same as Snickers Almond. Snickers has peanut nougat, where the Amnerican Mars bar had plain, the American Mars Bar version had whole Almonds, where snickers has little pieces, and the American Mars bar had relatively more caramel for it’s size (it was a smaller bar).

    Comment by AAA on 2/19/07 at 10:47 am #
  20. im i love midnight milky ways they are so good and i will always love them no matter what but those mars bars look good too dont they i should try it and you should try the milky ways midnight if you havent its so good i guarantee it so try it

    Comment by Emily on 9/24/07 at 2:29 pm #
  21. Does anyone know where I can purchase
    the candy bar in taiwan?  Thank You

    Comment by zzzzzzzzzzzz on 10/20/07 at 5:40 pm #
  22. Is there any bars exactly like the milky way but without the caramel. i dun like the caramel.

    Comment by james on 7/05/08 at 10:30 pm #
  23. Cybele's avatar

    james - try the 3 Musketeers bar - it’s just the fluffy nougat covered in chocolate. I’m not sure if they’re available where you are though.

    Comment by Cybele on 7/06/08 at 7:23 am #
  24. Did you notice that the Milky Way Dark that became the Milky Way Midnight is now called the Milky Way Midnight Dark!!!

    Comment by Gary on 7/29/08 at 7:43 am #
  25. where can I get the MARS DARK from please??

    Comment by Keith ter Braak on 5/17/09 at 5:00 am #
  26. hey,
    my name is kylee. i was eatin a milky way last night before i went to bed, and a question raced to my mind, why is it called a milky way, then i read it was one of mars earlist bars and i guess mars has milk, i guess thats why it is called a milky way, im not sure. please answer my question becuz im gonna go nuts!! haha.

    thank you!

    Comment by kylee on 6/11/09 at 12:42 pm #
  27. oh, and i prefer twix:)

    Comment by kylee on 6/11/09 at 12:47 pm #
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