Stephen Jardine: Deep fried Mars bar sticks in throat
A DEEP fried Mars a day could clog your arteries and lead to heart problems and early death.
Realising that’s not the catchiest advertising slogan, Mars has made a move that is long overdue. The chocolate manufacturer has written to a Stonehaven fish and chip shop, disowning Scotland’s most notorious delicacy.
Twenty years after first putting the deep fried Mars bar on the menu, The Carron Fish Bar has been told in future it must carry a disclaimer because its product goes against the manufacturer’s commitment to promoting a healthy lifestyle.
Owner Lorraine Watson is disappointed and says she is sad it has come to this. We are all sad it has come to this.
The deep fried Mars bar was a bad joke that stopped being funny 19 years and 364 days ago. Sadly, the rest of the world has carried on laughing at our expense.
Food and drink is now the biggest growth sector of the Scottish economy, with exports worth more than £5.4 billion a year. Next week, the Scottish Government will set targets for the next five years and that could take the industry to a whole new level on the world stage.
But just when we are starting to get confident about the quality of our produce or the reputation of our top chefs, along comes the deep fried Mars bar to bring us down to size.
If that’s sounds paranoid, look at sales. The owners of the shop Stonehaven say more than 70 per cent go to visitors not locals. For the tourists, it is a funny photo opportunity and not much more.
To them it is just a weird novelty item, but for Scots it is a grim reminder of a time when we were a food and drink basket case. A calorie-laden chocolate bar, battered and dipped in saturated hot fat represented all we thought we were worth.
In Stonehaven, there was talk of applying for secure status under the European Union’s protected food name scheme, putting it in the same category as Parma ham, Champagne and Arbroath smokies.
Thankfully, Mars has intervened just in time and hopefully this is now the beginning of the end for a joke with no punchline.
If you ever visit Malawi, watch out for the man at the side of the road near the airport. He holds a stick with skewered bodies of mice, left to dry in the African sun. They are said to be a local delicacy.
On several visits, I’ve never seen one being eaten, but I have seen plenty of tourists stop to take a picture.
Air-dried mice and deep fried Mars bars. Perhaps every country has a novelty food to amuse visitors. That’s fine if you are one of the poorest countries in Africa. But if you are Scotland, land of food and drink, it’s time to move on.
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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