The Cadbury Challenge: Flake versus Twirl

When it comes to Cadbury’s chocolate, I have long held the view that the Cadbury’s Twirl is my favourite chocolate bar:

When I’m doing my ‘proper’ job at sea, there are teams of cooks who look after all the catering during the voyage. No unauthorised personnel are permitted to cook on the boat and so what we eat is determined largely by the cooks onboard. Being a reasonably health-conscious* vegaquarian, this is not the ideal situation for me, because meals are largely meat-based and there can be a lot of fried food. There are certain foods I miss at sea: my breakfast bagel, scones, cakes, and various veggie food I enjoy cooking at home, and although I would like to take more of my own food with me, there simply isn’t the luggage space. However, one thing I do always make room for in my luggage is a big bag of Twirls.

The Twirl first burst onto the scenes in the 1980s, and is now Cadbury’s best-selling chocolate bar. Hardly surprising, when you eat one and realise the absolute genius of the product.

It is based on the concept of the Cadbury’s Flake, which has been around since the 1920s:

The Twirl, in its standard form (there are several deviations available), consists of two bars of Flake, each coated in a thin layer of chocolate. The Flake is a single bar, slightly longer than the Twirl, and exists without the extra chocolate coating:

Even if you’re not familiar with Cadbury, you may well have seen a Flake, or something like it, sticking out of an ice cream, for the Flake has been a popular addition to ice cream cones throughout the decades, in the form of the ‘99‘ (there are suggestions about the derivation of the name on Wikipedia, which can be viewed by clicking on ’99’ above).

The Flake came into existence, the way many great inventions do, as a by-product of something else. In the 1920s some eagle-eyed employee of Cadbury’s noticed that when excess chocolate dribbled over the moulds used to create other bars, it fell off in folds leading to the trademark flakiness so central to both the Flake and the Twirl:

I do remember having a passion for Flakes pre-Twirl, but since I was born in 1972 I didn’t have much opportunity to establish them in my diet before Twirls came muscling in and stole my heart. The question that has been troubling me is this: is the Twirl really better than the Flake?

Today, I set out to find the answer. In order to start my investigation, I had to obtain both a Flake and a Twirl, which was an extremely easy task as my local shop very handily stocks both in profusion.  I got them home, opened them up and, as you can see, took some photographs of them, before diving in for the taste test. As shown below, the Flake (on the right) is slightly larger in perimeter than the Twirl:

The outside edges of the Flake are heavily textured with lots of visible folds, while the Twirl is encased in a smooth outer shell that barely suggests the interesting structure beneath:

According to the ingredients and nutrition information on the packaging, the two products are almost identical. They only differ in tiny ways in terms of typical values per 100g. The Flake apparently contains very slightly fewer calories, a bit more protein, a little less carboyhdrate and just 0.1g of a difference in fat, fibre and sodium than the Twirl. Why these differences should exist at all, I really can’t tell but perhaps one of my intelligent readers could enlighten me.

So, down to the important bit of all this: eating them. I started with a bite of the Twirl, which was quite a clean and neat operation:

And then, carefully because I know what sort of crumb trouble can ensue with this manoeuvre, bit into the Flake:

As you can see, eating a Flake is a messier procedure than eating a Twirl, which is the major thing against the Flake, in my opinion. On the up side, if you eat it carefully enough and manage to save all the crumbs (particularly if you catch them in the wrapper and make a chute out of it, down which the crumbs can slide straight into your mouth) there is the enjoyable prospect of the ‘extra’ bits at the end when you’ve finished the main body of the confection.

But what of the taste? Well, at first I really didn’t detect any difference in taste, but the more I went on with it the more I became convinced that the Flake tasted slightly creamier. However, I’m a bit suspicious that this could actually be down to the texture rather than the taste. Since it doesn’t have the outer coating to break through, the Flake melts immediately in the mouth whereas the Twirl takes a bit longer to disappear on the tongue. Could this result in a creamier tasting Flake? I don’t honestly know. I think I will have to try and induce some volunteers to test this out in a blind tasting.

So, what is the result of this investigation? Well, based on this one trial I think that if I had to choose a favourite taste and texture combination, I would – surprisingly to me – choose the Flake. On the other hand, in terms of portability and ease of scoffing, I would opt for the Twirl. I should imagine that this means I will continue to take Twirls offshore with me, but perhaps when I’m at home I’ll veer more towards the Flake.

Welcome back old chum!

* you may take issue with this, given the number of cakes I devour, not to mention bars of chocolate

Categories: Cadbury, Chocolate, Flake, Food, Photography, Twirl | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 50 Comments

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