Bitesize Episode 30- Let's Talk About British Sweets

Charlie Baxter

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What's this episode about?

Charlie is back home in the UK for now and he talks about British sweets. In this mouth-watering episode, he talks about the British people's love for sweet food, like chocolate and ice cream. He talks about an Easter chocolate egg, ice cream sold from vans, and his own favourite chocolate treat! He also shares how a popular British author got inspired to write one of the most loved children's stories about chocolate.
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Transcript of BEP Bitesize Ep 30 PREMIUM - British Sweets.mp3

Hello. Welcome to the British English podcast. My name is Charlie. You are here because you are learning English, interested in British English, and you want to know a little bit more about British culture. If that's not why you're here, then I'm a little bit confused. But it's OK. You're allowed to be here. Come on in. Sit down. Enjoy yourself.

And today we're looking at a particular part of British culture. I would guess that you're thinking the same. You know, the UK or British people are famous for one thing and one thing alone, aren't we? Sure, we've got the queen. We've got the tea, we've got the rain, we've got some humour. But most of all, we're known for our outstanding cuisine. The Italians don't have anything on us, right? We're an island of more than roast beef and beef wellington and beef stew and, well, just beef.

We also have chicken, don't we? Yes, we have chicken, and we are also a people with a sweet tooth. That means we enjoy sugary things like chocolate and sweets, which Americans call candy, but also a good old dessert or pudding, as we like to say. In fact, our sweet dishes are probably the most popular food exports across the world. But for some reason, the rest of the world never caught on to Marmite or jellied eels. I don't know why, but come Easter, oh! I mean, Easter is on the horizon for me right now.

We're in February when I'm recording this, so I thought now might be a time to introduce you to the range of chocolates so cherished by the Brits. The stuff that I was saying before, obviously, that was sarcasm. We're not very well known for our food, in my opinion. But I wanted to tell you about the things that we do have because there are some parts of it that are interesting and delicious, absolutely delicious. And I'd like you to try them.

So yes, chocolates, we cherish a bit of chocolate, and I suspect you might be familiar with the the largest chocolate manufacturer on the British Isles. No, it's not Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Wonka chocolate, though there was for a time a brand of chocolate named after the famous Roald Dahl character. A quick bit of trivia for you. Roald Dahl, the very famous British novelist, short story writer, poet, screenwriter, etc. and, according to the internet, a war time fighter pilot. I didn't know that.

Anyway, so Roald Dahl got the inspiration for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory from a Schoolboy episode. Yeah, he was at boarding school, which is a type of stuffy school where pupils share dormitories and- stuffy, like posh, basic synonym there. So, these pupils stay in dormitories and visit families on the weekend or during vacation or holiday, I should say.

And his school was picked to be guinea pigs for an actual factory. An actual factory! Like, a chocolate factory. That is to say they were test subjects for the factory's newest confectionery. Men in suits would deliver anonymous boxes of chocolate, usually lettered as in 'Chocolate Bar A' and so on. And Dahl and his school chums would eat the brown stuff, mark down their favourite on a card, and then the suited men would gather the data and leave.

So Dahl's imagination was driven wild thinking about what happened behind closed doors and how much fun it would be to invent different chocolate bars. I mean, how good is that for a homework assignment? Rate the level of enjoyment from these 10 chocolate bars? Fantastic!

Anyway, there really was a Wonka brand, but that was invented in Chicago and later bought by Nestlé. But the next biggest international chocolate maker after the king of KitKats is London's very own Cadbury's! Heard of them? I think you might have. You've probably eaten some of their product as well. There's no Brit alive who isn't fond of the Dairy Milk or the Wispa bar or the absolute- it's a necessity: the Cadbury's Creme Egg. Ohh! The Cadbury's Creme Egg! If you've never had a Cadbury's Creme Egg, then you are missing out, my friend. Treat yourself next time you see one. It's a chocolate egg the same size as a real chicken egg, but the real prize is the the sweet egg yolk hidden inside the shell.

I'm really not sure what it's made from, actually. No doubt it's a well guarded secret. Maybe it's nougat or syrup, but it has a yellow mark on it to really seal the deal when it comes to mimicking the poultry offspring. At one point, they came in packs of six like real cartons of eggs. And the packaging even had the resemblance of traditional egg cartons! But of late, Cadbury has decided to ship them in boxes of five. No doubt this is some big brained cost cutting move, but if you ask me, the aesthetic has really suffered.

Then again, they can be quite heavy, so eating six in a row is probably a, yeah, a heart attack waiting to happen. Maybe five is a better cut off point for more people. Maybe, yeah, maybe six was the point at which your, your arteries started to clog. So five, you know what they say, 'Have your five a day?' Yeah, maybe that's why. Yeah.

In any case, you'll have to move fast to test your limits. They go on sale between New Year's Day and Easter. So if you're not around during the spring, then I am afraid that you'll have to wait until next year for this mouthwatering, life changing treat.

But that's just spring. What about summer? Well, they say that the British summer lasts from Tuesday until Thursday, but in fact, we do get an average summer temperature of 29 degrees. It's just that the wind from the Atlantic Ocean tends to give us more clouds, which means summer months can be overcast. But boy, can you still feel the heat even if you're not getting the sunshine.

So we like to have a special type of ice cream. It's so special that we don't even know the real name of it. It used to be called 'The 99', because it would cost 99p. But inflation has had its way with our frozen dairy snack, meaning a 99 can cost from, you know, one pound fifty up to even- I think I've seen one at £2.21s. But that was for a, a large, with a flake. Yeah.

Older generations and I sometimes call it this and call it Mr Whippy after the franchise of ice cream vendors who popularised it. But all you need to know is that you can just simply go up to the ice cream van and say, 'Can we have two ice creams, please?' You'll get two of these 99p Mister Whippy £1.20, £2.20. When you're there, it might be even £5 by now. But yeah, if you just say, 'I'll have one ice cream, please', or 'I'll have two of them, please', just- even if you just go up to them, not to encourage you not using your beautiful English that you've been studying to practise when you come over to the UK or if you're already in the UK.

But you could probably just, you know, raise the amount of fingers that you want to represent how many ice creams you want and you'll get these 99p Mister Whippys. Anyway, what is it? It's- it's basically a swirl of vanilla served in a cone with a chocolate flake. Cadbury's, again, and sold from ice cream vans that look like they've- how do I describe it? They've, they've done a stint in prison, we could say yes. They- they are covered in knockoffs of copyrighted characters, but the artistic style tends to be so malformed, so garish, which is to say strange and misshapen yet loud and obnoxious. A lot of adjectives there. That there is no real threat from Disney's legal team. Because, you know, they've morphed these characters into something that is almost unrecognisable.

So now that you know that these vans are- are legally operating, you may wish to adorn your ice cream with a variety of sauces. Yes, sauces come with this treat. All the classic ice cream sauces you can imagine. You know there's, there's blue. And, uh, red, and that's it, really. Yeah, there's blue and red. Not sure what they are supposed to taste of either, but they are there. If you want to make your already-processed treat feel nuclear, I feel like these blue and red sauces give that sort of, yeah, 'nuclear' kind of taste to it. Almost like you're licking up futuristic fake food. Yeah, it's delicious. Honestly! It's what our spirits are made of.

So summer is over. Now, we've had our ice cream, we've had our fun, we've had our nuclear sauces. So the summer is over, and now we're entering the colder part of the year. How do we satisfy our sugar cravings, I hear you ask? A chocolate orange made by Terry's and, and also we like Jaffa Cakes. The former is my favourite chocolate. If you ever wanted to get me a Christmas present, get me a Terry's Chocolate Orange. And the running advertisement around Terry's Chocolate Orange is that 'It's not Terry's. It's mine!'

It is actually segmented like a real orange, and you get to have fun smashing it against a hard surface to break the parts off because at the beginning, it's not quite as soft as an orange. It's- it's almost as hard as a cricket ball, or a baseball, if that analogy helps you more. So it's rock hard. You need to crack it open, you know, and normally people- oh, the other campaign is, 'Don't tap it. Whack it!' So you don't tap it against the table gently. You smack it and then the segments of orange fall apart and- oh, I'm- I'm actually addicted. No, I'm not addicted because I don't have it regularly. But if I have it, if I have a Terry's chocolate orange in my hand, I will probably consume the entirety of it in one sitting, maybe two sittings because it is a huge, huge amount of chocolate to consume in one. Yeah, probably it would take me two to three sittings. Most people would be balanced and have two to three segments when they want a little snack, but I would have half of it and then go back for half the next day.

Anyway, that's Terry's Chocolate Orange. The other one I mentioned Jaffa Cakes, now Jaffa Cakes. They can be consumed at Christmas. I actually have them whenever, all year round. The other thing that comes to mind for me is roses. Roses are a tin of chocolates of a variety of different flavours of chocolates. And my grandfather used to always get a tin of roses on Christmas Day for us to scoff. But let's go back to Jaffa Cakes. So Jaffa Cake has many international imitations, but they are basically sponge discs with an orange jelly centre covered in chocolate. And they are, in fact, cakes and not biscuits.

This is of great importance. There was a famous court case over this, which goes to show how serious the British take puddings. Long story short, there was a special tax for biscuits, but not cakes. So when McVitie's was slapped with a tax bill for their Jaffas, they had to prove in a court of law the difference between the two: being a cake and a biscuit. And I wonder, do you know the difference? I remember when I learnt this, I was like, 'Aha, OK, I understand!' It's interesting to learn.

So I'll leave you with this piece of trivia that will no doubt secure you victory in your first or next pub quiz in the UK. Cakes go hard when they are stale. Biscuits go soft. A Jaffa cake turns hard when left alone. Thus they are indeed cakes and not subject to the dreaded biscuit tax. Case closed.

There we go. I'm sure many of you bakers out there do indeed know that. But yeah, I didn't know that because I'm not much of a baker. And when I did learn that there was a bit of an aha moment.

So, hope you enjoyed that. That was an episode all about British sweets. And if I, if I was able to reach out physically, I would like to offer you a creme egg. Maybe go get a creme egg. Or a Terry's chocolate orange. Anyway, remember to grab that free worksheet. The app is available. I've made it really user-friendly for anyone and everyone to use the free worksheet with the podcast reader in the app. So go get the British English podcast at your preferred app store.

That's all from me. Thank you very much. Lots of love from your host, Charlie Baxter. And I'll see you next week on the British English podcast.

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Podcast host: Charlie:
This will be quite a bit harder for you to understand, as there are a number of accents in the conversation, some poorly delivered at times, as you will notice.

Podcast host: Charlie:
But the aim is to give you a variety of dialects in one conversation and some dialogue to give you native expressions in context. So enter, if you will, to Charlie's pub and his imaginary world.

Character: Mike:
Alright geezer, how's it going?

Character: Chris:
Yes, I'm well thanks. How about you? Have you had a good day?

Character: Mike:
Can't say good mate. No my old man he's been giving me a right old earful for what happened on site last week.

Character: Chris:
Oh that's a pity. Are you back on your dad's building project again?

Character: Mike:
Sad to say mate, but yeah, I am. Couldn't resist this one though. Cash in hand, you know.

Character: Chris:
Oh fair play, hard to resist those I imagine. Oh, here she is.

Character: Emily:
Oh, hi.

Character: Chris:
I was wondering if you're ever going to join us tonight.

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