20th September 2010, on the menu today...
Having covered the most iconic of Rowntree's products, the Fruit Pastille, I thought I would turn my attention to this newcomer which has been in the Great British diet food chain for a while now and proven itself popular with the public.
Scanning the store shelves for something to satisfy my sweet tooth the other day, the kid inside was immediately drawn to the Rowntree's Randoms packet. Fun and colourful with decidedly 70's-looking swirls of colour, Rowntree's Randoms are indeed eye-catching. Moreover, as a lover of surprises, the idea that each time you buy a packet you are never quite sure what you are going to get was an immediate winner.
Opening these up, you are immediately hit by a sweet, fruity aroma. Of course, as soon as most of the flavour-infused air has dispersed the packet becomes half its original size and, dumping the contents out (as pictured above), you realise there actually isn't as much inside as first thought. However, I remained positive and hoped they had gone for quality over quantity.
Inspecting the contents I identified a spongy-looking padlock and quite a few fruit gums some of which had spongy bottoms. Popping the padlock in my mouth, the texture sensation was a soft, very chewy one; tastewise, a gentle vaguely strawberry-like flavour came through. As for the gums these had a far more prominent sweet, fruity flavour and, where a plainer tasting sponge bottom was involved, a decent contrast in both flavour and texture was provided.
Looking at the sweet's ingredients, I was mildly amused to see nettle and spinach extracts listed, presumably natural green colourings - maybe Rorntree's are planning a 'get your five-a-day in sweet form' campaign! With the algae-derived blue Smartie and now these, I continue to be impressed by the ways in which manufacturers are using natural ingredients to replace artificial ones.
Overall, tastewise the flavours are decent and perfectly enjoyable but nothing I couldn't find in similar products. However, to write them off because of that would be unfair because that's not what Randoms are really about. The design and concept are king here with inviting packaging, a surprise-based gimmick and sweets that come in all sorts of entertaining shapes...that's what impressed me and that's what will have me buying these again.
Front: The traditional Rowntree's green background is used along with a number of bright colours arranged in swirl-like patterns to make the product stand out amongst others. Across the length of the packet, large white text with a thick black outline reads "Rowntree's Randoms" and follows similar curvas the background colours. Lastly, a few graphics of sweets in a variety of shapes and flavours are displayed at the bottom left-hand corner echoing the diversity of the contents. Good solid stuff.
Back: The same green background is carried around to the back of the design along with worm-like streaks of colour. This is accompanied by equally colourful language with text reading, "A mixed up bag of juicy jellies & squidgy foamy sweets in a mind-boggling array of shapes". The nutritional information is tucked away at the bottom in comparatively neutral colours so as not to distract the eye too much.
Sweets: These come in a variety of designs from padlocks and top hats to sunglasses and ice cream cones. Obviously there is a limit to the amount of detail a fruit gum design can achieve, but the shapes are easily identifiable and quite entertaining as they vary from pack to pack.
Overall, with colourful designs and an absence of all the usual health sells that can create a cluttered text design, Rowntree's are focused on the fun factor and, in my opinion, they deliver it.
The advertising to come out for this product has, so far, centred on people eating Rowntree's Randoms and, as a consequence, speaking randomly to others. This has made for quite a funny series of ads with my favourite line coming from the Sunday League football match one (see second video below) where an angered coach tells his players with reference to the opposing team, "...I want you to snowflake their teapots" - yet another classic phrase to enter TGBD lingo! Overall, Rowntree's did a good job here as the ads were different, funny and had an understandable product connection - a lot of ads these days leave me thinking what on earth they have to do with the related product/service.
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