* Prices may differ from that shown
I have spent many years perfecting my chilli con carne and it has come to be one of my specialties. I am now at the stage where I don't eat any other chilli than one I have made. This is not because I am conceited or naïve enough to think that mine is the best, it is just that I know exactly how I like chilli and I won't settle for anything else.
Making a chilli con carne not only takes time but also a whole range of ingredients including low fat minced beef, fresh onions, garlic cloves, kidney beans, tinned tomatoes (I generally use the Tesco value variety since the tomatoes add bulk only), cayenne pepper, chilli powder and a sweetner (which is my 'secret' ingredient).
Whilst shopping for a recent camping trip my other half expressed an interest in eating a chilli one evening. Thinking about how to store the ingredients, how to prepare the ingredients and how to actually make the chilli caused me to break out in a cold sweat but my other half had other plans as she slipped a tin of canned chilli con carne in to the basket. I should have stuck to my guns and dug my heels in. After all I had refused to eat any chilli other than my own for years and here I was contemplating eating a processed version out of a tin can, but since we were on holiday I thought 'what the hey - when in Rome' and all that and we proceeded to the checkout.
****The Tyne Brand****
The Tyne brand originally started in Newcastle Upon Tyne, hence the name. The company hit financial difficulties and was bought out by Westler Foods Limited who re-launched the brand a few years ago.
The Tyne chilli comes in a 400g tin can. The label is colourful, attractive and includes a picture of the chilli on a bed of rice with some tortilla chips. Most food item packaging containing a picture of the product makes it look appetising and appealing through good photography, and I am guessing a bit of airbrushing. The picture on the Tyne can is not like this and the quality of the photography is poor in comparison. I suppose this is not such a bad thing since at least you know what you're actually getting.
What surprises me about the packaging is the distinct lack of branding. You can tell that it is a Tyne product (as demonstrated by the "Tyne" writing on a small blue background, but it is not obvious. The branding isn't the typical in your face style like many other brands, such as Old El Paso (which is the distinctive yellow and red livery), and I think that many consumers would miss this as a result. In my experience products that achieve an impulse buy generally have very colourful, very bold and very in your face packaging screaming out "look at me", unfortunately this Tyne product does not.
As you'd expect from a chilli this product contains the normal ingredients of water, tomato puree, red kidney beans (20%) and beef (15%). In addition it has smoked bacon (7%), pork and red and green peppers.
In my opinion the 15% beef content is exceptionally low and I am staggered that Tyne can get away with including a higher content of kidney beans. Surely the main ingredient of any chilli is the minced beef?
In my opinion bacon, peppers and pork should not be present in a chilli. The label clearly states on the front that this chilli contains bacon, although I missed this when buying the product. Personally, I don't like peppers in a chilli since they make it a little bit too sweet for me, although I appreciate there are some people that like to include peppers and this is something down to personal preference.
As well as the core ingredients this product contains the salt, sugars, preservatives, maize flour etc. that all tinned foods contain so there are no surprises there. However, what I find most worrying is the amount of E numbers, including E252, E250, E251, E301 and E481. I do not know what these E numbers actually are and I am not going to research them to find out (I don't want to scare myself) but are all of these really needed? There are loads of tinned foods out there that don't contain any E numbers, although I have noticed that cheaper and budget brands do, so maybe this is how the costs, and hence selling price are kept so low.
The label contains a small warning on the back of the can that there is gluten from wheat and barley. Personally, I think that all allergy warnings like this should be clearly stated on the front of the can so consumers that may have problems will easily identify the fact.
What surprises me is there is no "Nuts" warning. All labels nowadays seem to have a nuts warning, even if the product doesn't contain nuts. Most manufacturers will state that although the product doesn't contain nuts it may have been near nuts in the factory, but this is not present on the Tyne product.
100g of this chilli will provide:
i) Energy - 108Kcal
ii) Protein - 6.7g
iii) Carbohydrate - 11.0g (3.0g sugars)
iv) Fat - 4.1g
v) Fibre - 2.0g
vi) Sodium - 0.3g
vii) Salt - 0.7g
100g is not that much, barely enough for a small child, so you have to scale up the above accordingly. Based on the above it is clear that this chilli is not that good for you but then most tinned foods aren't and always contain lots of sugar.
What I find worrying is that this product is high in both carbohydrates and fat. You can usually find tinned foods that are high in one and low in the other, and I have no problem with eating these, but the Tyne tinned chilli, being high in both, gives you a double whammy, which is not so good.
****Look and consistency****
Once the tin was opened and I had a quick look inside my stomach turned. The contents was not pretty and I can only liken it to bodily waste (and I'm sure I don't need to state which sort). The contents is orange/red brown colour with small hard bits in (the minced beef) and whole kidney beans. There is no evidence of bacon or peppers. Looks wise, this chilli does not look good.
The chilli is quite thick and it is not possible to pour it out of the tin. The tin needs a few good firm shakes and the contents will slide out in one large lump with that satisfying squelch sound. I found that the congealed mess in my saucepan soon thinned out during the cooking process which was a good thing, although I was not surprised since this tends to happen with most tinned foods.
This chilli cannot be described as tasteless, not surprising given the ingredients, but it does taste strange. First off the taste reminded me of the ravioli filling but after a few mouthfuls the smoked taste of the bacon really kicks in. I can only assume that there is a lot of smoked flavouring since I didn't find any bacon pieces whatsoever.
As well as the strong smoked taste there is a distinct taste of peppers. I like a lot of peppers but this was very overpowering, besides I don't think peppers should be included in a chilli so this is not really my thing.
I like my chillies to have a bit of heat to them but not so hot that the taste buds are obliterated, my nose starts running, my cheeks turn red and I break out in a sweat. The Tyne tinned chilli had no heat to it whatsoever.
Overall I was very disappointed with the taste and in my opinion this is not a chilli at all. It is tinned minced beef with peppers and kidney beans, and a smoky bacon flavouring.
This chilli costs £1.19 for a 400g tin, which is cheap compared to alternative tinned chilli products. For example, an Old El Paso will set you back £2.09 for a similar sized can.
Whilst cheap is all well and good I think that value for money is far more important, after all, we all want more bang for our buck right? All things considered, I would say that the Tyne chilli does not represent good value for money and if I wanted to eat a tasteless, sloppy load of goo that looked like something you'd find at the bottom of a curry house's toilet then I would buy value branded dog food.
The only good thing about this chilli is the fact that it comes in a tin can which makes it ideal for camping and other outdoor activities where there is no access to a fridge, limited space for storage and no proper cooker. I should also point out that there are several other alternatives on the market, such as Old El Paso and Stagg that are meant to be much nicer and more authentic, although I can't personally vouch for this since I have, and never will try tinned chilli ever again. I did notice that the Tyne brand appears very cheap to other brands, especially the Old El Paso which was available at a staggering £2.09 per 400g can.
(This review has been posted on other review sites under the name of Yackers1)