Getting American Candy In The UK

So you’re an American in Britain with a hankering for Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, a Hershey’s bar, a Mr. Goodbar or whatever. What to do, where to go? Got a few tips for you that may help.

First of all, the Brits aren’t too fond of the entire peanut butter and chocolate combo. Believe me, I know. I test it out quite often and am always pleased when I find the 1 in 10 person who seems to think Reese’s are great.

Any touristy area of London will have newsagents or small grocery stores. Pop into any of these places, and you’ll likely find Reese’s for sale. They’ll be expensive, but go on, treat yourself!

Need to bulk up? It’s been several years since I was last at a Costco store in the Britain. But when I was there, you could usually get boxes of 24 or 30 or whatever. You’ll find a list of stores and info here. Yeah, they’ve got big bottles of French’s mustard, too. Just remember that the smaller bottles that most groceries stores carry now (including Waitrose) probably fit better in your tiny refrigerator.

Also, think ahead. When you’re coming back from a trip to the US, stock up on candy and food you can’t get. I never come back from a trip without at least six or seven bags of Cocoa Pebbles in my suitcase. Pull the cereal out of the box, and they fit in a lot more easily. Also see the end of my post about decrypting the shelf life of Hershey’s products for a link with storage tips.

Still stuck for your favorite sweets? Get thee to Cybercandy, with shops in London, Brighton or ordering online. There’s an entire American Food section you can browse, which has areas for candy, cookies, gum and much more. Sadly, they don’t stock Cocoa Pebbles in the cereal area.

While I’m covering food, I thought I’d pass along a few American to British translations, when it comes to food:

  • Mustard: This means English mustard, which is an entirely different creature from French’s mustard.
  • Milkshake: If you order it, ask whether ice cream is actually involved. Milkshakes more commonly will be, well, just sweet tasting milk.
  • Cookies: The Brits call them biscuits.
  • Biscuits: You generally don’t find nice, light airy homestyle biscuits. But scones will do the job.
  • Candy: Generally means hard candies, rather than chocolate and other types of sweets. If you offer someone candy, that’s what they’ll assume you have.
  • Milky Way Bars: Not the American kind. They’re more like 3 Musketeers, but not quite. Fortunately, Snickers are the same as Snickers bars in the US, though many many moons ago when I first came to the UK, they were called Marathon bars. Or, and Smarties are not the sweet-tart kind but instead more like M&Ms but with a different taste and slightly harder texture.
  • Popcorn: At the movies, you’ll have a choice of sweet or salted. Sweet is sugar sprinkled on top, which I find disgusting. Even more so if you buy it buy mistake, not knowing better and put a handful in your mouth expecting the salted type.
  • Lemonade: 7-Up. Maybe it’s not branded 7-Up, but British “lemonade” tastes like 7-Up or a lemon-lime soda. It is absolutely NOT American style lemonade.
  • Ice: Doesn’t exist in Britain. If you’re lucky, you might find a place that drops a single cube into your glass of Coke, usually followed by a lemon wedge.

I’ll never forget 15 years or so ago buying a can of coke at a Tube station stand. I was shocked when the vendor handed me the can sitting out in the open, which I assumed was just on display, rather than reaching into some hidden refrigerator to give me a freezing cold one.

Seriously, look at the cans of Coke in Britain. Notice they suggest “Best served ice cold” on them, something I’m fairly certain cans in America don’t say.

Fortunately, years of practice have taught me to drink Coke warm. I totally don’t mind, anymore. Of course, it’s always nice to get back home and have it in a big huge glass full of ice.

Funny story, ice. Two or three years ago, we took the kids to a Ruby’s Diner in California. The waitress gave them both glasses of water.

“Daddy!,” my oldest son exclaimed. “There’s something in my water.” I looked expecting to see a fly, some food, something disgusting. Nope, it was just ice. Honest true story. They just weren’t used to ice and even today, they think it’s a real treat to have it. We obviously don’t have an ice maker at home — but I’ll talk about British refrigerators in a future post.