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August 2007

Friday, August 31, 2007

Head to Head: M&Ms vs Koppers Milkies

Last year I reported that M&Ms was pulling back on candy stores on the internet being permitted to sell M&Ms ColorWorks candies. This means that if you want single colored M&Ms, you’ve either got to trek out to a candy store that carries them or order directly from M&Ms and their website.

image

ColorWorks are wildly popular as a candy for special gifts, parties, wedding favors and candy buffets ... but they’re also rather expensive when you think about how much a regular mixed bag costs at the drug store or grocer. A pound of M&Ms usually costs about $3 to $4 (I can get them for about $2 on sale at times) a pound in their standard mix. However, the ColorWorks on the M&Ms website are $10 a pound when purchased in 5 pound bags (and $13.69 when purchased in the next smaller size, 7 ounces).

So what’s a bride to do when she wants pretty chocolate pastilles for her favors? Well, unless you want to buy the regular M&Ms in bulk and separate them yourself ... or stock up around a holiday such as Easter or Christmas ... or pick something like Kissables then I thought I would look at an alternative brand: Koppers.

I’m very fond of Koppers as a brand to begin with, not only for their variety but also their innovative flavor combinations (they invented the chocolate covered coffee bean and chocolate covered gummi bears!) but mostly because they’re just so darned pretty. It’s a quality product, made in the USA and is certified Kosher. They also have a wide selection of color variations.

A few weeks ago I did a huge photo shoot with a large selection (14 different colors) of the Koppers Milkies and I figured it was a sign that I should do a piece on them, more specifically in a head to head with M&Ms.

image

Colors: I picked up a pound of pre-mixed M&Ms at The Jelly Bean factory which features 21 different colors. Though Koppers makes at least 28 colors (and would probably do a custom color for you directly if you ordered enough) I think it’s safe to say that both have a great selection of colors.

M&Ms and Koppers - AboveSize & Shape: The candies are pretty much the same. The M&Ms are a little bit bigger around, but the Koppers are slightly higher in the middle. The Koppers are much more consistent in their size and shape and shell than the M&Ms. Of the Koppers that I sorted through, I found perhaps 3 or 4 “rejects” per pound. For the M&Ms I found at least 15 rejects in the single pound that I had to go on. I find at least one reject in a single serving bag as well (this would be a candy that is markedly out of proportion, has a problem with its shell in some way like bumpiness or missing part of it or irregular coloration).

M&Ms and Koppers - CrossShell & Color - the M&Ms have a slightly thicker shell which appears to be colored all the way through. This gives it a consistent color depth. The Koppers has a white or colorless shell at its base and then a colored shell. I never encountered any that lacked a good coat of color on them. The color was more consistent and dense than the M&Ms, where sometimes had a slight mottled appearance, especially on the darker colors. M&Ms also have a little grey, lowercase M stamped on every one (including the grey ones, even though you really can’t see it). Koppers are unbranded and I like the look. I’m not sure I would if they weren’t so perfectly consistent.

The colors available for both are rather similar and it’s likely if you’re very picky for your occasion you should get some samples before you commit to large quantities. (I was able to buy a pound bag of the complete mix of colors at The Jelly Bean Factory.) Most of the colors in real life from both brands are remarkably consistent with those posted on their websites. Koppers has a larger variety of colors they produced, however, few stores carry all of them. (But might be willing to do a special order if you give them some lead time.)

Taste: M&Ms taste like, well, M&Ms. The shell is crispy and crunchy and the chocolate inside is mellow, sweet and has a slightly acidic milky flavor and maybe even a little hint of nuttiness.

The Koppers have a rather different chocolate flavor. In fact, they taste more like chocolate to me, especially since the shell is a bit thinner. The shell crackles at first but then dissolves away to leave only the chocolate. It’s a light milk chocolate which smells divine in large quantities. 

The nutrition info on both was virtually identical (200 calories per 40 grams).

Price: M&Ms ColorWorks prices seem to be pretty carefully controlled. Buying on the internet you’re going to find very few shops that still have inventory left, and they’re probably not selling for much less than M&Ms direct. Just about every shop I go into that has M&Ms ColorWorks sells for $8 to $10 per pound. Koppers are sold at a variety of online stores (and not very many brick & mortars). I got mine from Candy Warehouse (because I do photos for them) but there are a few other online stores that are starting to carry the line. Most are about $8 to $10 a pound - even less if you buy in HUGE quantities. (Please check out any online retailer before you order something for a special event.)

image

Here are a few things I noticed:

  • Both candies are prone to cracking when exposed to warmer temperatures, so keep that in mind if your candy buffet will be outdoors or in a warm environment (don’t point hot lights at them!). When I do my photos I have a 600 watt light on and it does get warm on the shooting table. The Koppers were the first to crack but the M&Ms weren’t far behind. Even if they didn’t crack, sitting around in 90+ temps will cause the cocoa butter to migrate, giving the lentils a glossy appearance, but greasy feel (and then when they cool, perhaps a chalkier texture inside). If you’re buying any kind of chocolate, be sure to store it properly! Even though temps in my house in the daytime have been in the mid nineties the chocolate has been doing fine sequestered in a large ice chest kept in a dark closet. I don’t put any ice in it, I think the insulation of the chest and the mass of the chocolate itself is enough to keep it within the safe range.
  •  

  • Both candies can also crack when handled roughly. Pouring a pound or two into a very large glass vase can cause some of them to shatter, as can dropping a big five pound bag like it’s a bag o’ pirate loot. So take care with them.
  •  

  • You need a lot of candy to make it “look” like there’s a lot of candy, so don’t be afraid to have too much. I’ll have more on the volumes & weights next week.
  • It all comes down to what you want at your party, what you prefer, and perhaps even which brand has the colors that go with your motif best. Definitely give both a try (and check out the rest of the Koppers line ... I’m rather fond of their mocha lentils and licorice lentils). It’s fun to think outside of the normal Jordan almonds motif and the great thing is that the internet has made so many different kinds of candy available.

    As mentioned earlier I have a lot of the Koppers Milkies and am planning a party for tomorrow evening where I intend to make all my friends eat pounds and pounds of the stuff. I’m going to create the ultimate “candy buffet” so look for some postings and photos in the future with ideas on how to make your own candy buffet.

    The results of this head to head? I prefer the Koppers. I like the more authentic chocolate taste and they simply feel a little more upscale to me, mostly because of their high degree of consistency. However, M&Ms have a lot to recommend them. They’re pretty easy to get a hold of (and I’m guessing if you order direct they’ll be super fresh) and a known crowd pleaser, if a bit more “casual” in feel because of the branding.

    Koppers (website) get a 9 out of 10 and M&Ms ColorWorks (website) get a still respectable 8 out of 10.

    Related Candies

    1. Romanego Dragees, Cordials & Fondants
    2. Rum Cordials
    3. Oriental Trading Company Candies
    4. Equal Exchange Miniatures
    5. Head-to-Head: Smarties vs. M&Ms

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:20 am     CandyReviewKoppersMarsChocolateM&Ms8-Tasty9-YummyUnited StatesHead to HeadComments (4)

    Thursday, August 30, 2007

    Candy Source: Chocolates a la Carte

    Novelty Molded ChocolatesThough my recent vacation was not as candy-filled as some other trips I’ve taken, I did get to stop at an actual candy factory outlet store. Unlike other “company stores” such as Hershey’s and M&Ms World in Times Square, this store features many factory seconds at hugely discounted prices.

    Chocolates a la Carte is located in Valencia, CA in a non-descript industrial park just on the other side of route 126 from Six Flags Magic Mountain and a stone’s throw from I5. The store is only open two days a week and for rather brief hours to boot, but the timing of my trip couldn’t have been more perfect. The company makes a wide variety of chocolate products. Many of them you’d never know were theirs, they make little chocolate pieces that are used as accents on desserts and bakery goods or found served with coffee service at fine hotels and restaurants. Some of their other lines are manufactured for other companies as well as for their own brand called Signature Chocolates by Rena.

    Odds and EndsGetting into the store is more like a private shopping appointment. We entered the two story reception area and were greeted by the receptionist who called for the marketing person who operates the store. She unlocked the little room which was the sum total of their outlet store. I’m guessing in cooler months it’s probably open more continuously ... it was 98 degrees at 4:00 when we stopped there last week ... not really chocolate weather

    The store however, does not disappoint in both its breadth of inventory nor in savings.

    The products I was most interested in were the Truffle Tiles (which are so much like the ones at Choxie it makes me wonder) and Truffle Pops (which I saw at Bristol Farms but somehow couldn’t pony up the $6 for the set of 3). But of course there was plenty to choose from.

    The truffle tile selection was a little sparse - so I picked up their classic trio collection for $3.50. I was also pleased to find the truffle pops available individually, though only in the Brut Dark Chocolate variety (which I figured was the best anyway) for only $.50 each. Holy Moly! Those puppies are $2 each in stores! So I bought $2 worth (four of them).

    Trio of Truffle TilesTruffle Tiles ($3.50 for a box of 3) - well, I’m never as keen on molded truffles as I am on dipped ones, so there’s a strike there (but hey, I’m the one who bought them so I can hardly hold it against them). The proportion of chocolate to filling in the tiles, as you can see from the photo is heavy on the chocolate coating, light on the filling. This means that either the filling is intense or so washed out that it really only contributes a speck of texture. These were middle of the road for me. Not intense, but certainly fresh and fun.

    6 out of 10

    Truffle PopsTruffle Pops (50 cents each) -  here’s a home run at 50 cents each. The shell is much thicker on these than a regular truffle, but the filling is definitely intense and creamy (and not even runny given its exposure to 85+ degree heat in the evening in my house). While I’m not usually keen on “painted” chocolates, especially ones that have sparkles or luminous metallic colors (mostly because I have no idea what I’m eating) this looked edibly appealing and smelled pleasantly of woodsy chocolate.

    8 out of 10 at this price, they’d make a wonderful wedding or party favor, but probably down to a 6 out of 10 at four times the price.

    Brandy Disks Brandy Disks ($2.50 for a bag of 6) - these little dark chocolate disks with white chocolate squiggles were exquisite. If I were to go back there and find a huge bag of them on sale, I’d jump at them. The center is a Florentine-style caramelized cookie thing and then the chocolate coating. The center was crisp and crunchy and a little chewy like toffee can be ... a touch of salt and dark caramelized sugar flavors. The dark chocolate offset it nicely. I ate three in one night after I photographed them.

    Seriously addictive ... I give them a 9 out of 10.

    Dark Salted Caramel TrufflesSalted Caramel Truffles ($3.00 for a bag of 8 “seconds”) - these little guys may not have been the prettiest thing I purchased, but they were tasty. The center was part truffle cream and part caramel. It was a bit on the custardy side, smooth and creamy but without much flavor but a nice little hint of salt. I wasn’t wild about them, but liked them well enough to eat them after the Brandy Disks were gone.

    I give them a 6 out of 10.

    As for the prices, they’re sometimes less than half the retail price charged on their own website:

    Monet’s Palate(TM) Chocolate Couture $26.95 on website - $12.50 in person
    Cigar Box filled with 5 chocolate Cigars $29.95 on website - $24.95 in person
    20 Piece Truffle Box $18.95 on website - $13.95 in person

    Truffle PopsWhile most of the the prices are great, as an outlet store you never know what you’ll find there. Also, some of the items they sell are retail quality, others are slightly flawed. I was told that the truffle pops weren’t quite up to snuff in their bronzy coating, but they looked fine to me. But the little salted caramel truffles did have some aesthetic and functional problems (some of them had little coverage holes in them), so they’re fine for eating but I don’t know if I’d give them as gifts or use them as a wedding favor or anything.

    The chocolate they use for their creations is a combination of Callebaut, Guittard and Valrhona (usually marked as such).

    I guess the caveat is if you see something while you’re there, buy it because you don’t know if it’ll be there when you go bag. You could probably buy one and try it right there in order to decide if you want more. (Seeing how the Truffle Pops are only 50 cents, how could that be a bad idea?) I would have bought more of the Brandy Disks if I followed my own advice.

    Chocolates ? la Carte
    28455 Livingston Ave
    Valencia, CA 91355
    (map)

    (661) 257-3700
    Store open Wednesday and Friday afternoons (call to confirm)

    As outlet shopping goes, I give this an 8 out of 10, I’ll definitely go back when the opportunity presents itself.

    Related Candies

    1. Candy Source: Jelly Bean Factory
    2. 2006 Chocolate Gift Guide
    3. Ethel Holiday Assortment
    4. Cha-Cha-Cha Choxie

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:20 am     CandyChocolatierLos AngelesReviewCaramelChocolateCookie8-TastyUnited StatesShoppingComments (2)

    Wednesday, August 29, 2007

    VerMints

    The mint market is well, full of mints. So what’s a company gonna do to distinguish themselves from the crowded field? Ver thinks it’s hit on the right balance of novelty, quality and qualifications. Their line of six different flavors are vegan, Kosher and gluten free, nut free and all-natural (and featuring many organic ingredients).

    vermints-peppermintVer containers are cute little steel tins that are easy to open and close and feature eye-catching designs that reflect the flavors inside.

    The blue tin was predictably Peppermint, their original flavor. Unlike a mint like Altoids, these aren’t blindingly strong. Just simply, well, mints. The texture is pleasant. Not chalky, but a little crumbly but sufficiently dense. The intensity of the mint grows (though sometimes one mint may be stronger than another) as it dissolves and leaves a breath-freshening coolness when it’s gone.

    vermints-wintermintWinterMint is what I’m guessing is wintergreen since it features wintergreen oil in the ingredients. I think wintergreen flavor is undervalued in our culture and I blame Pepto Bismol for giving us the association of wintergreen with being sick. (Some additional blame goes to Ben Gay for making us think of locker-rooms and old people.) Upon reading a little more on the subject, wintergreen is not to be taken lightly as it can be toxic in very large doses, which you really can’t achieve with a tin.

    This was like one of those big Canada pink mints (wintergreen is also called Canada mint), but not as chalky. Smooth and peppery, I enjoyed these quite a bit. There were also little bits of real peppermint leaves in the pastilles.

    vermints-gingerWith my motion sickness difficulties I tend to eat a lot of Ginger candies. I like to strike a balance between their spiciness, the amount of actual ginger in the candy and of course the overall taste. Too much spice and I can’t maintain my intake (though fanning my mouth often takes my mind off of nausea ... so that’s effective).

    These crazy mints have a lot of ginger flavor in them and burn on my tongue right away. It dissipates after a moment and I forget about the inital scalding by the time I eat another one.

    They have two kinds of ginger in them: ground ginger root and ginger flavor. I think ginger goes particularly well with Maple Syrup.

    vermints-cinnThe bright red tin is hard to miss and easy to guess the flavor is cinnamon (well, they call it CinnaMint).

    It’s definitely cinnamon, completely spicy, kind of woodsy and a little sweet. There are peppermint leaves in this one too, but I think it would have been better to throw a few little bits of cinnamon in there while they were at it. But they didn’t ask me.

    For a while I was pronouncing this as Very Mints ... not realizing, first that they were spelled Ver with no I in there after the Ver. It wasn’t until I got the VerMONT connection that I understood the name. I still think Very Mints is a good name, too. I might start calling the state it Very Mont.

    vermints-chaiThe two flavors that set this set apart are the flavor combos. This one, Chai features Fair Trade teas from Honest Tea. Of course this means that this ingredients simply say that it contains “Organic Chai Tea” which is a pretty vague thing, kind of like “cake mix”. I can taste a bit of the black tea background, some cinnamon and strong clove, a little nutmeg. I’d have liked, of course, more cardamom and perhaps vanilla notes. And less clove. Just make a clove mint and leave clove out of the other candies.

    It’s pretty good and a nice change of pace from the others. The spicy notes are refreshing and I think gives me pleasant breath.

    vermints-cafeThe last flavor is Cafe Express which features Fair Trade coffee from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. The ingredients list both coffee and natural coffee flavor and they certainly smell like sweet, sweet coffee. The flavor is a little less intense, mellow and coffee-ish. On the good side of that, there’s no coffee breath afterwards. On the bad side, they feel more like candy than a breath mint. Not that there’s anything wrong with that since they’re pretty much gone now.

    Overall I prefer the texture of these to Altoids, they’re a little smoother and the binder gums in there give them a very slight slippery feel on the tongue as they dissolve. The flavors are more pleasing than the similarly-textured Pastiglie Leone and completely different from the also-vegan friendly St. Claire’s Organic Mints.

    Curiosities & other facts associated with these mints:

  • The mints are made in Canada.
  • The tins are made in China.
  • They contain “pure Vermont spring water” as an ingredient ... which means they must be shipping it up to Canada.
  • They contain two thickening gums - agar (derived from seaweed) and gum tragacanth (which I sometimes think is related to the coelocanth but is actually from some legume plant - okay, I’ve made that joke before ... but you may have missed it the first time!).
  • They contain organic tapioca syrup instead of the usual corn syrup (which is often GMO) and organic maple sugar syrup.
  • They’re Kosher.
  • Each mint contains 5 calories - there are approximately 40 in each tin.

  • Related Candies

    1. Hot Tamales Ice
    2. St. Claire’s Organic Mints & Tarts
    3. Anis de Flavigny
    4. Chocolate Dipped Altoids
    Name: VerMints Variety
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: VerMints
    Place Purchased: free samples
    Price: $2.50-$3.00
    Size: 1.41 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 130 (I think it's lower than that)
    Categories: Mint, Ginger, Coffee, Canada, Kosher, Fair Trade (some ingredients), Organic (some ingredients)

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:49 am     Comments (12)

    Tuesday, August 28, 2007

    Ritter Schokowurfel

    Ritter SchokowurfelNo, it’s not German candy week ... it’s purely a coincidence that I bought those Katjes and then my husband picked up this cool box of Ritter Sport Schockowurfel on a recent trip to New York City.

    Instead of the regular sized bars, these miniatures are about the size of a regular Ritter Sport “section” ... and they’re filled as well! Kind of like little truffles. The variety is called in 6 pralingen Sorten ... which I’m guessing means an assortment of six pralines.

    Ritter SchokowurfelThe bottom of the box is folded in such a way that when I removed the top the bottom expands to make more of a bowl ... which makes it easier to rifle through the assortment to see what they all are. Luckily there was also an inventory with images on the side of the box to guide me through them all.

    The wrappers are all distinctive enough in color combos that I got good at telling what they were at a glance.

    Creme CocoCreme Coco isn’t something chocolatey ... nope, it’s milk chocolate with a coconut center. The coconut is certainly sweet, as is the milk chocolate, but the small size makes it pretty agreeable. It reminded me a little bit of the limited edition Hershey’s Coconut Creme Kisses, in a good way. This coconut was a little firmer, a little crispier.

    Cappuccino & Amarettini was not one I was looking forward to, since I assumed it was going to be heavy on the amaretto (as the marzipan bar is), but it was much more focused on the coffee notes. Very sweet, so sweet it made my throat burn for a bit.

    Tiramisu on the other hand had that amaretto flavor, but distinctive marscapone note.

    EdelnugatEdelnugat is a hazelnut paste inside milk chocolate. The consistency is thick, sticky and smooth with a great roasted nut flavor.

    Caramel Crisp was kind of odd ... the filling was light in color but reminded more of the yogurt Ritter Sports. There were some dark caramelized sugar flavors in there and some light crispies that kind of redeemed the cloying sweetness.

    Crocant reminds me of the great Knusperflakes that Ritter makes, though I think it’s actually crisped rice ... the little crispy bits are inside a softer cocoa cream center. Simple, fun, tasty.

    The assortment had some nice variation and is a pleasant change from the monotony of buying a whole bar and being force to consume it before you can move on to another flavor (okay, maybe no one forces me). It’s easy to share them and they look pretty sassy in their simple little wrappers. I’d love it if some were dark chocolate though, as I think Ritter is making great strides in the dark department for a mass-consumer chocolate company. I have no idea how much my husband paid for this ... I can’t even find it on the Ritter website. I did see that they have another morsel-sized chocolate simply called Rum; if it’s anything like the Rum Trauben Nuss, I’m sold.

    Related Candies

    1. Ritter Sport Fruhlingsspezialitaten 2010
    2. Ritter Sport Neapolitan Wafers
    3. Milka Alpenmilch
    4. Hachez Chocolates
    5. Ritter Sport Capuccino and Rum Trauben Nuss
    6. Ritter Sport Assortment
    7. The Real Nestle Swiss
    Name: Ritter Sport Schokowurfel
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Ritter Sport
    Place Purchased: gift (gourmet shop in NYC)
    Price: unknown
    Size: 8.4 ounces
    Calories per ounce: unknown
    Categories: Chocolate, Coconut, Coffee, Cookie, Nuts,Germany, Ritter

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:30 am     Comments (6)

    Monday, August 27, 2007

    Katjes Tropical Gummis & Yogurt Gums

    Katjes Tropical GummisAs German candy makers go, in my mind Haribo is most associated with Gummi Bears and Katjes is most associated with Licorice.

    So here are some Katjes products that are gummis ... I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about them, mostly since I’ve never felt the need to stray from my favorite brand (except of course in service of Candy Blog). But back at the beginning of the year I got an email though, from a reader name Charlene who suggested the Katjes Saure Ananas (Sour Pineapple) ... which sounds just like something I’d dig. Though GermanDeli.com carries them I usually just wanna hold the package in my hand, so I went off to Cost Plus after browsing their online ad and seeing that they had Katjes on sale at two packages for $4.00. While I never found the Saure line, I did find a few other items.

    Tropen Fruchte sounded just my speed in the gummi department - based on the cognates and pictures on the wrapper, I decided these are Tropical Fruit. (Okay, okay, the back of the package had an English sticker that said Tropical Fruit Gummis.) What appealed to me most was the supposed grapefruit gummi that was to appear inside.

    Katjes Tropical GummisI’ve gotta give them credit, there’s no need to ponder what the flavor are (once you translate them) ... they’re molded into each and every one: Grapefruit, Tropika, Exotic, Mango, Kiwi and Passion Frucht.

    Regardless of what the candies actually said, they all tasted rather the same. Oh sure, the tropika tasted a little more like pineapple than the exotic, which tasted a bit more like passion fruit, but I felt the passion and intensity lacking in all of them.

    And of course the grapefruit could not rival my other best pal, the Haribo Pink Grapefruit Slice. Katjes was more of a mellow lemon with a little grapefruit zest in it.

    Katjes YogurtThe other item I picked up was the Katjes Yogurt Gums. I have no idea what I was thinking. It’s completely unlike me to ever get anything “yogurty.” As a dairy product, I think yogurt is fine but I don’t like it in other things or even the flavor of it in other things. It’s just a personal thing.

    The flavors sounded interesting: Himbeere, Erdbeere, Birne, Heidelbeere, Zitrone and Kirsche.

    When I first tried these I detested them. They were soft and felt rather like something for a baby.

    However, after letting them sit in the bottom of my desk drawer, then being retired to “maybe someday when I’m feeling too lazy to take new photos I’ll review these” box I tried them again. No longer as soft, but oddly grainy like a pear is, I kind of dug them.

    The flavor wasn’t terribly tangy in the “dairy gone bad” way, more in the natural tangy fruit way. The gums have real apple pulp in them, which is probably why the pear (birne) one tasted and felt so authentically pear-ish.

    I can’t say that I feel like buying either of these again, but I’m pleased that they use no artificial colors and often have fruit pulp, natural flavors and fruit juices in the candies. But for now, I’m going to stick to their licorice or pounce on their sours when I finally find them.

    Related Candies

    1. Sour Gummi Bears
    2. HiCHEW Grapefruit
    3. Gummi Lightning Bugs
    4. Dutch Licorice
    5. Lifesaver Gummies
    Name: Tropen-Frutchte Gummi & Yoghurt Gums
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Katjes
    Place Purchased: Cost Plus (Glendale)
    Price: $2.00
    Size: 7.1 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 95 & 91
    Categories: Gummi, Jelly, Germany

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:25 am     Comments (14)

    Friday, August 24, 2007

    This Week in Candy - The Vacation

    Butterfly on LavenderOn my vacation to the central coast of California I stopped in a lot of candy stores. If there was a candy store nearby, you can be sure I went in. There was something sad about most of them. I don’t know if it was that tourism is down in that part of the state or what, but the shops were just not that appealing to me. (You know I love candy stores.)

    Part of it was the merchandising. The stores just didn’t feel fresh, the inventory wasn’t “fluffed” to look inviting and tasty. I also noticed a few new “taffy” stores. These are stores that pretty much only sell taffy and often for $6 to $9 a pound. What a great business that is!

    Seriously, taffy is one of the cheapest candies you can buy wholesale. At about $2 a pound, that’s a 400% margin. (Of course if you’re running a small chain you can get even better deals.) There’s very little maintenance involved ... you just get some big containers like barrels or whatever and mound the stuff up. Give people a basket or a bucket and tell them to go to town. Taffy is fluffed with air, so it looks like a lot of candy and of course taffy has a strong association with vacations.

    I didn’t buy any. I’ll have to post about taffy someday, I guess, I’m a candy blogger.

    I did pick up a couple of pieces of fudge (well, one was fudge and the other was penuche). I ate it, so no review or photos. Hey, I was on vacation!

    In other candy news, more Mexican candies have an alert out on them about high lead content. This time it’s the brands Miguelito and Barrilito. California inspectors have stepped up their testing of Mexican candies because they are so frequently found to fail the standards, so here’s to hoping that these get pulled from shelves soon. (Original notice from the California Department of Health - PDF.)

    imageIn items that have not been recalled but contains bug parts, here’s a curiosity called Edible Ant Farm Candy. Yes, it’s a slab of transparent hard candy that looks like real ants in their native ant farm habitat. Such a strange experience. I’m fine with eating chicken eggs, but I don’t like to pretend they’re still in the nest or anything. (Image swiped from CandyWarehouse)

    Brits will be happy to hear that Cadbury is bringing back the Wispa. The bar was discontinued in 2003 and like our good old American Mars bar, when they brought out the replacement, the Dairy Milk Bubbly ... well, it wasn’t the same. I guess it’s a great sign that we should never give up hope. (Check out the current poll ... vote for what you’d bring back from extinction.)

    This week’s reviews in review:

    Monday: Chunky (6 out of 10)

    Tuesday: 3 Musketeers Mini Mix (7 out of 10)

    Thursday: UK Smarties (no artificial colors) (6 out of 10)

    Friday: Jones Soda Grape Carbonated Candy (6 out of 10)

    Weekly average: 6.25 ... 75% chocolate content.

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    1. This Week in Candy - Candy is Energy!
    2. This Week in Candy - A Giant Craving
    3. This Week in Candy - Elvis is in the Cupcake!
    4. This Week in Candy - The FDA Stuff Continues (as does my obsession with nougat)
    5. What I Ate on my Summer Vacation

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:04 pm     CandyFun StuffNewsComments (0)

    Jones Soda Grape Carbonated Candy

    Jones MF GrapeA couple of months ago I reviewed a dollar store find called Soda Can Fizzy Candy thinking that it was a cheaper and possibly cuter version of Jones Soda Co’s new Carbonated Candy.

    Allow me to say that I was wrong.

    While it is true that the Soda Can was less expensive and had a nice variety of flavors in one package, the candies inside are not the same. It’s not just that the Jones candy tablets are bigger, they’re simply more flavorful and fizzier.

    The nice tin from Jones is substantial. It’s tall and has a firmly locking flip top. Inside the top is a little encouraging missive, mine said “jump up and down for no reason” which is somehow more encouraging than some of the sayings inside the Dove wrapped candies. I did have trouble getting the tin open much of the time, but unlike the difficulties with the York tin, I never spilled anything.

    I bought these at Target, which had them for $1.39, not a bargain but certainly less than the $2.49 quoted on Amazon which scared me off of them in the first place.

    The selection was limited at Target though, at least at the checkstands I checked, so I had a choice of M.F. Grape and Green Apple. Seeing how grape is an actual soda flavor I enjoyed as a kid, I thought that was the deal for me.

    Later I pondered the “MF” part of the flavor name. I can imagine quite a few things that might fit into those initials:

    Marty Feldman Grape
    March Forward Grape
    Medium Frequency Grape
    Minnesota Farmers Grape
    Madison Forensics Grape
    Majorly Freaky Grape
    Mighty Fine Grape
    Maximus Frutus Grape
    My Favorite Grape

    There’s probably something I’m missing as a possibility ... but this is a family-friendly blog.

    Mighty Fine GrapeThe little tablets are the size of a regular aspirin. The smell when opening the tin is absolutely grape, like the foamy head on a chilled grape soda or sitting next to a mouth-breathing child chewing Grape Bubble Yum.

    The flavor goes through and through with a tart bite and pretty well rounded grape flavor of both the chemical variety and a small dose of the grape juice note. What is most notable is the carbonation. These are pretty much fizz bombs for your mouth. Not blisteringly sour ones, just a simple frothy foam.

    Frankly, they’re not that appealing to me. I enjoyed the flavor more than the Bawls mints (but there’s no caffeine here). Carbonated things make me burpy and while a grape repeat isn’t too bad, I’m not fond of the later revisit of flavors like green apple. This is pretty why I don’t drink sodas anyway. But my husband liked the flavor of them, so I give them marks for appealing to him. The tin mentions that you can drop them in your soda as a flavor booster.

    So, if you’re a soda fan and are looking for a dried out capsule version to carry around with you, this might do the trick. The tin is pretty sweet looking and it’s easy to share a little pep-me-up with friends. There are only three calories per tablet and 50 tablets in the tin. I feel a bit more confident recommending them since they’re made in Canada and not China as the Soda Can candies were. Now, if they had a Root Beer version or perhaps Cola ... then I’d probably be more excited. I’ll stick with Bottle Caps for now.

    ZOMG Candy has a great review of the Green Apple.

    Related Candies

    1. Astra Flying Saucers
    2. Pop Rocks Cherry Cola
    3. Jelly Belly Soda Pop Shoppe
    4. Haribo Fizzy Cola
    5. Bottlecaps
    Name: Jones Soda Co Carbonated Candy: M.F. Grape
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Jones Soda Co (Big Sky Brands)
    Place Purchased: Target (Eagle Rock)
    Price: $1.39
    Size: .89 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 120
    Categories: Compressed Dextrose, Canada, Lake Champlain, Kosher

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:45 am     Comments (10)

    Thursday, August 23, 2007

    100 Calorie Packs - How Lazy Are We?

    100 Calorie PacksI’ve noted over on Junk Food Blog the growing, and stupid, market for 100 Calorie Packs of food. While it make some sense when it comes to thinks like crackers, chips or cookies that usually come in large packages that make portion control difficult, it’s just plain ludicrous to reinvent the wheel when it comes to candy.

    I was at the Ralph’s in Los Osos, California on vacation earlier this week when I spotted this display in the middle of the candy aisle. It’s advertising Mars’ new 100 Calorie Packs for 3 Musketeers, Twix and Milk Chocolate M&Ms.

    For $2.50 (on sale, mind you) you get seven (7) servings and about 5 ounces of candy (depending on which one you pick).

    While the box is nice and dare I say, elegant, for something like Twix Bars and M&Ms, it’s an awful lot of packaging and space.

    Fun SizesBut turning around and looking at the shelf below are some crazy candies that have been around and marketed for “lunch dessert” for at least 20 years. They include eight (8) “fun size” bars, which are junior versions of the full sized candy bars, usually around 3/4 of an ounce and 80-100 calories. This Ralph’s had them on sale for $1.25 a package ($1.79 regularly) but I see them often for 88 cents a pack at the drug store.

    So while some folks sit around and lament that it’s too hard to control their own portions and the extra packaging and expense is worth it in the fight against obesity, Mars is introducing a solution to a problem that doesn’t even exist in the candy world. Sure the “fun size bars” aren’t all exactly 100 calories, the Twix I looked at were actually 80 calories each, but isn’t the point that people want a treat and not too much temptation?

    Yes, there might be math involved if you get the minis in order to create a 100 calorie portion, but hey, math burns calories too!

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    POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:07 am     CandyReviewFun StuffNewsComments (23)

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