Nestle will roll away a British tradition with its new hexagonal Smarties packaging. What are the reactions?

Rose Mooney is in her forties, but she can still karate chop a Smarties top across the room. These days she may pop more pills than coloured candy, but once she’s finished her tube of Smarties, she does as she has for 30 years. She closes the tube, puts it flat on a table, whacks it in the centre and watches the plastic top fly.

Nestle has announced the end of Mooney’s sport, and the end of what may be a minor British tradition. After 68 years of Smarties in a cardboard tube with a plastic top, the sweets will come in a hexagonal box with a cardboard flip-top closure.

Today’s children, says the company, need something to keep the brand “fresh and interesting”. The new packaging, it says, will give children a more tactile feel with its six edges.

An informal survey of online reactions revealed many Smarties die-hards upset by the change. Responses to the story on used strong words: disaster, disgraceful, outrage.

One person said on the site he’d rarely been more angry about anything in his life. More than one complained about change for the sake of it.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” said one.

“Smarties tubes are a small but lovable part of our culture and they need to be protected!” said another. Emma Day, 32, who is the only UAE member on the Smarties fansite smarties is “in shock” at news of the new packaging.

“Those tubes have been used by many children to create many spaceships, towers and monsters,” she said in an email to Tabloid.

“I have been eating smarties since I was old enough to have solid foods - even have a photo of me to prove this at about 19 months! I used to love collecting the lids with the letter on as a kid and making words out of them.”

When asked whether the new packaging would diminish her love for the sweet, she said, “I will never stop eating Smarties as long as they exist in the world!”

Not everybody was outraged though. As one person pointed out on the BBC site, a hexagonal tube has a lot more scope for creative play and “is mathematically more interesting”.

Another grudgingly agreed that plastic (of the tops) was not good for the enviroment.

But perhaps the most telling statement was from Sam from the UK who pointed out that “ultimately Smarties are marketed to children naive to the fun of the tubes and not nostalgic adults...”

This observation was borne out during a quick ask-round of younger Smarties fans in Dubai. “I don’t play with the tube, I don’t mind,” said Aadil Rajwani, a 6-year-old who loves Smarties because of the colours (especially purple) and also for the chocolate inside.

Aryan Coram, 6, says, “I love Smarties. I just eat the sweets, I’m okay with any cover.”

Rabeeba Zaidi, 9, and her sister Fizza, 6, are unconcerned with packaging issues. June Hunter, 15, and her siser Jean, 7, don’t care “as long as the Smarties are the same”.

These are children from a generation for whom few toys are make-do. Even traditionally open-ended toys such as Lego are now so specialised they can build only one or two items a box. Toys come with every accessory and many even supply gameplay sound effects.

How many of children accustomed to this surfeit will miss a cardboard tube?

As an older Smarties fan, Danielle D’Souza, 38, thought there were better things to worry about when first asked about the issue... until she remembered how much she used to love the pop of the tube opening.

“My mother used to give them to us on Thursdays,” she said. “We’d eat them all except the brown ones. When you opened it, it would go” - she did a good imitation of the pop at this point. “If they don’t pop, they’re going down.”

Julie Bonollo, a 28-year-old Smarties fan who’s eaten them as long as she can remember didn’t react badly to the news. “I don’t mind change. As long as they taste the same.”

After all, as our mothers always told us: it’s what inside that counts.