What's in a name? A fair bit of variety, when it comes to Mars bars. A family of different confections bear the name, or are related to it. It's no coincidence that the slogan "a Mars bar a day helps you work, rest and play" was reworked in the US to advertise their Milky Way bar.
A few of us sharing a house in Berkeley, California got hold of some Mars bars and their ilk from around the globe. Our goal: to discover once and for all what nuances and nougats separate the different breeds. Or, y'know, to have a lotta chocolate.
We tried to arrange our tastings to set bars with more subtle taste differences close together and we had filtered water to hand to cleanse the palate.
Name: Adina Zed
Nationality: Raised in the United Kingdom and Germany, then went west. Also lived in Australia for a while.
Special Skills: hacking mobiles, collecting air miles
Vices: The Simpsons, clogging the LAN with UK telly downloads
Conceived and crafted the Mars Bar-Off.
Name: Pete (beeblepete)
Nationality: United Statesian. East coast. West coast. Tarheel. Nutmegger.
Special Skills: VHS filmmaking, machinima, graphic design, the whole renaissance bit. First email address: 1991.
Vices: Funyuns, jellybabies, Dr Who, Waffles, Second Life
Shot and reported the Mars Bar-Off.
Name: Peter (Lord Muppet)
Special Skills: Chessmaster, threatening housemates with a knife in the mouth of the padded shark oven glove. Studying philosophy at The University of California, Berkeley
Vices: Suicide Girls, Stoli
Respect his probiscuit. No, really.
Adina: "Very sweet, very sugary."
Pete: "It's the caramel."
Peter: "It's basically a UK Mars bar."
Pete: "Definitely more malty."
Adina: "There's less sugar. Eurpoean candy bars generally have less sugar."
Peter: "Mars bars in general are just too heavy."
Adina: "This is essentially the same as the UK Mars bar."
Pete: "Sure, but it tastes older. Sell-by date was the 21st."
Peter: "I think it's nicer than the UK Mars bar."
Adina: "Very similar chocolate to the UK but a different center."
Pete: "It's a US Milky Way!"
Peter: "Halfway, in terms of kinda sweetness. Almost identical."
Adina: "It detracts from what makes a Mars bar special, the almonds and the bubblegummy crap nougat."
Peter: "Almonds? In a candy bar? Damn hippie liberals!"
Pete: "I like almonds, and I love the chocolate/nut Snickers combo but for some reason this one doesn't work for me."
Pete: "Fluffy! And as malty as a UK Mars bar."
Adina: "Lighter than a US Three Musketeers, even. That outer layer of chocolate is so thin."
Peter: "Rock me, baby. I'm not a fan of the Mars but I like this Milky Way."
This product was sold in a similar-coloured wrapper in the US but without the "almond" designation, despite the fact that US Mars bars always had almonds. We were surprised that we couldn't find any Mars bars for sale in 2005 USA and had to order this from Canada. Then again, maybe it isn't so surprising.
Adina is all about the 'old standard,' the UK Mars bar. The Petes aren't into the heaviness, so it's UK Milky Way, all the way.
But not you, and that's OK. We're with The Love, and we want to know how you Mars it.