The card attached to the bag references Victorian street sellers offering up hokey pokey with a slightly rude poem – “Hokey Pokey, penny a lump, the more you eat . . . etc.”. Further research suggests this may not have been the case – hokey pokey being a bastardisation of the Italian ‘ecco un poco’ which immigrant ice cream sellers would shout.
Linguistic origins aside, hokey pokey is definitely cinder toffee, and this is definitely that – and in quite an impressive style. These are not small lumps. Even the smallest were quite daunting, and I saved the largest few for impressing children with over Xmas. (They’re enormous!)
This is the ‘Wicked’ version, covered in 70% Valrhona Dark couverture. (There’s also a ‘Milkey’ version)
The cinder toffee appears to have been double dipped. My first bite did little more than dislodge the first level of chocolate, allowing me to taste the Valrhona couverture, which is nicely bittersweet, and a good contrast to the main event, which is obviously mainly burnt sugar. The toffee is classic cinder toffee – brittle, light, and just the right side of burnt to mean I didn’t find it too sweet. There’s a good juxtaposition of textures and flavours, with the burnt, sticky sweetness of the toffee being mellowed out by the richness of the dark chocolate. It’s a posh take on an old favourite (we used to sell cinder toffee when I was a young lad living in a sweetshop) and definitely stirred confectionery memories.
I did wonder why the Chocolate Society would be selling chocolate covered cinder toffee, but I suppose it works as a bit of nostalgic fun. The problem comes when you look at the price. At £36 a kilo, Hokey Pokey is no longer the cheap treat it once was. Slightly less ‘posh’ versions can be found for half the price, which makes me wonder whether the Chocolate Society may have to have a look at their costs (or profit margins).
The product is just fine – a very classy version of a childhood favourite – but if you told me you wanted £9 for a bag, I’d be off to see a London chocolatier for some real treats.