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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Dianne Bourne

'We put M&S and Asda Coronation caterpillar cakes to the test - who takes the crown?'

With the Coronation of King Charles III fast approaching, many people are dashing to get their cakes and buffets ready for parties across the nation. And for the centrepiece, what could be more regal than a giant chocolate caterpillar cake with a crown on top?

Marks and Spencer's iconic Colin the Caterpillar has had a royal makeover especially for the upcoming event. Its limited edition Coronation Colin the Caterpillar comes complete with a golden crown and is now in stores.

He's even hit headlines, after budget supermarket rival Aldi made a cheeky response to the news on social media about "cancelling the crown" after their well-publicised legal fight with M&S over their lookalike Cuthbert cake in the past.

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Aldi has indeed "cancelled the crown" because it hasn't responded with its own royal caterpillar cake this time. It leaves the only other supermarket rival to Colin's crown that we could find at Asda.

Colin on the left, Letty on the right (MEN)

There, bakers have created "Letty the Coronation Caterpillar" for its A Right Royal Celebration limited edition range of Coronation produce which is on sale in Asda supermarkets now.

With Letty coming in at £7, the cake is cheaper than M&S's Colin which is now priced at £8.50 (reduced from the original store price of £10). So we thought we'd give them both a try to see who really takes the chocolatey caterpillar crown.

Both come in an attractive presentation box boasting of their Coronation credentials. I particularly liked Asda's "A Right Royal Celebration" branding for their range, with the red, white and blue bunting and little soldiers doing a cartwheel.

But once the cakes were unboxed you could immediately see some big differences. Notably - that Colin has a fair few centimetres over Letty, looking substantially longer and lumpier.

Unboxed, Colin is substantially longer and lumpier than Letty (MEN)

In Colin we have a fairly convincing representation of a caterpillar in chocolate form, with the bulging chocolate ridges aping the cylindrical rings of the creepy crawly. Although, admittedly, most caterpillars don't wear white chocolate shoes.

However the Asda version's smooth cylinder body reminded me more of a chocolate worm than a caterpillar (indeed that was my three-year-old's disparaging intial response). Letty's face is green though which is fairly caterpillar-like.

There's something a bit "home made" about Letty, with her stick on orange feet and flat face, with a cutout crown lopped on for effect at the front. Particularly when you compare to Colin's impressively carved chocolate face, piercing button eyes and cheeky little pink tongue popping out.

And just look at that golden crown, perfectly melded onto his head. Letty does come with a regal purple cape - although if you're like me you could well mistake it for a napkin on top.

Letty versus Colin (MEN)

The packaging for Letty says it "serves 12", and if you're stingy with your portion sizes then that's definitely doable. M&S however says its Colin has servings for 10 which is much more realistic I'd say - espcially given he's a few centimetres longer as well.

I found Letty quite difficult to cut into a thin slice without it all breaking up, while Colin is a sturdier beast so was easier to carve with a knife I found. But you could still easily serve up 10+ people with either of these cakes.

Then it was on to the tasting. I found the Letty cake a little dry and the fondant centre quite sickly, althoug the chocolate on top was pleasant with a thicker layer of fondant on top.

However the sugar feet were, with the combo of it all, just too much of the same sort of taste of excessive sugaryness.

M&S's Colin the caterpillar cake on the left, Asda's Letty cake on the right (MEN)

With Colin, the chocolate casing on the cake is really good, but the sponge inner tastes almost exactly the same as the cheaper Asda one. Aside from the thicker chocolate on the M&S one, you wouldn't really know you were eating a different cake.

But of course what sets Colin apart from other caterpillar cake chancers is his giant white chocolate feet and giant chocolate face. For the Coronation special you get a whole load of extra chocolate lumps on top as well.

You are definitely getting your money's worth here in solid white chocolate - there are six white chocolate feet, four white and milk chocolate jewels and two golden white chocolate crowns attached to it. It means that if you are serving for 10, everyone will get to have at least a chocolate foot, jewel or crown with their cake which is good.

And then of course there's the faces. Colin's famous cheeky white chocolate face is also adorned with a crown, and there's plenty of chocolate there for partygoers or children to fight over.

Alas, Letty's face is made of the same sickly fondant as the feet which I can't imagine anyone will be fighting over to be honest.

The kids' verdict

There was a very firm favourite from the kids - and they weren't letting go of it (MEN)

I let my 7-year-old and 3-year-old have their say on the two treats to see which got the thumbs up from the kid point of view. And it was fingers and thumbs firmly sinking down into Colin the Caterpillar as soon as they both spotted him.

Colin was an instant hit, while my three-year-old was very abrupt in pooh-poohing poor Letty on her looks alone I'm afraid. "I don't like it", he wailed when I suggested he have a taste, "I want the caterpillar".

I tried to reassure him that they are both, in fact, representative chocolate forms of caterpillars, but he was having none of it. "It's a worm", he kept saying about poor old Letty.

That said, once I'd chopped off the tails of both of them he ate both with equal vigour. He did, unsurprisingly, head straight in on the large chocolate chunk feet and jewels on Colin which I suspect is much of his appeal to the younger market.

And I spent the rest of the day trying to stop him from peeling off all the other chocolate lumpy bits, and face, off Colin as well.

So who takes the crown?

Colin takes our furry crown (MEN)

Rather predictably, M&S has kept its crown intact with this latest limited edition Colin. I purchased it on Monday, when it was priced at £10 in stores - but on Thursday it was reduced in M&S stores to £8.50 in line with the regular Colin (which is priced at £8.50) but you're getting a hefty amount of extra chocolate all over him if that's the sort of thing that floats your boat.

Kids will love him, adults will want to consume him, and King Colin will look great at the centre of any buffet table this weekend.

However, in fairness to Letty, if she wasn't sat next to Colin like in our taste test, I imagine kids would be just as impressed with her cute face. And while the Asda cake didn't have the chocolatey bells and whistles of the M&S caterpillar, I did think the cake itself tasted pretty similar.

The main thing I'd say is if you're after either of these cakes, you'll need to get your skates on. Supermarkets are predicting sell outs across Coronation-themed products over the next couple of days amid bank holiday party buying frenzy across the UK.

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