LONDON — Hating or loving the coconut-and-chocolate Bounty bar, perhaps Britain’s most controversial confection, is the kind of topic that can cleave a nation in two in a much less harmful way than nations are usually cleaved in two.
Recognizing Bounty’s less-than-stellar reputation, and perhaps trying to profit from people talking about it, Mars Wrigley said on Wednesday that it would test versions of its Celebrations tub, a popular holiday-season collection of chocolates, without the coconut concoction. The news sent Britons scurrying to their sides of the fence, with widespread but unserious arguments breaking out.
Typically, the tub’s mini-chocolates will be eaten in a pecking order of preference: The Twix and the Maltesers are safe bets to go fast. The Milky Way, Snickers and the Galaxy will likely go, and someone will probably want the Mars bar.
But the Bounty bar is often unwanted, the also-ran of sweets, a sad leftover.
“I notice most people leave the Bountys” in the Celebrations tubs, Kadir Hussen, 37, said as he was walking in South London on Thursday.
If a reporter offered him a free, full-size bar after the interview, would he like one?
“No,” he said immediately.
It is, to be sure, an inconsequential thing to argue about, as most fun things to argue about are. Much like sparring over pineapple on pizza or whether jam or cream goes first on a scone, the real-life stakes are as low as they get. But it is a much nicer thing to argue about than politics, and there’s no shortage of opportunities to do that elsewhere.
(Imports aside, Bounty is no longer sold in the United States. Americans could compare it to Mounds, a similar coconut-and-chocolate candy made by Hershey that does not rank among Americans’ favorites. But be aware that many Britons would bristle at any comparison to stateside chocolate, which with near unanimity is considered vastly inferior.)
Mars Wrigley said the coconut-free tubs would be available for a limited time in 40 Tesco grocery stores, so most shoppers will continue to get Bountys. The company egged on the divisions, saying in a statement that 39 percent of Britons in a survey of 2,000 people said they wanted Bountys removed. (No methodology for the survey was offered, so it was unclear how scientific the results were.)
Last year, the company made a similar effort, allowing people to swap their unwanted Bountys for the more popular Maltesers in a few locations.
The distaste for Bountys works well for those on the other side of the fence. Outside a Tesco in South London, Jennifer Garcia, 50, said she revels in other people’s dislike for them, leaving more for her.
“I’m the lucky one, because people like to leave it,” she said. “I’m the one they always pass the Bounty to.”
Penny Averill, 70, said the Bounty has “very, very poor quality chocolate” and is “far too sweet.” But it brings her back to her time as a schoolgirl, when she would bite all the chocolate off, leaving the coconut — the best bit, in her view — for the end.
“For me, with food, there’s the pleasure of really good food, and there’s the pleasure of memory,” she said. “And for me, Bounty is the pleasure of memory.”