The Unexpected Difference Between American And Australian Chocolate Bars

Despite our many similarities, there are still some puzzling differences between the English-speaking nations of the USA, Britain, and Australia. Over the past few hundred years, we've developed different words for the same things. Many of these cause confusion when traveling. Take, for example, scones, biscuits, and cookies. We can all agree on what a cookie is, but in the USA, a biscuit is something very unique. In fact, to make matters more confusing, American biscuits look a lot like Australian and British scones, and, in many cases, the recipe is very similar. The main difference is that the British and Australians put jam and cream on their scones, and they're more of an afternoon treat to have with a cup of tea or coffee. In the States, however, a biscuit is usually a savory affair, something you might have with fried chicken or roast turkey.

These differences also extend to candy bars. To jumble things around in your brain even more, many of these chocolates are owned by the same company, Mars Wrigley. For reasons known only to the confectionery brand, it has chosen to make particular chocolate bars different in the U.S. and Australia, despite their identical names. As a result, these are the things to look out for the next time you pick up a Milky Way or Mars Bar in either country.

Australian Milky Ways are missing a key American ingredient

The photo above shows an American Milky Way (left) and an Australian Milky Way (right). Besides their different packaging — the U.S. candy has a brown and green wrapper while the Aussies get a blue and white version — they also have a different ingredients list. We tried both bars and found that they're almost identical in milk chocolate and nougat flavors, besides one key difference: The Australian version has no caramel. It's actually closer to an American 3 Musketeers bar, the main difference being the width of the bar.

What's behind the different recipes? You find the answer when you investigate the differences between American Mars Bars and those found in Britain and Australia. Frank Mars founded the Mars Candy Company in 1911, but it wasn't until he created the Milky Way in 1923 that his business became successful. The idea behind the treat was a chocolate malted milkshake in the form of a candy bar. Despite its success, familial disagreements saw Mars' son Forrest move overseas to open a U.K. branch of the candy factory, per Snack History.

Inspired by the Milky Way, Forrest Mars developed the Mars Bar, containing nougat and caramel encased in chocolate, which became a hit in Britain and Australia. When Mars Senior died, Forrest took over the entire international operation, including the American branch that made a different Mars Bar with almonds and nougat wrapped in chocolate. It was less popular than its Australian and British counterpart and was discontinued in 2002.

Milky Way and Mars Bar, two universal treats

Clearly, Mars has a history of differentiating its famous candies across the pond. If you're confused, one TikToker gave his fellow Australians (and Brits) living in the U.S. some instructions for when a chocolate craving strikes: "[If] you want a Milky Way, you have to buy a 3 Musketeers. And if you want a Mars Bar, you have to buy a Milky Way." Fortunately for Mars Bars fans in the States, it's still possible to find both versions of the candy bar on store shelves. Ethel M Chocolates began manufacturing the American version of the candy back in 2017, albeit in limited quantities, and the U.K. bar is also available from certain sources (via Candy Industry). Places like Amazon or World Market are also a good bet for those curious to try international confections.

Despite these differences, when traveling between the U.S. and the U.K. or Australia, you can be sure that some candy favorites will be exactly the same, such as original and peanut M&Ms, Skittles, Twix, and Snickers. Plus, you'll get to try candy bars that aren't available in the U.S. For example, the Australian Mars branch produces a treat that's a favorite in cinemas across the country called Maltesers. Many Aussies have fond memories of rolling the small, spherical chocolate malt balls down the aisles of movie theaters. Perhaps the only reason they're not available in the U.S. is because Hershey's produces a similar candy called Whoppers.