Comparison of the Various Milky Way® Species

Last Updated: March 4, 1996
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Jeff Brogden,

Research Assistants

James Funkhouser,
Dean Thompson


This is a study to determine the differences between the various species of the Milky Way® candy bar.


Milky Way® is a registered trademark of Mars, Inc. We are in no way associated with Mars, Inc. other than satisfied customers.


Recently, Milky Way® Lite was introduced to the candy machines where I work. I purchased one out of curiosity, and found it tasted very much like a regular Milky Way®. However, since I did not have a regular Milky Way® at hand to compare it to, I could not get an accurate impression. Curious to compare the two and find out what made the Lite bar lite, I decided to compare the various Milky Way® candy bars.

As of this time, there are three known species; the original Milky Way® candy bar, the Milky Way® Dark, and Milky Way® Lite. Throughout the analysis we will refer to these as Classic, Dark and Lite respectively.


First, we needed a sample of each candy bar. Armed with sufficient monetary units, the search began. A trip to the closest vending machine at work yielded the Lite bar; cost $0.50. Further investigation into the contents of several other vending machines scattered through out the facility revealed no Classic or Dark bars. Undaunted, the search was temporarily suspended until later in the evening.

After partaking in a Rural-Family Substance Consumption Ritual, the search for the missing candy bars was taken up again. It was decided that a local supermarket would be the most likely place to acquire all the remaining research materials. I was quite shocked to find that the only species available was the revered King-Size Milky Way® of the Classic variety. Wanting to compare the vending machine variety candy bars, I left the supermarket after first double checking to make sure they truly did not have the Dark or Classic bars.

A trip to a near by discount store allowed me to purchase the Classic bar; cost $0.25, considerably less than the Lite bar purchased earlier. Again, there was no sign of the Dark bar, nor did they carry the Lite bar. After searching several other stores, a last ditch effort brought us to a convenience store. There, I found the Dark bar; cost $0.52.

With all the research subjects in our possession, a date was selected to do the actual lab tests and comparisons. A Friday lunch hour was sacrificed in order to conduct the research.

Physical Observations

(size 6,026 bytes) The physical differences were immediately noticeable once the three bars were brought together. The Classic bar was considerably larger than the other two. A quick check of the wrappers revealed this to be true.

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Here are the physical statistics of each of the bars as taken directly off of their respective wrappers.

Physical Characteristics

Classic Dark Lite
Net Weight (oz/g) 2.15 / 61 1.76 / 49.9 1.57 / 44.5
Calories/Fat cals 280 / 100 220 / 70 170 / 50
Total Fat (% DV) 11 g (17%) 8 g (13%) 5 g (8%)
Sat Fat (% DV) 5 g (27%) 4 g (22%) 2.5 g (13%)
Percent Daily Values (% DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

So, one of the things that make the Lite bar lite is that it is smaller. In fact, it is only 73% the size of the Classic bar. The calories in the Lite bar are 60.7% of those in the Classic. Obviously, not all the savings in calories are due to the size differences. The most marked difference is the fat grams. The Lite bar has only 45.5% of the fat grams as the Classic bar. Using the Classic bar as the standard, here is a look at how the candy bars compare.

Ratio Comparison

Classic Dark Lite
Net Weight 100% 81.9% 73%
Calories/Fat cals 100% / 100% 78.6% / 70% 60.7% / 50%
Total Fat 100% 72.7% 45.5%
Sat Fat 100% 80% 50%
Calories/Ounce 130.23 125 108.28
Fat Cal/Ounce 46.51 39.77 31.85
Percentages as compared to the Classic bar

The savings in calories and fat look impressive. So, what did Mars, Inc. do to the Lite bar to make it lite? Moving beyond the obvious size difference, we looked at the ingredients of each of the bars. The Classic bar and the Lite bar match more closely than the Dark bar does to the other two. Cross-referencing all the ingredients on the package, of the 20 ingredients in the Classic bar, and the 21 ingredients in the Lite bar, 17 of them are shared. The order of some of the ingredients is different, thus suggesting that there are different amounts of those items in each of the products.

The differences are worth noting. In the Classic bar, there are three ingredients not used in the Lite bar.

  1. Milk
  2. Lactose
  3. Wheat Flour

The replacement items in the Lite bar are as follows.

  1. Polydextrose
  2. Skim Milk
  3. Fructose
  4. Peanuts

The last item in the Lite bar surprised us. We could see, however, how using skim milk instead of milk would lower the calorie and fat counts. As to what role the polydextrose and fructose play, we have no clue.

Now, let us factor price into all of this. We will compare both the actual purchase price and an adjusted price. The adjusted price will be $0.50 each, as if they were all purchased from the same vending machine.

Price Comparison

Classic Dark Lite
Actual Adjusted Actual Adjusted Actual / Adjusted
Cost $0.25 $0.50 $0.52 $0.50 $0.50
Cost per pound $1.86 $3.72 $4.73 $4.55 $5.10
Ratio of cost 0.5 1.0 1.27 1.22 1.37
Using the Classic bar (Adjusted) as the standard

From the above data, we concluded the Classic bar to be the best deal. You get more for less. To see how the various candy bars compared in taste and satisfaction, we conducted a taste test.

Taste Test

(size 5,396 bytes) We took the candy bars and cut them into roughly 0.5 inch (1.27 cm) pieces. One piece of each species was given to our lab tasters, with instructions to sample each piece and write down their comments. They were to compare the nougat, the caramel, the chocolate, and overall satisfaction and taste.

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There were 11 tasters, both male and female ranging in age from 51 to two. Here is what they had to say.

Taster Comments

Tester Classic Dark Lite
M Good. Texture similar to C&L but less chewy and chocolatey. Texture and taste very similar to the Classic bar. A little less sweet and chewy than the Classic.
F Delicious, more chocolatley. Don't usually like dark chocolate, but this is okay. Just a little bitter, but not bad. Different texture than the Classic, more gum like.
F Creamy, light, just right. Can not taste anything but the chocolate. Too sweet. This is thicker, and sticks to the roof of your mouth.
M Strong caramel, subtle nougat flavor. Very chocolatey. Fruity/cherry flavor in nougat. Less chocolatey. More nougaty.
M I like the milk chocolate. Very fluffy. The dark chocolate overwhelms the nougat, I can't taste much but the dark chocolate. More dense. Caramel is darker, stickier. Nougat is sticky as well. Milk chocolate flavor not as strong.
F Very chocolatey, and full flavored. Sweet and fruity. Much denser and chewier, not as sweet.
M Chocolatey. Strong nougat flavor. Smooth, fluffy texture. Nice dark chocolate flavor, though a bit sweet. Hard to detect nougat flavor, but fluffy, soft texture was evident. Much less chocolate flavor than the Classic bar. Sticky, not as fluffy.
F Milk chocolatey. Fluffy, sweet. Dark, very chewy and sugary. Less sweet than Classic. Less fluffy, more chewy. Sticks to the roof of my mouth.
M Heavy, chewy, leaves stuff in your teeth. Like the dark, good hearty dark chocolate flavor. Softer, not as much "bite" to it as the Classic. Still full flavored.
F ... I like this one. ...
F Mmmmwaa mmm mammmwhaa... Mnnna naaannamma mmwaamm... Mnaanmmmnaanmm ammmnnnammnn...

Summary and Conclusions

Overall, the Classic bar was the one picked most as being the best. Tasters gave it high marks for its milk chocolate taste, smooth, creamy caramel, and fluffy nougat. Almost everyone was surprised at how good the Dark bar tasted. Quite a few tasters said they normally didn't like dark chocolate, but they did like the Dark bar. Finally, the Lite bar was considered to be denser, and less chocolatey. Most testers agreed that the Lite bar was chewier than the others.

After the taste test, the tasters were shown the comparison of size, price, calories and fat of the three test subjects. Most were surprised to find the Classic bar so much bigger than the Lite, and the Dark to be smaller than the Classic, but larger than the Lite. Before the calorie and fat differences were know, most tasters said they would stick with the Classic bar. However, after revealing the nutrition differences, several of the female tasters said they would be willing to give up the Classic bar, and pay the extra price per ounce that the Lite cost to save that much in the calorie and fat departments.

When the male tasters were asked their opinion, it was summed up by one tasters comment. "I'd just eat half the Classic bar, and save the rest for the next day." Most male tasters were unwilling to give up the Classic bar for the Lite version. Later in the day, one female taster reported that the amount of sugar in the three pieces she ate was sufficient to irritate a sensitive tooth she had, which resulted in a headache. It was latter agreed that all the candy bars were, indeed very sweet.

One final note worth mentioning. Both the Classic and Dark bars wrapper have a Guarantee of Quality and Freshness statement on them. The Lite bar wrapper had no such statement on it.


We would like to thank James Funkhouser for dragging in his photography equipment and taking the photographs for this web page. Also, he donated the film, and developing costs as well. The photos were developed to a PhotoCD, since it was thought it would make transfer to the computer easier, and James was just plain curious to see what one of those PhotoCD's looked like, and if he could access it under Linux. As it turns out, using the PhotoCD made it extremly easy to transfer the images into the computer. Much, much simpler than scanning the photographs.

Thanks to Dean Thompson for dragging his family in to participate in the taste test section of the research project. We needed the diversity. Dean also brought the toothpicks several tasters used to handle the sticky, chocolatey messes they were tasting.

Thanks to the many tasters who were latched onto as they passed the lab where the research was taking place. Without warning, they were railroaded into participation on a research project that got quite a few strange looks as people walked by.

This page was inspired by the Strawberry Pop-Tart Blow-Torch page. Take a look, you'll have a good time.

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