It is a problem which has for generations caused rows among sweet-toothed families when the Christmas chocolates are passed around.
And now consumer body Which? has established that some boxes of festive chocolates really do contain fewer of our favourites, in what could even be a cynical ploy to get us to buy bigger packs.
There is bad news for Quality Street fans as Which? found tins contain half the “ideal” ratio of the most popular favourites, the Purple One and the Green one, explaining why many families scramble over them every year.
Respectively there are only five and six in an average 720g tub, but with people’s favourites taken into account there should really be 11 and 10 o fthe sweets, Which? calculated.
The chronic shortage of Purple Ones can be explained by Nestle’s selection process, it can be revealed, as it balances out the flavours in tubs by categorizing chocolates into three types, each of which make up one third of the total.
The types are: fruit cremes, chocolates and caramel/fudge. The Purple One falls into the category with tby far the most sweets, the “caramel/fudge” type, which also includes the Caramel Swirl, Fudge, Toffee Penny, Coconut Eclair, Toffee Deluxe, Toffee Finger.
Nestle appears to be cashing in on its less than ideal flavour ratios by teaming up with John Lewis to offer chocolate lovers the chance to fill a 1.2kg Quality Street tub with their own handpicked selection of chocolates.
Shoppers can fill up with as many Purple or Green Ones as they can stuff into their tins – but for £12 – which is nearly twice the price of a same sized tin at Sainsbury’s, which costs £7.
Which? also ranked the flavours in tubs of Mars’ Celebrations, and Cadbury’s Heroes and Roses according to popularity, to determine what proportion of each should make up the perfect assortment.
Conversely, it found families were less likely to fight over Roses as there were an abundance of Strawberry Creams, the most popular chocolate. This is because the fruit cream category comprises just two flavours (Strawberry Delight and Orange Creme).
Cadbury’s said it chooses a random selection in tins of Roses which it said is “designed to be enjoyed by all”. When it comes to Celebrations there is good news for fans of Malteser Teasers, the most popular in the tub, as Which? found it is one of the most abundant chocolates with an average of 10 in each tub. Mars also has a random selection process for filling tubs.
There was also disappointment for fans of Cadbury’s Heroes, as despite Wispas and Twirls being the most highly coveted, they had the fewest chocolates per box, with 30 per cent and 29 per cent ranking them as their favourites, but only an average of 9 and 6 in a box.
Harry Rose, Editor of Which? Magazine, said: “Our analysis shows that it’s not your family’s fault that your favourite flavours disappear from the tub so quickly: there really are too few Purple Ones to meet popular demand.
“Of course, if you’re a fan of Strawberry Delights, Eclairs or Milky Ways, this will be welcome news – you’re more likely to still be eating chocolates into the New Year than your Wispa-loving friends.”
A spokesman for Nestle said: “We do take the popularity of individual sweets into account and have increased the number of people’s favourites in this year’s assortment. Our research shows that the Caramel Swirl is the sweet with the broadest appeal but other studies point to The Purple One or the Strawberry Delight as being more popular. Part of the fun of Christmas is the family discussion about each of our favourites and who gets the last sweet.
A spokesperson for Cadbury said: “The mix for our Roses and Heroes tubs are specifically hand-picked and we review the mix regularly to ensure we are giving our customers an assortment of the best chocolate that they love. However, there can be some minor deviations in the mix due to manufacturing processes.”
A spokesperson for Mars Wrigley Confectionery UK said: “Every year we enjoy seeing the debates rage about the nation’s favourite Celebrations.”