The ultimate debate perhaps: Cadbury’s Roses, or Nestlé Quality Street?

I have personally never been bothered about either of these boxes ever since both brands withdrew their coffee cremes some years ago (big mistake, guys. Big mistake.). However, this came up because my husband happened to mention that actually he rather used to like Quality Street when he was smaller. This amazed me because a) he’s French, and for some reason I had only really assumed that Quality Street tins could be found in French supermarkets up here to cater for the expat market living in and around Paris; and b) he’s French, and he generally likes a higher quality of chocolate.

Not wishing to miss this opportunity, I quietly commissioned my sister to bring me a box of each for a serious tasting session on her next visit. So, first impressions: Quality Street initially seems to be mostly comprised of toffees, caramels and fudges, which appear to be more dominant in this box than in the Roses. But the Cadbury box is equally guilty – like the Quality Street, it also contains 6 chocolates along this theme. Actually, this is worse, as the Roses box only contains 10 types of chocolate while the Quality Street contains 12.

First up for testing then was the Quality Street box. Despite the huge popularity of the Green Triangle and The Purple One with the UK market (leading to large versions thereof at Christmas), these both just made me go ‘meh’. Perhaps living in France has led to me tasting nicer praline than that existing in the Green Triangle. There’s no direct equivalent in the Roses box though, so if you like it, you should probably buy QS. As for the Purple One, I was amazed in a blind taste test to find that I actually preferred the Roses version (called Hazel in Caramel). The Purple One seemed more chocolate and very little nut and caramel (perhaps I just got a dud?) while the Hazel in Caramel seemed much more substantial. So as long as we’re working with direct comparisons – Roses 1, Quality Street 0.

Quality Street does offer a greater selection of orange-flavoured chocolate, in the form of the Orange Chocolate Crunch and the Orange Creme. The Orange Chocolate Crunch is surprisingly addictive with its great flavour and generally pleasing crunchy-smooth texture combination, and has no equivalent in the Roses box. The Orange Creme is harder than its Roses counterpart, the more liquidy Tangy Orange Creme. I wouldn’t kick any of them out of bed, though. So for orange-flavoured sweets: Roses 0, Quality Street 1.

Some more direct comparisons: the Roses Cadbury Dairy Milk pwns the QS Milk Choc Block, due to the former’s creamier and more familiar texture and taste. The Strawberry Delight in the QS box is, again, of a harder texture and less sickly taste than the Roses Strawberry Dream, while the quality of the Quality Street Fudge is about equal to the Roses Country Fudge by just about all accounts, although the Quality Street version is arguably of a more pleasing size and shape. Nevertheless, a draw: Quality Street 2, Roses 2.

This is where the Quality Street box begins to get a little silly. Does any sane human being really need a Toffee Finger, a Toffee Penny, AND a Toffee Deluxe? The Toffee Penny just gets stuck to the wrapper, and the Toffee Deluxe is far more satisfyingly chewy than its equally chocolate-covered but wimpier finger-shaped cousin. But equally, does the Roses box really need two caramels (Caramel Velvet and Caramel, between which I could see no discernible difference)? No points for anybody here.

The only remaining direct comparison is that of the Golden Barrel (Roses) and the Caramel Swirl (Quality Street). The Golden Barrel is significantly bigger, giving you more chocolate and caramel for your buck (given that it’s yet another caramel in each box, though, are we not all getting a little bored by now?). The Roses version wins, then. Roses 1, Quality Street 0.

The Quality Street box only has one chocolate type remaining – the Coconut Eclair – and it doesn’t seem to be very popular with anyone. This is a shame as it is one of the few deviating from the box’s general toffee/caramel trend (it’s one of only half the box containing nothing to do with caramel, toffee or fudge). The Roses has two variants remaining – the Brazilian Darkness (yet another caramel, this time with nuts and dark chocolate) and the Hazel Whirl, which is comprised of a praline-type centre incomparable to the Green Triangle, and a whole hazelnut, all encased in a circular chocolate. I didn’t get a chance to try either of these (presumably because my husband and sister snaffled them while I wasn’t looking) but it seems pointless to include them given their similarity to other chocolates in the box. No redeeming features here for either box; nul points.

The overall scores, then, come to Roses 4, Quality Street 3.

This is both surprising and unsurprising. Predictable because I had started out feeling rather pro-Roses, perhaps due to their winning Hazel in Caramel, the inclusion of the Dairy Milk, and the initial impression that they had more variation in the box than the Quality Street (which is a lie – they don’t. In fact, you could argue that they have less due to the lower number of varieties in the box.). My husband and I also both declared that we did prefer Roses (despite him indoors’ initial preference for QS) once both boxes were finished.

However, I am surprised that the Quality Street has been able to defend itself so staunchly (even though they still ‘lost’ in my totally unscientific tests above). They have too many similar chocolates; they have the abomination that is the Coconut Eclair; and the public favourites of the Green Triangle and Purple One just don’t do it for me. However, the Toffee Deluxe on its own gives all of the other sweets of this variant – in BOTH boxes – a run for their money, I could eat a whole box of the strawberry and orange ones on their own, and I probably do prefer the fudge in this box too if forced to choose.

So in a more accurate way, it’s probably a draw. Some suggested improvements for both boxes: have only ONE type of toffee and ONE type of caramel in each box, with the possible exception of the Purple One and the Hazel in Caramel, because that’s different. QS needs to ditch the Coconut Eclair (just who in their right mind put this in?) and Roses’ Hazel Whirl equally can probably be cut. Use the spaces these free up to bring back the Coffee Creme, the Hazelnut/Peanut Cracknell (a discontinued variety in the Quality Street box that seems to still have a loyal online following), the Montélimar nougat (again a discontinued QS chocolate), and/or some of the more interesting varieties from Roses boxes in other countries, such as the Lemon Cheesecake, Turkish Delight and Cherry Ripe. Variety’s the spice of life, you know 😉