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CRAIG BROWN: Never drizzle Silvikrin on your porridge!


In the days when there were still newsvendors on the pavements, one of their failsafe headlines, scrawled in huge capital letters on a large sheet of paper inside a billboard frame, was: POP STAR FOUND DEAD.

As a teenager, and an obsessive music fan, I would always fall for it. Who was the dead pop star?

I’d hand over my money, but there would be nothing on the front page, or the second page, or any of the other pages until, somewhere near the bottom of page 17, a single paragraph would mention the death of a bass guitarist I didn’t recognise with a group I had never heard of.

‘Friends say the band were doing well on the pub circuit and had hopes of a record contract some time in the future’ the report would conclude.

The great G.K. Chesterton once said that ‘journalism largely consists in saying ‘Lord Jones is dead’ to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive’. 

In the days when there were still newsvendors on the pavements, one of their failsafe headlines, scrawled in huge capital letters on a large sheet of paper inside a billboard frame, was: POP STAR FOUND DEAD

In the days when there were still newsvendors on the pavements, one of their failsafe headlines, scrawled in huge capital letters on a large sheet of paper inside a billboard frame, was: POP STAR FOUND DEAD

Breakaway had apparently been launched over half a century ago, in 1970, yet it had passed me by

Breakaway had apparently been launched over half a century ago, in 1970, yet it had passed me by

Having been hoodwinked by the headline into buying the paper, I would then be disappointed that the dead person wasn’t someone famous: a Rolling Stone, say, or a Beach Boy. In fact, I’d even have settled for the drummer with Blodwyn Pig.

I was reminded of these teenage disappointments when I read an internet headline saying that a famous chocolate bar was to be discontinued. Gosh! Which bar was it? Mars? Milky Way? Flake? Crunchie? KitKat?

Like the Rolling Stones, these bars have been with me since childhood. To hear that one of them was dead would be sad, yes, but also very interesting.

I read on. ‘Nestle said the chocolate-covered Breakaway biscuit bar will no longer be produced from March, to make way for new products.’

Breakaway! I felt strangely deflated. It was like Chesterton’s Lord Jones. The first time I ever heard of Breakaway was when I was told it was dead.

Breakaway had apparently been launched over half a century ago, in 1970, yet it had passed me by. I was never offered one, and have never eaten one, in fact I have never even seen one. 

So my tears are not flowing. Nestle issued a statement: ‘We know fans will be disappointed to see it go, but it’s time for us to say goodbye to Breakaway.

‘We have seen a decline in the sales of Breakaway over the past few years, and, unfortunately, we had to make the difficult decision to discontinue it.’

To me the most interesting thing about this statement is the word ‘fans’. 

I can see that you might be a sports fan or a music fan or the fan of an actor, or even a politician (remember those far-off days of Cleggmania and ‘Oh, Jeremy Corbyn’?). But could you ever really be a ‘fan’ of a chocolate bar?

Former deputy PM and Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg experienced high volumes of support prior to the coalition government with the Conservatives with the popularity phase known as 'Cleggmania'

Former deputy PM and Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg experienced high volumes of support prior to the coalition government with the Conservatives with the popularity phase known as ‘Cleggmania’ 

In all its 54 years, did the Breakaway ever have fans queuing outside its factory in the hope of a selfie? Was the Breakaway stalked by paparazzi as it lay on an exotic beach, wearing nothing but a skimpy bright yellow wrapper? I think not.

Yet apparently ‘fans’ of the bar have posted their woes on social media, condemning the callousness with which Nestle has introduced a new bar, unimaginatively called Blue Riband Hazelnut, to take its place.

‘They got rid of Breakaways for this’ moaned one disconsolate Breakaway supporter.

‘Nope — you get rid of Breakaway and bring in this??? Not on!’ wrote another.

It’s clearly been a distressing couple of weeks for those with a sweet tooth. On Monday, Lyle’s announced that it was rebranding its Golden Syrup, which, up until then, was the world’s oldest unchanged brand packaging, having stayed the same since 1888.

Lyle's Golden Syrup's new logo design - the company has replaced the famous logo of a dead lion being swarmed by bees

Lyle’s Golden Syrup’s new logo design – the company has replaced the famous logo of a dead lion being swarmed by bees

Gone is the eerie picture of a dead lion with a swarm of bees surrounding it, together with the stirring Biblical quote ‘Out of the Strong Came Forth Sweetness’.

In comes the bland, dolled-up head of a living lion, looking as if it has just undergone a Brian May perm.

Needless to say, Lyle’s maintain that their Golden Syrup has been ‘revitalised for the modern UK family’ in order to ‘refresh the brand’s appeal to a 21st century audience’.

Oh, yes? It now looks just like a shampoo container. Let’s pray that the short-sighted don’t end up with Golden Syrup in their hair, or, worse, their porridge drowned in Silvikrin.



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