For the third consecutive review, I’ve really messed up the timing with the Mars Caramel. This limited edition bar came out a long time ago (last summer I think) and I actually bought it a long time ago too. But it has taken me about 7 or 8 months to sit down and eat it, which I suppose says it all for how excited I am about the product concept!
Part of the reason that the Mars Caramel hasn’t captured my imagination is that I tried a Milky Way Simply Caramel a few years ago, which was essentially the same product as this, and it was horrendously bad. Not just ‘lacklustre’ or ‘disappointing’ but truly bloody terrible and would have got a rating on here in the threes or fours out of ten had I had the site set up back then. Secondly, this is just a standard Mars bar but without the nougat…they’ve not exactly reinvented the wheel with this!
And the ‘simplicity’ (or laziness if we’re being hyper-critical) from Mars UK in designing the Mars Caramel is summed up when you pick it up. It’s thin. Almost hilariously so, until you remember that you’ve just paid full price for a super-skinny bar of chocolate. Mars have quite literally just trimmed the layer of nougat from the standard Mars bar and not replaced it with anything…at least with the Snickers More Caramel, they had made up for removing the nougat by chucking in some more caramel to compensate for it. Whereas at just 45g, the Mars Caramel is about 20-25% lighter than most normal chocolate bars. Value for money with it? Not in my opinion.
It might look like it has been on a diet as it’s so slim, but in general I was quite impressed by the outer appearance. The top left part of the wrapper is the classic Mars look- red lettering on the jet-black background. However the bottom right corner reflects the limited edition twist with a gold colour flowing in. The two colours clash in the middle, and it’s a nice fusion and blend of the traditional and the modern.
I have got as far as this point in the review and not actually mentioned Mars’ description on the wrapper…not that I’m insulting your intelligence (I obviously wouldn’t dare…) but for the sake of a comprehensive review, Mars describe the Mars Caramel as ‘milk chocolate with a soft caramel centre’. So there you go- earth-shatteringly shocking stuff.
It looked pretty lush when I cut it in half. Surprisingly so actually! I had expected a mass of brown sludge but in actual fact it was moist and sticky looking, delightfully dark and golden in colour (better caramels tend to be a shade darker from my experience) and all in all much more appetising than I had expected.
The other noticeable thing as I tore into the wrapper was that it didn’t smell of caramel. At all. There was the good old reliable Mars milk chocolate; a solid, sweet coating of it around the caramel centre. But aside from that, there was nothing. Zilch. This was all the more strange when, as you might be able to see from my photos, the bar was actually leaking caramel. It was poking out all over the place (including my hands rather annoyingly!) but yet didn’t have any toffee or caramel notes at all.
So that was when I first began to wonder whether all of the other bloggers were right, and the Mars Caramel is a bit gash.
And it turned out that they were. This is LAME.
Initially my brain was fooled and I thought for the first few seconds after biting into the Mars Caramel that this was just an ordinary Mars bar. Then my brain slowly processed the fact that “hang on a minute, there isn’t any nougat here”. That wasn’t a good thing. Without the nougat, the bar is weakened and becomes pretty flavourless as the caramel has no discernible flavour or taste to it at all. It’s shockingly bad- it doesn’t actually taste of anything at all.
Their milk chocolate is more than adequate to cover a bar (it’s the same stuff from a regular Mars bar obviously) and I always enjoy Mars’ light and easy-going chocolate even though it’s nothing special. But there is the fundamental problem that the chocolate only works if it is coating something nice in the middle…and the caramel was just like eating a used sock. Slightly moist, slightly greasy and unpleasantly tasting.
I don’t like really laying into products. Maybe I have low standards or maybe I’m just too nicer guy…who knows. But the Mars Caramel was really, really bad. I haven’t got any complaints about the chocolate coating- it is reasonably well done as always with Mars. But the caramel centre, as explained above, is terrible. Never before has a wrapper stating “100% caramel”, as the Mars Caramel did, been a warning rather than a selling point!
On top of the abject golden caramel centre, there is the fact that you only get 45g of it for your money. Now, I’m not going to complain that there isn’t enough of it from a flavour perspective (there is too much of this bar- about 45g too much to be precise) but from a value for money point of view, a Mars Caramel will cost you just as much as a Mars bar but you’ll miss out on the nougat element.
My honest opinion? Just don’t buy it. A limited edition bar it is, and hopefully a limited edition bar it will remain.