Christmas Adverts 2017 – Part 4

Well, I’ve gone to town on rounding up the Christmas adverts this year…here’s another bundle of ads for you to check out…

First up, it’s Waitrose:

This is actually really quite good, I’m not sure being in black and white quite works, for me when the lights come on at the end if the advert went into full colour then, that would have been a little more dramatic.

A comment on Youtube amused me for once though (never read them, just don’t do it), where the horrified looks at the end are because they’ve gone all cannibal…made me smile anyway.

Boots now…

I have no opinion on this…none at all. Which is weird, utterly unmemorable.

Now TK Max meanwhile, they’ve had a good go here:

I quite enjoyed that, creepy voiceover and everything!

And, now Debenhams, this might say Part 2 but this is the full version, you don’t need Part 1 as that’s already included in this…

Boy oh boy, is this romantic or what! Very very sweet advert this.

Debenhams winning Christmas, alongside Sky Cinema for me!

 

Christmas Adverts 2017 – PART 3

So, here we go then with another round up of Christmas adverts, the over budgeted influencers for 2017…

Let’s kick off with John Lewis…

Transparently trying to play at heart strings…fails miserably. For me anyway.

Next we have House of Fraser:

I’ve met sisters before…getting on this well…naaaaah, not buying it at all!

Next, we have a pair of Morrisons adverts:

I really love the Free From one, just really very sweet. The other one, a bit meh but pleasant enough. Good effort from Morrisons.

Now for Tesco…and I like this a lot:

The bloke at the end “Oh, go on then”…that’s just like me on Christmas evening…

And Talk Talk…nailed it:

Christmas Adverts 2017 – Continued

We already started our roundup of Christmas adverts for this year with this post: https://themincepie.co.uk/2017/11/04/christmas-adverts-2017-its-started/

That one featured Very.co.uk, Argos, Asda and Vodafone…this time, we’re kicking off with one of the biggest hitters, going in two-footed on the rest:

This advert is pretty good, light and fluffy despite it being all about a burglar. My only problem with this advert is the “Oh F**k you little bear” at the end. Pretty sure M&S need to re-edit the sound here, because WOW! I’m not the only one to hear this too, it’s all over the comments. Oh M&S, what did you do!

Next up, it’s Matalan:

I can’t help it, I like it. Maybe the music needed to be something Christmassy, but it’s everything Christmas wrapped up in an advert otherwise.

Not really much of an advertiser normally, here’s Amazon’s distinctly unChristmassy effort:

And for this update I’m going to finish on Sky Cinema…because it’s perfect (I really mean that too, for parents out there everywhere, it 100% nails it)…

REVIEW: Coop All Butter Luxury Mince Pies (2017)

This review is going to refer back to the 2016 version of these pies quite a bit, the review for those is here: https://themincepie.co.uk/2016/10/08/mince-pie-review-coop-irresistible-all-butter-luxury-mince-pies/ and it’s worth a read to remind you how I’ve always been a fan of these pies.

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Packaging
So, this looks just like last year’s box…but let’s do a side by side:

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On the left is 2017 and on the right is 2016. When I bought these, I genuinely thought they were the same. Check out the layout of the pies on the box, it’s almost the same. It’s very clever, but I can’t think really why they’ve done it like this.

Notable differences though on the calories, 2017 are 246 calories and 2016 are 254. The composition is different too, and you’ll note that last year the salt count was orange and this year it’s green. The weight is the same though, so really it just suggests a different recipe. The blurb at the top makes mention cherries too, which it didn’t last year.

Notable too the absence this year of the crimped edges, and the less defined spring of holly on the pastry design.

Pretty much though, my comments from last year still stand. It feels fairly premium as far as these things go, but not very Christmassy.

8/10

Presentation
So, last year, we had some fairly nice things to say about these, being quite pretty to look at. I also noted the bucket of sugar chucked at it too.

Guess what…

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Well, personally, I think these look really quite untidy for a start. They look really quite uneven, not exactly consistently circular. The sprig of holly is no so indistinct, suddenly they really not so pretty. The removal of the crimping around the edges from last year also really takes away from the overall impression.

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Worse though, they’re no longer chucking a bucket of granulated sugar over these. Instead, they’ve poured two buckets of icing sugar all over them. That’s right, they’ve binned off the granulated sugar, replaced with icing sugar. Horses for courses to a degree, but it’s just massively over done.

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So, all in all…a massive fall from grace for these from last year.

3/10

Filling
Now, we’ve had a fall from grace on the presentation front…what next..

This:

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That’s a whole lot of air in there!

So, you can see the mincemeat is quite fruity and chunky, but the very fact that it’s not even half full is a disgrace. No wonder these are less calories!

It’s not an isolated problem either, although this is marginally better:

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Overall, the filling is also quite “wet”, which means it’s a surprise that there is no soggy bottoms here (unlike Aldi).

It really needs to taste good though given the limited quantity of it.

5/10

Taste Test
So, how do these taste then? Well, the answer isn’t totally straightforward.

When you munch in, the pastry is very buttery, but very dry. This results in the pastry immediately applying itself to the roof of your mouth. 100% requires a cup of tea to wash these down. Now, I remember, that is quite similar to last year, but with the lack of filling here, there is less of something to mix with the dry pastry.

For what it’s worth, the taste of the filling is really excellent. It’s fairly fruity and has a good kick of brandy in there, definitely a boozy type of pie.

All in though, you eat these and you feel that you’re having to work hard eating not great pastry with little reward. Really really disappointing.

They’re not awful though, the filling is fine, and if they added a bit more of it they might not be so bad. They could be decent warm with custard, at least that would help with the dryness.

10/20

Overall Score
A real disappointing outcome here after the middle of the road outcome last year. This is a huge fall from grace as a couple of years ago, I swore by these pies as the best around.

26/50

Christmas Adverts 2017 – It’s Started!

Every year, it’s fun to see the Christmas adverts rolling out. It’s big business these days, we’re long past the day of Woolies sticking their prices on a song and dance on stage…now we have elaborate animations and productions, multi-million pound adverts purely focused on brand building rather than products. Christmas adverts are becoming a whole cottage industry, and keeping websites like this going with content for weeks on end.

So on that note…first for 2017 is:

Very.co.uk

Now, Very do seem to like these animation styled adverts at the minute, and it’s quite pleasant. But maybe I’m feeling jaded, it’s not exactly iconic is it.

Next up we have Asda…

This is obviously inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but it’s very good. I’m not convinced the music is the right choice, but it is fun and bouncy and I wanted it to go on longer.

Now for Argos…

Feels inspired by Arthur Christmas in the set up, but it’s a good advert.

Next it’s Vodafone, with their “A Christmas Love Story” and starring Martin Freeman. This is a series of 6 adverts, not all of which appear to be on Youtube yet, so go here to watch them as a single film:

http://www.campaignlive.com/article/vodafone-a-christmas-love-story-ogilvy-mather/1448884

In all honesty, I really am not a fan of this. It’s only vaguely Christmassy, it’s incredibly cheesy and although the first one is really sweet, the rest of them are just properly meh.

And that’s all for this post…more to come over the next couple of weeks.

 

Mince Pie Reviews – November League Table Update

Figured it was worth updating the league table and because some people do miss it (it’s linked seperately either in the hamburger menu on a phone or up top on desktop).

Miles away at the top is the Fortnum & Mason pies, but it’s looking like a strong list.

For reference, the columns in order are “Year of Review, Packaging, Presentation, Filling, Taste Test and Overall Score”. The table is ordered by Overall Score, with Taste Test as a tie breaker (then Presentation then Filling and finally Packaging if all of those are equal).

No. Name YR Pa Pr Fi TT OS
1 Fortnum & Mason Traditional 2017 8 9 9 20 46
2 Tesco Finest All Butter 2016 8 8 7 18 41
2 M&S Star 2016 6 10 8 17 41
4 Aldi Specially Selected 2016 4 9 8 19 40
5 Iceland Luxury 2016 6 6 9 19 40
6 Aldi Sloe Gin Mince Tarts 2017 6 7 7 19 39
7 Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference All Butter 2017 7 8 8 16 39
8 Aldi Specially Selected 2017 4 9 6 19 38
9 Iceland Luxury 2017 6 6 9 17 38
10 Coop Irresistable Luxury 2016 8 7 7 16 38
11 Lime Tree Pantry Mince Pies 2017 4 9 8 16 37
12 M&S Christmas All Butter 2016 6 5 8 17 36
13 Greggs Sweet 2016 6 6 7 17 36
14 Spar Luxury All Butter 2016 8 8 7 12 35
15 Sainsbury’s Mini Ecclefechan and Mincemeat Tarts 2017 6 9 8 10 33
16 Tesco Mince Pies 2016 9 2 4 17 32
17 Waitrose All Butter 2016 5 5 7 14 31
18 Sainsbury’s Iced Topped 2017 9 5 4 12 30
19 Sainsbury’s Deep Filled 2017 9 4 5 10 28
20 Coop Bakery Shortcrust 2016 5 1 4 10 20
21 Coop Puff Pastry 2016 6 6 1 5 18
22 Heston Spiced with Lemon 2016 3 9 3 1 16

 

REVIEW: Aldi Sloe Gin Mince Tarts

Well, this is new…and also, I realise I said I’m taking a mince pie reviewing break but, these were seen and must be had.

Let’s get on with the show.

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Packaging
Very much like the other Aldi mince pies these, similar styling of box and branding. It’s classy enough, but doesn’t shout Christmas to me quite enough. There is a nice window to the pies and these are unusual looking pies.

Worth noting, the box is quite slim, so these are going to be flatter pies than usual.

The note to serve warm or cold is interesting me…I shall give them a warm go over the weekend, but as all of these pies are reviewed cold that’ll be merely a footnote.

6/10 – Nothing wrong here, window is good but just not Christmassy enough

Presentation
Worth remembering, these mince ‘tarts’ (not pies apparently) are retailing for £2.29 a box of six. That’s 38p a pie, sorry tart, ish. Now, put in context, everything else at Aldi seems to cost 99p according to my Mum, so this is some optimistic fayre here (fayre isn’t apparently in the dictionary on my Mac and it’s underlined in red, vaguely irritating. In fact, so irritating I diverted for 15 minutes or so looking it up. It’s in the dictionary, it seemed to irritate a Telegraph journalist a couple of years ago, it’s old fashioned, only used in Britain, if any Americans read this, apart from having a real hard time with sweet mincemeat generally, this word will throw them a bit more…).

I digress…

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Anyway…they’re plastic bagged. That’s because the window in the box is an actual opening to the box. This means, to keep these things fresh for a few days and to stop them falling out while walking with your arms doing windmills holding the box, don’t lose this bag!

Once out of the bag…

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So, I’m not sure what to say here…are they messed up or is this what is supposed to happen with fancy tarts from budget supermarkets?

The almonds are liberally chucked on with nay a care in the world, but most concerning, what’s happened to the pattern on the middle row? Weirdly, I can’t tell if it’s deliberate variance considering both of the middle ones look like this and the end ones are kind of consistent in the hatching they have on top. And is it me…do they look a bit like Yorkshire puddings?

The hatching on the ones on the left looks very good and neat, the right side much less so.

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There are no trays to be seen here, so you’ll need a plate unless you are rebellious like me. It’s a very even bake all of the way around, but the slight leakage on the right here is not ideal.

All in though…I kind of like the look, they are appealing to me and that’s really important.

7/10 – Probably way too high considering the problems…but I like them even so!

Filling
So, as I said before, these pies tarts are quite large, but flat. This is never a good sign for including lots of filling. Let’s take a look:

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Is that a lot?

I tell you what, it’s got plenty of fruity chunks within and all of the way around the pie tart it goes right to the edge on this level.

All in, I’m willing to bet there’s at least as much here, if not more so, than the regular supermarket pies around.

It’s got a lovely smell too, the sloe gin aroma in the filling really comes through.

7/10 – It’s actually good and more than it might appear considering the flat nature of these.

Taste Test
As usual, it’s all down to taste really.

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Let’s break it down a bit.

The pastry is good. It’s very much in the “cakey” nature of the Fortnum & Mason pies really, and worthy of the ‘tart’ title over pie. It’s very solid and holds together well without the tray. When approaching the first bite, it’s hard to know if there is going to be some crunch or it’s soft and it’s surprising therefore, that it is lovely and soft yet solid enough to not fall apart. This is some skilled bake work.

The almonds really add a nice little flavour extra, but aren’t strictly needed in my view.

When you get into the filling, it first hits you with the aroma and then the sweet fruity flavour of sloe gin is distinctly there. It’s got a marginal gin-like sensation as you eat, and the fruity flavour really makes it work. The spices and come across really well and it makes the overall taste here massively satisfying. These are top drawer pies tarts and are a great secondary mince-based treat alongside whatever regular pies you go for.

19/20 – Outstanding, just maybe could do with a bigger gin type hit!

Overall
No getting away from it, I really like these pies and are the best so far to come out of Aldi. There are a few issues though, and the presentation could probably use a bit of work, but I’m massively impressed.

39/40

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