How are you getting on with lockdown? We didn’t think much of going back to the pub. Maybe it’s the enforced distance from other punters and the absence of live music killing the atmosphere, the faff of having to queue and deal with the track n’ trace forms after we’ve been predrinking on the couch, or the fact that we’ve been used to getting a four pack out the off license for less than the price of one lukewarm lager at the local. Going to the shops feels like hassle for many of the same reasons. In fact, going out at all means changing out of lounge pants and my cat-hair-covered hoodie, which seems to require a lot more effort than it did four months ago.
Objectively, on our less productive days, The Steph and I have behaved like overgrown teenagers enjoying the long, lazy summer holidays. We can emerge from our bed at any time between seven and midday, depending on when the alarm-cat decides we’ve dozed enough and how long we spent bingeing YouTube and corner shop wine the night before. The cutting-edge Italian rock and genre-defying Indian noise which once dominated our speaker has been replaced by Spotify’s Guilty Pleasure mix (I’m not going to tell you how much Cascada has been on in the last week). And while The Steph has been very good at sticking to her yoga and clean eating, I’ve found myself lapsing back into pot noodles on toast, crisp sandwiches (cheese n’ onion, naturally), and other studenty comfort food.
And what, dear reader, is more comforting, more reminiscent of the innocent days before this madness, than a Great British chocolate bar?
I’m saying ‘chocolate bar’ because it’ll get messy if we say ‘sweeties’ (or, as they say here in England, ‘sweets’). For the non-chocolate treats, Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles would definitely win anyway. And I’m sticking to chocolate ‘bars’ because Malteasers clearly dominate the ‘chocolatey nibbles’ category. (Steph says: Jelly Babies over Fruit Pastilles, but I agree with you on Malteasers)
So here you go, Britain’s top thirty chocolate bars (according to The Pontefract and Castleford Express‘ poll, because that was the first result on my Google search), ranked:
Flake, Twirl, Wispa, Galaxy Ripple, Aero, Aero Mint
Crumbly textures and more air than chocolate are just a no for me. These represent the Coldplay, the limp handshakes, of chocolate bars. Pull yourself together.
Steph says: So with you on the Aero bars, actually disgusting. Wispa and Galaxy Ripple I’ll take or leave but HOW DARE YOU insult the wonder that is a Twirl?!?!? Excuse me, I’m off to the corner shop…
Cadbury Dairy Milk, Galaxy Bar, Bourneville, Lindor, Fry’s Turkish Delight, Milkybar
Nothing objectively wrong with the straight up simplicity of Dairy Milk and Galaxy, but nothing particularly exciting either. They’re a bit like Michael MacIntyre on Christmas Day: nothing groundbreaking but entertaining enough, and won’t upset the Grannies. Bourneville, Lindor, and Turkish Delight are relegated to this rank because of their pretentiousness. And, while most of these bars are really for children, Milkybar is only for children.
Steph says: Dairy Milk, Galaxy and Bourneville are my standard ‘go-to’s… Does this mean you think I’m old?!
Middle of the Road
Yorkie, KitKat Chunky, Daim, Toblerone, Crunchie, Starbar
Yorkie sneaks into this category because I couldn’t bring myself to put the snobby snacks in the last ranking any higher. I suppose its girth (steady on) justifies that. But, ironically, heft relegates KitKat Chunky to this bracket: it doesn’t have the same satisfying snap as the more delicate fingers. Daim and Toblerone don’t make it any higher ’cause, really, they’re pure gimmicks: exclusively for Ikea checkout queues and airport duty free respectively. Crunchie is a highlight of Heroes but a bit monotonous and sickly by the end of a whole full-sized bar. And, honestly, I’ve never had a Starbar, so it’s slap-bang in the middle of the list in the interest of fairness. Am I missing out?!
Steph says: At this point, I am realising our tastes in chocolate are quite different… Maybe it’s just as well as we won’t fight over the bars. I love a KitKat Chunky out of these: the rest you can eat!
Milky Way, KitKat, Cadbury Fudge, Cadbury Fruit & Nut, Cadbury Caramel, Bounty
Milky Way and KitKat make this category because my childhood dog, a cocker spaniel called Maple, loved them. We had a vague notion that dogs shouldn’t get dark chocolate, and these were simpler times. The only way she would take a tablet was if it was shoved in the gooey, nougaty centre of a Milky Way, and she loved ‘sharing’ my Dad’s favourite KitKats with him.
Fudge is a solid contender, reaching these lofty heights because they used to be the cheapest on this list, making them a good use of pocket money change.
Controversially, I love fruit and nuts in sweet things. I will defend oat and raisin cookies to the death. So Cadbury’s pseudo-healthy Fruit & Nut bar is a solid choice for me.
Cadbury’s Caramel is another of their stronger bars. I’m a sucker for sweet n’ salty, and the caramel filling is satisfyingly close to the ambrosia they used to pour over McDonald’s Caramel Sundaes (RIP).
And Bounty makes it this far because its dark variant is The Steph’s favourite, and I’m already afraid she’ll run away with a Hemsworth after my dismissal of Twirls.
Steph says: Bounty, or very specifically, Dark Bounty, is just magical! I find caramel and fudge sickly sweet, so I’ll take the Fruit & Nut, but with extra chocolate!
6. Galaxy Caramel
Sweet, just a threat of salty, and smoother than Barry White’s voice (as well as Cadbury’s version).
Chocolate good. Peanuts good. Caramel good. Biscuit good. Rice crispies good. A most triumphant bar: only the fact that it looks like a poo stops it from rising to the top.
4. Mars Bar
The E-Type, the Casablanca, the Rumours of chocolate bars. A stone-cold classic for all the right reasons.
The satisfying snap and sharing potential of a KitKat, with a seductive, salty-sweet layer of caramel just to lift it up a notch.
Everything that’s great about the classic Mars bar lifted up a notch. The peanuts round out the flavour of the caramel, give it a bit more bite. Just awesome.
Winner (?): Double Decker
A worthy champion, and an under appreciated God of Cadbury’s pantheon. This feels like the work of a real-life Willy Wonka, as layers of nougat and cereal and a power of chocolate collide in gooey, chewy goodness. For best results, stick in a microwave for a few seconds and drown in ice cream.
Steph says: Well at least a Twix made it up here! My personal Top Five are:
5. Kinder Bueno Bar (maybe it’s not technically chocolate, but shush!)
3. KitKat Chunky/ Twix
2. Galaxy/ Twirl (what?!)/ Dairy Milk
1. Dark Bounty
A new foe has appeared!
Insultingly absent from The Pontefract and Castleford Express’ poll, I think that the Lion Bar deserves a shot at the throne. Yes, with its combination of wafer, caramel, and rice crispies, it’s somewhere between a Picnic and a Twix. But it’s greater than the sum of its parts. It’s got that slight saltiness I love with sweetness, two layers of satisfying crunch, and, with that name and a great big cat on the wrapper, it’s just cooler than any of the other bars on this list. The King of the Jungle and the Sweetie Aisle!
Ryan Callander with Stephanie Wickmere
Defend your favourite bar in the comments below!