More often than not to date, I’ve focussed on the weird/wonderful/crazy/unusual/foreign on this site. But I’m aware that (for a comprehensive reviewing site) I should review some good old British classics as well. So today, I’m taking a gander at Cadbury’s Crunchie part- something which is pretty legendary in England and one of the few English bars which makes it overseas as well; I’ve got relatives in the U.S, Australia and Europe who have heard of/tried the Crunchie. Well, the Australians also have their own equivalent of the Cadbury’s Crunchie, in the form of the ‘Violet Crumble’.
The Crunchie has been around for as long as I can remember. It’s also one of the most widely available bars in the British chocolate market along with Mars bars, Snickers bars, M&M’s and Dairy Milk. By that, I mean that every vending machine, every convenience store no matter how big or small, and every café will most likely have the Crunchie in stock…whilst other, lesser known chocolates like the Drifter, Caramac and Double Decker are rarer and much harder to find.
It is a very simple concept which is probably why the brand awareness amongst the public is so good; you won’t find many Englishmen who have no idea what a Crunchie is. And because the name is a giveaway, even those who don’t know what it is could probably hazard a decent guess. But I know that I’ve got a very global readership so I’d better just explain that the Cadbury’s Crunchie bar is ‘Milk chocolate with a golden honeycomb centre’.
So as mentioned, it’s an extremely uncomplicated concept. No fancy dan stuff here- they make up some honeycomb and then give it a very thin coating of milk chocolate. And I think the simplicity has something to do with the popularity of it- the majority of consumers who aren’t that interested in chocolate and just want to pick something up on the go can understand and relate to it…whilst us foodies are talking about salted/ minted/ aerated/ quasi-pralines, it’s fair to say most people just like schnarffing a bar that they know they like. And the Crunchie is a chocolate bar that people know they like.
I wouldn’t go as far as to claim that the wrapper and brand is culturally iconic, but there can be little doubt that the Crunchie’s aesthetics are extremely recognisable. The gold wrapper has never changed I don’t think, and the letters c-r-u-n-c-h-i-e in red font remain eye catching and attractive on the shelf. The chocolate bar itself, out of its wrapper, is a bit of a dull affair. Wavy chocolate on top of a perfectly rectangular shaped honeycomb centre.
I tried my hardest with the photos to capture the essence of the honeycomb centre. The bar itself is very light at only 40g, and that’s because the honeycomb centre has a lot of air in it, giving it an airiness often found in aerated bars. But whilst the small air bubbles imply that this is similar to a Wispa or an Aero, I have to say that the centre of these is proper crispy. It’s totally dry which explains why every mouthful is so crunchy, and it even makes the noise- as you bite into the bar- similar to when you bite into burnt toast- a loud ‘accccchhhhhh’ sound.
The Crunchie is covered in Cadbury’s secondary milk chocolate, which meant that the bar smelt very light and sweet but not particularly chocolatey. The slightly bland milk chocolate smell was accompanied with a toffee kind of sweetness too- a burnt caramel sort of smell. It was bloody sugary and milky, but not horrible at all.
As mentioned, the honeycomb is one of the crispiest things I’ve ever eaten, and I love the texture. It is very dry, but because of the air bubbles, it also melts quickly and doesn’t hang around unpleasantly like excessively dry food normally does. The golden centre IS actually texturally comparable to aerated chocolate in the way that it melts so quickly…the big difference, of course, is that this has a burnt toffee taste to it, as well as some rather nice caramel tones too. It’s a nice flavour, not exceptional but above average.
The chocolate is standard fare from Cadbury. It isn’t particularly strong tasting, and is a little bland as Cadbury’s ‘reserve’ chocolate always is. There is a relatively smooth melt to it, and a dull milkiness. Sometimes I wonder how different Cadbury’s bars would taste if they covered everything in the slightly richer and more flavoursome Dairy Milk- their better milk chocolate. Maybe it would overpower everything…but my instinct is that it would add an extra dimension to a lot of their produce than is currently the case with the secondary, cheaper, milk chocolate.
It’s really easy to see why Cadbury’s Crunchie bar has been, and continues to be, so successful. The honeycomb centre is a quite brilliant texture; each bite of the Crunchie is a joy to eat, it really is. The flavour doesn’t quite match the texture, but the honeycomb still has an enjoyable flavour to it, with the toffee and caramel notes nice enough.
The Crunchie has long since been an important part of Cadbury’s line-up, and I really do expect this will continue; I’ve worked in a newsagents and the amount of people who buy the Crunchie was startling given that it isn’t the most bold or indulgent bar in comparison to others available. It’s also worth mentioning that the Crunchie only has 185 calories- the lightness and airiness of the crispy middle mean that whilst you’re eating (and paying for!) a lot of air, your waistline will be a bit better off than most other bars. For instance the Crispello, (marketed as a ‘health’ bar) has 165, and is nowhere near as satisfying and fun to eat as the Crunchie.
Cadbury’s famous Crunchie is a cool and fun bit of chocolate, and is a reminder to the marketers and public relations teams trying to sell complex new products that simplicity sells.