Thursday, August 23, 2007

UK Smarties (no artificial colors)

SmartiesI reviewed Smarties a couple of years ago, but they were the Canadian version and I thought they merited a revisit with the originals ... especially since they’re so wildly popular around the world with sales topping $140,000,000 a year!

Smarties were introduced by Rowntree in the UK back in 1937. Legend has it that Forrest Mars and a Rowntree family member were traveling through Spain in the mid-1930s and saw the soldiers there would eat chocolate that was covered in sugar to keep it from melting. Both men saw the merits of this novel way of serving candies, especially when combined with the French and Italian panning processes that provides an attractive colored shell. Rowntree first named their new chocolate lentils “Chocolate Niblet Beans” but changed next year to Smarties.

They’re not sold in the United States owing mostly to the fact that the name Smarties is already taken here (and perhaps some sort of gentleman’s agreement between Rowntree & Mars ... I can’t find any record of it though).

Smarties offer a wide variety of colors in their flat chocolate candies and recently change from artificial colors to all natural ones in hopes that it will reduce reticence among moms because of concerns about artificial colors being linked to hyperactivity.

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The hexagonal tubes that hold the Smarties are certainly cute. They’re easy to dispense from and they don’t roll around. The candies themselves are attractive, if now a little mottled in color.

Smarties shells are a little thicker than M&Ms and have a light flavor to them that I can only call cookie flavored (maybe ‘Nilla Wafers or Graham Crackers). The chocolate inside is rather unremarkable - not terribly rich or creamy.

What’s most surprising and pleasant about the Smarties is the flavor of the orange ones. They’re actually orange. Kind of a middle-of-the-road orange, not terribly deep or zesty, more like the Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

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The colors are remarkably different than they used to be. I tossed out a little array with some M&Ms ColorWorks as a comparison. The difference is pretty easy to see - the Smarties lack a depth to the color. However, it gives them a little artisan, homespun quality that certainly doesn’t turn me off.

Brits are fierce about their Smarties, and even the little changes in the packaging and colors seem to get people all fired up. Here’s a commercial from last year when the Hex tube replaced the round one with the collectible caps.

Here’s another earlier one that might lead one to believe that there’s something really psychedelic about these candies!

While parents may be happy that the artificial colors are gone, vegetarians aren’t. They now use carminic acid to make the reds, which is made from cochineal insects. (It also means that they’re not Kosher.)

Further, it’s not what Americans would consider “pure chocolate” as it contains whey and vegetable fat fillers. Ingredients are: Sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, dried skimmed milk, butterfat, whey powder, vegetable fat, lactose and soy lecithin. The coating is: sugar, wheat flour, modified starch, colors (titanium dioxide, mixed carotenes, carminic acid, vegetable carbon, riboflavin, copper, complexes of chlorophyllins), glazing agents, beetroot juice and flavourings.

Related Candies

  1. Disney Branded Chocolate Candies
  2. Peruvian Candies
  3. Fairway NYC
  4. Terry’s Chocolate Orange
  5. Jelly Belly JBz
Name: Smarties
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: gift (thanks Cruft!)
Price: unknown
Size: unknown
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, United Kingdom, Nestle

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:58 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

Comments
  1. I’ve never seen those hexagonal tubes before, how cute! Do you know if they’re somewhat new? I’ve only ever had the flat rectangular boxes sent to me. It’s been a while since I’ve had a Canadian goody swap and my kids still ask about the Smarties. They have a permanent spot on my Canadian “wishlist” now.

    Comment by Heather on 8/23/07 at 9:47 am #
  2. Doh - just realized this pack was from the UK! Never mind my “new design” question in the last comment :D

    Comment by Heather on 8/23/07 at 9:49 am #
  3. nice review, as always!

    Comment by Sally on 8/23/07 at 4:57 pm #
  4. I LOVE chocolate, but these just don’t look appealing to me at all.

    Comment by Katie on 8/24/07 at 2:31 pm #
  5. I actually buy these in Boston all the time.  I was so glad I was able to find them here after getting them all the time when I was in school in London.

    Comment by nic on 8/26/07 at 2:52 pm #
  6. Nice review.  Might you have any information about their flavorings?

    Comment by Shula Edelkind on 9/18/07 at 10:58 am #
  7. LOVE LOVE LOVE SMARTIES!!!! They are way better than M&M’s, I have them everytime I go back home…...mmmmmm…..smarties

    Comment by LoveLove on 10/10/07 at 6:27 pm #
  8. Do you eat the red ones last?

    Comment by Robert on 10/21/07 at 7:22 pm #
  9. The orange ones actually don’t taste orange anymore since they changed to natural colourings. It’s been a big bone of contention for a lot of people in the UK :(

    Comment by Cherry on 12/21/07 at 7:47 am #
  10. Hi Cybele…quite a debate has arisen at Chocolate Mission regarding Smarties..your expert opinion would be great to hear:

    http://chocolatemission.blogspot.com/2008/03/march-22nd-nestle-smarties-egg.html

    Comment by James on 3/24/08 at 4:28 am #
  11. Does anyone know WHY they are called Smarties? i.e. where did that name come from?

    Comment by Wendy on 1/20/09 at 7:30 am #
  12. Wendy,

    If you actually read this entry, you would know why they are called smarties.

    Duh.

    Comment by SmartiesGirl on 4/12/10 at 2:02 pm #
  13. It was interesting, but not really one I was looking for. I want to find out what natural flavourings they use.

    Comment by Rosie on 5/27/10 at 10:07 am #
  14. I thought I was eating these until I realized I bought the knock-off of these, lol. They’re called Smart Alecs and they’re not bad, but the orange ones taste like toilet. ):

    Comment by Asia on 12/13/11 at 3:12 pm #
  15. The first YouTube video is gone. Do you know if there is another?

    Comment by 411 NY on 4/17/12 at 8:55 am #

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