Confirmed sighting: Laverstoke Park Farm Buffalo Milk
Posted: 09:55 Sun 18-Jul-2010. Price: £1.99/750ml. Location: Sainsbury's, Finchley Road, London. Nutritional unusualness: 4.9g sugar, 8g fat (of which saturates 4.2g) per 100g.
reports: Following news of "a new tea bag especially designed to be used with soya milk" (and previous discussion of Goat's Milk For Dogs and Cats), I couldn't resist grabbing a TetraPak of this when it was reduced to clear at 99p. And don't be put off by the MS Paint-style portrait on the front (is it supposed to be proprietor Jody Scheckter? It looks more like Niki Lauda...) - this really does live up to the packaging's claim of being "very white, beautifully smooth", and "perfect for milkshakes, on breakfast cereal and in coffee". No doubt that's partly due to a fat content approaching that of Evaporated Milk or "Light" Single Cream, but you even get mozzarella-like blobs appearing in it as it starts going off, plus it doesn't taste too strongly of buffalo, either.
...Anyway, in other dairy derivatives: Nestle are
generously giving adults "permission to reacquaint with" its new Raisin and Biscuit Milkybar (due end of July, 52p), and it sounds like the possibly-imported Twix Topix may be officially launching here in September as the Twix Fino. Which just leaves Zeddy's ongoing haul of: Lindt Noir + Lait chocolate (4 Francs, Geneva Airport - "Mmm, I really had to try this out when I spotted it in the shop. The two varieties of choc complement each other so well.
I had to be so selective when over in Switzerland or I would have bankrupted myself in the purchase of all the chocolate."); Camille Bloch Ragusa Noir (1.95-4.90 Francs, around Interlaken - "This was my other half's favourite bar whilst on holiday and pretty stunning it was, I have to confess.
Essentially, dark chocolate coated, dark choc and hazelnut filling that was very rich but not in the least bitter.
Those Swiss don't half know how to charge for services and products though. Look at the variations in price we found."); and
Movenpick Maple and Walnut chocolate (3.40 Francs, Geneva Airport - "Hmmm, 2 of my least favourite ingredients for chocolate. Still, it was sufficiently different that I had to buy it. Now eating it may be another matter entirely...")
Confirmed sighting: New Covent Garden Food Co Melon Gazpacho
Posted: 18:45 Sun 04-Jul-2010. Price: £2. Location: Sainsbury's, Swiss Cottage. Sub-flavours: Normal tomato Gazpacho. Nutritional unusualness: "Honeydew and Cantaloupe melons blended with cucumber and tomatoes".
reports: People still go on about the refreshing properties of a hot cup of tea on a summer's day, but no-one's successfully extended that claim to a steaming bowl of soup. Anyway, New Covent Garden Food Co haven't been daunted by the lukewarm reception to their previous fruit soups, and have added this "Enjoy hot or cold" concoction to their range. Despite - or because - it resembles a liquidised salad with ranch dressing, I actually quite liked it, though going from the reactions in this podcast (10:40 onwards), it may be an acquired taste - even by comparison to these Neuro Sonic and Neuro Bliss shampoo-lookalikes, and Sappe's Aloe Vera drink with Aloe Vera cubes increasingly imported into bits of West London.
...If you're above legal drinking age, I think Brothers Tutti Frutti Pear Cider is the Opal Fruit-flavoured standout amongst the current crop of St Helier Real Lager Shandy and Kopparberg Frank's Alcoholic Ginger Beer, though none of them really match up to presumed market-leader, Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer. Anyway, in other imminent imbibements: Crabbie's-makers Halewood International aims to go beyond "the 'female-focused' adult soft drink market with a blokey beer-style brew called Iron Press" (in apple or lime flavours, £2/500ml); AG Barr argues that the first non-carbonated drink in the energy sector will be their "flavoured with lemonade" Rockstar Recovery (£1.19/500ml); and there's tantalising evidence that Midlands KFCs are trialling yet more Krush'ems variants, with flavours like Strawberry, non-alcoholic Appletini and Virgin Mojito.
Confirmed sighting: Mountain Dew Energy
Posted: 10:32 Sun 09-May-2010. Price: £1.49/500ml. Location: BP Connect North End, East Grinstead. Nutritional unusualness: 18mg/100ml caffeine.
"It tastes very like the one in the USA, Mountain Dew is going to be rolling out through the UK in the coming weeks," reported "ryan", but the pic comes from "Andrew D", who assesses: "The return of Mountain Dew to the UK. Tastes fantastic, as close to the US version as we're gonna get. A serious caffeine kick at 18mg/100ml. Not as bright yellow as it used to be, due to the removal of Yellow 5, which can only be a good thing."
...Thanks guys - and not to argue this point, but that's "only" about 90mg of caffeine per bottle, compared to more than 100mg in those little Starbucks drinks. Anyway, time will tell whether this is an acceptable replacement to whatever "william smith" was buying from Maroc Deli on Oxford's Cowley Road - other would-be purchasers can refer to Facebook's list of possible stockists (in short: Sainsbury's Local and Sainsbury's large stores "in the next few weeks", Martin McColl's, plus petrol forecourts and motorway service stations with particular focus on BP Garages, which makes a change from BP's other news coverage recently).
Also conceivably "coming home" this week: Frijj's World Cup-themed Thick and Smooth Caramel Cheer is probably just 2007's Toffee Caramel/ 2003's Mount Caramel again; I was half-way through this bottle of reduced-for-Passover Kedem Grape Juice before I spotted it's For Sacramental Purposes Only, but no Raiders Of The Lost Ark-style side-effects so far; and "Sean" says he saw Jones' American Soda at £1.09/555ml) in Quinton, Birmingham, speculating: "I believe this was only previously available imported from the US, but going by the good price (it's usually around £1.20 a can!) I'm thinking whether this could be a new UK version? Hopefully it'll appear in most supermarkets soon as the Strawberry Lime flavour is IMO probably the best American soda bar Mountain Dew/Vanilla Coke available!"
Confirmed sighting: Starbucks Discoveries Cold Milk Drinks
Posted: 10:33 Sun 25-Apr-2010. Price: Currently £1/220ml introductory offer. Location: Sainsbury's, Finchley Road. Sub-flavours: Seattle Latte; Aztlan Mocha Latte Chocolate Flavour; Qandi Latte Caramel Flavour; Doubleshot Espresso and Milk. Nutritional unusualness: High caffeine content (47mg/100ml).
reports: It's only taken Starbucks 5 years or so to respond to Emmi's Caffe Latte with these "Short" servings of assorted flavours, now available in supermarket chiller cabinets for about a quid. All the three Latte flavours I've tried so far are a bit more convincing than the Emmi ones - the Mocha one is probably the most bitter, but the Caramel variety also does a good job of covering up the taste of the UHT milk. Obviously they're not huge portions, but even at full price (around £1.50?), they'll still be a bargain compared with anything from an actual Starbucks - and, along with their recent bid to revolutionise the way we drink instant coffee, suggests the company may soon be moving into the long-anticipated 'Phase Two' of their operation.
...Obviously real energy drink fans are just counting the seconds before the official UK return of New Mountain Dew in May, but until then you can keep your spirits up with Lucozade Sport Lite, Reverend Berriman's Cola with a hint of chilli, or the seven-strong Neuro range of vitamin and mineral-based drinks (in NeuroAqua, NeuroGasm, NeuroTrim, NeuroSonic, NeuroSleep, NeuroSport or NeuroBliss). Alternatively, those above legal drinking age can welcome the warmer weather with Bulmers Apple and Pear Summer Blend, (recently £1.69/568ml, or "3 for £5" - thanks, Sainsbury's), the alarmingly blackcurrant-bouqueted Gaymers Pear Cider with Berry Fruits (£3/4 x 330ml, Morrissons), St Helier's Real Shandy, or Brothers Tutti Frutti Cider, allegedly inspired by "revellers who mixed the company's strawberry, lemon and toffee apple ciders into its regular pear cider" at Glastonbury last year.
Semi-international sighting: Mountain Dew
Posted: 23:47 Sun 20-Dec-2009. Price: 89p per can. Location: Charing Cross tube station, London.
"Michele" reports: On my daily commute, I spotted a sign with a Mountain Dew can on it. Curious, I ventured towards the shop, and indeed, they have Mountain Dew! It's the made-in-Philippines version, with black cans, but it's Dew. The location is in Charing Cross tube station - or right next to it. Essentially, instead of going in through the main entrance on the Strand (next to the Boots and bus/taxi thing) cross the street and go down some stairs. The store to the right is called Paperchase and sells pens or something like that, I can't remember what the store on the left was.
The stairs lead down to the tube station, but as soon as you go down the stairs there are two stores - one selling gym equipment and one selling drinks and sandwiches (his sign says something like Chokalicious and ID Photographs).
The chap in the drinks and sandwiches store sells the Dew - he's quite friendly. He mentioned he wants to get Code Red as well in future. Oh yeah - and they're 89p a can, so cheaper than most online stores!
...Thanks "Michele" - this is a bit different to our usual sightings (the pic is actually of the cans you can get for £1.20-something from CyberCandy 5 mins away in Covent Garden), but worth a mention I thought because of a)
continued speculation about an official UK launch, and b) the entertainingly detailed directions. And, because I probably won't post another sighting before next weekend, here's wishing everyone a happy snacking Christmas (and come back next Sunday for a review of 2009, and maybe the entire decade). Cheers!
International sighting: 7Up Diet Cherry Antioxidant
Posted: 17:33 Sun 15-Nov-2009. Price: About $8 for a 12 pack + deposit. Location: Fred Meyer, Portland, Oregon, USA. Nutritional unusualness: 10% RDA of vitamin E.
"charl" reports: This was pretty exciting and delicious! In theory - Diet Cherry 7Up (which is yummy) but with some very mild vitamin improvement. It actually tasted better than standard Diet Cherry 7Up and it looks from the website that that's been jettisoned now anyway. Hooray for novelty soda - we didn't see much of Diet Coke with Vitamins this time, who knows how long this will last? A long time if people listen to their taste buds!
...And welcome back to "charl", whose trip to Fred Meyer also yielded this Kellogg's Cinnabon Bar (about $4 for 6), prompting the observation that: "Man's greatest achievement is the Cinnabon. Man's greatest failing is that you cannot eat a Cinnabon on the go. Kellogg's have tried to rectify that with these Cinnabon bars. They have the same (frankly awesome) cinnamony gooey stuff that the real 'bon has, but smeared over a flat biscuity thing. They fail on the lame drizzling of sugar icing that only makes you miss the cream cheese frosting more. Now that we finally have Cinnabon in London, I can't help but think these are condemned only to be of use in a Reader's Digest tragic trapped-in-a-car scenario. But still better than many other healthless bar options."
Back with beverages:
Foodstuff Finds has the lowdown on both
Galaxy Probiotic and the newly-promoted-as-microwaveable Chocolate Fudge Brownie Frijj (also an option with Moo's new Chocolate Creaminess extended life milk); while Lee Maguire has located Red Bull's addition to the growing "energy shot" market, though it's a shame they haven't come up with as sci-fi a name for it as school-friendly "fruit-based cola" Evoid Six.
Confirmed sighting: KFC Krush'ems
Posted: 23:43 Sun 25-Oct-2009. Price: £1.79. Location: Essex. Sub-flavours: Maltesers Chocolate Crumble, Oreo Cookies 'n' Cream, Strawberry Shortcake, Caramel Crunch.
"captain jax" reports: Had one of these the other day as I thought it might be something to rival Shakeaway, but what I thought was going to be a milkshake made with blended up Maltesers turned out to be some vile crushed ice drink with bits of Malteser in. Absolutely horrible. My girlfriend had the Oreos one which was possibly worse.
...Thanks, "captain jax" - I didn't think the Strawberry Shortcake one was too bad, though they're pricey compared to a McFlurry, plus the straw apparently needs to be peashooter-width to accommodate all the gritty bits. In other beverage adventures, "John Jenkins" paid 90p for Jones Sugar Cane Soda in a Spar, noting that it's: "Not a new drink as have purchased it in Canada and you can buy online (e.g. americansoda). But I have never seen this for sale in the UK before, looking at the label it's distributed via Ireland but still made in Canada. They only sold Blue Bubblegum flavor but hopefully the other flavors are out there."
(From what I've seen, Jones Sodas have been fairly widely available in London from time to time, including the snack bar outside the cinema in the Trocadero and the post office opposite Kings Cross.) Anyway, Red Bull Energy Shots have also been launched to take on the similar Relentless product (and this year's new Rockstar Cola?); and "bob" says he's already seen Cherry Lucozade, though over-18s may be able to get the same sort of sugary sensation from Heineken's tequila-flavoured Desperados while waiting for the weather to get cold enough to properly appreciate Rekorderlig Winter Cider or Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer.
Confirmed sighting: Hint Premium Essence Water Pomegranate-Tangerine
Posted: 19:47 Sun 02-Aug-2009. Price: £1.29/474ml. Location: Budgens, Belsize Park, London. Sub-flavours: Hibiscus Vanilla; Watermelon; Honeydew Hibiscus; Blackberry; Mango-Grapefruit, Lime; Raspberry-Lime; Peppermint; Pear; Tropical Punch; Cucumber; Strawberry Kiwi. Nutritional unusualness: Zero calories, fat, sodium, carbohydrate or protein.
reports: Are you like me? Have you ever wondered "Why do they have to put sugar and/or sweeteners in fruity mineral waters - couldn't they just add some sort of flavouring to bottled water, and leave it at that?" This US import seems to have had a similar idea, and at the same time succinctly answers my question with the reply: "Because it would taste absolutely horrible."
Admittedly, I've only tried the Pomegranate-Tangerine variety out of the thousands available, but it was an awful lot like finishing a glass of Sunquick orange squash, then rinsing it out with tap water and drinking that instead. The other flavours might be an improvement, but for now I'll be sticking with good old British 9g sugar/100ml Britvic Drench Juicy Spring Water (93p/440ml, Morrisons, in Orange and Passionfruit; Blackcurrant and Apple; or Cranberry and Raspberry).
...Fortunately, according to Foodstuff Finds, it sounds like they're keeping the sugar in Volvic Touch of Apple, or there's 19g per 200ml serving (plus some slightly elaborate preparation instructions) for Mars' potential Nesquik competitor, Milky Way Milkshake Mix (£1/240g, Iceland, Uxbridge). Or, if you're on the lookout for around 80mg of caffeine in a convenient 50ml container, Coca-Cola are relasing Relentless Shots, as well as experimenting with fizzy milk drink Vio - obviously this didn't work for Britvic back in '03, but is apparently more acceptable on the international stage.
Confirmed sighting: Frijj Limited Edition Cookie Dough milkshake
Posted: 10:59 Sun 17-May-2009. Price: £1.05. Location: Sainsbury's, Archer Road, Sheffield.
"Brett Hadley" reports: This tastes like a cross between caramel and white chocolate to me, but when you think about it and imagine it as a cookie, it works! You can see where they get the idea from for sure. So the flavour description is pretty accurate. I wondered why they'd stopped having The Simpsons brand on the chocolate fudge shakes, and I guess this is your answer! Surely they should've called it Cookie D'oh! though ;)
..."Brett" is back with the first new Simpsons Frijj in a while, which seems as good a time as any for "hannah" to mention that she found Ice Cream Chewits on eBay, confirming: "Yes, that's right! They have them on
chocolatebuttons.co.uk too!" Speaking of ice cream, Foodstuff Finds has the lowdown on one of Haagen-Dazs' Ice Cream Smoothies - "smoothie" being the cool thing to call any kind of product this year, from Galaxy's Chocolate Orange Truffle Smoothie drink to Wrigley's Starbust Smoothies (in Strawberry and Banana; Blueberry and Strawberry; or Mango and Passion, from 39p).
Confirmed sighting: Coca-Cola Relentless Juiced Energy Berry flavour
Posted: 12:29 Sun 03-May-2009. Price: £1.49. Location: Sainsbury's, Hemel Hempstead. Nutritional unusualness: New (abridged!) Wordsworth quote - "There are in our existence spots of time/ That with distinct pre-eminence retain/ A renovating virtue, whence-depressed/ By false opinion and contentious thought./ A virtue, by which pleasure is enhanced/ That penetrates, enables us to mount/ When high, more high, and lifts us up when fallen".
"Michael F" reports: Definitely a response to the ever increasing energy drink competitions. Maybe a pre-emptive attack on the imminent re-launch of Mountain Dew this year.
...Thanks "Michael" - and, in case anyone wants to argue that most of the energy drink competition now comes from Coke themselves, I found this new Relentless a bit blackcurranty compared to, say, the tropical Guava-flavoured Rockstar Punched Morrisons were selling at the start of the year. In other berry-based beverages: I remain bemused by the two separate sightings of Thirsty Original Orange submitted by "David" (69p, Newspoint Trafford centre, "Value for money, well designed well balanced drink with sports caps, well done, I will buy again"), and "Martin" (30p, B and M Bargains, "Excellent value for money, lovely drink"), though they both agreed that it's also available in Blackcurrant, Kiwi and Lemon, or Raspberry. Plus, I was reasonably pleased to discover that the UK arrival of Starbucks' Dark Berry Mocha Frappuccino (£3.25/Grande) largely lives up to the expectation that that it's a Black Forest Gateau put into a blender with a standard iced coffee, though some of the remaining chocolate pieces were a bit lumpy to get through the straw.