Welcome to the Great British Diet website, a place where the food that has shaped many a Brit's life is celebrated. From traditional fare like Toad-in-the-Hole and Cottage Pie, to those foreign dishes that we have adopted as our own, to those iconic products we grew up with, to the memorable packaging and media of our best-loved brands...all will be discussed.
PG Tips Limited Edition Monkey Tea Mug
It's freebie time again! PG Tips have been running their online 'Cuppa Club' for a while now here in the UK which enables people to collect points with each tea purchase and eventually claim a reward. Personally, this promotion has been a bit of a letdown for me purely because the rewards have been generic third-party offerings - I would have loved to have seen a range of exclusive PG Tips branded products themed around Monkey & Al and the brand's heritage. Anyway, that aside, it seems PG Tips are back to good old on-product freebies with the news that this limited edition Monkey tea mug was available exclusively through Tesco's.
The mug comes in a box sporting a present-like design complete with a bow on top - a nice touch I thought. Naturally, the brand's mascot, Monkey, is a prominent feature on the packaging with the two side panels and back all showing the character in the foreground smiling and holding what, proportionally, looks like a rather large cup of PG. Additionally, the panels are signed 'Monkey x' adding a slightly more personal element to the communications. The predominantly blue and white colour scheme is very much in keeping with that of the tea box and, as such, the two complement one another well when packed together. Oh and, if anyone is interested, there is some very small text at the bottom of one of the panels informing us that the mug was produced by Comic Relief Ltd and in a quantity totalling 220,000. All in all, the presentation isn't overcluttered and, with a warm and friendly tone, keys in nicely with other PG Tips communications.
The freebie is styled very much as a travel mug with a green PG Tips branded rubber heat protector to grasp and a similarly green rubber top to sip through. The mug itself is ceramic with a good weight and, to be honest, a higher quality feel than I had expected. The mug's presentation is heavy on the green - in keeping with brand colours of course - and features white tea cup patterning along with the same Monkey graphic that was on the packaging.
Summing up, I love seeing these freebies from iconic brands like PG Tips and it definitely has a positive impact on my relationship with the brand. I just wish they started to do more again in this direction, especially as they've got great characters in Al and Monkey that could lend themselves to so many things. Though, if I was pushed to level critique at this particular offering then it would be with respect to the rubber elements which seem a bit cheap, prone to wearing and generally not in keeping with the quality of the ceramic mug. Moreover, the rubber top seems to attract and show dust very easily which, along with the feel of it, doesn't make me particularly keen on sipping tea through it. That said, if you simply remove the rubber then you have a mighty fine PG Tips vase! Anyway, a great effort from Monkey and co and here's to hoping we'll see a lot more fun things in the future.
Snickers / Marathon
Speak to people of a certain age about Snickers and grumbles will inevitably surface with the word 'Marathon' bounded around. For those that may be unaware of this bit of chocolate-related history, Snickers used to be called Marathon in the UK; however, with the bar going by the name of Snickers everywhere else in the world, the mighty Mars eventually decided it was time for merry old England to fall in line. Personally, I'm really quite fond of these quirks in branding and 'Marathon' was a good name but, then again, I can see the financial motives behind such standardisation.
Product names aside, this nutty confectionery has retained a certain manliness about it in both presentation and brand communications that other bars lack or have, disappointingly, largely sacrificed over the years. Indeed, it is in this respect that this bar stands out from the crowd for me and remains a firm favourite.
You can immediately see from this early 70s look the inspiration for much of the design touches in today's packaging. The colour scheme and its format is largely the same for Snickers today as it was for Marathon then. Of course, this design was much plainer, the product's shape was short and plump, and the bar came in what looks like a paper wrapper. Also of note is how chunks of nuts are confined to the uppermost layer of the bar.
Here we see the transition made towards the now standard plastic wrapper. In addition, the shape of the bar became longer and more slender as per today's look. Again, the cross section reveals the chunks of nuts to be confined to the uppermost layer.
Much the same points as the previous design, but we do see here what looks like a packaging change to the darker brown colour we associate with the wrapper today.
Snickers Marathon (1990s):
Here we catch the bar during its 90s change from Marathon to Snickers. Mars resorted to the old trick of slowly transitioning the public over by including both names on the wrapper so people gradually got used to 'Snickers' - then again, I do know people that still call the bar a Marathon.
Of course, this is the modern Snickers design with all traces of the Marathon branding now long removed. Much like its 80s predecessor, the product name is featured in large capitalised blue text spanning almost the entire length and width of the bar. The slightly italicised text adds an element of dynamism to the design and conjures up notions of something that will give you energy and that you may enjoy on the go. These notions are reinforced by the sporty overtones of the blue text, white content area and red border presentation. The plain dark brown background conveys a maturity and manliness whilst the graphics of nuts communicate the bar's key ingredient effectively.
The cross section immediately reveals how chunks of nuts are now distributed throughout both layers of the bar. Indeed, as you get past the sweet milky aroma of chocolate and tuck in, the flavour profile is lit up with peanuts providing plenty of lovely savoury notes as the caramel and nougat deliver sweetness on the back end. The chocolate does well to not get entirely lost in the barrage of nuttiness and provides a steady undercurrent of milkiness that punctuates things nicely. Of course, the nuts deliver a great texture contrast too with a crunch that sits alongside the chewiness of the caramel and nougat perfectly.
Personally, this bar scores well for me: the packaging is great, the balance of flavours is well judged and it certainly satisfies any hunger pangs. A definite GBD thumbs up.
The Cornish Bakery Beef Pie
Last Saturday I was down at my local agricultural show and popped by the food tent to see who was about and, of course, what there was to tuck into. One stall that particularly caught my eye was The Cornish Bakery which, contrary to what its name may imply, hails from Lancaster. They had an array of pastry-based foodstuffs and, after a few kind samples, I was well and truly sold.
The Cornish Bakery's beef pie was an appetising prospect from the moment I saw it with a lovely golden sheen to the pastry and a reassuringly homemade look - it didn't have that perfect, machine-produced appearance characterising many shop bought offerings. Taking a peek inside, the cross section revealed the pastry to be of a moderate thickness and the beef filling to be of a solid amount. Indeed, as all proper pies should, this was looking like some hearty, wholesome fare and I couldn't wait to take a bite.
Tucking in the first thing that hit me was how tender and flaky the pastry was. The man behind the stall informed me that this came courtesy of lard - apparently they use Italian lard because it is particularly high quality. The pastry also had good flavour suggesting the presence of some butter. Beyond this, the filling complemented the pastry well with the beef mince lending a coarse texture and slightly salty undertones - indicating a well judged level of seasoning.
All in all, I was impressed by the brand's use of traditional ingredients like lard in their recipes as it really did make the pastry extra special. Indeed, this pie was filling, tasty and even looked good to me so I'm giving it a big GBD thumbs up.
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