It was a genius idea by Dee.
Jelly babies are notorious favourites of open water distance and Channel swimmers. Tiny parcels of coloured and flavoured glucose perfectly anthropomorphised, that sate a craving.
Relatively waterproof and easy to pass to a swimmer, or for crew to snarf a few themselves, they provide an instant hit of processed dextrose for an quick burst of energy, an easily digestible treat to anticipate on a upcoming feed, and the source of one of the oldest jokes I know.
(“What’s the difference between boy jelly babies and girl jelly-babies?” Snaps fingers while saying “boy jelly babies have that much more!“).
But are all jelly babies made equal? Here at the Loneswimmer Demesne, we decided to finally end this perennial debate 1 amongst distance swimmers with a, no … the definitive review.
In this article we pit the metaphorical Big Three of the small edible homunculi against each other and a token El Cheapo discount brand.
Don’t say LoneSwimmer.com does not strive to answer the big questions, to expose the most contested and controversial questions in the open water swimming world.
- Are Bassett’s Jelly Babies the Daddy?
- What about Haribo Delicious Infants², (“Happy Happy Haribo, The Happy World Of Haribo)?
- Or are the weighty non-humanoid creatures³ of relative newcomer The Natural Confectionary Company more morally acceptable?
- How do vegans feel about Jelly Snakes and Monkeys?
- In a fight between a Dino Mix Tyrannasourus Rex and a Haribo Brontosaurus, will the lesser mammal replicate the historical success of its lesser forebear over the mighty King of the Thunder Lizards?
- What’s a Jelly Baby’s best stroke?
- Does anthropomorphising sugar actually make taste it better?
- What effect does the Jelly Babies colour have on its perceived taste?
We engaged in a two person two round competition, the winner of each round progressing to the final Jelly-Off.
Heat 1: A battle of classic Jelly Babies. Bassets surely go into this round as the 100 Pound
Gorilla Baby favourites.
Heat 2: Between non-traditional shaped gums. Does not include testing those jelly and white “foam” mix confections, as these are abominations.
The Natural Confectionary Co. Dino Mix. Bag weight 200g. 320 Calories per 100g. Wide range of prices from €1.25 to €2.60 per bag depending on location. Usually €1.85. Significantly the most expensive.
The arrival of The Natural Confectionary Co. into the cut-throat (well, biting heads off anyway) Jelly market has changed the manufacturer’s messages. Each proudly now boasts Natural Colours, and all except Haribo also say Natural Flavours. This may be the reason Haribo has a shelf life six months longer than all the others.
But since this is high calorie empty glucose, so I don’t really care one way or the other.
Bassets’ twisted confections give names to the individual babies depending on colour. The Aldi Jelly were obviously never christened. Both contain among the other ingredients, Bovine Gelatine. The Basset’s Jelly Babies have more distinct facial features and have two different shapes, a standard jelly Boy or Girl. One shape is saluting before being ingested, another sick twist that I particularly enjoy. Though maybe it’s doing backstroke? Notably the Aldi Jelly Babies have no black colour child, thought the Bassets have. Bassets are of a more uniform shape which they hold better and are a very slightly larger size. Most important though is the Taste Test.
Our independent tasters 4 could detect NO DIFFERENCE in texture or taste. Neither displayed any noticeable variation in taste between different colours.
This lack of taste differentiation allied with the significantly lower cost makes the Aldi Jelly Babies, ironically called Dominion, the Winner of Heat One5.
ITS A GIGANTIC UPSET!
The Natural Confectionery Co are the arriviste upstarts of the highly-contested Jelly market. Along with the laughable conceit that they are “healthier”, monkeys, snakes and shapes and dinosaurs enhance their politically-correct middle-class offering and no actual babies (Boo!). But dinosaurs. Each bag usually contains two or larger Tyrannasaurs. Who doesn’t want to bite the head off a Tyrannausus Rex?
On the other side of Heat Two, Haribo are so well-known that we all know and hate that damn Haribo jingle. Swimmers in Dover rave about Haribo. The Fantasy Mix is a range of animals, including two dinosaurs, a zebra, a couple of white foam half alligators, a two-tone Triceratops, an elephant, a transparent monkey, a turtle, a race car (Le Mans winner 1959), an infant soother (because that’s the perfect message for new parents; sugar-shaped soother, right?), four of the dreaded abomination of childhood, that excrescence, that shame on the global gum market: The Cola Bottle. And of
curse course proving before we start that Haribo are demonic, four green Devils.
Rather than pit the mighty Tyrannosaurus we pitted the slightly larger Haribo Brontosaurus6 against a lesser TNCC baby Raptor6.
The TNCC gum was firm yet yielding. It had a dense mouth feel7, and an actual flavour. There was a slight difference in flavour between colours.
The Haribo was dense. Almost impenetrable in fact. Not chewy in a good way. Chewy in a dog-toy way. It makes a good spare rubber foot for a laptop. It was vile. I shudder at the mere reminiscence.
Winner of Heat Two is The Natural Confectionery Co Dino Mix8.
In an extraordinary development it has to be admitted that both judges were pre-disposed to The Natural Confectionery Co. No supply of free gums was received in exchange for this favouritism though we are both open to any future bribing.
By-the-bye, dear American readers, I hope all this repetition of the words favour, colour and flavour, isn’t causing you too much distress!
The Brontosausus/Raptors having been dispatched, the Final pitted the mighty Tyrannasurus Rex versus the puny Aldi Dominion Baby.
Puny Aldi Baby put a good fight, armed as he was by his all-round Value For Money special ability which he used to fight the Mighty Thunder Lizard almost to a standstill. But the ThunderSuarus unleashed a devastating blow: The ability to retain shape better without melting in a hot car glove compartment during summer. It was close. But then a shock. The bag only had ONE Tyrannosaur!
The gums of the TNCC were ultimately defeated however by the simple fact that jelly babies are smaller and softer so can be eaten in a single bite by a swimmer in the water.
Winner: El Cheapo Dominion Aldi Jelly Babies!
Well, that was utterly unexpected.
P.s. I’ve got a bag of Haribo Fantasy Mix left over which even the dogs won’t eat. As to preferred swimming stroke, they’re made of sugar … so they sink.
1 May not actually be a real debate.
² Not the actual Haribo product name.
³ If you are a bluebottle.
4 Me ‘n Dee.
5 Except for you borderline cannibals for whom accurate sugary replication of human infants is important.
6 Yes, I know there was no such thing as a Brontosaurus. Paleontologists please use the site’s Contact Form to send me your classification of the TNCC dino’s.
7 I read heard this phrase on a cookery program.
8 Unless you are a fake-Satanist, in which case the Haribo is the preferred choice.