Sunday, November 12, 2023


A last one.

I decided to write about Caramac, “The Caramel Flavour Bar”, the demise of which has been announced by its manufacturer Nestlé, because some headlines kept referring to it as a chocolate bar. Its recipe used treacle instead of cocoa, its lack of egg or gelatine making it vegetarian, and instead of the whole milk used by Cadbury’s in Dairy Milk bars, Caramac used skimmed milk.

I am also using the past tense because the news led to the near-complete disappearance of Caramac by people acting upon nostalgia in the shops, when declining sales in the present day prompted Nestlé’s decision, efficiently clearing shelves for other products they wish to sell. The simultaneous withdrawal of the Animal Bar, a chocolate bar aimed at children with pictures of animals on them, and the closure of a factory near Newcastle, were reported less often.

Unlike Coca-Cola’s rebranding of Lilt as a Fanta flavour, decried in the pages of “The Spectator” and incorrectly reported as the drink being withdrawn, this really is the end of a product, unless you buy the ingredients and make it yourself. My family has already been deprived by KP of their Brannigans crisps, my private joke being that their potent beef and mustard flavour, not reused on any of their brands, was decommissioned and put beyond use. Like Caramac, I only found Brannigans in discount stores and the occasional newsagent ahead of their withdrawal – perhaps I should have seen it coming, so fans of KP’s Roysters T-bone flavour crisps should stock up, to keep sales up, as petitions speak less loudly than cash.

Caramac was introduced in 1959 by Mackintosh’s, a maker of toffee that involved caramel in all its most famous brands, such as Quality Street, Rolo and Toffee Crisp. Merging in 1969 with Rowntree’s, manufacturers of Kit Kat, Smarties, Aero, After Eight, Black Magic, Polo mints, Fruit Pastilles, Fruit Gums, Yorkie and Lion bars, Nestlé took over the combined Rowntree Mackintosh in 1988 – chocolate products were branded under Nestlé, with Rowntree’s retained for the rest. I found all these products in my local supermarket, still being too established and commonplace for nostalgia to have taken form, except for how much larger tins of Quality Street used to be.

Nestlé themselves invented white chocolate with the Milkybar in 1936, and the caramel-infused Milkybar Gold variant is perhaps more sustainable for them than the separate brand of Caramac. However, like Caramac, the Australian and New Zealand versions of Milkybar don’t use cocoa butter, so adding treacle to those may get them back where they started. Any desire of mine for Caramac to be brought back wouldn’t be worth the effort, and if I did want a confectionery to be brought back, it would be Rowntree’s Cabana, a chocolate bar containing caramel, cherries and coconut – I’ve never had one, but I like the sound of it.

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