For many, a chocolate variety box is the perfect gift for Valentine's Day, birthdays, Christmas, Mother's Day or 'just because' – with 4.4 million of us indulging in a variety box in an average four weeks.
But how do the different brands compare?
We looked at supermarket chocolate variety boxes from Quality Street, Celebrations, Roses and Favourites, and counted and categorised their contents to find out which box is best for caramel lovers, fruit-goo fans, and more.
Plus, CHOICE staff vote on the best and worst chocolates in each box – how do they compare with your favourites?
Someone's idea of the best chocolate can be another's worst nightmare.
Chocolate flavours can be divisive – someone's idea of the best chocolate can be another's worst nightmare – which is reflected in the results of our staff vote (see Top of the chocs, below). The chocolate that won the favourite vote was often also voted least favourite.
So to help you choose the box of chocolates that has the highest number of your preferred flavour, we bought four brands of chocolate variety boxes – Quality Street, Celebrations, Roses and Favourites – and sorted the chocolates into eight categories.
Caramel and toffee
If you love caramel or toffee flavours, opt for a tub of Quality Street. We found that it has the highest quota of caramel chocolates (28%) and four options to choose from: caramel swirl, chocolate caramel brownie, toffee finger and toffee penny. Roses comes a close second with 23% of these sugary treats and two options: classic caramel and caramel deluxe. (Note: only chocolates with caramel or toffee as the hero ingredient were counted.)
Prefer nuts with your chocolate? Then reach for a box of Celebrations, which is 29% full of nutty delights. Sharing with someone who can't eat nuts? Cadbury Favourites have the fewest nutty treats with 11%.
If you go gaga for gooey fruit cremes, Quality Street is your best option, with one quarter of its tub dedicated to strawberry delights and orange cremes. (In 2018 a Nestlé spokesperson told inews.co.uk that this is deliberate, as each tub is broadly split up into fruit cremes, chocolates, and toffees and fudge. "[This] is why you will get more sweets like the strawberry delight, one of only two fruit cremes," the spokesperson explained.) None of the other boxes contained a fruit-goo chocolate.
Roses is the only variety box we looked at that had a mint option (peppermint creme crunch). But there were only four in each box of 43 chocolates (nine percent).
If white chocolate is your jam, Favourites or Roses tie with a seven percent quota.
Dark chocolate fans should grab a box of Quality Street, as 25% of its contents contains a dark-chocolate element. (Warning: these are also the two fruit creme options, so if you dislike fruit goo you might want to steer clear.) Roses comes second with 21% dark chocolate options (peppermint creme crunch and dark mocha nougat). But if you're a purist and want dark chocolate and nothing else, head straight to Favourites, which is seven percent Old Gold.
Coconut lovers will want to pick up a box of Celebrations, which is 17% coconut-based chocs, while coconut haters will rejoice that Roses has none at all.
Note: percentages are based on the contents of three boxes/tubs of each brand, all bought in January 2020.
We spent hours counting and categorising the contents of each box.
The contents of Roses and Favourites were the most consistent, containing the same number of total chocolates and the same number of each individual chocolate flavour in all the boxes we looked at.
Quality Street had the most variables – in each tub the total number of chocolates ranged from 66 to 68. This is reflected in the actual weight of the 68-choc tub being 25g larger than the claimed weight. The individual flavours in Quality Street also lacked consistency: eight of the 12 flavours varied in number in each tub.
Looking at the amount of individual flavours, Celebrations had the smallest number of options (seven) while Quality Street had the largest (12).
One of the boxes of Quality Street we looked at contained an unwrapped chocolate, but the loose wrapper was nowhere to be found in the tub.
Of all the individual chocolate flavours in each box, Snickers had the highest total percentage, making up 29% of a box of Celebrations.
Country of Origin
Only Cadbury Roses is labelled 'Made in Australia'.
Mars Celebrations and Cadbury Favourites are labelled 'Packed in Australia', while Quality Street has a 'Made in UK' label.
Value for money
Nestlé Quality Street was the cheapest at $2.31 per 100 grams. The other three were fairly even, with Cadbury Roses costing $3.44/100g, and Mars Celebration and Cadbury Favourite costing $3.75/100g.
We also looked at the actual weight of each box of chocolates versus the claimed weight. Roses, Celebrations and Favourites all contained more chocolate than their claimed weight – with an average extra 17g, 17g and 10g a box, respectively.
Quality Street's actual weight was more variable – one box contained 25g more chocolates, while the other two had 5g and 1g less than the claimed weight. That's a small amount (and presumably due to minor variances in the manufacturing process), but we thought it worth mentioning for choc lovers who measure their chocolate in grams.
We asked CHOICE staff to vote for their favourite and least favourite chocolate in a box of Quality Street, Roses, Celebrations and Favourites.
It seems a lot of individual chocolates inspired a 'love it or hate it' response, as the best was often voted the worst too.
Favourite: Strawberry Delight
Least favourite: Orange Creme
It seems CHOICE is split between fruit-goo fans and haters, as both chocs received nearly a quarter of all votes.
One staff member commented that Quality Street "is the fake fruit goo lovers' chocolate box of choice because it contains both strawberry AND orange cremes". Another admitted that while they're a big fan of strawberry goo, "those sentiments don't extend to choc orange". Another simply stated: "Fruit goo: bleurgh!"
Happily for those who love strawberry delight, Quality Street contains more of these chocolates than any other flavour (followed closely by orange cremes. Sorry haters).
Favourite: Turkish Delight
Least favourite: Turkish Delight and White Raspberry (tied)
CHOICE staff seem to hate Roses Turkish delight (27% of votes) slightly more than they love it (24%), and don't really care for white chocolate either. "I know I'm weird for loving turkish delight. What can I say? There's something about eating a candy that tastes like perfume," admits one staffer. Another says, "Turkish delight is by far the worst chocolate. It's like pineapple on pizza ... just isn't right!"
There were mixed comments on the overall selection on offer. One staffer insisted that Roses is "a classic" while another commented, "life may be like a box of chocolates because you never know what you're gonna get, but I'll tell you what you won't get in this box: goo. Cadbury Roses went downhill after pivoting to fewer cream-filled (and more solid) chocolates a couple of years ago."
Favourite: Snickers and Bounty (tied)
Least favourite: Bounty
Both Snickers and Bounty scored 21% of the total vote for favourite choc, but more staff seem to hate Bounty than love it, with 30% voting it their least favourite. "Coconut and chocolate needs to be subtle. Bounty is NOT subtle," commented one staffer.
Some said the selection of chocolates is "boring… just mini versions of normal chocolate bars", but others appreciated the familiarity: "Celebrations has got the best overall selection. Hardly any duds!"
And while Milky Way only received eight percent of the votes for favourite chocolate, one CHOICE staffer revealed just why it was their top choc: "I'll always choose the Milky Way because, honestly, when else are you going to get a Milky Way? You don't walk down the chocolate aisle going, 'Yeah, I think today's the day I'm going to buy a Milky Way'."
Least favourite: Turkish Delight
Turkish Delight is again voted least favourite choc (30%), with one staffer calling it "an abomination of a chocolate".
As with Celebrations, staff were also split over the variety (or lack of it) on offer in a box of Favourites. "They're nothing special. They're just mini versions of the chocolate bars you buy at the servo," said one staffer.
Others were more enthusiastic with comments including: "so many rolled gold classics to choose from – it's hard to decide!" and "there's always something for everyone in a box of Favourites. Guess the hint is in the name."