Back by popular demand, it’s the only talking point more divisive than the daily Brexit digest: Hotwire’s annual mince pie report, filled with enough sweet, calorific goodness to send one into a diabetic coma so potent you might not wake up until well after whoever wins the next election has had their first Queen's Speech!
For any of you who missed last year’s report – where were you? This is important research! – the AR team at Hotwire sets aside a little time each year to bring you a critique of as many mince pies as possible so your wallets and waistlines don’t have to suffer through festive disasters the same way we do political and environmental. Someone has to keep the mince pie game honest.
We take our mince pies as seriously as we do our AR programmes here at Hotwire. The team’s research methodology provides a graphical positioning of three types of mince pie: the Upper Crust, Mincing in the Middle, and the Soggy Bottom. Don’t worry, our report isn’t borrowed from any analyst reports. We simply conducted a good old tasting session followed by a vote. Because democracy, innit?
One final caveat that we’ve been about as inclusive as a UKIP immigration policy and not included any of those gluten-free, dairy-free options for all you allergy-prone herbivores out there – you’ll have to look elsewhere for the annual Brussels sprouts rating or stick to some other vegetation this holiday season.
Happy reading and a bah humbug to you all!
Taste alone does not a good mince pie make and with this in mind, the following criteria have been considered, ranked on a ten-point scale and weighted according to importance (taste, pastry and mincemeat were weighted to be more important than look and packaging) to produce an overall score and then checked against cost per pie to provide a definitive rating.
- Look: How visually appealing is that sweet delicacy?
- Taste: How well do mincemeat and pastry pair?
- Pastry: How crumbly is that bad boy and is it buttery enough?
- Mincemeat: How well does the mixture of chopped dried fruit, distilled spirits and spices come together to make that gooey goodness?
- Packaging: How much effort was put into the box itself?
THE SOGGY BOTTOM
Only one pie was bad enough to qualify for the bottom rung this year.
Aldi Holly Lane
Price per pie: £0.125
Just look at the top of that crust. Delivers on the promise of the box about as well as ITV promises genuine household names for its I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! show. Just like the talent on the show, it’s cheap and leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth. Get it outta here!
MINCING IN THE MIDDLE
Mincing in the Middle consists of the more average mince pies that can be relied upon if one absolutely had to get a mince pie fix. These are the inoffensive ones, neither bland nor spectacular. The ones to take to the awkward family get-together or office party, then, whilst you save that oh-so-special box for yourself when you get back to your own place!
Price per pie: £0.145
Now, we did go looking for the Tesco Finest pies, which the attentive amongst you will remember qualified for the Upper Crust last year but alas, they were sold out in multiple stores. Perhaps a testament to the true quality of those pies. The plain Tesco pie, however, brightens the festive spirit like a visit from the taxman. The team noted its vaguely acceptable flavour held back by lacklustre presentation.
Price per pie: £0.17
There really is no helping some. The same team member who insisted on last year’s disgusting iced entry once again supplied another iced pie. This sickly sweet assault on the taste buds was as welcome as that weird uncle who just hangs around at Christmas asking what you’re up to in life. Nothing, Uncle Dave. I’m stuck here with you again, tolerating your miserable mug. That’s what I’m up to in life. Can I go now?
Price per pie: £0.29
Finally, a reason to head to Greggs for something other than a vegan sausage role. As visually appealing as roadkill but surprisingly tasty.
Price per pie: £0.46
Overpriced with pastry thicker than a prop’s neck. As much effort went into the packaging as I put into my GCSE French exam. Pardon, professeur!
Price per pie: £0.22
The most “meh” of all the “meh” pies. Kind of like an unwelcome evening door-knock from your local MP, it lacks authority and promise, and commands neither respect nor admiration. Move along, mate … I mean, Sainsbury’s.
Heston from Waitrose: Sour Cherry Crumble
Price per pie: £0.75
One of our directors got a little excited about being invited to the review team and promptly purchased a load of snazzy pies for the gang. Problem being that it started a debate as to what actually constitutes a mince pie. This elite overpriced entry follows the rules like an old Etonian running (or is that ruining?) the country.
Price per pie: £0.08
The cheapest of all the pies and surprisingly one of the better tasting. Not much of a looker, though, and a poor dusting of icing. Nobody likes a stingy sod at Christmas.
Price per pie: £0.21
Packaging brings as much joy as listening to a bunch of bankers sitting around discussing their annual bonuses. I spelled that with a B, right? Crumbled like an English rugby team in a World Cup final, too.
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference
Price per pie: £0.24
I don’t know about taste the difference but we certainly noticed the difference in size. These tasty pies were a little on the small side for the team’s liking. Perhaps due to all the cold weather…
Heston from Waitrose: Lemon Twist
Price per pie: £0.75
Another decadent entry that bordered on disqualification but got away with it like the elite are known to do. The team’s collective penchant for lemon zest skyrocketed this expensive entry to the upper end of the chart.
THE UPPER CRUST
The Upper Crust consists of those gloriously delicious pies that deserve a place in every home over the festive period. They look good, taste good and are certain to satisfy your mince pie craving this season.
Price per pie: £0.42
And there we have it, the only entry in the Upper Crust. All the glory goes to M&S this year. A good looking pie with a liberal dusting of icing sugar and generous dose of Cognac. Hats off to the mincemeat, the pastry, everything. The Hotwire suggestion is to sack off the rest of the lot and stick with M&S this year because it’s not just any pie, it’s an M&S pie.