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Caterpillar cakes are a staple for children’s birthday parties in the UK. Every supermarket has one, although Marks & Spencer’s iconic Colin the Caterpillar was the first on the scene, launching roughly 30 years ago.
Marks & Spencer began legal action last week against Aldi for trademark infringement with its Cuthbert the Caterpillar cake, but how do the rest compare? We tasted six caterpillar cakes including:
- Colin the Caterpillar from M&S.
- Calli the Caterpillar from Tesco.
- Wiggles the Caterpillar from Sainsbury’s.
- Cecil the Caterpillar from Waitrose.
- Charlie the Caterpillar from Co-op.
- Clyde the Caterpillar from ASDA.
Unfortunately, Aldi’s Cuthbert the Caterpillar couldn’t attend as it’s a seasonal product and not in stock at the moment.
The caterpillar cakes were gathered to finally put an end to one of the key debates of our time. Which supermarket caterpillar cake impresses most in terms of taste and appearance?
How we tested the cakes
Over two days, nine taste testers – a mix of adults and children – rated each of the cakes on taste and appearance.
Our testers tasted and examined each cake blind, and the order of cakes was rotated to remove any bias in the results.
Each tester was given a slice from the middle of the cake and cleansed their palate between samples.
Best caterpillar cake for taste
Co-op Charlie the Caterpillar
Price: £6.35 available in Co-op stores
Taste: Our testers said Charlie had ‘loads of gooey buttercream filling and a moist chocolate sponge’ wrapped in a ‘really crispy’ milk chocolate shell.
Appearance: Charlie’s face and feet are made of icing with an icing nose and eyes. His chocolate shell has a white chocolate striped pattern, and it’s covered in sprinkles and colourful sugar-coated chocolate buttons.
Verdict: Fun and vibrant, Charlie has a happy, welcoming face and he clearly tastes nice too, as this caterpillar cake was given full marks for taste by five of our nine judges.
One of our judges said: ‘It’s easily and obviously the best. It’s moist, spongey and a clear winner with the most flavour.’ Another enjoyed polishing off the leftovers after the test.
It’s safe to say Charlie is a caterpillar cake that’s invited to all our parties.
Best caterpillar cake for appearance
Waitrose Cecil the Caterpillar
Price: £7 available from Waitrose
Taste: Our testers described Cecil as ‘a bit dry’, but it has a good ‘crunchy shell’ and overall ‘yummy’ chocolate flavour.
Appearance: Cecil has a chunky white chocolate face, icing eyes and ‘cute’ little white chocolate feet. The shell is decorated with colourful sugar-coated chocolate buttons and white chocolate stripes, but he lacks the sprinkles seen on most of the other cakes.
Verdict: Cecil was dense and filled with chocolate icing. He was sweeter than most of the other caterpillars, though his sponge was a bit dry.
Simple and sleek, he came top for appearance for four of our nine testers.
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How the rest of the caterpillar cakes fared
Below we’ve listed our verdicts on the rest of the caterpillar cakes in alphabetical order.
Asda Clyde the Caterpillar Cake
Price: £5.92 available from Asda
Taste: Clyde’s flavour split the panel, with some loving his gooey buttercream insides and others saying he was too sweet and far too dry.
Appearance: Clyde was a riot of colours with a bright green face, red nose and lots of sprinkles and sugar-coated chocolate confections. He has an icing face, eyes, nose and shoes and a chocolate shell covered in sprinkles.
Verdict: A bit dry and some said too sweet, as well as a visual overload with all the sprinkles and sugar-coated confections.
M&S Colin the Caterpillar
Price: £7 available from Ocado
Taste: Colin was described by most of our testers as being ‘moist, light and not too rich’, and having ‘a good crunchy shell’. However, some of our testers thought he was a bit too dry and had a somewhat bland flavour.
Appearance: Most agreed Colin had the best chunky white chocolate feet, with a thick white chocolate face and pink tongue. However, some of our testers found the lack of eye details disturbing.
Verdict: The classic caterpillar cake is moist and light with a thick chocolate shell. For those who want the original, it’s the only way to go, but for those who want the best flavour, he may not be the top choice. Colin split our panel, receiving top marks from some and the lowest marks from others.
Sainsbury’s Wiggles the Caterpillar
Price: £6 available from Sainsbury’s
Taste: Wiggles has a generous amount of buttercream swirls and most of our testers said he was more chocolatey than some of the others. However one of our testers described this cake as ‘nothing special’ and the lower ratings from the panel reflect this.
Appearance: Wiggles has a white chocolate face, small white chocolate feet and a milk chocolate shell covered in sprinkles and colourful sugar-coated chocolate confections. Again our testers were not fans of the lack of detail in his milk chocolate eyes.
Verdict: Wiggles was a delicious chocolate treat, receiving the second-highest marks for flavour.
Tesco Calli the Caterpillar Cake
Price: £6 available from Tesco
Taste: Calli had a fudgy flavour. The decorations offered an enjoyable texture but overall she was a little underwhelming.
Appearance: Calli had a bright pink icing face and shoes, and bright blue icing eyes. Her milk chocolate shell was decorated with a pink icing bow, sprinkles, white chocolate stripes and frosting love hearts.
Verdict: Most of our testers agreed on the averageness of this caterpillar cake. There was nothing wrong with it, but it failed to wow anyone, especially compared with some of the others.
Best way to cut a caterpillar cake
Anyone who has cut a caterpillar cake knows it’s not the most straightforward to share out. In fact, it can be tricky to ensure the chocolate stays with the piece of cake you are cutting.
However, we found that you could prevent the chocolate shell from shattering if you use a very sharp knife. We got the best results when drawing the knife across the cake while pressing down with even pressure.
Obviously, if this is a children’s party, make sure any sharp knives are kept out of reach.
Always check the cake packaging for allergen information.
We bought all the products we tested.
Prices correct as of 19 April 2021.