Sunday, April 11, 2010
Pink, pink, pink and pink.
I reviewed these Hammond Pops before (this one was cherry).
Friday, April 9, 2010
It’s so frustrating when I know that there’s a candy out there I want to try but I just can’t get a hold of it. The Pink Grapefruit Tic Tac have been around for a couple of years, but as far as I knew they were sold only as a “big pack” and only at WalMart.
I’ve been scouring eBay and the discount dollar stores ever since, hoping they’d turn up. Thankfully last weekend I found them at the 99 Cent Only Store - and for only 59 cents a package. I bought two, because I knew I’d love them.
The box holds exactly one ounce, which sounds like a single portion to me, the way I eat Tic Tacs. (I eat them like they’re candy.)
They’re a beautiful shade of pink (carmine but at least the ingredients are all natural). They don’t smell like much, but they sound great in the package when I shake it.
They’re soft and smooth, a little slick on the tongue at first. Then they give up the flavor. The grapefruit is a good zesty blast, especially after the pink outside coating comes off. It’s tangy but I wouldn’t call it sour. I usually chew mine, so I was getting a big dose of grapefruit. It’s pretty intense if you eat a lot of them in a row since they use real dry pink grapefruit juice. In fact, after about half the package it was making my tongue vibrate a little bit from the citrus oils. There’s also a little bit of a mentholated after taste, it doesn’t really make them minty, but it does make my breath feel fresher when I inhale.
I would definitely buy these on a regular basis if I can find them reliably.
I saw that Ebidebby found them and Candy for Dinner also The Candy Enthusiast had the Citrus Punch Limited Edition version that included Pink Grapefruit.
Ferrero has changed the packaging just slightly. The old polystyrene that made such a satisfying rattling sound is gone and now they’re using polypropylene which cuts energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions. Of course it’s also important to reuse and then recycle the packaging when you’re done. The polypropylene is a little softer so the candy boxes don’t crack as easily as they used to. Do you have any tips on what to do with the boxes when you’re done?
Five years ago some good friends exchanged their vows. During the reception I was talking with some of the other guests at our table about chocolate. Someone remarked that I seemed really passionate about candy and I should blog about it.
I went home that night and started a blog. Here it is, five years later and I’ve reviewed at least 1,500 individual candies and tasted probably 5,000 during my travels and attendance at trade shows. There’s still lots more to see, taste and review.
So thank you, sweet readers. I probably wouldn’t have continued if the blog did not grow as it has, the fact that you’re here, reading and responding really makes it worthwhile.
As a big thank you I’m doing some redesign work that I think you will enjoy (such as adding a spot where you can give candies your own 1-10 rating, make custom lists in your profile of favorite candies and better search features).
As a small thank you, I have a $50 gift certificate for Think Geek where you can spend way too much for novelty candy.
To enter the drawing just leave a comment here by Monday, April 12, 2010 at 9 AM Pacific PDT telling me what your favorite post on the blog is. A random commenter will be chosen and will receive a digital gift certificate valued at $50. Anyone can win though I don’t know how useful it’d be if you’re outside of North America.
Oh, and happy 5th anniversary to Robin & Amy!
UPDATE April 12, 2010 5:32 PM PDT: Congratulations to Jeny! She was chosen at random from all unique comments received. I’ve already sent her the digital gift certificate for Think Geek.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Nestle is going full-tilt to reinvigorate their stagnant Wonka candy brand. Last year it was gummis (Sluggles, Puckerooms & Sploshberries), this year they revised their chocolate bar line under the new Wonka Exceptionals and now they’re introducing some new sugar candy items to the Exceptionals line. The first is called Fruit Marvels which are vaguely described on the packaging as hard candies with soft centers, delicately sugar dusted. They come in three flavors: White Grape, Pomegranate and Clementine Orange.
There are two formats for the packages. The first is the tins, which hold 1.9 ounces (14 pieces) and retail for $1.99. Though that’s a little expensive, there’s a second more cost effective option which is the 5 ounce box which retails for $2.99 (and you can refill the tin).
The box is imaginative and quite different from the holographic mylar/plastic of the chocolates. These stand up boxes come in two parts. There’s a tall tab top box with a dizzying purple/lavender design, over that is a sleeve. The sleeve is taped to the box and features little circular cut outs that reveal the patterned box underneath. Like the Wonka Exceptionals Chocolate Pieces, even the UPC code gets Wonka-fied.
Inside the box is another package, a long mylar pouch with the candy in it. They’re not marked for the individual flavor, as I discovered later on when I ditched the boxes and carried all three pouches around in a ziploc bag while I was tasting.
The front of the package states Made with Natural Ingredients* and then directs folks to read the list of ingredients to explain the asterisk. Flipping over the box the ingredients are really easy to understand. For the White Grape they were: Dextrose*, Sugar*, Corn Syrup*, Pear Juice Concentrate*, and less than 2% of Modified Corn Starch, Tapioca Dextrin, Natural Flavor*, Tumeric Color, Citric Acid*.
I find this a little confusing ... they’re saying it’s made with natural ingredients, but not saying that all of the ingredients are natural. (So just about all food products would qualify under this “Made with Natural Ingredients” thing.) I appreciate that they’re not saying that highly processed ingredients like modified food starch is natural, but I’d prefer if they just said “made with real fruit juice but no artificial flavors or colors” and left it at that. Both Clementine & Pomegranate have Carmine coloring, which is a natural coloring derived from insects but of course not considered vegetarian/vegan, may be an allergen for some sensitive folks and is not kosher/halal.
The Pomegranate Fruit Marvels tin is simple. Inside are tucked over a dozen little candies. The tin is about 3.5 inches in diameter and just shy of an inch thick - a little big to tuck in a pocket. There’s a piece of waxed paper cushion on the bottom and on the top. The tin is easy to open and close, but stays closed so I wouldn’t worry so much about this coming open in the bottom of your bag.
They’re about .75 inches in diameter with a sugar sanded coating and soft coloring. The candies are really a puzzle at first. I didn’t understand what they were by the description, but I guess that’s why they called them Marvels.
The outside is a hard candy shell, it’s made of dextrose like SweeTarts, but it’s not compressed like other powder candies, instead it’s panned (added as a liquid layer that forms a hardened glaze after many coats). Inside is a firm and flavorful jelly. It’s like a super jelly bean in a way but remember that the shell is very thick.
When I first popped it into my mouth I thought it would be like a Gobstopper, many flavored layers and then a jelly ball in the middle, but it is actually faithful to the scale on the package. I tried sucking on them first. The sugar sanding is rough at first but that dissolves away quickly to the shell. The shell is dextrose (glucose) so it has a slightly cooling effect and it has a kind of thinness to the sweet note instead of the round syrup sweetness of sucrose (sugar). Eventually there’s a little hint of the floral berry flavors of pomegranate. There’s a layer just between the jelly center and the shell that has a little burst of sour.
I pulled quite a few of the candies apart. I found I preferred biting them to letting them dissolve. It’s not advisable to just crunch them up at first until you gain some experience at it, I think letting them warm and dissolve a little helps.
You can see the thickness of the shell here and how it’s dense but kind of crumbly.
The jelly center is complex. It’s smooth and thick, it’s also nicely flavored without being too sweet or tangy. Though I don’t think any candies really capture pomegranate flavor well, these are still an excellent flavor no matter what it’s called. It’s more raspberry to me - floral and jammy.
The sanding isn’t messy, no sticky fingers, but there is a bit of sugar dust in the bottom of the tins or the bags which can get everywhere.
The Clementine Orange Fruit Marvels sounded really good. I love citrus and the less-common oranges often have wonderful notes that make things so much more interesting than just eating spoonfuls of Tang drink mix. Clementines are a tasty little citrus, they’re easy to peel and are usually seedless - they have the tangy profile and juicy taste of a tangerine.
The outside sanded shell doesn’t give much indication of the flavor inside, just a soft orange color.
The flavor is truly like a tangerine. There are bold juice and citric acid notes but there’s also a really good zest component that sets it apart from straight-laced orange. There’s no bitter or lingering orange peel aftertaste though.
The White Grape Fruit Marvels are nearly colorless on the outside but a little on the yellow side after cracked open. (They were devilish to photograph, but I think you get the idea with the other two.) White grape was always one of my favorite fruit juices as a kid, so I’m very familiar with the flavor. This is extremely faithful. There’s a concord grape note to it, but also a brighter and lighter feeling to it, a little like champagne.
All three flavors are distinct and faithful to their profiles. The candy itself is unique, I’ve never had anything quite like it before so I give Wonka high marks for not just regurgitating the ordinary with a frivolous name and funny packaging. I like the concept of the boxes and that they’re more cost effective than the tins but still $3 for 5 ounces of sugar candy is on the high side, even for something that doesn’t have artificial flavors/colors. Also, the amount of packaging is silly, the outer sleeve could easily disappear without losing the feeling of upscale decadence.
I’m a little unclear about the target market for these, I’m guessing they’re not for little children like many other Wonka products lately like Kazoozles. Perhaps they’re targeting young adults, especially since the tins are great for sharing. They might also appeal to folks who want an intense flavorful indulgence without too many calories. Since they’re all sugar there’s no fat and each piece is about 12 calories. The tin makes each piece feel rather special. (Honestly, it seems like the target market is for grown ups for never quite grew up, which would be me.)
I like where Wonka is going lately.
These are in limited release right now, they’re available exclusively at WalMart stores until June 2010 when they’ll start appearing at Target. The candies are made in Mexico.
Creamy peanut butter base with shards of toffee topped with fresh jam then encased in a beautifully airbrushed milk chocolate shell. I would like a whole box of these now. The photoset of the whole box is here.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
This one is a little different for a new product announcement. It’s kind of a preview and a tease.
Name: Askinosie Liberia
And now on to other new candy products expected this year:
Name: Tabasco Chocolate Truffles
Name: Bake Shoppe Cookie Dough Miniatures
Name: Belgian Chocolate Thins
Name: Hoja Verde Dark Chocolate
Name: Haribo Fruity Frutti
Name: Natural Vines
Name: KIT-KAT Wafer Bar Dark
Name: Cookies ‘N Cream Bites
Candy photos and images courtesy of the respective manufacturer.
The Glutino Gluten Free Candy Bar comes in Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate varieties. I couldn’t seem to find them in single serve purchase size so I had to buy a full box of them - which was $4.99. So I picked the dark chocolate ones since it appeared by the ingredients list that they’re also vegan.
The candy bar is rather simple, a potato-flour wafer stack with chocolate cream centers is covered with dark chocolate. It reminded me of the old Bar None except it doesn’t have crushed peanuts.
The bar is crispy, the foamy wafers are rather flavorless but provide a rice cake type crunch. The cream in between is smooth and melts well; it’s more buttery and sweet than chocolatey. The chocolate coating is rather thick on the top and bottom so there’s a lot more chocolate than I expected. It’s nicely tempered, so it had its own crunch. The flavor was mellow, like semi-sweet chocolate chips - rather woodsy.
I liked them and for a gluten free and vegan bar it doesn’t taste like there are any compromises in there. Sure there are palm oils in the cream filling, so that’s something to be aware of but it is organic (I don’t know about the sustainability of organic palm oil). But as far as taste and texture profile, if you didn’t know it was gluten free, you wouldn’t know the difference.
As one bar is under an ounce, it’s not quite satisfying. The box was rather weird, as you can see from the top photo, it’s much taller than it needs to be so I’d say there’s an overpackaging issue (I wonder if they have standard size boxes and just kind of shrugged it off). So I felt a little duped by that. Also, the nutrition panel says that a bar has 140 calories. That doesn’t make sense to me. It’s less than an ounce, which should put it at about 110 or even 100 calories considering the fact that it has those fat-free wafers in there. Even a solid bar of dark chocolate has about 145 calories per ounce.
There are five bars in the box which cost $4.99, so the bars are expensive for something that’s a “snack size” and not a “dessert size”. I’ll finish the ones I have but unless I needed to have a bar that fit the gluten free parameter, I’ll probably stick with the Q.bel Double Dark.
Actually, don’t eat these. They’re probably thirty years old. I really miss Pine Bros Throat Drops. They were glycerin cough drops, soothing and firm and slightly gummy after they softened up. They came in licorice and honey lemon.
UPDATE: Pine Bros did come back. You can find them in drug stores in two flavors.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.