Thursday, May 22, 2008
Name: Stainer Chocolate
Name: American Classics: Mississippi Mud Truffle, New York Cheesecake Ganache & Southern Pecan Chocolate Torte
Name: Dan’s Chocolates
Name: Yummiees LOW GI Natural Fruit Flavored Jelly Candy
I know I don’t do many gum reviews, I don’t consider myself a great connoisseur of the stuff. I’m perfectly happy with good old Peppermint Chiklets. But the All Candy Expo box included about 25 packages of gum, here are three that caught my attention:
Glee Gum Bubblegum Flavor: The natural pink coloring here is from beets and I can’t think of a more lovely way for a beet to be displayed. The little chicklets in this case are made with actual chicle, a natural sap from Manilkara trees native to the Americas. Very few gums are made with this natural base these days. Harvesting the gum from the trees is rather like tapping Maple trees for sap or Rubber trees for latex - it doesn’t harm the trees and helps to preserve forest & their inhabitants. (Though they harvest it by making huge gashes in the bark that allow the gum to ooze out for collection unlike the little metal spiked taps that they use for maple harvests, the trees are essentially unharmed.)
I’ve tried Glee before, it’s sold at the checkout at Trader Joe’s and the infectiously cute box tempts me every time. I didn’t care for orange, which seemed grainier and stuck to my fillings, but have had the peppermint a few times since then.
The crunchy sugar shell is lightly flavored, bubblegum flavor is usually fresh tasting, a little like cotton candy with a little dash of root beer. The sugary sweetness doesn’t last that long, then it’s a very mild flavor and a good soft & smooth chew.
I have had some of my amalgam fillings replaced with composite, so I’m not having the sticking problem I used to. I don’t think the bubblegum flavor is for me, probably because it’s not actually bubble gum. (See more about this all natural gum at the Glee Gum website.)
Rating: 7 out of 10
WOWzers Strawberry from Maxim International describes itself on the package as Explosive and Sour Powder Bubble Gum. I wasn’t really sure what it was. At first I thought it was a tube of something like Pixy Stix that you chew until it becomes gum (like a powdered Razzle).
Instead, it’s a long tube of bubble gum (strawberry flavored, in this case) about as big around as a bubble gum cigar. Inside it’s hollow and filled with a white crumbly, crunchy & grainy sour powder (a la Pixy Stix).
It feels overpackaged. It’s inside a long mylar wrapper, which has a little waxed cardstock tray that wraps around three sides of the product. The version I have is 1.2 ounces but the one I teased yesterday are 3.6 ounces (and probably about three times the length). They also come in Fruit Punch, Apple & Grape.
First, the product looks, well, a little odd out of the package. Kind of like a 9 inch long extremely thin hot dog. It’s not made into individual portions, which I’d figure is about 2 inches.
The bite is soft and easy, immediately tangy and grainy. The candy sand dissolves and dissipates pretty quickly. It’s sour and certainly gets the salivary glands working, much in the way the old Quench Gum did. After that wears away with chewing it’s a rather sweet and plain strawberry bubble gum. It’s a very soft chew which takes a while before it’s appropriate for bubble blowing.
These are made in China. I don’t think they’re for me, but it’s a fun new blend of confections and might please some kids.
Rating: 5 out of 10
Okay, I was kind of liberal with the “pink” part of the title. Hubba Bubba Glop Strawberry Gush is actually red when it comes out of the package. It gets pink when you chew it. It also comes in watermelon flavor.
These are already available on stores, I saw them at CVS in Hollywood earlier this week. They come in a hard plastic tube with a flip top. It seems like a bit too much packaging, though I can see a few ways to reuse the tube, which is coded 05 (polypropylene) for recycling. The outer wrap comes off, so it’d just be a plain red tube good for holding extra batteries, more candy, a very small portion of carrot sticks, condiments or some headphones.
While most gumballs are hollow, the glop part of this gum fills that void. The gum has a hard crunchy shell, then the soft and sweet gum then a reservoir of sweet strawberry goo in the center. The goo is tangy and sticky, but pretty flavorful.
It’s a good chewing bubble gum. I don’t think I need the gooey center, but it’s interesting and as long as you know it’s going to be there, adds some more flavor. The bubbles were good, large without being too sticky. A single piece was a good portion for chewing.
(I’m really intrigued by this Cola version available in Australia - regular Hubba Bubba is also available in Cola flavor in other parts of the world.)
Rating: 7 out of 10
I knew the Roca Buttercrunch Thins were coming out, but I still haven’t seen them in stores. There are four varieties, milk chocolate, 60% dark, dark truffle & caramel truffle. Luckily I got this sample box of the 60% Cacao Roca Buttercrunch Thins from All Candy Expo (the one that I was most interested in!).
While I love the toffee center of Almond Roca (and the Mocha Roca), I’m not fond of the greasy mockolate coating and messy crushed almonds. (Yes, I sometimes scrape them off and just eat the center.) Isn’t it nice that Brown & Haley finally recognized that they can use better ingredients.
The 2.8 ounce box holds 8 pieces, each in their own little slot in a divided tray. It’s about the size of a VHS box (maybe a little thinner), but it seems like a lot of packaging and protection for what are probably pretty durable little candies.
The initial description of them as Thins was intriguing, I was picturing little toffee tiles like Valerie Confections sells. Instead I saw a post on Chocolate Traveler that showed that these are little sticks, which is fine with me.
The smell like toasted nuts, burnt sugar and dark chocolate. The dark chocolate coating, in my case, was slightly bloomed (and I blame myself for that, as it started to get absurdly hot in Los Angeles and didn’t follow my own precautions). The texture was just fine though. (And the last two got really bloomed, so I know what bloomed chocolate is in this case.)
I love the Roca toffee, it’s crispy and buttery at the same time. It has wonderfully complex burnt sugar flavors and the added nutty bits of almonds. The dark chocolate was also a smooth and creamy, adding a little more dimension with its own dark palate of flavors.
While I consider this a very successful confection, I find the packaging a little overdone. Does it really need to have both the fold over flap (hand purse style) box, plus the tray? The whole thing is then overwrapped in cellophane.
The price point, as far as I can tell from the Brown & Haley website is $3.95 a box, which puts it at over $22 per pound. For that price I’d either go up a notch and have some Carey’s of Oregon, Poco Dolce or Valerie Confections, or go down a notch and have a Heath Bar (why oh, why won’t they make them in dark chocolate?).
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Jelly Belly is always coming up with new flavors and themes. This spring it’s their new Ice Cream Parlor Mix inspired by Cold Stone Creamery. Cold Stone is known for their freezing plank of granite where they scoop & mix your custom mix of ingredients (or you can pick from their standard menu). An appropriate tie in with Jelly Belly that already produces an extensive list of “recipes” for combing beans.
As a mix, the list of flavors here is pretty short:
Chocolate Devotion: combines the flavors of Chocolate ice cream, chocolate chips, brownie and fudge. This is pretty similar to my reaction to all chocolate flavored items, it’s watery and being jelly based, it doesn’t even have the mild dairy component that Tootsie Rolls have. It’s not as sweet as I expected.
Apple Pie a la Cold Stone: combines the flavors of French Vanilla ice cream, cinnamon, graham cracker pie crust, apple pie filling and caramel. I’d say that they nailed this flavor, though part of me asks why they’d even bother. It has a nice cinnamon & apple essence at the start, which descends to a sweet frenzy of artificial graham and vanilla notes.
Our Strawberry Blonde: combines the flavors of Strawberry ice cream, graham cracker pie crust, strawberries, caramel and whipped topping. It smells only lightly of strawberry, but sweet. It’s immediately tangy and nicely berry, much like a strawberry sauce. I get nothing else, perhaps a hint of vanilla ... it tastes like a strawberry sorbet might. Nice and simple (and I’m kind of glad I don’t taste the caramel & graham crackers).
Birthday Cake Remix: combines the flavors of Cake Batter(tm) ice cream, rainbow sprinkles, brownie and fudge. This is very sweet, with all the artificial enjoyment of a boxed yellow cake mix. It does actually evoke a cake batter ... but then again, I don’t care much for cake or overly sweet frosting & sprinkles. It is a cute little bean, with little multi colored confetti flecks.
Mint Mint Chocolate Chocolate Chip: combines the flavors of Mint ice cream, chocolate chips, brownie and fudge. As I found in my tasting of the Baskin-Robbins Soft Candy, mint chocolate chip is probably best enjoyed as actual ice cream. This flavor is very minty but similarly watery tasting and flat. The cocoa notes are barely perceptable, and come in with that Tootsie Roll flavor.
While I think that some folks may enjoy these mild little beans, I have to wonder if you want to grab a handful and actually mix the Mint Mint Chocolate Chocolate Chip with Apple Pie a la Cold Stone. Some combos obviously work fine, but I like to think that a custom mix like this would be completely compatible. The only ones I ended up eating were the strawberry.
Jelly Belly are Kosher and Gluten Free. There are no dairy products in here (even though they’re ice cream flavors) so they may be suitable for Vegans (as long as you’re okay with beeswax). Made in a facility that processes peanuts.
Dave Simmer’s excited about the new Star Trek Pez (and the chocolate candy tablets ... we’re going to have to disagree there).
Chicago Sun Times has an excellent set of tasting notes (I have to disagree with a couple of items) including Crackheads, Crown Tequila Nuggets, the new M&Ms Premiums, Giant Chewy Wonka Nerds and more. Don’t miss the photo gallery and the separate story about customizable M&Ms that you can put your own face on! (photo by Keith Hale/Sun-Times)
Medill Reports adds a few comments on trends, and further info & a glimpse of the new M&Ms Premiums packaging.
Fellow candy writer Elizabeth LaBau who edits the candy section for About.com has some stellar coverage so far. Here’s her rundown from the first day but don’t miss her great photos, especially of Joseph Schmidt’s chocolate creations.
A big tip of the hat to Candy Addict and their notes from the floor:
And finally, just for fun, relive Cameron Gray’s Tuesday with photos as they were posted from the floor.
As a child (and young adult) I was known for being indecisive. So when presented with too many choices, I usually froze up and often opted for nothing at all, or worse, panicked and made a bad choice. I never had this problem at Baskin-Robbins, probably because even my less successful choices were still treats. (I think the worst flavor I ever had there was bubble gum, probably because frozen gum isn’t much fun ... and I ended up swallowing some.)
My favorite flavor was always Mint Chocolate Chip. The cool mint goes well with the smooth & chilly dairy fat and the little wafer bits of dark chocolate gave it an air of elegance. (My second favorite was Peanut Butter & Chocolate.)
While Baskin-Robbins has had a line of Smooth & Creamy Hard Candy made by Best Sweet for a while, I wasn’t terribly interested in some hard candies that approximated ice cream flavors, after all, there were very good candies that actually were many of those flavors. (A little too self-referential.) Enter their Soft Candy line.
Inside is a pink mylar pouch that holds the candy.
Inside that are the pieces, which are individually wrapped in folk.
I’m pretty sure one or more of those layers could be eliminated and still have a safe & fresh product.
The ingredients are pretty understandable: Sucrose, Corn Syrup, Coconut Oil, Corn Syrup Solids, Non-Dairy Dried Milk Powder, Glycerine, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Gum Arabic, Soy Lecithin, Flour, Salt, Blue #1 & Yellow #5.
The only curiosity on the list was Non-Dairy Dried Milk Powder and had to look it up ... it’s actually not milk, it’s some sort of other product, perhaps potato, perhaps rice, maybe soy. I’m guessing soy.
The little rectangles are wrapped in heavy foil. They’re about half the size of a Starburst fruit chew.
They smell like, well, creme de menthe soaked cardboard. It’s not that it’s an unappealing smell, though maybe I make it sound that way, it’s just that sometimes cocoa can smell a little musty.
The chew is soft, not terribly grainy but not as smooth as some others. It reminds me of Rolaids Soft Chews. The mint flavor is pretty strong, though lacking the creamy promise of ice cream. The cocoa comes in a bit later, and there are little bits in there, but it’s not quite the chocolate chips as promised. It starts to taste like stale cookies (Hydrox, not Oreos).
They’re not stellar. I don’t expect to finish the package. I’m still curious about the other flavor available - Strawberry, so I might pick those up when I see them in stores. I don’t know the retail price, but I’m guessing it won’t be more than $1.50. (The hard candies are often sold at dollar stores so these may end up there as well.)
Name: Altoids Cr?me de Menthe
Name: LifeSavers Gummies Tangy Fruits
Name: Loud Truck Energy Gummi
Name: Gummi Butterflies
(images courtesy of the manufacturers’ press kits)
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Name: Ice Cream Parlor Mix
Name: Holiday Sugar Babies
Name: Brach’s Theater Boxes
Name: Sunkist Fruit and Sour Fruit Gummies
(images courtesy of the respective manufacturers)
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.