Arnott’s Vegemite and Cheese Shapes

March 9, 2019 at 09:25 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment

shapesboxThis, ladies and gentlemen, is what redemption looks like. This is genius. Superlatives fail me.

You may remember the shapes debacle. New flavours that were revolting, backlash, back pedaling, PR disaster and finally back to how it was before, but with a tarnished brand.

Well, those folks at Arnott’s have clearly done a lot of soul-searching and late night recipe development because Shapes are BACK. Oh yeah.

These are amazing. They are hands-down the best Shapes EVER. I would go as far as to say they are Arnott’s finest savoury biscuit (yes, I know it’s sort of actually a snack, but who cares). They are better than Cheds. And that is high praise.

shapesbiscuitCrunchy biscuit. That glorious umami of the Vegemite, the richness of the cheese. Like WIlly Wonka’s amazing chewing gum, it’s like you are actually eating Vegemite and Cheese on a cracker.

They are moreish. Very moreish. Eating a whole box of Shapes is not that hard. But with these, when you finish one box, you will reach for another. And another.

I’m going all out with a ten out of ten for these. Glorious. Oh, and did I mention that they are Australia-shaped?

 

Arnott’s Shapes Nacho Cheese

May 5, 2018 at 21:56 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , ,

In 1985, Coca-Cola changed the recipe for Coke. Before doing this they engaged in endless trials and taste tests, in order to combat sliding sales against their main rival, Pepsi. But it backfired – everyone hated the new taste. Not long after, Coca-cola re-introduced the original recipe again, and sales rocketed – to the point that many people believe the whole thing was a ploy to drive sales.

I sometimes think about this when I look at the Arnott’s Shapes display in the supermarket. Do you remember the Shapes fiasco? A few years ago Arnott’s changed all the Shapes recipes, and everywhere exploded. The reason, you see, was that the new ones were not very nice. The Arnott’s social media team battled manfully on for ages; trying to tell everyone that it was all OK and the new ones were nice really, but in the end all the old flavours were brought back.

So now, when I go into the supermarket, there are acres of Shapes, all of which proudly sport the ‘Original’ tag. The new flavours are nowhere to be seen. Are they even still in production, I wonder? Are Arnott’s now selling more shapes than they were before? And was the whole thing a Machiavellian plot? This is the stuff that keeps me up at night.

But wait, what’s that on the bottom shelf? A lonely pack of New Shapes, with ‘baked in flavour’. It seems Nacho Cheese has survived; a relic of  this ill-thought our experiment. There never was a Nacho Cheese flavour in the old range, so it seems this new one has somehow survived. So I bought some.

So what are they like? Well, they are quite nice and crispy, with plenty of flavour. It’s sort of cheesy tomato flavour; the box mentions ‘Mexican spices’, but to be honest it’s more Bega Tasty with Masterfoods tomato sauce than Manzanillo. They do the job that is required if them – to be a sort of slightly artificial-tasting savoury snack that you can mindlessly eat when doing something else – maybe watching the sport, yakking at a party or even writing a blog. (Yep, I’ve pretty much finished the box already, having opened it just prior to writing the opening words above). I’m going to give them a five out of ten, with a bonus point for being a survivor.

 

Shapes – Thai Chilli and Garlic Sauce

October 17, 2017 at 10:31 | Posted in biscuits | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve sort of lost track of what is going on with Arnott’s Shapes. New improved flavours, original flavours, special edition flavours, extreme flavours… I honestly have no idea what the current range actually is. Anyway, into this melee comes another new flavour – Thai Chilli and Garlic Sauce. I have to say, when I was travelling in Thailand, I didn’t see a lot of garlic, nor a lot of that gloopy sweet Thai chilli sauce that we get over here. It was more zingy limes, fragrant lemongrass and pungent fish sauce. Still, the box has a picture of a Thai floating market on it, so I guess it’s supposed to be authentic.

The first thing that strikes you about these biscuits is the colour. They are bright orange. Quite virulent looking, actually. They don’t really look a lot like biscuits, to be honest. We seem to be edging perilously close to the ‘chip’ genre here – they are thin, puffy and double-sided, like some sort of kids snack.

One thing they do have is spades is garlic. Wow. If you are unlucky enough to ever be confronted by a horde of thirsty vampires, I recommend breaking out some of these immediately. The garlic is strong to the point of overpowering. Best avoided if you are planning a romantic encounter (or even a business meeting) within an hour of consuming these, I’d say. The chilli part is also there, but more kind of that sweet chilli you get on chips, rather than a proper chilli zing. The texture is light and open, and it’s perfectly possible to eat these three or four at a time. Which to me is a firm indication that we’ve left ‘biscuit’ some way behind. In fact, I’m calling it. These are not biscuits. They are savoury snacks of the chip genre.

They are not terrible. But they’re not that good either. I’m going to give them a five out of ten, then take away one point for being anti-social, and another for not being biscuits.

 

Shapes Light and Crispy – Sour Cream and Chives

December 8, 2016 at 20:15 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
Tags: , , ,

shapes-light-and-crispy-boxShapes. It all seems to be about Shapes in biscuit-land at the moment. New Shapes, Original Shapes, New-but-now-original-again Shapes – it has been dominating the biscuit community for months.

And into this maelstrom comes yet another Shapes variant – the ‘Light and Crispy’ range. I snapped up a box to see what they were like.

Well, you will remember some time ago when we started on this whole ‘savoury biscuit’ thing. At that time, I was nervous about the whole cross-over with ‘savoury snack’ thing. When does a biscuit become a snack? Well, it might just be with Light and Crispy Shapes, as these are definitely dipping a toe into the waters labelled ‘snack’, if not going for a full swim.

shapes-light-and-crispy-biscuitsThey are very light (which, I suppose, given the name is hardly a bad thing), thin, crunchy ‘biscuits’. Yes, the packet still has them labelled as ‘biscuits’. So that’s OK then. You can very easily shovel several at a time into your mouth, which to me is a definite sign of ‘snack’. And when you eat them, they crunch down quite quickly.

For all that, they have a nice enough texture, and the sour cheese and chive is pretty standard for the genre. Nothing stand-out, but quite pleasant. As a snack. I’m going to give these four out of ten.

Shapes – Cheese and Bacon (New)

November 5, 2016 at 19:37 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , ,

arnott's shapes bacon and cheese flavourThere’s an old saying amongst chefs; if you want to give something that is otherwise a bit bland instant appeal, simply add cheese and bacon. There’s something magic about that combination of fat, protein and salt that is just irresistible. But do Arnott’s capture this irresistibility with the Cheese and Bacon shapes?

Of course, the controversy is still still raging about the ‘new’ Arnott’s Shapes. I covered this new Shapes debacle last time when I looked at the Barbecue flavour. Almost half a year on, the backlash continues; social media is still alight with negativity about the new flavours, and Arnott’s have actually had to re-introduce the original Pizza flavour in an attempt to prevent street riots and the like.

Cheese and Bacon is not a flavour I have previously tried, so I have no idea what the original ones tasted like. So in one way this is a kind of more pure review, untarnished by sentimentality.

The biscuits themselves are dusted with flavouring, and appear to have flecks of bacon embedded in them. With no bacon listed in the ingredients, however, I’m fairly confident these are just coloured bits of – something. Perhaps it’s best not to ask too many questions.

And they taste sort of cheese and bacony. Salty, cheesy, savoury. Not too sweet (a fault which bedevilled the new Barbecue flavour). Nice texture. Not a classic, but pretty good. Suitable moreish. So for these at least, I’m going to give the new flavour a thumbs up with a creditable five out of ten. Those with experience of the original Cheese and Bacon can unload below in the comments…

Shapes Barbecue – New And Improved

August 29, 2016 at 16:19 | Posted in biscuits | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , ,

shapesboxesIt’s taken me a bit too long to catch onto this, but there has been a veritable social media frenzy going on recently that dwarfs even gossip about failing censuses or the latest from The Donald. Yes, it’s the reaction to Arnott’s ‘New and Improved’ Shapes.

Shapes are, of course, a range of savoury snack biscuits that boast the unusual feature of having ‘flavour you can see’. Except that, in the new version, apparently you can’t.

Arnott’s have launched a whole new range, including new and improved version of some of the classic flavours. However, I guess to hedge their bets, they are also still making the original version of two types – BBQ and Chicken Crimpy. So, when I saw both the original and new on sale at the supermarket, I bought a packet of each to do the definitive taste test.

But before we get to the comparison, let’s take a look at a few choice comments on Arnott’s facebook page.

shapesfb

Oh dear.

And on twitter?

shapestwit

Hmmm.

So what prompted Arnott’s to change this iconic snack – which has been in production for over 50 years? Well, apparently people were complaining that they wanted more flavour on their Shapes, and that the flavour wouldn’t stay stuck to the biscuit. Pesky stuff that visible flavour. I must admit, reasonably tuned into to the biscuit world as I am, this was not an issue I was aware off. Indeed, for many people having the flavour fall off is kind of the point, as it means the last biscuits in the pack accumulate the flavour that has dropped of the ones above. And then, at the end of the pack you get the pleasure of running a finger inside the pack to collect the dregs of flavour that remain. The whole thing could have been designed to deliver a gradually-increasing dose of Flavour You Can See, culminating in that last, luscious hit of salt and monosodium glutamate. But apparently this way of enjoying Shapes was passé, and a redesign to get more flavour, more consistently on each biscuit was required.

shapesbiscuits

This redesign was about more than just the flavour adherence mechanic, however. It was also about the flavour itself. Changes to the recipe were made, which somehow also yields the New And Improved versions an extra health star. Looking at the nutrition panels on each box, it seems pretty much everything is the same, except the new ones have less salt and more sugar.

Anyway, enough of all that. How to they compare? Well, you can read about the original ones here, as I looked at them some time ago.

Compared to the originals, the new ones have a slightly lighter, more open texture, which actually I quite liked. However, things are not so happy in the flavour department. The new ones are clearly much sweeter (that extra sugar), and amazingly even more artificial tasting. Besting the originals on artificial-ness was a big ask, but the Arnott’s team have managed it. Overall, the new flavour is not very nice. Too sweet, to cloying. It’s hard to eat a whole box of these in one go; they get sickly. The originals, by contrast, are highly addictive and are gone in a flash.

Having drawn my own conclusions, I put out the two types in different bowls next to each other in the office. The Original flavour bowl was empty in about 10 minutes; an hour later there were still some left in the ‘New And Improved’ bowl. So clearly my co-workers agree with my assessment.

So will Arnott’s relent? Will they retire the New And Improved, and quietly revert to the originals? In the meantime, I’m going to give these New And Improved BBQ Shapes a 2 out of 10.

Arnott’s Chicken Drumstick Shapes

July 13, 2016 at 16:04 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

shapes chicken drumstick boxAnother day, another savoury snack biscuit to try. These are Chicken Drumstick flavour, although they are unaccountably shaped like cola bottles.

Arnott’s make quite a variety of Shapes, in all sorts of, erm shapes. And flavours – although many of the flavours kind of blur into each other. Truly I think if they switch round the packaging not that many people would notice – ‘chicken’ flavour tastes much like ‘BBQ’ flavour tastes much like ‘pizza’ flavour and so on.

This makes for somewhat problematic reviewing. I mean, a strawberry Tim Tam is clearly quite a different beast to a mint one, so there’s plenty to say. But for these – well, it gets a bit harder. They are a savoury snack biscuit. They are too salty, taste rather artificial, and are very addictive. Oh, and they have flavour you can see. Whatever that means.

To be honest, I’d steer clear of the whole regular Shapes thing, and go with the ‘shapes chicken drumstick biscuitsExtreme‘ range (which actually aren’t ‘extreme’ at all, just more tasty).

I’m going to give these a four out of ten.

 

Postscript
I
 wrote this post before I realised that Arnott’s had revamped their whole shapes line – to considerable controversy! Anyway, this review is now somewhat historical, as this is one of the flavours that was discontinued. I intend to come back to the Great Shapes Controversy very soon!

Arnott’s Shapes Extreme Loaded Mexican Mania

July 8, 2016 at 13:49 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , ,

loaded mexican mania shapes boxLimited Edition! Extreme! Mania! Intense!

I still can’t quite get used to this line from Arnott’s. It’s like someone in the marketing department went rogue, and nobody has yet noticed. I think it is just a rogue marketing thing, as the actual biscuits don’t really live up to the billing.

Not that this is a criticism. Indeed, what you image you are going to get from the description – monosodium glutamate, loads of artificial flavours, tongue-stripping acid – are not there. Rather they are well balanced, tasty snacks that even your granny would enjoy. Clearly the bakers at Arnott’s are not going to be drawn into all this maniacal tomfoolery.

The ‘Loaded Mexican Mania’ ones are not as good as the ‘BBQ Ribs Blast‘ I tried previously, bloaded mexican mania shapes biscuitut were still quite tasty. A little bit of chilli tang (but far from ‘intense’), with a richly savoury flavour. I must say, the texture of these ‘extreme’ snacks is really very good – crisp and moreish. I’m going to give these an eight out of ten.

 

Arnott’s Shapes Extreme BBQ Ribs Blast

September 30, 2015 at 20:19 | Posted in biscuits | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

shapes extreme boxWe live in a world of immoderation. Everything around us is super-sized, extra-strong, ultra-intense. Marketers of the world conspire to convince us that their product will deliver that life-changing experience, even as we plug the mundane details of renewing our car insurance or buying a sandwich.

For the most part, Arnott’s avoids such excesses. Lemon Crisp packets are not labelled ‘OMG! Unbelievably addictive!‘. Ginger Nuts do not proclaim ‘The strongest biscuit in the world!‘. No, Arnott’s like some throwback to a more genteel time, prefer to be more understated, allowing the qualities of their products to speak for themselves.

Of a character or kind farthest removed from the ordinary or average‘. ‘Exceeding the bounds of moderation‘. Thus the dictionary defines the word ‘extreme’. And it seems Arnott’s have gone all out with this new Shapes Extreme range to do just that.

The packaging is riotous. The language is hyperbolic – ‘intense’, extreme’, ‘blast’. What on earth is all this about? It’s like seeing your grandfather at a rave party.

I have to say, my curmudgeon meter was dialled up to eleven on this one. These were going to be terrible. I could just sense it, and I took them to the checkout like some portent of doom, only buying them because of the paucity of alternative options at the servo where I stopped in a mad rush.

The fact that I was taking them to an orchestra rehearsal made it even worse. They were my contribution to supper; a supper that is enjoyed by a distinctly conservative, largely retired, and somewhat blue-rinsed collection of amateur violinists. Oh well, I thought, I suppose the trumpets might like them.

Somewhat embarrassed, I opened them in the break and sampled one. Shuddering slightly as I lifted it to my lips, I closed my eyes and took a bite.

and….    and…..

Where was it? Where was the tongue-stripping acid, the tang of monosodium glutamate, the flabby biscuit no more than a second-rate delivery mechanism for all that ‘extreme’?

shapes extreme biscuitMy god. They were actually good. Really good. Crispy and light, with a lovely texture. Flavoursome and savoury, with just the right balance of sweetness, unami, salt and spice. In some extraordinary way they reminded me of a really good naan bread in an Indian restaurant; which sounds weird but might make sense if you try them.

This was something extraordinary. Even more extraordinary was that everyone agreed. Retired solicitors queued up to get more. The double bass player who rarely speaks was heard to remark ‘mmmm, these are nice‘. They were gone in seconds, with me barely being able to grab the last few to take a picture for this blog.

So there you are. Never judge a book by its cover and all that. The only way these are ‘extreme’ is in the ‘extremely delicious’ sense of the word. Go and buy some. You won’t be disappointed. I’m going to give these a nine out of ten.

Arnott’s Shapes – Cheddar

September 1, 2015 at 17:28 | Posted in biscuits | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , ,

arnotts shapes cheddar boxIt’s been a while since we had a savoury biscuit review, so when a packet of Cheddar Shapes happened into the Chillikebab kitchen I thought it might be worth a look at.

They are small, rectangle biscuits, quite crunchy, sprinkled with cheesy flavour.

Hmm, not sure there’s much more to say really. So instead, let me draw your attention to another cheesy change. I still eat a lot of Cheds, and back in 2012 when i reviewed them, the pack clearly stated ‘a crisp cracker with a baked on cheddar cheese flavour

arnotts shapes cheddar biscuitAt some point, however, that changed, and it now reads ‘a delicious real cheddar cracker, sprinkled with pecorino cheese and oven baked until crisp’. Pecorino cheese, eh? Now, I eat a lot of these biscuits, and I’m pretty confident that the recipe hasn’t changed. Was there always pecorino cheese in there? Did someone just realise, and decide the sex up the marketing? The ingredients just say ‘cheese (16%)‘. Which, I have to say, is a pretty good percentage. Cheddar Shapes can only muster up 14%. Although how much of that is actually cheddar is open to conjecture.

I’m going to give these a five out of ten.

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.