What really says Christmas to you? Is it a squeezy bottle of Sainsbury’s “Pigs in Blankets Mayo”? No? You surprise me. Or not, as the case may be. For the December issue of OFM I tasted that particular joy, and so many other Christmas products, alongside the fabulous chef Ravinder Bhogal. Oh, the things they make us do for you. It is, for the record, mayonnaise punched up with artificial smoke flavouring and, intriguingly for a product with the word “pig” in the title, suitable for vegetarians.
It’s not just terrible. It’s also symbolic of a trend that has come to blight the British Christmas: a repeated failure of NPD. Those letters should stand for New Product Development. All too often at this time of year, however, they seem to stand for Neurotic Product Desperation or, most simply put No, Please Don’t.
I mean really, has anyone ever really felt more Christmassy because Walkers have released their special edition brussels sprouts flavour crisps? That’s crisps, which taste of cabbage. By design. It’s not just a dreadful idea. It’s bad manners. How about winter berry and prosecco crisps from M&S? Or prosecco and elderberry crisps from Tesco? Or, in an attempt by Kettle Chips to be both weirdly patriotic and awkwardly Christmassy, truffled cheese crisps with “a splash of English Sparkling wine”? The word “splash” there makes me think of reaching into a bowl of snacks at a dreary Christmas party, to discover someone has accidentally emptied half a plastic cup of fizz all over them.