"MMM, SNACK TREATS."

Are you peckish, yet bored of the same old same old? Below are collected my contributions to the fine snack-spotting website, Snackspot. The site maintains an eagle-eyed watch on the world of tasty and exciting new consumer treats, ranging from bizarre milk-and-vodka alcopops to meat-and-beer flavoured crisps. Truly, we live in a cross-pollinating society. The reviews are collected in chronological order, most recent first (which may lead to occasional mild reference confusion - don't be alarmed), and some of the more esoteric or limited-edition treats may no longer be available. So if you're feeling peckish or disillusioned, and fancy a thrilling new snack to distract you momentarily from the crushing grind of life in a neoliberal capitalist oligarchy, start at the top.

For more details on any of these sightings, or for reactions and lots more excellent and tempting contributions from Snackspot's many other dedicated and diligent snack-spotters, visit the site.

This page is respectfully dedicated to the memory of Cola Smarties, and also to the memory of "Craisins", which were cranberries, dried out to look like raisins, but coated with "strawberry flavour", which was made with elderberry juice rather than strawberries, making them officially the world's most confused fruit.

10 Feb 2004 - Scotbloc Fizzy Orange flavour cake covering

"The dedicated snack-treat fan has to search off the beaten track sometimes, but the rewards can be worth it. Browsing in the cake-decoration aisle revealed this fantastic "candy" (ie it's that generic chocolate-texture-but-not-chocolate substance that Americans use the word for) which is obviously meant to be melted onto cakes and Rice Krispie treats and so on but in fact tastes great in its own right. I don't actually like orange-flavoured chocolate - orange just doesn't go with dairy, that's why you don't get orange milk shakes - but this is ace. Not too rich, not too orangey, not too fizzy, just enough to be delicious. And at a quid for a giant bar, it's a bargain too. Plus if we all suddenly start buying it, it'll really freak them out."

7 Feb 2004 - Crispy Bacon Cheez Double Dippers

"The 'stuff you dip in cheese' market seems to have exploded - there were at least 20 different varieties of little pots of cheese dip with something or other you're supposed to dunk in it in the chiller cabinet. The latest is a compartment of breadcrumby "bacon bits", reminiscent of the flavouring of Pot Noodle Sizzlers. Hard and crunchy, in combination with the breadsticks the bacon bits totally overwhelm the mild Dairylea-ish "cheez" if you get any more than about three of them on the end of your stick. I'd stick with the salt'n'vinegar twists. (Oddly, nobody as far as I can see has made an onion-flavour dipping device for cheese spread yet. Funny old world.)"

3 Feb 2004 - Batchelors Spag Bol flavour Super Noodles

"It's a measure of how far we've come in snack technology that Super Noodles were ever known as a convenience food. Compared to the amount of stuff you can bung in the microwave and eat straight out of the packet, these are a Gordon Ramsey-esque nightmare of faffing around and equipment-dirtying. First you have to boil a kettle, then pour the boiling water into a jug to measure out 300ml, then pour into the bowl you've got the noodles in, then microwave them for two minutes, take them out and stir them, another two minutes, another stir, ANOTHER two minutes, and then another three minutes while you wait for them to cool down enough to eat.

By the time you're done it's taken nearly 15 minutes, two utensils, two bits of crockery and constant surveillance to make a simple bowl of noodles. You could breed, raise, slaughter and roast an entire ox quicker.

Is it worth it? Well, they're decent enough noodles, and the new variety inescapably does taste like spag bol, but you could microwave a proper ready-meal spaghetti bolognese (I recommend the superb, mushroom-free, Waitrose ones) in half the time with a quarter of the effort and get something a lot nicer. Which, if you ask me, is a much smarter move."

17 Dec 2003 - Basil Brush Crispy Chicken Bites/ Chicken Boom Booms

"Firstly, a disclaimer. You're supposed to cook these in the oven, but for technical reasons my oven's full of alcopops, so I had to fry them in oil instead. The Crispy Bites are little packets of breaded nuggets (4 in a bag), of which you get 6 bags in traditional crisp flavours - 2 each of Salt 'n' Vinegar, Smokey Bacon and Cheese 'n' Onion. The flavour is quite strong in the case of the bacon, not so much with the salt 'n' vinegar, but the nuggets themselves are rather heavily breaded and hence tend to the over-greasy, like McCain's Micro Nuggets, with the chicken overwhelmed somewhere in the middle. But that might be because I fried them.

The Chicken Boom Booms, on the other hand (8 in the pack) are rather like big Curly Wurlys in form, lightly coated in a crispy batter. Thanks to the thin-ness of the batter they were much nicer than the Bites, crisp but succulent and the closest the home-food business has yet come to a Chicken McNugget, and especially lovely with a bit of sweet'n'sour sauce (not supplied). Also, Basil looks really cute in his chef's gear."

15 Dec 2003 - Feel Good Naturally Cleansing Juice Drink

"Aloe Vera - it's the new strawberry, or something. Once again, a drink that sounds like you should be washing with it. Unless by "naturally cleansing" they mean it has laxative properties, of course, which would make sense in the wake (so to speak) of Lucozade Clear. As so often happens, poor old apple juice makes an unadvertised appearance doing the donkey work (it supplies 6%, same as the orange and only 2% less than the cranberry, but gets no front-of-house billing) - a fate which it frequently shares in the soft-drinks world with pear juice and grape juice. Equal credit rights for unfashionable fruits, I say.

Anyway, unlike the Aloe Vera yogurt, this is pretty good. Sharp without being dry, fruity without being overpowering, though I don't feel noticeably cleaner, inside or out. But why ARE still-water drinks always twice as expensive as fizzy ones? (This was on special, normal price 1.19. For a bottle of diluted squash. No wonder our children's teeth are rotten. Cuba!)"

11 Dec 2003 - Cadbury's Banoffi bar

"I can never figure out if places like Farmfoods are somewhere snack-makers try out exciting new products in advance, or if they're a bargain-bin clearance outlet for failed test stuff they've decided to scrap before ever giving it a proper release.

Whichever it is, the store is an ever-reliable treasure-trove of treats, typified by this soft-centre bar whose filling tastes EXACTLY like the gooey bit from the middle of a banoffee pie. As you might expect, surrounding that with Dairy Milk makes it so sweet that you'll struggle to eat more than two squares at a time without making your teeth itch, but like all mood-altering drugs, this is safe when used in moderation."

9 Dec 2003 - Refreshers Gums

"I can see why these were on the 'Awaiting Sightings' list so long - they're so bland that two seconds after eating one you forget you've ever had them. A completely generic soft gum covered in tasteless fizz, and unlike the Refreshers ice lolly they bear no similarity in taste to their parent sweet. I've only eaten a quarter of the bag, and I tipped the rest in the bin to scan the packet for the pic, rather than finish it. I wouldn't even inflict these on my snack-loving rats."

4 Dec 2003 - Space Raiders Spicy Flavour

"I heard about these a few weeks ago, but hunted high and low for them fruitlessly in the Bath/ Bristol area, and working my way alphabetically through a UK atlas, finally found a stockist in the nation's second city, Birmingham.

They're pretty nice, with the "spicy" flavour in this case falling somewhere between the interpretations found in Golden Wonder's Nik-Naks and Tayto's legendary Bikers, except a little more peppery than either. As with all Space Raiders they're a little on the cardboardy side, though, and they're really only an acceptable alternative if you can't find either of the other two, or you've only got 10p on you."

2 Dec 2003 - Emmi Aloe Vera Sensitive Yogurt Drink

"What? For years Aloe Vera was only found in moisturisers and suchlike, then suddenly it was in washing powder and washing-up liquid, and now it's a snack treat too? On picking this up I wasn't sure whether to drink it or rub it on my face, and having drunk it I wish I'd rubbed it on my face.

Opening the lid, even after a vigorous shake, revealed an unsettling rubbery skin, and after gingerly poking through it and taking a swig, a goopy substance tasting - oddly enough - not unlike moisturiser mixed with washing-up liquid was revealed. The only food-like sensation came from the lemon juice (clearly trace elements, as no percentage is listed, unlike the 77% low-fat yogurt and 10% Aloe Vera). 'Natural Beauty From Within'? Not from within this, pal."

26 Nov 2003 - Burton's (new) Fish 'n' Chips

"Fish 'n' Chips were spotted here recently, amid some controversy over whether they'd ever been away, but these are definitely something entirely new. A new pack design reprising the old "newspaper" motif is the cosmetic difference, but in fact these are a whole new snack. The older red-pack F'n'C list 16 ingredients on the back, but the new variety credits a whopping 28. Contributing to the new version are such diverse taste-constituents as milk, vinegar powder, sugar, "Triglycerides of Coconut Oil" and a slew of others not previously found in the snack.

In practice, the new style is a very different proposition, considerably dissimilar in both texture and flavour, and not for the better in this snack-fan's opinion, though this judgement is tempered by the fact that Fish 'n' Chips were always a pretty inconsistent bet - one pack capable of a strong and tangy taste sensation while the very next would resemble cardboard boxes set on fire then put out with stagnant pondwater. Clearly, further investigation is required. I may be gone some time."

20 Nov 2003 - Strawberry Mega Wham/ Strawberry Refreshers

"I have no idea what's supposed to be "Mega" about this, as it seems to be the same size as a normal Wham bar. I'm also at a bit of a loss as to where the "strawberry" aspect comes in, since it tastes about as much like a strawberry as a wet teabag. And as for the "tongue tingling" aspect advertised on the wrapper, Heaven knows - the trademark fizzy bits of a Wham were nowhere to be found. This is basically just bright pink Polyfilla. Horrible.

After the horrible let-down of the strawberry Wham bar, I didn't have high hopes for these theoretically similar new strawberry variants on the classic Refreshers, but was very pleasantly surprised. They have a creamy, juicy, fruity taste, and unlike the Wham bar are just soft enough to eat without having to have your teeth professionally cleaned and scaled afterwards to remove the petrified-glue remnants. The only disappointment is that there's no sign of the fizzy sherbet centre usually found in Refreshers, which would have rounded things off triumphantly. Are there any other new strawberry versions of traditional sweets that I've missed?"

19 Nov 2003 - Nestle "Sizzling Strawberry" Matchmakers

"There's a whole world of strangeness going on here - since when were strawberry and black pepper flavour-buddies? And in what way can - or should - a strawberry flavour chocolate snack be said to be 'sizzling'? Why is the choc part a blend of dark chocolate and skimmed milk chocolate? And what kind of hideous vampiric ritual has resulted in the strawberry on the box having been multiply impaled on the numerous chocolate stakes brutally piercing its fruity heart?

Anyway, these are ace. The flavour is very much that of the strawberry creams in your average box of Milk Tray or Roses, the texture identical to ordinary Matchmakers, the presence of black pepper pretty much invisible, although after you've read about it your mind starts playing taste tricks on you. Or maybe it's just delayed-release. How the heck do you make boiled sugar pieces taste of pepper anyway? What next, salt'n'vinegar Fruit Gums? I'm off for a lie down."

18 Nov 2003 - Milka Lila Pause Fraise

"I've seen a few of these around, but this is the first time I've encountered this particular one, and it's by far the best of the range. Inside the thin milk-chocolate coating you get a centre of strawberry-flavour Aero-style "chocolate", topped with a layer of crisped rice. The whole thing melts into a creamy munch that's not too sweet and not too sickly, but with that great strawberry-fake-choc taste that we all love from the classic Pink Panther bars. For 15p it's rude not to."

17 Nov 2003 - Strawberry Tunes

It was the extremely cute deep-pink box that caught my eye, but the contents that finally soothed the tortuous pain of a day in Birmingham. These little oval pretend-medicine drops are just about the best new sweet I've tasted all year. The subtle, soft strawberry flavour combines with the understated menthol to genius effect, switching from one to the other over and over in tiny waves while you suck for, frankly, a grown-up taste sensation.

Whether they do, in fact, medically assist your respiration is something this reporter is unable to scientifically ascertain, but in any case don't wait until you've got a cold to get some of these, because they deserve your taste buds' full attention.

11 Nov 2003 - KP Hula Hoops Shoks

"Shoks seemed to be something of a flop in their previous incarnation, so KP have had another go, ditching the impractical cube-shaped pack, toning down the somewhat excessive serving size to a more manageable 30g (at, gram-for-gram, more or less the same price), and switching the pleasantly tangy but breath-ruining "Full-on onion" flavour for a more traditional s'n'v. Hopefully it'll pay off, because these are good. The tiny size allows them to retain a lot more flavour than full-size s'n'v Hula Hoops, and you no longer have to either plough through a 55g packet in one go or throw half of them away. Wouldn't mind having the onion ones back as well, though."

21 Oct 2003 - McCowan's Fizzz Brix!

"At last, the UK's premier producer of sugar-packed kiddy treats has tackled the hegemony of Pez in the "tiny chalky sweets inexplicably modelled after bricks" market with these fizzy little hyperactivity pellets. Hard as it is to imagine, they're even more brashly-flavoured than Swizzells' ancient and venerable Fizzers, with the texture of old cement (brittle on the outside, crumbling to gritty dust when breached), and should ensure the destruction of the nation's bus shelters for years to come."

17 Oct 2003 - Bernard Matthews Microwaveable Nuggets

"Anyone who's tried McCain's stab at the microwave-nuggets field will know how fraught with danger it is - it's difficult to imagine that there's anyone out there who's ever bought two boxes of their greasy, wildly over-breaded Micro Chicken Nuggets. Jovial tweed-checked poultry-torturing fatty Bernard Matthews has stepped into the breach, however, with these turkey-based alternatives.

Battered rather than breadcrumbed (though the box's description of said batter as "crispy" surely stretches trading standards to their limit), these are hugely more successful than the McCain effort, especially with a dipping sauce of either Heinz new Eazy Squirt sweet'n'sour or the "new" Lea & Perrin Worcester And Tomato."

16 Oct 2003 - Nestle MilkyBar Milk and Cookies

"Like the little black nuggets also found in Maltesers Ice Cream, the 'chocolate cookie' pieces sprinkled liberally throughout the lower half of this bar taste of absolutely nothing, and seem to be there solely to provide a little texture relief from the sweet sickliness of white chocolate. The crunchy bits give your mouth something to do while the chocolate melts, but your taste buds may as well go for a little holiday, because there's no work for them here."

8 Oct 2003 - Mini Cheddars Crinkly's (sic) Wow!Ster Sauce

"We expect this sort of grammar from our proletarian market traders, but someone at KP needs their face kicked off for sending these out in this condition. We'll even generously skip over the ridiculous flavour name (the back of the pack soberly admits that they're plain old-fashioned Worcester Sauce), but since there's no implication that these Mini Cheddars are the work of someone called 'Crinkly', the giant apostrophe on the front is an affront to the state of our national education system.

Anyway, I haven't seen these sold individually anywhere, which is a shame as it's a pain to have to buy up to four packs of cheese flavour and spring onion flavour to get just a couple of these tasty Worcester Sauce treats. The combination of Worcester and cheese works really well, for a spicy but subtly soft taste, and counteracts the blandness usually suffered by 'baked not fried' snacks. Shame about the bundling, but these are worth a sample."

7 Sep 2003 - Heinz "Bite Me"

"A radical new microwave snack idea clearly inspired by that space-cow thing from The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe that wanted to be eaten and could say so, the most interesting thing about these is the cooking instructions, all written in the first person - 'Keep me on my tray and cook me for one-and-a-half minutes'; 'Bite me, and enjoy!' Taste-wise, though, the pizza one is bland and no match for McCain's Micro Pizzas, and the garlic breads with cheese (two in the packet, each the size of a large child's hand) taste mostly of pepper rather than garlic. Not horrible, but if you want a 60-second pizza or garlic-bread snack, there are better options."

6 Sep 2003 - Lucozade Citrus Clear ("not suitable for replacing fluid lost through diarrhoea")

"Wandering aimlessly through Sainsbury's yesterday afternoon, I wondered why they appeared to have a large basket full of empty bottles by one of the checkouts. Closer examination revealed it to be a promotion, to use the term loosely, for the new Lucozade. Evidently in need of 'Brain & Body Energy', I picked a bottle up. Billed as 'Lemon Lime Flavour', the ingredients list lemon juice (2%), but no lime anywhere in sight (and describe caffeine as a 'flavouring'), and sure enough the drink tastes almost exactly like lemonade, but with that odd fizzy-milk Lucozade texture that recently showed up in Freekee Soda. Mind you, since it's very nearly impossible to buy lemonade without artificial sweeteners in it these days, that may be a selling point by itself. Unless you've got diarrhoea, obviously."

27 Aug 2003 - Virgin Vanilla Cola

"Virgin Vanilla Cola has a much more in-your-face (hey, quite literally) vanilla content than the Coke version and a slightly furry aftertaste, but while noticeably different, it's just as nice. I'd say 'try both and decide which you prefer', but you don't need me to tell you that, man."

6 Aug 2003 - Del Monte Orange Fruit Ice

The juice man from Del Monte, he say 'Blimey, that's a bit rich'. Made with 70% orange juice (from concentrate) this lolly is so intensely sweet and orangey that it's like drinking frozen neat Kia-Ora.The juice-to-water ratio is so high that even after a month in my freezer it's still not quite frozen solid, with a consistency somewhere between a normal lolly and a Slush Puppie, that barely manages to hold together while you eat it.

Not many things are either too sweet or too fruity for me, but this is - the average 10-year-old would probably go nuts for it, though, so the 'premium' styling may be an error.

1 Aug 2003 - Snack-a-Jacks Crispy Creamy Lemon flavour

"A 'limited edition' special version of the apparently popular rice/corn snack which has been out for a few weeks now, but it took me this long to finish the bag and scan it in. Strong popcorny taste, quite creamy, rather sweet, lemon pretty much nowhere to be seen. Actually quite pleasant, but like vanilla ice-cream Monster Munch, hard to eat more than about three at a time without starting to hallucinate colours not found in nature."

30 July 2003 - Captain Cook's Chip Cones

"Proudly emblazoned on the front of these biscuity-type wheat and potato snacks is the legend 'Captain Cook travels the world in search of exotic flavours for his delicious baked potato snacks', and he's certainly pulled out the stops for the first in the line - Cheese'n'Onion Flavour. Then again, it says on the back that the good Captain has brought his snacks from the 'four corners of the world' (Cap'n! Have you heard the news?), but immediately underneath, his address is given as Middlesborough.

Also, despite being called 'Chip Cones', they're nothing to do with chips and they're not conical. (They're the rounded-triangle shape of the similar snacks usually found on supermarket own-brand labels in plain salted flavours.) Such disgraceful misrepresentation aside, though, they're pretty good, with a sharp taste enhanced by black pepper. And 13p is a bargain price, too."

25 July 2003 - Topps Juicy Drop Chews

Following hot on the tail of the delicious Juicy Drop Pop (now also in fantastic Cola flavour) come these booby-trapped chewy versions. Starting off with the texture of a Fruitella, after a few seconds you breach the inner core, whereupon you get a mildly tangy sensation, the precursor to a CATASTROPHIC SOURNESS EXPLOSION another couple of seconds later from the semi-liquid interior.

You get two each of three flavours in the packet - Green Apple, Strawberry and a powerful Orange. A little stiff at 4p a shot, and the contents are a disappointment if you didn't look closely at the 'contents 6' label on the gigantically oversized bag, but a tasty chew for sure."
 

17 Jul 2003 - Banana and Peach Lilt

"Only myself to blame for this one, really. Having tasted a couple of Aspartame-containing drinks recently which weren't too disgusting, I recklessly went ahead and bought this Unholy-Trinity concoction (Acesulfame-K, Aspartame AND Saccharin) anyway, and regretted it sincerely within seconds. It's absolutely revolting, tasting of about 4% banana, 0% peach and 96% dirty radioactive metal.

What the Hell happened to fizzy fruit drinks with good old-fashioned God's own natural freaking SUGAR in them? IF I WANT THE FREAKING DIET VERSION I'LL BUY THE FREAKING DIET VERSION, YOU FREAKING TOSSWIPES."
 

28 Jun 2003 - Wild Berry Skittles

"Formerly exclusive to the USA, Wild Berry Skittles have now made it over here. As far as I can remember they're the same as their import-only cousins - blueberry, raspberry, strawberry-and-watermelon, apple-and-blackcurrant, and cherry flavours. All are delicious apart from the cherry, which tastes, as is traditional, of marzipan.

Oddly, they were accompanied on the shelf by boxes containing bags of Skittles Sours, which were flashed on the box as "New", despite having been on sale in the UK for about three years. Unless they've changed them to the US-style Sours with the coating, rather than the superior UK variety where the Skittle itself is sour, rather than being a normal one with some acrid powder dusted on it. Further bulletins as events warrant (ie I'm going down there to buy some now with my 2000AD. Thank Christ that terrible 'Interceptor' story is finished.)"

25 Jun 2003 - Rubicon Exotic sparkling cans

Not the still, cartoned fruit juice spotted here before, but a line of sugary carbonated beverages in cans. Despite the wide selection, most of them taste pretty much the same, that heavy and slightly sweaty flavour common to many "exotic" fruits, but the Lychee flavour is the standout exception - richly fruity, and sweet without being sickly. I hardly ever drink carbonated stuff any more, but between Vanilla Coke and this, I'm burping all day long again.

11 Jun 2003 - Campino Summerfruits and Cream

"Actually, 99p is quite expensive for just slightly over a quarter, isn't it? I was expecting these to be all one flavour, like "summer fruits" cordial, but in reality there are three different flavours in the packet - peach, blueberry and raspberry. As with other Campinos/ Polo Smoothies, the "cream" element tends to sadly overwhelm the fruit a bit. It doesn't do the peach any favours, with the rather nice peachiness struggling to occasionally poke its head up through the dairy tide, but the sharper raspberry and blueberry fare a little better. Not for me, really, but it does what it says on the tin."

5 Jun 2003 - Starburst Sour Chews

"It's been a long time since I ate a real cherry, so I don't know, but do they taste of marzipan? Like so many other cherry-flavour sweets, Starburst Sour Chews' cherry variety inexplicably tastes almost exactly like marzipan, only this time it's sour marzipan. Blegh. Happily, the other flavours (pineapple, wild raspberry and an extremely appley apple flavour) are much nicer, and as an extra bonus, sour as a bastard. So, like ordinary Starburst since they brought the blackcurrant ones in, a 75% success."

27 May 2003 - Wham Itty Bittys

"'Sour raspberry flavour bits' is the box description, and it does exactly what it says on the tin. These are little cuboid nuggets about the size of petits pois, and tasting exactly of Wham bars. I'd been hoping they'd be soft and chewy, similar to Millions, but they're actually hard and crunchy, collapsing into a burst of crumbly fizz with the texture of Love Hearts when you bite down on them. Surprisingly nice, though. And the box opens in a really bizarre way."

22 May 2003 - Red Mill Saucy Grills

"Bacon And Brown Sauce used to be a flavour reserved for Scottish snack fans, in the form of the Highlanders crisps of that ilk, but now it's gone nationwide. Saucy Grills, from popular cheap-snack gurus Red Mill, are modelled closely on the classic Frazzles, but with the extra flavour twist of Brown Sauce. And sure enough, exhibiting very rare behaviour for a snack, they actually taste almost exactly like bacon with brown sauce. Kudos all round, particularly from my pet rats and fellow snack connoisseurs Night and Fog, who went crazier for these than anything since Milky Bar Biscuits."

13 May 2003 - Maynards Sours, Burton's Frooty Frogs

"I was quite excited about Maynards Sours, hoping for Wine Gums in some cool new 'sour' flavours, but in fact they're just Wine Pastilles with the ordinary sugar coating replaced with standard 'fizzy' sugar. The only even vaguely interesting thing about them is that there's absolutely no mention of 'Wine Gums' anywhere on the packet (the tiny print describes them as 'Fruit Flavour Pastilles with a Sour Sugar Coating', capitalisation as given).

A more worthwhile variation on the wine-gums theme comes in the form of Frooty Frogs from Burton's, more noted for expertise in the biscuit corner of the snack field. Perfectly nice soft gums in their own right, in a variety of very elegant and beautifully-defined frog shapes, but with a gooey liquid centre. Much like Rowntrees Bursting Bugs, but with a lot more flavour."

5 May 2003 - Primula Scooby-Doo Lemon Squeezy Snacks

"Popped into a well-known garage chain to have my car's dodgy tyre seen to. Chap spent half an hour sanding down the wheel rims to ensure a flush fit and stop the tyres deflating. When I asked the price, he said 'How much cash have you got on you?' Rummaged in my pockets and found 4.40 in loose change, no notes. 'That'll do', he said, pocketed the cash and we went our respective ways, leaving me thankful I hadn't just been to the cashpoint. Anyway, on I went to the nearby Safeway - got the car out anyway, might as well get some heavy shopping - and found something even weirder than a mechanic who just charges however much money you've got on you.

This fantastic little snack comes in an attractive box containing half-a-dozen little digestive-type biscuits, and a really cute miniature tube of lemon-flavoured Primula cheese spread. You squeeze the cheese onto the biscuit, and stick the other half, which has the face of a ghost, on top. On squeezing or biting down on the biscuit, the cheese oozes through the ghost's eyeholes and mouth and out the sides, which the packaging makes clear is a design feature. It's both entertaining and delicious, plus even if you apply the spread very liberally, you'll have half the tube left when you've finished the biscuits, which you can find your own fun use for."

1 May 2003 - Topps Juicy Drop Pop

"The little tag tied to the top of the elaborately-shaped packaging (an old Victorian teapot crossed with Wallace And Gromit's spaceship), instructing you to 'retain for future reference', promises danger of an excitingly chemical nature, but it's an empty promise. The only danger here is of raising your blood pressure in frustration trying to work out how to operate this fantastically complicated sweet.

Maintaining the "space rocket" motif, it actually comes in multiple detachable stages. A sharp tug on the bottom section releases a boiled-sweet lollipop unsettlingly reminiscent of a child's dummy, slightly bland of flavour but lined with two little pits, into which you squeeze, from the 'teapot' section, drops of slightly goopy, sticky liquid in order to pep it up a bit. The lolly is dull, but the liquid - especially the Sour Blue Raspberry flavour - is great, and very reminiscent of Warheads Liquid, an American sweet consisting purely of a little eyedrops-sized bottle of sour goo which would probably burn your eyes right out of their sockets should you drop some in there."

30 Apr 2003 - Danone Activ Blackcurrant Flavour

"After all these snacks, your teeth need all the help they can get, and what could be better than mineral water specially enriched with calcium? Well, drinking petrol for one thing, because when Activ was released a couple of years ago it tasted revolting.

In an attempt to circumvent this unfortunate consumer drawback, Danone have now come up with two new versions, in which the foul taste of calcium is masked by fruity extracts.There's a Tropical Orange flavour available, but the version I tested was the blackcurrant which, to some surprise, turned out to be very good indeed. Like a less sickly-sweet version of Ribena, you can glug this stuff by the litre, ready for another dental assault course."

26 Apr 2003 - Tom's Sweet'n'Sour Jelly Babies

"Continuing the currently popular theme of adding 'fizziness' to traditional favourites, these are jelly babies with a sour fizzy coating. As usual the fizz could do with being significantly more combative, but the jelly babies inside (strawberry, pineapple, blackcurrant, orange and, er, green flavours) are fantastic, far superior to the standard Bassett's variety. The blackcurrant ones (pale blue in colour, controversially) are extraordinarily good. The nicest fruity gum-type sweet since my local Farmfoods stopped importing Bassett's magnificent Wine Gums from Holland.

Incidentally, if you know anywhere that still sells these, (the Bassett's Wine Gums, that is) in either the normal or fizzy varieties, I will give you my sister."

23 Apr 2003 - Pot Noodle Sizzlers

"In fairness, an extremely successful attempt at producing a Pot Noodle snack with a bacon flavour. There is, however, a reason why bacon and noodles have never traditionally gone together, and this is as good a demonstration of it as any."
 

19 Apr 2003 - Chupa Chups Crazy Dips

"Bored of ordinary Sherbet Dips? Then why not try one with a sourish cola-flavour lollipop shaped, for some reason, like a bare foot, which you dip in cola-flavoured fizz with big tooth-chipping lumps of popping candy in it?

Clearly not aimed at adult sweet fans, because the packet is so tall and narrow, and the fizz so far at the bottom (it starts roughly where the bottom of the "C" of "Cola is on the packet) that it's very nearly impossible for the hands of anyone aged more than five to actually get the lolly into the dip. Nice taste, though, a lot less bland than Chupa Chups' ordinary cola-flavoured lollies."

15 Apr 2003 - McCoy's Steak and Ale flavour

"A 'limited edition' in association with John Smith's bitter, which allegedly provides the 'ale' part of the equation. A softer, smoother flavour than ordinary Steak McCoys, but otherwise not that noticeably different."

14 Apr 2003 - Walkers Shots

"Almost exactly like a bag full of all the little bits you get at the bottom of a packet of Monster Munch where their "feet" have broken off, in the standard 'generic spicy' Walkers flavour last seen in said Monster Munch (possibly fractionally more peppery this time). I give it two months before they're in the clearance bin for 10p."

21 Jan 2003 - Walkers Comic Relief Baked Bean flavour crisps

"Baked Bean Walkers crisps = the rock. Baked Bean Monster Munch = the suck. Had to immediately go and buy a case of the former, couldn't even finish a bag of the latter. Life is strange."

     

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