Arnott’s Shapes Extreme Loaded Mexican Mania

July 8, 2016 at 13:49 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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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
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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 – Meat Pie flavour

February 1, 2020 at 12:42 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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This is the other flavour in the new Arnott’s ‘Aussie legends’ range (we looked at the Sausage Sizzle ones a little while ago), and I suppose is another iconic Australian comestible. When we moved to Australia I recall going into a pie shop and being somewhat confused by the range on offer. Sure, there was Steak and Mushroom, Steak and Cheese, Chicken and Vegetable and all the rest, but the one at the top of the list was simply called ‘Plain Pie’. Plain? What was a plain pie, I wondered. So I bought one.

It was some sort of meat (I think beef), mostly minced, in a sort of thick gravy. It was salty, and not very nice. Clearly it is this type of pie that Arnott’s set out to celebrate with this new flavour, rather than any gourmet or specialty variety.

I know this because these new Meat Pie Shapes are disgusting. They are even worse that that plain pie. They are worse than that mass-produced, been-in-the-warmer-for-hours pie you get from the servo late at night when you are hungry on a drive, and that’s all there is and you buy it even though you know it won’t be very nice (and it isn’t). They are absolutely revolting.

I suppose if Arnott’s were setting out to celebrate just how low and just how nasty the meat pie can be in Australian culture, they have succeeded admirably. When you open the packet, the first thing you notice is the smell. It is horrible. AsI opened them, my whole family (at the other end of the kitchen) called out ‘what’s the horrible smell? Smells like dog treats.’ If you touch them, the smell gets onto your fingers, and is extremely hard to wash off. I washed my hands four or five times in the end, but that disgusting smell still lingered to my fingertips, making me heave if I brought them to my nose.

The flavour is nasty. Honestly, I can’t really make a clear assessment of how closely they resemble a meat pie in taste, as I was kind of gagging as I forced a few down for this review. Just accept that they are not nice at all.

I’m not the only one who thinks this, btw.

I think they might even be worse than this abomination from a few years ago. Just No, Arnott’s. No.

 

Arnott’s Shapes – sausage sizzle flavour

January 15, 2020 at 20:29 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment

Ahhh, The sausage sizzle. Such an iconic Australian thing. On the approach to almost any supermarket, DIY store or school event you can start to smell it; the burnt grease, cheap meat and frying onion aroma. Then it comes into view; a bunch of burly men burning sausages on a large, flat BBQ with the women put to work taking gold coin donations, pointing people towards the sauce bottles and shouting ‘two with onions’ to the men behind them.

It is, without doubt, Australia’s national dish. A sausage (or ‘snag’), on a slice of white bread, with onions on the top, with either tomato or ideally BBQ sauce. You might also have American-style mustard on it, but this is considered a bit avante-guarde and suspicious. If it’s a really posh sizzle they might even give you a bread roll – not a hot-dog roll though (goodness, NO), but a Vietnamese crusty roll from a local baker. This roll, of offered, is undoubtedly the best part of the whole assemblage. But the true-blue Aussie will prefer a soggy slice of white bread every time.

Australian’s take the sausage sizzle extremely seriously. One only has to look at opposition leader Bill Shorten’s faux-pas with a sausage to understand how he lost the ‘unloseable’ election in a shock defeat, never having regained the nation’s trust after that event. National DIY chain Bunnings caused outrage and boycotts when they suggested the onions should be placed underneath the sausage (sacrilege!). Even a relative benign suggestion from a top Aussie chef Adam Liaw on how to make the bread fit better caused online outrage.

And so it is into these shark-infested waters Arnott’s boldly tread with their ‘Sausage Sizzle’ range of Shapes biscuits. I guess they are emboldened by the success of their Vegemite shapes, which are truly terrific, and are scouring other Australiana to exploit. (There’s also a Meat Pie flavour that I will come to in due course).

The box features the iconic comestible. They’ve avoided the obvious tripwires – the sausage is diagonal, it is on a regular slice of white bread, the onions are on top, it has BBQ sauce. Yet I’m a bit suspicious about that BBQ sauce. A wavy line piped on top of the sausage? Seems a bit fancy to me. Everyone knows you just squirt it along the edge of the sausage. I hope Arnott’s are equipped to deal with the backlash. #saucegate

Anyway, what do they taste like? To be honest, it’s not a bad representation, in taste terms, of the sausage sizzle. Their taste teams have really done a first-class job here; there is sausage, onion and a hint of sweet sauce to be made out, which is quite remarkable. It’s not quite up to WIlly Wonka standards, but it’s pretty good.

Yet somehow this doesn’t work. I think it is the mismatch between the texture and the taste. A sausage sizzle is soft and pappy. These are crunchy biscuits. There’s a cognitive dissonance there which I couldn’t quite get over. So they are OK, but somehow not great. I’m going to give them six out of ten, with a bonus point for flavour ingenuity.

Postscript

I almost forgot – these shapes also have Tasmania flavoured ones in there. When they launched the Vegemite version, Arnott’s were desperately trying to court controversy (or perhaps head one off) with some half-baked campaign around Tassie being missing from the biscuit shape (Tasmania is, for international readers, an island somewhere down near Antarctica that is apparently part of Australia). As far as I know this attempt to spark attention on social media utterly failed, but they are still flogging it, this time by including Tasmania. Give it up, guys. No-one cares.

 

Shapes – Thai Chilli and Garlic Sauce

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

 

Arnott’s Chicken Drumstick Shapes

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

Choc Banana Tim Tam

October 20, 2015 at 14:56 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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tim tam choc banana packetExciting news! Another new Tim Tam is here! Goodness, the innovation department at Arnott’s must really be working overtime at the moment. This new line is exclusive to Coles; I suppose to balance the Three Bean Tim Tam that was exclusive to Woolies.

The packaging is a slightly disconcerting yellow colour. I don’t know why it should be disconcerting; bananas are yellow after all. Yet somehow it is, to me at least. I have to say though, I did like the little banana shape behind the ‘New’ flash. Subtle one for the biscuit packet nerds out there. Which, of course, I am NOT. No sir, not me. Ahem.

So what are they like? My very initial instinct was to be worried by the whole concept of banana flavour. I mean, banana flavour never actually tastes of bananas, does it? But then I caught myself. This is Arnott’s we are talking about. They can confound expectation.

When you open the packet, they do smell quite strongly of sort of banana. And when you eat them, they also taste quite strongly of sort of banana. Actually, they taste quite a lot like banana syrup. Not that I’ve ever had banana syrup, to be honest, but I was reliably informed by those who had that this is what it tasted like. This was considered to be a Good Thing, as banana syrup is a delicious sort of grown-up thing, as opposed to banana lollies, which are a kind of revolting kids thing.

I actually thought they were OK. Not my favourite ever, but not at all bad. Not too sweet, banana flavour was quite good, chocolate as always impeccable.

There is one thing you probably need to know about these, though, and that is that they repeat on you. ‘Repeat on you’. Goodness, what a buttoned-up English person I can be. What I mean is that if you eat most of a packet of Banana Tim Tams in one go (which is what I did), you’ll be doing huge banana-flavoured belches for the next 3-4 hours. So be warned.

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

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