10.07.2010

Mars vs. Mars: Two go in, one comes out!

As a Canadian, there are certain things that run through my blood: the overwhelming pride I get when I see a beaver damn, getting teary-eyed when I hear Gordon Lightfoot, and an insatiable appetite for Mars bars. In the US, Mars bars are very similar to that of the Milky Way bar: a layer of fudge/nougat underneath a layer of caramel, all wrapped in milk chocolate. The main difference is that a Mars bar tastes like heaven, where as a Milky Way tastes like an asshole dipped in sorority vomit. What I'm getting at is that Milky Ways aren't very good. But it was the other day when I was in a UK candy store that I saw a British Mars bar and I thought "Hey! I should do a side-by-side of Canadian Mars bars and UK Mars bars. They can't be that different, can they?" Hatchi matchi, they're as different at Elijah Wood and Macauley Culkin in The Good Son. So let's settle the score, once and for all - which is better: Canadian Mars bars or British Mars bars. Queen Elizabeth III vs. Beavers! Let's do this! ENTER THE OCTAGON.

CANADIAN MARS BAR
History: I used to have a friend who worked at the Mars factory two towns over and he told me that there would be huge vats of Mars nougat just floating around the factory floor. Never in my life had I wanted to steal something so badly. Mars bars are a Canadian staple; they're in every convenience store, grocery, vending machine, and gas station. Also, the quality control on them is crazy - you'll never eat a stale/old Mars bar. It's weird.
Stats: 260 calories per 58 gram bar. That means that there are 4.48 calories per gram.
Ingredient list: Sugar, corn syrup, modified milk ingredients, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, hydrogenated palm and palm kernel oil, lactose, malted milk powder (malted barley, milk ingredients, baking soda, salt), palm oil, soy lecithin, salt, dried egg white, artificial flavour. Shit, lots and lots of palm oil/palm kernel oil in here. Isn't that the one that's supposed to kill you? Sheesh. Better cut back to 3 a day.
Look: The Mars logo hasn't really ever changed. It's pleasantly retro. Sadly, this is as classic as our candy bar packaging gets; that's where America really does it well; how classic is Reese or Snickers?

BRITISH MARS BAR
History: I had a friend when I was a kid with British parents. For some weird reason, her parents used to import British candy at Halloween and give it out (I guess they thought Canadian candy was sub par. Pfft.) She used to have tons left over because they NEVER TURNED ON THEIR LIGHTS AT HALLOWEEN. Doyes! If your lights are off, it tells neighborhood children that you don't do Halloween. So yeah, I'd go over in November and eat my fill of British mini-Mars'es. It's a taste I remember to this day. I also remember knocking over a whole can of orange Crush on their living room floor, and barfing a peanut butter and jam sandwich all over their kitchen, but those stories are best left for another day.
Stats: 259 calories per 58g bar. That means that there are 4.46 calories per gram.
Ingredient list: Sugar, glucose syrup, milk ingredients, vegetable fat, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, lactose, demineralized whey powder, fat reduced cocoa, barley malt extract, emulsifiers, salt, egg white, hydrolised milk protein, vanilla extract. Holy shit, are we sure Soylent Green is made from people? This is like a laundry list of weird science additives.
Look: I do not like the look of this typeface. It's too swishy. It looks like a fake candy bar prop for a sitcom.

Here is the Canadian bar out of the package. It's stocky and dark. It slid out nicely (that sounded so rude!!!)

The British bar is longer and lighter (in both colour and weight) but the caramel had started to leak out the back end, making it stick to the wrapper. Someone in quality control was clearly havin' a laugh.

Side by side, the bars are pretty different. On the left is the Canadian bar, on the right the British bar. The Canadian bar has darker chocolate and is significantly shorter. Its weird that both the Canadian and British bars weight the exact same. The British bar didn't seem that much shorter (to make up for the length. Taken out of context, this post could be seriously NSFW).

And here's our cross-section. Again, they look fairly similar. Both have the same chocolate-to-candy ratio, although are you looking at the cut-lines on that British bar? The Canadian bar is perfect; no drag from the knife, all the layers are completely level. That's a classy candy bar.

Look at this? I'm practically a geologist, what with these cross-sections and slices of interior. No surprise that the Canadian bar is near-perfect (save for some crumbly chocolate on the side, although that is to be expected when dealing with real chocolate and not "chocolaty coating" aka Mocklate). Shall we discuss the British slide for a second? Santo. Dios. What in the name of Willy Wonka is that? The minute I put a knife through it, the chocolate bar just threw up its hands and said "I quit this bitch FIR RULL". Marf.

Okay, let's stop judging a book by its chocolaty cover and get to tasting it.
Squeeze: Yes, I judge on squeeze. I like to know how solid the bar is. This is important when you are eating it on a hot day; you don't want it to totally squidge through your fingers, right? The Canadian bar was pretty solid; I was applying fairly innocuous pressure here and it held its own.
Chocolate: Very cocoa-y. This tasted very similar to an Easter Bunny. The milk chocolate was dark-ish, and I appreciated that; Dove makes a bar that is 1/2 milk and 1/2 dark chocolate, and it's lovely! Milk without all the sweetness, dark without all the bitterness.
Caramel: It tasted like Kraft caramel squares. I knew it was caramel because of the colour and viscosity, but in a blind taste-test, I could have confused it for anything sweet and sticky.
Nougat: Very malty and smooth. It tasted like malt balls and whipped nougat. I wish the nougat middle of a 3 Musketeers tasted like this.

Squeeze: As before, I applied very little pressure and this bar was all everywhurr. I should also stress that this bar had been stored in the refrigerator for 3 weeks and came out cold. Ew?
Chocolate: Very sweet with lots of milky notes. I think they cover everything in Cadbury's milk chocolate in Britain (I think they brush their teeth with it. Hey, remember that old SNL commercial for Hedley & Wyche British Toothpaste?)
Caramel: This was by far the best part about this bar. It tasted smoky. I think I could describe it as tasting like burnt sugar. It was really nice. The only problem was that it was a bit too soft; I like a chewy caramel, not a saucy caramel. One time this girl was applying for a job where I worked and her email address was karamel_brown69@gmail.com. I was like "Are you serious? Maybe you want to get an email address that will help get you a job somewhere other than a strip club or a Hip Hop Recording Studio".
Nougat: This was such a fail. The nougat was ashy and gritty. It tasted sort of malty, but more like molasses. It was like a dry molasses fudge. Which is good if you want that sort of thing, but when you're combining it with a smoky caramel and a creamy milky chocolate, maybe take it ease a bit, k? The nougat reminded me of what's inside a Milky Way (Answer: Poo Poo Fudge).

OVERALL WINNER:
The Canadian Mars bar. The British version was too sweet and had too many flavours working against each other, whereas the Canadian version was 100% cohesive. The only thing that makes me cringe is knowing that the British caramel was so good; I would DIE if they used the same recipe in the Canadian bar. It would change the taste and make it just a bit more sophisticated. Also, the British one loses for using glucose syrup. Use corn syrup like us, you cheese-eating surrender-monkeys! That's the French, you say? And that we use artificial flavour instead of vanilla extract, you say? Well, I'll be damned. Anyways, go out and judge for yourself. And if you don't have Mars in your part of the world, email skipraid@gmail.com and I'll send you one, but ONLY the Canadian one, because by geeze, that British bar is SPENSIVE. It was like $3, and I do not have that kind of money to be throwing at near-strangers.

4 comments:

Kyle H said...

I'm guessing you're not trying to be taken seriously, but this is annoyingly biased.. I was actually curious about the differences. Couldn't even finish reading it.

The Mayor said...

"Hello, 9-1-1? I'm going to need a waaaa-mbulance"

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the review.

I like Canadian Mars Bars; they used to be my "travel" chocolate that would give me that rush of energy when waiting in airports or flying.

It's been so long since I tried a UK Mars bar I don't remember the distinction; nice to be reminded.

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