Friday, June 06, 2008

I Nearly Win A Victory For Snack Consumers Everywhere!

I went to Pret-a-Manger on Tuesday lunchtime to purchase myself a cheering treat. My favourite thing from there is the Love Bar (which, I have been assured, is not even at all a euphemism). It is delicious. It has a layer of flapjack, then a thick, squishy layer of caramel with pistachios and seeds embedded in it. The best bit of all, though, are the big chunky blocks of dark chocolate pushed into the caramel like individual nuggets of pure joy. I love them. On Tuesday I had just written a maudlin blog post and was really, really in need of a joy nugget or two.

On return to the office I sat down at my desk, already buoyed by the very idea of my treat. I took the Love Bar from my bag and removed the wrapper.

I gasped, in shock and horror.

(Please note: This tale is about to take a dark turn. If you are easily shocked or have a weak heart you may want to avert your eyes.)

There were no chocolate chunks to be seen. Not a single one.

Oh, the pistachios were there. Yes, those and the seeds were all present and correct, but their proliferation only served to highlight the gaping chasms where there should have been nestled some chunky chocolate delights.

I honestly nearly cried.

I mean, I ate it anyway, but felt sadder and sadder with every bite. Then, as I woefully masticated, I suddenly felt a surge of anger. I had been misled. I had been promised buoyancy and had received only a snack-based blow to the heart. I am not, I thought to myself, going to be one of those people who witnesses injustice and does nothing. I must speak up for my rights as a flapjack consumer - as a citizen of the world, damn it - and challenge the authorities. I must battle against the corporations as they wilfully attempt to ruin the very cornerstone of freedom and truth and justice: satisfactory flapjackery.

So I wrote an email:

To Whom It May Concern.

Today I bought a Love Bar. I love Love Bars usually, but this time was sorely disappointed to find that it was completely devoid of chocolate chunks (usually my most loved part of the Love Bar).

Please tell me, have you changed the recipe? If so I strongly recommend that you change it back, as a Love Bar with no chocolate contains considerably less love.

Yours sadly,


Then I played the waiting game. (Which, it turns out, isn't so much a game as just a period of time sitting around. Not a game like, say Prod The Granny or Hungry Hippos.)

Suddenly an email flashed up! They had responded! Pret cared about my plight!

It was from an oddly-named chap called Thuy.

Hi Leonie,

Thanks for your email.

I can confirm that the recipe for the Love bars has not been changed.
It may vary from bar to bar, however I have brought this matter to the
attention of our Food Team who shall be looking into this matter with
the suppliers.

Thanks for contacting us once again - we really do appreciate it.

Kind Regards,


I must say I was relieved. I was pleased that Love Bars had not changed irrevocably, a turn of events which would have left me with very little pleasure in life other than that of watching Charmed and talking about ponies, but I was also reassured to hear that the Food Team were going to get cracking on the situation.

After taking a moment to wonder whether the Food Team all dress as different Pret products (sandwiches, coffees, over-priced salads etc) I realized to my dismay that my current situation had not been remedied. Sure, my future treats might be satisfactory, but this experience had still been really rather disappointing.

I plucked the wrapper from the bin into which I had tearfully flung it earlier and placed it thoughtfully on my desk.

It sat there for a few days as I considered my plan of attack. At 12.54 today I stood up, put the wrapper in my bag and left the building to meet my friend Pippa for lunchtime coffee. We sat outside the café, chatting. It was lovely. It was near Goodge Street station in the courtyard with the tall, leafy trees and the huge, brightly coloured mural on one of the walls. Someone had an iPod dock and was playing Paul Simon's Graceland album, which is one of my favourites. Feeling relaxed by the environment whilst also being a bit hyper from a double espresso and a hangover, I felt able to share with Pippa the details of my tragic, flapjack-based plight.

We decided I should go back in and complain to the manager about the outrageous lack of chocolate chunks on my Love Bar. We finished our coffees and headed down the road until we reached Pret, and found therein a tall, Italian-looking man who was clearly the manager of the shop.

"Um." I began, eloquently.

He turned around to us. Pippa nudged me to go on.

"Um, yes, hello. Are you the manager?"

"Yes. How can I help you ladies?"

"Well, on Tuesday I bought a Love Bar..."

I held out the wrapper by way of clarification.

"...and it didn't have any chocolate chunks on it!"

He looked down at the small, slightly greasy wrapper and started to smile a little.

"No...chocolate chunks?"

"Yes! I mean, no, no chunks! None. I was very disappointed."

"They're her favourite bit!" chimed in Pippa, helpfully.

"Your favourite bit?"

"Yes! My favourite bit."

"They're the best bit, really." added Pippa, seemingly spurred on by her own helpfulness.

He looked at the wrapper and continued to smile with the wry air of one who has never experienced the crushing disappointment of a below-par snack treat.

"But you ate it anyway?"

I had anticipated this very question and had my answer prepared.

"Yes, well, you see I had to test out whether the chocolate really was the best bit, or whether it's as good without. And, well. It's not. The chocolate really is the best bit."

Pippa nodded.

I looked at him in was I hoped was a winsome, not-angry-just-disappointed manner.

His smile broadened.

"Also, she went back to the office! And you can't just leave the office again once you've...gone back..." said Pippa, and I started to feel that perhaps her helpful comments had begun to dry up.

He looked at us, from one to the other. We were practically holding hands with the sheer excitement of our own daring.

He picked two Choc Bars from the shelf and handed one to each of us.

"Here you go ladies. These are on me."

"But...they're... this is a Choc Bar. It was a Love Bar!"

"These are good. You'll like these."

"But...I think we'd prefer..."

"You'll love these ones. They're the best ones."


"Go on. Take these, they're on me."

"Um. OK. Thanks."

I had run out of fight. There is only so much corporation battling one can do in a single lunch hour, particularly when hungover.

Joyous in our victory, Pippa and I parted ways.

As I walked back to my office, I felt that, while of course I was pleased with myself for standing up for my rights, I was slightly disappointed that I had not actually managed to obtain a replacement Love Bar.

The Choc Bar sits, unopened, on my desk. A symbol of an almost-victory.

I almost stuck it to The Man. I almost won!

But not quite.

Tomorrow I am going to almost shut down Starbucks, and then almost reverse global warming. It's going to be great.


Blogger Gordon said...

Ohh well done, I'm almost HUGELY impressed!

(was v.funny!)

4:21 pm

Blogger Curly said...

As the choc bar (hopefully) has more chocolate, does that mean it has more love than a love bar?

I'm very proud that you stood up against the corporation, it was probably the price of oil that forced them to remove all the chocolate. Or Boris Johnson.

4:43 pm

Blogger Léonie said...

Gordon - thank you! I am impressed too, in theory.

Curly - No no. Although the Choc Bar is more chocolatey, it is actually the sporadic nature of the chocolate on the Love Bar that I love. It is such a perfect combination of stuff. I blame Boris as well. I did not vote for him and now he is stealing my joy! I am furious.

4:58 pm

Blogger Miss Devylish said...

You, my dear girl, are a rebel! A spokesperson for the Every Man! And by speaking up, you were rewarded.. just maybe not in the way you hoped. But rewarded still! I'm wondering if you could in the future mix the two.. and create something new! Start your own company w/ the New-and-Improved-LoveBar! F this other place, I say. Start something by way of your own name.. and take complaints seriously! Not that you would get any.. Just a thought. And then you could SING there too! You go! I'm right behind you! xo

5:35 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leonie: I'm sure you know this song by Sinead Lohan but in case you don't
To Ramona:

It's Bob Dylan's song but she totally owns it ;-)
Beau in Seattle

10:03 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leonie: I'm sure you know this song by Sinead Lohan but in case you don't
To Ramona:

It's Bob Dylan's song but she totally owns it ;-)
Beau in Seattle

10:03 pm

Blogger VioletSky said...

Good on you! I'm sure word will get around by the time the Food Time have finished investigating, and that silly man replacing a Love Bar with an inferior, but chocolatey snack will feel rightly castigated.

BTW I'll be in England in August, will I be able to taste test one of these Love Bars at any Pret? This is making my trip that much more exciting.

1:01 pm

Blogger Treetrotter said...

Hi Léonie,

Have you eaten a Love Bar since your chocoate-chunk-less exprerince, to check Thuy's assurance that the recipe has indeed not changed? If I were you, I'd want to check.
On the subject of snacks, do you have a recipe for scones. I've been experimenting with ingredients I feel once mixed and baked would result in something that resembles my understanding of what constitutes a scone. but, as yet, I've only be met with disappointment, probably not unlike your own, on account of the offending 'LB'

5:54 pm

Blogger Clarissa said...

I'm curious to know how well you like the choc bar. And if it costs more than the Love bar.

11:19 pm

Blogger Mr Farty said...

You go, girl!

Somehow, that managed to come over as a bit patronising, which was not my intent. Sorry.

Oh, and if you ever get fed up with Love Bars, try Rudolph's Reward. Every one has a cherry in it, as well as all the other chocolatey, crunchy, gooey bits. I'm just saying.

God, I'm hungry now.

PS Congrats on getting in the book.

8:39 pm

Blogger Jonathan said...

I just discovered your blog, and am adding it to my blogroll purely on the basis of this post.

Fantastic :)

You have a struck a blow for disappointed snack eaters everywhere (especially at Pret prices)

11:19 am

Anonymous Dave said...

You know it is a real pleasure to read your blog - I keep coming back and the last two pieces have been outstanding. So glad to hear about the impromptu singing experience. Who needs chocolate bits in love bars when you have musical bits in music bars! :O)

2:46 pm

Blogger Léonie said...

Miss D - That is an excellent idea. Although to be honest I'm not sure I would treat complaints seriously. I do like the idea of an all-singing, all-flapjacking treat shop. It could be called "Léonie Loves!" or something. Probably something better, really. You could come and sing there if you like!

Beau - Thank you for visiting! I will listen to that as soon as I can. I haven't heard of her...

VioletSky - If you're coming to London you will certainly be able to get your paws on a Love Bar. They are delightful.

Treetrotter - Hello! Yes, I secretly had one yesterday, fully replete with chunks. It was so lovely.

Clarissa - It was nice, but in much more of a cakey way. Actually it was delicious, but not really what I look for in a treat, a bit rich really.

Mr F - Thanks! I like the "you go, girl!" for its peppiness and cheerleader qualities. I didn't feel patronised. Is the Rudolph's Reward perhaps a seasonal thing?

Jonathan - Hello! Thank you. Yes, I think it's worth pointing out to those who don't know that Pret charges a million pounds a sandwich and should be rinsed of all the chocolate bars we can get.

Dave - Thank you! I love:
"Who needs chocolate bits in love bars when you have musical bits in music bars"
It's brilliant. Thanks.

3:12 pm

Blogger Mr Farty said...

This is the Rudolph's Reward that I get from my local deli. If you can't find a shop in London that stocks them, apparently they deliver.

9:33 pm

Blogger Jaywalker said...

Hello Léonie

I have just discovered your blog. It is most wonderful.

Well done for striking a blow against the forces of Boris and capitalism! But Pret, such a disappointment.When I was little and got a Club biscuit without biscuit, or a Curly Wurly with wire in it, you could be sure of a big fat box of free goods for your plaintive missive. Tsk tsk.

And since I used to live just off Goodge Street (and hasn't it got posh now!) I know exactly the Pret in question. And can imagine you most precisely in that courtyard. It's a Caffe Nero isn't it. And you have to watch out for the angry Glaswegians. Ah, happy times.

10:03 am

Blogger Léonie said...

Mr F - Um, yeah. I would like to marry that bar.

Jaywalker - Hello! It was an almost-perfect day, ne'er an angry Glaswegian to be seen. If I had managed to win the prize I was after, it would have been thoroughly successful. I like that square because of the mural. There should be more murals in the world. But fewer Curly Wurlies with metal in, I would probably say.

9:43 am


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