Wednesday, July 21, 2010
I don’t believe in “retro candy”. We don’t think of Snickers or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups as retro, yet they’ve been around as long as Tootsie Rolls or Heath Bars. Some candies are simply classic, they endure because they’re good at what they do. Here’s an interview I did for Professional Candy Buyer. Click to enlarge to read the text ... or just look at the pictures.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Bottlecaps are underrated. Just look at them, soda pop flavored pressed dextrose candies shaped like bottle caps! What would be more fun or better for sharing?
Cherry, Cola, Grape, Root Beer and Orange. (In an ideal world there would also be a Squirt version, but I guess others will complain that Dr. Pepper & Sprite are missing.)
Monday, July 19, 2010
It’s not hard to find candy that’s colorful and flavorful, but what makes it harder is when you want it to be all natural, free of the major allergens (wheat, soy, dairy, nuts) and vegan. So Goody Good Stuff is here to fill that hole in your life.
I picked up this sample of their Sour Mix & Match at some trade show and have been hanging onto it until it hit the stores.
Now here’s the thing, their marketing says that these are vegan gummis. Instead of gelatin, which is made from pigs, cows or fish, Goody Good Stuff is using a new gelling agent called gellan. (I first noticed the ingredient in Halal Mentos.) Gellan is made from bacteria, not vertebrates. It sounds like a great idea, however in practice gellan is closer to agar (that jelly stuff in petri dishes) that’s made from seaweed than gelatin. Gelatin is a protein; gellan is polysaccharide. They’re simply different, they do different things and behave in different ways.
At first glance jelly candies and gummis look very similar, but they don’t behave the same way. Gummis tear sharply - you can pull a gummi apart and it will make flat edges where it breaks. Pull apart a jelly and it just, well, pulls. It doesn’t bounce, though sometimes it might jiggle nicely. The great thing is that both carry fruit flavors really well, they create a smooth texture and often a glass-like appearance.
So with all that chemistry aside, I’ve got a handful of candy to taste. There are quite a few different pieces in this mix and match, but I could only review three versions because I needed at least three tries to taste the flavors. They’re like little bulbous, rounded planks - about an inch and a half long.
Without any clue as to what the flavors are supposed to be, and that these are British (which is always a little different in the fruity flavors), I can only describe what I’ve got.
Green & Peach - it tastes like peach. Both ends taste the same as far as I’m concerned, but there’s a weird “ketchup” note to it that I find a little disturbing. The peach is tangy and light with a good sour bite at the start. The jelly center is smooth and doesn’t stick too much.
Red & Yellow - tastes like strawberry lemonade. The lemon is strong, sour and zesty with a slight floral note I attribute to strawberry.
Orange & Blue - is shocking. The blue is amazing for a natural product. It’s zesty and well rounded and tastes mostly like grapefruit but maybe with some pineapple thrown in.
For those who were curious, here’s what’s inside:
These look and taste like there is no compromise. The colors are intense and I’d say kind of unnatural looking. The shape is fun and easy to grasp. They’re not messy at all, the sugar crust stays on so well there were scarcely ten grains in the bottom of the bag of these I had. They’re sour, but not that searing kind that’s likely to create blisters on the tongue after a serving.
I feel like kids or grown ups who have had true gummis before may be disappointed with the texture based on my expectations.
They also make a few other products that I’m quite eager to try: Strawberry and Cream, Cola Breeze, Sour Fruit Salad, Tropical Fruit, Koala Gummy Bears while the ones that I found less interesting were Summer Peaches and Cheery Cherries. These should be available in Stop & Shop on the East Coast and Booths and ASDA in the UK.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
I liked these Black Sugar hard candies from Japan because they were so nicely made. They had a deep color of amber and a striated crystal, almost like Tiger’s Eye. The taste was a little weird though, they were a combination of Black Sugar (like molasses) and vinegar. Probably good for a sore throat, but a little too savory for me.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
I’m headed off to the Buckeye State, which has always proved to be a rich source of candy for me. Above is a photo of Harry London Buckeyes, an Ohio specialty.
My plans of interest to Candy Blog readers are: Aldi, the Spangler Factory and Albanese Confectionery Factory Store ... perhaps some Fanny May when I get to Chicago on the second portion of the trip. Plus whatever else I see along the way.
So while I’m off doing that, I’m just going to post new reviews on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Don’t worry, they’ll still be something every day, including Eat with Your Eyes and other special treats. Of course if I run across something extraordinary I’ll be tweeting.
Friday, July 16, 2010
One of the most popular new items at the Sweets & Snacks Expo was Jelly Belly’s Cocktail Classics mix.
The five flavor mix reminds us that It’s five o’clock somewhere (and has trademarked the phrase, to boot). They’re based on popular fruity cocktails: Pina Colada, Strawberry Daiquiri, Mojito, Peach Bellini and Pomegranate Cosmo. They’re non-alcoholic and available in a variety of packages like 9 ounce bags, 1 pound tubs (best value) and this gift box that actually guarantees that you get the same amount of each flavor.
Pina Colada - a Pina Colada is a fruity tropical blend of strained pineapple and coconut cream along with rum.
Strawberry Daiquiri - a plain daiquiri is rum, lime juice and sugar (served over ice or chilled). Later it became a slush drink or frozen daiquiri. A strawberry version varies and can be the frozen variety with just a few strawberries thrown into the blender but sometimes strawberry liqueur is added.
Mojito - this drink has become very popular lately, it’s a mix of white rum, sugar (preferably cane juice), lime, seltzer water and muddled mint.
Peach Bellini - is a mix of peach puree and sparkling wine.
Pomegranate Cosmo - Cosmo is short for the original name of the Cosmopolitan cocktail. It’s a mix of vodka, Triple Sec (orange), cranberry juice and lime juice. I’m guessing the pomegranate version just subs out the cranberry juice for pomegranate juice.
As with most Jelly Belly flavor mixes, I love the quality of the jelly beans themselves. In this instance there were really only two I cared to eat, the Pomegranate Cosmo and Pina Colada, but given dozen of other great flavors that Jelly Belly makes, I’d still stick with the citrus mix. For me, it wouldn’t make sense to buy this mix. As a theme it’s fun and certainly pretty. The value for the box shown here is pretty bad - it’s 4.5 ounces and costs $5.99 on the Jelly Belly website - that’s over $21 a pound. So if you’ve got to have these, get them in the tub or bulk.
Maison Pecou Jordan Almonds. ‘Nuff said.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
The Nestle Aero line is a fun sort - it’s aerated chocolate. That means that air bubbles are trapped in the chocolate, making it light and fluffy, kind of like chocolate pumice. This is rather foreign to us here in the US where aerated chocolate isn’t that common. Europe Cadbury has a whole Wispa and Diary Milk Bubby line of products and they’re also popular in Israel where Elite makes some bars.
The Aero 70% Cocoa bar was a little more expensive than some of the imports I find, I paid $2 for mine, though in Canada, where these are from, they might be more reasonably priced. It’s five inches long and 1/75 inches across making it seem like a large bar. It only weighs 1.41 ounces, which is a great portion for chocolate but at this size it looks large but feels a bit puffy. Well, that’s because it is. The wrapping is simple and elegant. There’s a lot of info on the bar but they balance it well with the bubbly graphic elements and the matte paper keeps it from being too chaotic.
Inside the foil wrapper, the bar is nicely molded, the shape is great and does a great job of highlighting the bubbly attributes while still making it easy to portion. The bubbles vary in size, but are consistently distributed throughout the bar - no solids spots.
The bite is easy and doesn’t flake or crumble. The scent is odd, almost alcoholic - like whiskey with hints of tobacco and cedar. The chocolate flavors are similarly woodsy and rich with just a hint of tannic cherries. The melt is creamy and slick. It’s amazing how good this is for a Nestle bar. Like all the best things about Nestle Chocolate Morsels, but even creamier.
The nutrition label was kind of shocking. The reason the melt was so smooth was the level of dreamy cocoa butter in the bar - it has one of the highest calorie counts per ounce of a whole chocolate product: 169. There are 16 grams of fat in here, but also 4 grams of fiber, 21 grams of sugar and finally 3 grams of protein. There’s a shocking 35% of the Canadian RDA of iron & 25% of the magnesium. The front of the package also says that there are 500 mg of polyphenols. The ingredients are also simple and easy to understand: cacao mass, sugar, cocoa, cocoa butter, soy lecithin & natural flavor.
I happened to have some of the Bubble Chocolate 60% Dark bar around to compare it to, and the Nestle Aero is surprisingly richer and smoother. I ate the whole bar and would probably buy it again if I saw it - it’s my favorite of the aerated bars I’ve had.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.