Our manager returned to work today having spent ten days on a family holiday in Florida. Along with the tan, photos and that smugness that comes from meeting Mickey (FYI I’ve met him, you’re not special), she also brought back with her crates of American sweets. The stuff that you can get in the UK, but get charged three times the price for. Also the stuff that you look at and think “so that’s what they eat over there. All that sugar and e numbers, how practically ghastly!” and move on relieved you’re still British. That stuff.
She brought in these goodies and at 3pm (as standard) everyone started inching towards the snack pile. I was reaching for a piece of chocolate when a colleague cries out “oh no! Hershey’s? That stuff is awful! It tastes like plastic!”
Admittedly I was well aware of the massive p-take us Brits engage in when in discussion of the quality of American chocolate. To those who aren’t from our little island let me summarise; whatever you put in front of us it will never look as good as Dairy Milk, it’ll never taste as good as Dairy Milk and it will never make you feel as good as Dairy Milk. You can apply the same sentiments to chocolate.
Because Hershey’s is not, by default, Dairy Milk, it is already off to a bad start. The Hershey’s brand have also never tried to be good sports with their competitors, as shown when they tried to prevent the import of Cadbury chocolate (the company that produces Dairy Milk). The result? Parents and teachers across the land ingraining the opinion that Hershey’s is the treat of the devil and make up of nasty things like incest and dog poo. Ok, ok, I may be pushing it, but you get the idea. Put it this way, I’m British and I’ve never once reached to the top shelf to buy a bar of Hershey’s.
Despite the opinions of my fellow workmates I still went for a piece of the odd looking stuff. I felt like a proper office rebel (plus, as I said to my colleague “it’s free and I’m on work property. Whatever happens I’m covered). I took the squares back to my desk where, admittedly, they sat for a little while (busy office worker problems). By the time I got round to taking a bite I was genuinely curious as to what this stuff would taste like. My only memory of Hershey’s was an eleven year old me sat in a Disney World Resort hotel room at thinking that this chocolate was overrated (more of a doughnut kinda gal back then).
Imagine my amazement therefore when I popped a square into my mouth and found I wasn’t heaving after two seconds. Yes, the stuff wasn’t rocking my world, but it wasn’t too bad. As a girl who often snacks on the bargain basement chocolate brands this was not the worst sugary snack I’d ever eaten. In fact it tasted familiar to something I’d had not that long ago. I thought about it for a little bit and then it hit me; that Hershey’s tasted just like the chocolate in M&Ms. I like M&Ms. But then another thought hit me, I’m not meant to like this snack, even though it tastes like a snack I do like. I like to think I kept a straight face, but internally this was how I felt:
After I’d had time to recover (and eat a couple more pieces) I realised that actually Hershey’s wasn’t perhaps quite deserving of all the bad reputation. I mean at the end of the day it’s just another brand of chocolate. Yes, I’m not about to rush out and buy a crate load of the stuff (it’s alright, but it’ll never be Dairy Milk), and maybe I won’t start giving it to children when they come trick or treating (=money down drain), but from now on I’m not going to object to the stuff on nearly the same level as before.
After all, if as Brits we can calmly tolerate sugary snack brands like Nestle and Galaxy, then why can’t we add Hershey’s to the list. Sure, Hershey’s have been a bit stupid in the past with their plan to take over the UK market and their branding is probably the simplest out there. But at the end of the day just remember, it is American.