Can We Have Gruel Instead ?

It’s a little known fact** that the version of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist that we all know and love is in fact not the original version serialised starting in 1837. For instance, the most famous scene originally went thus…

…The evening arrived; the boys took their places. The master, in his cook’s uniform, stationed himself at the copper; his pauper assistants ranged themselves behind him; the Ambronite was served out; and a long grace was said over the short commons. The Ambronite disappeared; the boys whispered to each other, and winked at Oliver; while his next neighbours nudged him. Child as he was, he was desperate with hunger, and reckless with misery***. He rose from the table; and advancing to the master, basin and spoon in hand, said: somewhat alarmed at his own temerity:

“Please, sir, could we have gruel tomorrow instead.”

How did this come to pass ? How could a story we feel we know so well have been tampered with. Well the answer isn’t difficult to understand if you actually try some Ambronite. It’s utterly horrid. Quite probably the famous version of Oliver Twist was put out as a piece of propaganda by Ambronite to bury this far from ringing endorsement**.


In an attempt to resurrect this product out of a Victorian sewer, Ambronite sent me a nice pack containing ten sachets of powder and a bottle thingy (ok, the bottle’s quite nice) to shake it all up in. One morning recently I made some up, didn’t bother with the long grace (I wish I had now though), and started pouring it down my neck.

Luckily I was standing near the sink, as this caught most of the fountain of spew that issued forth from my facial orifice. One sip was enough to tell me this was firmly in the mould**** of Victorian workhouse cuisine. I tried a second just to be sure. Needless to say, there was no improvement. Treating it like a live hand grenade I staggered weakly to the smallest room. The toilet begged me not to do it, but it was no match for the force of gravity as the oaty slurry tumbled heavily into its embrace.

Ambronite, or is it a canister of liquid kryptonite ?

Too often people feel some pressure to write positive things, or at least not say anything negative, when they’re sent stuff to review. I have only negative things to say about this product.

In the interests of balance, here’s what Ambronite say about it:

“Ambronite is a quick and healthy drinkable shake. Each bag contains one full meal (500 kcal) of all of your essential nutrients.

Ambronite goes where you do; Home, office, in your bag and on your travels and outdoor adventures.

Packed with natural goodness and free of artificial nasties, it tastes of oats and fresh nuts with a hint of Nordic herbs and berries. The pure, neutral taste mixes well with water, juices and your favorite fruit. Ambronite is more than a traditional meal replacement – that’s why we call it the drinkable supermeal.

Get over hunger for 4-5h-Boost your productivity and stay in flow
-Avoid afternoon sleepiness and sugar crash
-Concentrate on what you do best
-Get everything your body needs
-Only organic real-food, no cheap supplements

Ambronite consists of high grade natural ingredients such as organic nuts, oats and wild berries.

Ambronite contains 18 organic ingredients

organic oats
organic coconut
organic lucuma
organic chlorella
wild bilberry
wild sea-buckthorn
organic brown rice protein
organic stinging nettle
organic rice bran
nutritional yeast
organic spinach
organic spirulina
organic almond
organic flaxseed
organic apple
mineral salt
organic brazil nut
organic blackcurrant”

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that if it contains all that goodness, it’s most likely going to taste like shit. Which it does.

Having said that, I can accept that people that drink nutrition shakes might like Ambronite, or at least be able to tolerate it. I certainly don’t.

Finally, in their marketing Ambronite say that you can take it everywhere, including on your outdoor adventures (ah, now you see the relevance!). Yes, but why would you ? This idea is flawed in manifold ways:

  • It’s about the same weight as a dehydrated meal, of the sort I tend to take when camping out. The calories and carbohydrate count are broadly the same for both (the dehydrated meal is actually marginally higher in both, but not enough to make a big song and dance about). The fat is marginally higher in the dehydrated meal (not a bad thing given the circumstances in which it’s being used). The dehydrated meal has way more protein in it, whether you count it in absolute terms of as a proportion of the whole. Or to cut a long story short, Ambronite offers no significant nutritional advantage over carrying a dehydrated meal.
AmBronite Dehydrated Meal($)
Weight 120g 110g
calories 500 479
Carbs 54g (45%) 49.6g (45.1%)
Protein 30g (25%) 34g (30.9%)
Fat 18g (15%) 17.9g (16.3%)
Cals / g 4.167 4.355

($) I used a Fuizion Freeze Dried Chicken Tikka Masala for comparison purposes

  • Ambronite requires 550ml of water which has to be carried or fetched from a stream (and then filtered). The dehydrated meal only needs 310ml and if I’m careful about the source it doesn’t need filtering as I’m going to boil it anyway. If you factor the weight of the water into the calculation the Ambronite looks an even worse idea.
  • When out on a walk in the wilds, one wants it to be an enjoyable experience. Pouring a pint of liquidised pig swill down your neck doesn’t quite fit in with that. A cereal bar, a sandwich or, frankly, almost anything else is preferable. Hey, maybe stop get the stove out and boil some water for a dehydrated meal. That way you get something warm and nice and a decent rest at lunch.
  • Seriously, even if this stuff was palatable, which it isn’t, would you really take loads of these on a multi-day walk ? I’m pretty sure you’d end up jumping off the mountain you’re climbing if so.
  • If you’re in a hurry when out and about, you’re probably doing something which you won’t want to be carrying lots of weight (of water) or stopping to filter water you find en route. If you’re doing anything where you’re not in a hurry, you can use actual food instead.
  • I’m pretty sure that 30 seconds later when you vomit this back up, it ain’t going to be great for the ecosystem. Or the sheep you’ve just chundered all over.

So in other words I don’t buy the argument that this is great for outdoor adventures – it offers little in the way of nutritional advantage, the amount of water needed is a burden, and if you haven’t grasped it yet IT TASTES AWFUL.

Does anyone want some Ambronite ? I’ve some going spare. I prefer the bottom of the hamster’s cage.

Disclosure: Ambronite offered me the product to try free of charge (and like a mug I agreed to it). You may have guessed that I felt under no obligation to paint a glowing picture if unwarranted.


**Ok, hopefully you’ve realised by now that this is totally made up. Clearly Ambronite wasn’t around in Victorian times. after all they had a superior product – gruel.

***Obviously this was because he’d consumed the Ambronite. Poor sod.

****Yeah, mould would actually describe the taste pretty well.

4 thoughts on “Can We Have Gruel Instead ?

  1. Ha, I like the ‘less than ringing endorsement’. Makes a change from the great majority of reviews to be found on numerous blogs I would try and snaffle any spares you have, but to be honest, you have quite put me off the stuff… (nice blog)


  2. Bravo!!!! It’s good to see an honest review 🙂

    They approached me too, but I told them that after a day of hiking, you want something as close to real food as possible, plus the calorie count of their drink was way too low.


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