Thursday, September 29, 2005
Name: Jelly Babies
If you have ever watched Dr. Who with Tom Baker, you’ve seen him carry around that little white paper bag and offer folks Jelly Babies. I never knew what they were, just that they were different from jelly beans and not quite Swedish fish. I finally stumbled across them at a little grocer I stopped in after a meeting in San Francisco over the weekend that carried a lot of UK candies (I picked up a very fresh Curly Wurly while I was there too!).
Unfortunately, not having grown up in the UK, that is the sum total of my exposure to them. I had no idea until I started to make this post that the different colors had some sort of personality. This site has a pretty good history of the candies (apologies as they seem to have put black text on a dark blue background). The important thing to note about this review is the brand - these are Norfolk Manor Jelly Babies. The Bassett’s Jelly Babies (the original) are not imported into the US (so I’ll have to have someone grab some in the UK).
A jelly baby is simply a jelly candy with a grainy, crystallized sugar coating on it. Not quite a smooth as a jelly bean, the coating is like a very fine granulated sugar, only with flavor.
The colors are quite nice, in soothing herbal colors of red, green, another green, orange, yellow, another yellow, and black. The smell fruity and sweet, just like jelly beans. If you remember the Swedish Jelly Rats I reviewed a while back, they’re kind of like that, but larger and with a bit more of a sugary coating. The shapes are wonderful, little pudgy-bellied, round-headed babies. The babies are flavored according to their colors, but I wasn’t really able to figure it out. Orange is orange, yellow is lemon and one of the greens is lime. Beyond that, I can only say that they were fruity. Black might be currant, red might be strawberry.
They’re exceptionally sweet and the flavor has no hint of tart to it, just a slight blessing of fruit aroma for the most part. They cute and easy to share and of course they’re a nostalgia favorite for generations of Brits. I am, sadly, not terribly impressed with them. Should I find the Bassett’s, I will probably give them a try, just to be sure that I’m not missing something. Just for the record, I do like jelly candies in general: gummi bears and Swedish fish and even some jelly beans, these were just too sweet without enough flavor.
More about Jelly Babies here.
Rating - 4 out of 10 (alas, I don’t think I’m going to eat the rest of them)
Monday, September 05, 2005
Name: European Supreme Dark Chocolate
Yeah, I know, you think I’m all about the expensive stuff. I’m really not. Some of my favorite candies are easily accessible and pretty cheap. I swallowed my “brand pride” and picked up this bar at the 99 Cent Only Store, just out of curiosity. I figured for 7 ounces of chocolate to be only 99 cents, it had to be bad, full of fillers.
It’s definitely sweet for dark chocolate (sugar is the first ingredient) without many dark chocolate notes (no bitterness, no smokey quality, no roasted notes). It smells good, like vanilla and chocolate, but the taste is a little bland. Though rather smooth, there are ocassional odd things, like lumps, as if it wasn’t conched long enough or was mixed wtih other less-conched chocolate. The bar was fresh and the chocolate had a lovely sheen.
I have to admit that I wanted to say that this was a fantastic bar and we should drop our pretenses that good chocolate has to be expensive. But good chocolate has to be consistent and have more chocolate in it. It might be good for something though, I can see it being good for cooking, maybe melting it and using it for those pretty zig-zags on some cookies or as shavings for the top of a cake.
Rating - 4 out of 10
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Name: Peppermint Cup-O-Gold
This candy cup has left me mystified. Is it really from Adams-Brooks? They don’t mention it on their website ... no one mentions it on their website on any of the internets. Have I stumbled across an inter-dimensional 99 cent store that sells candy unknown to us here?
Why is it called Cup-o-Gold anyway? The center is clearly white. The package is silver ... these things trouble me. But not enough to keep me from eating it.
Like the original Cup-O-Gold, this milk chocolate cup sports toasted coconut and almond bits in the chocolate. The ratio of chocolate to the filling is a little off. Upon my first small bite (not pictured), I didn’t hit filling, just chocolate. The second bite, which was sizeable (like the photo) didn’t hit filling. Finally on the fourth bite which by now meant half the cup was gone, I hit a small hidden cavity of filling. Instead of a light, frothy filling like the Cup-O-Gold, this one was a little tacky, a little stiff. The mint was barely perceptible.
I bought this thinking it’d be like a milk chocolate Junior Mint - a gooey minty cream center. Alas, the coconut competes too much with the scant mint. If there were less chocolate and more filling, perhaps it wouldn’t seem so overpowering. However, the package does say thick rich milk chocolate, so who am I to go expecting things not advertised?
Rating - 4 out of 10.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Thanks goodness Ikea’s proclivity for sassy names does not extend to their treats at the food section. I have enough trouble buying candy shaped like rats that looks like the felt pulled out from a highlighter pen that I don’t need it to be further called Bjarf, Puke or Funkis.
Name: Licorice Boats
I gave these to Russ to try the other night and he agreed that, “The licorice in my licorice boat had already set sail.” These are definitely sweet - you just open the bag and the sugary smell permeates the air. But there’s no there there. The jelly center has a bit of a licorice perfume to it, but no bite. I think I’ve come to expect molasses with my licorice as it’s a good anchor for the flavor.
Name: Jelly Rats
They’re rather scary looking, and I’m telling you that’s the actual color - some sort of slightly translucent-neon hazard color. They also have a strong sweet smell infused with violet which didn’t thrill me, but biting into them I found a nice, tart and fruity jelly candy. The flavors aren’t complex or strong, but just nice. If I am planning on having a Swedish jelly candy though, I really want some Swedish fish.
Name: Marabou Milk Chocolate with Nuts
This was the positive find in the whole experience. They’re little chunks of milk chocolate with crushed hazelnuts. Really creamy, very sweet with good nuts. The chocolate is smooth and the toasty taste of the nuts infuses it well.
It’s simple and satisfying. The roll is easy to share and I might make a point to pick these up at the start of my shopping experience at Ikea as a little boost. I ate them all before I finished typing this review.
Ratings: Licorice Boats - 4 out of 10
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Name: Mike and Ike Orange ‘n Cream
Mike and Ikes are made by the Just Born candy company. They make such love-‘em-or-hate-‘em products as Marshmallow Peeps, Hot Tamales and now Goldenberg Peanut Chews.
Now, this review probably comes a little late as I’ve found no mention of these on their website (that’s what I get for shopping at the 99 Cent Only Store). They’re a special edition of Mike and Ikes in Orange ‘n Cream.
Think of a chilly orange creamsicle.
Then think of orange aspergum.
It’s somewhere in between.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Mike and Ikes are great. Well, I’ve loved Hot Tamales for years. They were like the original Jelly Bellys because they actually put lots of flavor into the candies instead of those bland jelly beans that were on the market before. In fact, Just Born makes a line of Teenee Beanees.
Mike and Ike also put out a limited flavor last year called Root Beer which I liked in principle but not in practice. However, Just Born did the right thing by making the hotter version of Hot Tamales.
So, to sum up, don’t buy really old candy that’s been discontinued. They probably stopped making it for a reason.
Rating - 4 out of 10
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
To follow up on the earlier review of the Cup-O-Gold I figured I’d contrast that with Hershey’s S’mores bar. The S’mores bar is marshmallow on top of a graham cracker crust covered in chocolate. If you recall the S’mores most of us have made, they were a toasted marshmallow (or two), a few squares of Hershey’s chocolate between two graham crackers. What was great about that combo was that you’d freshly toasted the marshmallow so it was retardedly hot in the middle and of cuorse melted the chocolate and the ratio being the dominance of the graham crackers (which also kept your fingers from being burned).
In this bar Hershey’s has the ratios all askew. By far the dominant feature of this bar is the marshmallow center. It’s not a traditional white marshmallow but a slightly tan version that seems a tad nougaty ... perhaps they’re trying to make it taste toasted. Much sweeter than it needed to be and lacked that meringue feeling that a good marshmallow has. There no graham cracker here. Instead the crust seems to be a crisco and cookie bits amalgamation. Then it’s covered in very sweet milk chocolate.
Too sweet, not enough toasty flavor and the graham cracker thing was just plain wrong. Move along, nothing to taste here.
Rating: 4 out of 10
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Name: Milk Chocolate Covered Cherries
First, I’m not fond of cherry anything. Fresh cherries are just about the only cherry thing I will eat. Maraschino cherries are absolutely not something I care for, they’re so artificial. My tastes have matured over the years and while I’m not fond of a lot of foods, I’ve grown accustomed to being able to assess them for what they are and even get some enjoyment out of them.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way ...
These morsels are soft cherries covered in milk chocolate. No clingy syrup, just cherries and chocolate. The cherries are soft and chewy with a strong maraschino. I like that there is not syrup to get in the way, and that the chocolate is thick. However, the sweet cherries have no tangy/tart bite to them and the milk chocolate, though smooth, is entirely too sweet and perhaps a bit waxy.
If mixed in with another bunch of chocolate covered goodies, I could see this being a fair contrast. Put it in a mix of nuts, perhaps brittles and pretzels and some good bitter chocolate and it might work out okay.
Rating: 4 out of 10 (I didn’t finish the package)
Friday, April 29, 2005
Name: Hot Rings
I know last week I said that we shouldn’t be afraid of strange candy. I might have done something stupid.
I found these Lifesavers at the 99 cent store. Branded with a little Sega Sonic the Hedgehog, I’m thinking that there’s another Sonic game coming out. I bought it, thinking it was cinnamon. And we all know that Lifesavers don’t come in cinnamon. They should. Reeds come in cinnamon, and I love those.
Upon starting my little photo shoot I look at the package and see this:
Since you can’t see all of it, they’re running a contest and if you have the right wrapper, you can win a variety of prizes. All prizes must be claimed by MARCH 1995!
This roll of Lifesavers is more than 10 YEARS OLD! And cost 25 cents!
I’m not sure if Lifesavers spoil. What’s a better question is if these were ever any good. I unwrapped them and found milky yellow Lifesavers with red specs. They smelled a bit like mint. Again, I was expecting cinnamon. I put one in my mouth and it’s more like pineapple with a hit of chili to it. Really.
All I can say is that I’m mystified. Here’s an ad from the mid-nineties with this Lifesavers/SEGA cross-promotion.
Rating: 4 out of 10 (yes, I might try another one)
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.