Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Is it worth paying more for products endorsed by celebrities?

Curiosity killed the cat. I am often doing impulse purchases when I see a new product. Waitrose has teamed up with Heston and Delia, arguably two of the biggest names in the British cooking market.

Heston Blumenthal has created a range of seasonal and around-the-year products for Waitrose. And I have been slowly testing the range.

I have already written about Heston Olive Oil and Vanilla Biscuits, Heston Mince Pies and Heston stuffing.
Heston for Waitrose Lapsang Souchon tea smoked salmon was on offer last week (for £2.99 instead of the usual £4.49), so I decided to try it. The idea of Scottish Salmon Smoked over a blend of Oak and Lapsang Souchong Tea sounds good.

 Did it meet my expectations?  Lapsang has a very distinctive smokey flavour, and I anticipated a deeper and  more pronounced smokiness from Heston's take on the smoked salmon, but it was pretty mild and lacking in the intensity of the expected flavour.

Sadly the unique aroma of lapsang has gone with the wind (or smoke, lol). It is just not there. While it was interesting to try it, I don't think paying £4.49 for a small packet makes any sense.

If you were shopping in Waitrose before Christmas, you couldn't fail to notice Delia's Classic Christmas Cake mix and Delia's Cranberry and Orange relish boxed ingredients.

Christmas Cake didn't hold much attraction to me, and also my kitchen was groaning under the weight of panettones and pandoros that I bought for gifts and for our Christmas meal.
The relish mix was something I considered buying but wasn't too sure if buying the ingredients separately would be a better choice.

The recipe was printed on the box and was very easy to follow. The box included a very small orange, a bag of cranberries and a mini bag of sugar with spices including a cinnamon stick. All you had to do is add a spoonful or two of port and cook it for 5 minutes. As the orange was very small, there wasn't enough orange juice and I added more, thankfully I had some oranges at home.
The result was a sharpish refreshing relish, which worked really well with the meat. It was sold in Waitrose at £2.99. Was it worth it? You could probably save a bit by buying all the ingredients separately, as most of the people who consider making their own relish would probably have sugar and spices at home. I would also buy a bigger orange for this recipe.

In the future I will follow the recipe but buy my own ingredients.

From my own experience buying the products endorsed by the celebrities is a hit and miss, some products are good enough to pay more, some are disappointing and are definitely overpriced. Basically you pay for the name on the box rather than for the actual product.

So, is it worth paying more for products endorsed by the celebrities?
And the answer is don't be swayed by the famous names and use your common sense.


  1. Totally agree, you pay for the celebrity name nine times out of ten and not the product!

  2. Just foudn your blog, very new to reading and comments so please forgive me if I have done something wrong.
    I love to make home made christmas cake, chutney and relish.
    In august I collect all my ingreditents over the summer and make the cake in September along with chutney and relish as the flavours on all three improve. It saves a lot of money in the long term and you also know what is in it. This year I made red onions with cranneberries and raisins. this was delicious with our christmas dinner, biscuits and cheese.

  3. I always have found that celebrity endorsed foods are a disappointment, though I am never sure whether that simply reflects my unrealistic expectations. However I have also eaten at so called celebrity restaurant chains and been even more up set. I think the compromises that have to be made in scaling up negate the extra costs paid. Though they are a good guide if you are attempting to recreate a book recipe at home !