It’s time for another American vs. British sweets taste test! On the table this time: Sour Patch Kids.
Sour Patch Kids were just launched in the UK in 2012. They are marketed by Maynards (which was sold to Cadbury, which was acquired by Kraft, which goes by the name Mondelēz International, Inc. — have you gone cross-eyed yet?). Maynards is also behind the popular wine gums, which are firm gumdrops that contain neither wine nor gum.
Besides the giant “Maynards” there’s another packaging difference — the American bag is 226g and the UK one is 160g (does this surprise anyone that the American one would be bigger?). I got the US one for $2 (£1.32) and the UK one for £1 ($1.51), which is roughly the same price per gram (the US one is a slightly better value).
The other main difference is in the list of ingredients. Here’s what’s in the US version:
Mmm…. corn syrup and yellow 5.
Did you happen to catch the little guy on the front of the UK package saying “We are made with natural colours”? Check out the UK Sour Patch Kids ingredients:
Mmm… Paprika, spinach, stinging nettle and turmeric extract!
Here’s what the kids themselves look like. The colors, Duke, the colors!
See that purple UK Sour Patch Kid on the far right that looks like a naturally dyed blue raspberry? It’s not. It’s blackcurrant.
“What the heck is blackcurrant?” my dad asked.
I showed him this photo:
“That looks weird,” he said. Then he popped a blackcurrant Sour Patch Kid in his mouth.
“That’s $%&@!” he declared.
Blackcurrant is not an American flavor whatsoever, but the Brits love it. According to Wikipedia, “in Britain, 95% of the blackcurrants grown end up in Ribena and similar fruit syrups and juices.” During our very first trip to Tesco after we moved to London we bought a bottle of Ribena because it was on sale and we thought it was grape juice. I think we drank almost half the bottle before realizing it was concentrate. Tip: Ribena tastes much better diluted with water.
Sour Patch Kids Soda Popz are only available in the UK, New Zealand and Australia. So naturally I had to walk an hour to Morrison’s (the only place that seems to sell them) to get some.
They too are made with natural colours and come in cola, orangeade, cherryade, tropical and apple fizz flavours. Judging by that list, I’m not entirely sure the folks at Maynards/Kraft/Mondelēz International have ever had soda pop. The cola one is especially tasty (and very soda popz), orange can pass for a soda flavour (but it’s also included in the regular pack), but the others do not belong. Why not make cherry cola? Or Dr. Pepper? Or root beer? Basically all the flavors in the Jelly Belly Soda Pop Shoppe collection. And why aren’t Sour Patch Kids Soda Popz available in the US, the world capital of soda consumption? Because they know we would see through their questionable flavor selection?
Here are all the kids in a group family photo.
Now for the important questions I know you’re wondering: how did they taste? Which one is the best?
Like with my Cadbury Egg experiment, the US Sour Patch Kids tasted like what my brain thinks Sour Patch Kids should taste like — like childhood and sweet, sweet corn syrup. They got a natural advantage. The UK ones had a slightly different texture — they were a bit more chewier and dense, almost like Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles. If I had to rank my favorite flavors I think I’d pick American cherry, British cola then American raspberry. British cherry just didn’t have that punch that the American one did, however eating the British bag made me feel like I was somehow being healthy by not consuming handfuls of corn syrup and artificial colors with my buckets of sugar. As for the blackcurrant one, I have come to enjoy blackcurrant as a fruit and flavor — it’s one of my favorite Fruit Pastilles, but it just doesn’t go right with the sour coating. I’ll take a corn syrupy blue raspberry Sour Patch Kid over a blackcurrant one any day.