Advent calendars, eh? They start to appear in the supermarkets around mid-October. Tempting, brightly-coloured, familiar characters that the kids find hard to resist. Ben 10, Peppa Pig, Disney Princess… you name it, they’re likely to be stuck on the front of their very own advent calendar. With chocolates. And they’re usually on special offer. Two for £3 – for 48 chocolates, well, 50 if they include one for Christmas Day, which I always think is wrong. A chocolate in an advent calendar on Christmas Day? Come on, it’s always going to get forgotten or eaten by the dog. But either way, it’s a bargain.
Until, that is, you try them. Now there is one company that seems to produce these ‘chocolates’ for these advent calendars and let’s be honest, they are horrible. You would never choose to eat it if it wasn’t behind a cardboard door and in the shape of a robin. But it doesn’t matter to all concerned because it’s good value for a licensed product and normally you get some puzzle on the back or a cut-out puppet too. If they cut costs at the chocolate buying stage, so be it. Crucially the kids aren’t going to care. They’ll eat anything, right?
And, remembering how mouth-suckingly awful these chocolates are, when choosing a calendar for yourself, you always opt for a slightly more traditional one – picture a bit twee and old-fashioned, but the chocolate is a brand you know and love.
Fast forward to 1st December and it was time to open the first window. The kids excitedly looked for the first door on their Moshi Monster calendars. Yes, Moshi Monsters, I know. Even more of a bargain given their current popularity (and continuing drain on my bank account, rather like the kids having their own gym membership). But we were about to be reminded why they had only been a pound each in the factory shop…
‘Yuk,’ my daughter said.
She’s seven and this is the first time ever that she has been known to remove a chocolate from her mouth.
Upshot: she wanted another advent calendar with a more reputable brand of sweet. Rather like…
Well, later my wife presented me with a gift of an advent calendar where the chocolates get bigger as you get closer to Christmas. They’re Dairy Milk chocolates. My daughter’s absolute favourite.
After the ceremony of watching me open up and eat the first chocolate, the little girl sidled up to me and with big adoring eyes and beautiful smile, she said: ‘Can you share your next chocolate with me, Daddy? I don’t like mine…’
What’s a guy to do? Let’s just say that four days into December and I am yet to have a second chocolate from my calendar. I definitely need to get a replacement for my daughter asap. The chocolates on my one might be slowly getting bigger but, following his sister’s lead, the boy has also decided he doesn’t like his Moshi chocs.
So next October when I am faced with a barrage of popular characters on the advent calendar display, I shall resist. Even if there’s a free cuddly toy being given away, they can stick it. I’m usually the first to applaud cost-cutting and bargain-hunting, but even in these tough times a universal truth remains. With chocolate, you get what you pay for.