Maltesers, made by Mars Incorporated, are small, almost perfectly round chocolate balls, with a malt-flavoured and light-crisp honeycombed centre. Maltesers were originally called Energy Balls; the name didn't 'catch on' and was soon changed to Maltesers.
In the early 1930s, American-born Forrest Mars travelled to Britain and opened the UK's first Mars Confectionery factory in England. Forrest Mars (21 March, 1904 – 1 July, 1999), was the son of Frank and Ethel Mars from Tacoma, Washington state, who founded the Mars Confectionery Company in the US in 1911. The UK Mars Confectionery factory has been producing Maltesers since 1936.
How Maltesers are Made
Mars do not openly reveal their trade secret of how Maltesers are made, and how the chocolate balls are smooth, with no edges. However, we can speculate on a viable possibility.
Firstly the dough for the centres has to be mixed and then shaped. In the past that would probably have involved the use of a drop roller but nowadays these are rarely used in high volume confectionery production; most have been replaced by the more efficient automatic candy-forming machine. The next step involves the centres being fed into a continuous oven which cooks them, giving them their honeycombed texture. They then go into a coating pan, which is a bit like a cement-mixer. As the centres are tossed around inside the revolving drum of the coating pan, fine sprays of chocolate are coated onto them, building up the layers, until the chocolate coating is at the required thickness. In the final stage, a spraying of edible wax is used to give the Maltesers their shiny polished look.
The skill of the operator using the coating pan to feed the chocolate spray in at just the right rate prevents the Maltesers sticking together.
White Maltesers were introduced as a limited edition Christmas promotion in 2003. However, they were popular enough for Mars to continue producing them. Some people have described their taste as being similar to Horlicks, the hot malty drink. They are not as easily obtainable as standard Maltesers, as not all shops stock both varieties.
If you want to experience the light-crunchy honeycombed centre, then ideally you should eat chilled Maltesers; which means taking them straight from the fridge in warm weather. Some people like to bite them in half, enjoying the light honeycombed texture, while others prefer to put them in their mouth whole, sucking off the chocolate coating, and allowing the honeycombed centre to melt on their tongue. One of Mars' advertising slogans describes them as The lighter way to enjoy chocolate.
Maltesers are manufactured in bright red plastic bags and top-opening cardboard boxes of varying weights and sizes, including packs of fun-size, of approximately 20 bags per pack, with around six Maltesers in each bag: these are ideal for children's parties. They can also be purchased in tubes, tubs and buckets of various sizes, some of which are specially produced for the Christmas market, and Easter eggs, during Easter. All have 'Maltesers' in white text emblazoned, and images of both whole and halved Maltesers with a red background. The packaging also includes legally obliged information, such as weight, nutritional value and ingredients, printed in a variety of different languages.
The packaging for white Maltesers is slightly different. On the front of the packet is a large red-coloured circle, with whole and halved white Maltesers, with the words White Maltesers in white labelling. There is cream colouring around the red circle to the edge of the packet and just cream colour on the back of the packet.
Although the weight of the milk and white chocolate differs slightly, they contain the same average amount of Maltesers. The white chocolate coating being lighter than the milk chocolate may explain this difference in weight.
Plastic Bags of Maltesers
- Standard 37g - Contains an average of 16
- Standard (White) 35g - Contains an average of 16
- Big Bag (Kingsize) 58.5g Contains an average of 28
- Family Bag 100g - Contains an estimated 48
- Resealable Family Bag 175g - Contains an average of 83
- Resealable (White) Family Bag 165g - Contains an average of 83
Boxes of Maltesers
- Small 146g - Contains an average of 69
- Medium 312g - Contains an estimated 140
- Large 400g - Contains an estimated 180
Mars also make Revels, packs containing various different centres with a chocolate coating; Maltesers are included in packs of Revels.
There are other products made under the Maltesers brand name which include the following.
Maltesers Ice Cream
The original Maltesers ice cream was designed as three flat circles on a stick, three individually wrapped per box. The ice cream centre was vanilla flavoured containing mini Maltesers, with a generous coating of chocolate on a 'lolly stick' for ease of eating. These were available in milk and white chocolate.
The latest (2006) Maltesers ice cream bar is much the same as the original, again available in milk and white chocolate. It's the shape that is different; it is a caterpillar-like shape of 4 round sections with a flat bottom, a little smaller than the original, though you do get four in a box, and without the 'lolly stick'. There is just a thin coating of chocolate on these.
The white chocolate version, with a slightly thicker layer of chocolate, has mini Maltesers mixed in with the vanilla-flavoured ice cream.
Note: Both these contain traces of nuts - peanut and almond.
The rather elusive refrigerated cold Maltesers 200ml drink comes in a plastic bottle, with a red screw-top lid. However, it seems to be only available for purchase in large supermarkets and selected outlets.
Maltesers instant hot chocolate malt drink is currently (2006) available in single one-cup 25g sachets, which can be purchased singularly or as a double pack, and 300g 'jars'. The 'jars' are in the shape of a plastic ball, with a flat bottom, so they don't roll about. They have a diameter of about four inches at the widest part of the ball. The curved red flip-top lid completes the rounded look.
According to the instructions, 300g will make 12 cups/mugs of hot chocolate malt drink using five heaped teaspoons per drink. The powder is mixed with just off-the-boil water. Alternatively, mix it with cold water, then put in a microwave oven for one minute on full power.
The drink has a thick and creamy texture, not as sweet or as rich as some hot chocolates, with a slight malty taste.
All have the same bright red packaging, with the white Maltesers labelling consistent with the rest of their products.