Tag Archives: chocolate

Do you still love anyone enough to give them your last Rolo?

I was pleased to read this week that Nestlé UK has launched a new campaign for confectionery brand Rolo, inspired by the chocolate’s original line, “Do you love anyone enough to give them your last Rolo?”.

I considered it as another one of those touchstone moments for forty-somethings until I read that the campaign ran for 22 years, which covers a few more people with my chocolatey sense of nostalgia than I originally thought.

There are five new videos that, according to Nestlé, explore ‘the tension between whether to eat your last Rolo or to share it with a loved one’, an issue I’ve grappled with for longer than you may care to tolerate.

Here’s the first video, inspired by one of my favourite films from last year, Gravity.

The next one seems inspired by the Tom Hanks film Castaway …

This rather more romantic clip, a departure from the film-inspired adverts so far, is a nice touch. I like it because it speaks to ordinary people who incorporated a piece of marketing into their lives and made it their own.

The woman in the next advert clearly has her priorities in order (and he needs a decent meal).

This final ad (my favourite because, at heart, I’m like a Rolo in a warm pocket) tugs at our emotions and rounds up what I think is a good, mixed set of commercials to push Rolo back into the minds of ever increasing chocolate-loving nations.

A fennel-flavoured Speciality Fine Food Fair

I was looking forward to the Speciality & Fine Food Fair at Olympia in London this week, but didn’t expect to be so rushed off my feet! I met so many lovely people, small and large producers, and tasted some interesting products.

Among these was a popcorn by Ten Acre, a company usually known for its crisps. This popcorn was fennel and lemon flavoured, which took me right back to an Italian restaurant in New York and the amazing sausage I quite regularly enjoy when I go there. It was a fantastic flavour experience, void of any chemical aftertaste and overbearing personality. I loved it and only regret not taking a bag home.

I’ll post an interview with the charismatic CEO of Ten Acre, Tony Goodman, as soon as I get around to it. In the meantime, here are a couple of interviews I did in other parts of the great hall, such as Roy and Usha Verman from Dhaniya:

I also had a chat with Simon Bell from Donatantonio, who was launching 16 products in the Lupetta range of Italian ingredients.

I didn’t want to miss out on the Chocolate Fair, so wandered around taking photos and meeting lots of confectionery entrepreneurs, and even managed to catch the giant chocolate saxophone. Jean-Marie Dessard and Philippe Wall were responsible for bringing the 10ft tall chocolate saxophone to launch the exhibition, and it really is quite eye-catching.

It was nice to catch up with Jim Cregan from Jimmy’s Iced Coffee, whose beard was looking rather fine (as usual). He told me that there’s a new product on the way in the not-too-distant future, and I have no doubt that he’ll come up with a fun way to promote it. If you haven’t seen any of Jim’s videos yet, start here:

Finally (for now), here are a few photos from the event, with some from my colleague Claire Phoenix. The show’s organiser tells me that there have been a record number of exhibitor re-bookings for the 2015 Fair, which just goes to show how popular, vibrant and important this show is.

Preparing for the 15th Speciality & Fine Food Fair in London

I’m at the Speciality & Fine Food Fair in London next Tuesday, so I’m getting my batteries and memory cards together and hope to see and talk to lots of you.

Believe it or not, this is the 15th edition of the show, and incorporates the Speciality Chocolate Fair as well as the two main theatres, Fine Food Forum and Speciality Chocolate Live. At the start of July 2014, I read that exhibitor space had already sold out, so more space was released to accommodate demand. This will see producer numbers exceed 650.

It’s a great opportunity to network with people in artisan food and confectionery, who I don’t get to see as often as I’d like. As well as the industry ‘giants’, I’m looking forward to meeting many small producers and those who are just starting out. The last time I was here was 2010, so I think I have a bit of catching up to do with some old favourites and those who have grown their business over the last four or five years.

There will also be ample opportunity to sample some new and interesting food and drink products, and the Trussell Trust is making sure that food wastage from the three-day event is put to good use. The charity will be running a food collection service during the Fair and any leftover goodies will be sent to food banks close to Olympia Grand.

I’ll be catching up with Donatantonio and Olives Et Al, as well as a host of others, discovering new innovations in food and packaging. If you fancy a chat while I’m there, drop me a line and we can arrange to meet up.

On the day, I’ll be using the Speciality & Fine Food Fair hashtag of #SCF14 and will be tweeting from @ShaunFoodBev. Hope to see you there!

Is the UK willing to dine on bugs?

I’m not sure about eating insects. I’m already a fussy eater, so the idea of munching yogurt-coated ants while at the local cinema just doesn’t appeal.

I was amused by a report from research specialist Canadean, which said: ‘The way the insect-derived product is presented and marketed will be key in convincing consumers to give insects a try.’

You could apply this to any food, of course, and I will perhaps unfairly bring up the horse meat scandal. If you market anything in a certain way, we’ll probably give it a go.

Spider cupcakeOh, but insects. I’ve seen them in transparent lollipops in Selfridges, more as a curiosity than a sustainable food source of the future. Yet, if Canadean’s predictions are right, and that the European Union’s $3m research investment is anything to go by, we’ll be seasoning our beetles with spider eyes before you know it, and I for one will be holding out until the very last minute before doing so. (I will also be heavily armed and protecting a house full of chocolate from other rebels.)

If it’s just the idea that’s stopping me from embracing insects as food, I should consider what ABC News apparently said a few years ago, about how an average chocolate bar contains eight insect parts, and that anything less than 60 insect pieces per 100g of chocolate is deemed safe for consumption by the Food and Drug Administration.

The Canadean research says that consumers who are given detailed, flavour-focused product descriptions are more likely to consider eating insects, with 46% saying they would be willing to try them. So, if they look like a dried-up creepy crawly, as long as the packaging says they taste like Tic Tacs we’ll be OK? I’m not so sure.

Yet, in the spirit of being positive, I’ll see what happens with the research. Let’s face it, there are almost 2,000 edible insect species, which means 40 tonnes of insects for every human on Earth. They are rich in protein, iron and calcium and low in fat and cholesterol.

“Processed insects will be an easier sell than products where consumers can see the insects in front of them,” said Canadean analyst Catherine O’Connor. “To get past the disgust barrier, insect-derived foods must have a strong visual appeal and not be recognisably bug-based.”

If they happen to be inside my jar of peanut butter without me actually knowing too much about it, I think I’ll be happy. Actually, they may already be inside my jar of peanut butter …

Cadbury couldn’t hold off the mighty Kraft

The saga is finally over, and what a relief eh? Mergers and acquisitions can be lengthy, drawn-out affairs at times, and this particular story seemed to go on forever.
From listening to radio phone-ins and various vox pops around the UK, I’ve concluded that the Great British public is sitting on the fence when it comes to deciding whether this is good for Cadbury or not. Some seem to think that Cadbury represents the queen, flag and country and that Kraft’s distinctly American takeover will result in everything going so terribly wrong.
Our sense of national pride is often called into action when we think we’re being hard done by in the UK. We’ve had the same thing with Rolls-Royce and BMW, and a similar scenario with Rover and … um … BMW. Alas, we got arguably better cars out of the deal, and I predict we’ll get better chocolate out of this one.
I take that back. It’s hard to beat the creamy, hardly-any-cocoa taste of a bag of Cadbury’s Giant Buttons, but I also love Toblerone and Dime Bars (both Kraft). And even though these stories are often more about the money, the personnel and the location change, I’m choosing to come at this from the taste angle because that’s what it’s really all about for me. My sense of national pride will not be dented by a Toblerone (though it may stick in the throat for a while).
My experience of mergers and acquisitions, albeit primarily from the consumer point of view, is that terrible things hardly ever happen. I imagine that our beloved Cadbury taste won’t change (much), and that this may actually be a grand deal for everyone involved.
And perhaps now, when I visit the US, I won’t have to pay £5 for a bar of Dairy Milk.

Unfriend enemies (in chocolate)

The forward-thinking lexicographers of Oxford Dictionary recently announced the success of ‘unfriend’ as its Word of the Year 2009.

How apt considering the successful uptake of social networking in our industry this year and the bubbling rivalry of the world’s biggest chocolate brands.

To ‘unfriend’ is to remove someone as a friend from popular social networks such as Facebook. I wonder if, taking into account the waves made by Kraft, Nestlé, Hershey and Ferrero recently, a considerable amount of ‘unfriending’ isn’t going on behind closed doors.

Friends reuniting are Hershey and Ferrero, who may combine to offer a friendly bid for the Cadbury business (the share price of which looks sweeter each passing day).

Kraft Foods, on the other hand, may unfriend everybody simply out of spite, as its hostile bid for Cadbury didn’t go down too well recently. And let’s face it, hostility doesn’t work when it comes to successful social networking.

I suspect Todd Stitzer, Cadbury’s chief executive, will welcome a bid tabled by Hershey based on the fact that the two companies have, to stretch the analogy, ‘poked’ one another in the past, and have enjoyed a productive relationship since.

But Nestlé is also poking around, which may determine how quickly the long-running chocolate saga will be over once and for all. And then there’ll probably be another round of unfriending. And what a shame as Christmas approaches.

Chocolate milk beats energy drinks? Fantastic!

Photo by Beatrice Murch, Flickr
Photo by Beatrice Murch, Flickr

I’m a little behind the times, it seems, with the news that chocolate milk is potentially better as a post-exercise recovery drink than other sports drinks.

According to many of the online articles I’ve tracked down, it appears I’m a year or two out of date. Why didn’t someone tell me? I mean, this is ground-breaking news in my household!

I can finally justify my overwhelming appreciation of M&S chocolate milk (my favourite), and use it to recover from my regular bike rides along the Kennet and Avon canal path.

Of course, I won’t be ditching the isotonic drinks completely, as they’re perfect fuel for the ride itself. Yet, I will take great pleasure in the thought of an ice-cold glass of choccie heaven awaiting my dishevelled arrival, and feel better knowing it’s doing me some good.