As a child, After Eight mints seemed like a very adult sort of candy. Classy packaging, strange format and the cryptic lure of the “After Eight” name. Because what happens after eight, exactly? That would have been after my bedtime, so who knows? I could only imagine an adult world where people would sit around a table, talking about all the important adult things that I wasn’t privy to, drinking coffee and eating decadent flat mint chocolates. It was a different time. And I was an oddball kid with an overactive imagination.
After Eight is still around after all these years, no doubt a testament to the power of its unique positioning. It was portion control before portion control was a thing. It was fun-sized before Halloween marketers tricked us into thinking that stingy versions of chocolate bars were somehow more fun. It tends to show up prominently around the Christmas holidays, at least in its old school “mint thins” format. Wherever there’s a holiday display in a pharmacy, you’ll find boxes of After Eight. (And Pot of Gold. They’re always with the Pot of Gold.)
In the same way that Cadbury Mini Eggs have been made available year-round, Nestle now produces a standard-sized After Eight chocolate bar with a mint filling that’s readily available at gas stations and grocery store candy racks. It’s taken some of the shine off the name, but the original mint thins remain the star of the line.
Part of the fun of the traditional After Eight is the format, packaging and ritual. Each box is heavy with chocolate and mint. Inside, the attention to detail is wonderful. There’s a row of little black paper inserts, each one of which contains a thin dark chocolate treat with a cooling peppermint filling inside. It’s like looking at a bin full of vinyl LPs at a shop. You pluck one out of the box, reach into the paper sleeve with your fingers, and coax out the flat chocolate inside. The process and packaging are distinct to After Eight, and it breeds an extra level of familiarity.
Each piece is enjoyably intense. The dark chocolate is simple but strong, and the mint inside is a semi-hard white paste that is well bonded with the chocolate. It holds together as you bite into it, without anything flaking off. The mint is sweet and chilly, which encourages you to take your time and eat it in bites instead of putting the whole thing in your mouth.
I love how everything about After Eight works together. The packaging, the texture, the taste. It’s all part of an experience.
Price: $5.99 (on sale) for a 300-gram box at Shoppers Drug Mart in Edmonton.
Value for Money: Very good. It’s a fully packed box of chocolates.
Availability: Grocery stores and pharmacies everywhere in Canada.
Nutrition: 40 calories per piece. It’s almost all sugar.
Verdict: A perfect after-dinner treat, or to bring out with coffee or tea when holiday guests pop by. Anyone raised in Canada should have an instant smile of recognition when they’re offered one.