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McVitie's Milk Chocolate and Orange Digestive

Sunday 23 Jan 2005

Hot on the heels of the McVitie's rebrand comes the exciting news of a new development in the Digestive arena. In the recent Dunk for Britain promotion where McVitie's toured the country inviting people to dunk, the Digestive based biscuits romped away. 2005 is thus shaping up to be the year of the Digestive, although it's supposed to be the year of the HDV video standard according to Steve Jobs. Perhaps if he drops by he'll notice it's the year of the Digestive instead and amend all his 2005 keynote speeches accordingly.

July 2003 saw the introduction of the Lemon and Ginger Digestive, the first radical change to the Digestive recipe in 90 years. We were breathless with anticipation, but when we finally got our hands on some we were a little underwhealmed. Maybe it's because we had got ourselves in such a state waiting for them, or maybe it was because the overall contribution of the Lemon and Ginger (the Lemon particularly) was very mild and as such wasn't much of a departure. No doubt extensive taste trials settled upon this as a suitable level of flavouring, whilst still unmistakably being a McVitie's Digestive.

So with the prospect of some McVitie's Milk Chocolate and Orange Digestives heading our way and promising "the great taste of tangy orange" we were very curious indeed. If you didn't already know the McVitie's Milk Chocolate Digestive is the nations number one selling biscuit.

Sometimes a business will seek to grow its market by bringing out new products in new market sectors. This is an expensive and risky business that involves large investments in product development and promotion. The other route is take a tried and tested cash cow product, do a little tweek and spend a little promoting it to a public who already have their gaze turned towards it. The former route was taken with the McV soft cookies, this Digestive is most definately takes the later. This may even be indicative of United Biscuits UK aquiring a new MD back in August. Then again they may have just fancied knocking out few batches of these to see how they went.

So what does the new biscuit taste like? Is it tangy and zesty? Well I found it to be unsurprisingly orangey but not overwhelming so. Once again we are back in the same waters as the Lemon and Ginger Digestive, presented with a small incremental change rather than witness to the birth of a radical new biscuit as was the case with the Caramel (now renamed McVitie's Chocolate Digestive Caramel). It's a fair bet that any one bringing out chocolate and orange product has to tip toe around the Terry's Chocolate Orange issue quite carefully. No doubt this accounts for the 'and' in the middle of this biscuit's name. As to if it tastes similar, well in this case we are tasting 75% McVitie's Milk Chocolate Digestive 25% 'chocolate orange' I would say. The orange flavour definitely seems to reside in the chocolate not the biscuit as the name could suggest. The Digestive also seemed a little crumblier than normal, but that may be down to slight disorientation brought on by the orange flavouring. Now none of this is not to say we didn't enjoy them, of course we did. Its just that when the number one selling biscuit in the nation decides to do something a bit different it comes in for a good bit of scrutiny.

How will we know if these new orange based Digestives are a success? If in six months time we see a Dark Chocolate variant then they will have served their apprenticeship. If in a years time we see a mint chocolate Digestive we'll know that the new strategy has really paid off.

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