A few months ago, I was in a charity bowl-a-thon. Bowling is the only sport I’ve ever been good at because it involves minimal physical activity and there’s a snack bar within arm’s reach. So imagine my surprise when I won the raffle grand prize – airline tickets to anywhere WestJet flies! Naturally, I chose the furthest destination – Ireland. (Sorry, Shania, but I ain’t going to Timmins. That don’t impress me much.)
We ended up doing a bus tour which had its pros and cons. The pros? You get to see a lot of the countryside. The cons? When you’re travelling with 46 other people, you develop a medical condition known as “Small Talk Wall.” It’s when you run out of things to say, but your mouth can’t stop moving.
A few things I learned about Ireland:
1) Everyone wears stretchy black pants with white stripes. Even the elderly.
2) It’s always beer-o-clock.
3) When Irish people have a good time, they say, “The craic was mighty!” Craic is pronounced “crack.” I wouldn’t recommend using this phrase in Canada.
4) Leprechauns and fairies are real.
Another thing I learned? Irish people like chocolate. They pronounce it “choclit” like British people, only with an Irish accent. Last year, I did a British choclit taste test after my trip to London. So I decided to do the same with Irish choclit.
Suffice to say, the ol’ spice pantyhose are feeling pretty snug, but these are the sacrifices you make in the name of important research.
Wrapper description: A chewy cosmos of peanuts and caramel
This sounded like a choclit bar Joan Collins would eat between her Dynasty scenes. In spite of its glamourous name, I can tell you that Starbar didn’t deliver a galaxy of peanuts. But it was soft, caramelly and peanut buttery. Sometimes, that’s all you can ask for in life.
Canadian equivalent: Wunderbar
Wrapper description: None
Doesn’t Daim sound like a made-up name? Maybe it’s Gaelic. Anyway, I wanted to rename it "Dame" and then shoot a commercial with Mae West saying, “Say fellas! Who wants to get this broad a Dame?” Daim was okay in that crispy toffee sort of way. But it felt predictable. "At least give a gal some nuts," Mae would likely say.
Canadian equivalent: Skor. Which, now that I think of it, also seems like a made-up name.
Wrapper description: Crunchy little Maltesers pieces floating in creamy milk chocolate
I used to buy those milk cartons of Whoppers so this bar got a thumbs up. Although I’ve never been sure of the difference between Maltesers and Whoppers. Also, Teasers sounds like a strip club. Or an ‘80s hair salon. And the bar looked like it had a disease. The chocolate was creamy and had some nice depth, but I'd sooner eat balls.
Canadian equivalent: I can’t think of one. Unless you took some Whoppers and smushed them up and then poured milk chocolate over them. In other words, tomorrow’s breakfast.
Wrapper description: 6 Milk Chocolate covered shortcake biscuits.
Why did they capitalize Milk Chocolate but not shortcake biscuits? This bothered me. In a nut shell, Snack! is choclit covered cookies. But I was missing the excitement the exclamation mark promised. I didn’t get a sense of substance, either, which is important in a choclit bar. You need to feel you’re getting your money’s worth in sugar.
Canadian equivalent: Chocolate covered graham crackers. Zzzzzz.....
Wrapper description: Crisped wafer dipped in chewy caramel (30%) and covered in milk chocolate (23%)
First, what’s the remaining 47% of the bar made of? I guess wafers as that was one of the selling points of this bar. It was kind of squishy, but in the good kind of way. Of course, that might have had more to do with being tightly packed in my suitcase next to the leprechaun I brought home. (I told you they were real.) Anyway, this bar really lived up to its name. I took one bite and next thing I knew, I was hitchhiking along the 401. I was picked up by a kindly pharmacist. When he asked me where I was going, I said, “Whatever way the wind blows, man.” Then I started playing my harmonica.
Canadian equivalent: A Kit Kat mating with caramel
6) Milky Way Crispy Rolls
Wrapper description: None
I didn’t know whether to eat this or smoke it. Turns out, size does matter when it comes to choclit. If these came in a pack of 30, they would be, like, a lot better. The taste was pretty good, though. And I appreciated the crispy cookie layer surrounding what I guess was the Milky Way core. But I walked away wanting a Mr. Big.
Canadian equivalent: A Twix bar on a diet
Wrapper description: New Recipe Extra Crispy
Whenever I see a food product with the words “new recipe,” it doesn’t inspire confidence. What was wrong with the old recipe? Check out that lion illustration. I was almost afraid to eat it! Lion didn’t disappoint, though. It was a tasty experience. Just look at that roof of crisped rice protecting that soft perimeter of caramel protecting the wafer heart. That is some serious choclit bar architecture.
Canadian Equivalent: Sweet Marie, only better. Sorry, Marie.
8) Fry’s Chocolate Cream
Wrapper description: Rich dark chocolate with a smooth fondant centre
They should just rename this Great Aunt Bar, because that’s exactly its target market. It was like eating a choclit from a box of Pot of Gold at Christmas time. Only it’s not Christmas and the choclit is a long rectangle. There wasn’t a lot of flavour to this. But your Great Aunt might say that’s horsefeathers.
Canadian Equivalent: After Eight, only without the mint.
There you have it! I’m going to brush the teeth I have left. While I do, here's a photo of an Irish ewe to captivate you. If you're wondering why her back is blue, they paint the undersides of rams. I'll let you figure the rest out.