Caley’s is name of a big (ish) chocolate company which has its roots in my home city, Norwich. Although bought out now by a larger parent company (isn’t everything these days- eventually we’re going to end up with Kraft, Coca Cola and McDonalds owning everything…including the Office of Fair Trading) the city of Norwich is still very proud of Caley’s as a brand, and whilst production has now moved away from the city there remains a Caley’s Café. I thought it was about time I tried my ‘home’ chocolate.
I’ve been meaning to review one of their bars for a while, not just to introduce you all to a company that you probably haven’t encountered before…but also because I’VE never actually eaten Caley’s chocolate either. Which is a poor effort really when you think about it- I’m a guy who eats a hell of a lot of chocolate, and yet I haven’t actually tried Caley’s when most of their history is based a stone’s throw from my house. Well, 3 miles to be precise which isn’t strictly a stone’s throw…unless you’ve got a mahooosive throw anyway.
So, having lived in Norwich for 12 or my 21 years of life, I finally sorted my life out and bought a 55g bar of their Milk Chocolate. Which I think is actually a first on TheSnackReview- I’ve eaten and reviewed chocolate with fruit, nuts, meat (yes, MEAT), wafer, caramel and about a hundred other things…but this is just a block of milk chocolate. No fancy dan stuff, no extra flavours…just a plain bar of the good stuff.
As you can see from the pictures too. You don’t even get a fancy design on the chocolate. You get one outer wrapper, and then a pretty chunky block of very plain looking chocolate. If you’re a minimalist, you’ll love it. If you need something exciting and in your face, this will probably put you to sleep. I’m somewhat in the middle- Caley’s bar here certainly doesn’t have me on the edge of my seat with anticipation, but I kind of like the simplicity and it makes me think of how I imagine chocolate looked in the era of ration books! No logos, no promotions, no bullshit.
The wrapper was a big hit with me too. Not only are Caley’s a fair-trade company, but 5p (a fair wedge as the bar only cost me 60p I think) from the sale of each bar goes to supporting our British troops. Now I always endeavour not to make this blog political (which can be difficult as I’m now in the final year of a politics degree!) but regardless of circumstances, I think it hugely important that any society backs the soldiers that seek to defend it. The charity in this instance, Help For Heroes, do amazing things- that I wholly support- so it was pretty cool that I could buy both a bar of chocolate and help them a little at the same time.
I actually liked the wrapper as a whole though, not just for its underlying charity theme. The metallic appearance of the shiny blue packaging was quite unconventional but the (and I use the word again) simplicity of it was attractive. It looked nice, and there was no over-complication- whilst modern bars are loaded with all manner of crap on the front (Kit Kat Chunkies are the worst…there are normally about 38 different competitions on the wrapper) there was no fannying around here from Caley’s. It basically says, “hey, I’m a chocolate bar. Buy me or piss off because visiting hours are over.” And that’s cool.
One other notable thing from the packaging was that Caley’s described their Milk Chocolate bar as “cocoa rich”. Whilst the cocoa solids were only at 35% (probably 8-10% higher than many milk chocolate bars from larger companies) it did actually smell exactly that. With Dairy Milk and Galaxy chocolate, there emphasis is very much on creamy and/or milk notes. Straight away, just from the smell though, it was obvious that Caley’s milk chocolate was much more orientated towards chocolate lovers rather than lovers of the light and sweet. From the smell, I probably would have guessed that it was 45-50% cocoa solids as it really was cocoa heavy.
Each piece is extremely thick and chunky and it has similarities to the Yorkie bar in that regard. And it had that Yorkie like snap as well- many milk chocolate bars that I’ve eaten from big companies are a little limp and soft unless put in the fridge. Even at room temperature however, Caley’s Milk Chocolate bar was very firm and took a bit of effort to break. I can assure you of one thing, there is no danger of a Caley’s bar breaking into a million pieces in your bag…I’d be more concerned about the other things in my bag being smashed by the chocolate in this instance!
The comparisons to the Yorkie were based on size and appearance, but the flavour is much removed from Nestle’s Yorkie bar. This is, as the smell and wrapper suggested, cocoa heavy in flavour. There is a rich, semi-bitter flavour of the chocolate accompanied with a little sweetness… it’s probably best described as a half-way house between a milk and a dark chocolate for me in flavour. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the melt of the chocolate itself, which was a bit nasty and rough; this is about as far away from ‘melt in the mouth’ chocolate that you can get.
Fundamentally, the flavour is probably best here for those who find modern milk chocolate to be too sweet but don’t have the stomach for proper dark stuff either. I found each piece to be overly bland and plain, and there wasn’t a single defining flavour to the chocolate really.
I really wanted to love Caley’s Milk Chocolate bar. Who wouldn’t? They’re fair-trade, they’re helping support our soldiers and on top of that, they’re also a company with so much history and so many links to my home city. But I can’t love it- it’s just too damn dull.
Caley’s go with simplicity- the wrapper, the design and the chocolate bar itself are all no nonsense and straight forward. But if you’re going to sell a product like that, the chocolate itself has to stand out and the flavour has to excel. Whilst this tastes ok, it just isn’t good enough or interesting enough to work on its own- the bar needs a more developed flavour. So it’s (sadly) a no from me on this one. That said, they have a wider range of chocolate which includes orange and dark flavoured alternatives…and I’l try and review them in the future too.