I’ve taken the rule book and lobbed it out of the window for today’s review. By that, I mean that I’ve previously managed to find and review the rarer varieties from the Lion range; their Lion Peanut and Lion Pop Chocs… and to go with those I finally found and bought the Lion White which I’m reviewing today. But I STILL haven’t done a regular Lion bar yet…which is totally counter-intuitive and against ‘the rules’. So that’s me: Dave the chocolate reviewing maverick. Society (and basic logic) would have wanted me to start with the traditional Lion bar to allow for comparisons. But screw that. So here it is: the Lion White.
These are semi legendary in Britain, and certainly so amongst low-brow foodies. They’re not available in the UK via any of the normal avenues (supermarkets, sweet shops etc) but are one of those things that turn up in the most bizarre of places- tucked away corner shops, foreign foods shops and budget stores like Poundland etc. There isn’t an exact science to tracking something down whatsoever- you just have to trawl all manner of unorthodox places and occasionally, just occasionally, you’ll find (often in between a can of windscreen de-icer from Israel, and some oven cleaner from Rwanda) something that you actually want.
And, after months of looking, eventually my efforts were rewarded with the Lion White- which is basically an ordinary Lion bar (a wafer and caramel centre with crispy cereal pieces) but enrobed in Nestle’s White Chocolate rather than their Milk Chocolate which is used for the traditional Lion Bar. Which country this originated from I have no idea, because thankfully the kind company which imported the Lion White from wherever the hell is was born had already translated all of the information from the wrapper into English and stickered over the foreign equivalent…saving me the trouble of having to use Google Translator. Sure I could have peeled the sticker back and found where the bar was made. But I didn’t.
The Lion White was surprisingly small really. At only 42g and containing 199 calories, it probably counts as a ‘lighter’ chocolate option than some bars. Not ‘light’ as in healthy in any way, but in a more literal sense- there wasn’t that much of it.
The outer wrapper was a bit boring, and I seriously hope that the guy who designed the packaging isn’t on a high wage. The bar is called the Lion White. So some marketing wizard has picked a white coloured wrapper, put a picture of a lion on it, and written ‘Lion White’ in sizable lettering. I don’t blame Nestle for that- in a crowded marketplace like the chocolate market, recognisable brand identity is key to success. When your average person scans the 40+varieties of chocolate available in a shop, basic human rationality is to pick something you know and understand over ‘the unknown’. In that sense, the appearance is unremarkable but also likely to be effective at generating sales.
Inside the papery wrapper looked quite a bit more exciting and appetising. The chocolate coating was absolutely snow-white, and the bar as a whole had the standard Lion bar look to it- the crisp cereal pieces giving it a lumpy and bumpy shape. Which I personally like- most bars are perfectly shaped and flawless, so a bit of good old fashioned randomness to the shape is always a nice change-up.
And complimenting the bar’s pleasant appearance was a rather good smell too. With Nestle (purveyors of some pretty bland and boring chocolate) in charge of the white chocolate, I had feared it would be inedible. But it smelt excellent; vanilla and caramel notes not unlike one of Nestle’s other chocolate bars- the Caramac (although calling the Caramac a chocolate bar is being a little liberal with that phrase, bearing in mind that the Caramac doesn’t actually contain any cocoa.) It certainly looked and smelt a little better than a regulation Lion up to this point.
As you could have probably predicted from the description and photos, the Lion White was seriously sweet. Luckily (or maybe Nestle intended this…who knows) the fact that it was a little smaller than most other chocolate bars meant that I was able to consume this without that feeling of sickness and guilt that some white chocolate leaves! The 42g size was just about right; enough to give you the sweet flavour, but just short of it becoming sickly and gross.
And the flavour was not bad; certainly a minor improvement on the Lion Peanut I reviewed 2-3 weeks ago, although not as good as the Pop Chocs version of the Lion brand.
The USP here is the white chocolate, which turns out to be decent. Fairly creamy and not bad at all. With the crunch of the cereal pieces, stickiness of the amber coloured caramel and the crispiness of the wafer, this had a lot of good textures going on. The white chocolate was tasty enough as mentioned, but this obviously doesn’t solve the underlying weaknesses of the Lion bar itself- namely that the caramel is flavourless and the cereal pieces a little bland.
But that isn’t a shock. Nestle aren’t trying to redefine or change the Lion brand with the Lion White. They’re just taking the basic prototype, and putting a slightly different spin on things with the white chocolate. And the white chocolate is just a jot more enjoyable than the mediocre and dull milk chocolate Nestle use on the usual Lion.
I wasn’t ecstatic after eating the Lion White, but nor was I disappointed- it pretty much delivered exactly what I had expected. It’s a nice enough novelty bar for us English consumers, without being a spectacular knock out bar of chocolate. Would I buy it again? Certainly ahead of the Lion Peanut and normal Lion yes, although of all of the Lion branded products, their Pop Chocs win out for me personally. I’d be very interested to hear if Nestle have any other twists on the Lion brand out there apart from those I’ve mentioned too.