Friday, November 09, 2012
When I’m traveling I’m usually still writing reviews, so I travel with a little packet of the candies in my queue.
But I also like to snacks, so I create trail mixes for myself. I’m on the road again and this time around I made the following mix:
Pretzels (I prefer Spelt pretzels as they have more protein so are more filling)
The best ratio for the mix, for my tastes, is about 1/2 Pretzels, 1/4 Raw Almonds and the remaining equal parts Sugar Babies and Clark Bites. I don’t need that much sweet in my snacks and the protein of the almonds is very filling. Each element combines well, so I can eat a pretzel with an almond, or a Sugar Baby with an almond ... it’s all interchangeable.
Other things I have included in the past:
Marich Dark Chocolate Cacao Nib Toffee (I don’t know if these are discontinued, I can’t find them any longer, but the Sconza Toffee Chocolate Almonds shown above are fantastic as well)
It could use a tangy & fruity element to it, like chocolate covered raisins or cranberries. (Straight raisins get very sticky and make my pretzels stale.)
Other Planes/Trains & Auto Snacks:
I like to package my mixes in sturdy zipper plastic bags, I prefer the ones with the little slider on it. Unlike some of the individually wrapped candies I also travel with, the mixes don’t make any trash. The flexible packaging is easy to stuff into my carry on bag and often I’ll toss an extra one into my checked luggage if it’s a long trip.
In a pinch though you can buy pre-made mixes. M&Ms is making some now that come in zipper bags. Of course you’re stuck with their idea of a good ratio and you might not like all the elements in there.
Chex also makes Chex Mixes, including a few sweet & salty versions like Chex Mix Chocolate Turtle which includes caramel-coated corn Chex, cocoa-seasoned corn Chex, pretzels, nuts, caramel-coated popcorn and chocolaty candies. (Note the use of the word chocolaty, that’s pretty much what’s been keeping me from trying them.)
Wednesday, November 07, 2012
Their Limited Edition Egg Nog Nips variety caught me by surprise, mostly because I didn’t know they made seasonal versions.
The box is the same format and size as the standard Coffee Nips. It holds 4 ounces and sells for a little over a buck at grocery and drug store chains. I felt like the box could have held another ounce or two, but you know that whole “settling may occur during transit” may come into play. Each piece is individually wrapped, and the whole box is also sealed in a clear cellophane wrapper to protect the contents.
The pieces are large and nicely domed. They don’t smell like much, so it wasn’t until I popped one in my mouth that I got a sense of what was different.
They’re sweet and smooth with a slow and satisfying dissolve. The creamy flavor has a strong milky flavor mixed with notes of nutmeg and a touch of clove and cinnamon plus vanilla. The custardy candy is pleasant and isn’t too cloying. I might have preferred a little stronger kick of spice to it, as it is it’s not that different from the Butter Rum Nips. (Though a hint of rum might be nice, too.)
A gingerbread version probably isn’t that far behind.
Made on equipment that also processes peanuts. Gluten free. Contains dairy, soy and coconut.
Monday, November 05, 2012
The Clark Bar is one of the oldest still existing combination candy bars in the United States. It was introduced in 1917 and is now made by Necco. (You can read lots more here.) The bar is a simple layered peanut butter crunch center similar to Butterfinger & 5th Avenue (head to head review) or Reese’s Crispy Crunchy and the Chick-o-Stick.
To expand the line, Necco recently introduced Clark Bites, which as the name would imply, are bite sized, unwrapped pieces instead of a full bar. There’s a strange campaign going on to promote them, called Where’s Zipper, which uses a cartoon character called Zipper the Squirrel based on the Squirrel Nut Zippers candy also made by Necco. There’s a website and a poorly attended Facebook page for it. But there’s lots of info there about the new Clark Bites, the fact that they come in stand up snack bags, individual bags plus these theater boxes.
A while back I reviewed the re-introduced Butterfinger Bites, which I thought were terrible. The coating was greasy and waxy and overly sweet with no chocolate notes whatsoever. The center was too stiff or dense and lacked an easy crunch. Since I prefer the new Real Chocolate Clark Bars already, I had high hopes for these.
The box is interesting, it feels masculine and utilitarian. All the info is there. They’re made with real chocolate, the image on the front shows what the candy looks like and they’re made in the United Sates. The box is a bit big for the contents, there are only 3.5 ounces in there, but I’d say it’s a good value for a buck for an all natural product. Inside the box, the candy is inside an unmarked cellophane pouch.
There are no preservatives in the candy, so it’s all natural. It’s a milk chocolate coating and there’s a confectioners glaze on it, so it’s not appropriate for vegans or even strict vegetarians. (There’s also soy, peanuts and milk in it for those with allergies and processed in a plant that also has tree nuts, egg and wheat.)
The nuggets are well proportioned. They vary in size, some are sort of square shapes, other are more rectangular versions. They’re between three quarters to almost an inch long.
The center is light and crispy with lots of layers. The flavor isn’t strongly peanutty and the chocolate coating is rather thick. So the whole thing is pretty sweet though there is a small touch of salt in the center. The flaky crunch has a little bit of rustic peanut butter in it, but mostly notes of molasses.
One the whole, they’re quite poppable. They’re a lot lighter and crunchier than the Butterfinger version and of course the chocolate is real. There’s no partially or fully hydrogenated oils in here, but plenty of real chocolate, milk products, sugar and peanuts. A serving is a half of the package (1.75 ounces) which comes in at 240 calories but does have 4 grams of protein and even 4% of your calcium and 2% of your iron.
I really hope these become more widely available. I was so optimistic after reading the label when I bought them that I picked up three boxes and I’m glad I did.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.