O Smarties! Why have you forsaken me!
There was a time when a tube of Smarties was the best thing on earth. Notice I say ‘tube of Smarties’ – this is about more than the chocolates themselves. This is about the very essence of what makes Smarties Smarties.
But first, for those that don’t know, Smarties are another spheroid chocoalate drop covered in a brightly coloured crispy sugar shell. They’re smaller than Galaxy Minstrels and tastier than M&Ms. They’re kids’ chocolate – and if you live in the UK, you will almost certainly have eaten at least 3 tons of them before you turned 18.
So what made Smarties special? Strangely, not the chocolate. Although it’s nice enough and very brightly coloured, it’s nothing special. But I’m not going to talk about the chocolate today. This is about packaging.
Until recently, Smarties came in a thick, cylindrical cardboard tube with a ‘pop-off’ plastic lid. The lids came in different colours, and each had a letter of the alphabet embossed on it. Collect the lids and make rude words – what more could a kid ask for!
Then, in 2005, everything changed. Nestlé announced they were replacing the packaging with thin, hexagonal tubes… and no plastic lid. We were told this was to keep the brand ‘fresh’, but the real reason was cost. These lighter, plastic-free packages are cheaper to produce and can be stacked more efficiently in boxes saving space and transportation costs. Pah!
You may think I’m mad going on about a cardboard tube with a plastic lid, but this is important! There are even museums and swapping sites dedicated to it. The new hexagonal tubes just aren’t as cool. They’re flimsy, and I can no longer spell out ‘nestle sucks’ with the lids.
So is the new packaging really that bad? Well, no.. but they’re just not Smarties any more. Nestlé messed with a British institution and completely destroyed it. Will they ever return to the cylindrical tubes? Frankly, I doubt it… but only Smarties have the answer.
<end of rant>