Bounty bars exiled: choc horror or sweet relief?

Limited-edition Bounty-free Celebrations tubs are being rolled out this Christmas

Mix of chocolates inside a Celebrations box
Manufacturers Mars Wrigley is replacing mini Bounty bars with more popular chocolates in selection boxes
(Image credit: JHPhoto / Alamy Stock Photo)

From Mars bar maniacs to Twix addicts, people across the UK tuck into boxes of Celebrations every festive season.

But “Bounty hunters may have their work cut out this Christmas”, said the BBC, after manufacturer Mars Wrigley announced that “No Bounty” Celebrations tubs will be trialled this year.

Although the coconut-filled chocolates are marketed as a “slice of paradise”, said The Guardian’s consumer affairs correspondent Zoe Woods, “it seems one person’s heaven really is another’s hell”. The Celebrations shake-up comes after a Mars survey of 2,000 people found that nearly 40% backed ditching the “divisive sweet”.

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‘Marmite of chocolate bars’

A nationwide debate is raging over what Sky News described as the “choc horror” decision to axe Bountys from some selection boxes. The Daily Mail reported that the country was split “over one single question: are Bountys really that bad?”

Bountys have “long been the Marmite of chocolate bars”, said The Times’s Andrew Ellson. The Mars survey found that 18% would be irritated to find just Bounty bars left in the tub, while 58% believed that a family row would erupt.

All the same, warned Ellson, axing Bountys “could trigger a mutiny” by the 18% of respondents who said it was their favourite of the eight chocolates in the Celebrations line-up.

The response from some “outraged” Twitter users also proved “that there is love for the Bounty after all”, said the Mail. One user asked, “how can you not like coconut”, while historian and podcast host Greg Jenner joked that “this country has gone to the dogs”.

Food writer Emma Hughes said that she had “an instinctive sympathy with the coconut-filled underdog”. In an article for The Guardian, Hughes described being “virtually alone among my friends in my Bounty trutherism”, but suggested that “If Mars is going to sideline anything in the Celebrations tub, it should be the pappy and indistinct Milky Way”.

‘Valuable life lesson’

Mars trialled a Bounty Return Scheme last Christmas that allowed customers to swap their unwanted chocolates for Maltesers. “Now, off the back of public demand, we're trialling taking them out of the tub altogether,” said Celebrations senior brand manager Emily Owen.

The limited-edition tubs will be available at 40 Christmas Market pop-ups in Tesco stores for six weeks in the run-up to Christmas. Instead of Bountys, the tubs will contain greater quantities of the other Celebrations chocolates: Galaxy, Mars, Galaxy Caramel, Snickers, Malteeasers, Twix and Milky Way.

Mars has yet to decide whether Bountys will be “banished for good”, said the BBC. Celebrations brand manager Owen warned that “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”, but added: “To those loyal – and secret – Bounty lovers out there, there’s still a chance they’ll make a return after the trial.”

As chocolate eaters await a final verdict, Judith Woods argued in The Telegraph that more was at stake than simple enjoyment. The much-derided sweets “offers a valuable life lesson”, she wrote. The “whole point” of chocolate assortment tubs is “there’s something for every palate in the family – even the weirdos who like strawberry fondants”.

But the “bittersweet truth is you will never really test your cocoa solid limits” until all the usual favourites have been eaten and “you’ve resorted to sucking the chocolate off a tiny Bounty bar”. While Woods finds Bountys “horrid”, she “will not preside over the cancellation of something so character-building”.

Emily Watkins agreed on the i news site that Bountys “provide a crash course in being happy with what you have”. This lesson “will serve us well this year of all years”, she added, as we realise that “being stuck with coconut chocolate” isn’t so bad compared with “the threat of blackouts, or the prospect of being forced to endure a freezing British winter without central heating because of the fuel crisis”.

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