Wednesday, October 3, 2007
At All Candy Expo the Hershey’s booth was highlighting their international flair in one corner giving out all sorts of Asian Kisses (a candy, not a different version of French Kisses) and bars. It’s nice to feel so global and try them, but of course I wanted to know what we could get here in North America.
The Hot Cocoa Creme Kiss is the newest edition to the celebratory line of Limited Edition Kisses marking the 100th anniversary of the confection. I’m not sure if they’re coming out with 100 versions or not, they may be getting close.
These molded Kisses sport light gold wrappers with gold wigglies on them. The little flag says Hot Cocoa instead of Hershey’s Kisses.
I wasn’t really sure what they were and the young woman at the Hershey’s booth was really no help, but I snagged a cup of coffee and a few handfuls to take back to the Candy Blog labs to see if I could answer the questions myself.
Inside is a chocolate creme, not unlike the Chocolate Truffle Kiss (now a regular item) creme. Except this one was a little lighter in flavor, perhaps a touch of malt-taste and a little saltier. In fact, they are saltier than the Truffle Kiss, which has 45 mgs of salt per serving. The Hot Cocoa Kiss has 55 mgs of salt per serving. Just enough to be perceptible.
They don’t do much for me. I think they’re pretty, but I certainly wouldn’t buy them. These are available in stores now (I saw them in Walgreen’s over the weekend).
The ones that Sera and I were most excited about were the Matcha (Green Tea) Kisses that they had out for two days. They sport a green foil wrapper with darker green squiggly stripes.
I don’t know what they’re really called, as the little flag on them just said Hershey’s Kisses. They smell like jasmine. The chocolate is sweet as is the creme center. The creme is distinctly salty at first, then develops into a grassy, green tea melody. Then comes the harsh truth of matcha ... a strong bitter note at the end that’s barely cut by the sticky sweetness of the rest of the Kiss.
I found them interesting, again, a novelty that I don’t know that I’d want to eat regularly. If I’m going to have something Matcha, I’m probably going to go upscale.
The other Kiss they were offering samples of was a Strawberry Creme Kiss. Again, I’m not sure if it’s the right name as the little flag didn’t say. The pink foil wrapper already smelled of strawberry. Like strawberry ice cream. The chocolate is sweet and the creme center had a nice authentic taste of strawberries. This center was, as well, a bit on the salty side. I kind of liked how that helped to focus the strawberry flavor.
The strawberry wasn’t terribly strong and on some of them I missed it completely. It certainly tasted better than some of the other strawberry flavored efforts Hershey’s has put forth in the past (but I admit that I liked the white chocolate Raspberry bar they did). Since I was pretty fond of the strawberry and chocolate ice cream from the Neapolitan mixes, this felt familiar and friendly.
Other Limited Edition Kisses you might see around, these may not have shown up yet or may have come and gone. I doubt I’ll try them all, but feel free to pipe up in the comments if you think they’re worthy:
And if you want photographic evidence of many of these, visit Zoe’s Kiss Collection.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
One of the exciting new products teased at the All Candy Expo is the new Chocolate Mix Skittles. This is a permanent flavor addition to the Skittles line which already includes: Original Fruit, Tropical, Smoothie Mix and Wild Berry.
The Chocolate Mix has five flavors: Vanilla, S’Mores, Chocolate Caramel, Chocolate Pudding and Brownie Batter.
I was pretty skeptical. First, Skittles are known for a lot of flavor being packed into that candy shell. Second, one of the best things about chocolate is the whole experience of both the meltiness (fat) and the cocoa solids (flavor), there’s no way they could get that in here. Third, two of the five flavors in this mix were introduced in the Ice Cream Skittles last year and they were (chocolate and vanilla). I detested the chocolate ones ... and here’s a whole bag designed around that?
S’More (pale caramel colored): slightly tangy candy coating, a good toasted flavor to it ... not a trace of chocolate, but a little graham/cereal taste to it. Pretty good. Very sweet.
Chocolate Caramel (caramel colored): the prettiest color in the bag. A nice sweet chew with a little burnt sugar note to it and maybe a trace of cotton candy, but I wasn’t catching any chocolate at all.
Chocolate Pudding (dark brown, almost purple colored): vaguely chocolatey, mostly sweet, kind of like cocoa towards the end of the chew.
Brownie Batter (darkest brown): fudgy and kind of like a cookie all at once, which I guess is why it’s called brownie batter. It doesn’t have the complete chocolate flavor, more on the cardboard side and not nearly as satisfying as a Tootsie Roll.
I know everyone’s really excited about these, but I don’t like them much. They’re watery, not vibrant or really engaging my tastebuds. I know that the Carnival Skittles were similar in that they diverged from the intense fruit-ness that Skittles are known for, but these just didn’t have that zing that even they were able to muster with their delicateness. Quite a few folks have stopped by my office to try the new stuff I brought back. They try them, but no one’s come back for more.
The good news is that they contain no dairy and no gelatin ... so as long as you’re okay with a dash of hydrogenated oils, these might be the Skittles for you! The package also states that they are “Gluten Free.”
These should be available in stores later this year, post here if you’ve spotted them in the wild!
Monday, September 24, 2007
The funny thing about fall is that I always see the Tootsie Roll products around a lot more starting at Back to School. The amusing part is that Tootsie Rolls and the Tootsie Fruit Rolls are so well suited to the summer because of their durability.
The Tootsie Roll has been around for a long time, first manufactured in 1896, the chocolate taffy was named after Leo Hirshfield’s (the founder of the candy company) daughter. The chocolate taffy was a good alternative to regular chocolates which didn’t keep very well in the years before widespread refrigeration and air conditioning. Though the Tootsie Roll is associated with the Chicago area (which is known as a center of candy production in the United States), the factory was originally located in New York City and then Hoboken, not making the shift to the Midwest until 1966. (Read more on the history of the Tootsie Roll here.)
Tootsie Rolls come in many sizes, from a large log of a bar down to the Midgies, which I think is probably the best format. They’re still wrapped in the same waxed paper (though the larger logs have shifted to the fully sealed plastic wrap).
Tootsie Roll had one of the most identifiable jingles of its era.
The Tootsie Roll itself is simply a very dense and smooth taffy with a good boost of chocolate in it. The chew is long and smooth, though sometimes hard to get going. The flavor is not necessarily creamy or complex, just sweet and often tasting more of musty cardboard than hot cocoa (depending on how fresh it is). I don’t usually have high expectations for Tootsie Rolls, so I’m never disappointed.
The good thing about the chew is that it’s not sticky like some taffy can be, it’s also not fluffy and not overly sweet. It’s lower in fat than regular chocolate bars (but still has about 3 grams per serving.)
The Fruit Rolls are a little harder to find on a regular basis. They come with five flavors: Orange, Cherry, Lemon, Lime and Vanilla.
Yes, that last one is Vanilla. Last time I checked that’s not a fruit flavor. The Vanilla are also available in a single-flavor bag as well. I’ve always called these Midgees, which I think is the smallest Tootsie Roll in the line. (Well, except for the Chocolate Covered Tootsie Rolls that came out last year.) But these weren’t called Midgees on the bag, go figure.
Hey, it’s a flavorless Tootsie Roll! That’s always how I viewed them. Like they were for Boys in Plastic Bubbles or those allergic to chocolate taffy or perhaps just exceptionally bland. The child that picked out the Vanilla Midgee first over all other candies in a bowl was suspect in my world. It just screamed “I lack adventure and imagination” and while that’s fine for them, it didn’t make me want to spend time with them.
The good thing about encountering such as child is the prospect of trading ... so there’s something to be said for being the kind of kid with such diverse friends, it meant that everyone always got what they wanted.
The Vanilla Midgee is sweet and smells strongly of fake vanilla and a bit like an ice cream parlor. The chew is stiff at first but softens up quickly in the mouth. Not too sticky, not too sweet. Not terribly flavorful.
The Lemon Tootsie Roll is really quite pleasant. The chew is soft and tangy and has a nice smooth quality to it. It’s just the slightest bit milky, in a yogurt kind of way.
The Cherry Tootsie Roll is like a chewable cough drop. Not terribly strong, but a well rounded cherry flavor with a long-lasting flavor in the chew. A little bitter bite for me, but I think that’s the coloring.
The Orange Tootsie Roll used to be my favorite. Probably a sad substitute for a Starburst, these don’t have any gelatin in them, so certainly more suitable for those on animal restricted diets. It tastes like a decent orange sherbet. A little tart, but mostly orange.
The Lime Tootsie Roll was best saved for last or left sitting in the candy bowl after Halloween to show my mother that I had some self restraint ... though eventually it’d end up in my tummy.
On the whole, I think the only Tootsie Roll I like much is the regular chocolate one. The rest are probably not a very good replacement for Starbursts (but if you’ve never had them, I suppose I can tell you that they’re EXACTLY the same and you’d never know the difference ... except that I wouldn’t steer you wrong like that). They’re definitely inexpensive and great traveling candy. Middle of the road fare, I’m glad they’re around and rather fun to look at but best covered in hard candy with a stick in them. (Why don’t they make vanilla centered orange Tootsie Pops? That’d be just like a Creamsicle!)
Friday, September 7, 2007
I never reviewed them here even though I tried them because it only came in two flavors: Cherry and Green Apple. Since they’re not really my favorite flavors, I didn’t think it was a good idea to evaluate them based on those, I kept thinking that they’d come out with the classic Grape, but no such luck.
However, last week I saw an announcement that Wonka was bringing out a Shockers version of the Squeez line and one of their first flavors was going to be lemon. I enjoy the SweeTart Shockers ... they’re blisteringly sour (I’m salivating just thinking about them!) and the citrus flavors are undoubtably the best.
When I was a kid I used to make a version of this Squeez stuff. It involved taking Pixy Stix (or the cheaper and less flavorful Filled Plastic Fruit) and a little water and making a paste. This could then be spread (or glopped) onto lips as a special tangy lipgloss (and facial peel) or slathered onto a green apple Jolly Rancher Stix. As a special treat, sometimes I made something else: take a little single-serve pack of saltines (like you get with your soup at a diner), smash the crackers completely into a fine power while still in the wrapper. Then carefully open the package at the top and pour in as many Pixy Stix as you have. Jello-O powder will also do in a pinch. Add a small amount of water, enough to form a dough. Mash completely together. Spread on other crackers or eat by squeezing bits onto the tongue. )If the dough is particular firm, small balls can be created, lined up on the windowsill to dry for later.) The combination of salt, light crunch from the crackers that weren’t completely soggy yet and the sour of the Pixy Stix was, well, an interesting way to pass a half hour in front of the TV watching old episodes of the Monkees.
But enough of about that!
Shockers Squeez comes in a little tube, larger than a travel size of toothpaste. Flip the top and squeeze some out onto your finger. The texture is rather like toothpaste, except that the “grit” actually dissolves.
Tongue Trippin’ Lemon smells pretty good, but not much like lemons. It smells like that cloud of powder the comes out of a can of Country Time Lemonade Drink Mix. It’s immediately sour and then has a metallic lemon note that tastes like, well, lemonade drink mix, but a bit more intense.
The sugary part feels slightly cool on the tongue, like Pixy Stix do.
The thick paste isn’t quite as tart as the lemon, but still similarly sour like a SweeTart. Unlike Shockers, which start tangy and then become rather sweet, these are tart all the way.
There are probably many ways to eat these, I found that just squeezing a dot out of the tube and wiping it up with my finger and into my mouth was the cleanest and most satisfying. Amy, from next door, just put it directly onto her tongue in much larger proportions that I did. The blue does make the tongue, well, bluish.
I could see experimenting with other candies, like putting it on Red Vines or maybe throwing a dollop on a lollipop every once in a while. I can say that it doesn’t go very well with coffee, but you probably already knew that. I haven’t tried it on Saltines ... I could only find some Rye Crisps left over from the last time I got soup ... that’s not so hot. They might make a good icing accent on some cupcakes. I’m eager to try them on my Peeps! But the price is kind of prohibitive. Regular SweeTarts are far cheaper.
These are available in stores now. I saw them at the checkout at Von’s last week (the same day that these samples from Wonka arrived).
The first ingredient is high fructose corn syrup. The last two ingredients are yellow #5 and sodium benzoate. Kosher.
Monday, August 27, 2007
As German candy makers go, in my mind Haribo is most associated with Gummi Bears and Katjes is most associated with Licorice.
So here are some Katjes products that are gummis ... I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about them, mostly since I’ve never felt the need to stray from my favorite brand (except of course in service of Candy Blog). But back at the beginning of the year I got an email though, from a reader name Charlene who suggested the Katjes Saure Ananas (Sour Pineapple) ... which sounds just like something I’d dig. Though GermanDeli.com carries them I usually just wanna hold the package in my hand, so I went off to Cost Plus after browsing their online ad and seeing that they had Katjes on sale at two packages for $4.00. While I never found the Saure line, I did find a few other items.
Tropen Fruchte sounded just my speed in the gummi department - based on the cognates and pictures on the wrapper, I decided these are Tropical Fruit. (Okay, okay, the back of the package had an English sticker that said Tropical Fruit Gummis.) What appealed to me most was the supposed grapefruit gummi that was to appear inside.
I’ve gotta give them credit, there’s no need to ponder what the flavor are (once you translate them) ... they’re molded into each and every one: Grapefruit, Tropika, Exotic, Mango, Kiwi and Passion Frucht.
Regardless of what the candies actually said, they all tasted rather the same. Oh sure, the tropika tasted a little more like pineapple than the exotic, which tasted a bit more like passion fruit, but I felt the passion and intensity lacking in all of them.
And of course the grapefruit could not rival my other best pal, the Haribo Pink Grapefruit Slice. Katjes was more of a mellow lemon with a little grapefruit zest in it.
The other item I picked up was the Katjes Yogurt Gums. I have no idea what I was thinking. It’s completely unlike me to ever get anything “yogurty.” As a dairy product, I think yogurt is fine but I don’t like it in other things or even the flavor of it in other things. It’s just a personal thing.
The flavors sounded interesting: Himbeere, Erdbeere, Birne, Heidelbeere, Zitrone and Kirsche.
When I first tried these I detested them. They were soft and felt rather like something for a baby.
However, after letting them sit in the bottom of my desk drawer, then being retired to “maybe someday when I’m feeling too lazy to take new photos I’ll review these” box I tried them again. No longer as soft, but oddly grainy like a pear is, I kind of dug them.
The flavor wasn’t terribly tangy in the “dairy gone bad” way, more in the natural tangy fruit way. The gums have real apple pulp in them, which is probably why the pear (birne) one tasted and felt so authentically pear-ish.
I can’t say that I feel like buying either of these again, but I’m pleased that they use no artificial colors and often have fruit pulp, natural flavors and fruit juices in the candies. But for now, I’m going to stick to their licorice or pounce on their sours when I finally find them.
Friday, August 17, 2007
I was feeling a little restless (and warm) so I went to the 99 Cent Only Store looking for something fun and outside of my normal scope.
I saw a display on the top shelf of the candy aisle of these chocolate truffles from Crown Jewels. They came in three flavors: chocolate, mint and orange.
The box says, Exquisite Milk Chocolate - Individually Wrapped in Beautiful Foil. Wow, real foil? And that’s the biggest selling point, not the flavor or quality ingredients or hand-crafting?
The ingredients didn’t scare me away: Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Chocolate Liquor, Whey, Whole Milk Powder, Chocolate, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla, Coconut Oil and Orange Oil. Sure it’s not a truffle made with heavy cream, but at least there weren’t a lot of hydrogenated oils in there. The ingredients list for Frangos was far longer. The foil wasn’t quite as beautiful as promised, but a simple orange mylar pouch. (I was figuring they’d be twisted or something like the Dove Jewels are.)
I was expecting them to be like a Frango, and they are at least in size and shape. But they’re much softer. Not in a creamy sort of way, just in a “how can they be melted at 75 degrees” kind of way. They smell much like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange.
The chocolate is a little on the fudgy side, not deeply flavored with a slight milky flavor to it. The orange truffle center is soft and melts quickly and even feels a little cool on the tongue. The orange flavor is balanced pretty well except for the candy being so darned sweet.
As a purchase for 99 cents, it’s not disappointing at all. I wouldn’t say that I’m going to buy the rest of the flavors, but they didn’t overpromise or underdeliver. As something to buy and keep in a candy dish, they’re a great alternative to regular mass-produced miniatures. But beware, they don’t do well in even moderate heat conditions (over 85 degrees). The box contains about eight individually wrapped pieces and is made in Salt Lake City, UT.
Taquitos.net liked the Mint variety.
I just noticed going through the archives at my best 99 Cent Store finds that they’ve all been orange flavored items ... hmmm: Terry’s Chocolate Orange Confection and Queen Anne Chocolate Covered Orange.
This post is dedicated to Meg at the now defunct SickCandy.com. She used to write little posts every once in a while with her finds from the 99 Cent Only Store (underwear, coffee drinks, etc.) and it actually made me want to visit one of their stores to see if there was anything there that was edible. I’ve been happy to report that they do have good finds.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
There’s a movie coming out this week called The Simpsons Movie which is based on some long-running cartoon also called The Simpsons. (Yes, I know you know who The Simpsons are!) I live in Los Angeles and we’re blessed with two live-action promotions for the movie ... they’ve turned two 7-11 stores into Kwik-E-Marts. It’s kind of fun, you can go into the store and see dimensional cut outs of your favorite characters and partake of a few of their favorite fictional foods. This means Buzz Cola, Krusty-Os and those pink glazed & sprinkled donuts are actually available.
Sadly, there is no candy actually associate with the series, but I did pick up these Simpsons Fruit Snacks, which have been out for a few years. (If you want other candy content from The Simpsons, check out
Jamie’s awesome list with videos!)
The Simpsons Fruit Snack is about as lame as a product you’d expect to find if you really lived in Springfield. The package is nice and happy and says things that are totally true like “mixed fruit flavor”, “no preservatives” and “made with real fruit juice” and sports images of the Simpsons kids: Maggie, Lisa and Bart.
But once the package is open and not in view there is absolutely nothing “Simpsons” about these. They’re shaped like little fruits ... not little characters.
So I decided that I just wasn’t working hard enough at this ... that I wasn’t taxing my imagination and decided that they ARE Springfield characters ... if you really work at it. (The illustrations below may require a bit of squinting to make it work.)
Orange: Apu (on those formal occasions when he wears his turban)
The promise of the package and the Simpsons tie in aside, the flavor of the candies is pleasant. They’re a gummi (with gelatin), but extremely soft. I was happier once I let mine sit out for a couple of days. They do have a full days allowance of vitamin C and they do have fruit juice as the first ingredient (just as those Scooby and Hello Kitty snacks had real fruit juice). So for a friendly fruit gummi, they’re a pretty good deal for $1.59. Not really flavorful, just, well, pleasant.
Other irritated opinions about the lack of relationship between the Simpsons and the fruit snacks: Taquitos.net, Amazon.com & VeganCore (may be a different version of the snacks that didn’t have gelatin though).
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I’ve always loved Jujyfruits, but probably for the wrong reasons. I never particularly enjoyed eating them, but they’re stunning to look at.
What’s particularly odd about Jujyfruits is that they’re less fruit flavored and more vegetable-oriented: asparagus (which I always thought was a little corncob), banana (the one that says Heide), grapes, pea pod, pineapple, raspberry and tomato (which I thought was the bottom of a bell pepper or just a flower). The shapes, further, have nothing to do with the flavors and are randomized so that all shapes come in all flavors.
And the flavors? Lemon, Lime, Cherry, Orange and Licorice. (Kind of like Chuckles which are also made by Farley’s & Sathers now.)
At the end of the last millennium, a customer survey revealed that the original spearmint green Jujyfruit was not popular enough and was replaced with lime. I rather miss that ... I liked being able to get a licorice and a spearmint candy in one package. Jujyfruits are rather soft when fresh, though not quite as soft as Dots in my experience. They’re chewy and pretty flavorful, though lacking in any tangy notes, it’s all sweet. They’re sticky and can leave big hunks congealed to the sides of molars. I really like the licorice one, which has very nice anise notes and a very clean flavor.
Candy Wrapper Museum has a nice image of an earlier version of the Jujyfruits box, which I much prefer. The current box is rather, I don’t know, primitive looking. (Keep clicking around at the other old Heide products there at the CWM, quite fun to see they had a Good & Plenty knock-off called Hi-D-Ho that were also pink and white.)
A little more history: The Heide company that invented the Juju candies was started by Henry Heidi, a German immigrant in 1869. The company introduced Jujyfruits and Jujubes in 1920. Heide continued as a family run company after Henry Heide died and was then run by his son Andrew and his grandson Philip. But in 1995 they sold out to Hershey’s. Hershey’s then sold Heide (along with their other famous candies Red Hot Dollars and line of gummis) to Farley’s & Sather.
While the Jujyfruits have remained relatively unchanged over the years, the Jujubes have gone through some substantial changes.
According to the Food Network show Unwrapped, the difference between Jujubes and Jujyfruits is really only that Jujubes use Potato Starch instead of Corn Starch as their primary thickener. Add to that, Jujubes are “cured” longer, so they’re firmer.
When I was a kid, Jujubes were always hard as rocks and only a fool would try to chew them. (We were all fools back then. Of course the cool part was to soften them up enough to chomp down and glue your teeth together ... what fun!)
The Jujube that both the Jujyfruits and Jujubes are named after is a little tropical berry that really has nothing to do with the candy, it was probably just a romantic sounding name and in the early part of the last century many candies tried to adopt such exotic names. Both candies actually used something called Ju-Ju Gum at one time as an ingredient (it’s similar to many of the other vegetable gums like Gum Arabic, Acacia, Agar or Guar).
Today Jujubes are a little softer, kind of like stale Jujyfruits. They also have a bit more range in their flavors which are: Lemon (yellow), Violet (purple), Lilac (orange), Lime (green) and Cherry (red). So they’re basically little floral pastilles that are slightly soft. (Think of them like the Grether or Doolittle pastilles.)
I haven’t had them in years and was actually rather pleased with them. I don’t think I really need a box of 6.5 ounces, a little tin filled with an ounce or two might do me for a week. All of the flavors, even the fruity ones, are rather delicate and floral. I wish they did still make the spearmint ones (but it’s okay if there’s no rose in there, I think two flowers is enough).
They’re just lovely to look at and because of their durable and inert nature, I feel fine leaving them sitting out on my desk without worrying about anyone eating them or them getting any staler. If you do find them inedible, a fun craft project is to stick an ordinary sewing pin through them and use them as push pins!
Overall, neither are candy I’m likely to buy or consume, but it was fun to revisit them and I’m glad they’re still around and have their ardent admirers.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.