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Sav-On/CVS

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hershey’s Air Delight Aerated Milk Chocolate

DSC_3791rbHershey’s has made their biggest debut of a new chocolate product in 10 years. I know this because their press release told me so.

It’s their new Air Delight Aerated Milk Chocolate. I’ve already covered the Air Delight Kisses, which were sent to me by the National Confectioners Association back during The Sweets & Snacks Expo. The bar was supposed to go on sale shortly after that in June nationwide. Believe me, I tried to find it. Southern California may be the first for movie premieres, but we’re often the last for candy rollouts. I tried Walgreen’s, RiteAid, Target, Ralph’s, Gelson’s, Von’s and CVS. Eventually, by mid June the Kisses showed up at the drug stores, but I still couldn’t find the bar. Even more frustrating, the CVS store I was in was advertising the bar on their PA system ... but didn’t actually have it in stock.

I finally found it the other night at a different CVS, and on sale (buy 2 and get 1 free).

DSC_3798rb

The package describes the bar as:

The HERSHEY’S milk chocolate you love gently blended for a light, airy texture that melts effortlessly in your mouth.

Finally, an end to the effort! I bet you didn’t think about how much effort it actually was to melt things in your mouth. You know, the opening and closing and then application of heat. All of that is solved with this new chocolate bar ... it’s so light, it practically inserts itself into your mouth. Wait, no. No, it doesn’t. You apply the exact same effort, except for the possible fact that this bar weighs 1.44 ounces instead of the 1.55 so it is actually a lighter bar.

Hershey's Air Delight

The bar is thick but also a bit more narrow than the standard Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar. Both bars I picked up were unbroken and unblemished. They have six narrow segments that cleave off easily to reveal the little air bubbles within.

Since the bar is aerated, the snap and bite is softer. It’s not that it’s melted or anything, it’s just quieter or something. It does seem to melt quicker and has a stronger scent (perhaps because of the increased surface area on the exposed surfaces). The flavor is undeniably Hershey’s Milk Chocolate. If you don’t like the sweet, caramelly and tangy flavor of Hershey’s, you’re really not going to like this. The fudgy cheesecake flavors are more noticeable now that the texture matches that more closely. It’s really filling, I was surprised. I took each section as two bites and took quite a while to eat it. It felt like a lot more chocolate than 1.44 ounces.

As far as the success of Hershey’s aerated bar, I’d say they’ve done a great job. It’s exactly what you’d want if you wanted a bubbly Hershey’s milk chocolate experience. I found it far too sweet and gave the back of my throat that “acidic burp” feeling. So if you’re looking for a satisfying actual chocolate experience, you might want to step up to something a little higher quality. But if you’ve always wanted a Nestle Aero bar that you can buy at your local store without the import premium, this may be your thing.

This bar was made in Mexico. There’s no allergen statement anywhere on it (though it does actually contain dairy and soy, so you know those for sure).

Related Candies

  1. Frey Chocobloc AIR
  2. Hershey’s Kisses Air Delight
  3. Nestle Aero 70% Dark
  4. Bubble Chocolate (2010)
  5. Rising Cost of Candy - A Brief Study of Hershey Prices
  6. Hershey’s Miniatures
  7. Dairy Milk Bubbly


Name: Air Delight Aerated Milk Chocolate
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Hershey’s
Place Purchased: CVS (Silver Lake)
Price: $.53 (on sale)
Size: 1.44 ounces
Calories per ounce: 139
Categories: Candy, Hershey's, Aerated, Chocolate, Kosher, 6-Tempting, Mexico, Sav-On/CVS

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:47 pm     CandyReviewHershey'sAeratedChocolate6-TemptingMexicoSav-On/CVSComments (6)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Skittles Blenders

Wrigley’s (part of Mars) has quietly released a new variety of Skittles called Skittles Blenders. They feature blended fruit flavors.

Skittles Blenders

The package is bright yellow with sky blue accents. I’m not sure if Blenders requires an exclamation point at the end or a tornado like the package shows. Unlike the Crazy Cores introduced about two years ago that have contrasting flavors for the shell and center, these flavor combinations are completely combined.

Skittles Blenders

The package smells a lot like the Tropical Skittles at first.

Blue - Melon Berry Burst (tm) - the aqua blue Skittles have a distinct flavor that’s just like Tropical Punch but tastes nothing like the melon or berry mentioned in the name. It’s tangy and certainly vibrant.
Green - Watermelon Green Apple Freeze (tm) - this piece has a strong watermelon note at first and then a lingering plasticky green apple finish. It’s not as tart as the Melon Berry Burst, but still has a good balance of sweet and sour that I expect from my Skittles.
Pink - Strawberry Lime Burst (tm) - this was my favorite, simply because I actually like lime and strawberry individually. The strawberry keeps this one sweet and floral, but the lime gives it a peppery citrus burst with a slight hint of bitter lime. It was a bit like a strawberry daiquiri.
Red - Cherry Tropicolada (tm) - these were quite strong with a good cherry flavor on top and then a tropical punch flavor underneath with just a hint of sweet coconut. There was a burning taste somewhere at the end that seared my throat, I couldn’t decide if it was part of the experience or the food colorings.
Peach - Mango Lemonade Freeze (tm) - the lemonade on this is good, a sweet and floral version of lemon with a bit of a peach vibe to it towards the end. I had two bags of these Skittles and one of them had much more mango-ness to them.

I’m underwhelmed by this new version. There were two flavors that I picked out to eat, which left 3/5 of the package uneaten by me. I have nothing against the invention of new flavors or new flavor combinations but the fact that all of these are trademarked leads me to believe that there were more intellectual property lawyers involved in the creation of this candy than actual candy makers. I wish Wrigley’s/Mars would just stick to really great flavors instead of these strange mixes. They make a Citrus Mix for Australia, why won’t they give those a try in the United States?

The package states that they are gluten free and gelatin free. It also reminds you to do your part and dispose of the wrappers in the trash. Skittles are fortified with vitamin C and a package 40% of your daily recommended amount.

Related Candies

  1. Skittles Fizzl’d Fruits
  2. Mentos: Juicy Orange, Lemon Lime & Watermelon
  3. Skittles Crazy Cores
  4. Starburst Retro
  5. Skittles Carnival Flavors
  6. Skittles (Fruits, Wild Berry, Tropical, Smoothies & Sour)
  7. Starburst Icy Bursts


Name: Skittles Riddles
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Wrigley’s
Place Purchased: Target (West Hollywood)
Price: $3.39
Size: 14 ounces
Calories per ounce: 110
Categories: Candy, Mars, Wrigley's, Chews, 7-Worth It, United States, Target

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:34 pm     CandyReviewSkittlesMarsWrigley'sChews5-PleasantUnited StatesSav-On/CVSComments (5)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Campfire Mini Marshmallows

Campfire Mini MarshmallowsThere’s a part of me that thinks that marshmallows aren’t candy at all. It’s probably because the traditional dusty marshmallow puffs are sold in the baking ingredient aisle in big bags instead of single serving packets.

But maybe I should rethink that; it appears that Campfire has. I spotted this little 1 ounce bag of Campfire Mini-Marshmallows at the CVS at the beginning of summer and thought it was a fun idea. Sure they’re far more expensive than the big bag a few aisle away. This was 50 cents for one ounce and the big one pound bag is about $2 - so maybe I’m a schmuck. (The same applies to plain chocolate bars and chocolate chips.)

While the bag only holds one ounce, it looks pretty bountiful. The packaging is just a miniature version of the large bag but does mention prominently that it’s a gluten free food. It also says “naturally fat free” and while that’s natural, some of the other ingredients aren’t, like the artificial flavor and tetrasodium pyrohosphate.

Campfire BoyThe mascot on the package disturbs me, though it’s hard to really say why.

It’s a boy with a marshmallow head wearing a little backpack and yellow shorts. He’s waving and I guess that’s all okay. But he’s also wearing a navy blue tee with a flaming marshmallow on it. I suppose it’s like any other kid with a Metallica concert tour tee, but it’s a little skewed by the fact that we do actually consume fire roasted marshmallows more often than fire roasted human skulls. (If the research I did is true.)

Campfire Mini Marshmallows

There’s not much else to say except that these are teensy little marshmallows that I associate more with winter than summer. They’re the perfect kind to toss into a cup of hot chocolate. For roasting over a campfire, well, they’re too small however for a microwave version of S’mores they might do well. As an easy to eat treat they’re pleasant but that’s about it. Like most grocery store marshmallows, they have a powdery starch coating. They smell sweet and a little like plain vanilla (but not very complex like a good vanilla bean).

They’re squishy and a little fleshy and yield a good chewy bite. I prefer mine a little firmer, so I left the package open for a week or so until they were firm and dry. Since they’re so airy, an ounce feels like a lot and if they’re savored properly it’s a good diet candy since there’s less than a hundred calories in a bag. (With regular sized marshmallows it takes about 4 to equal one ounce.) If you need a quick marshmallow fix and a big bag of the giant ones is too much, well this is a good option. They’re probably fun to add to other snacks, like trail mix or popcorn at the movies.

Marshmallows are made with gelatin so are not appropriate for vegetarians. They say they’re gluten free but no other allergen status like nuts or dairy is mentioned on the package

Related Candies

  1. CVS Marshmallow Pop
  2. Pete’s Gourmet Confections: Marshmallows
  3. GudFud Stuffed Marshmallows
  4. Frankford Marshmallow Hearts
  5. Littlejohn Caramel Marshmallows
  6. Artisan Marshmallows: Plush Puffs

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:33 pm     CandyMarshmallow5-PleasantUnited StatesSav-On/CVSComments (6)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Mounds

MoundsThe Peter Paul Mounds bar is a classic. It’s a simple moist coconut center covered in dark chocolate. The bar was introduced in 1920 by Peter Paul in New Haven, Connecticut and quickly became one of their best sellers. Though Peter Paul made other bars over the years, the only two that remain are Mounds and the sister milk chocolate and nut bar, Almond Joy. In 1978 Peter Paul merged with Cadbury and then in 1988 Cadbury sold it off to Hershey’s, who continues the production today keeping the Peter Paul name on the product.

The candy is rather like a long version of a chocolate you’d find in a mixed box instead of a candy bar. The format of two pieces in a single package goes back to the 40s and remains today even though the wrappers have changed over the years. It’s one of the few bars that still has the little paperboard tray, and I must say that I appreciate it when it comes to getting the candy out and the fact that mine nearly always look pristine.

Mounds

The dark chocolate coating is simple, with some slight ripples on the top. The pieces are rounded and have a great feel to them - easy to get out of the package, easy to bite and with two pieces it’s easy to share.

Mounds

The dark chocolate can’t contain the coconut aroma. It’s a fresh and clean smell. The bite of the chocolate is good, it’s thick enough to hold the coconut and there are never any little leaky spots. But it doesn’t flake off or make a mess. The coconut is soft and chewy, moist and rather sweet at first. The dark chocolate keeps that sweetness from feeling too sticky and adds a woodsy and dark cherry note to the whole thing. The coconut has a long chew and usually tastes very fresh, though often not much more than that (no grassy fresh notes).

It’s a great combination and it endures because of its simplicity as far as I’m concerned. It’s one of the few candy bars that I still pick up on top of all the other candy eating that I do. I wish the ingredients were a little “purer” as there are things like hydrolyzed milk protein and PGPR in there that I can’t recall eating as a child.

And of course no discussion of the Mounds bar would be complete without a mention (and inclusion) of the classic jingle “Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut, Sometimes You Don’t.”

Related Candies

  1. Limited Edition M&Ms Coconut
  2. Sunspire Coconut Bars
  3. Poll Results - Movies & Summer Candies
  4. Kisses Coconut Creme
  5. Russell Stover Coconut Wreath
  6. Mounds Island Orange


Name: Mounds
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Hershey’s
Place Purchased: CVS (Silver Lake)
Price: $.89
Size: 1.75 ounces
Calories per ounce: 131
Categories: Candy, Hershey's, Chocolate, Coconut, Kosher, 9-Yummy, United States, Sav-On/CVS

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:43 am     CandyHershey'sChocolateCoconutKosher9-YummyUnited StatesSav-On/CVSComments (8)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Jumbo Gum Ball Eggs

Jumbo Gum BallIn my attempt to try everything this Easter I bought some pretty stupid candies. The Jumbo Gum Ball Eggs are pretty high up there. It wasn’t so much that it’s a stupid purchase (it was only 99 cents) but that it’s a stupid product.

But let me go backwards a bit. I have a definition for candy. It’s kind of long and includes a list of criteria. One of them is that the product needs to be ready-to-eat. This means it doesn’t need assembly (though might benefit from it) and doesn’t require implements or tools, especially ones not provided.

Jumbo Gum Ball

They are 2.25 inches tall and weigh about 1.75 ounces each. Yes, they’re hollow but they’re about a third of an inch thick.

A gumball the size of a small chicken egg requires tools. I used a saw.

Jumbo Gum Ball

I was able to stand on one of them without smashing it. After chewing the slice I’d cut off the top I did manage to smash and pull apart the larger piece by stomping on it and then prying it apart. It’s tough stuff. The package says that a single serving is half an egg, but of course gives no clue about how to sever it yourself.

The candy shell is thick and crunchy and the gum inside is rough and leathery, kind of like playing with thick rawhide. It smells slightly like Juicyfruit gum. The overall flavor is sweet with a light fruity and tangy note that disappears quickly as the sugar dissolves with chewing. The flavor is inconsistent and has cinnamon and bubble gum notes from time to time. It’s an all sugar gum, which tend to lose their flavor quicker than the artificially sweetened ones. That’s fine with me, I like to chew mine up, make a few bubbles then toss it out and put in a new piece.

It does work as a bubble gum, but certainly not very well.

They’re fun to look at and would make nice decorations. For a child they’d be a frustrating mess. If you lick it the blue colored shell will run (and could stain clothing or upholstery). A parent or older child would need to help with creating manageable bites - so really I don’t recommend this for anyone under the age of 14 and of course must caution folks when using tools like saws or a serrated knife to cut this open.

Again I come back to saying that these are probably better than plastic stuff for decorating, though obviously they’re not waterproof.

They’re made in China under the house brand of CVS. They also came in pink (photo of them on store shelf here). I admit that I’m concerned about the safety of the food colorings because of the origin of the product but I have no facts to support that.

Related Candies

  1. CVS Marshmallow Pop
  2. R.M. Palmer Quax - The Yummy Ducky
  3. Three Pink Bubble Gums
  4. Bear Bubble Gum
  5. Smarties Bubble Gum
Name: Jumbo Gum Ball Eggs
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: CVS
Place Purchased: CVS (Silver Lake)
Price: $.99
Size: 3.53 ounces
Calories per ounce: 91
Categories: Gum, China, Easter

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:14 pm     Comments (8)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

CVS Marshmallow Pop

CVS (Laguna Hills) - Crazy Chinese MarshmallowsAt a CVS in Hollywood last week I spotted an exceptionally odd Marshmallow Pop among the Easter candy. It was blue and kind of the flounder version of some sort of plush animal - the face was all on one side of the profile. I thought it was a manufacturing mistake - I took a photo of it and made fun of it on Twitter.

Then I was in another CVS, some 50 miles away over the weekend and found another display (pictured here), this time with a half a dozen of these same strange light blue marshmallow creatures. So of course I had to buy one. It was only a dollar.

It’s a large marshmallow pop. On top of a plastic stick is perched 2.46 ounces of powder blue, sugar sanded marshmallow with hand-decorated frosting features. The packaging is simple, a clear cellophane bag - the back has some imprinted nutrition facts and CVS house brand satisfaction guarantee. You can guess where this review is going.

I bought a whatzit marshmallow

He’s about 5 inches high, 4 inches wide and about 1 inch thick.

But what is he? My first impulse is that he’s a plush version of the Quiznos creatures called Spongmonkies (here’s a video, but turn down your speakers before clicking). But this guy’s teeth are too good, oh, and he’s not furry. My second thought is that it’s a dinosaur, especially because the dentition indicates a carnivorous creature - some sort of Tyrannosaurus rex perhaps. The anatomy isn’t quite right. Look at how big his front legs are - well, there’s also that part where he’s crossed one arm across his chest and the other one is dangling like the elbow is dislocated. (Maybe he’s fallen off his bike and is holding his boo-boo, crying and running home to his mama.)

Then there’s the legs ... is there a leg missing? Is that a tail or a foot that’s also dislocated and facing backwards.

Is this actually some sort of roadkill? Pre-flattened with broken and missing limbs?

Anyway, let’s move on to the actual performance of the product as an edible.

Marshmallow Pop

It smells like some sort of raspberry - like an array of body washes and scented creams from Bath and Body Works. It also reminds me of a medicated pet shampoo I used to use (on my dog).

The sugary grain on the outside is substantial, far greater than I would have expected (and messier). It’s not like the fine stuff on Peeps, this is sparkly and gritty sugar.

The flavor of the marshmallow is well rounded, much more like those strawberry gummi puffs than a marshmallow. The texture is latexy, chewy and bouncy. The raspberry is both floral and tangy, sweet but not cloying. The blue goes all the way through and there’s a hint of an aftertaste to go with it. About a half hour later I was wondering if I’d been eating air freshener and forgot. The frosting bits were hard, crunchy and disconcerting - I wasn’t sure if it was unglazed porcelain sometimes.

A few bites in and I thought I’d eaten a little bit of the packaging. Little soft plastic bits (but it was wrapped in cellophane and this was nothing like that). The chunks, as far as I could tell, were unmixed gelatin globs. Flavorless and a little gummy, but probably perfectly edible. But not acceptable.

The nutrition label says one serving is the entire pop. While that’s only 240 calories, there’s no way I could eat more than the three bites shown. I stopped because my curiosity was satisfied, not my craving for a sweet.

It’s not horrible, but it’s really, really bad. While I enjoy novelties that might not be very palatable, they’re usually fun to look at. This is just frightening. The marshmallows are made in China, and since this is a house brand at CVS, there’s really no way of knowing where or how it was manufactured. I tried a similar product a few years ago from Walgreen’s house brand, a Valentine’s Pink Marshmallow Pig.

Related Candies

  1. Whitman’s Marshmallow Eggs & Carrot
  2. Choco-Fudge Mallow Sundae
  3. Marshmallow Pig
  4. Frankford Marshmallow Pals
  5. Peeps Mash Ups
Name: Marshmallow Pop
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: CVS
Place Purchased: CVS (Laguna Hills)
Price: $.99
Size: 2.46 ounces
Calories per ounce: 100
Categories: Marshmallow, China, Easter

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:48 pm    

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Necco Conversation Hearts (Sweethearts) 2010

Sweethearts - 2010 FlavorsAs we’re in the middle of Candy Season one of my favorite things to do after a holiday is to see what’s on sale from the previous holiday and glance at the early merchandise on the shelves for the next one. The Epiphany usually marks the emergence of Valentine’s Day candy. I scour the aisles looking for something new. So when I saw the new packaging for Necco Sweethearts I thought they’d expanded their line. They have been offering an all-chocolate version, Spanish language version and lately a Tart version. I thought this new fruity array was an addition.

I bought them but didn’t open them, just tossing them on my pile for review. Then the comments started trickling in from readers, who were finding my old review and weighing in on the changes. It appears that it’s a complete replacement for the classic Necco Sweethearts (see my review of them in 2008).

Necco Sweethearts

There are so many things wrong. Let me start on the front of the package.

The Official Candy of Love

Does Love have a governing board that can decide these things, like the Olympic Committee? No, no it does not. Love, Freedom, Justice and Anger ... these concepts and emotions are boundless and cannot have anything official about them. Invoking any sort of official in association with them is false advertising. Love does not do endorsements. (Unless Necco would like to step forward and show me their contracts with Love.)

New Package Design

I actually like it. It’s bold but still soft and, yeah, a bit feminine and childish. At first I though the colors of the hearts were a little too vivid, but after seeing the actual candies inside, I’m setting that aside. The choice of Love Bug as the statement on the featured heart is a bit odd.

Necco Sweethearts - AngelThe Price

It’s marked in a black stamp there in the upper right corner, 99 cents and the package holds 7 ounces. Can’t really beat that, especially when the little boxes are usually selling for 50 cents for one ounce (though sometimes on for as little as 20 cents each). Not terribly attractive but kind of makes me nostalgic for the time before bar codes.

Lack of Branding

The front of the package does not bear the name of the maker. The name Necco isn’t actually on the package anywhere ... just New England Confectionery Company under the nutrition facts panel (followed by the web address of www.necco.com). The previous years’ packaging does have Necco and its logo featured prominently both on the front and the back of the packages.

Necco Sweethearts - I Heart YouAn Undone Website

It’s January 13, so a little more than a month before Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s candy has been in stores for at least a week. On the back of the package is says for baking, gifting, craft ideas and more visit mysweethearts.com. You know what’s on that page as I write this? It’s a placeholder about some sort of iPhone app. No promised recipes or craft ideas ... not even any mention that would be what I expect to find it there. (See screengrab.)

The New Flavors - Show You Care ... 6 Delicious Ways to Share!

Strawberry, Grape, Green Apple, Lemon, Orange and Blue Raspberry.

I’m not going to break the flavors down one by one. What was nice about Necco Sweethearts was the subtle sweet flavors, nothing exciting, they were simply pleasant.

The new flavors are a blend of sweet and tart. The texture is smoother than the usual compressed dextrose candy like SweeTarts, because this is made with mostly sugar and corn syrup instead of dextrose (which is just a powder form of glucose and has a different mouthfeel).

Necco Sweethearts - Real HeartThe citrus flavors are completely artificial with a tangy note that is wholly un-citrus and more like a chemical. The pink ones taste like a combination of lipstick and the old wintergreen ones, which is just a disgusting mix. Grape has as much clove flavor in it as food coloring though the mixture is nearly palatable.

These do not show I care ... these show that I have no regard for my lover or friend’s expectations of what a heart shaped candy should taste like.

It’s as if Necco took all the artificial colors that they aren’t using for their new All Natural Necco Wafers and pouring it all into these improved Necco Sweethearts. Simply put, they’re a mess. (Now, I would’ve been thrilled if the conversation hearts were also going to be all natural, what an awesome innovation that would have been.)

Necco Sweethearts - Meet MeThey Stink

Once I opened the bag I was in trouble. The smell is a blend of Love’s Baby Soft and strawberry candles. And if I were just sniffing the bag, well,  yeah, I have to expect that. But this thing made my car smell, they make my office smell. When I’m done with this review they’re going in the trash someplace where I am not.

Better Printing

The one thing they have improved upon was one of my beefs with them previously. They production quality is better. The pieces are well formed and most especially the printing is clear. Sure about a quarter of them aren’t printed square in the center, but they’re still readable.

The sayings are cute. They’re using the heart symbol quite a bit. Hey Baby, Smile, Sweet Love,  Dream Big, You Rock, Puppy Love, Meet Me, Love Me, Hug Me, Kiss Me, For Ever, Ask Me, even Marry Me

I’m not saying they shouldn’t make these, someone probably likes them, but they should be an additional product in the line, not a replacement for the iconic original.

UPDATE 1/27/2010: It’s been a few weeks and it seems that the response posted here has been overwhelmingly negative about the flavor change (few have mentioned the new texture).

Necco SweetheartsSo I talked to Jackie Hague, the Vice President of Marketing for Necco who navigated this new change (along with the All Natural Necco Wafers, which I fully support). We had a great talk about candy in general (she worked for Mars for 20 years and was responsible for many of the limited edition M&Ms that so many of us have loved over the years).

First, you can still get the classic Necco Sweethearts. The change over was made mid-way through the production schedule. So the first part of the production run was the classic flavors (Banana, Wintergreen, Orange, Cherry, Grape) and then they switched over the ingredients and equipment for the new formula. They are sold at very few stores, basically the discounters: Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Family Dollar , 99 Cent Only, Freds , Odd Lots, Wakefern and Sav A Lot. (The image shown here is the classic flavors on the left that I found at Dollar Tree and the ones on the right are the new flavors/colors - here’s what the package looks like.)

Second, Ms. Hague said that the changes were made based on consumer feedback. The most common requests from folks who wrote or called were for a softer texture and for more intense & modern flavors. Banana was not well liked, apparently yellow is not ordinarily expected to be banana. The texture was introduced first with the Twilight version of Sweethearts (though future versions won’t have Passion Fruit) as well as the tangier, more vibrant flavors.

So the takeaway from this would be, if you don’t like the new flavors, make sure that Necco knows that. Return the product, write to them or call. I wouldn’t expect a whole lot in return (a canned response) but I do think that they log the feedback - it’s in their best interest. (Ms. Hague also said that they’ve assigned more people to help out with the feedback process, so perhaps the responses will be more appropriate instead of a copy/paste FAQ.) Ms. Hague understood my frustration with not just the lack of information but the contrary information provided by the website and candy packages and it’s apparent they’re working on that.

The Necco website’s Sweethearts product page used to say this, “One thing Sweetheart lovers can count on each year is the candy’s simple, familiar formula. The basic recipe has never been changed. Both Sweethearts and the familiar NECCO Wafers use the same batter—sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, gums, coloring and flavoring.” However, they’ve finally updated their websites to reflect this new change and have omitted that statement that they honor the time-tested flavors ... because they were tested by time and after about a hundred years, even as the #1 Valentines candy selling 8 billion hearts a year, they lost. Necco thinks that this new version will appeal to more people, which is possible, but it’s clear it’s not the same people who have been buying them.

Update 2/10/2013: Both versions of Necco’s Conversation Hearts are on store shelves this year. By far the most ubiquitous are the newer fruity version, but I did find the almost-classic “Conversation Hearts” at Walgreen’s. The old ones are called Conversation Hearts, not Sweethearts. I’ve only seen them in the little boxes, only as singles (not in the shrinkwrapped five packs and no bags).

Necco Conversation Hearts & Necco Sweethearts

The classic version has white (cinnamon), green (lime), yellow (banana), pink (cherry), purple (grape) and orange (orange). So they’ve eliminated clove and wintergreen. It’s too bad. The texture has returned to the crunchier version. The colors are more vibrant and the printing just as inconsistent.

Necco Conversation Hearts & Necco Sweethearts

Related Candies

  1. All Natural Chocolate Necco Wafers
  2. Twilight Sweethearts: Forbidden Fruits
  3. Jelly Belly for Valentine’s Day
  4. See’s Cinnamon (Hearts & Lollypops)
  5. Necco Conversation Hearts (Sweethearts)
  6. SweeTart Hearts
  7. Necco Smoothies
Name: Sweethearts
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Necco
Place Purchased: CVS (3rd & LaBrea)
Price: $.99
Size: 7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 113
Categories: Chalk, United States, Necco, Valentine's Day

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:22 am     Comments (435)

Monday, November 2, 2009

All Natural Necco Wafers

All Natural Necco Wafers (7 flavors)It’s hard to believe that I’ve never reviewed Necco Wafers. In the early years of Candy Blog I tried to concentrate on candies I’d never had before, but it became apparent that in order to discuss things that were new (or new to me) I had to cover the classics as well. So I’m slowly adding those.

Necco Wafers were introduced in 1863 by the Chase and Company candy makers. They were known for their hard candies (boiled sweets), lozenges and “Oriental style” sweets including Turkish Delight. They also innovated machinery and techniques to create confections like the wafers. Chase later merged with Ball and Forbes and Bird, Wright and Company to become the New England Confectionery Company in 1901. By the time they’d been around for almost fifty years they finally settled into their present day name, assortment and packaging style in 1912.  Necco Wafers were available in different sizes and were a popular penny candy of the time.

All Natural Necco Wafers (7 flavors)The wafers are lightly flavored and colored disks of sugar. The product is rather unusual for the modern era of confections and is more similar to breath mints than regular candy. They’re not fussy but perhaps a little homely and dated.

To make them, a dough of sugar and corn syrup is mixed up and stabilizers and binders such as gelatin, tragacanth, xanthan and gum Arabic are added. Then after the base is created it’s customized with the flavors and colors. The whole mass is loaded into a roller like it’s some sort of infinitely long pie crust then the disks are cut and stamped with the Necco name. They’re not baked, just air dried.

What’s created is a beguilingly crunchy lozenge. Crisp, thin and sweet.

The classic roll of Necco Wafers contained eight flavors and has always been a random assorted stack sealed in a glassine wrapper. I know most folks who like them also searched the store shelves for one that had just the right mix of colors they preferred.

This year marks a new generation of Necco Wafers now with all natural flavorings and colors. Because of the new restrictions Necco placed on itself, they dropped one flavor from the original that could not be replicated adequately: Lime.

The current flavors are chocolate, cinnamon, clove, lemon, licorice, orange and wintergreen. Since no artificial colors are used I was hoping that the flavors would be truer. (I’ve always had a problem with the pink ones having a bad bitter aftertaste.)

All Natural Necco Wafers (7 flavors)

I haven’t been able to find the large two ounce rolls in the stores near me, but I did finally find this package of the mini rolls at CVS in the Halloween section. (I visited about a dozen stores in two states in a month looking for them.)

The colors are quite a bit more subdued, as if Necco Wafers weren’t already a bit washed out. They’re so muted that I have trouble telling the pale yellow, lavender and white apart. And for folks that like to preview a roll before they open it, it’s quite hard to tell the light colors apart. The new wrapper also sports an updated logo ... though I find the logo to look more like something from 1998 (when the titled oval was all the rage in logos) than a modern candy, but not quite a reflection of its classic past.

Clove - I always avoided the clove for two reasons. I don’t like clove flavor and I didn’t like the food coloring aftertaste. In this case the clove (faint lavender) is much more mild and less caustic than before. Of course there’s no weird aftertaste either. I still didn’t like it much and was a little irritated that it was so hard to pull them out of the mix in anything other than bright sunlight.

Chocolate - the easiest to spot and one that needs no coloring. I found the cocoa flavors to be overly sweet, but at least true. It was like an old piece of dried chocolate frosting. A little pointless if you really want chocolate, but it has a freshness to it that doesn’t leave me thinking of cardboard.

Wintergreen - I was so happy about these. The color is still a teaberry pink, so they’re easy to spot. It’s exactly like a piece of teaberry gum if it was a crunchy piece of sugar (and a stale piece of gum can be like that). The flavor starts out rather soft and quaint, but builds up to a bit of a Ben Gay burn later. There’s a lingering buzz in the mouth. The best part of the finish is that it’s all flavor and no food coloring mess. My tongue looks like when I started (normal pink) and no metallic aftertaste.

Cinnamon - this white piece lots its mojo in the conversion to all natural. It’s sad how lacking in cinnamon punch it is now, it’s not that it’s bad, but I just don’t feel like picking them out and eating them first any longer.

Licorice - the color is so much lighter on these, it took me a while to realize that they weren’t the clove ones. They’re a light putty color that sometimes has a lavender cast to it. The flavor is quite a strong anise note. It’s sweet and has an aromatic and slightly menthol quality to it. It reminds me a little bit of the Fisherman’s Friend lozenges.

Lemon - the lemon flavored Necco Wafers were never spectacular and they haven’t changed one way or the other. Sweet and with only the slightest hint of lemon flavor, there’s no tartness (thank goodness - if you’ve had the SweetHearts Sour Conversation Hearts you’ll know what I mean), no zest.

Orange - this faint orange colored one has a little orange peel note to it. It didn’t seem as sweet as the lemon one, but that’s not saying much about it. It was mostly inoffensive.

I don’t miss Lime, but I did enjoy the flavor. As an assortment, I’ve found myself munching through the bag of minis without any problems. I’ve picked out most of the clove, but find all the other flavors enjoyable. So I consider the new mix a definite winner. The only issue was the strength of the flavors varies - the clove, licorice and wintergreen were very strong and left a distinct burn in the mouth while the rest were pretty mellow. So after a licorice, I could barely tell that I was eating a lemon.

Each roll of 9 pieces has only 50 calories. They take a while to eat and of course there’s the variety, so it’s a nice snack that’s easy to take anywhere. I do have a problem with the little white powder that seems to get everywhere though. (I tend to wear a lot of dark colors.)

I think this is a great development and I’m actually looking forward to see if the classic SweetHearts Conversation Hearts will also go all natural. They do still have gelatin in them, so sadly no good for vegetarians and they’re not Kosher/Halal. I really like my candies to taste like candy, not artificial colors.

Related Candies

  1. Chocolate Dipped Altoids - Creme de Menthe
  2. Canada Wintergreen
  3. Necco Conversation Hearts (Sweethearts)
  4. VerMints
  5. Chocolate Dipped Altoids
  6. Lifesaver Musk
  7. Pastiglie Leone
  8. Necco Smoothies
Name: All Natural Necco Wafers
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Necco
Place Purchased: CVS (Eagle Rock)
Price: $2.29
Size: 11 ounces
Calories per ounce: 109
Categories: Chalk, Cinnamon, Licorice, United States, Necco, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:37 pm     Comments (23)

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