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Monday, March 24, 2008

Starbucks Chocolate

Starburcks Chocolate Tasting KitI rarely go into a Starbucks, but I do drink their coffee at the office sometimes. I think my favorite blend of theirs is the Estima (which they don’t make available for our office, drat). At home I’m more likely to drink Trader Joe’s but I’m not a coffee snob, I’ll buy coffee at 7-11, McDonald’s, happily drink the stuff on an airplane and of course at many of the local coffee houses in Los Angeles.

I’m not a “coffee drink” person. I just like a cup of coffee with some milk in it for the most part, but I’ll drink a capuccino now and then. I think coffee is a flavor that’s good enough to be savored by itself. No need for caramel, hazelnut syrup or other intrusions of flavors. (I do drink Mexican Mochas in November.)

I was still eager to try the new line of Starbucks Chocolates and happily accept the offer from some PR folks for a tasting kit (shown here, which is not available for retail sale).

Starbucks Chocolate TrufflesI am kind of picky about my coffee and chocolate combinations though. I like my chocolate smooth, and I don’t usually want to eat my coffee beans. (I had a seriously dangerous chocolate covered coffee bean problem in college that led to an EKG and some stern words from a doctor about moderation.)

So I greeted the new Starbucks and Hershey’s chocolate venture with a little trepidation, mostly worried that both would bring the worst they had to offer to the products (Starbucks high prices and Hershey’s inflated prices for substandard quality or playing off the cachet of their Artisan Confection lines Dagoba & Scharffen Berger without delivering).

Starbucks ChocolateTheir new product line consists of chocolate bars and tasting squares. There is the standard dark and milk plus two infused with tea flavors (Passion Fruit and Chai) and then a Mocha dark chocolate and a Citron dark chocolate. As expected they also have chocolate covered coffee beans (in milk chocolate) and a line of four different kinds of truffle-style bonbons.

The venture between Starbucks & Hershey’s is a strange one. Starbucks makes the sourcing of their coffee beans part of their marketing effort, with a pledge that they pay above market rates to the growers. It’s not quite fair trade (though they do have the Estima blend that is certified fair trade), it has certainly raised awareness of the issue of growers of our non-essential items like coffee and now chocolate. In this case the package makes note:

Starbucks is committed to purchasing cocoa and coffee that are grown and traded in an ethical, transparent and sustainable manner. To learn more about our cocoa-purchasing practices, please visit us at starbucks.com/cocoa

Starbucks Milk Chocolate Covered Coffee BeansIt’s unclear from that webpage if the chocolate in the Starbucks branded chocolate products was obtained within these principals or not. The package (on the other side) says “Manufactured for Artisan Confections Company Berkeley, CA 94710 USA under the authority of Starbucks Coffee Company”. (Emphasis mine) I’m still not sure who made these products. (Clay Gordon tried to get more info on this subject, but was unable, but I agree that the couldn’t be made at the Scharffen Berger space in Emeryville and I’m more inclined to believe they were made by the Dagoba folks.)

The good thing is that the risk with these is low for the consumer. They’re all well priced items, none more than $5.49 and available at local drug stores and discount chains. (I already spotted the full line at RiteAid.)

The ingredients on all the items are good, real vanilla, no PGPR though no indication what the cacao levels are on the products. (Well, also no indication of what the caffeine levels are on the coffee ones!)

Starbucks Milk Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans

To start, I tried the Milk Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans. They feature the Caffe Verona beans at the heart, sourced from around the world and prepared in the Italian roast style. Inside the little stand up box the glossy beans are sealed inside a clear cellophane bag. The size is 3.5 ounces and retails for $4.99 to $5.49.

They smell very sweet, the chocolate is milky and soft to the bite (so no flaking off). The combination of the crunchy bean at the heart and the chocolate coating is nice. A bit on the sweet side for me, when it comes to coffee confections, but still very nice. The consistent quality of the beans are a highlight. I ate at least a dozen and didn’t get a chewy or acrid one. (7 out of 10)

Plain Milk & Dark Chocolate from StarbucksAt the heart of all the confections, of course, is chocolate. The tasting squares are nicely wrapped little 5 gram pieces.

Milk Chocolate. They say it’s, “Sweet, silky indulgence; rich & rewarding” and I’m inclined to agree. It’s a much smoother chocolate than I’m accustomed to from Hershey’s or even Scharffen Berger. It has some strong vanilla notes and a good milky texture. (8 out of 10)

Dark Chocolate. They say it’s, “Deep, complex flavors; smooth and satisfying” and I think that was overselling it. It was rather sweet but still smooth. It lacked a depth of flavor, but it pairs well with coffee, has only the slightest acidic tang and has a good buttery melt. (7 out of 10)

They come in both 3 ounce bars or a mixed bag of tasting squares (that include the Mocha Dark Chocolate). Bars are $2.99 and the tasting squares are $4.99-$5.49 for 2.6 ounces (kinda silly, really to pay so much more for so much less).

Flavored Dark Chocolates from StarucksPassion(r) Dark Chocolate features a Tazo herbal blend of hibuscus & natural flavors. It has a very fruity scent and a grainy melt on the tongue. The little grainy bits are tangy and have a strong berry (and hibiscus) flavor to them with a tint of peach and passion fruit. It’s purely a personal thing but I thought this was dreadful ... from the texture to the combination of flavors, the sickly scent and the way it all overwhelms the chocolate. (4 out of 10)

Citron(r) Dark Chocolate is also a Tazo blend of tea leaves and lemon oil. This one smells pleasantly of lemon, but very little of chocolate. The texture is not as grainy as the Passion, but still not smooth. The lemon essence was strong, but had no citrus tang to it, thankfully. Still, no chocolate flavors came though, nor much of the tea base either.  (6 out of 10)

Drink Flavored Chocolates - Chai & Mocha from StarbucksMocha Dark Chocolate should epitomize this fusion of chocolate and Starbucks, right? It smells wonderfully rich, a combination of chocolate and coffee and a dollop of vanilla. It’s apparent looking at the square from the back that it has ground coffee beans in it, not just an infusion of flavor. It’s a bit grainy but crispy when chewed. It’s much like the chocolate covered coffee beans, but has a stronger chocolate flavor to it that isn’t quite overhwhelmed like the others. Still, I’m not one for the bits in there, but I admit that’s a personal preference.  (6 out of 10)

Chai Milk Chocolate includes Tazo tea leaves and natural flavors in milk chocolate. It smells quite rich, mostly of nutmeg, cardamom and clove. Though it looks grainy, it’s really quite smooth even with the little inclusions. It has a wonderful spicy mix of flavors without being too sweet. I’m a big fan of spicy chai but can’t stand how sweet it can be. This is a very nice mix, I almost like it better than the Dagoba bar (which has actual ginger pieces in it). (7 out of 10)

What I found most surprising about this collection of chocolate tasting squares branded by a coffee company was that three out of the six of them were tea infusions and only one was actually a coffee flavor. Their slogan for the line of products is, “when coffee dreams, it dreams of chocolate” but I think it should be, “when coffee dreams, it ends up with tea in its chocolate.” Some sort of self-loathing or something. (Or adverse reaction to cannibalism, of course coffee doesn’t want coffee!)

The curious part is that Starbucks is not selling these at their stores or even on their website. They’re a Starbucks experience without a Starbucks shop. Like the Choxie line at Target, I think they’ve done a nice job of finding the essential nature of what they have to offer, packaging them nicely and charging the appropriate amount that people are willing to pay for a personal indulgence.

I’ll have a roundup of the Truffles in a separate post.

Related Candies

  1. Caffe Acapella - Coffee Confections
  2. Joseph Schmidt
  3. Choxies in Boxies
  4. Dagoba Single Origin
  5. Scharffen Berger Tasting Squares
  6. Dagoba Chai
Name: Starbucks Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans & Chocolate Tasting Squares
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Starbucks (and Hershey's)
Place Purchased: samples from Hershey's
Price: unknown
Size: $4.99-$5.49 retail
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Coffee, United States, Hershey's, Kosher, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:13 am     Comments (13)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Los Angeles may not be the best place for a Candy Blogger to live

TCHO GhanaLos Angeles is not a chocolate town, with good reason, it’s hot. But I greet the L.A. winters rather joyfully because it means that I should be able to receive chocolate shipments without moltency.

Since it was predicted to be so nice, and I had such a great experience with BonBonBar, I ordered two chocolate bars on Monday, February 11th from the beta chocolate company TCHO, located in San Francisco.

It’s February and the predicted high temperature all week was 66 degrees. At 1:30 PM today it was 65. Ideal, really, for chocolate.

However, the package shipped on Tuesday, February 12th and only arrived at my door on February 15th. Hardly Priority Delivery if you ask me. And really slow for door to door service a scant 400 miles apart and to major metro areas.

They came in a silver metallic bubble-wrap envelope (folded in half). It felt hot to the touch. I opened it immediately and pulled the bars out. They too were hot ... and squishy.

TCHO chocolate delivery was melted - total fail

There you have it.

TCHO was co-founded by a space shuttle technologist. I’m not sure what end of all of the technologies integrated into the space shuttle he was involved in, but it couldn’t have had anything to do with insulating or maintaining optimal operating temperatures. Or getting things to arrive on schedule.

I’m not going to give it a full review at this moment. I ate most of the melted parts of the bar shown. It’s rather tangy, has some clear coffee and dark berry notes. It’s smooth, but not super-smooth (even a few gritty bits) and doesn’t have the buttery quality that I love so much about great chocolate.

I sent a note to the company before posting this, letting them know of the poor condition the package arrived in. (I’ll let you know the resolution of that.) The 50 gram bars are $4 each and the shipping was $5.

Since I took that photo the bar has re-solidified, poorly tempered now with swirls of dark and light and an irregular texture. So sad.

The plain truth is that I get a lot of gooey chocolate. Rarely stuff that I order, usually things that are sent to me as samples, and I’ve come to accept the fact that PR folks simply don’t know how to put together a box that can survive for 24 hours without getting melted. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed it’s that package that are packed tightly do the worst. A little airspace between insulated walls does wonders. In the case of this package, a reflective package is great but once it heats up to the ambient temperature of the delivery truck’s interior, it’s actually conducting the heat to the contents, not protecting it.

I think I’ll stick to buying my bars in stores.

(The good news is that I have a lovely box of Valerie Confections’ Lemon & Hazelnut Nougat that my husband gave me for Valentine’s Day to console myself.)

UPDATE: Looks like a very prompt note from TCHO was caught in my spam filter around 3 PM (very quick!). They said that they hadn’t implemented hot weather shipping yet, but will re-evaluate that. They’re sending out a replacement package next week. Looks like I can be a beta tester for both the chocolate and the shipping! (Honestly, it appears that more of the problem is with how long it took for the package to get from SF to LA.)

UPDATED UPDATE 2/19/2008: Wow, when TCHO says they’re gonna put some new bars in the mail, they mean same day. They arrived today and in good condition.

Related Candies

  1. Tcho: Beta Batch No. C Ghana 0.7 AH
  2. Amano Single Origin Bars: Madagascar & Ocumare
  3. Dagoba Single Origin
  4. Candy Source: Candy Town - San Pedro
  5. Single Origin Chocolate

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:58 am     Bay AreaCandyReviewChocolate4-BenignUnited StatesShoppingComments (19)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Palmer Bee Mine

I bought this one just for you, dear readers. I’m not sure why I thought you wanted to read about it, but here it is, the Palmer Bee Mine hollow milk chocolate figure filled with compressed dextrose candies.

Palmer Bee Mine - Yummy Honey Flavored Candy Bees Inside!

This actually came in another variety, which featured a cow and some pun I can’t remember, like “you moo-ve me” or something like that. If they had a little train that said, I choo-choo-choose you, I would have bought a case even if they were made from mud.

Palmer Bee Mine - out of packageBut the Bee Mine features Yummy Honey Flavored Candy Bees Inside! and if there’s one thing I have trouble resisting it’s Yummy Honey Flavored Candy Bees (tm). (Well, I don’t really know what Yummy Honey Flavored Candy Bees (tm) are, but I figured I’d find out and then I’d know for sure if they’re irresistible.)

First, the box design is nice. It featured the choco-creature inside well, the cutouts are attractive. The box is a bit big, but I forgive that when it comes to molded chocolate items, as I know a little space tends to preserve shape. The foil design is also nice. It’s bold and endearing. It’s also a nice heavy foil that’s easy to unwrap and re-wrap.

Palmer Bee Mine - UnwrappedThe little guy inside was also nicely designed. He happend to be kind of cracked open already, but I think that might have been because I kept shaking the box. I figured yummy honey bees liked to be shaken before being set free. The little face molded in chocolate actually matches the foil design.

What’s more, it’s designed in 306 degrees. He has a little stinger and six little feet.

Like many Palmer chocolate products, he actually smells pretty good too. On the smoky side of the chocolate smell spectrum, but not overly sweet. He has a nice sheen and was pretty blemish free thanks to the packaging.

Palmer Bee Mine - Cracked OpenOnce I pulled the two hemispheres apart I found my bounty of Yummy Honey Flavored Candy Bees (tm).

But first the chocolate. It’s Palmer chocolate. Basically, disappointing. Well, saying that I was disappointed means that I had expectations ... I have no expectations of tastiness when it comes to Palmer.  But I do credit them for cute and attractive products. It was far too sweet, had a grainy melt and virtually no taste of chocolate or milk. It was like a Tootsie Roll flavor. (I did a little computation and Palmer chocolate has 12% sugar in it than Hersheys ... which is already pretty sweet stuff.)

My Yummy Honey Flavored Candy Bees (tm) are a compressed dextrose candy (like a SweeTart without the tart). They’re an attractive beige and smell like the Palmer chocolate. They’re shaped like a little bee, just like the package says they are ... in fact, the package has them at 100% scale. They’re okay ... I mean, who wants to eat compressed dextrose flavored like honey? It’s sweet and has a little dark honey flavor to it, but that’s about it. I give them points for originality though, I don’t know if I would have ever had a honey flavored compressed dextrose bee if not for this.

This was only $1.50 on sale, so it’s not like I paid a lot. (I think they’re $2.50 regularly.) The back has a greeting card layout “to” and “from” so you can just use a bold Sharpie and hand this to someone instead of a Hallmark card and have change to spare. But I’d say only give it to someone you want to confuse with your intentions ... bad chocolate does not say you care. It says, I was thinking of you ... but I wasn’t thinking nice things.

Oh, and for the record, I now have no trouble resisting Yummy Honey Flavored Candy Bees (tm).

Note: the logo on the back proudly states that this product is Made in USA but the Yummy Honey Flavored Candy Bees (tm) were made in Malaysia.

Related Candies

  1. Palmer Nest Eggs
  2. SpongeBob SquarePants Heart
  3. Elmer’s Chocolate
  4. Palmer Milk Chocolate Balls
Name: Bee Mine Hollow Milk Chocolate
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: R. M. Palmer
Place Purchased: Rite Aid (Vermonica)
Price: $1.50 (on sale)
Size: 3.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 146
Categories: Chocolate, Compressed Dextrose, United States, Malaysia, R.M. Palmer, Valentines

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:05 am     Comments (10)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cadbury Ornament Creme Egg

I’ve talked a lot over the years about Candy Season and the accompanying seasonal candies that go with each. Slowly the candy companies are seeing that those seasonal favorites can be re-purposed into other seasons. Just like M&Ms are found in color combos for every time of the year and Russell Stover is making a marshmallow-filled pumpkin, Santa and egg, it seems that Cadbury doesn’t want anyone to miss out on incorporating their egg-shaped candies into the major holidays.


This is where the Cadbury Ornament Creme Egg comes in. It’s just a Cadbury Creme Egg with a red foil wrapper.

It seems silly, but I’m going to re-review these, even though they’re no different than the Easter version. However, the last time I ate one was back in ‘06 when they were 1.38 ounces. This made for a very large reservoir of fondant ... which is not my favorite part of the Cadbury Creme Egg. (My favorite part of the Cadbury Creme Egg, for the record, was the clucking bunny commercial.) The more recent version is 1.2 ounces.

The egg has a wonderful sweet dairy chocolate smell to it that reminded me of powdered milk. Both of mine had a small sticky problem around the seam (and I tried to hard to pick good ones).

The nose cone of both seemed extremely thick, which gave a good dose of chocolate to the otherwise too-sweet fondant density.

The fondant creme center is sweet, it’s nice and smooth indicating its freshness (an old Creme Egg will have a slight grain to the fondant). But really, it’s just a big hunk of sugar, and while I often enjoy big hunks of sugar (rock candy anyone?), I still felt a little too much of a sugar rush aftewards.

I think I prefer the smaller one. I’d love it if they made a mint one (and I did find the orange one a bit better). That said, it’s still not a favorite of mine. But I’m sure fans of the Creme Egg will be happy to see it now as their stockpiles from Easter are probably long gone.

While I can fault them for doing nothing more than slapping a different color wrapper on it and the word “ornament” to make it a Christmas product, I did find that making the Mini Eggs into little spheres for their new Christmas thingies  did actually muck with perfection.

Related Candies

  1. Cadbury Ornament Creme Egg
  2. Cadbury Canadian Creme Eggs
  3. Cadbury Christmas Candy Thingies
  4. Cadbury Eggs: Creme & Caramel
Name: Ornament Creme Egg
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Cadbury (dist. by Hershey)
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Hollywood)
Price: $.50 (on sale)
Size: 1.2 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Fondant, United Kingdom, Cadbury, Christmas

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:12 am     Comments (11)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Kenny’s Licorice Pastels & Root Beer Twists

Kenny's Licorice PastelsIn the Autumn a candy lover’s fancy turns to Licorice. (Well, if you like licorice.) The cooler air and shorter days seem to beg for the earthy flavors of a good molasses-based licorice. I get that not everyone likes licorice. It’s like mincemeat and cloves ... not everyone gets it.

There are lots of different versions of licorice, but one of my favorites are pastels, which are little nibbles covered in a candy shell. (Just like candy covered chocolate like M&Ms are a great way to eat chocolate!) I’ve had at least a dozen different varieties, from Good & Plenty to Koppers to Jelly Belly. They’re all good ... but after Good & Plenty, they get kind of expensive. (I’m not sure why.)

I was pretty happy to find Kenny’s Licorice Pastels at the All Candy Expo. They do great things with licorice, including using real licorice extract and making their products affordable (you’ve probably seen them repackage and sold under house brands or in bulk bins before).

Kenny's Licorice PastelsThese are not the licorice pastels you’re looking for. Move along.

They’re made from a very thin piece of licorice, think laces chopped into little segments. Nothing wrong with that. But the coatings are irregular. Some are chipped, which may have been me treating the package like a bean bag in my travels. Still, the coating wasn’t complete on some, with little bits of licorice sticking out or appearing just below the thin veneer of sugar shell.

The color choice is interesting. White, Green, Mustard Yellow, Black, Purple and Hot Pink.

They were soft and fresh. The sugar shell didn’t have a sharp and crisp crunch like the ones I get in the little bulk tubs at Cost Plus World Market. I like that kind of shell, but this was okay ... more like the Good & Plenty side of things. The licorice inside is nice and chewy and has a good note of roasted molasses and real licorice and anise extracts. (The anise is detectable in the shell.)

The thing that spoiled it for me (and this is just me) was that there was Red #40 in them. It was absolutely detectable in the pink and purple candies. (I even did several blind tests to see if I was just being dramatic.) It made them bitter. I had to separate them out from the rest of the bag ... and not eating a third of them doesn’t really make them cheaper. (4 out of 10)

Kenny's Root Beer TwistsRoot Beer is another one of those niche flavors. It’s earthy and a little like wintergreen. I find it refreshing, and yes, a smidge medicinal.

I love root beer barrel hard candies and the root beer Bottle Caps, which are pretty much the only candies that incorporate root beer well into their pantheon of flavors.

Kenny’s also makes a huge line of flavored Juicy Twists (I’m loathe to use the term “red licorice” which is like saying “unsweetened sugar”.) They come in watermelon, green apple, chocolate and of course, Root Beer.

The twists aren’t really that twisted (only a half twist per length), but have pleasant ridges. They’re shiny and rather firm (but not stale). They don’t have the firmly pinched ends that other brands like Red Vines have. But they are hollow (if you’re a straw person).

The root beer flavor is sweet and has a nice balsam quality, not as intense as some other more spicy candies, but still a good match for the flour-based twist. I’d love it if they were more intense, but this is often my problem with root beer in general. I want lots of flavor. But, as I mentioned before, I take my root beer enjoyment where I can. These are a fun change from hard candies. (7 out of 10)

Related Candies

  1. Good & Plenty (Fresh from the Factory)
  2. Twizzlers Rainbow Twists
  3. Pure Fun Candy Floss
  4. Haribo Licorice Wheels
  5. Licorice Bridge Mix
Name: Licorice Pastel & Root Beer Juicy Twists
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Kenny's Candy Company
Place Purchased: samples from All Candy Expo
Price: retail ~$1.50 each
Size: 5 ounces & 10 ounces
Calories per ounce: 98 & 82
Categories: Chew, Licorice, United States, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:04 am     Comments (5)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Bratz Candy Cosmetics

Bratz Candy CosmeticsI wasn’t much for dolls as a kid. I never had a Barbie. Instead I played with things like microscopes, art supplies and Playmobile/Lego. Sure, I liked to dress up, but I never considered myself very feminine and wasn’t terribly interested in fashion, makeup or my appearance. (I admit that I liked to braid my hair though and collected rhinestone jewelry ... and often wore much of my collection at once.)

There were candy cosmetics when I was a kid, not that they did anything. You can still get the little lipsticks. Which weren’t actually meant to be applied to the lips, they’re just little cylinders of compressed dextrose in a lipstick container. (The most successful candy lipstick, as most kids know, would be Easter Malted Milk Eggs, which could be used to painting lips, faces and dog noses.)

So in two ways this candy is kind of lost on me. It’s based on the idea of cosmetics (I still rarely wear makeup) and the fashion dolls line called Bratz. But it’s candy ... and good candy should stand on its own!

All four of the candy products from Dracco in a licensing agreement with MGA Entertainment are related to lips. Or is that Lipz? Bratz are a group of girlz who love clothz. Their appearance is stylized, kind of like the Troll dolls from when I was a kid, except instead of being asexual, these are hypersexual.

Bratz Lip Bubble RollThe first up: Lip Bubble Rolls. It’s a roll of bubble gum tape. Inside a plastic set of lips.

It’s pink.

It’s strawberry.

It’s sweet. Not an overly sour bubble gum, just lightly tangy and fragrant. It has a nice soft chew, a little slick without much graininess, so bubbles were pretty much ready to go.

It really wasn’t that flavorful though. And it didn’t make my lips look any different.

(5 out of 10)

Bratz Lip Gloss TubeThe only “makeup” I wear on a regular basis is tinted lip balm. But usually regular lip balm. When I was a pre-teen I did fall into the obsession with BonneBell Lip Smackers. But I was always disappointed that they had no real flavor, just scent.

This cute little Candy Lip Gloss Tube is much like a package of Blistex. It’s a gooey liquid in a clear plastic package. The applicator tip is angled and has a little hole. A gentle squeeze to eject a little drop and then press against the lips to apply.

I was expecting something sweet and sticky. And though it smelled like lipgloss often does, it tasted like a liquid strawberry hard candy. A little tangy and lacking in a deep flavor.

As for lip decor, it was a little runny at first, then when left on the lips it became dry and sticky. However, this did impart a glossy appearance. The light pink tone in the tube did nothing on my lips (well, they’re kind of that color anyway).

(4 out of 10)

Bratz Lip Gloss (Wand)The stand up bottle with a wand style of the Candy Lip Gloss is pretty much the same as the tube. It has slightly different proportions of water, but the ingredients are the same.

It took has a light strawberry smell and light pink color.

I have less experience with bottles of gloss, but the ones that I’ve tried usually have some sort of spongy tip for precision application. This is just a plastic stick. (But probably slightly more sanitary. If licking a stick and putting it back in the bottle can ever be considered sanitary for candy or cosmetics.)

(3 out of 10)

Bratz LipstickThis Candy Lipstick is the same as the others, only in solid form. A little smaller (more slender) than a real lipstick, but hard candy certainly doesn’t have the engineering problems that a semi-solid fat does.

This one was easy and satisfying to simply eat and not apply. The other goos just didn’t lend themselves to licking off the applicator. After numerous applications though my lips were actually a bit chapped ... hmmm. But they looked redder!

(4 out of 10)

I’m of two minds about candy lipsticks & glosses. First, lipstick is consumed. We think it’s for external application only when in reality it’s slowly eaten off the lips by the wearer. Some may be lost due to transfer to a cup or a kiss, but most of it is eaten. What’s in there? Here’s what’s in Lip Smackers. Try reading what’s in lipstick sometime. Definitely not something you’d slather on your toast every morning. So this is definitely safer for pretend play for kids than the real thing or even flavored lip balms. Second, imitative play is good, natural and healthy. Children have been “playing house” and aping their parents for thousands of years. But it may be training girls to eat the lip products! So, I simply don’t know.

Most of all, I’m not a parent.

This is a product that’s capitalizing on the licensing of the Bratz characters on the packages. If you’re already a fan of the Bratz brand, then these are probably a nice product, especially for the younger kids who want to experience cosmetics but really aren’t ready.

As a candy, these are marginal at best. But mostly harmless from the standpoint of a cosmetic item. (Well, they’re made in China, I can’t vouch for their safety.)

Related Candies

  1. Disneyland Candy Novelties
  2. Hubba Bubba Sour Gummi Tape
  3. Ausome Jewelry Kit
  4. Bubble Roll Message Maker
  5. Florida’s Natural Sour Fruit Juice String
Name: Bratz Lip Bubble Roll & Lip Glosses
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Dracco
Place Purchased: samples from All Candy Expo
Price: unknown
Size: 1.94 for gum .17 to .48 ounces for glosses
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Hard Candy, Gum, China, Novelty

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:16 am     Comments (5)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Andes Mints & Dessert Indulgence

Andes MintsOne of my favorite candies as a teen were Andes Creme De Menthe Thins.

I’d buy them by the tray, which was usually about 99 cents at the IGA that I rode my bike past on my way home from my art class on weekends. They seemed a suitable treat for a budding artist. Wrapped in pretty foil ... named for a mountain range in Peru, but called by the French liquor flavor creme de menthe. At that time in my life I despised alcohol, except for a drizzle of Creme de Menthe on vanilla ice cream.

Over the years those tray package became more expensive and they started putting fewer candies in there. I recently bought a box for $1.00 and it had a scant 2 ounces in it ... but hey, it was back to the original price point! The candy is mockolate with a mint confection in the middle. They make a pretty cross section of dark looking chocolate flavored coating and the light green stuff in the middle. They have a cool feeling on the tongue and of course a pleasant mintiness that doesn’t overwhelm.

Andes Dessert IndulgenceRestaurants that serve them with the bill may even be perceived as classy. (Well, it’s classier than getting nothing at all!) The Tootsie site even claims that Andes Mints are the number one selling after dinner mint. I wonder what the number one before dinner mint is? I give them a solid 6 out of 10 as an adult, but back when I was a kid they were probably an 8 out of 10.

Andes has come out with a few other versions over the years ... none that I’ve tried. But I saw a display of the new Andes Dessert Indulgence at the All Candy Expo and was fixed up with ample samples. The Limited Edition Dessert Indulgence array comes in an 8.5 ounce bag with an assortment of three flavors: Raspberry Cream, Lemon Meringue and Key Lime.

Each piece is individually sealed in a plastic wrapper instead of wrapped in foil. They’re substantially bigger than a standard Andes Mint as well. Why? I have no idea. But the base ingredients are still the same: sugar and partially hydrogenated oils.

Andes Mint & Dessert IndulgenceKey Lime has only two layers, a base of light green and then a top level of a lighter green with little flavor crystals which is kind of like faux zest. The scent is fresh, like limes. However, as most folks who have had both key limes and more commonly used Persian lime there is a difference. Key Limes have a deeper flavor and a strange thick consistency to their juice. Persian limes have a high intensity and clear flavored tartness and a wonderfully bitter zesty flavor. This tastes like Persian lime ... or Lime Blossom candles.

Dessert IndulgenceLemon Meringue flavor should be characterized by a nice tart custard with a balancing toasted meringue that is less that a sweet complement and more of a fluffy cooling bath for the mouth. The Lemon smelled, like the lime, a bit floral and pleasant enough for me to want to stick a wick in it. The texture evoked similar feelings, as it wasn’t nearly as creamy as I’d hoped. It did have a pleasant tartness to it, but not that toasted, almost marshmallow flavor to complement it.

Raspberry Cream was such a disappointment. It smelled really strong ... too strong. The ingredient list does boast “freeze dried raspberry puree” and I have no doubt about that. The waxy texture and overly sweet start is then met by a strong taste of chopsticks ... or dried grass clippings. I know what the taste is, it’s raspberry seeds. It’s that taste you get when you puree unstrained raspberries and the seeds get in there, but in this case they became a really noticeable flavor. Hey, maybe it added some fiber!

Sometimes I like “white confections” but in this case, I felt pretty sick after eating five of them while typing them up (I’ve had about 10 total since I took the photos over the weekend). They just didn’t sit well with me. I really wanted them to be something else, which is always a bad idea. I should just accept them unconditionally for what they are. But they don’t have cocoa butter in them and the flavors are just ... well, not satisfying to me, not enough to get me to eat any more of them. So into the Limited Edition Giveaway they go! They only get a 4 out of 10.

Each piece contains 50 calories (regular Andes Mints have only 25 each).

Related Candies

  1. Junior Mints Deluxe
  2. Frey Supreme: White, Lemon & Lime and Citron & Poivre
  3. Confetti & Agrumetti
  4. Terry’s Chocolate Orange Confection
  5. Mountain - Regular & Raspberry
Name: Andes Mints & Limited Edition Dessert Indulgence
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Tootsie
Place Purchased: Dollar Tree & samples from All Candy Expo
Price: $1.00 & Unknown
Size: 2 ounces & 8.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 150 & 158
Categories: Mockolate, Mint, United States, Tootsie, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:58 am     Comments (22)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Big Mo’ Bars: Peanut Butter & Creamy Caramel

Big Mo' Bar - Dale Earnhardt Jr.I’ve never made any secrets of my dislike of the cheap Palmer candies that are so ubiquitous at Easter. The one thing they’ve always had going for them, though, is that they’re cute.

Well, Palmer didn’t even capitalize on attractiveness in their new candy bar line called Big Mo’. I mean, why bother when you have Dale Earnhardt, Jr. on the package. The packages seem to have some sort of woodgrain on the lettering, which lends itself to an association with NASCAR especially well. I wasn’t going into this with high hopes, but really, this statement from Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in this article is really too much.

“At one point or another everyone has had their own idea of making the perfect candy bar, and this was my chance to do it,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “It’s really cool to have my name on a candy bar, and it’s a pleasure to partner with R.M. Palmer Company in putting this product on the shelves. I think Big Mo’ will be widely accepted, not just by racing fans but by everyone who enjoys a good candy bar.”

The bars come in two varieties at the moment: Milk Chocolate with Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate with Creamy Caramel. If you pay special attention to the wrapper you’ll notice that the words milk chocolate are in teensy lowercase letters and the Creamy Caramel part is huge all caps about five times the size. See, they’re being responsible and telling you that it’s not about the chocolate.


The Big Mo’ Milk Chocolate with Peanut Butter is a large, king sized bar clocking in at 2.5 ounces. It’s divided into 10 sections, each filled with a smidge of roasted peanut butter filling.

I have to admit that the chocolate was far better than I expected. Smooth and very sweet and lacking a bit of chocolate bunch, it wasn’t waxy and complemented the darker flavors of the peanut butter very well. There’s not quite enough peanut butter in there for my tastes, but this isn’t about replicating the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, I think it’s about creating a new bar.

The portion is far too huge for me (as are most king sized), and they do call the whole 2.5 ounces a single portion which clocks in at 380 calories.

The Big Mo’ Milk Chocolate with Creamy Caramel also sports two different designs on its ten sections. The top row has the Dale Jr signature and the bottom says Big Mo’.

The Creamy Caramel bar breaks well at the section lines without any oozing, as is often the hazard with Caramellos. There were a lot of voids in this bar, little holes from air bubbles. There’s not a lot of caramel in each little section, which means that the proportions are heavy on the mediocre chocolate. In this case there’s no salty peanut butter to balance it out. Instead it’s a strange goo they call creamy caramel. It’s not glossy, instead it looks more like a thick gravy.

It has a strong woodsy taste to it, not in the slightest bit buttery as the description “creamy” would have indicated. A little on the nutty side of flavor and not a bad texture really, but not enough to balance out the super-sweet chocolate.

While I had some trepidation at the brand and a little irritation with Dale Jr for teaming up with them, I don’t think they’re bad bars. They’re far too sweet for me and I think the portion is ridiculous (especially given the caloric density of the peanut butter bar). Cut these in half. I don’t think they will survive the test of time, as history bears out that vanity candy bars never do. I haven’t seen these in stores yet, but I expect you’ll see them at the usual places that sell Palmer products, such as 99 Cent Stores and other dollar chains, but they could pop up at convenience stores. (Here’s the page on the official website that lists stores.)

Jamie at Candy Addict stopped short of calling the Peanut Butter one Awesomely Addictive and didn’t care much for the Caramel.

Related Candies

  1. Elvis Reese’s Peanut Butter and Banana Cup
  2. Palmer Nest Eggs
  3. Palmer Milk Chocolate Balls
  4. Head to Head: Rolo vs Caramel Kisses
  5. Hershey’s Take 5
Name: Big Mo' Bars: Peanut Butter & Creamy Caramel
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Palmer
Place Purchased: samples from All Candy Expo
Price: unknown
Size: 2.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 152 & 140
Categories: Chocolate, United States, Palmer, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:42 am     Comments (12)

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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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