Don’t mess with Colin. Marks and Spencer has been making the caterpillar cake since 1990 and more than 15 million have been sold. Now it has started legal action against Aldi, arguing that the other supermarket’s Cuthbert the Caterpillar cake infringes Colin’s trademark, “riding on the coat-tails” of M&S’s reputation. In other words, they are alleging that Aldi has been baking bad. Aldi has responded on Twitter saying: “This is not just any court case, this is... #FreeCuthbert.” We haven’t seen this level of engagement in a case since Coleen Rooney vs. Rebekah Vardy. Colin is a mainstay of the baked goods scene; an easy fix, as seen in offices for colleagues’ birthdays or at parties where cake is needed but no one wants to make too much of a fuss. He is democratic - not prohibitively expensive and it doesn’t look like you’ve gone overboard if you buy him. But Colin and Cuthbert are not the only caterpillars around (there is speculation that M&S is just going after Cuthbert because he is German). We braced ourselves for a sugar high and put the others to the test. Note, there are no vegan versions yet - the campaign for one starts here.
Clyde and Frieda, ASDA
Clyde is having an identity crisis. He used to have a yellow face and eyes that were slightly too close together but now he has gone green, with striking eyebrows and sprinkles on top (a jazzy touch). If only his rebrand had focused more on flavour . He is an unpleasant combination of dry and sickly sweet. It’s like he is familiar with what chocolate is, he has been near it, but he does not quite taste of it. Unsatisfying. It’s a case of style over substance. Some have dubbed him Clyde the Snide for this deception. Beware of the sugar rush and subsequent dip you may get after eating. His friend Frieda is a gluten free take on the cake and far tastier. Having no butter or cream means it is light (so you can eat more). She could also have been called Celia as she is coeliac friendly too. Both £5.92, groceries.asda.com
Morris looks drunk. His jaunty bow tie is skewed and his face is too big for his body. But don’t feel too sorry for him. Despite his expression, Morris is delicious (and a small face means more chocolate cake). There’s a generous amount of buttercream, the chocolate on top provides crunch and the sponge is springy and keeps for a few days without getting dry - if you have the willpower to eke him out that is. His fashionable plimsoll shoes and face will satisfy white chocolate eaters too. £3 well spent. £3, mymorrisons.com
Curly has an expressive face - perhaps he has just realised that he is one of many supermarket caterpillars and processing this. The cake is a fairly standard crumbly, sweet chocolate cake that tastes overwhelmingly of milk and sugar. It isn’t going to win any prizes but it does the job and is sugary enough to perky you up after a few hours at a child’s birthday party. The orange fondant face is divisive. I found it flavourless and with too smooth and slightly powdery a texture but others said it offset the chocolate and sweets perfectly. £6, tesco.com
As you might expect from his posh name, Cecil is a high class caterpillar. The chocolate here actually tastes of cocoa rather than a general sugariness and the white chocolate drizzle is a nice touch. Best of all, his face is solid white chocolate. Worth the extra money. £7, waitrose.com
For starters, they could’ve tried a bit harder with a name. Then again, at least Sainbury’s isn’t being sued for its attempt at its own-brand Colin the Caterpillar cake: Wiggles The Caterpillar. In fact, it’s probably a good thing they didn’t go for a name beginning with C as copycat(erpillar) Aldi did, since everything else about the supermarket’s Colin replica is almost identical: the neon green box, the optimistically-thin ‘serving suggestion’ picture, the white-chocolate face with milk-button eyes and even a cheeky little tongue. He (or she) even tastes just as good, though perhaps a little drier than M&S’ original. Wiggles does have a few extra freckles, in the form of hundreds of thousands, and if we’re getting forensic, he is slightly less curvy than Colin, with Sainsbury’s chocolate sponge served as one chunkier block with small humps stuck on top as opposed to Colin’s more sophisticated curves. Perhaps this was decided for tactical reasons: while Colin serves 10, plus-size Wiggles claims to serve 14. And perhaps the name was a tactial child-friendly move, too. Wiggles’ main weapon in the war of the caterpillars? His box comes with a cut-out butterfly mask. £6, sainsburys.co.uk
The OG. Some food snobs have been known to say that they prefer Colin to other elaborate desserts. This is a straightforward milk chocolate delight - squishy cake and a winning texture combination of buttercream icing, chocolate top and M&S’s take on smarties. The face is thick and the white chocolate bottom is a winning touch. There is a reason why Colin has been popular for so long and fights have been had over who gets his face. The jury is out though on his latest iterations - why squish him into chocolate pots with his sad face floating on the top? £7, marksandspencer.com
All this attention means that Cuthbert has gone into hiding. We couldn’t find any of these cakes in Aldi. This is a moving story and we will report back if we find him. Word on the street is that they are restocking fast as people are now curious about how he could be so threatening to Colin.