The egg collection had been made on King Street, Hammersmith, as near to a typical high-street as London can provide, thereby eliminating the more recherche examples of the genre found from less accessible specialist chocolate outlets.
Without knowing the particular tastes of my lunch guests, eggs were purchased on their potential appeal to the under-10 age group, though this proved rather difficult as the manufacturers seemed to place more emphasis on plugging the sweets accompanying the egg than on the intrinsic appeal of the package itself. And each manufacturer's egg appeared to be the same, whatever the package, with only the sweets inside differing. Most of the bonus sweets were on crude display alongside the shell, rather than within.
The selected eggs were: Cadbury's Dairy Milk Buttons, Nestle Smarties, Marks & Spencer Flower Egg, Barbie and Galaxy. Surprisingly, when asked to choose which egg they thought looked the most tempting, each child chose a different one, though Memmi later confessed that she would have chosen the Barbie egg (with free Barbie badge) had it not been for Florence getting in there first. Still, her chosen egg, from Marks & Spencer, came in a box only a few degrees less lurid pink than the Barbie, and Memmi seemed happy enough.
I have recorded below the outcome of our tasting. Although some of the comments may seem a little disparaging, it should be noted that when the table was covered with broken pieces, there did not seem much of a selection process going on about which went into the mouth.
Galaxy egg, pounds 2.99
Barney went straight for this one, a smart move as the box was the most grown-up: a gold-wrapped egg egg with two Galaxy bars displayed in a brown box. "I've never tasted Galaxy and I want to see what it is like," he reasoned. "It's very nice and milky." He also liked the idea of getting two Galaxy bars into the bargain. The others agreed that it tasted good.
Comment: I found the egg rather too sweet and caramelly and, at pounds 2.99, it seemed fairly expensive. The packaging was rather dull; this is one for die-hard Galaxy lovers.
Barbie by Kinnerton confectionery, pounds 1.99
Florence was delighted with this one which not only comes with a Barbie badge but also a packet of heart-shaped jelly sweets. She could also have had a roller-skating Barbie to cut out and keep as a bookmark, if she had bothered looking at the back before raiding the pink-wrapped egg. Barney didn't like this egg and Ned thought it was a bit too "nutty", but Florence remained faithful during the testing.
Comment: this egg had a thin shell that tasted like really cheap chocolate. Perhaps that's why it had a sell-by date of January next year.
Flower egg by Marks & Spencer, pounds 4.99
Ned and Barney reckoned that this was nicer than the Barbie egg but said it looked a bit babyish and was slightly sickly. Ned was pleased to find that the flowers on the egg and on top of the accompanying truffles were white chocolate, as that is his favourite. He scoffed the lot. Memmi thought it looked very pretty and she liked the taste.
Comment: my favourite. The most attractive and traditional of the selection, with an unwrapped, decorated egg surrounded by flower-topped truffles. The chocolate was slightly too sweet for my taste, though it had the highest cocoa solid content (30 per cent).
Smarties by Nestle, pounds 1.19
Ned chose this one as he liked the pirates on the box and thought it looked very colourful. He was also pleased that it was easy to split open and that the Smarties were actually inside the egg. Barney, however, thought that "it was too thick, too rich and too sickly". This may have had something to do with the amount he had eaten by then.
Comment: this seems a sensible egg to give, made from dependable chocolate. At only 100g, there is less chocolate for the child to gorge on, but it looks very jolly, you get a cut out pirate door hanger - "ask an adult to help you" - as well.
Buttons by Cadbury's, pounds 1.99
At this point, enthusiasm was waning, though Florence insisted: "I'm not sick". All agreed they liked the box, a colourful jungle scene. The Buttons inside the egg went down well.
Comment: it was a pity that this egg came last in the test as it was one of the least sickly, with a substantial shell. A good, straightforward egg in an attractive box, and good value at pounds 1.99 for 180g.Reuse content