I don’t know why, but candy bars in other countries hold a particular fascination for me. It started in England, where I discovered all sorts of variations not found in the States (and I typically don’t buy much chocolate at home). Magical Cadbury vending machines are found in lots of locations, filled with bars offering combinations of caramel, nuget, marshmallow, and, of course, chocolate. While some people may concentrate on the type of chocolate or its percentage of cacao, it’s the combinations that appeal to me.
I’ve been discovering this same "foreignness" here in South Africa. Standing at the candy aisle of a 1-Stop petrol station in Pongola, I scan the slightly more limited – but equally intriguing – Cadbury bars: Dairy Milk with Caramel, Dairy Milk with Crisps, and a curiosity called Dairy Milk with Turkish. No noun after "Turkish," and nothing visually to indicate what it is except for a reddish-pinkish center on the packaging. The color makes me suspect it’s some generic red-berry flavor (as I’ve been trained in the U.S.), but other berry varieties appear elsewhere on the shelf. I know I should pick it up, embrace my position as temporary world traveler, and investigate this new option. But, at R5 70 per bar (that’s 5 rand 70 cents), and only R7 in my pocket, I succumb to an old favorite, caramel.
A few days later, with the caramel long gone, guilt overwhelms me and I buy a Dairy Milk with Turkish, along with an Aero bar, which is just a chocolate bar with a light bubbly center. (I’m sure that at some point, someone realized they could save on chocolate costs by injecting air bubbles into it before it cooled, then packaged it as the Aero… same price, less chocolate!) Breaking off the end of the Turkish, I’m surprised to find that the center is more like a berry jelly than a smooth sweet filling. I’m guessing this is related somehow to Turkish Delight, a gelatinous dessert I’ve never tasted, but which appears to be the only likely relation.
When I bite into it, it does indeed taste like jelly, a dark raspberry flavor with a spicy aftertaste. It’s not bad, but it’s not necessarily good, either. Rather, it’s a bland disappointment, given that I had built it up as a taste adventure for myself.
A better discovery is the P.S. I Love You bar, another Cadbury concoction. It’s main appeal seems to be the message on the front; you have to look at the side to tell what the bar is: "Layers of wafer and caramel flavoured cream LOVINGLY smothered in Caramilk Chocolate" (capitalization theirs; another bar, with a dark blue packaging, has a different message, but I haven’t bought one and can’t remember the wording). Being a big fan of caramel, I can’t resist this one, and I’m not disappointed. It’s light and airy, imparting the caramel as a creamy afterthought more than as a direct sensation. A few of these might have to find their way into my carry-on bag when I’m at the airport headed home.
Finally, I’m intrigued by a line of bars, also Cadbury I believe, with even more messages on the packaging. The bars themselves are simple choclate bars, but designed as two pieces: Yes and No. The idea, it appears, is to walk up to someone with a bar that says, "Want to sleep over?" or "Can I buy you a drink?" and the other person responds by breaking off the appropriate answer. I’m a bit let down, however, to see that no bar reads, "Do you want some chocolate?"
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