Mars Australia has started off 2013 with a bang, introducing their next seasonal Mars bar release: Mars Honeycomb. When my lovely Mars rep described this to me as a Mars bar but with honeycomb-flavoured nougat, I was both intrigued and concerned, both for the same reason: who puts honeycomb and caramel together?
Honeycomb in general is a hard, aerated product. Technically it's a toffee, made with sugar, golden syrup (here in Australia, anyway), and baking soda. The main players in the honeycomb game in Australia are Nestle Violet Crumble, and Cadbury Crunchie. More Aussies usually side with one or the other, due to their different textures. But both are hard, chocolate-covered products. A honeycomb-flavoured Mars bar takes the standard chocolate-covered honeycomb idea and turns it on its head by making the honeycomb part soft instead of sticking-to-your-teeth hard.
Weighing in at 53g, the Mars Honeycomb bar is the same size as your regular bar. The wrapper describes the product as 'whipped honeycomb flavoured nougat, topped with caramel covered in thick Mars chocolate'. Nothing earth shatteringly interesting there. The label does carry the note that Mars now uses 'Rainforest Alliance Ceritified' chocolate in all of their products, including this one. Good move, Mars!
Inside, the bar looks no different to your average Mars bar. It has the now-standard ripples across the top, and is enrobed in light brown milk chocolate. As soon as I opened the packet, I did notice a strong scent that smelt vaguely of honey, but that may have been because my bar was a little crushed on one end. On closer inspection, the scent is quite sweet, and definitely in the right realm for honeycomb. It reminds me a lot of times when I have made honeycomb by hand. There's a lot of golden syrup notes (possibly strengthened by the prescence of the caramel) and it does smell quite tasty.
I was surprised when breaking the bar in half to find to the nougat is YELLOW. It is bright, lolly-banana yellow. The ingredients do note that natural colour 100 is used. The caramel is lovely and a medium to dark tan colour, with that stretchy viscosity that I personally enjoy but some people hate.
On biting in, the honeycomb flavour is very much at the forefront. It definitely dominates the outer chocolate layer (which I find is usually dominate in regular Mars bars), and stomps over the caamel too. Having said that, once the products start to mix more during the chew, the caramel pops in to gently complement the honeycomb-flavoured nougat. I don't know how it does this, but it's a pleasant effect. The bar is not overly sweet at all and is actually rather mild after the first bite. Despite my misgivings about the combination of the honeycomb flavour and caramel, they work quite well together. The product doesn't stick to my teeth (always a bonus), but I do feel the need to finish with a glass of water afterwards.
The chocolate in a Mars Honeycomb bar contains a minimum of 25% cocoa solids and 22% milk solids. It contains wheat, milk, barely and egg. It may contain traces of peanuts and treenuts.
(Semi-related: today I learned that honeycomb is a term used only in Australia, Britan and South Africa. Other countries have different names - including 'sea foam' in parts of the USA.)