Thursday, March 22, 2007
Eek! The end of the week is coming and I still have oodles of Easter candy left to review. Time to double up!
The eggs themselves are about half the size of an actual chicken egg (sliced longways), so they don’t sit quite right in the egg carton. In fact, if you don’t carry the carton horizontally, they’ll all roll out of their little pockets. But not with the messy effect of real eggs. At 45 calories per egg and only 1.5 grams of fat they’re not a bad little treat for someone looking for a little chocolate and a bit more interaction satisfaction than 45 calories of straight chocolate can give.
The marshmallow inside is bouncy and light, not terribly moist. The chocolate outside wasn’t eggciting, just a rather unremarkable coating of plain dark sweet chocolate. The first one I ate (the one pictured) tasted rather like the carton they were in ... a little chemical-y. So for my next tasting I took them out of the carton and left them on a little plate for a half an hour. You know, “to breathe.” That little airing out helped. Now they taste sweet and flavorless. Not bad ... not eggstraodinary by any means, but I only paid 99 cents for the carton of twelve ... what could I have been eggspecting?
Rating: 4 out of 10
After I picked up the carton of Marshmallow Eggs, I found more of the Melster marshmallow line at the 99 Cent Only Store. They had the plain eggs in individually wrapped packets like this as well as these Caramel Marshmallow Eggs. There are only 6 eggs in this package and it doesn’t even weigh as much. But I still considered the price more than reasonable.
Where the plain eggs were only 45 calories each, the addition of caramel here makes them 60 calories though still only a gram of fat. I’m guessing the difference is that the caramel eggs are just a little denser (though the same size).
While I wanted to like these, they had a latexy quality ... and I don’t mean the texture. They tasted like someone had just painted my mouth. That fresh paint smell was coupled with the taste of cereal, maybe corn flakes.
So, maybe these needed the same “airing out” ... and that’s what I did. A half an hour out of the package. Ugh, it still tasted like a can of latex wall paint (maybe ceiling paint, my palette isn’t that sophisticated when it comes to interior coatings).
Now, I recognize that I’ve not reviewed candies for fans of paint fumes, so consider this your first whole hearted recommendation.
For those of you who are not fans of sitting around smelling the paint dry, well, I’d advise sticking to the plain eggs or splurge for Russell Stover or even better See’s.
Rating: 2 out of 10
More about the history of the Melster Company which is now owned by Impact Confections (makers of Warheads).
I’ve never been particularly fond of chocolate coins. They’re often a let down. The foil might be pretty, and as a kid I was particularly fond of money that could also be eaten, but the chocolate has always been a disappointment.
I was happy to give this Rabbit Change a try even though had little hope that it would be tasty, mostly because it was only a dollar for 2 ounces. I’m guessing it’s a rather intensive production process because some chocolate coins out there are very expensive.
These little coins have a rabbit on one side that says “Rabbit Change” and the other side has the denomination of the coin in “carrots”. The little ones are 14 carrot and the largest is 24 carrot. The pastel foil is also pretty darn pleasing.
If you peel chocolate coins apart carefully enough you can put the foil pieces back together again. It’s a nice trick to make your Easter basket appear as if you have some self control. Of course it’s also a horrible disappointment when you have short term memory problems and then you think that you have candy left as well.
It doesn’t really matter, because these aren’t really that good, and I’m pretty sure the memory of this sub-standard chocolate would be retained. While the ingredients peg this as “real chocolate” it’s grainy, very sweet and lacks the buttery melt on the tongue that says chocolate to me. It smells like cheap vanilla candles. I’d be happy to let these sit in my Easter basket to make me look like someone with standards.
The quality control on the coins isn’t very good either. One of mine was completely blank on both sides and two were blank on one side. Though that’d probably get you a lot of money if it were a US Mint product, it’s not really a selling point here. Because the only thing this candy has going for it is the pretty foil with the imprint on it. Still, it’s a good price and if you’re looking for candy more as decoration than an item for consumption or your children don’t much care (or you don’t care much for your children) then this is a good value. They’re getting a 3 out of 10 only because they’re cute.
This product is Kosher ... in case folks want to play the Dreidel game for Passover. Rabbit Change is made in Turkey.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Wonka makes a product called Runts, which are little fruit flavored & shaped compressed dextrose candies covered in a hard candy shell. They’re super cute. They’ve recently added a couple of flavors (some sort of blue balls and pink hearts), but the essence of Runts has always been quirky shapes to match the flavors.
The unique item about Runts has always been the banana. Love it or hate it, you can’t argue that it doesn’t look like a banana (but you’re welcome to argue that it doesn’t taste like one).
Enter the holiday version of Runts, the Runts Freckled Eggs. They’re little egg shaped Runts ... with freckles!
These Runts, as you can see, are egg shaped. They’re also spattered in a sassy way in different colors. There are four flavors: Orange, Blue Raspberry, Green Something and Strawberry. The spattering varies from egg to egg, which pleased me.
The candies themselves are fun, they’re kind of like Gobstoppers, they have a hard shell that feels cool on the tongue, it’s ultra smooth and sweet. Unlike Gobstoppers these shells are thin and you can crack open the candies to reveal the compressed dextrose (ala a SweeTart) candy inside. The candy center isn’t a tart as a SweeTart but more mellow. Not very flavorful either, but I could tell the difference between the flavors ... expect the green one. Sometimes I thought it was watermelon, sometimes green apple.
My complaint here is that there’s no banana. But if you approach these without any preconceptions attached to the all-season Runts, these are tasty and certainly a bit different than jelly beans and marshmallow eggs. I kind of liked the box too.
These were made in Mexico.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
You know what surprised me most about this candy? It recognizes that it’s for Easter. There’s only one other product I’ve reviewed (as far as I can tell) in the past two years that actually mentions the Easter holiday on the wrapper. (The bunny is holding a basket that says “Happy Easter”) Strange, isn’t it? Are we all kidding ourselves that all these egg shaped things could easily be for Passover? (Oddly enough, this is Kosher ... though not for Passover since it has corn syrup in it.)
But I guess I digress.
This is the second Cadbury Royal Dark Raspberry Bunny I’ve bought this year. I lost the first one after I took the photo. (So calling out to it does no good ... it’s missing its ears!) It’s probably in the seat cushions in the car or stuck to the bottom of one of my backpacks.
It’s a very pretty bunny. It’s really well made, nice and shiny and with a pleasant chocolate scent. It’s well formed and looks like a bunny, unlike some candies I’ve purchased for Easter. It’s mostly chocolate with only a small reservoir of “Raspberry Creme Center” in it. It’s not very big, so it’s a good chocolate treat that won’t leave you hating yourself.
The only problem is that Raspberry Creme center ... what is it? At first I thought it was a caramel. It’s almost a syrup and certainly not a creme. It’s sticky and drippy and a little tangy. It even tastes a little salty. It doesn’t taste much like raspberry. Smells a little like it, but doesn’t really taste like it.
The chocolate is that Royal Dark chocolate that Cadbury is pushing now (with the Royal Dark Mini Eggs) which is rather palatable. It’s sweet but also has some nice cocoa notes. It lacks a sort of buttery oomph that good dark chocolate can have.
I’m not really that fond of this. It’s fun and of course it’s not terribly big or expensive, so I can’t be that disappointed.
Monday, March 19, 2007
I found a great new candy store over the weekend. At the suggestion of a reader (thannks Jenny!) I journeyed to City of Commerce to visit Garvey Nut & Candy. It’s a warehouse, mostly wholesale, but they also sell retail. The bulk (and I mean bulk) of their products are sold in full cases, but it’s cash & carry, so no shipping costs incurred.
They had a small selection of items that were sold from open boxes. Just about all of it was from their Easter inventory. At FANTASTIC prices. One of the finds was the Jelly Belly Deluxe Easter Mix ... at $2.35 for a 9 ounce bag, it’s unheard of. The Jelly Belly online sells the same bag for $4.99 (in a prettier store, I’ll admit). If you’re planning a big party or wedding and live in the LA area, this might be just the place for you. High end chocolates and mints to bulk wrapped candies to nuts and nut mixes. For the Easter goodies they had the large packages of Peeps of all kinds for 99 cents, jelly beans (all sorts of Jelly Belly seasonal products), deluxe chocolate eggs (fudge, peanut butter, vanilla), baskets, tins and foil eggs by the kilo (some by Madelaine, which are quite tasty).
You may have to ask them for prices on many items and you may need help finding things. (Their website isn’t very good, so don’t bother.) They have funky hours too: 8AM - 4:30PM on weekdays and Saturday 9-2 (until Easter, then they’re closed on Saturdays until August). I’ll probably head back down there for a look at their Halloween goodies in the fall.
Garvey Nut & Candy
Okay, enough of that, you came here for some candy, didn’t you?
The Deluxe Easter Mix contains assorted pastel Jelly Bellys, bunny corn, mellocremes, gummi eggs and malted chocolate eggs. (It’s also supposed to contain chocolate eggs, but I picked through the bags to find one that had more malted eggs ... which I promptly ate. If you want a full account of them, check out Sera’s review at Candy Addict.)
The bulk of the mix seemed to be populated by these friendly fellows: Mellocremes. (Click on the photo for the full shape assortment.)
They’re flavored lightly: grape, lemon, lime, strawberry and vanilla. The flavors are light (especially light for a company that built itself on extra flavor). I didn’t care for lime at all, but the lemon and strawberry were quite nice. I don’t know which color was supposed to be vanilla (maybe there are white ones, I didn’t have any in my mix).
This is the Bunny Corn, and it’s pretty much the same recipe as the Mellocreme but a different shape. They tend to be a little firmer and as you might guess, they’re just like Candy Corn. They’re not flavored.
If the Mellocremes in white taste like this, I might be more fond of them. I rather like candy corn, in small doses.
There are only two colors on these, which seemed a little skimpy. Candy Corn usually has three colors (orange, yellow and white). But I guess Bunnies travel light.
The Jelly Belly website calls these Orange Creme Non-Pareil Eggs, which doesn’t really sound like much fun. So I’m going to call them Crunchy Gummi Eggs. They’re super-cute, with pastel colored crunchy spheres (non-pareils) on the outside and a tangy orange gummi on the inside. They’re larger than a jelly bean, about the size of a foil wrapped chocolate egg that you can often find in Easter baskets.
They’re much like the Crunchy Bears I reviewed a while back, except these only come in orange, which is fine by me. The gummi is super-soft and the crunchy coating gives it some fun ... it’s the crunchiest thing in the bag. Jelly Belly also makes a slightly related product with the Champagne Bubbles and Berries.
There were also some Jelly Belly scattered in, they came in Berry Blue, Cantaloupe, Cotton Candy, Island Punch, Lemon, Lemon Lime, Pi?a Colada, Pink Grapefruit, and looked oh-so-coordinated with everything else. (I picked out all the pink grapefruit while shooting the photos.)
Overall the mix was very pretty, and attractiveness is important with holiday candy. But I wasn’t really that keen on some of the elements (the Mellocremes, especially). It was a good introduction to the whole line of Easter treats, so now I know what to buy in a solo bag - the Orange Creme Non-Pareil Eggs. At normal mortal prices of $4.99 a bag, I’m not that wild about the whole shebang (so they get a 6 out of 10) as a sub-$2.50 find, they’re a 7 out of 10.
I’ve been rather peeved with Lifesavers for a few years. In fact, you might even call my rant about the Five Roll flavors changing my first Candy Blog post.
But if I was complaining before that the five flavor roll changed to accommodate new flavors, I should be pleased that the Lifesavers Jellybeans actually have all my favorite flavors (well, no tangerine, but orange will do nicely). My other pet peeve is that the colors on their logo no longer match the flavors. If you look at the package it lists the flavors on a different color stripe, but the color of the stripe doesn’t match the flavor. Oh well.
The Lifesavers Jelly Beans are about the size of Jelly Belly, but a little fatter around the middle. The colors are bold and appealing and the quality control was very good - the beans were very consistent.
Grape - has tones of both fake grape and a little smidge of concord in there, just like grape soda.
Overall, with only two flavors I didn’t much care for (cherry & peach), this is an excellent assortment. They’re not quite Jelly Belly (which pack flavor through and through), but for a fraction of the price they’re admirable. I actually liked them much better than the Starburst ones I tried last year. There’s another pastel mix of flavors as well: Red Raspberry, Mango Medley, Cotton Candy, Watermelon, Blueberry, Pina Colada, Strawberry-Kiwi, and Banana which also sounds pretty tasty. (I’ll probably give those a try if they’re sitting around after Easter on sale.)
Friday, March 16, 2007
Yep, that’s right, it’ll be all Easter candy, all week long.
Right now I’ve got the following in the tasting basket:
Palmer Nest Eggs (Peanut Butter)
Finally, Chocolate Obsession reminds everyone to “Make Mine Chocolate” ... so buy your kids and lovers chocolate bunnies, not the flesh and blood ones.
Charles Chocolates not only makes one of the few marzipans I like, they also have their own line of chocolate bars. They come in sweet looking retro boxes with little line drawings on them. The boxes protect the thick bars very well and allow them to be rewrapped in their foil if you don’t finish them all at once (and at 3.4 ounces, you probably won’t unless you’re sharing).
(for those of you reading via feed, I’m using a flash slideshow for the photos today)
Mocha Java Pieces in 65% Bittersweet Chocolate (blue label) - this is a powerful bar. I’ve been keeping my chocolate bars in a little igloo cooler in my studio (because it protects it from temperature changes, and the dog can’t get to it) and every time I open it up I could smell the coffee in this bar. The 65% cacao dark chocolate is rich but still wonderfully buttery. The bar has plenty of whole espresso beans in it too which dotted the bottom of the bar (and explain why it’s a little titled in the picture). As a personal choice, I don’t like to eat coffee beans, but in this case they worked well in the bar and are paired with the right kind of chocolate.
Caramelized Crisped Rice in 41% Milk Chocolate (red label on caramel) - this bar smells like caramel but tastes like Sugar Pops and chocolate. The milk chocolate is smooth and super creamy and the crisped rice has a deep caramelized flavor with some malty tones to it. The only thing that I had a problem with was the integration of the crisped rice ... it wasn’t in the bottom of the bar, just the top. Sometimes I wanted more crisped rice with my chocolate. But then sometimes I liked finding a spot where it was naked of chocolate and could see it glistening in its coat of caramelized sugar and flick my tongue on it to get just those flavors and textures ... then I’d come across the chocolate, which would melt around it all over again.
Caramelized Crisped Rice in 65% Bittersweet Chocolate (red label on brown) - this bar is quite the opposite of its dairy infused sibling. Instead of being chatty and available, this one was rather standoffish and even elusive. The chocolate is creamy but with a strong astringency that seemed to give it some more vegetable flavors than fruit. This in turn made the crisped rice more reminiscent of pilaf than breakfast. Still, the textures were so wonderful, the chocolate melted easily and the caramelized sugar shatters on crunching, revealing that wonderful malted rice taste.
Crystallized Ginger Pieces in 65% Bittersweet Chocolate (yellow label) - again, a really creamy 65% dark chocolate, it just descends into a delicious fatty chocolate syrup in the mouth. The ginger’s earthy/rooty flavors come forward immediately. They bring a bit of a citrus tang and make the chocolate itself seem a little acidic, but the grainy sugar of the crystallized ginger also dissolves and mitigates that just in time.
Hazelnut and Candied Orange Peel in 65% Bittersweet Chocolate (green label) - this was the first bar I tried and the first bar I finished. Fab-u-lous. The chocolate is creamy and quick to melt. It’s not too sweet and sets off the candied orange rind ... the flavor of the orange zest permeates parts of the bar and then the crushed hazelnuts give a crunch and nutty texture to the whole thing. It’s not a common combination of flavors, which is one of the reasons you might want to seek this bar out.
Charles Chocolates just opened their new retail store in the same building as their kitchen/factory. They offer free samples (see the schedule). For those who can’t find them in store they also have a webstore. Retail vendors are also listed on the site (basically high-end chocolate shops & Whole Foods). See DessertFirst’s visit to Charles Chocolates. Here’s my previous review of some other products in his line.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.