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4-Benign

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Nips: Mocha and Chocolate Parfait

Chocolate Parfait & Mocha NipsThe last two varieties to complete my set of Nips reviews are Chocolate Parfait Nips and Mocha Nips.

In case you haven’t been reading along, Nips are a hard caramel, first made by a company called Pearson’s which was later bought out by Nestle. They’re a great summer candy because they don’t melt but have a rich creamy flavor that can satisfy that craving even on the stickiest of days.

Both are variations on previously reviewed Nips, as they’re filled & flavored.

Chocolate Parfait Nips

The Chocolate Parfait Nips are made up of a Caramel Nip outside and a chocolate flavored inside.

The caramel is a little salty, creamy and with a silky sweet melt on the tongue. Sometimes it softens up a bit for splitting & bending ... or cementing teeth together.

Inside the bliss of the confection loses track for me. The chocolate center is like an oily Tootsie Roll. The chocolate flavor is weak and the texture is worse than that, a sort of waxy, greasy mess.

I’ve had this box for several months and I’ve eaten all of four of them so far.

Mocha Nips

The Mocha Nips are a bit darker looking. The rich hardened caramel is coffee flavored, just like the original Coffee Nips. In this case the mocha element comes from the cocoa paste filling.

The creamy, milky coffee outer portion is just like the classic Nip ... a good rounded coffee flavor. The inside though, like the Chocolate Parfait isn’t quite chocolate, it’s more like a frosting.

The bold strength of the coffee flavored outside masks the chocolate deficiencies better than the Chocolate Parfait, so I did end up finishing most of the box.

While I appreciate the attempt to create a few other versions, the chocolate just isn’t good enough to make me chose these over the classic solid flavors.

Related Candies

  1. Coffee Rio
  2. Nips: Butter Rum & Peanut Butter Parfait
  3. Nips: Caramel & Dulce de Leche
  4. Coffee Nips
  5. M&Ms Premiums
  6. Nestle Crunch Cappuccino Stixx
  7. Cafe Select Chocolate Coffee Trios
Name: Chocolate Parfait & Mocha Nips
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: 99 Cent Only Store (Miracle Mile)
Price: $.99
Size: 4 ounces
Calories per ounce: 121
Categories: Coffee, Caramel, Mockolate, United States, Nestle, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:59 am     Comments (4)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cadbury Dairy Milk Snack

Dairy Milk SnackCadbury is a dominant chocolate brand around the world. (See this article from Business Week that shows it as the #2 chocolate on the planet.)

What’s especially fun about Cadbury chocolate is the little variations depending on the country. One of those is the Australian set of candy bars. I picked up this single serve bar of Dairy Milk Snack after seeing it in Sera’s photo stream last year (I didn’t really want the big size bar).

It’s a simple concept - a segmented bar with different flavored fillings in each piece. (Note that the large bar has only five segments.)

Dairy Milk SnackThe first thing that sets this little bar apart is that each piece is coded with the contents. Though the package didn’t say what the fillings are (and please, why?) I did figure out the pineapple one immediately and took a good guess at the strawberry and orange.

The flavors in all are: caramel, pineapple, coconut ice (I have no idea what that is), strawberry, Turkish delight and orange.

My bar was fresh, unmarred and in great condition.

Dairy Milk Snack

Caramel - I thought it’d be like the Caramello, but it’s a little firmer, a little thicker. The chocolate outside is rather strange - it has a good snap, but not a very good melt. It’s a bit stiff, a little chalky. The flavor is recognizably Cadbury with a strong powdered milk flavor and a gentle malty cocoa taste.

Pineapple - has a light tangy pineapple scent. The fondant is thick, it has a good sheen to it, but it doesn’t flow. The flavor is sweet and has a tangy pineapple bite. It’s an odd combination with the musky chocolate, but I enjoyed the change of pace.

Coconut Ice - honestly I don’t know what this is. It’s pink and it’s crumbly and has a slight sweet flavor that I can’t quite place. If it’s supposed to be coconut, it’s missing that completely.

Strawberry - the fondant is smooth, but a little more crumbly than the pineapple. Fragrant and floral, there’s not tart component. Rather authentic tasting and pleasant.

Turkish Delight - wow, they went all out for the rose here. The texture is quite soft, more like a jelly than a firm paste. The floral notes are pungent with a slight tangy middle note that dissipates quickly. I rather liked it, but I can tell that this would be quite off-putting for many Americans and other cultures not accustomed to floral flavors.

Orange - I had hoped this would be the winner piece, but I found it rather bland. The fondant was too firm and lacking a distinctive zest.

Just as a little touchstone, I picked up an American Cadbury Dairy Milk bar to compare the flavors, and I do find that I prefer the stickier, fudgier texture of the Hershey-made version, but that may just be what I’m accustomed to.

It’s a fun bar and honestly I’d probably enjoy a whole bar of the pineapple or Turkish delight, the rest of the flavors just didn’t feel like they were the best that Cadbury could muster. (I know they can do better with the caramel & chocolate combination.) For the money, especially since I’m paying import prices, if I felt like boxed chocolate candy, I’d be better off getting some Russell Stover or finding a See’s or I’d probably even choose a Whitman’s Sampler of this.

One of the best things I can say about Cadbury right now is that they’re making a huge effort to go Fair Trade with their chocolate though it’s going to be a long process.

Some other reviews: Jim’s Chocolate Mission, Chocolate Reviews,  Sera at The Candy Enthusiast.

Related Candies

  1. Cadbury Crunchie
  2. KitKat Temptations: Hazelnut & Coconut
  3. Cadbury Eggs: Creme & Caramel
  4. Sky Bar
  5. Cadbury Twirl and Snow Flake
  6. Violet Crumble
Name: Dairy Milk Snack
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Cadbury
Place Purchased: Mel & Rose (Los Angeles)
Price: $1.59
Size: 1.94 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Fondant, Caramel, Australia, Cadbury

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:29 pm     Comments (24)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Brach’s Indulge Almonds: Coconut & Caramel

Brach's Indulge Almond EscapesBesides the regular chocolate covered nuts that Brach’s has been making for about a hundred years, Brach’s has more recently branched out into more than the old fashioned pick-a-mix items.

the new Indulge gable-box line includes some boxed chocolate items (like Cherry Creme Clusters) as well as the standard bridge mixes and chocolate covered nuts.

I picked out these two from the samples that Farley’s & Sathers sent me: Coconut Almond Escape and Caramel Almond escape because they both have almonds at the center but were definitely outside of the normal panned nuts offerings.

Besides the color coding of the boxes, it’s hard to tell the candies apart from the pictures on the package ... they’ve obviously taken some artistic license or are able to produce identical candies in both dark and milk chocolate. (Click to see it a bit bigger on Flickr.)

Brach's Indulge Coconut Almond Escape

Coconut Almond Escape is called Rich, creamy, coconut covered almonds coated in luscious dark chocolate.

They make it sound simple but it’s really not. There is an almond at the core and there is a “sweet chocolate” coating (which has lactose as the second ingredient after sugar and before chocolate & cocoa butter). But that white stuff in between goes like this:

sugar, vegetable oil (palm & palm kernel), nonfat milk, titanium dioxide, soy lecithin, vanilla, gum arabic, corn syrup, modified food starch, salt, coconut oil, natural and artificial colors

So that “coconut covering” has very little actual coconut in it ... as far as I can tell the smallest dash of coconut oil and maybe that natural flavoring.

They certainly smell coconutty - like suntan lotion. The pieces are glossy and large. The almonds are crunchy and nicely toasted. The white cream is soft and has a good melt on the tongue ... not quite fondant and rather salty. Sometimes I get a fake butter flavor from it, which turns me off. The whole effect is rather good otherwise and rather different.

I was hoping for the elusive Dark Chocolate Almond Joy experience, but without actual coconut flakes, all the chewy texture is provided by the almonds. It tastes rather fake, but the hit of salt gives them a good munchability. But on the other hand I’m hesitant to recommend a candy that has more coloring (titanium dioxide in this case) than salt. But I don’t know what my daily recommend intake of titanium is. Maybe it makes my cell phone reception better. Or makes me impervious to UV radiation.

Brach's Indulge Caramel Almond Escape

Caramel Almond Escape is Rich creamy, caramel covered almonds in luscious milk chocolate.

I should have photographed these two candies together to show the difference in size. Most of these are about the size of a Peanut M&M.

These milk chocolate pieces look great otherwise, very nicely panned they’re shiny and smooth. I was rather surprised when I opened the package that they smell like maple.

I was hoping for a nice chewy caramel, but probably expecting a Brach’s Milk Maid Caramel.

Instead it’s more like a maple fudge instead of anything resembling a caramel. And it’s an awful like like fake maple.

The nuts are crunchy, but their tiny size leaves the proportions here a bit off as well. I’ve been eating the, but I have a hard time believing that I’d buy them.

Rating: 4 out of 10

It’s nice to see Brach’s bringing production back to the United States, but I’d like to see some less convoluted recipes ... or I’ll just stick to the Bridge Mix, Candy Corn and Spearmint Leaves that they do so well.

Related Candies

  1. Brach’s Indulge Cookie Nibbles
  2. Marich Easter Select Mix
  3. Brach’s Chocolate Candy Corn & Halloween Mix
  4. Almond Joy
  5. World’s Finest Continental Chocolate Almonds
  6. Sconza 70% Dark Chocolate Toffee Almonds
  7. Dove Caramels & Chocolate Covered Almonds
Name: Brach's Indulge Almonds: Coconut & Caramel
    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 (Farley's & Sathers)
Place Purchased: samples from Farley's & Sathers
Price: retail $3.49
Size: 6 ounces
Calories per ounce: 156
Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, Coconut, Nuts, United States, Brach's

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:19 pm     Comments (2)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Short & Sweet: Tropical Flavors

As I was on my little candy walkabout late last week I noticed a lot of popular candies have a tropical flavor mix. So I decided to start picking them all up and do a little roundup.

Tropical Candy

For the most part I consider the tropical flavors to be pineapple, mango, papaya, durian (not that I advocate its use), carambola (starfruit), passionfruit, banana, lychee, guava and coconut. Citrus goes in there but things like strawberries and melons are definitely not a tropical fruit (my rule is if it can be grown in Ohio, it’s not tropical).

Overpackaging on Tropical Nerds Rope

First, I have to say that I’ve never had Nerds Rope before. It arrived on the scene sometime after my candy experimental days (you know, when you’re a kid) but before it was launched as a new product during my Candy Blog phase.

But the concept is simple, a sticky gummi rope is rolled in Nerds. In this case it’s a Tropical Nerds Rope.

Tropical Nerds Rope

The candy is kind of odd in that it’s rather over-packaged and overpriced (look how long the rope is compared to the wrapper). It’s less than an ounce but costs the same as a regular candy bar. But then again, it’s a 100 calorie snack! (90 to be precise.)

There are no flavors actually mentioned on the packages, just eensy images of Nerds in swim trunks and flower leis. In this case the gummi cord at the center is a sparkly green. The tangy Nerds are mostly pineapple tasting.

The chewy center and excellent Nerd stickage makes this much less messy than I had anticipated. The combination of textures and flavors is really nice. I enjoy the pineapple quite a bit (maybe some papaya in there) and don’t really feel the need to try any other flavor after this. (I could see a build your own rope kit too, a little length of gummi and kids could roll their own.)

Rating: 7 out of 10 (Made in USA by Wonka/Nestle)

Tropical Now and LaterNow and Later were off limits to me for a long time, mostly because I thought they were too risky for my teeth. But now that I have a good dentist, I’m not as apt to give into such unfounded fears.

Tropical Now and Later has a flavor assortment that’s right up my alley: Mango Melon, Pineapple and Banana. (I’ve never met a yellow flavor I didn’t like.)

Mango Melon Tropical Now and LaterMango Melon is Orange

Often mango flavored candies taste a lot like peach to me. And peach flavored candies often taste more like over-syruped peach pie than actual peaches. This was pretty much like that. The dominant flavor was of the musky mango with a little cantaloupe thrown in.

It got tangier the more I chewed, which I enjoyed, because that took over the flavor profile for the most part.

Banana Tropical Now and LaterBanana are Yellow

These are everything you’d expect from a banana taffy. Bold and artificial tasting with a strange blast of dry cleaning smell in the back of my throat and the old standby - fingernail polish remover.

Still, I love banana taffy.

Pineapple Tropical Now and LaterPineapple is also Yellow

This is only slightly lighter than the Banana, but luckily they print the name of the flavor on there.

Tangy and fruity but with a strange, warm Play Doh note in the middle.

I found them pretty much irresistible even if they were rather fake.

Rating: 6 out of 10 (Made in Mexico by Farley’s & Sathers)

Mike and Ike Tropical Typhoon

On the back of the box of Mike and Ike Tropical Typhoon is a flavor guide. It includes little images of fruits: banana, kiwi, lime, mango, strawberry and pineapple (also on the front).

The flavors, on the other hand, don’t quite match up.

Blue = Caribbean Punch: the initial flavor is a bit green & pine-ish. Then it becomes more punch-like. It’s all sweet and no tangy.

Peach = Mango: a little tart at first, then rather floral. Not exactly mango but definitely not peach and the longer I chewed the closer it got to the rosemary notes that mangoes have.

Red = Strawberry-Banana: the initial note here is sweet banana, then a little strawberry bobs by for a little floral note.

Green = Kiwi-Banana: it starts like the strawberry banana but then just stops ... it’s not that it’s an all banana flavored Mike and Ike, but just half-flavored. Some of them had a slight tangy melon flavor on the shell, but not all of them and it certainly didn’t taste like kiwi to me.

Pink = Paradise Punch : just a slight tingle of tangy in there, but it’s mostly a sweet punch flavor ... like the Caribbean Punch but without the strange balsam notes.

Overall, too much like the original Mike and Ike - too bland and not enough real punchy flavor in there. I really wanted some pineapple flavor in there, too. I’ll stick to Tangy Twister (which has Pineapple) or the Alex’s Lemonade Stand mixes.

Rating: 6 out of 10. (Made in USA by Just Born)

Tropical Dots

I have to say that I’ve always regarded the Tootsie company as rather traditional and slow to adopt to changing American tastes. But then it’s like they have this strange rebellious group known as the Dots Makers. They’re fully encouraged to do bizarre flavor assortments from the crazy Ghost Dots at Halloween (to be paired with Bat Dots this year which are Blood Orange flavored - which I would have called Blood Dots) then the Yogurt Dots but the real innovation came in the limited edition line called Elements that came in single flavor packages of Cinnamon, Green Tea, Wintergreen and Pomegranate.

So Tropical Dots are kind of tame in comparison, but they must be popular because they’ve been around since 2003.

Tropical Dots

Bright Pink = Tropical Nectar: it tastes like Hawaiian Punch with a strong bitter aftertaste. Sweet, tangy and definitely with that “tropical candy flavor” that I think is papaya.

Orange = Wild Mango: tart and rather citrusy with a pretty good imitation of mango flavor in there. Still tastes like the mango version of Tang.

Turquoise = Paradise Punch: an insane color for a candy, it’s rather similar to the Tropical Nectar but with more of a citrus twang to it and less aftertaste.

Yellow = Grapefruit Cooler: why didn’t someone tell me there was a grapefruit Dot? These are fabulous and I want to buy them by the box. The first notes are tangy then there’s a deep zesty flavor that has a black cherry note to it that dissipates and then it’s just a nice grapefruit & citrus flavor.

Green = Carambola Melon: - when my mother came to visit last time we went to a new Korean market in Little Tokyo (that replaced my favorite market, Mitsuwa). They had these little melons called Korean Melons ... they were small, about the size of a papaya or mango. Bright yellow with some mild bumps and distinct ridges. I bought two. I cut them up and was rather unimpressed with the flavor - like weak Musk Melon. The problem was later in the evening I kept smelling something like garbage. I turned out it was the melon. (I really like the idea of a one-serving melon though.)

Anyway, this one is supposed to be starfruit and melon. I don’t know starfruit that well. I usually eat it off of garnishes at dessert displays, but I’ve never actually bought my own from the produce department and tasted it. It had a rather musty taste to it that was also on the violet side of things ... it was just weird, but not in a terrible way, just in a “this is new to me” way.

The box was wrapped in cellophane so the Dots were soft and fresh. This didn’t stop them from sticking to my teeth, but still, it’s worth it for their smooth texture.

Rating: 7 out of 10. (Made in USA by Tootsie)

Tropical Razzles

The final item on my list is Tropical Razzles.

Like all Razzles, they look terrible out of the package.

Yellow = Pineapple: Nice tangy burst but with a light flavor & texture of a chewable vitamin C tablet. It holds its flavor pretty well, though becomes less tart and more sweet towards the end when it becomes as appealing and chewed paper.

Pink = Strawberry-Banana: nice mix of strawberry & banana notes, almost reminds me of the old Wacky Wafers at first. Chewing too long just disappoints, I vote for spitting out when it become sweet but the grain wanes.

Red = Tropical Punch: definitely like Hawaiian punch. Strong bitter aftertaste & cherry notes towards the end. The gum was much tougher on this one too.

Orange = Tangerine: more orange than tangerine. The tangy notes aren’t as forward as some of the others. When the flavor is gone there’s a weird metallic aftertaste.

Green = Kiwi-Lime: if there was kiwi in here, I missed it completely. This was lime. Very lime, nicely tangy with a little bitter zest note (or maybe the food coloring).

Overall, I think that Razzles suffer from too much artificial coloring. After chewing the pieces they’re extremely dark & vibrant ... that’s a lot of food coloring. If I wanted to treat it like candy (which I do), it means a lot of sticky leftover bits in a very short period of time.

Rating: 4 out of 10 (Made in Canada by Concord Brands)

Related Candies

  1. Mike and Ike Berry Blast
  2. Mike and Ike Italian Ice
  3. Tropical and Xtreme Sour Smarties
  4. Mentos Tropical & Black Currant
  5. Wonka Nerds Jelly Beans
  6. Starburst Baja California & Tropical
  7. Nerds Gumballs
  8. Tootsie Tropical Pops

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:46 am     CandyReviewConcord ConfectionsFarley's & SathersJust BornNestleTootsieChewsGumGummi CandyJelly Candy4-Benign6-Tempting7-Worth ItCanadaMexicoUnited StatesDollar TreeWalgreen'sComments (6)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Nestle Cranberry Raisinets

Cranberry RaisinetsA couple of years ago Nestle finally expanded the Rasinets line by creating “dark chocolate” covered Raisinets.

Now they’ve delved into mucking with the inside of the Raisinet ... the raisin.

In the new Cranberry Raisinets they’ve swapped out the dried grape for dried cranberries.

While the classic Raisinet is pretty simple & pure (just raisins in the center covered with some mediocre milk chocolate then coated with a sealing confectioners glaze), the new Cranberry version is a bit more complicated with a complicated package to match.

Nestle Cranberry Raisinets

First, they’ve gone to a 100 calorie package which is priced the same as a standard serving package. Regular Raisinets currently come in a package with 1.58 ounces in there. The new 100 Calorie Cranberry Raisinets are .81 ounces. (If a package is 75 cents, that’s over $14 per pound.)

The front of the package says: 100% chocolate covered cranberries. I don’t know if that means that each cranberry is completely covered (which isn’t quite true, since some of mine had little bald spots) or that there are no raisins hiding in there ... but what’s really certain here is that there’s more than cranberries in the center.

The centers are “sweetened cranberries” with their ingredients listed as cranberries, sugar and sunflower oil. The little factoid box on the back of the package says: Good to Know: Dried cranberries are one of nature’s best sources of fruit ANTIOXIDANTS. Yes, that’s a nice thought, but there’s less than a half an ounce of cranberries here (I’m being generous with that estimate based on how much of the product is chocolate), so little that there’s no measurable amount of Vitamin C listed in the dietary specs.

Nestle Cranberry RaisinetsAll that prefacing aside, I love dried cranberries. I buy them often and eat them quite a bit (I love them mixed in with raw almonds). I’ve only been able to find the sweetened cranberries, no unsweetened ones seem readily available.

The Cranberry Raisinets are big and plump, usually flat and some of them were conjoined.

The chocolate is sweet, milky and flaky. The flavor is bland with a slight musty & cocoa note to it. The cranberry centers are chewy and tangy but also sweet. The overall effect is, well, sweetness without enough texture variation.

I’ve had quite a few different brands of chocolate covered dried & sweetened cranberries and think they’re just too sweet for the flavor profiles of the chocolate & cranberries to come through strongly.

I don’t see any reason to pay the same amount of money for basically half as much candy, even if it is some sort of portion control. 100 calories of something really tasty might be worth it, but this is simply not worthy of my limited calorie allotments for confections.

Related Candies

  1. Candy Tease: April 2009
  2. Nestle Milk Chocolate
  3. Nestle Crunch (Now Even Richer Milk Chocolate)
  4. Trader Joe’s Figments
  5. Figamajigs
Name: Cranberry Raisinets
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: sample from All Candy Expo
Price: $.79 retail
Size: .81 ounces
Calories per ounce: 123
Categories: Chocolate, United States, Nestle, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:57 am     Comments (7)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Good & Fiery

Good & FieryI have been waiting nearly a year to find these! I first read about them last year on Candy Addict’s list of new products coming out from Hershey’s. The release date of December 2008 came and went and I kept my eyes open but still didn’t see them in the stores ... not even on the internet. I thought maybe Hershey’s decided not to put them out.

Then last week I wandered down to the 99 Cent Only Store about a mile from my office to see what was new. I found a box. One box. Just sitting there, mixed in with the Sugar Babies and Care Bears Gummi Bears. I would have bought more, but this was all they had (and this one was a little dinged).

Good & FieryThe biggest question I had about these was which side of the confectionery line would they fall ... are they a licorice product like Good & Plenty or are they a jelly-bean-like Good & Fruity.

The front of the package was no help. It describes these only as Sweet and Spicy chewy candy. The side of the package pushed me in the direction of Good & Fruity when I looked at the ingredients. The first three are dextrose, sugar & corn syrup. Good & Plenty has wheat flour as part of the licorice.

So now I knew that I was expecting: Lemon, Orange, Apple & Cinnamon jelly rods.

All that confusion aside ... the box design is fabulous. I love the bold colors & graphic style (which is why there are so many photos in this review).

image

Good & FieryGood & Fiery are like their brethren Good & Fruity - little jelly bean rods. Long (about 2/3 of an inch) & tapered at both ends, they’re smaller than Mike and Ike and a bit shinier, too.

Lemon (Yellow) - bright and translucent, I was more than curious what the combination of lemon and cinnamon would hold. The candy shells on these is rather thin & crunchy. Now, the flavor ... at first it’s a little bitter. The shell is sweet, but the little sweet veneer wears off and I got a slight bitter hit, an organic type of woodsy bitter. I got lemon zest too ... and then cinnamon. At the very end there was a little twang of tartness.

It’s downright bizarre. It’s like eating a candle. Not in a bad way.

Orange (orange) - also starts with a slight bitterness but that moved into a very strong sweetness quickly. The cinnamon here is like an actual cinnamon stick - woodsy with notes of cedar and pine and then a strong snap of tartness then some more bitter at the end. There’s a warm feeling from the cinnamon but not a strong lingering one.

Good & FieryApple (red) - I had trouble telling the reds apart when I didn’t have another to compare it to (though usually the cinnamon ones were a bit fatter). This apple is sweet and tangy and has that nice combination of apple juice flavor mixed with that made-in-the-lab note of “green apple flavoring”. The cinnamon is a bit of a background here but makes it taste a bit like a McDonald’s Hot Apple Pie. (Without the “caution filling is hot” label.)

Cinnamon (dark red) - I was expecting the plain cinnamon to be like a Hot Tamale or Sizzling Cinnamon Jelly Belly. Instead this one went in a wholly different direction. The shell on these seemed crispier. The cinnamon flavor on the outside was soft. Then at the edge of the shell and the jelly center there was a burst of flavor - like an all cinnamon chai - it had a burning warmth and some really authentic notes of real cinnamon, not just the cinnamon oils.

This has to be one of the strangest ventures I’ve seen Hersheys’ take in quite a while. It’s like they subcontracted the folks who developed the Dots: Elements (Earth, Wind, Fire & Water) to come up with a brand extension for Good & Fruity. I’m completely puzzled by these though, because I think Hershey’s created a great new product with their Cinnamon Twizzlers Fire. Why couldn’t they have taken those and made a version of that like the true Good & Plenty?

Those who are disappointed by the soulless rebirth of Good & Fruity aren’t going to find any comfort here. Those who enjoy cinnamon with all the variations of the flavor might find some solace.

Joann from Sugar Hi reviewed them a few months ago, at least helping to disambiguate their candy category but didn’t dissuade me from trying them.

Related Candies

  1. See’s Cinnamon (Hearts & Lollypops)
  2. Cinnamon Imperial Hearts
  3. Gimbal’s Lavaballs
  4. Good & Plenty (Fresh from the Factory)
  5. Chocolate Dipped Altoids
  6. Hot Tamales and Hotter Tamales
Name: Good & Fiery
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Hershey's
Place Purchased: 99 Cent Only (Miracle Mile)
Price: $1.00
Size: 5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 99
Categories: Jelly, Cinnamon, United States, Hershey's, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:29 am     Comments (43)

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)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Beechies Force Chewy Candy

Beechies Force Chewy Candy - FruitFor some reason people want Energy. I’m not quite sure why they’re looking for products specifically labeled that way, as my understanding is that all food contains energy. Calories are available energy from food. If it doesn’t have calories, as far as I’m concerned, it’s not food.

But consumers, I believe, have been duped into thinking that stimulants are actually energy. They’re not, they’re just, well, stimulants. Stimulants make you feel like doing stuff, as the general state of humans (if you believe advertising and general laws of physics) is to be inert and bored. Stimulants, though, don’t cure boredom or actually get anything done.

Caffeine is the most common stimulant and is naturally found in a product that masks the bitter and unpleasant taste of it very well: coffee. Caffeine also works as an additive in other products in smaller quantities, usually products with natural alkaloids, like chocolate or perhaps strong fruit flavors.

There are some other compounds which are also grouped into energy products: Taurine and B vitamins (Niacin, B6 and B12). These have their own distinct flavors, often known collectively as the “vitamin burp” taste. (You can read about these at Energy Fiend)

All of this writing, however, is just vamping. After trying my first Beechies Force Chewy Candy, I didn’t want to continue.

Beechies Force Chewy Candy - FruitLemon - it looks pretty good and the first crunch of the candy shell was a bright & promising sweet lemon flavor. But chewing it, well, I should probably start posting photos of my facial expressions. The first was something akin to “Wha? Is this really happening? Does this really taste like this?” kind of quizzical look. Then a bitterness set in, which caused me to furrow my brow. Then came a general distasteful look that someone might mistake for “May I spit this out in your hand please? Please! Right now!”

And then I waited for a couple of weeks. I reviewed a bunch of other stuff, even avoided reviewing yesterday by posting a new products announcement list. I carried the bags around with me in my “to review” package. The wrapper does say recharge - refresh - renew so I thought I’d try again.

Green Apple went a little better. The candy shell is tangy and has that comforting artificial apple flavor. Then ... well, it took a turn for the worse. The soft chew of the center, which is rather like a Mentos, had a bit of a bitter tingle. The flavor was that midrange bitterness that reminds me of dirty gym socks. But it was mercifully short

Strawberry was a beautiful red. Much prettier than any Mentos. The shell flavor was soft and sweet. The inner chew was musty and tasted like generic chewable vitamins.

Beechies Force Chewy Candy - JavaA serving (14 pieces) of Beechies Force Chews contain:

935 mg of Taurine
100 mg of Caffeine
18 mg of Niacin
2.5 mg of B6
6.5 mcg of B12

This combination of chemicals does not give me energy, it gives me angry.

I emailed the company, Richardson Brands, to see if they actually still make these. They never responded. Their website doesn’t list them on a product page but includes them in the ingredients/nutritional section. I found record of them being offered at All Candy Expo in 2006, but under different flavors. The only place I’ve ever seen these for sale is at the 99 Cent Only Store, but I have seen them at multiple stores and the packages appear fresh and current.

Beechies Force Chewy Candy - JavaThe next flavor was Java which made more sense as a masking flavor for caffeine.

The chew itself was odd looking, it’s olive green. Really nicely done olive green, but just not a color I associate with rich, roasted coffee. (But I do associate with unroasted coffee.)

The outer shell is sweet and has a mellow coffee flavor. The inner chew is rather promising. It’s sweet and has a latte taste - both creamy and with some good brewed coffee flavors. The bitterness is there, but rather believable because of the coffee flavor.

I still had the aftertaste of bitter B vitamins, but it didn’t feel as strange because there was no tangy fruit flavor component. I wouldn’t call these great, but compared to the fruit ones, they’re actually edible. They reminded me of the Chewy Coffee Rio.

The other trick I found is to actually chew it all up. When I ate my second Java, I left the candy shell dissolve. Bad idea, because that’s where the extra sugar was. The center chew is not as sweet, but if you let it dissolve like a hard candy, it’s not a bad either. They do end with coffee breath though, so have some real mint Mentos on hand for that (as a side note, there is a caffeinated version of Mentos available in Europe).

An 8 ounce cup of brewed coffee (yes, I actually drink just an 8 ounce cup) contains about 100 mg of caffeine but no calories. Each bag contains two servings (140 calories)... and for only a buck, it’s a pretty good price for an easily metered amount of caffeine. I suppose you can swallow them whole.

I can see these having their place. For travelers, especially those who don’t want to take in a lot of liquids, it’s a nice alternative to coffee or energy drinks. They’re extremely portable (although 14 of them do take up a bit of space).

The package says a serving is 14 pieces, but it holds on 25 ... so it’s just shy of two actual servings. They’re made in

Columbia

Colombia, which knows a lot about coffee. I’m keeping the Java (4 out of 10) ones on hand for medicinal purposes but I’m throwing out the fruit ones (1 out of 10).

Related Candies

  1. Butterfinger Buzz (Caffeinated)
  2. Fresh Cola Mentos
  3. Choco-Fudge Mallow Sundae
  4. Junior Fruit Cremes
  5. Loud Truck Energy Gummies
  6. No Time & Black Black
Name: Beechies Force Chewy Candy
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Richardson Brands
Place Purchased: 99 Cent Only Store (Miracle Mile)
Price: $1.00
Size: 2.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 100
Categories: Chew, Coffee, Caffeine, Colombia

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:01 am     Comments (13)

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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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