Tuesday, July 1, 2008
The little individually wrapped taffy squares start hard but become chewy. One of the original taglines for the candy was “Eat some now, save some for later.” (I remember the tune for the jingle, but nothing beyond those words.) They currently say, “Hard ‘n Fruity Now, Soft ‘n Chewy Later.”
The 18 piece classic bar features the flavors Strawberry, Grape and Lime. In some ways they resemble Starburst, since they are a fruit chew (they were introduced as Opal Fruits in 1960 in the UK) or Tangy Taffy which was sold in bars that you could whack and break into bite size pieces. (That’s now discontinued.)
Now and Later have gone through a few different standard flavors and even a few owners. Phoenix Candy Company of Brooklyn, NY later sold out to Beatrice Foods (1978), who later sold their confectionery lines to Huhtamaki Oy of Finland (1983) which then turned around and sold it off in 1986 to a Finnish investment firm called Kouri Capital. They held onto it until 1992 when they sold it to Nabisco (who also held LifeSavers back then). Then it was sold to Kraft ... ultimately landing at Farley’s and Sathers in 2002. (Either people really love this candy or just don’t know what to do with it.)
Wikipedia has a fun list of all the flavors known to have existed. Even today, there are a lot of flavors of Now and Later, though I never see them in stores.
The most common format for the candy these days is either the pack shown here or in tubs of either mixed flavors or single flavors.
I ate a lot of these as a kid. They came in 5 cent packs (little stacks of the squares), so were easy to buy even when I had little money. But I gave up on them later as I got my permanent teeth. There was something anxiety-producing as I wasn’t disciplined enough to just let them soften in my mouth, I had to chew them while they were still hard and then anchor my jaw together.
Grape: was always my favorite in the Now and Later pantheon. Artificial through and through, it tastes like SweeTarts and ball point pen ink smells. Not terribly tangy, but still flavored to the very end and never gritty or grainy.
Lime: the neon green wax wrapper is matched by the neon green color of the candy. It’s very tangy and has the flavor of Lime Kool-Aid.
Strawberry: is a rich pink color. The flavor is at once like strawberry jam and those Italian strawberry hard candies that have the gooey filling. Tangy, fragrant, artificial and satisfying.
Now and Later don’t pretend to be healthy, there’s no real fruit juice in there, no detectable levels of vitamin C.
They can also be considered vegan, as they contain no animal products. (But do have soy, for those who might be sensitive and are processed on machinery that also handles eggs.)
Soft Now and Later are actually soft! They’re soft enough to bend while still in the wrapper.
A regular N&L is one inch square and a quarter of an inch high. The Soft N&L is one and a quarter inches square and a third of an inch high.
And they come in oodles of flavors.
Grape: this was the only crossover flavor I had between the regular and soft. It has an identical flavor. The texture makes it a little less punchy at first, but after that it’s tangy and artificial to the very end.
Banana : insanely chemical, so much that it’s like inhaling fingernail polish remover. Sweet and chewy, not quite as good as Laffy Taffy, but darn close. Even though they’re pretty horrible, I love them more than any of the other flavors. (I can’t explain it any further, it’s kind of like circus peanuts.)
Vanilla: is a nice toasty cream color. It tastes extremely artificial, but pleasant, rather like toasted marshmallows. Much softer chew than Tootsie’s version.
Chocolate: it’s a glossy-rich red-brown. It doesn’t smell like much, and really doesn’t taste like it either. Kind of like a very sweet brownie batter. The chew is nice, but overall I’d probably go with Tootsie Rolls.
Watermelon: is a zap of summer in the mouth. At first it’s that fake watermelon scent, then it tastes more like real apple juice. Not at all what I expected, and fans of fake watermelon and Bonne Bell lipsmackers will probably be disappointed.
Apple is a really weird light green color, almost has a cast of blue to it that makes me think it might be minty. Nope, it’s pure green apple flavor.
Cherry looks exactly like the Watermelon out of the wrapper (maybe a smidge darker). It has an intense black cherry flavor, nicely tart and less medicinal than many cherry candies.
The fun thing about the Soft N&L is that they are soft enough for mash-ups. I took my vanilla and chocolate and twisted them together. (It didn’t really make them any better.) Then I twisted them in with some banana. (Still not really better, just fun.) I pushed some bits of the Watermelon and Apple together and it looked horrid and tasted even worse. (But there have to be good combos in there somewhere.)
As a soft taffy with intense flavors, these aren’t quite Starburst. However, they don’t have any gelatin in them (but do have egg whites, so they’re not suitable for vegans but fine for vegetarians).
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.