Tuesday, September 25, 2007
A couple of years ago I tried a Ferrara Pan product called Narbles. I didn’t care much for it, mostly because it didn’t capitalize on the unique properties of a Lemonhead (though it didn’t actually promise any Lemonhead properties).
I don’t know if Ferrara Pan has been reading my blog (they might have, because I was suddenly able to get mixed bags called the Fruit Headline) but they have a couple of new products: Chewy Lemonheads (and Friends) and Chewy Atomic Fireballs which were introduced at the All Candy Expo last week.
Lemonheads have been one of my favorite candies since I was a kid. They were staggeringly affordable (the larger boxes used to be 10 cents), came in a shareable portion, looked really cool, packed lots of flavor and of course the box turned into a noisemaker. (Sadly they don’t use that kind of box any longer).
The candy balls are beautiful. Slightly translucent (if you like to put your candy on your new LED flashlight on your keychain), they feel as dense as the original hard-candy-centered version, but will yield to pressure when squeezed (just like real lemons!).
It took me a while to get used to them. When I eat a Lemonhead I usually “peel” off the candy shell with my teeth to get to the layer or super sour. Since these are soft on the inside, it took me a while to develop a technique ... but it only took one box.
The outside flavor is just the same as the old Heads, the inside is a rather flavorless jelly ball ... pretty much like actual jelly bean. Come to think of it, these are simply round jelly beans with a sour layer in there. I took a few of them apart to examine the innards (sorry, no gory photos of that). Each was color coded very lightly. I was surprised to find that they were actually lightly flavored. Not super zippy, just mildly fragrant to continue the experience all the way to the core.
Of the five flavors the Orange and Lemon remained my favorites, but the Grape was actually more pleasing than I expected. Cherry and Green Apple just weren’t floating my candy boat, but with 3/5 of the mix as standout winners, I can eat a few cherries. I give them a 7 out of 10.
The Chewy Atomic Fireballs were the big surprise for me. First of all, there was no announcement from Ferrara Pan before the show that they were introducing them (press releases? we don’t need no stinkin’ press releases!). So when I went by their booth I though they were just showing off one of their most successful brands in huge bins at the corner. But looking closely ... chewy!
I took three boxes and opened one. They’re dark red and not easily confused with the Cherryheads.
This is quite a different experience because the traditional Atomic Fireball is a panned cinnamon jawbreaker with alternating sweet and spicy layers. The chewy Lemonhead was an easy shift for my brain, simply a chewy center instead of a hard one. This new Atomic Fireball is more Firehead than Atomic Fireball ... or perhaps Chewy Red Hot.
The outer shell is lightly cinnamon and sweet. If you keep sucking on it gets hotter (but not unbearably) until the candy shell dissipates to reveal the spicy mantle over the chewy jelly core. The core is soft and chewy (perhaps a little sticky) and has it’s own level of background cinnamon-ness. So while it’s not quite the same as the jawbreaker’s layered experience, it’s still layered with a sort of alternating strong and mild spice to it.
They’re far stronger than Hot Tamales (though may be similar to the Hot Tamales Fire). I give them an 8 out of 10.
As a smaller portion, I really like the 25 cent, one ounce box (hey, it’s 100 calories folks!). The Chewy Atomic Fireball is a real winner, but be prepared as it does have a real burn and you can’t take it out of your mouth like a Fireball. The Chewy Lemonheads don’t quite thrill me, but part of that is that it’s so hard to top the lemony singularity that is the Lemonhead. I’ll probably give them a few more tries. I think I want a box of just the lemon ones for a pure experience. I hope they’ll sell them that way.
No word on when they’ll make an appearance in stores. Please post if you’ve seen them.
Mars has many new products in store for us in the coming months, most in the limited edition realm:
Name: Wildly Cherry M&Ms
Name: Twizzlers Pull n Peel Cinnamon Fire Candy
Name: Batman Reese’s Peanut Butter Bats in Dark Chocolate
Name: Indiana Jones Crispy Mint M&Ms
Name: Snickers Adventure Bar
(All photos courtesy of the respective companies’ press kits.)
Monday, September 24, 2007
In case you haven’t been following along at the new show launches at This Week in Tech, they’ve got a new one called Munchcast.
The show is about, well, munchies! It’s hosted by Cammy Blackstone and Leo Laporte.
I’m on this week’s episode, it’s only their eighth and I’m honored to be part of it. It’s all about the All Candy Expo and the new candies introduced there.
(I haven’t listened to it all yet as I’m hopping on a plane in a few minutes ... but I had a fun time recording it.)
The funny thing about fall is that I always see the Tootsie Roll products around a lot more starting at Back to School. The amusing part is that Tootsie Rolls and the Tootsie Fruit Rolls are so well suited to the summer because of their durability.
The Tootsie Roll has been around for a long time, first manufactured in 1896, the chocolate taffy was named after Leo Hirshfield’s (the founder of the candy company) daughter. The chocolate taffy was a good alternative to regular chocolates which didn’t keep very well in the years before widespread refrigeration and air conditioning. Though the Tootsie Roll is associated with the Chicago area (which is known as a center of candy production in the United States), the factory was originally located in New York City and then Hoboken, not making the shift to the Midwest until 1966. (Read more on the history of the Tootsie Roll here.)
Tootsie Rolls come in many sizes, from a large log of a bar down to the Midgies, which I think is probably the best format. They’re still wrapped in the same waxed paper (though the larger logs have shifted to the fully sealed plastic wrap).
Tootsie Roll had one of the most identifiable jingles of its era.
The Tootsie Roll itself is simply a very dense and smooth taffy with a good boost of chocolate in it. The chew is long and smooth, though sometimes hard to get going. The flavor is not necessarily creamy or complex, just sweet and often tasting more of musty cardboard than hot cocoa (depending on how fresh it is). I don’t usually have high expectations for Tootsie Rolls, so I’m never disappointed.
The good thing about the chew is that it’s not sticky like some taffy can be, it’s also not fluffy and not overly sweet. It’s lower in fat than regular chocolate bars (but still has about 3 grams per serving.)
The Fruit Rolls are a little harder to find on a regular basis. They come with five flavors: Orange, Cherry, Lemon, Lime and Vanilla.
Yes, that last one is Vanilla. Last time I checked that’s not a fruit flavor. The Vanilla are also available in a single-flavor bag as well. I’ve always called these Midgees, which I think is the smallest Tootsie Roll in the line. (Well, except for the Chocolate Covered Tootsie Rolls that came out last year.) But these weren’t called Midgees on the bag, go figure.
Hey, it’s a flavorless Tootsie Roll! That’s always how I viewed them. Like they were for Boys in Plastic Bubbles or those allergic to chocolate taffy or perhaps just exceptionally bland. The child that picked out the Vanilla Midgee first over all other candies in a bowl was suspect in my world. It just screamed “I lack adventure and imagination” and while that’s fine for them, it didn’t make me want to spend time with them.
The good thing about encountering such as child is the prospect of trading ... so there’s something to be said for being the kind of kid with such diverse friends, it meant that everyone always got what they wanted.
The Vanilla Midgee is sweet and smells strongly of fake vanilla and a bit like an ice cream parlor. The chew is stiff at first but softens up quickly in the mouth. Not too sticky, not too sweet. Not terribly flavorful.
The Lemon Tootsie Roll is really quite pleasant. The chew is soft and tangy and has a nice smooth quality to it. It’s just the slightest bit milky, in a yogurt kind of way.
The Cherry Tootsie Roll is like a chewable cough drop. Not terribly strong, but a well rounded cherry flavor with a long-lasting flavor in the chew. A little bitter bite for me, but I think that’s the coloring.
The Orange Tootsie Roll used to be my favorite. Probably a sad substitute for a Starburst, these don’t have any gelatin in them, so certainly more suitable for those on animal restricted diets. It tastes like a decent orange sherbet. A little tart, but mostly orange.
The Lime Tootsie Roll was best saved for last or left sitting in the candy bowl after Halloween to show my mother that I had some self restraint ... though eventually it’d end up in my tummy.
On the whole, I think the only Tootsie Roll I like much is the regular chocolate one. The rest are probably not a very good replacement for Starbursts (but if you’ve never had them, I suppose I can tell you that they’re EXACTLY the same and you’d never know the difference ... except that I wouldn’t steer you wrong like that). They’re definitely inexpensive and great traveling candy. Middle of the road fare, I’m glad they’re around and rather fun to look at but best covered in hard candy with a stick in them. (Why don’t they make vanilla centered orange Tootsie Pops? That’d be just like a Creamsicle!)
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Yes, I have way too much candy from the All Candy Expo, so I’m going to share some of the extra booty with you. I have a nice package set aside of some of the new product previews, including a package of Chocolate Mix Skittles, Mike and Ike Lemonade Stand Mix, TicTac Bold! Apple Sour, Junior Mints Deluxe, Chewy Lemonheads, Chewy Atomic Fireballs, Welch’s Fruit ‘n Yogurt Snacks as well as packs of your favorite existing products.
I’ll ship anywhere in North America. You may only enter once.
Entries will be accepted until September 30th, 2007 at 11 PM Pacific. I’ll notify the winner within 48 hours (if the winner does not respond within 48 hours after that, then I’ll draw again).
UPDATE: Entries are closed at this time. Keep reading, I’ll have more giveaways at some point.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.