As you might imagine, New Zealand is very similar in culture and food to home. Walk the aisles at the supermarket and you will see international staples (Kellogg’s, Doritos, Coca Cola) along with popular British brands (Cadbury’s, Rose’s, Colman’s, HP Sauce). It’s comforting to be surrounded by familiar things, but I also love finding new options. Even better if they’re products with a New Zealand heritage.
Somehow these ended up being mostly sugary foods. Know that I am judging myself a little and making it my mission to track down healthier NZ products going forward! Anyway, here are my findings so far…
1) Cadbury’s Dairy Milk with Jaffas
Wait, isn’t Cadbury’s a British brand? Very true. But I actually dislike Cadbury’s chocolate back home. (Galaxy or Mars for the win!)
Imagine my surprise, then, to discover that Cadbury’s chocolate tastes completely different in New Zealand! It tastes good. Still not reaching Galaxy standard, but their plain Dairy Milk is very respectable nonetheless. Not only are equivalent products different over here, but they also sell vastly different specialty versions. One of these contains Jaffas, which I think (?) are unique to New Zealand. I figure that’s enough reason to call it a New Zealand food!
So! The Jaffa Dairy Milk adds “choc-orange balls and orange chips” into the mix. Being a longtime fan of orange chocolate (Terry’s, mostly), we happily decided to give this a try upon finding it. I am not exaggerating when I say this is the nicest form of bar chocolate I have ever had. I’m a little conflicted to be giving this accolade to Cadbury’s given how much I dislike the British version. But I can’t deny it…combined with Jaffas this chocolate somehow surpasses all rivals.
Well played, New Zealand, well played. I give this 10/10.
(Also, Cadbury’s really should instate this as a permanent variety of Dairy Milk. It deserves to be so much more than a special edition!!)
2) Cadbury’s Jaffas
After the uproariously successful Jaffa Dairy Milk experiment above, I thought I’d better give the original Jaffas a try. According to Wikipedia at least, Jaffas are a kiwiana staple (read: quintessentially kiwi).
I’d liken them to orange Smarties, except that the centre contains dark orange chocolate. They’re also a little bigger and more spherical but the analogy kind of stands! They’re not bad by any means, but I’ve only given them 6/10 because they’re much too solid. I felt like I might break a tooth eating them, so I wouldn’t buy again in a hurry.
3) Griffin’s Choco-ades
One of the people we housesat for kindly gave us some Choco-ade biscuits as a gift, sold to us as a must-try kiwi food. Apparently they were around in the 1980s but then taken out of circulation. They were then brought back in 2012 after a lady campaigned for it on social media. Power to the people!
These are another chocolate/orange combination. There’s a layer of orange filling (like in a Jaffa Cake) sandwiched between a solid chocolate topping and a heavy plain-biscuit base. They’re nice, but I would compare them unfavourably to McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes. We enjoyed the pack we were given but I wouldn’t seek them out again. 5/10.
4) Griffin’s Afghan Biscuits
I’m not sure if I bought the “right” Afghan biscuits to try. I went for Griffin’s, but they don’t quite live up to the description I’ve read of Afghan ingredients. They’re supposed to be a chocolate biscuit containing cornflakes with chocolate icing and a walnut on top. The Griffin ones, though, have a plain biscuit on the bottom. They’re chocolate coated, like a chocolate digestive, and contain no cornflakes (though they do contain wheat flakes apparently).
With that caveat, they are not great. I’d give them 3/10. A squat, more sickly version of a digestive.
5) Sanitarium’s Weet-bix
Weetabix (note the a) is one of Britain’s most “iconic brands”. (Admittedly according to the Weetabix Company, but I’d largely agree.) So I was surprised to learn that Weet-bix (note the hyphen) is one of New Zealand’s most iconic brands. I was confused – why not just sell Weetabix over here instead of creating a slightly modified version for this market?!
So…it was really rather arrogant to assume that my version was the original! Turns out Weet-bix is the original, though it was created by an Australian rather than a Kiwi. Fun fact: the same guy developed Weetabix from his original Weet-bix recipe some years later.
Sorry New Zealand, but Weetabix is superior in my view! The NZ version is denser than the British and doesn’t go mushy anywhere near so easily, which in my book is a bad thing. It also lacks the flavour of Weetabix, but since neither of them are particularly flavourful it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what I mean by that…(so much for my career in food criticism!). Weet-bix also has sharp corners, whereas Weetabix has rounded. Don’t ask why, but both Ben and I agree this makes a difference. Only 5/10.
And a bonus…L&P (Lemon and Paeroa)
L&P’s tagline is “world famous in New Zealand”. Isn’t that brilliant? Another kiwiana classic, L&P originated in the town of Paeroa, in the Coromandel.
I thought it would taste something like lemonade (like Sprite et al) but the lemon taste wasn’t strong enough for that likeness…Ben conveyed it well when he described it as being like a fizzy lemonade ice lolly. You know, the white ones that ice cream vans sell? Personally I could taste the lemon flavour so little I think of it as more of a lemon-scented carbonated sugary drink. Kind of like liquid Barley Sugars.
Perfectly drinkable but personally I prefer classic lemonade. 6/10.
Next on my list is to track down New Zealand fruit. Feijoas in particular seem really popular here. We’ve also seen Kiwanos on sale here. I’m intrigued by the supermarket description of them as tasting like a mix between lemon and banana! Neither of these are exclusively grown in New Zealand, of course. But I want to try them and it seems like a good opportunity. 😀
Have you tried any of these? What New Zealand foods would you recommend? I’d love to hear!
P.S. a little bit about doing farm work in New Zealand.