Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Dove has been adding to their line of Promises, the little chocolate nuggets they sell. It’s nice they have such a diversified line and I do enjoy a little foil wrapped treat. Lately they’ve been stuffing caramel see review) inside those little nuggets of milk or dark chocolate. Now they’ve added a few more versions of those to the line by flavoring the caramel:
Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Flavored Caramel - this was less caramel and more like a hazelnut creme. It had a nice nutty flavor to it, though I didn’t quite identify it as hazelnut. A little salty hit cut through the sticky sweetness of the milk chocolate.
Most of my little pieces were dented. I don’t know if that was a function of the travel or if they’re particularly delicate. (5 out of 10)
The Mint Caramel Dark Chocolate terrible, terrible pieces of confectionery nonsense. Gobbledygook, I tell ya! Gibberish! There’s nothing wrong with caramel, nothing wrong with dark chocolate, nothing wrong with mint. But put them all together and you get this humongo double take of “what the heck were they thinking?”
The caramel is just weird - it’s like it’s over emulsified, if there is such a thing. It’s gooey, but has no buttery element, no burnt sugary elements ... it’s become its own strange, pudding-like product. That’s it! It’s like peppermint-butterscotch pudding ... with dark chocolate. It’s just all kinds of wrong when I think too hard. (4 out of 10)
The strangeness continued with the Dark Chocolate Raspberry Caramel.
Luckily I didn’t have a whole bag of each of those, just a little handful ... and now they’re on their way to Kimberly, who won the drawing! (I should have had her sign some sort of a waiver.) Again, it’s like raspberry flavored butterscotch pudding. I just didn’t like all the flavors together and the salty hit of the caramel with the raspberry was just over the top. (4 out of 10)
The happy news is that the rest of this is all good. The more traditional new offerings to the Dove Promises line are just the regular milk and dark chocolate with some crushed almonds added in.
Almonds are a personal favorite of mine, I practically live on them (really, I eat them just about every day as a snack). What’s always bothered me about Dove chocolate is its foolish consistency ... it feels too perfect, too manufactured and lacking any personality. The crushed almonds in the Dove Dark Chocolate with Almonds fix that.
They add some texture, they add some extra flavor, a little crunch ... they just complete the Dove Dark Chocolate. Any trepidation I had about their chocolate has disappeared with the added element. (8 out of 10)
The Dove Milk Chocolate with Almonds benefits similiarly from the crushed almonds. It makes the milk chocolate, which was always a little sticky sweet to me, more malty and rich. The milky flavors now take on a toasted, darker tone.
They please me. (7 out of 10)
A single Milk Chocolate with Almonds has about 45 calories in it.
I don’t have the nutritional info on the Caramel line or the Dark Chocolate with Almonds, just the Milk Chocolate with Almonds, as that’s the only one I have the complete packaging for. I’m not sure when these are showing up in stores, they’re not on the Dove website yet. Anyone see them in stores yet?
Monday, October 1, 2007
I had high hopes for the Reese’s Whipps bar. The bar goes something like this: light and fluffy peanut butter flavored nougat wrapped in a layer of peanut butter then coated in mockolate. Okay, I’m not completely certain it is mockolate, as the ingredients include chocolate, but it’s so low on the list, I have my doubts. Especially since they don’t list it as part of the description of the bar and say that this element is “Made with Smooth Chocolate.” Whether it is or not is immaterial because it’s flaky and not that good.
The bar is hefty at 1.9 ounces, just a little smaller than a 3 Musketeers (2.12 ounces) and wrapped in that unmistakable Reese’s orange.
A little blue triangle in the corner heralds that this bar has 40% less fat*. That * leads to the disclaimer that it contains 9 grams of fat versus 15 grams of fat for the average leading chocolate candy brands. I really want to know what they consider the leading chocolate candy brands, which I’m guessing are M&Ms, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers and Hershey Bars. The bar itself has 230 calories. But I’ll rant about that more a bit later.
The bar looks just like the wrapper promises. It smells lightly sweet and peanutty. The bite on the bar is soft, not stiff. The nougat inside has an immediate peanut butter flavor to it with a little salt and a kind of molasses darkness.
The peanut butter layer around that gives a little extra peanutty zazz to it. The mockolate adds nothing. It gives no chocolatey contribution to the thing, no creamy component, no milky, buttery texture. It merely contains the other two elements, that are actually pretty good. The only good thing about the glaze is that it’s used sparingly ... it’s ultra thin. You could probably shine a light through it.
Yes, with a good coating of real chocolate (like a 3 Musketeers), this could have been a standout bar.
But I guess my real disappointment is that they’ve grabbed a play from the book of 3 Musketeers and are calling it “lower in fat” without mentioning on the front that it contains pretty much the same number of calories as any other candy bar. I’ve made a little list of the size, calories and caloric density of the leading bars, arranged with the least dense at the top. Pay careful attention to the number of calories though, even if it’s not dense, it’s certainly big:
Candy Bar…..............size in grams….calories/cals per gram
It’s pretty clear that the York Peppermint Pattie is the candy to have if you want straight carbs (no fat, no protein). 3 Musketeers does pretty well as does the Whipps, but remember, if there’s no fat and no protein it’s all sugars. While I find sugar to be wonderful, straight sugar doesn’t really provide much long-lasting satisfaction if you’re looking for a snack that’s a treat.
That chart means nothing if you don’t actually like the candy bar though. And this bar proves that Hershey’s does not need the FDA to change the definition of chocolate, they’re free to make a substandard product and try to sell it to us. Yeah, I’m probably been pretty harsh, but this could have been a really good bar.
Shopping Jen found these at WalMart already and has a review posted here. I also saw these this weekend at Walgreen’s (at two for a dollar!), so they’re in the wild now.
Friday, September 14, 2007
I’m a little late to this Limited Edition Milk Chocolate Razzberry M&Ms story, but mostly because I couldn’t find them anywhere in Los Angeles. I tried all my usual haunts (RiteAid, Walgreen’s, Von’s, CVS, Target & 7-11) and finally found them Wednesday night at the Dollar Tree in Harbor City on my way to San Pedro.
The bag felt a little light, and it is. It’s only 1.5 ounces instead of the usual 1.74 ounces for the Peanut variety or 1.69 ounces for the Milk Chocolate. (Of course the Pirate Pearls ones were similiarly scant.)
The bag is a pleasant hot pink and urges me to “Get Razzed” ... which as far as my understanding of the lingo that the kids use these days, that means, “Get Harassed.” Okely Dokely!
At first when I dumped these out to take their photo I thought I got a bad bag. The color looks completely off. Now if you just handed me a bowl of them, I might say, “Oh, what a lovely muted pink color!” But because of the brightness of the package, this feels like it clashes, which makes me feel like it’s unintended. But looking around at other photos on Flickr of the candies, it seems like they’re supposed to be this way.
The size and shape is also irregular. Some are the same size as typical Milk Chocolate M&Ms and others are as big as the now-discontinued Mega M&Ms. I rather like the regularity of M&Ms when spread out on my desk when eating them, but these just didn’t please me as much with their appearance.
The candies smell, like, well, someone spilled a bottle of raspberry after-bath spritz. I’ve spent a lot of time with fresh raspberries. When I was a kid, for several years when we lived in Ohio we had a raspberry patch in the back yard which was absurdly productive. While they weren’t wild berries, they certainly weren’t like the commercial ones sold in stores today. They were on the small side but bursting with flavor, a combination of sweet, tart and floral. By the time I was a teenager and we moved away, I was so spoiled by the real thing that I couldn’t stand raspberry flavored things or bring myself to spend $5 for a teensy little portion of watery-tasting fresh berries at the grocery store.
The Milk Chocolate is okay, for some reason it tastes sweeter than the regular Milk Chocolate M&Ms (remember, I’ve eaten a lot of those lately), it could be the larger size of most of them that gave a bigger hit of the ordinary chocolate center. The chocolate simply wasn’t creamy and I have to wonder if these were stored properly. Southern California experienced a wicked heat spell around Labor Day weekend and there were sporadic power outages all over which means that these could have bloomed in some way.
M&Ms stressed in their press releases about these that they’re the first fruit flavored M&Ms ever given full distribution. (I guess they were ignoring those super exclusive fruity ones they did last year.) I’m sad that they didn’t do orange, as I think that’d be a good place to start. It’s easy to get an authentic orange flavor with chocolate. But then again these aren’t raspberry M&Ms ... no, they’re razzberry M&Ms, here to mock real raspberries (and us) with their fakeness.
Monday, September 10, 2007
I browse eBay a lot, just to see what sort of candy is being sold. It’s a good place to “make a friend” in a particular area who can send you a special candy on a regular basis. Of course a good deal of the candy on eBay is also Limited Edition items, which can be devilish to find as inventories wear thin in parts of the country.
It’s also a great way for me to find out about newer Limited Editions. Like the Candy Corn Kisses that showed up there last week. I immediately searched all my best spots (RiteAid, WalMart, Target & CVS) with no results. So I emailed Hershey’s ... they confirmed that they exist at least.
Then yesterday I gave Target another try and there they were!
I must admit, they’re lovely. The wrappers are silver, yellow and orange with little flags that say Candy Corn.
Unwrapping the foil, they are super-cute layers just like candy corn. Wider on the bottom than normal candy corn, the proportions may be a little squat, the colors are also rearranged, with yellow on the bottom and orange in the middle, instead of the reverse. I can see why they did it though, it is a pleasant combo.
While I enjoy candy corn that has a slight honey or caramelized sugar taste to it, these go for the buttered corn flavor. I know that the Buttered Popcorn Jelly Belly is one of the most popular, but it’s never floated by boat. Same with this one ... a little caramely white chocolate would have made me very happy. This doesn’t. The fake butter just turns my stomach when I smell it. If I don’t smell it, then they’re not bad, not too sweet with a light little hit of salt.
Unlike many of the other white confection offerings from Hershey’s, these are not white chocolate (which has a cocoa butter base). The ingredients go like this:
I think the idea is cute and I could actually see these being a great cookie decoration (as suggested on the package with a peanut butter cookie recipe). Other than that, I’m going to just admire the photos and the idea and keep the package way from me. I couldn’t decide what rating to give this, mostly because my personal revulsion to fake butter flavor (it actually gives me a headache when someone makes microwave popcorn) is, well, a personal thing. The product is well executed ... I just wish they called them Butter Kisses and made them like real candy corn, not that Milk Maid Caramel Candy Corn. My nose said give them a two out of ten. But looking at the photos, I can’t help but bump it up to a four out of ten ... what can I say, I’m a sucker for design!
UPDATE 9/25/2007: I found out from Hershey’s that this is an item that they created exclusively for Target. So don’t bother looking anywhere else but Target & eBay for these.
UPDATE 9/5/2008: The Candy Corn Kisses have returned for 2008. I found them both at Target and Rite Aid, so they are enjoying a wider release this year.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
These Zip Bomb candies showed up recently in one of the 99 Cent Only stores that I visit. I thought maybe they were a knock-off of Zotz available in little pouches.
Warning: this is another story about how I am pretty much willing to try anything, no matter how much evidence is presented that it’s a bad idea.
All wasn’t sitting well with me long before I opened the package. Part of that was the name Zip Bomb ... that’s a malicious file that’s delivered as a .zip file with a gajillion files inside that will occupy scanning software while worse things go on. Perhaps these candies came along before that, right?
Of course this made me wonder what was going to happen when I put it in my mouth. Would it occupy my taste buds while it stole my wallet? Would it swell to the size of a 63 terabyte file with tart foaming sherbet and tasty hard candy and then delete all my photos?
The other thing that struck me as odd is that the website listed on the back of the package, http://www.zipkidz.com, doesn’t exist. Oh, it might have or might someday, but as I type this, there is no website to visit for fun and games. A search on Archive.org reveals that there was a website at that address back in 2004-05. Hmm, could this code on the wrapper that says 021902 mean that they were made back in 2002?
Yes, these are the things that suddenly fill me with dread when looking at a package of candy.
But you know, I’ve already taken their photo ... what fun would this be if I didn’t go all the way and eat some?
The little individual candies were cute in their wrappers. Sure, the design wasn’t the most sophisticated in the world, but they were bright and colorful and said which flavor was which.
The candies themselves were bigger than Zotz, round instead of oval.
After putting one in my mouth I can tell you that they’re not like Zotz! The hard candy has an intense sour layer on top. Seriously sour ... but it fades away pretty quickly to reveal a simple tart and flavorful hard candy.
At the center of the candy (whether you’re a sucker or a cruncher) is a small reservior of sour powder. I was expecting it to foam, but it didn’t. It was just sour.
The hard candies were nicely flavored, each one distinct. Blue Raspberry was my favorite followed by Strawberry and then Green Apple. Watermelon was odd, probably because I just have a stubborn part of me that thinks that sour watermelon is wrong.
I wanted more of the sour center than I got in the candies, there seemed to be more hard candy than I wanted. They’re fun and something I probably would have enjoyed more as a kid than I do now, but I have to say, that first blast of throat-tingling sour is pretty fun at any age. They were probably much better when they were fresh.
Note: the candies were made in Thailand.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Bazooka’s Bubble Gum Filled Pops have a lot going for them. They’re a nice compact size, kind of like Blow Pops, but perfectly spherical. They have a plastic stick, which is great if you’re a moist person. The flavor varieties are pretty normal and bound to please: Grape, Orange, Green Apple and Cherry.
But I hate to say it, they just don’t live up to this promising conceptual start.
First, the hard candy isn’t that flavorful. While it’s nicely dense and doesn’t have too many sharp holes, it just doesn’t taste like much. The orange, which was by far my favorite, was rather like weak orange-ade. Cherry in this case was also weak and a lot more pleasant. I kind of liked the Grape in it’s mild form here, even though it in no way rivaled the Blow Pops.
Second, the stick was very close to the top of the candy sphere. With these hollow plastic stick it means that once you dissolve a top layer, the hollow stick makes it hard to “suck” on the sucker without taking in air through the stick.
The gum itself is okay once it warms up and softens. It seems like a smaller portion than a Blow Pop. It’s very sugary, which I rather like, but once the sugar is gone it’s too stiff and such a small piece that blowing bubbles isn’t easy.
If you’re going to come late to the “gum filled lollipop” genre, you’d better get in with a top notch product that offers something either better or significantly different. This just doesn’t do it for me. They’re attractively packaged and come in a smaller “mini” version that I had similar issues with. I think I’ll stick to what I think Bazooka does best ... bubble gum.
There are a lot of marketing tie ins between movies and candy. Some of them work really well and some seem rather strange. I’m going to put these little Ratatouille Rat Racers Pocket Slider Lollipops in that category.
Ratatouille is a new movie from Pixar/Disney that stars a rat (named Remy) who wants to be a chef. But, you know, he’s a rat. And in this world he can’t talk to humans. He has a brother named Emile, who is less discriminating about his culinary tastes. These little candy pops are simply a hard candy cylinder housed in a little slider topped with a toy. In this case the toy is a little plastic model of one of the characters with a wide steel wheel on the bottom for racing.
As a little toy, the racers are kind of fun. They’re slippery and move easily. The detail on them is pretty good, though I can’t figure out why they’re racing around on cheese or petit fours. But that’s simply my lack of imagination.
The two flavors I picked up were Blue Raspberry and Green Apple.
They’re both rather tart and have a good chemical, manufactured artifical flavor (kind of like computer animation!).
As a candy, I’ve certainly had better hard candy in better flavors. The little toy roller cars are certainly better than a Happy Meal (TM) prize, but limited in their appeal. The retractable lolly is a nice idea, especially for kids who may want to space out their enjoyment of this marginal treat.
The same company who makes these also did the similarly branded Peeps Pops. (I reviewed the ring ones and Jeanna at Wisconsin Candy Dish reviewed the slider pops that are pretty much the same as these.) They’re made in China, which at this moment doesn’t make me feel very good ... expect for the fact that I didn’t finish these. I just ate enough of each to get the flavor.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
I had really high hopes for the new Nestle Crunch Crisp bar. I found it on Friday while I was filling my gas tank and wandered into the convenience store because it was so freakishly hot. (Okay, maybe it’s not freakishly hot, it was the end of June in Southern California, what should I have been expecting at four in the afternoon?)
The blue metallic wrapper is promising and describes this as “Crispy Wafers, Chocolate Creme.” Sadly, it also doesn’t list chocolate as an ingredient. Which leads me to wonder what the essential element is to be called part of the Nestle Crunch line of products ... apparently it’s not chocolate, it’s crisped rice. I’m sure there are volumes of marketing research that prove this.
The bar consists of sturdy planks of bland wafers filled with a greasy and grainy chocolate cream, topped with some crisped rice and a slurry of thin mockolate (63% of your daily value of saturated fats!).
Here are the ingredients:
While this all comes off as rather negative, I think I might find this tasty when the ambient temperature is below 90 degrees. Even at 85 degrees, however, the bar was a slippery mess (this is one of the differences between mockolate and most chocolate). It was certainly creamy and the crispy wafers were distinct and crunchy. But the mockolate and chocolate creme just weren’t up to delivering any flavor to the mix. It wasn’t too sweet though, as the bland wafer and crispies were a good counterbalance to the mockolates. Honestly, the crispy wafers were good.
This would be an awesome bar if it were real. If there were some sort of real chocolate on there, something with character and depth, I could completely get behind it. In the mean time, I’m going to stick to my also-high-in-full-hydrogenated-oils Chocolatiers.
Candy companies are still getting the hang of this internet thing, so you can go to the website listed on the package, ForTheKidInYou.com, but I couldn’t find any mention of this bar there. On a slightly related note on the mockolate front, here’s an article from Reuters ... that Cebele May they mention, that’s me (plus Emily from Chocolate in Context!).
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.