As it’s early November, that basically means it’s Christmas according to all shops everywhere. I have decided to find which of the big U.K supermarkets are the best when it comes to selling us festive junk at ridiculous prices.
First up, the humble mince pie.
For this test, I chose the top-tier, supermarket brand only mince pies on offer. None of this basic shit.
My local Waitrose is almost entirely populated with elderly assholes that squeal like over-privileged pigs when you’re inside a 20ft radius of their more-often-than-not non branded handbags that’re passing off as expensive. The staff that man the tills are emotionless robots and when they rarely have a human as a cashier, they look down and snort at you as if you are unwelcomed.
The packaging of these mince pies came in was the most compact of the lot, and also the most yawn inducing. The box depicted a festive scene with a guardian (or potential kidnapper) leading a small child pulling a sled into the snowy wastelands of nothingness. All this visual action happens in the bottom left corner with not much else to optically dine upon, and so with my eyes almost shutting down due to a near boredom blowout, I tore open the oddly soggy cardboard housing and inspected one of the mince pies that slept within.
Small and compact, just like the box -great for those days when you want to fill your pockets with Christmas treats sans protective confines. They had a nice weight to them as I jumped one up and down in my hand whilst contemplating throwing one through my upstairs neighbor’s window as a warning for them to keep their stupid kids from screaming all day, every day…an almost high-quality like feel.
The pastry was buttery, the mince plentiful, and the taste exactly as you would expect. Nothing more to say.
As I bit into the little mince pie and all of my stats remained the same as before I had a bite, although sadness slightly increased. These are the mass-produced mince pies we all recall when asked about describing them to someone born and living in central Asia while in the middle of summer. Incredibly generic and not noteworthy in any way other than noting down how common they are.
Marks & Spencer
My local M&S is the smaller, food only, shop which is permanently replicating winter as it’s always too cold to harbour or contain life. The customers include balding businessmen who rush around pretending to be important, and hipsters wearing their Lycra cycling costumes as they inspect a vegetable for 15 minutes through the top of their clear-lens spectacles.
The box has a picture of what lies beneath the thin, festive coloured cardboard, so as not to surprise anyone who might’ve thought they’d be getting something else when buying a box of mince pies. The picture shows a perfectly cut-out star situated in the middle of each pie but in reality, 90% of the mince pies looked as if some idiot had jammed a finger through the top.
When holding this mince pie, I couldn’t think of anything other than ‘I’m holding a mince pie.’ Average in size although the pastry overhang was almost monumental. I had to chip away at the protruding ledge to remove the mince pie from it’s foil holding. This desperate act set me up for a non-pleasant tasting experience.
I couldn’t taste anything at all other than the pastry. I can’t say what the mince filling tasted like as for hours after taking a single bite, everything tasted of butter. The air I breathed tasted of butter; in fact, butter itself would have been less buttery than this pastry.
The smotheringly sick blanket of butter that enclosed itself around me like a golden death was more than enough for me to slide the mince pie off of the counter and onto the floor with the last ounce of strength I had. I didn’t even want to see it anymore.
My local Tesco is of their Metro variety. Visited by school kids, builders, and old weirdos, you’ll have a great time trying to get all of your shopping done in 12 seconds while holding your breath because the staff either stink to hell of body odor, or of Lynx body spray.
Oddly, the packaging seems to have the most effort put into it. The box shows one of their mince pies sliced in twain on a grey, wooden table sparsely dotted with Xmas decor. I mean, it’s just a picture that was knocked together in about a minute, but it’s a hell of a lot more interesting that the other boxes. Oddly again, The items themselves looked as they did one the packaging – not sliced in half, but the decorative snowflake design atop each mince pie done well.
The test subject had a nice weight to it and I wasn’t getting covered in sugar and crumbs like I did during the other two. To remove the foil is as easy as it should be, no munching through pure pastry to reveal the edge or anything like that, it came of with expected ease and felt the best of the experiment so far.
We label Tesco as being rather shite when lined up against Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, and the rest. But as I bit into their mince pie, a rush of Christmas joy flowed through my body akin to Popeye eating spinach. I’m not joking, the taste was amazing. The packaging reads ‘With Courvoisier VS Cognac’ which yes, does sound like a round in Mortal Kombat; but that hint of cognac elevated the already nice mince pie to a level I would never had thought to have even dreamed seeing Tesco reside at.
Apart from the joy of Christmas running through me, shock was leading the charge. One of the best mince pies I can remember eating and it’s from Tesco. I know, and I still can’t believe it.
My local Sainsbury’s is a comparatively huge store situated within a small and almost pointless shopping mall. Often filled with lost souls slowly pushing trolleys who may or may not have been there for years, there’s nothing you can’t buy there… Apart from Pear Drops and quite a lot of other shit I would like.
It took me bloody ages to find these mince pies. Starbucks just next door may aswell be called ‘Christmas World’ for all the festive items and decor they had going on. These were found by the back on a pallet by the TV’s…
Anyway, the box itself is nothing I’m going to preach about and go to war over. A clear, plastic sheet shows us the inside of the box where the simply decorated mince pies sit and wait.
I opened the box with a shaky hand, already feeling sick to tears of mince pies at this point in my research. I slid the tray out and was greeted by more packaging – this time cellophane wrap. Bullshit packaging. The mince pie itself felt normal, I didn’t get a pang of Xmas wonder or any of that shit probably because I just couldn’t deal with it anymore.
A cavernous, soft, and buttery pastry housed a rather thin layer of generic mince, which gave way to enough room inside to inflate an airship. Not much else to say on taste as by this point, I could’ve eaten a block of salt and it still would have tasted of mince fucking pies.
I felt cheated as the gap between the top of the mince and the ceiling of the pastry was almost laughable. A sneaky tactic as they looked the biggest of the bunch. I spent ages searching for these mince pies and once home, it felt as if I never truly found them in the first place.
Tesco'fucking legit' - Arnie
I can’t believe what I’m typing as much as you can’t believe what you’re reading. Yes, the Tesco’s branded mince pies completely smashed the competition in every way. A stunning victory.