Thursday, July 31, 2008
That time it was LifeSavers Musk, little compressed hoops of sugar with a light musk flavor. It was like eating incense cones (you know, if they were made from sugar and not sawdust).
But I was still intrigued enough to pick up what I thought was a more authentic Australian Musk Lolly. This is from a brand called Black Gold and called simply Musk Flavored Sticks confectionery.
The bag was a bit bigger than I wanted at 200 grams, but then again it was only $3, so it seemed like a fun gamble. I was told that the LifeSavers were a bit firmer than the traditional sticks and this is true.
The little extruded sticks remind me of Conversation Hearts, Altoids or Canada Mints but also a bit like a stripe of dried out frosting. They do have gelatin in them, so they’re not appropriate for vegetarians (well, I don’t think true musk would be appropriate for vegetarians either).
They are strongly scented, kind of a generic “nice smelling shop” vibe. The thing is, I don’t mind it. It’s kind of like rose, orange blossom and Avon’s Skin So Soft. It’s pleasant enough, not bitter or syrupy like some floral flavors can be. But it’s not terribly satisfying. I don’t finish a stick and then think, “I’d like another.” Instead I put the package away and think, “I should write about those at some point.” But I got them back in January and only really put them back in the review queue when I moved offices and had to empty out my desk. (They do make a fine desk freshener.)
If you end up with some out of curiosity and don’t know what to do with the other 180 grams, maybe this reciep for Pink Musk Stick Mushrooms will help. Also check out this essential nostaligic Australian lollies list.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Santos gave me a huge cache of Mentos a few months ago and I’ve been slowly going through them.
Mentos makes two different basic formats of Mentos. Their regular rolls and the Mentos Plus variety, which is fortified with Vitamin C and sold in boxes. As far as I know the Mentos Plus is for the Southeast Asia and Australia/New Zealand markets. (We have boxes of Mentos here in the US too, but they’re usually the sugar free variety.)
The one that caught my eye first was the box of Mentos Plus Tropical Mix. It features Pineapple, Watermelon and Mango.
Recently I had mango citrus and Pine Fresh from Japan, so I was curious how these compared.
The yellow one is Pineapple. It’s fresh, tangy and has that slightly pepperish tingle to it. One of my new favorite Mentos flavors. (I really hope they keep making the Japanese single-flavor rolls.)
Mango is the orange one and it has a mellow, melon flavor to it. It lacks that sort of pine sap taste but has some deeper notes that I couldn’t quite place ... and didn’t really belong in something mango flavored as far as I was concerned. It was more like a jam taste than a fresh fruit taste.
The pink one was Watermelon and I have to hand it to them, this was one of the better watermelon flavored candies I’ve had in a long time. It gets that floral melon flavor just right, only the slightest hint of tartness and then a finish that’s like cotton candy.
The box seems less necessary with single flavors like Mentos Plus Black Currant, I figure boxes are great for picking out just the flavor you want.
But Black Currant is pretty special, at least for Americans, since we don’t have that flavor here much. It’s rather like a combination of concord grape and pomegranate with some violets - a dark berry flavor with a musky flavor element to it.
They’re soft and chewy and a lovely lavender color. It’s taken me a while to get used to currant, but I’m enjoying this edition quite a bit. Not that I’d probably buy it over a citrus like Pink Grapefruit or Pine Fresh.
Though these are not marked Kosher or Halal, they do not contain gelatin or any other animal products.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
The Almond Joy candy bar was introduced in 1946, just after the World War II, when sugar, tropical coconuts and chocolate became more available. The Peter Paul Manufacturing Co was based in New Haven, Connecticut and was already known for its popular Mounds bar.
Peter Paul, then producing out of their facility in Nagatuck, Connecticut was bought up by Cadbury back in 1978, and in a deal ten years later, Hershey’s purchased Cadbury’s American operations. Even though the company has gone through a few hands, the bars are still known by their original brand of Peter Paul. The Nagatuck plant that produced Almond Joy’s from 1948 forward closed last year and production was consolidated to a Virginia factory.
Mounds and Almond Joy enjoy a bit of a corner on the chocolate covered coconut market here in the United States. For a while Mars tried to push into the arena with their already popular Bounty bars from Europe, but they never quite made it.
The standard single serving package includes two small bars. The moist coconut and fondant center is covered in milk chocolate and studded with two almonds each. They’re tucked into a tray to protect them.
The bars smell sweet and a whole lot like coconut. The bite is soft and moist, the mockolate is a bit grainy and fudgy and doesn’t really add much flavorwise but does keep things a little creamier (overall I’d say it’s not back mockolate and the ingredients to indicate there’s real chocolate in there). The almonds, though usually small, are good quality and nicely toasted.
I prefer the Mounds (though I’ve always wished they’d do a Mounds with Almonds) just for the counterpoint of the bittersweet chocolate and the sweet coconut. But the coconut is always a good texture and chew with a nice tropical flavor and satisfying tropical fat content. But it is sweet, a bit too much for me.
Almond Joy holds a place in many American’s hearts because of a very popular advertising campaign in the 80s and their jingle that says, “sometimes you feel like a nut and sometimes you don’t” to distinguish between their two coconut bars. Even though that campaign is long gone, the phrase “sometimes you feel like a nut” still knocks around as a cultural reference.
Almond Joy are also available in a few other formats. They have snack pack size, which is slightly smaller than a single from the regular sized. (A two almond one weights approximately .8 ounces while the snack pack size weights about .6 ounces and sports only one almond.)
There is a third size called fun size, which I only see around Halloween, which looks like it’s from a box of candy. (See Wikipeda for an example.) That also has only one almond, though probably the highest almond to center & chocolate ratio of the three varieties. Easter also brings a large egg shaped version which also sports a solo almond (reviewed here at Candy Addict).
Out of curiosity (mostly because there was a Consumerist posting yesterday), I picked up the Snack Pack and a regular Almond Joy just to see if there was some sort of shenanigan going on here. Consumerist alleged that there was false advertising because there are two little almonds on the package and the description lists “almonds” instead of almond. I can’t really say what the legal situation would be, but I would probably expect that the Snack Pack would simply be the same as a single from regular size.
I can say that this is not a new development. I found this shot from 2005 (back when it was real chocolate too) that shows the single nut on the Snack Pack Almond Joy, so if it were a big deal, I would have expected it to be addressed long before now. While the use of the plural almonds does create a sense of expectation, I’m not sure we also expect a half a coconut’s worth of shreds in there too, even though that’s also depicted in the artwork.
The Snack Pack, which I picked up at the 99 Cent Only Store, as far as I was concerned, was a very good value. Eight of these smaller bars for only 99 cents. They have 80 calories each. The regular sized ones have 110 calories each. It’s pretty obvious that the Snack Pack, even with its decreased almond density is a far better deal than a single bar purchase.
Almond Joy has enjoyed a few alternative varieties through Hershey’s limited editions including Key Lime, Passion Fruit, Chocolate Chocolate and Toasted Coconut (my personal favorite over the classic Almond Joy).
UPDATE 9/30/2008: Almond Joy was briefly made with mockolate but after consumer feedback, Hershey’s switched back to the original chocolate formula.
Monday, July 28, 2008
I picked up this Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolate bar in San Francisco a few months ago and have been saving it for a time when I need a little sparkle.
Elbow is known for his inventive combinations of spices, fruits and savories with chocolate. His bonbons are distinguished by their bold and bright patterns. His bars, on the other hand are subdued and understated and dare I say lacking any pretension that a bonbon piece named Strawberry-Balsamic Caramel might connote (or my favorite from Elbow right now is the Venezuelan Spices Chocolate Pecan Turtle).
Instead his bars are numbered, currently 1 through 12. I picked up No. 6 Dark Rocks which features 61% dark chocolate blended with popping candy.
The bar is anything but intimidating. The fresh brown & aqua box protects the sizable 3.5 ounce bar well. It’s wrapped inside with a simple silver aluminium foil. (A little thin for me, I like a foil I can wrap and unwrap a few times before it falls to bits.)
The bar is simple looking, just 24 little sections. No logo, no letters, no names.
It’s a glossy dark brown with a good snap to it. The little popping candies are easily seen in a cross section, though don’t look quite as dense as the Pop Rocks Bar.
The chocolate is smooth and on the sweet side but has a wonderful buttery quality that sets this apart from any other pop rocks confection I’ve had to date.
Letting the chocolate melt means that the pops come out as a little background sizzle. Munching the bar means that they crackle and hiss. Either way is certainly a different experience.
They’re expensive at $7 a bar, but of course not your every day fare. A fun bar to share, especially for a special occasion.
There are plenty of other bars that caught my eye on the list though, so I’m more likely to experiment (I’m likely to go for the white chocolate with nibs next) before buying this again. But I have a few friends who adore this bar and still others that I would consider gifting this in the future.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Last year Hershey’s introduced some new Whoppers, twists on the classic chocolate covered malted milk ball (well, in the case of Whoppers, they’re mockolate). For some reason my area in Southern California is a vast maltless wasteland, so I had to pick up these Reese’s Peanut Butter version of Whoppers in Dublin, CA as I returned from the Bay Area last weekend.
I love the use of the little milk cartons for Whoppers (and Milk Duds, though sadly those have turned mockolate as well), it’s a great way to package a product to stand up, be dispensed and then closed.
The new Whoppers Reese’s Peanut Butter Flavored Candy are basically a peanut butter confectionery coating made of defatted peanuts & partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. (Think of the inside of Reese’s Pieces.)
Whoppers are a bit smaller than the usual malted milk balls found in bulk bins, which are usually about the diameter of a quarter. These little Whoppers (hard to call them that when I’ve just said that they’re small, now isn’t it) are about the size of a hazelnut.
The outside is a little waxy, but definitely peanutty. It’s not terribly sweet and does eventually do something akin to melting. But the best part is the crumbly, sweet and malty center.
It’s a nice addition to the line, but I think I’ll stick with the Trader Joe’s version (see this post from June 4 Bellies) which is not only bigger but has real milk chocolate on top of that. But if I were to stumble across these as an option at the movies, I’d certainly go for it, the combo with popcorn would be pretty fabulous.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.