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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Jolly Rancher Awesome Twosome Chews

Jolly Rancher Awesome Twosome ChewsThis is an early review of an upcoming product: Jolly Rancher Awesome Twosome Chews that should hit store shelves in December 2010.

About five years ago Twizzlers, a Hershey’s company, introduced Twerpz (original review). They were cute little nibs of flavored “licorice” that had a grainy and flavored cream filling. They were around for about three years then slowly faded away. Twizzlers introduced a few similar products such as the Twizzlers Sweet & Sour Filled Twists, but didn’t relaunch the Twerpz line. In a completely unrelated area, Hershey’s had a line of chocolate bar “Awesome Twosome” brand mashups around the same time. They were regular Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars with bits of other bars mixed in, like Whoppers, Heath, Almond Joy and Reese’s Pieces.

Jolly Rancher Awesome Twosome ChewSo it appears that this new product, now under the Jolly Rancher brand is taking over the Twizzlers Twerpz product, but giving it a little twist by combing two flavors in each piece (that’s the Twosome part).

The flavors of the Awesome Twosome Chews are standards in the Jolly Rancher palette. One is Watermelon on the outside and has a Green Apple filling. The other is Cherry on the outside and has an Orange filling. Each has a sour grainy dusting.

The Watermelon/Green Apple is kind of fun because it’s a reverse of the colors of an actual watermelon. That’s about where the fun for me ended. The package itself smells rather plastic and artificial, like bubble gum, wood glue and one of those discount movie palaces that always smells a little damp. They’re soft and chewy and the sour coating isn’t that powerful, just a nice zap.

The tube of watermelon licorice is well flavored, in the Jolly Rancher arena, which is good if you like that sort of thing. The green apple inside goes pretty well, but again, horribly artificial and acidic in a way that reminds me of burps.

DSC_7252rbThe Cherry/Orange was at least made up of one flavor that I generally like. The cherry chew part was very flavorful, but sadly it was a very bad flavor. The use of food coloring and one note of medicinal cherry kept me from enjoying it at all. There were only four of these in my bag, so I didn’t get a lot to try. The paste filling was an interesting texture but in the case of the orange one, far too mild and like Tang instead of a well rounded zesty orange to stand up to the cherry.

The aftertaste was like I’d chewed on PlayDoh for a while and then swallowed Country Time Lemonade drink mix. However, I know that there are folks who are really looking forward to these. I like the concept but the texture, flavors and general execution just doesn’t fit my style.

Related Candies

  1. Chewy Sour Extinguisher
  2. Wonka Kazoozles: Cherry Punch & Pink Lemonade
  3. Twizzlers Sweet & Sour Filled Twists
  4. Jolly Rancher Fruit Chews


Name: Jolly Rancher Awesome Twosome Chews
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Hershey’s
Place Purchased: sample from Sweets & Snacks Expo
Price: $.89 retail
Size: 1.8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 100
Categories: Candy, Hershey's, Chews, Sour, 3-Unappealing, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:31 pm     CandyHershey'sChewsKosherSour3-UnappealingUnited StatesComments (20)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Necco Sweethearts Twilight Fire & Ice

Marketing tie ins with blockbuster movie franchises are nothing new. The Necco Sweethearts and Twilight co-marketing continues. I saw these at the Ralph’s grocery over the weekend and remembered that the movie is in theaters and that I actually had a couple of boxes.

Sweethearts Ice & Fire

I’ve never actually read the Twilight books or seen any of the movies. This is just about the candy.

Sweethearts IceSweethearts Ice come in a theater box, a plastic bag inside holds 4 ounces. The outside features an image of Edward Cullen, mysterious and attractive centenarian who happens to be a vampire.

Inside are two flavors of Sweethearts in the new softer texture and more intensely flavored formula. The Raspberry Freezeout and Lime Frostbite feature a dusting of sparkles courtesy of a newly approved edible mica.

The front of the box says Intense Wave of Cold! ... just what you want in a relationship that might last for all eternity.

Sweethearts Ice

The shape of the sweets is nicely done. They come in only two colors, but they’re pretty easy to tell apart. The printing is subpar though. I worked hard to find some good representatives for photographing. The sayings were things like “I “heart” EC”, “Live 4 Ever” “Bite Me” and “Dazzle”. There were a fair number of blank ones, which I’m told is because Edward Cullen can’t read Bella Swan’s mind.

They smell, well, feminine and juvenile. It’s like fruity bodywash or scented trash bags.

The Raspberry Freezeout flavor is light blue. The sparkly quality was evident to me except in extremely bright and direct lighting conditions (like outside in the sun). The flavor is sweet and floral, like a raspberry flavor is supposed to be. There’s no hint of tartness, instead after a moment the overly sweet flavor fades and a throat cooling menthol comes over it. It’s a little medicinal, but also a bit unexpected as it doesn’t really complement the berry.

The Lime FrostBite is slightly more successful, probably because of my indoctrination to the flavor combo via the Mojito. The lime is a light zesty note, again with no tart juicy vibe. Then the menthol emerges and it’s well, okay. It’s a little like toothpaste.

The texture is softer and smoother than the classic Sweethearts, so in a way that’s nice. But the flavor choices here simply aren’t for me.

Sweethearts IceThe second package is Sweethearts Fire which says it has an Intense Surge of Heat. The box features an image of the shirtless Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black, a shapeshifter with a tattoo. (Who was jailbait when the image was shot ... okay, maybe photos of shirtless teen boys can’t be jailbait.)

Inside is a plastic bag with two flavors of pink Sweethearts: Steamy Chocolate and Hotter Than Apple Pie.

Sweethearts Fire

These candies also come in two colors, though both are pink. One is bright pink and the other is dusty pink. They smell sweet and lightly cinnamony.

The pieces area also difficult to read, about half were not imprinted well enough. But the ones that I could read said things that were themed for the wolf boy and his unrequited love for Bella like “Wolf Man”, “Jacob”, “Save Me” and “Howl”.

Steamy Chocolate were rather rare in my package, about 25% of the candies. The flavor is light and slightly creamy, the cocoa notes come across as flat and cardboard, but maybe a little woodsy. The cinnamon is more earthy than spicy.

Hotter Than Apple Pie tastes like a holiday candle, like cinnamon with a little apple juice flavor thrown in to mellow it out. It’s a little spicier and more intense than the chocolate one. The pink coloring means that I got a bitter aftertaste after eating too many (about five).

While I liked the Fire version better than the Ice, I wouldn’t say that I liked them all that much at all. Perhaps the fact that the flavor was rather mainstream pleased me, just like most people really don’t want to love an immortal undead guy.

These candies suffer as novelty items instead of solid products that tie into a theme. The hearts and mottoes are a great idea, but the flavors are just ghastly for the most part. But maybe that’s the target market.

The good news is that Necco didn’t make a Bella Swan version, which as far as I can tell would be sugary sweet and flavorless.

Sweethearts have gelatin in them, so are not suitable for vegetarians and are not Kosher/Halal.

Full disclosure: I’m not against escapist entertainment, I’m sure if someone dug through my reading and viewing habits there’d be some goofy items as well. And I give folks full permission to make fun of those.

Related Candies

  1. Go Max Go Twilight Candy Bar
  2. Necco Conversation Hearts (Sweethearts) 2010
  3. The Twilight Saga: New Moon Heart’s Desire Sky Bar
  4. Snickers Nougabot Bar & Transformer M&Ms
  5. Twilight Sweethearts: Forbidden Fruits
  6. Endangered Species Chocolate


Name: Sweethearts Twilight Ice
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Necco
Place Purchased: sample from Sweets & Snacks Expo
Price: $1.25
Size: 4.0 ounces
Calories per ounce: 113
Categories: Candy, Necco, Compressed Dextrose, 3-Unappealing, United States


Name: Sweethearts Twilight Fire
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Necco
Place Purchased: sample from Sweets & Snacks Expo
Price: $1.25
Size: 4.0 ounces
Calories per ounce: 113
Categories: Candy, Necco, Compressed Dextrose, 5-Pleasant, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:59 pm     CandyNeccoCinnamonCompressed Dextrose3-Unappealing5-PleasantUnited StatesComments (9)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Jumbo Gum Ball Eggs

Jumbo Gum BallIn my attempt to try everything this Easter I bought some pretty stupid candies. The Jumbo Gum Ball Eggs are pretty high up there. It wasn’t so much that it’s a stupid purchase (it was only 99 cents) but that it’s a stupid product.

But let me go backwards a bit. I have a definition for candy. It’s kind of long and includes a list of criteria. One of them is that the product needs to be ready-to-eat. This means it doesn’t need assembly (though might benefit from it) and doesn’t require implements or tools, especially ones not provided.

Jumbo Gum Ball

They are 2.25 inches tall and weigh about 1.75 ounces each. Yes, they’re hollow but they’re about a third of an inch thick.

A gumball the size of a small chicken egg requires tools. I used a saw.

Jumbo Gum Ball

I was able to stand on one of them without smashing it. After chewing the slice I’d cut off the top I did manage to smash and pull apart the larger piece by stomping on it and then prying it apart. It’s tough stuff. The package says that a single serving is half an egg, but of course gives no clue about how to sever it yourself.

The candy shell is thick and crunchy and the gum inside is rough and leathery, kind of like playing with thick rawhide. It smells slightly like Juicyfruit gum. The overall flavor is sweet with a light fruity and tangy note that disappears quickly as the sugar dissolves with chewing. The flavor is inconsistent and has cinnamon and bubble gum notes from time to time. It’s an all sugar gum, which tend to lose their flavor quicker than the artificially sweetened ones. That’s fine with me, I like to chew mine up, make a few bubbles then toss it out and put in a new piece.

It does work as a bubble gum, but certainly not very well.

They’re fun to look at and would make nice decorations. For a child they’d be a frustrating mess. If you lick it the blue colored shell will run (and could stain clothing or upholstery). A parent or older child would need to help with creating manageable bites - so really I don’t recommend this for anyone under the age of 14 and of course must caution folks when using tools like saws or a serrated knife to cut this open.

Again I come back to saying that these are probably better than plastic stuff for decorating, though obviously they’re not waterproof.

They’re made in China under the house brand of CVS. They also came in pink (photo of them on store shelf here). I admit that I’m concerned about the safety of the food colorings because of the origin of the product but I have no facts to support that.

Related Candies

  1. CVS Marshmallow Pop
  2. R.M. Palmer Quax - The Yummy Ducky
  3. Three Pink Bubble Gums
  4. Bear Bubble Gum
  5. Smarties Bubble Gum
Name: Jumbo Gum Ball Eggs
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: CVS
Place Purchased: CVS (Silver Lake)
Price: $.99
Size: 3.53 ounces
Calories per ounce: 91
Categories: Gum, China, Easter

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:14 pm     Comments (8)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Brach’s Peanut Butter and Caramel Pumpkins

Brach's Peanut Butter PumpkinsI was happy to see that Brach’s was expanding its Halloween offerings beyond candy corn. I love peanut butter and chocolate and though nothing really compares to the Reese’s products, a little foil wrapped sphere sounded good.

Brach’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins say they’re Rich Chocolaty Pumpkin With a Peanut Butter Center. There’s a companion product, the Brach’s Caramel Pumpkins. They’re both sold in 9.25 ounce bags and I was a little surprised to see that they weren’t even real chocolate. (The real shock came later, as you’ll see.)

Brach's Peanut Butter Pumpkins

The foil on the pumpkins comes in two different “faces”, one on each side of the sphere. There’s a happy one with its teeth missing (shown) and then on the other side is a triangle-eyed one. It’s an impressive look when they’re piled in a bowl. Each is one inch in diameter.

The foil is easy to peel off. At first I though mine were dented, but it turns out there’s a little divot in each where they’re molded. (But they are easy to dent as well.) The chocolaty ball inside doesn’t have any imprints on it, it’s just a sphere with a slight texture to it (like a miniature basketball).

The smell like wonderfully fresh roasted peanuts.

Biting into it, it depended on the temperature what the filling was like. When I first got these it was quite hot, so the ambient temperature was over 80 degrees and the peanut butter center was gooey and slick. It was quite nice, not quite a meltaway, but definitely a whole different experience from the dry and crumbly Reese’s peanut butter. When the weather cooled and I tried them again the peanut butter was firmer, a bit more dry but still quite smooth. The roast of the peanuts is dark with a slight bitterness to them. It’s salty and satisfying.

The coating is mockolate. Unlike mockolate products created by Hershey’s, these don’t have a trace of cocoa butter at all in them, It’s all partially hydrogenated palm kernel or palm oil. It’s quite cool on the tongue and has a bit of a greasy melt. It lacks all chocolate power, it’s more of a cardboard version of chocolate flavor. When it’s all chewed together it’s not as noticeable, but nibbled off separately it’s quite bad.

Brach's Caramel Pumpkins

The Brach’s Caramel Pumpkins were even less appealing. (Well, the one thing they had going for them was 20 fewer calories per serving, but of course lacking all the nutrition that the peanuts provide.)

The foil wrapping is gold instead of orange but still has the same faces & green stem for hair.

They smell like butter flavoring and sugar.

The bite is similar, the chocolate-flavored-coating tastes grainier and of course lacks true chocolate flavor. The caramel filling is interesting, it’s a little like a pudding - sweet but not actually cloying. It’s smooth and not quite flowing but not stiff enough to be chewy.

The whole thing was a dreadful mess.

The worst part though was if you look closely at the photo above you’ll notice a tiny little logo on the sphere. It’s the R.M. Palmer logo.

These are just the R.M. Palmer Creepy Peepers! And Creepy Peepers are cheap - usually about a buck for a 6 ounce bag, these Brach’s things are over $3.00 a bag in stores.

I just don’t get it. Brach’s used to distinguish itself from the bagged candy as being just a little better ... this repackaging of something most of us wouldn’t dare touch is pretty creepy. I hope Brach’s gets its act together and goes back to its core value of quality candy.

If you like these, well, skip the Brach’s middle man and just get the R.M. Palmer. They sell them year round in sports shapes (I think that’s the basketball texture).

Related Candies

  1. Brach’s Gummi Candy Corn
  2. Dove Peanut Butter Silky Smooth Milk Chocolate
  3. Palmer Hollow Chocolate Flavored Bunny
  4. Brach’s Soda Poppers
  5. Big Mo’ Bars: Peanut Butter & Creamy Caramel
  6. Palmer Nest Eggs
  7. Brach’s Autumn Mix
Name: Peanut Butter Pumpkins & Caramel Pumpkins
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Brach's (but manufactured by R.M. Palmer)
Place Purchased: samples from CandyWarehouse.com
Price: retail $3.00 a bag
Size: 9.25 ounces
Calories per ounce: 153 & 138
Categories: Mockolate, Peanut Butter, Caramel, United States, Brach's, Farley's & Sathers, R.M. Palmer, Halloween

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:35 am     Comments (4)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Shakespearean Insult Gum

Shakespearean Insult GumSometimes I pick things up to save you the trouble. Because I know that you’re the babbling ill-nurtured ingested-lump that’d be tempted to buy Shakespearean Insult Gum. The little “shelf” of “books” is actually a set of boxes that hold two gumballs and a line from one of the scribe’s plays.

William Shakespeare was the master of the witty insult and now you can amaze your friends with these highbrow putdowns!

It’s like an episode of Frasier, but with gum!

The assortment of boxes feature names of Shakespeare’s tragedies on the spines: King Lear, Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet, Henry V, Hamlet, Richard III and Othello. My fobbing idle-headed whey-face couldn’t remember that many insults from the great dramas, figuring that just a transcription of The Taming of the Shrew is probably all the insults one would need for any novelty product. (You remember the wildly popular Katherina doll called the Spewing Shrew that you pulled the little cord on the top of her head and she would animate and push you out of your chair and call you names ... they were pulled from the market pretty quickly so they’re quite the collector’s item.)

Shakespearean Insult Gum

Each little box contains two gumballs. They came in a variety of colors, though four of the boxes had one green and one white. I feared, knowing they were made in China that I would end up with spongy long-tongued botch.

The gum itself are solid little balls (though not quite spherical), not those hollow ones that slanderous flap-mouthed skainsmates try to pawn off on unsuspecting gum-chewers. They were pretty small, so it’d probably be more of an engineering issue to make them any lighter. Even two pieces didn’t make a decent chewing amount.

Pink was cherry. A little tangy, rather soft but mercifully free of bitterness. Yellow was lemon which was a soft flavor that dispensed some tartness as I chewed it. Green was probably supposed to be apple, but it didn’t taste like much. White was watermelon, and while it was no spongey hell-hated odoriferous stench it did remind me of an Avon lady’s neck.

Really, it wasn’t bad so much as it was pointless. What do gumballs have to do with Shakespeare?

Shakespearean Insult GumThere are quite a few things wrong with this, besides the price of $1.99 for 14 Chinese gumballs.

First, I’ll spoil the surprised and show you 7 out of the possible 25 quotes you could get:

Macbeth = Dissembling harlot, thou are false in all (Comedy of Errors)

King Lear = How foul and loathsome is thine image (The Taming of the Shrew)

Henry V = Bless me, what a fry of fornication is at the door (King Henry VIII)

Richard III = A plague on both your houses (Romeo and Juliet)

Romeo & Juliet = Base dunghill villain and mechanical, I’ll have thy head (Henry VI Part 2)

Hamlet = Thou art likest to a hogs head (Love’s Labour Lost)

Othello = Hang, beg, starve, die in the streets (Romeo and Juliet)

Two of them, I’d reckon, are not insults but actually curses.

What’s sad about this is how completely hobbled it is by its own parameters. Only 25 insults? They’d better be the best ... but they’re not! Here, have some fun with this random Shakespeare insult generator (where I got the ones peppered in here ... you don’t think I actually remember that much from college, do you?).

Why are they tucked into these little volumes like this? They don’t match the spine, so there’s no way to even chose what you think might be the right one for your occasion.  And then, why do I have to tear the little boxes apart to get at the insult?

The website says Sure to offend the intellectuals and confuse the dimwitted!. Yeah, I’m not sure I’m an intellectual, but I’m certainly offended that this was such a dimwitted product. What do they take me for? An unmuzzled tardy-gaited hedge-pig?

Related Candies

  1. R.M. Palmer Quax - The Yummy Ducky
  2. Big Bite Gummy Bear
  3. Bratz Candy Cosmetics
  4. Gummy Fishies
  5. Gold Mine Gum
  6. Bear Bubble Gum
Name: Shakespearean Insult Gum
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Accoutrements
Place Purchased: ITSUGAR (Universal CityWalk)
Price: $1.99
Size: .64 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Gum, Novelty, China

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:08 am     Comments (9)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

House Brand Creme Eggs

While some folks find the Cadbury Creme Egg to be the ultimate achievement in Easter confectionery, be warned that there are some pretenders to that throne. At the stores this year I found two such “knock offs.”

Generic Eggs & Cadbury

I found Walgreen’s and CVS had their own eggs this year. The CVS brand is called Absolutely Divine and comes in gold foil with a purple and black logo ... which made me wonder if they were a dark chocolate product. The Walgreen’s version is in primary/secondary colors and comes in both the Creme Egg and Caramel Egg.

Easter Eggs: Creme & Caramel (Walgreens)What could a store brand have to offer? Well, the first thing I noticed about these CCE simulations is that they’re bigger. In fact the shelf box for the Walgreen’s said that they’re 14% larger. These eggs are like the once powerful Cadbury Creme Eggs in their original 1.38 ounce size (CCE are now 1.2 ounces).

Walgreen’s had these generic looking Creme Eggs on sale this past weekend for 40 cents each, which is not much less than an actual Cadbury Creme Egg. What I found so surprising is that I’ve been to that Walgreen’s at least twice before during this Easter season and these weren’t out on the shelves.

It was tough to read the wrapper. What I did get was that these are made in Canada and the chocolate shell is made of real chocolate.

Walgreen's Creme EggThe shell has a little line design on it, not the same as the Cadbury Creme Egg, so at least they’re using different molds.

Biting into the egg was a bit tough. It’s a thick shell and I was greeted with a creme that resembled a cordial more than the fondant than I was used to.

The difference between the egg white and egg yolk wasn’t quite apparent, though the best I could tell was there were two different colors of fondant in there. The center was sticky and inconsistent. Sweet, flavorless with little patches of clotted graininess.

Rating: 3 out of 10.

Walgreen's Caramel EggThe Walgreen’s Caramel Egg comes in a purple wrapper. It was pretty easy to unwrap, but it felt quite heavy.

Biting it was similarly difficult to the Creme version - the shell is thick and almost solid on either end with only a minor void for the caramel at the center.

The caramel isn’t chewy or flowing. Instead it’s more of a pudding-like goo. As far a flavor though, it’s like a good caramel pudding, it’s very smooth and has some toasted sugar flavors. The chocolate shell is a bit hard, a little grainy and very milky tasting.

As far as this brand goes, I rather liked this Caramel Egg ... not enough to buy it again, but as a simulation of the venerable original, it at least meets expectations.

Rating: 4 out of 10.

Absolutely Divine (CVS)The CVS Absolutely Divine Creme Egg didn’t look like much in the store. There was no explanation on the display box, and actually finding the “creme egg” part on the wrapper was pretty tough sleuthing that involved carefully flattening the foil after unwrapping.

I fully expected these to be made in Canada like the Walgreen’s counterpart ... that they just came spilling off the line to be randomly divided into different groups for different foil wrappers. This was more shocking when I read that they have identical ingredients and molding. But origins aside, the important part is how much they cost and how they taste.

I paid 50 cents each for these.

CVS Absolutely Divine EggThe egg was similarly thick-shelled.

The creme center was also similarly inconsistent, though not quite as flowing as the Walgreen’s version.

The chocolate shell was disgusting. It tasted like roasted cardboard. Musty, grainy and overly sweetened, perhaps steamed cardboard.

The sweet filling was completely overpowered by this too-much-bad-shell. And the name, well, they’re absolutely not divine.

Rating: 2 out of 10.

I have one other piece of not-so-shocking info. These are all sticky. Not something to be eaten while using a keyboard.

What I came away with is this: if you love Cadbury Creme Eggs, buy Cadbury Creme Eggs. If you don’t like Cadbury Creme Eggs, these aren’t going to persuade you that they’re a great candy. Spend the extra eight cents or whatever the price difference is and get the real stuff.

Related Candies

  1. Cream Drops versus Creme Drops
  2. Junior Fruit Cremes
  3. Vanilla Creme Kisses
  4. Cadbury Canadian Creme Eggs
  5. Cadbury Orange Creme Eggs
  6. Cadbury Mini Eggs
Name: Creme Eggs & Caramel Egg
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Walgreen's & CVS
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park) & CVS (3rd & Fairfax)
Price: $.40 & $.50
Size: 1.38 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Fondant, United States, Canada, Designer Imposter, Easter

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:45 am     Comments (14)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cream Drops versus Creme Drops

Vermont Country Store Cream DropsA few months ago I saw Creme Drops at the 99 Cent Store, but since it was hot out, I didn’t pick them. Then I saw Robby’s review on Candy Addict of the Necco variety and I thought maybe I’d made the right decision.

But then I saw these on the website for the Vermont Country Store and made a mental note. Well, that mental note didn’t sit there too long because a couple of weeks later VCS wanted me to try some of their candy and I specifically requested their Assorted Cream Drops.

Since it’s finally gotten cool in Los Angeles, chocolate shipping produces less anxiety than the other 8 months of the year. (They’re packaging for shipping was great, too, by the way. Everything arrived in great shape.)

Vermont Country Store Cream DropsThe best part of the description on their website: real chocolate.

The rest of the description is rather vague. The name they use is Chocolate-Covered Cream Drop Assortment with 6 Luscious Flavors but the box never actually list the flavors by name (but digging around on the description page does yield the list).

And the drops all look exactly the same.

So I set about picking them out of the box and cutting them in half, like it was some sort of logic puzzle like mine sweeper.

After eight of them (three were Lemon and not in a row), I determined that they are randomly loaded into the box. The dividers in the box do a great job of protecting the candies without any fussy papers. (Eventually I found that sniffing them carefully did allow me to pick out orange or maple, but then again, who wants one that I’ve held up to my nose? I think I’m better off poking holes in the bottom.)

image

Yellow = Lemon: sweet and creamy but a little like a scented candle. The bittersweet chocolate shell set the mellow center off quite nicely. It’s not very zesty, just a light aromatic lemon. All of the pieces had sugar grains in it though, unlike the other flavors. I’m guessing this was just a manufacturing glitch.

Beige = Maple: I could often sniff this one out, the maple flavor was quite pungent. It combined well with the sweet and slightly stringy fondant center.

Orange = Orange: reminded me of a creamsicle. Sweet and with a good mouthfeel and a nice chocolate note that cut that almost-too-sweetness of it.

Pink = Raspberry: this interior was very bright pink, which alerted me that this was probably the one with the Red Dye #40. It was all about the floral and perfumey flavors, not much of the rich tangy berry in there.

Brown = Chocolate: this is the mellowest of the bunch. It’s not so much chocolatey as just less sweet and slightly creamier. The filling is not quite silky, but the gooeyness is more than pleasant.

White = Vanilla: tastes exactly like a Junior Mint without the mint. The fondant center is wonderfully smooth, the chocolate becomes the star. It melts easily though admittedly the whole thing is very sweet. I would recommend eating these with strong black coffee or black tea.

These are a quality product. The consistency of the fondant center was fresh and glossy, the chocolate was good. They’re not really something that I would eat on a regular basis, when I have a box of mixed chocolates, I usually leave the creams for last so actually buying a box of creams isn’t something I’m likely to do. I prefer the slightly fattier creams that Fannie Mae (we had a box of those at the office recently) or See’s make. But if you’ve always wished that Junior Mints came in other flavors or perhaps want a less chocolatey or dark chocolate version of a Cadbury Creme Egg, then this might be for you.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Zachary Creme DropsI saw the Zachary version of Old Fashioned Creme Drops at the 99 Cent Only Store, this time with a festive wreath on them, so I figured they were fresh so I bought them.

The description on the package says: Creme Filled Center with Smooth Chocolate Flavored Coating!. So yeah, it’s mockolate. (But at least their snowflakes have six points.)

I had hopes though, since it’s also a full 12 ounces ... for only a dollar? That’s quite a value there. A one pound box of sugar is about $1.19 at my local grocery store.

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Because they’re bagged and not in a box with little partitions, they are a little more scuffed than the Vermont Country Store variety. (But again, the price difference is absurd - VCS are $1.25 an ounce and Zachary’s are 8.3 cents an ounce.)

They also only come in one flavor, plain. (Or perhaps I should call it vanilla, but there is no vanilla or vanilla flavor listed on the ingredients.)

The shell is mockolate but has a dark, toasted scent.

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The bite of the Zachary candy (left) is vastly different from the soft and glossy VCS variety (right). This is a solid fondant, similar to the center of a York Peppermint Pattie.

The texture is smooth, but crumbly, kind of like an albino fudge.

I rather liked the center but the mockolate coating ruined it for me. It was sweet and had that stale Easter essence. It’s rather sad, I’d gladly take 1/3 of the quantity at twice the price if they were real chocolate because the centers are pretty good.

I can recommend these for people who already love them (and I shouldn’t quibble with folks who like what they like). I can recommend these for placing as a decoration on a tray of cookies or perhaps adding to a dessert plate when you’re really in a crunch and don’t like your guests (or know that they all have colds and would simply appreciate the fondant texture).

Rating: 3 out of 10

I kind of wish both varieties came in mint.

Related Candies

  1. Mint Cremes from the Makers of Jelly Belly
  2. Junior Fruit Cremes
  3. Cadbury Ornament Creme Egg
  4. Zachary Candy Corn & Jelly Pumpkins
  5. Cadbury Orange Creme Eggs
  6. York Chocolate Mint Truffle Pattie
Name: Assorted Cream Drops & Old Fashioned Creme Drops
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Vermont Country Store & Zachary
Place Purchased: samples from VCS & 99 Cent Only Store (Silverlake)
Price: $19.95 & $1.00
Size: 16 ounces & 12 ounces
Calories per ounce: 105 & 112
Categories: Chocolate, Fondant, Mockolate, United States, Zachary

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:10 pm     Comments (12)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Trader Joe’s French Truffles

Trader Joe's French TrufflesI love truffles. I love dreamy, creamy, extra fatty chocolate.

I’m kind of a truffle purist. In my world, a chocolate truffle is chocolate with extra butterfat added to it and sometimes, if you wish, egg yolks. My recipe for truffle ganache is pretty simple: combine 1 cup of heavy cream and 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler on low simmer. Allow to melt over the lowest possible heat, blend well - cool completely before refrigerating to solidify. (I usually double or triple that, but those are the proportions.)

Flavorings like mint extract or orange oil might be added. I usually make raspberry truffles by combining the ganache with seedless unsweetened jam or cognac ones by tipping in some cognac (then keep warm a while longer so some alcohol can evaporate to keep it from getting runny). But the list of ingredients is brief.

They can be rolled in cocoa or crushed nuts but I usually dip them, just because they keep better that way, are generally more attractive and are of course, neater than all that cocoa powder all over the place.

French Truffles - IngredientsTrader Joe’s has been selling French Truffles for years (though the package changes design from time to time). I tried them once, many years ago and thought something was off about them and never touched them again. Even though they’re an impossible price, at $2.99 for 8.8 ounces. And French! Because, you know, if it’s imported, it has to be good! (That was sarcasm.) I still didn’t buy them and avoided them when offered.

But I was on the prowl this weekend for Trader Joe’s holiday offerings and decided it was time to give these their due on the blog.

Now, I understand how price and mass manufacturing techniques can change a time-tested recipe. So here’s what it’s done to the venerable French Truffle:

Ingredients: Palm kernel oil, sugar, low fat cocoa, whey powder (milk), cocoa powder, soy lecithin, natural vanilla flavor.

If you gave me this list and asked me what that was, I’d say that was mockolate. There is no chocolate in here. No cocoa butter. There isn’t even any milkfat in here. Just palm kernel oil. (And there must be a lot because these clock in with a caloric density of 177 calories per ounce.)

Now, to be fair, Trader Joe’s does not state on the box that they’re chocolate truffles. Nope, they’re just French Truffles. (In fact there’s nothing else on the packaging to describe them except for some little lines that say that it’s all natural and contains no preservatives. Oil is actually a good antioxidant.)

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Inside the red box is a tough, gold mylar pouch. The French Truffles are just in there. No tray, no fussy packaging, just in an un-resealable bag.

The little domes of these French Truffles look like flattened spheres of pig iron we used to pick up on the railroad tracks when I was ateen. They look like little rusted bells.

They smell a little woodsy, a little like Elmer’s glue and a bit like cocoa.

The bite is smooth, they’re soft and yielding, but not at all chalky or crystallized like fudge can be.

The melt on the tongue is instantaneous. It becomes runny and slick. The sugar isn’t completely combined as it would be if chocolate was used, so there’s a bit of a grain to it. The cocoa flavors are mellow and rich with a strong smoky component.

They’re not terribly sweet, almost salty (as cocoa can taste sometimes) though there’s no additional salt added to them (the natural sodium is 30 mg per serving). The buttery texture is really compelling and they don’t feel greasy on the tongue or waxy.

All that said, after eating one or two, I don’t feel like I’ve eaten chocolate. I don’t get that same kick.

As a confection, they’re certainly worth the $3 for the box. But to get 80% of my saturated fat in five pieces, especially when that saturated fat isn’t of the non-lethal cocoa butter variety, I think I’ll give these a pass now and in the future. There are far better real chocolate products from France or Trader Joe’s.

Though it’s sometimes hard to tell who makes Trader Joe’s products, I’m quite convinced that these are made by CHOCMOD.

Related Candies

  1. Starbucks Truffles
  2. Trader Joe’s Irish Cream Chocolates
  3. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels
  4. Ice Cubes
  5. Frangos Dark (62%)
  6. Choxie Champagne Truffles
Name: French Truffles
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe's (Chocmod)
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (Silverlake)
Price: $2.99
Size: 8.8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 177
Categories: Mockolate, France, Trader Joe's, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:34 am     Comments (33)

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Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.

 

 

 

 

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