Now that it’s been decided who has the better goalkeeper (if nothing else!), it’s time for England and America to go head-to-head in the candy-covered chocolate division.
The U.K. certainly has a reputation for having superior drugstore candy — bars like Crunchies, Aerobars, and Curly Wurlys have fervent followings, and every British candy enthusiast will tell you that cheap chocolate from across the pond is far better than cheap chocolate here.
Smarties and M&M’s are remarkably similar, making them good candidates for a taste test. They’re both multicolored, pill-shaped milk chocolates covered in a crisp candy coating.
Smarties are slightly larger and come in more vibrant pastel colors, including lavender, hot pink, and sky blue.
The candy: M&M’s — made by Mars — have a thin, crisp coating that easily melts away to nothing. It adds more texture than flavor to the overall effect. Smarties — made by Nestlé — have a much thicker exterior with a more noticeable flavor, like the crunchy sugar on Jordan almonds.
The chocolate: M&M’s chocolate is sugary and weirdly intense, when you concentrate on it. It tastes like the hot cocoa that’s dispensed out of cafeteria machines. Smarties’ tastes more like mild milk chocolate, and has a creamier texture. And a surprise — the orange-colored smarties are filled with orange-flavored chocolate.
Sometimes, chocolate tastings and soccer games don’t go as you expect. We admit an initial bias toward the Smarties — we almost always like cheap European chocolate better than its cheap American counterpart. So maybe it’s nostalgia, but to us, the M&M’s just taste better. That crackly shell and the resounding sweet, punchy chocolate reliably does what it should: Hits those buttons that make you want more until you feel slightly sick or your teeth hurt. The thicker candy coating on the Smarties ends up making them taste like bland sugar, obscuring the chocolate.
Sorry, England! It hasn’t been a great week for you. But buck up — you’ll probably beat Algeria today.