M&S aren't a brand to shy away from shamelessly producing copy cat products. One look at their confectionery range reveals that several of their own brand bars are direct rip offs from many already established market offerings. Todays Almond, Apricot & Mango bar exhibited this no better than any other - taken out of its wrapper it would have been almost impossible to distinguish this product from the Eat Natural Almond, Apricot and Yogurt bar I reviewed last month. It was worth noting however that this bar did in fact differ, in that it offered the added element of dried mango into the mixture of the almond, apricot, coconut and puffed rice.
Despite weighing in at the same size (50.0g), I did notice a difference in the nutritional values to the Eat Natural bar. This M&S variation contained another 50 or so calories, as well as another couple of grams of fat ... dieters take note!! As I have mentioned above the bar in its appearance looked identical to the Eat Natural one - the ingredients looked well dispersed and the yogurt coating seemingly fused the bar together well, avoiding the annoyance of small parts breaking off all over the place. In regards to the smell of the product I detected a far greater nuttier presence with this bar. The aroma of the almonds was all too apparent as soon as I opened the wrapper - something that would also latter transpire to the taste.
Of course to be thorough I simply had to do a side by side taste test between this and the Eat Natural variant. To be honest there was very little differentiation between the two, though the odd bite of the M&S bar did deliver a somewhat unwelcome side to its taste. The outer yogurt coating was nicely implemented, with its dried milk like sweet flavours nicely noted with a tangy, soured aftertaste. I am actually quite a frequent purchaser of mango, and it is one of my favourite fruits. Despite it being hard to differentiate between the mango and apricot elements, the ever so slightly more acidic mango was a very welcome addition to the taste. That said it could possibly have been greater in its portioning, as it only constituted 8% of the bar. Surprisingly it was the nut element that delivered the unfortunate side to this bar. The almond and coconut pieces were largely of the same standard as the Eat Natural variant, delivering some wonderful earthy,milky, buttery flavours. However, half way through consuming the bar I came across a poor quality almond, which really upset the balance of the taste. This truly was a bad tasting nut - and gave a rather harsh metallic taste in the mouth that proved unfortunately hard to rid off. To be honest it did somewhat spoil my overall enjoyment of the product, however I think it would be duly unfair to mark M&S down to badly for this as it may have just been an unlucky occurrence.
Overall I did have a bit of an unsatisfactory experience with this bar, though I am going to give M&S the benefit of the doubt and put this down to my own bad luck at picking up a bar with a bad nut in it. My enjoyment of this bar up until that point was on a par, if not greater than its Eat Natural rival, something largely due to the addition of mango to the overall taste. Frankly if offered either/or between one of these and the Eat Natural Apricot, Almond & Yogurt I would go for the latter, a decision based purely on my own personal experience - in truth though I think there is very little to distinguish them.
7.4 out of 10