Last week at the Selfridges (like a British Macy’s) in Birmingham, I stumbled upon a huge food-court display of Frosted Flakes and Pop-Tarts that was entirely surrounded by American flags. It sat next to a sushi bar and a French bakery, and I think it was supposed to represent our national cuisine.
I guess they weren’t wrong.
But the U.K. also has quite a selection of deliciously crappy (or crappily delicious?) treats just waiting to be discovered, and being a good American I have tested many of them. Look for these, my favorites, in groceries, convenience stores and anywhere empty calories are sold:
1. Cadbury Digestives. You can find these at home, in the Meijer international aisle, but they cost like 6 bucks. Here they’re for sale at Poundland (insert off-color joke here). They’re dry, slightly sweet cookies with delicious milk chocolate on one side, and my 4-year-old calls them “Mommy’s special cookies” because I bribe her through art museums and bus rides with them. The same form of bribery also will work on me.
2. Cadbury anything. Yes, we have it at home, but IT DOESN’T TASTE THE SAME. It is a mystery as to why. No preservatives, superior British cows, I don’t know. I don’t even like chocolate that much, and the Cadbury Dairy Milk Caramel bar makes me want to write a poem or maybe cry a little.
3. Weird crisps. A crisp is an adorable British way to say potato chip, and they have very weird flavors here, like Thai Curry and T-Bone Steak. No matter the flavor, they all taste vaguely of ketchup. They’re fantastic.
4. Maynards Wine Gums. These are like gummi bears only more delicious, round and sold rolled up in a little tube. Why does so much British candy sound like the title of a PBS sitcom your grandma watches?
5. Jammie Dodgers. These are just little sandwich cookies with cherry or maybe strawberry jam in the middle, but it’s fun to say Jammie Dodger. I keep them in my purse for British-food emergencies, like when all the deli sandwiches have butter on them, all the salad dressing is really mayonnaise, or the pudding turns out to actually be bread with some sort of gravy on it.
You’ll see when you get here.
Colleen Steffen | Features Editor