If you live in the UK there’s a very good chance you’ve heard of Keith Valentine Graham, aka Levi Roots. He first appeared on British TV show Dragon’s Den with his ‘Reggae Reggae’ sauce and was an immediate hit, successfully selling his idea and getting backing from two entrepreneurs. Fast forward six years and Mr Roots is a multi-millionaire, and (as one might expect) his sauce is being marketed quite aggressively, with new variants, ready meals and snacks appearing on supermarket shelves.
I suppose it was inevitable that someone would suggest a chocolate bar, particularly as chilli and chocolate are one of the oldest flavour combinations. What we have here is a Caribbean version which uses Scotch Bonnet Chillies. If you don’t know your Chillies it might be worth mentioning that Scotch Bonnets are up there in the top five for heat. If you cook with them, it is advisable to wear gloves – they’re that dangerous.
I spotted this bar in one of those novelty shops that sell whistling key rings, remote control helicopters and dad gadgets. Price wise, it’s getting close to a premium chocolate brand with this 100g bar retailing at a whopping £3.50 (that’s a pound an ounce folks) and my curiosity was piqued as to whether this was going to be worth the money or an overpriced novelty aimed at people stuck for something to buy a difficult male friend or relative (or challenge a mate).
Reading the back of the box didn’t exactly fill me with confidence. If you ask me, milk chocolate with 32% cacao is never going to be great. I was beginning to form a picture of what this bar was about, and it wasn’t good.
When it came to the tasting I’m afraid my fears were confirmed. The chocolate is poor. Very poor. My first taste had me thinking ‘here’s a bar of generic milk chocolate which is probably being made by the same factory that makes all of those novelty ‘Bochox’ and ‘Emergency chocolate’ bars you see in supermarkets, only they’ve added a load of fiery chillies to the mixture’ – and that’s pretty much it. Further package reading and a bit of research told me that this bar is being made by the same people that manufacture the Marmite bar Dom reviewed a couple of years ago, which pretty much confirms my initial assessment.
The first square allowed enough of the chocolate flavour out for me to ascertain that it’s cheap, overly sweet confectionery. There’s plenty of fire in there though, as the second square confirmed. By pieces three and four it was all about the chillies, which is probably a good thing (and also part of the plan – “If we shove enough chilli into this, nobody will know the chocolate is awful”) and after four squares I was completely over the whole business bar a persistent chilli burn going on in my mouth.
Is this bar worth £3.50? No. Would it make a good present for a chilli/chocolate fan? No, there are far better products available for a similar price.
This bar typifies what’s wrong with ‘gifting’ chocolate – overpriced, poor quality rubbish wrapped in familiar branding. I’m pretty sure I could come up with something better using dried chillies and proper chocolate. The only thing I can’t do is package it so that gullible punters are attracted to it.