Just how much bang do you get for your buck?

It’s time to find out what’s in those crack­ers, writes ARTHI SANPATH

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE - WOOLWORTHS PICK N PAY CHECK­ERS

LET’S face it – de­spite know­ing that we are likely to end up with an el cheapo plas­tic ring from the Christ­mas cracker, there is still a child­like an­tic­i­pa­tion that keeps us hop­ing we will end up with a re­ally fan­tas­tic sur­prise gift.

This time of year, Christ­mas crack­ers can be found in just about ev­ery store, with mini ver­sions for chil­dren and large crack­ers for adults.

A sim­ple test of some of the crack­ers avail­able to con­sumers gives you some idea of where you get more bang for your buck.

Most of the pack­ag­ing gives the shop­per a good idea of what they’d find in­side, which will def­i­nitely help with your de­ci­sion as to what kind of sur­prise presents will best suit your guests.Of course, the more ex­pen­sive the box of crack­ers, the bet­ter the items. Such was the case at Woolworths, where for R225 for a box of six crack­ers (avail­able online too), you could ex­pect to find LED torches, an “ex­pen­sive” pen, sil­ver ear­rings, or a lit­tle tape mea­sure. Not bad. How­ever, if your pock­ets aren’t that deep this Christ­mas, and you have to buy the less ex­pen­sive crack­ers, don’t ex­pect much more than some mar­bles and maybe scary teeth, at best.

Al­though with a rough bud­get of around R100 for a box of mid­dle-ofthe-range crack­ers at each store, some did not have that price range, so we used our dis­cre­tion.

We bought crack­ers at Woolworths and Pick n Pay, Spar and Check­ers, and rated them on a scale of one to five – on ap­pear­ance, value for money, qual­ity of trin­kets and, of course, the bang. Celebration Crack­ers at R99.95 for a pack of six, al­though if you use your Woolies card, you get a R19.99 dis­count.

There was a range of Woolies in-house brand crack­ers on sale, with the lux­ury crack­ers quite pricey. The crack­ers in the box we bought were dec­o­rated in bright colours and stars – not very Christ­massy, so this could work at any func­tion. The pack­ag­ing tells you what is in­side – mon­ster slime, mous­tache, bag of mar­bles, magic wire trick, bend­ing pen­cil and magic ball trick were the con­tents, with a party hat and joke or quote. Not bad for Woolies, and could ap­peal to adults and chil­dren alike. The crack­ers felt heavy and had quite a loud bang. There was not much va­ri­ety avail­able, and all the crack­ers were made un­der Gle­nart Trad­ing, with a note say­ing the crack­ers were made in South Africa, but that the con­tents are from China. R59 for a pack of nine crack­ers.

The box tells you what you will find in­side – a magic cloth trick, magic wire trick, magic ball trick, smil­ing face stick­ers, mini scis­sors, bot­tle opener, vam­pire teeth and bouncy ball, and a party hat and funny jokes.

The bang was good, and the crack­ers were wrapped in red and green Christ­mas scenes.

This was good value for money as there were nine in a box for less than R60, and the magic tricks would be fun for a party or around a din­ner ta­ble.

The con­tents also ap­peal to adults and chil­dren alike. R49.99 for a box of six. We couldn’t find any­thing more ex­pen­sive.

Once again, the con­tents in the crack­ers were made known at the back of the pack­ag­ing, and from what we saw it looked good. You could hope to find any­thing from a pen, to nail clippers, tweez­ers, pa­per clips, cards or a yoyo. Not bad ei­ther. In bright red, white and sil­ver pack­ag­ing, the crack­ers would work well on a Christ­mas din­ner ta­ble. The bang was okay, and the tweez­ers looked like they would work well, not just as a toy. Find­ing the Christ­mas stuff at this Spar was chal­leng­ing, and the crack­ers were lo­cated on a high shelf, with just one op­tion. R49.99 for a box of six.

This would be the party pack to buy if you are in a group. The Spar Merry Mo­ments party pack comes with six crack­ers, each with a sur­prise toy and a joke. In­cluded in the box are six stream­ers, hats, blowouts and party pop­pers. The out­side pack­ag­ing does not tell you what you could find in the crack­ers. Sadly, there was no bang – they lit­er­ally just tore apart. The con­tents were all minia­ture toys – a cheap small car, a plas­tic ring, a tiny rub­ber ball, an 8cm ruler, and a small toy pur­ple thing that could pass ei­ther as a turtle or a frog – we couldn’t make out which.

– only be­cause it had stream­ers.

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