Thursday, June 30, 2011
I saw that there was a new Mentos flavor pack over a year ago, called Mentos Rainbow it featured seven flavors in a mixed package. None of the flavors are actually new, as far as I can tell, it’s just an opportunity to get the full assortment at once.
The package sports a colorful rainbow of stripes across it along with icons for each of the flavors. The pieces are actually lined up that way in the package, which is good because the colors don’t exactly match the hues on the wrapper.
I picked these up twice. The first time I found them at Mel & Rose Wine and Liquors last year (and I saw them in Europe earlier this year as well). I took some photos and ate them, but didn’t review them right away. Then I noticed that they were carrying them at the Rite Aid near my house, so I thought this was the time to try them again. So I picked up two new packages and did some more photos.
Strawberry (light purple-pink) is soft and floral with a light yogurt tang to it.
Pineapple (yellow) is rather like canned pineapple, very sweet with only the slightest balsam quality to it.
Grape (purple) is definitely not the American grape we’re all used to. It’s very concord-like with some strong tannin notes and something that tastes a little bit like cough syrup (in that way that it burns).
Cherry (medium pink) actually started tasting more like a berry but developed into a rather believable cherry juice flavor.
Raspberry (dark pink) is very sweet and lacks most of the things I like about raspberries, like a potent woodsy flavor with floral overtones. None of that here.
Orange (soft orange) is sweet and juicy with a little note of zest but very little citrus tang.
Watermelon (green) is weird and metallic at first. Then I got some of the melon notes but then it was more like eating sour paper. Not for me, thankfully there are only two in the package and the only green ones at that.
I like that the package has a large variety of flavors and has a dependable portion for each one (instead of something like Skittles, that’s random). The odd thing I noticed though is that the first package I picked up last year had a slightly different flavor assortment.
The European version (shown directly above) doesn’t have Cherry, instead it has Green Apple.
They’re not suitable for vegetarians, even though they removed gelatin from them. They use all natural colorings now, which includes Carmine. I still miss Pink Grapefruit Mentos.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
I mentioned this bar a couple of months ago in a candy tease. It’s called Frey Chocobloc AIR and as you might guess from the name, it’s an aerated chocolate bar. Frey is a large Swiss chocolate company (I used to see their bars at Target and often at airport duty free shops) but they’re not as well known in North America as some others.
Now that I’ve had the Hershey’s Air Delight Kisses, I thought it was a good time to compare it to another newly introduced product.
Frey makes a line of bars called Chocobloc which have a similar format to the Kraft Toblerone bar. They’re a long, chunky block that has little divided, angular sections. The regular Chocobloc bars are 100 grams, the aerated AIR bar is only 70 grams. But what’s really different about this bar from all the other aerated chocolate out there right now is that this is a milk chocolate bar with honey nougat and almonds. The milk chocolate does have a lot of cocoa content, 34% according to the label.
I know it seems odd to note it, but there are a lot of bubbles in the bar. I’m not calling your attention in this case to the ones in the center, but the edges of the bar, the peaks and corners have a lot of voids. A well molded bar, even one with inclusions will have an even surface.
The bar does feel light and the color is also on the creamy milky side of things. The pieces cleave off easily, much better than some other blocky bars (like the Toblerone). It smells quite milky and a little like malt and honey. There are little hard nougat bits in there, just tiny chips.
The bar melts quickly and has a very strong, sweet flavor to it. There are caramel and honey notes and quite a bit of the powdered dairy taste that Swiss chocolate often has. It’s not very chocolatey but still the melt is velvety enough.
As far as its performance as an aerated bar, it was light and did have a bit of a foamy melt with all the air included. About 30% of the mass of an ordinary bar was missing because of the air bubbles. But it also tasted a lot sweeter. Perhaps a dark chocolate version of this would be more to my liking.
The comparison to the other bars I’ve tried to so far is similar. The texture of this one in particular felt a bit smoother and I liked the notes of honey. But aerated still isn’t a trend I’m hopping on. There’s really nothing here that’s perceptibly better than solid chocolate. If you’re looking for something that gives the appearance of more to trick yourself that you’re eating lots, well, maybe this will do the trick for you but be warned that ounce for ounce, this is some pretty high calorie stuff. But the sugary flavor couldn’t match the satisfaction of slightly bitter, very dark chocolate for me.
(I used a photo from Frey for the package image. In the case of the review bar I received, it was in the Swiss packaging, which is sold there as Mahony Sweet Air - photo.)
Monday, June 27, 2011
Mederer GmbH is a Germany candy company best known for its Trolli is a brand of gummis. By 1975 gummis were already very popular in Germany, with most of the market dominated by Haribo. So Mederer introduced the Trolli line with an affectionate mascot, the Trolli troll, with rainbow hair. The Mederer company also started making gummis in the United States, in Iowa, but later sold that off in 1996. It changed hands a bunch of times (passing through Nabisco & Wrigley’s, notably) to what is now known as Farley’s and Sathers Candy Company.
So in the United States, the Trollis you buy here are different from the Trolli candies from Europe (which are now made in Germany, Spain and Czech Republic). But that doesn’t mean that you can’t get the German Trolli brand, you just have to look for it under their American brand, called e.fruitti.
While I was in Europe earlier this year, I visited with the Trolli company’s booth at the ISM Cologne candy fair. They make an amazing array of candy and many of their gummis, most in novelty flavors and shapes, which are available in the United States as well. One that I was excited about was the Trolli Gummi Bear Rings. (They’re sold here in the United States with the same name, here’s a comparison of the non-US branding of the candy with the Trolli brand and the American efruitti branding.) They’re exactly what the name sounds like, rings made out of gummi candy with gummi bears on them like gems.
The bears are made with real fruit juice. Each piece is a combination of two flavors which are: orange, strawberry, apple, lemon/lime and cherry. The bears come in a variety of poses as well, with reclining bears, bears doing single pawed handstands, waving and splits.
The pieces are firm and have a soft, non greasy waxy coating. They fit pretty well on the top of my rather chubby fingers. If I tried I could get them down across the big knuckle. As long as your hands are really sweaty or damp, they don’t get sticky.
The gummi part is quite stiff though still chewy and intense in its flavor. I’ll just dissect them and take the flavors separately:
Cherry (red) is quite good and not the American style, it’s more Kirsch-like, more like a classic cherry juice flavor.
Lemon/Lime (yellow) is zesty and tangy. It really is a great flavor to complement just about all the others.
Orange (orange) is rather ordinary. There’s a fair amount of zest which keeps it from tasting like a rubberized version of orange Jell-O. But it was still a little bland.
Apple (green) isn’t the regular artificial American green apple flavor, this was quite authentic, with apple juice flavors, it reminded me a little bit of a fruit roll up with a much smoother texture.
Berry (blue) is the one I wasn’t sure about. The flavor of the blue gummi was rather berry-ish, more like raspberry. But the package said strawberry. However, the red was most definitely cherry. So I’m not sure about this one. It was tasty, chewy and a bit sour with some nice florals and jam notes.
The big point to these though isn’t the flavor it’s the fact that they’re rings. You can wear them while you eat them. As an alternative to keeping them on your fingers, I’d say putting them on a necklace (just a piece of string) might be fun too. Just in case you were thinking that these were the gummi equivalent of brass knuckles, well, they would have the opposite effect if you punched someone with them on. They’re quite bouncy. (Don’t try that at home, please.)
Friday, June 24, 2011
The company sent me some sample packages back in May in advance of the Sweets & Snacks Expo. Summer is a great time for gummis, the sweet and tangy flavors are great for quenching dry mouths and of course as a sugar candy they’re not prone to melting.
Trolli Big Bold Bears come in six flavors: Blue Raspberry, Wild Cherry, Grape, Green Apple, Lemon-Lime and Orange.
My package came with only five flavors, the Wild Cherry was missing. There were only fifteen bears in the bag.
The bears stand two inches tall and have a arms-pan of one inch.
The look alien. The colors are vivid and plastic, the colors aren’t even normal for the classic gummi bear flavors. They look like toys or keychains, really anything but something to eat.
They’re firm and pliable, they don’t stick together and don’t have that greasy coating of some gummi products.
Lemon-Lime smelled spicy and zesty, though a little like aftershave. The flavor was more on the lime side of things though still sweet and maybe even a little fizzy (but maybe that’s just Sprite on my mind). The color was like antifreeze.
Green Apple is vague and muted, only slightly tangy. It’s not a peppy artificial green apple flavor and not even an authentic apple juice flavor.
Orange is reliably zesty and artificially juicy. I enjoyed this one most of all.
Grape was bland and much like a flat grape soda.
Blue Raspberry was more like a fruit punch than a floral berry flavor. It was still good, but just a little more tropical than I expected.
So the name is Big Bold Bears. I did find their colors and size to be bold but their flavors were downright timid. For smaller kids, parents may prefer the larger size (but maybe not the extra artificial colors). The mild flavor may actually be a selling point for adults who don’t necessarily want the overpowering sour gummi worm experience.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Milo is a chocolate malt beverage introduced in Australia in 1934 by Nestle. The powder is mixed with either hot or cold water to make the drink which boasts complex carbohydrates and added nutrients such as calcium, B vitamins and protein. It’s now become popular around the world including Southeast Asia, Europe and North America. Of course that kind of popularity means that there will be spin off products.
I’ve never had the Milo drink, but the idea of a malted beverage is right up my alley. When I saw the Nestle Milo Chocolate Bar at Mel & Rose Wine & Liquors recently, I knew I had to try it, even though the thing was nearly $5 for a 2.82 ounce bar. For that kind of coin I could get a really good chocolate bar, not just something from Nestle.
Even though Milo is an Australian drink, this bar was made in South Africa. The bar is thick and in a really easy to spot green thick plastic wrapper. The format reminds me of Cadbury big tablet bars, it’s compact at about 5.5 inches long, only 2 inches wide and thick. There are seven rows of double segments.
Instead of being a malted chocolate flavored bar, this features big chunks of the Milo beverage mix. (I can’t tell if the stuff is also mixed into the chocolate as well.)
The bar smells rich and chocolatey: Sweet, milky and with a touch of malt and coconut. The melt isn’t quite as satisfying, it’s fudgy and rather similar to any cheap chocolate. It’s sweet and has a lot of dairy to it but then the malt notes kick in to mellow out the sugar. The chunks of Milo powder are crunchy and a little gritty, but dissolve quickly with a strong malt flavor with a hint of toffee, molasses and cocoa. However, there’s a lingering bitterness after all this, a little metallic and a lot like B vitamins. It’s not off-putting, just odd for candy.
I would love this bar to have actual good chocolate, stuff that’s creamy and smooth and less sugary. But it’s Nestle, so this is about as good as it gets unless you buy one of their branded names. I don’t think I’ll pick up this bar again, for a malt fix I’ll stick with malted milk balls or seek out the Ovamaltine bar sold in Europe.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
In the United States there are only a few options for candy coated chocolate morsels. There are M&Ms, and let’s face it, they’re ubiquitous and come in so many varieties, it’s hard to fathom why anyone else would try to make them. But there are Koppers Milkies and Hershey’s Pieces (though not in milk chocolate), and every once in a while you can find a store that carries Nestle Smarties.
In Europe things are a little different. There are M&Ms, though fewer varieties, and their main competitor, Nestle Smarties. And then there are all the other lentils. I picked up a few of them in Germany, today I present the Choceur Choco Dragees. For those who are familiar with Aldi, you’ll recognize the name Choceur as one of their house-brands of chocolate confections.
The package says (in German), multicolored full milk chocolate pieces with natural colors. I picked up the smallest bag I could find, which is 400 grams (14.11 ounces). I liked the package, it’s pretty compact and features a gusseted bottom so it stands up.
The shells were crunchy and shiny. The chocolate inside, well, it’s very German tasting. There’s a strong milk taste to it, a little tangy but not spoiled like Hershey’s. It’s smooth and rather sweet as well, but has a discernible caramel note to it as well.
They’re very different from M&Ms. The crunch of the shell is more pronounced and there’s no faint bitterness from any artificial flavors like I get from brown or red M&Ms. They’re sweet, but in a more muted, perhaps honey flavored way.
I’ve never seen these at Aldi in the United States, though they might have them in the seasonal stuff for holidays and I missed it. They’re worth picking up if you do see them and if I lived in Germany, I’d probably get these quite often.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Trader Joe’s is usually right on target when it jumps on a trend. They seem to know when it’s too early to hop on (and customers will be too scared) or too late (customers will be weary of over saturation). Salt and caramel, salt and chocolate and of course, the combination of all three is right up there on the trend meter. Artisans and high end chocolatiers started the international push about eight years ago, and Trader Joe’s has introduced some fine salted caramels along the way.
Today I have one of their new bars, a 70% Dark Chocolate Bar - Caramel with Black Sea Salt. The design of the box is reminiscent of the Fearless Flyer’s clip art designs with fanciful sailing ships and airships and seaweed. The package mentions that the bar is gluten free.
The package describes the bar thusly:
Inside the box the bar is sealed in a tough silver mylar package. There’s no design flair to it, but something much more practical. There’s a little stamp that says not only when the bar was made, but also the best by date. (It’s pretty rare for a product to give you both pieces of information.)
I had two of these bars. The first, pictured here, I bought myself. The second was one my husband picked up, not realizing that I’d already procured one. This one was in good shape, glossy and unbroken. The color of the chocolate was a little dead - a little on the coffee ground brown side. The bottom of the bar is studded with sea salt crystals. They weren’t black, they were white and translucent. Some grains were small and well spaced, but others were clumped together or just downright large - like something you’d toss on an icy sidewalk.
The center of the bar is a gooey, near liquid caramel. It’s creamy and silky smooth with a light milky flavor with a strong salty note. The combination of salt from the dusting and the center was sometimes pretty intense. (The package says that there’s only 95 mg of salt here, but I think that’s a little off.)
The chocolate is a little bitter but strong with a fruity and woodsy note to it, kind of like smoked raisins. It’s quite decadent all together, sweet, salty, creamy and a little crunchy if you hit a salt patch.
My big complaint about this bar is the filling at times. The second bar was broken in one place, which unleashed the caramel into the package. Also, if you start the bar, you’re kind of obligated to finish it right away, because the caramel will escape within a half an hour of placing it horizontal. (I guess propping it upright might help.)
Trader Joe’s always makes a good quality product. The packaging was good, the label gave me all the info I wanted to know and the quality was excellent for the price. I don’t think this is my favorite bar, mostly because of the overly-salty spots and the mess factor.
There’s another bar in this set that I saw on the shelf, Trader Joe’s 70% Dark Chocolate - Toffee with Walnuts and Pecans - has anyone tried that as well?
Monday, June 20, 2011
The bar is described on the package as Tropical Coconut and Crunchy Rice Puffs in Smooth Milk Chocolate. Well, that’s an uncommon combination so I was intrigued. Add to that the bold wrapper, and I was sold. I also liked the name, as I work in television during the day, so it’s fun to try a bar based on the medium.
Beacon also makes other candies, like Fizzers (a chewy candy rather like Airheads but fizzy), large chocolate tablets called Beacon Slabs, Slim Slabs, Superfine (an upscale chocolate line) but perhaps they’re best known for their Beacon Allsorts, which are one of the best selling candies in all of South Africa. They have other candy bars with classic names like Wonder Bar, Nosh Bar, Inside Story and Now Bar.
The bar looks simple and appealing. It’s about 4.5 inches long and blocky. It’s 1.65 ounces, which is less than a Snickers bar (though about the same volume) but more than a pair of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. It feels light so I wasn’t surprised when I bit into it and it was quite airy. The crisped rice is dense without being sticky like a marshmallow treat is. It’s held together by the lightest chocolate cream along with a bit of coconut. Though I didn’t catch much coconut texture, there was a lot of coconut flavor. It even overshadowed the chocolate. The chocolate coating may or may not be actual chocolate. There’s cocoa mass and cocoa butter in the ingredients list, but lots of other vegetable fats that could be in the coating as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if the coating did have a bit of vegetable oil to it, it’s a bit mild and waxy.
The portion is ideal for me, about 250 calories for the whole bar. There’s also a TV Bar White chocolate one which I could only imagine is extremely sweet, but perhaps the milkiness of a good white chocolate would go well with the coconut. There is similar bar here in the States called Crispy Cat Mint Coconut, which is dark chocolate covering crisped rice, mint and coconut. I like the milky notes to this one and think it’d be a good fit for American tastes. (Or perhaps Hershey’s will make a Whatchamacallit Coconut version.)
The bar is marked Halal and is also distributed in Australia.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.