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Brands/products to look for, Thornton's toffee, chocolate, Sensodyne toothpaste

No, I didn't list Sensodyne toothpaste because it would be needed after eating toffee and chocolate, ha! Recently found out that Sensodyne toothpaste has an ingredient in the UK not allowed in U.S., novamin, which makes it more effective. That made me think about what products and brands to look for in London that I would not find at home. Some posts have mentioned the difference in chocolates. Also read mention of Thornton's toffee (is this a hard or soft toffee?). What products would anyone recommend to look for, especially those widely available in supermarkets, etc.? Products or brands just to try, or to bring home as gifts?

Posted by
239 posts

Crikey, where to start?

A British brand of tea bags. They're much stronger than continental (and presumably American) brands and the only way to make a proper cup of tea--apart from leaf tea.

Toffee in the UK is usually hard and becomes chewy enough to extract fillings. The soft stuff is fudge, which is different.

Posted by
4368 posts

Cheese! The cheese found in American supermarkets is abysmal. I know there are decent artisan cheesemakers in the US but they are few and far and certainly don't produce enough for general consumption. There are also more varieties of cheese in the UK than France (they have more variations of the same cheese but not more distinctly different cheeses than the UK).

I can't emphasise chocolate enough. Again, American chocolate is abysmal, Hershey's tastes like the bile you bring up after you've completely emptied your stomach of vomit. Check the ingredients on a packet of Reese's Pieces, there isn't even any chocolate in them! One thing you should try is a box of Monty Bojangles Choccy Scoffy Truffles, you can buy them in most supermarkets. If you can resist not eating the entire box in one go you're a stronger man (or woman!) than I am.

When I was in Virginia last year I bought a 'French' baguette from the instore bakery but it was completely soft. I asked the lad on the counter if it needed to be baked and he replied that it was fully cooked. I don't know if this was the same for other supermarkets but a baguette should always be crusty.

Bacon! If you can get hold of some proper farm/butcher produced bacon rather than the generic supermarket variety then you might be converted from the crispy stuff you American's enjoy. I've noticed that there seems to be a bit of a backlash against nitrates/nitrites in the US as a lot of the bacon on sale was nitrate free but was essentially uncured pork that had a very short shelf life. Uncured pork is not bacon. I make my own and I can leave it in the fridge for weeks and weeks, it doesn't go off but it just gets drier and more concentrated in flavour. Buy uncured 'bacon' and it's going off within three days of opening the packet.

Posted by
1939 posts

Farrah's Clotted Cream fudge-ummmmmmm. Addictive but oh, so sweet!! I also like Kendall Mint cakes but only the chocolate covered ones. Do you see a pattern here? From time to time, my husband used to take me along on his business trips to Harrogate, where I developed (or I should say refined) my very sweet tooth. Oh, and I also developed a taste for Yorkshire Gold tea. I also discovered this delicious brew in Harrogate.

Posted by
754 posts

I am so following this thread..... the idea of "a box of Monty Bojangles Choccy Scoffy Truffles" alone was enough motivation.

Posted by
2634 posts

Walker's Shortbread biscuits (cookies). Similar to our Lorna Doones here, but much more delicious and buttery.

Posted by
205 posts

A British brand of tea bags.

No. Tea bags vary across Britain within the same brand. So Yorkshire Tea sold in Yorkshire is different to Yorkshire Tea in London. This is because the blend and process are adapted to local water conditions. The tea bags you take to another country or part of thUK will taste different. So it's pointless.

Posted by
205 posts

A British brand of tea bags.

No. Tea bags vary across Britain within the same brand. So Yorkshire Tea sold in Yorkshire is different to Yorkshire Tea in London. This is because the blend and process are adapted to local water conditions. The tea bags you take to another country or part of thUK will taste different. So it's pointless.

Posted by
938 posts

photobearsam - thinking the same thing! I love exploring the stores and food tasting in other countries. I will be in London just ahead of you in October.

Posted by
991 posts

I won't try to insult anyone by saying that their favorite brand of a product is crap just because it's not my favorite or because it's different. So I won't. My bring home shopping list always has on it: ( Sorry for any misspellings I'm working without a net here.)
Trebor Soft Mints
Kendal mint cakes with or without chocolate.

Those odd shaped raw sugar cubes. You know, the ones with the parrot on the package
Tea ( I love Yorkshire Gold and Twinings Assam)
Hob Nobs
Gees Linctus (from Boots)

Posted by
324 posts

Reese's Pieces don't have chocolate listed as an ingredient because they're peanut butter candies. M&Ms are chocolate.

If you like KitKats, try those to see if you can taste the difference. I also found that candy with caramel also tasted different.

Jaffa cakes
Walkers crisps. Cheese and onion, Worcestershire sauce, and the sweet chili pepper ones are my favorites.

Posted by
742 posts

heinz steamed puddings .
They come in tins, apparently you get two servings per can..

Posted by
5980 posts

You Brits will laugh, but I acquired a taste for Marks & Spencer house brand of digestive biscuits. I've ordered several packages through Amazon so far, at a significantly higher price than the 56p I paid for them there.

Posted by
754 posts

Nance, I hope you find lots of goodies in October....We get to England in October but only get to London on November 5th.

I hope you have great weather and fun times.

Posted by
327 posts

A British friend claims that Cadbury chocolate bars are way better in the UK than in Canada or USA.

Maynards wine gums and Licorice All Sorts are my favourite British sweets to bring home - the Duty Free shops at the airport usually have the super-sized gift boxes.

Posted by
1838 posts

Go into a British Fish & Chip shop and just ask for Cod & Chips. (The chips are what you call French Fries but much larger).

Posted by
36 posts

Being from Yorkshire. I'd say ask for haddock and chips and so much nicer from a chippy then a pub.

Posted by
4757 posts

You aren't allowed to take meat products back into the USA, so check what is and isn't allowed before you buy.

Thorntons toffee is semi hard that gets chewier one it has warmed up in your mouth.

Typically British items -
Pontefract Cakes (a liquorice sweet the size of a dime and not a cake!),
Kendal mint cake (peppermint flavoured sugar used when out hiking to give you energy)
Devon fudge
Eccles or Chorley cakes - pastry filled with dried fruit available in supermarkets (best served with lashings of butter on top)
Treacle toffee (not sure if Thorntons still make this sticky toffee)
Scottish shortbread
For when you have a cold - a box of Fisherman's Friends
Green & Blacks chocolate
If you can find it at this time of year - Yorkshire parkin, a sticky ginger cake eaten on Bonfire Night especially.

Tes bags depend as much on the water used as the bags themselves, so I wouldn't bother with these as it's not as though we grow tea here!

I prefer UK chocolate to American varieties that I have tasted, but it's just what you are used to.

Posted by
3895 posts

Oh - I love me some Thorntons - the butter tablet fudge - crumbly and sweet. The chocolate smothered fudge is my fav, and they have a 'fabulous' fudge in vanilla which is nice.

I obsess over it to the extent that we always bring home at least a half dozen bags, enlist my mother to bring home a half dozen bags when she goes to visit my sister over there...and I even had a couchsurfer from the UK bring us over 4 bags last year when neither we nor my mom went to the UK...lol. I actually have some of the toffee now, since my mom brought home chocolate smothered toffee instead of the fudge (booo), but we haven't gotten into it yet - I'm afraid to lose my fillings.

The toffee sounds like the Mackintosh toffee we used to have in Canada - you'd put the slab in the fridge to get cold, give it a smack to break it into pieces, then suck on it until it was nice and smooth. We may still have Mackintosh, but I think they changed the formula years ago and not the same.

I can't think of anything else at the moment that we like to get into (other than the Cadburys and Fry's chocolate, but we can get that here in Canada as well).

Posted by
619 posts

I have just returned from England and my taste buds are watering again over all the suggestions here. Definitely the Cheese. I love Stilton as well as a good strong English Cheddar. Nobody has mentioned Galaxy chocolate. Its is the smoothest, milk chocolate ever. Definitely try some. Its not an expensive chocolate and found in the "sweets" section of most supermarkets.

Posted by
619 posts

Be careful what you bring back - U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Many agriculture products are prohibited entry into the United States from certain countries because they may carry plant pests and foreign animal diseases. All agriculture items must be declared and are subject to inspection by a CBP Agriculture Specialist at ports of entry to ensure they are free of plant pests and foreign animal diseases. Prohibited or restricted items may include meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, plants, seeds, soil and products made from animal or plant materials. For generally allowed food items please visit USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

I understand certain types of cheese, such as soft cheeses, are banned.

Posted by
69 posts

If you're going to Wales... welsh cakes!

And I agree with so many of the recommendations, but I'll throw in a silly one. I. Love. Radox. It's bubble bath (and soap too), but specifically the bubble bath. Super cheap, but great stuff. Someone will probably come behind and lecture me on the American equivalent, but there it is. :)

Posted by
3418 posts

Any Mcvities cookies. Hubby used to bring home as many packs of the shortbread as we could both fit in our bags. I love the Hob Nobs (oatmeal cookies with peanut butter filling) or chocolate dipped Hob Nobs. Others have raved about the chocolate digestives. Not expensive at all but sooooooo gooooood!!!!!!!!

PS- and pick up some sesame seed candy, too- but watch out for fillings in your teeth.

Posted by
12218 posts

I had some wonderful gluten-free savory biscuits on our British Airways flight a few years back. I would love to find them next time we are in London. I think the brand was Fudge's but their website does not show any wheat-free products.

Posted by
1247 posts

Although Walkers are widely available here we found a Walkers "seconds" shop in Elgin Scotland and got an enormous flat of cookies for a couple of pounds!

I love Marks and Spencer Percy Pigs.

Posted by
1010 posts

Even Costco carries Walker's Cookies at Christmas. You can buy Walker's at many markets in the U.S.

Posted by
5668 posts

Yep, saw Walkers shortbread at my local Safeway this week.

Posted by
117 posts

Thornton's mini version of Millionaire's Bars. Oh, my....

Store-brand versions of Bourbon Cremes.

All the different flavours of crisps.

Sticky Toffee Puddings.

We've switched to a low-carb-high-fat diet so, these things are now (and, will be) off-limits to us on our future trips to the UK.

Hmmm, but, maybe just one Thornton's, drawn out to last a couple of days...?

Posted by
1172 posts

So funny... our favorite thing to do as a family is going to he grocery store and oohing and aaahing over food.. especially snack food! We each pick 3-4 different things and share!

Posted by
4368 posts

Two years ago we were in Miami and our youngest (8 at the time) saw a 7eleven store and was so excited and insisted on going inside because it was something he'd heard referred to amongst all the American YouTube videos, TV programmes etc he'd watch. Suffice to say he wasn't impressed and left feeling slightly deflated with the words, "it's no different to Tesco".

A bit like my wife and I who grew up in the 80's believing that Americans all lived in huge houses and the kids had bedrooms that were 5x the size of ours because that was always portrayed in the films and TV. We also felt a bit deflated when we saw the reality.

Posted by
31294 posts

To clarify one point about SensoDyne toothpaste, Novamin only seems to be an ingredient in the "Repair & Protect" version. It doesn't seem to be present in other versions (at least that seems to be the case with SensoDyne sold here in Canada).