11 English Snacks that Everyone Should Try
England is one of my favourite countries of all time. It feels like magic to me. I know, having travelled quite a bit now, that it’s not nearly one of the most interesting places I’ve ever been to, especially in terms of geography, but it feels like home. My mother grew up in Cornwall, and we were raised on stories of the Celtic part of England. It was the first country I ever visited outside of my own (and the US… we grew up on the border), and I’ve been a few times since.
It was England that first introduced me to the concept of foreign snacks. Having rarely travelled outside of my little corner of the world, and being quite young, I didn’t realize that other places in the world had different snack foods. It hadn’t occurred to me. So perusing the grocery stores in England was absolutely mind-blowing for nine-year-old me.
Thanks to the surging popularity of international food stores and international food aisles, we no longer have to wait for Christmas to roll around to get our hands on English snacks. Now we can have them a little more frequently, though I do try to save them for special occasions.
Here are 11 English snacks that everyone should try.
1. Jaffa Cakes
Jaffa Cakes are my holy grail of English snacks. They are like a small round sponge cake, with a dollop of orange jelly on top that is covered by a small dome of chocolate. The chocolate acts as a shell and you can eat the chocolate off the top first, or bite through the whole cake-biscuit. The chocolate is a little bitter. It’s not quite milk chocolate. And the orange jelly, if you’ve already disected the chocolate, can be peeled off and wobbled about before sticking it in your mouth. Be warned that if you choose to consume your Jaffa Cakes this way, the jelly will be rather slimy.
I remember sitting on a hill near a castle (Carn Brea) with my great aunt and uncle. They had brought us packages of mini Jaffa Cakes and were telling us about a commercial that was currently out for them. A teacher was using them to teach children about lunar eclipses. Holding one up, they’d say, “Full moon”. Taking a bite, they’d say, “Half moon,” and eating the rest they’d proclaim, “Total eclipse! Let’s see it again!” and begin anew.
So that is how we ate our Jaffa Cakes for the rest of the day. “Full moon, half moon, total eclipse!”
This is for the braver of you out there. Marmite is a type of yeast extract spread. A little bit like Vegemite. Invented by a German but produced throughout the UK, Marmite is an acquired taste. It is traditionally spread on bread, toast, or crackers but has been used as a flavouring in various other forms. Thick and salty, Marmite is supposedly a slightly less intense flavour than it’s close relative, Vegemite. But it’s still the kind of food spread I just don’t want much to do with.
3. Prawn Cocktail Chips
Walkers Chips is a UK brand that was founded in England. As popular in the UK as Lays is in America, Walkers pretty much rules the “crisps” market. They have a few unique flavours but one that the British swear by is Prawn Cocktail. To be honest, I’m the last person to be asking about these. Even if I’d tried them (which I haven’t yet) I cannot tell you how authentic they taste because I don’t like seafood. I remember trying shrimp as a child once, hating it, and never being able to bring myself to try it again as an adult.
Perhaps I’ll try these chips one day, but I can’t promise I’ll try real prawns.
4. Guinness Chips
You’d think Guinness Chips would be made in Ireland, however, they’re produced by an English company called Burts who have partnered with Guinness to bring you chips that are meant to replicate the flavour of this famous brew. These came with mixed reviews. Some people claim they taste “just like beer”! and others say they fall flat. They definitely have some sort of flavour, but whether it tastes like a pint of Guinness to you or not is likely entirely up to your tastebuds.
5. Hula Hoops
Hula Hoops are another favourite of mine. There’s really nothing exceptional about them. They’re a hoop-shaped corn chip. But this salty English snack is extra fun to eat because you can put a hoop on each fingertip. You can stick your tongue through the hoop. You can… well that’s about it really.
Maybe I love them so much simply because they’re British and therefore remind me of the times I’ve travelled to England. But I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for Hula Hoops.
I have a love-hate relationship with Flake. It’s a tube-shaped chocolate bar made up of rippled layers of chocolate. And it lives up to its name. See, Flake is made with British Cadbury chocolate (much better than US Cadbury’s chocolate). There are no additional flavours to make it any different than a milk chocolate bar. But the draw in Flake is because of the way it’s structured. As soon as you bite into it… it Flakes. It crumbles. It completely sheds little slivers of chocolate everywhere.
And this is why I hate it. Because I will have a Flake bar with my cup of tea while watching a movie, only to find later little pieces of melted chocolate all over my shirt, my pants, my computer, everything. It’s like dog hair. It just goes all over the place.
But it’s still damn delicious.
And if you stick it in a soft serve ice cream, you’ve got yourself a 99.
7. Cadbury’s Buttons
After the Jaffa Cake, I think Buttons are my favourite British snack. Curse the fact that you can get them in Canada now too because A) it makes it less special and B) it destroyed me in university.
Our university used to sell the “to share” bags of these little button-shaped pieces of chocolate. Well, do you think I ever shared? No. I would plow through a bag of these like it was my last day on earth. And I would do it more than once a week. The only thing that stopped my addiction was the price. I couldn’t afford to carry on in such a manner. But I definitely have a problem when it comes to Cadbury’s Buttons. They’re addictive to me.
Okay. So this is one that I’m honestly not that fond of. I’ll eat it. But it’s not my favourite chocolate. Made by the Mars company, Galaxy is a smooth, milk chocolate that my mother loves more than any other chocolate in the world. Me, I think it has a bit of an odd flavour to it and would prefer Cadbury’s any day. But hey, to each their own.
Galaxy has branched off into making other Galaxy products like Minstrels, Buttons, Hot Chocolate, and I think there’s even a Flake-type bar but with Galaxy. I could be wrong though. (I was right, it’s called Ripple.)
Move over grape juice, it’s Ribena time! Ribena has become popular in quite a number of countries now, but it got its humble origins in England. This blackcurrant drink was originally promoted as healthy and marketed towards children during WWII, because of it’s vitamin C content. It originally was produced as a juice but since its inception, carbonated soft-drink versions have been created as well.
Eventually, like most juices, the sugar content eventually came into question and it lost its reputation as a health drink. New flavours have been introduced, and in 2013 Ribena was sold to a Japanese company called Suntory.
Another English drink that’s now been sold to Suntory, Lucozade also started as a health drink. But this was more than just a vitamin supplement. It was toted around almost like medicine. It’s a citrusy, carbonated, glucose and water drink. It was actually created by a pharmacist in 1927 and was sold in pharmacies and given to sick people all over the world. In the 70’s it was rebranded as a pick-me-up and in the 80s, a sports drink.
Many more flavours were created and it is still recommended to diabetics who may require an immediate blood-sugar boost. Though personally, I’m not sure it’s any more useful than soda in that sense.
Okay. I lied. Originally this list was 10 English snacks, but then I remembered the Milkybar. So scratch Cadbury’s Buttons off of my second place slot and move it to third.
How could I forget Milkybar??? I’m not a white chocolate fan, but I love Milkybar. In some markets, Milkybar doesn’t use cocoa butter, making it not technically a chocolate, but the original Milkybar was actually the world’s first white chocolate! And it was an accidental invention!
Well… okay it was the second white chocolate. Nestle made the original Milkybar (something called Nesrovit) a medicinal (vitamin-infused) bar. Once they removed the added vitamins, they had the Milkybar.
Anyway, there’s just something so refreshing and light about the Milkybar. I was once told, and I’m not sure it’s true, that it was tradition for this to be a child’s first chocolate. Whether that’s true or not, it’s undeniable that Milkybar is a national treasure.
What’s your favourite English snack? Which of these would you most like to try? Let us know in the comments!
Don’t forget to check out these 10 Greek snacks!
And explore the Snack Map!
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