When I was 11 years old, I got to visit the United Kingdom on a school trip, and I remember being dazzled and even a little confused at the wide array of strange, British sweets available across the pond. Even their vending machines shouted strange names at me!
Being a child as I was, I’m sorry to say I did not fully appreciate the candy-buying time I had while over there, and instead focused on trying to find the most American-esque candies I could to battle my homesickness. That time in my life is actually what led to my love of Twix even today, because apparently a Twix tastes like a Twix no matter where you go!
But 16 years on, I’ve branched out of my single-minded and childlike candy-finding ways, and have come to appreciate the rarity of a fine British candy. Below, come with me and you’ll see a world of pure sugar artistry … a list of 8 British sweets that makes me wish I didn’t have to rely on my local British Tea Room’s tiny selection of imported goods to find these on short notice — because now I desperately need a Malteser.
1. Black Currant flavor
Nowadays, everything purple in America is usually flavored grape (blech). But in Britain and Europe, the purple flavor is usually black currant. It’s really hard to describe the flavor, but some people say it’s not unlike raspberry and rose, and if you know what a gooseberry tastes like, apparently it tastes like that too. All I can is that it’s far preferable to nasty, disgusting artificial grape!
2. Cadbury’s Crunchie
I’m putting Cadbury’s Crunchie on this list as sort of a placeholder for British chocolate in general, which, if you have only ever eaten Hershey’s chocolate, will blow your tiny sugar-loving mind. Remember how I said I came back from my trip to the UK with an appreciation for Twix because it was “American?” Well, I failed to take into account that even “American”-looking candies in the UK are made with a different chocolate. I don’t know, I can’t explain it, it’s just better. You’re going to have to trust me on this one.
The Crunchie bar in particular is mind-altering: it’s a bit of crunchy honeycomb wrapped in perfect, British chocolate. Recently though, British chocolate was banned from being imported to the U.S. by Hershey (yes, banned) and now everyone is depressed. There are still a few sneaky ways to get around the ban though, if you know where to look.
Right-o. Now that you know what good chocolate should taste like, I can properly explain a Malteser. As it is almost Easter time, most Americans will know the thrill of waking up to a basket full of candy on Easter morning. In that basket will probably be some Whoppers.
Let’s get one thing clear right now: MALTESERS ARE NOT WHOPPERS. THEY ARE INFINITELY BETTER
Fun fact: Maltesers were first sold in England in 1937 as “energy balls” and were marketed as a way to lose weight for women. Ah, those were the days.
4. Jelly Babies
I’d be a sorry Doctor Who fan if I didn’t at least give Jelly Babies a shoutout. These little guys are kind of like gummy bears, but perhaps more… gelatinous? Also, they’ve got the creepy thing going on for them that they’re shaped to look like babies, and were once marketed as “Unclaimed Babies Candy.” So literally, eating orphans.
But if you can get past the creep factor, Jelly Babies are delicious, coated in a powdery sugar and sugary as hell inside too. You’ll be bouncing off the walls like an unclaimed baby after eating a handful of these. (OK sorry, I’ll stop with the abandoned child jokes.)
5. Cadbury’s Marvellous Creations Jelly Popping Candy Shells
6. Jaffa Cakes
The British really know how to make a cookie right. Or, “biscuit” as they call them over there. All you need is a soft cookie base, a bit of sweet jam and a smothering of dark chocolate, and you’ve got yourself a Jaffa Cake. (Not sure why there’s a terrifying monkey-thing showing them off to us, but there ya go.)
Loved the world ’round by Aussies, Kiwis, Europeans and all expat Brits, Jaffa Cakes are relatively unknown to U.S. consumers, but you should change that and order some today. Your friends will thank you. you could even try making them at home:
The flavor is usually orange, but you can sometime find limited edition packs in lemon/lime, strawberry and — you guessed it — black currant. And another fun fact for you: these are sold and taxed the same as cakes are in Ireland because the Irish consider them too soft to count as a cookie!
7. Mars Bars
We can’t not mention Mars Bars. Mars Bars are life. Mars Bars are everything. Mars Bars are literally just Milky Ways sold under a different name by the same company. But somehow they’re galactically better. (See what I did there?) If in doubt, please refer back to No. 2 on this list.