04 July 2016

Curly Wurly

Delicious milk chocolate with a caramel centre, produced by one of the UK's leading manufacturers of confectionery - Cadbury Limited. The curly wurly is long and thin with a vaguely pretzel-like shape: imagine two long railway-lines of chewy caramel with a zig-zag crossing from one track to the other and you've pretty much got the basic idea. Furthermore, imagine a delicious coating of creamy milk chocolate and you're probably wanting one already.

The curly wurly, of course, has suffered slightly over the years, mainly due to nostalgia. The one I've just opened is around twenty centimetres long and three centimetres across. It might just be that my hands and mouth are bigger nowadays, but I'm sure that the average curly wurly was a good ten centimetres longer a couple of decades ago. And the shape - at one time they really were curly and, well... wurly, too. There was none of this zig-zag-railway-track business; there were shapes lurking in the caramel that were so weird and unearthly they would have grown men quaking with fear. There was, undoubtedly, something almost Lovecraftian about that innocent bar of sugary indulgence. Certainly the wrapper has changed; the public likes things fresh nowadays, and apparently wrapping everything in shiny plastic foil is the way to achieve this. The old waxy white paper has gone, and the curly wurly now comes resplendent in its own bubble-lettered wrapper with a rather pretty drop shadow and some swirly spirals in the background. Not that the wrapper matters; it's what's inside you really want...

But while we're discussing the wrapper, we must acknowledge the inevitable dilemma. Is it really curly wurly? There is no gap on the wrapper, thus one might assume it to be a curlywurly. However, Cadbury's own website uses the space, and anyway, you'd probably rather know more about the sweet itself than worry about a space. Speaking of Cadbury's website, a nice man called Charlie took the trouble to respond to my rather strange email ("Hey, Charlie - we've got another curly wurly obsessive here..."), and I can now share with authority that Curly Wurly has been made since at least the early 70s, has always been between twenty-five and thirty-grams, and the pattern is made in exactly the same way it's always been. This either hints at a dread conspiracy to delude the curly wurly enjoying public, or proves once and for all that the sweets you loved as a child really were exactly the same as they are now; you just remember them being three times as long and a lot more chewy.

Regardless, nowadays the Curly Wurly weighs precisely twenty-six grams, of which sixty-nine percent is soft, chewy caramel. That's glucose syrup, sweetened condensed skimmed milk, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oil, dried whey, some emulsifiers, soya lecithin and E471, along with a bit of salt and some mysterious flavourings. Mmm! E471, by the way, is glyceryl monostearate and glyceryl distearate, but it's okay - they're just more emulsifiers and apparently a perfectly normal part of digestion anyway. (Note: If I told you height of the bar is approximately five millimetres you could even work out the density of the caramel. If you find yourself wanting to do that, seek professional help.)

The rest of it, of course, is chocolate. Lovely chocolate, with fourteen percent milk solids, and an unspecified quantity of cocoa solids. And, in the twenty seconds it takes you to bite and chew you'll be pleased to hear that the delightful sum of 115 calories will become yours. Frankly, it's worth it.

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