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Sav-On/CVS

Thursday, June 21, 2012

UNREAL #77 Peanut Butter Cups

Unreal Unjunked CandyUNREAL is a new line of candy that may finally be the solution for people looking for sweets with fewer dubious ingredients. It just launched and I picked up one of each of the new candies at CVS last week. They’re not reinventing candy, each of the products is just a standard tried-and-true candy format, just with “unjunked(tm)” ingredients.

To start with, I thought I’d examine one of my favorite candies of all time: the peanut butter cup.

UNREAL has given their candies some odd code names. Their PB cups are called UNREAL #77 Peanut Butter Cups. Their other candies also have what seem like arbitrary numbers assigned to them. Their caramel nougat bar is #5 and the candy coated chocolates are #55. I don’t know if there are plans for 77 different candies in the line, or if they’ve gone through 77 different formulas. You can read more about the candy line’s origin story on their website and in this Wall Street Journal article.

Unreal 77 Peanut Butter Cups Unjunked

The packaging for UNREAL is unlike other candies, that’s for sure. It did not entice me. In fact, I didn’t recognize it as something I’d be looking for. The packaging is black (a heat absorbing color, for the record, which is bad when it comes to chocolate candy) with neon colors and a difficult to read logo. It looks more appropriate for a caffeinated product than a candy touting the purity of its ingredients.

That said, it is different and as an isolated design, it’s interesting. I like the logo as a use of lines and typography. The color choices do not say “delicious” to me, they do not say “natural” or “wholesome.”

The website says:

They also decided key ingredients needed to be responsibly sourced, supporting farming communities and preventing destruction of the rain forests. All ingredients needed to be non GMO. Dairy needed to come from grass fed (versus grain fed) cows with no antibiotics or added hormones.

However, there is no actual statement on the ingredient panel or the candy packages that say that any of the ingredients are actually “grass fed milk” or “non-GMO soy” or “Rainforest Alliance chocolate.” The closest is the web page for each candy does say NO GMOS (but never specifies which ingredients were verified that way).

Reese's Peanut Butter CupsSo the big evil wolf in this story is the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, made by Hershey’s in Pennsylvania. The portion is modest, two cups are an ounce an a half and total 210 calories. I did not eat these side by side with the UNREAL #77 for comparison. But I have a great recollection of them, having eaten one about three weeks ago, and hundreds before that. (Including a full bag of the miniatures in May.)

The milk chocolate is cool on the tongue, very sweet and lacking a noticeable cocoa note but a strong taste of dairy. The center is crumbly, salty and with an overwhelming taste of fresh roasted peanuts. It’s grainy, almost crunchy and rustic. The combination is great, the portion size is ideal for me. After eating one I want another but after two I’m completely satisfied.

The ingredients, while not pure nor verified as ethically sourced are also not completely horrible:

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Ingredients: Milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, nonfat milk, milk fat, corn syrup solids, soy lecithin, PGPR) peanuts, sugar, dextrose, salt, TBHQ

The items of contention might be the corn syrup solids (basically dextrose) which are almost assuredly from genetically modified corn, the soy lecithin is also likely to be GMO. The PGPR is also an emulsifier, made from castor beans, last time I checked with Hershey’s. The TBHQ is the biggest item that people complain about in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. TBHQ (also known as E319) stands for Tertiary Butylhydroquinone, which is an antioxidant which keeps the peanut butter from becoming rancid. While high doses of TBHQ are dangerous, rancid oils are also very bad for you.

Unreal 77 Peanut Butter Cups Unjunked

So, what about this UNREAL #77 Peanut Butter Cup?

Unreal 77 Ingredients: Milk Chocolate (cane sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, milk powder, organic blue agave inulin, skim milk powder, soy lecithin, vanilla extract), Peanut Butter (dry roasted peanuts, icing sugar, palm fruit oil, salt), Cane Sugar, Organic Palm Fruit Oil, Peanut Flour, Organic Blue Agave Inulin, Whey Protein Isolate, Salt, Soy Lecithin

While all those ingredients sound nice and wholesome, I do have a bone to pick with Unreal for putting inulin into the chocolate. First of all, I don’t think the standards of identity for chocolate allow the addition of inulin, as it’s not an accepted sugar. Inulin is a soluble fiber, it’s slightly sweet (only slightly, about 10% of the sweetness of sucrose but generally has no other flavor to it) and has a good, smooth texture that makes it appropriate in both solid foods and liquids (many folks add it to smoothies). In larger quantities, however, it can cause digestive upset in some people. Agave is one of the hot sources for inulin these days, but it’s also found in chicory and Jerusalem artichokes. While it has some lovely qualities, it’s basically an inert filler. (Not a cheap one, by any means, certainly more expensive than sugar, but when you see what it does to the nutritional panel, you see why it may be considered worth it.)

The UNREAL website has a comparison chart (I pulled a screengrab because I think they changed it since I looked at it last week) but it compares them based on the portion size, not ounce for ounce, like I prefer to do things.

UNREAL & Reese's Comparison

Basically, the Reese’s has more sugar and less fiber. If you want sugar in your candy, then you know where to go. If you want more fiber and fat, then get the UNREAL. Oh, wait, I still haven’t reviewed the actual UNREAL #77 cups for you.

Unreal 77 Peanut Butter Cups Unjunked

The cups look great, and what really impressed me was the attention to detail. The logo on the bottom of the cup? Gorgeous. The cups are not in a little fluted paper cup, but are still protected bu a little white paperboard sleeve inside. This makes it easy to get the candy in and out of the package.

They smell great, like cocoa and peanuts. The chocolate is interesting, and for the record I tried these without reading the ingredients first, so I noticed that the chocolate was a little different without knowing why. It’s a dark milk chocolate, with a lot more discernible chocolate notes than a Reese’s Cup. Not as dark the actual Dark Chocolate Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but notable. The melt is silky, quite different from Reese’s. The peanut butter center is where things got radically different. The UNREAL peanut butter is like actual peanut butter. It’s not dry, it’s thick and pasty. There’s a little bit of a cookie dough quality to it, but overall the flavor is fantastic. Like true, fresh peanut butter. It’s sweet, it’s a little salty, but mostly it’s smooth without being sticky.

They were great. I loved them. I want to try them again. What I loved about them as well was the fact that they cost the exact same amount at CVS as the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Of course the regular price for a candy bar at CVS is $1.19, but perhaps with volume will come better pricing or at least sales.

So I have oodles of misgivings about the packaging style, the marketing spin and the lack of transparency of their claims ... but when I got down to the actual experience of eating it, all of that can be forgotten.

The candy is made in Canada and is Kosher. It contains soy, peanuts and milk and may contain traces of tree nuts. There is no gluten statement on the package (along with no statement regarding the sourcing of the ingredients). The shelf life appears to be approximately 6-9 months (these were good until 1/24/2013).

UPDATE 9/17/2012: After many months and more than a half a dozen attempts to get answers from UNREAL, I did get a reply. Here is what I can tell you:
UNREAL works closely with a broker to secure cacao from co-ops in Ecuador and Ghana. They said, “Our Brokers on the ground work with them daily to ensure the best quality of product and that people and planet are not being damaged in the process.” There is no third party certification for any of this, so it is not certified fair trade or sustainable but they did say that there is an auditing process by the buyers.
UNREAL sources their milk from California (using no hormones or antibiotics) and the dried milk products from New Zealand.
UNREAL’s chocolate is made in the United States by “a family owned and operated chocolate company.” They declined to give an actual source.
UNREAL defended its use of inulin (which can cause digestive upset in some people and is considered a filler and may actually disqualify their chocolate coating from being called chocolate by FDA standards) saying that it lowers the glycemic load of the product.

Related Candies

  1. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
  2. Justin’s Organic Peanut Butter Cups
  3. Sun Cups
  4. Green & Black’s Peanut Milk Chocolate
  5. Q.Bel Crispy Wafer Bars
  6. Reese’s Pieces
  7. Factory Fresh Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  8. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Line


Name: #77 Peanut Butter Cups
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: UNREAL
Place Purchased: CVS (Silver Lake)
Price: $1.19
Size: 1.3 ounces (technically 1.27 when converted from grams)
Calories per ounce: 150
Categories: All Natural, Candy, UNREAL, Chocolate, Kosher, Peanuts, 9-Yummy, Canada, Sav-On/CVS

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:03 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewUNREALChocolateKosherPeanuts9-YummyCanadaSav-On/CVSComments (7)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nestle Crunch Girl Scout Cookie Candy Bars: Peanut Butter & Caramel and Coconut

Nestle Crunch Girl Scout Cookie Candy BarsYesterday I reviewed the new, limited edition Nestle bars made in conjunction with the Girls Scouts. They’re based on popular flavors of the seasonal Girl Scout Cookies.

The trio of bars represent some pretty popular cookies and great candy bar combinations. The bars are pretty small, they consist of two small wafer based bars that clock in at a mere 1.3 ounces for the whole package. At regular price they were $1.19 each at CVS, though you may be able to find them on sale at some point. Nestle and the Girl Scouts have been trying to whip up a fervor over these bars, so be prepared that they’ll never come on sale or be hard to find. (Or not. They were just sitting on the candy shelf at CVS, probably a week before they were supposed to be out for regular folks to buy them, I’d heard that they were internet pre-order only plus a week of exclusive purchase at Dylan’s Candy Bar in New York City.)

Nestle Crunch Girl Scount Cookie Candy Bars

The bars are attractive and though the packaging is spare and kind of generic looking, it does a good job of protecting the bars themselves without out a lot of extras. The wrappers looked a bit like nutrition bars to me from a distance, and I almost didn’t notice them, but the line at the drug store was long, so I had plenty of time to stare at everything.

Nestle Crunch Girl Scout Cookie Caramel and CoconutThe Limited Edition Girl Scout Cookie Flavors: Crunch Caramel & Coconut is supposed to be, I believe, like the Samoas.

Samoas are a vanilla cookie base with coconut and caramel then a little series of mockolate stripes. I’ve had them a few times and found them to be a little too sweet and sticky for me, but definitely more on the side of candy than cookie.

DSC_9331rb

The description of the candy bar on the wrapper was: cookie wafers, coconut caramel creme and chewy caramel topped with toasted coconut. Notice in that description there’s no mention of chocolate, because there isn’t any here, just a mockolate coating, and then some other orange striped stuff on top of that.

The smell is disappointingly artificial. There’s a note of fake butter that overpowers the coconut scent almost entirely. The wafers are definitely crisp, but the creme filling is grainy and has more of the fake butter notes to it. I couldn’t finish the second bar. I had to sequester it in the trash in another room because the smell was driving me crazy.

I know that some folks are going to be obsessed with these, but I found them completely disappointing. The fake flavor, the lack of real chocolate, the use of useless artificial colors and simply missing an opportunity to satisfy.

Nestle Crunch Girl Scout Cookie Peanut Butter CremeThe Limited Edition Girl Scout Cookie Flavors: Peanut Butter Creme is based on the Tagalongs cookies. (For years I called them Tagalogs, some sort of a misreading where I thought they were inspired by a traditional Filipino peanut cookie, you know, because there were Samoas, I thought there was a series that was all themed for Pacific Islands.)

The package describes the candy bar as Cookie wafers and peanut butter creme topped with airy cripsies. Again, no mention of chocolate, that greasy coating on it because it’s not actually chocolate.

DSC_9324rb

This bar was particularly messy, unlike the others. It was simply soft and sticky, even though the ambient temperature was 70 degrees or so. The bar is very peanutty smelling, roasted and really appetizing. The wafers are thick and airy with a good crunch. The peanut butter creme is salty and the mockolate coating is thin enough and just barely sweet enough to make this a candy. Though the coating made this a little on the greasy side, they’re good. Much better than the Butterfinger Crunch Crisp bars, which also have that fake butter flavor.

Again, Q.Bel makes a much better quality Peanut Butter Wafer Bar, though it actually doesn’t have quite the same proportions or salty peanut butter oomph that this does. Trader Joe’s also has a peanut butter wafer crisp bar that’s a fraction of the cost of this (only $1.99 for 7 ounces instead of $1.19 for 1.3 ounces) and has none of the crazy additives and lackluster ingredients.

On the whole, I’m underwhelmed. I’m sure Nestle and the Girl Scouts are going to make out well with their social outreach programs and strong brand identities. Maybe I’m just too old for this, jaded or suspicious of these sorts of stunts.

Related Candies

  1. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Wafer Cookies
  2. Oreo Bitter Bar (Japan)
  3. Christopher’s Good News
  4. Baby Ruth Crisp & Nestle Crisp Bars
  5. Q.Bel Crispy Wafer Bars
  6. ReeseSticks (Revisit)
  7. Take 5 Peanut Butter


Name: Crunch Caramel & Coconut
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: CVS (Silver Lake)
Price: $1.19
Size: 1.3 ounces
Calories per ounce: 146
Categories: Candy, Nestle, Caramel, Coconut, Kosher, Limited Edition, Mockolate, 4-Benign, United States, Sav-On/CVS


Name: Crunch Peanut Butter Creme
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: CVS (Silver Lake)
Price: $1.19
Size: 1.3 ounces
Calories per ounce: 146
Categories: Candy, Nestle, Cookie, Kosher, Limited Edition, Mockolate, Peanuts, 7-Worth It, United States, Sav-On/CVS

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:22 pm     CandyReviewNestleCaramelCoconutCookieKosherLimited EditionMockolatePeanuts4-Benign7-Worth ItUnited StatesSav-On/CVSComments (2)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Nestle Girl Scout Cookie Bars - Thin Mints

Nestle Crunch Girl Scout Cookie Thin Mint Candy BarThere was a time when I was obsessed with Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies. I would buy boxes of them and gobble up what should have been months of rations in mere weeks. Somewhere along the way they lost their charm though. I found out that there were better cookies out there, cookies made with real chocolate and more importantly, cookies that were available consistently.

So when I heard that Nestle was coming out with a limited edition candy bar version called the Nestle Crunch Girl Scount Cookie Thin Mint Candy Bar, I knew that the internet would be abuzz. But I didn’t really care one way or the other. Q.bel makes a superb wafer bar with mint creme with real ingredients, why would I want a version made by Nestle?

But there I was at CVS last evening and I saw them at the check out, and I figured I should give them a chance.

So here’s one of the main reasons I stopped eating Thin Mints, the ingredients. It’s not real chocolate. The current ingredients, according to the Girl Scout Cookies website:

Girl Scout Thin Mints Cookies Ingredients: Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid) sugar, vegetable oil (partially hydrogenated palm kernel and/or cottonseed oil, soybean and palm oil), cocoa, caramel color, contains two percent or less of cocoa processed with alkali, invert sugar, whey, leavening (baking soda, monocalcium phosphate), cornstarch, salt, soy lecithin, natural and artificial flavor, oil of peppermint.

So no chocolate, barely even enough cocoa in there to even be considered an actual mockolate product. But then I was curious how one of the kings of mockolate, Nestle, would treat an already established mockolate cookie.

Nestle Crunch Girl Scout Cookie Thin Mint Candy Bar

The Nestle bar is formatted like the Nestle Crunch Crisp Bar. Again, this bar has some wonderful attributes, a series of crispy light wafers filled with greasy chocolate cream and then covered in mockolate and some more little rice crispies. The change here is the darker mockolate product and peppermint. The ingredients are equally ghastly:

sugar, wafer (wheat flour, cocoa processed with alkali, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, corn syrup, salt, baking soda, soy lecithin), hydrogenated coconut oil, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, cocoa processed with alkali, rice flour, nonfat milk, and 1% or less of: natural mint flavor, barley malt, whey, artificial and natural flavor, salt, emulsifiers (soy lecithin, sorbitan tristearate, lactic acid esters of mono- and diglycerides), ground peanuts.

But hey, it’s candy. It’s a treat, and in this case, for $1.19 it’s only 1.3 ounces and 200 calories. It’s a limited edition production, so it’s not an every day thing. 

Nestle Crunch Girl Scount Cookie Thin Mint Candy Bar

The wafer layers are structurally sound and lightly flavored with cocoa. The cream between has a light minty flavor and rather smooth texture and though it’s sugary, it’s not overly sweet. The mockolate coating is firm and doesn’t flake off but doesn’t do much else. In cool temperatures, especially just slightly chilled, this is a pretty good bar. But in the warmth of summer, it’s a sticky mess. It’s not too sweet, the textures and proportions are excellent. Still, my interest level is low because of the sub-par ingredients and lack of an authentic chocolate coating.

Yup. I’ll stick with the Mint Q.bel Wafer Bars or maybe Mint Milanos. I can’t say I’m disappointed at Nestle’s take on the Girl Scout Cookie, it’s entirely consistent and I guess that’s the sad part. It could have been great.

Related Candies

  1. Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites
  2. Q.Bel Mint Wafer Bars
  3. Q.Bel Crispy Wafer Bars
  4. Trader Joe’s Mint Joe Joe’s versus Mint Oreos
  5. Nestle Crunch Crisp
  6. Head to Head: Cookie Joys vs Cookies n Mint


Name: Crunch Thin Mints Candy Bar
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: CVS (Silver Lake)
Price: $1.19
Size: 1.3 ounces
Calories per ounce: 154
Categories: Candy, Nestle, Cookie, Kosher, Limited Edition, Mints, Mockolate, 6-Tempting, United States, Sav-On/CVS

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:21 am     CandyReviewNestleCookieKosherLimited EditionMintsMockolate6-TemptingUnited StatesSav-On/CVSComments (4)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Gimbal’s Sour Gourmet Jelly Beans

Gimbal's Sour Gourmet Jelly BeansGimbal’s Sour Gourmet Jelly Beans were introduced on the heels of Gimbal’s other gourmet panned offerings, their Lovers line of heart shaped jelly candies like Cherry Lovers, Honey Lovers and Sour Lovers.

The jelly bean mix has a gourmet price point, at $4.49 for me at the CVS, but the bag is big and it’s made in the USA.

The mix includes 12 flavors in bold colors.

Gimbal's Sour Gourmet Jelly Beans

The beans are absolutely lovely to look at. They’re small and well made, each was quite perfect. The Gimbal’s factory advertises that it’s free of most major allergens, including peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, eggs, gluten, gelatin and soy. As a jelly bean product they’re also fat free and contain no high fructose corn syrup (but I’ve never actually seen a jelly bean made with HFCS). The front of the package says they’re made with real fruit juice, and that’d be apple juice. It also says that it’s a good source of Vitamin C, but that’s only 10% of your RDA in a serving of 37 beans (about 1.4 ounces).

But as much as they tout the freedom from allergens, there are still plenty of other ingredients some folks may avoid, such as artificial flavors and colors.

Gimbal's Sour Gourmet Jelly Beans

Most of the beans were opaque, but in the case of beans of similar colors, one was translucent, the other opaque. The structure of the bean is the same as other jelly beans. A jelly center (modified food starch give it its smooth texture) covered in a grainy and flavored shell. In the case of these beans, they jelly center is the sour part, so the sourness goes through and through.

They’re tiny, sized like most other gourmet beans like Jelly Belly.

Sour Lemon was fully formed, a mix of juice and peel but with a more boiled marmalade note than a raw flavor.

Sour Grapefruit was fantastic. There was a lot of zest and that pine-type bitterness along with a biting tang of juice.

Sour Tangerine was sour and juicy but unlike the other two citruses, the zest notes didn’t come out until the very end.

Sour Mango was also orange, but opaque. The flavor was similar to peach, and if I wasn’t told it was mango, I probably would have guessed that. It was soft and tart but had that fuzzy fruit flavor that mangoes and peaches share.

Gimbal's Sour Gourmet Jelly Beans

Sour Watermelon was the darker green bean. It was pretty good, it reminded me a lot of Jolly Ranchers in the best way possible.

Sour Apple was kind of difficult for me to like. At first I though it was watermelon, it was just too vague. There was an authentic note of apple to it, but not much else.

Sour Lime was almost a key lime. There was soft vanilla note to it but it really finished sour.

Gimbal's Sour Gourmet Jelly Beans

Sour Blueberry was refreshing, it had a good berry note to it, almost a raspberry. I wouldn’t say it was really blueberry, but still quite fun.

Sour Grape is an unusual flavor for jelly beans. I see it a lot in hard candies but not so much in jelly beans or gummis. This grape is much like a Pixy Stix, tart and with that malic acid tangy bite and vague artificial grape flavor of soda.

Sour Strawberry had a great mix of flavors, it really had a nice floral start, like a fluffy wad of cotton candy. Then the flavor developed with strong tartness and finished with strawberry jam.

Sour Pomegranate had a lot of very dark floral berry notes to it. It never quite rang true as pomegranate, but it was still a very good bean, not as sour as the others.

Sour Cherry was well done. The flavor was bold and less medicinal than some I’ve had, with green notes and of course that sour finish that most of the beans had.

Overall, it was a good bunch of beans. Even those that I didn’t really like that much such as cherry or mango were still quite good enough that I just ate them instead of trying to pick them out. It’s hard to tell some beans apart unless you’re someplace well lit, so sort before going to movies if you really don’t want to get a flavor you dislike. I did like this flavor set better than the Jelly Belly sour variety which only has five flavors, but that’s purely personal preference.

The intensity satisfied me quite quickly, without giving me acidic burns on my tongue. The price is a bit high compared to generic beans but less than half of what you’d pay for Jelly Belly. They do pack quite a punch and I’m unlikely to finish this 13 ounce bag before Easter even with daily grazing.

Related Candies

  1. Sour Patch Kids Berries
  2. Gimbal’s Sour Lovers
  3. Dots Sour Slices - Pink Grapefruit
  4. Trader Joe’s Jelly Beans & Citrus Gum Drops
  5. Tootsie Sour Dots
  6. Judson-Atkinson Sours
  7. Gimbal’s Gourmet Jelly Beans


Name: Sour Gourmet Jelly Beans
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Gimbal’s Candy
Place Purchased: CVS (Silver Lake)
Price: $4.49
Size: 13 ounces
Calories per ounce: 99
Categories: Candy, Easter, Gimbal's Candy, Jelly Candy, Kosher, Sour, 8-Tasty, United States, Sav-On/CVS

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:48 am     CandyReviewEasterGimbal's CandyJelly CandyKosherSour8-TastyUnited StatesSav-On/CVSComments (5)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Luden’s Honey Licorice Throat Drops

DSC_5405rbIt’s the time of year when I find myself turning to cough drops. Not so much this year because of any particular cold, but it makes me feel like it’s winter. There’s something about the flavors of cough drops that are as essential to the early months of the year as cinnamon and nutmeg is to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Spice and herbal flavors have all but disappeared from hard candy on the shelves at mass market retailers, so cough drops are a good place to find that. I picked up this classic looking box of Luden’s Honey Licorice Throat Drops just before I found the revived Pine Bros Softish Throat Drops. I was attracted to the name of the flavor, licorice and honey are both soothing and uncommon.

DSC_6372

The box is simple and elegant and features a belt & suspenders form of freshness protection. The drops themselves are inside a thick waxed paper sleeve inside the box, which has a tab top closure. Then the whole thing was inside cellophane shrink wrap. I appreciate the inner waxed liner, because the plastic overwrap only protects the drops while they’re in the store, not after I’ve opened them.

There are 14 drops inside and because these are therapeutic items, they’re not considered food and taxable in California. They’re marked as Kosher, but have no weight listed or a full nutritional panel.

DSC_5408rb

The drops are petite, with smooth rounded corners, they are about 3/4 of an inch long. The color is, well, rather dull, but at least it isn’t enhanced with artificial colors (or flavors). The dissolve is smooth and there aren’t any sharp voids in the boiled sugar base. The flavor is strong on the menthol, light on the honey and with only a touch of anise/licorice. It reminds me of a hard candy version of Fisherman’s Friend. The menthol is strong enough to give me that cool feeling in my sinuses, which are pretty clear at the moment.

I finished the box and now I’m inclined to try some other flavors, like Honey Lemon.

As a side note, the cough drop and candy connection really isn’t that surprising. William H. Luden, who made Luden’s Throat Drops, also created the 5th Avenue bar and made various other items like peppermint patties, chocolate covered raisins and peanuts plus hard candies. Though Hershey’s now owns the rights to the Luden’s candy products (though only makes the 5th Avenue now), Luden’s cough drop business is now owned by a company called Prestige Brands which makes products like Cloraseptic, Efferdent and Compound W. (Let’s hope they never combine the attributes of all three of those products.) The package I’ve reviewed, however, still said McNeill Consumer Healthcare, which sold off Luden’s in late 2010. So there may be some differences in packaging and more current products.

UPDATE 3/2/2012: The packaging has changed. I have to say that I’m a little disappointed, because they’ve looked the same as long as I can remember. But then again, the new boxes are quite nice as well.

Ludens Honey Licorice

Related Candies

  1. Krauterbonbons from Lubeck Christmas Market
  2. Villosa Sallos Licorice
  3. Perfetti Van Melle Golia
  4. Honees Honey Filled Drops
  5. A Bit of Medicine: Cocoa as Cough Suppressant
  6. The Apothecary’s Garden: Spices


Name: Honey Licorice Throat Drops
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Luden’s
Place Purchased: CVS (3rd & Fairfax)
Price: $1.19
Size: 1 ounce (approximately)
Calories per ounce: 100
Categories: Candy, Hard Candy & Lollipops, Licorice Candy, 7-Worth It, United States, Sav-On/CVS

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:59 pm     CandyReviewHard Candy & LollipopsLicorice Candy7-Worth ItUnited StatesSav-On/CVSComments (5)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pine Bros Softish Throat Drops

Pine Bros Softish Throat Drops - Wild Cherry FlavoredWhen I was a kid and candy was hard to come by, there was always the old standby of cough drops. I grew to love Hall’s Honey Lemon Eucalyptus drops as if they were decadent candy. Of course they are, there’s little that’s nutritional or therapeutic about them. But sometimes it’s a small pleasure that lifts the spirits when you have a cold.

My favorite cough drops as a kid were Pine Bros, which were about as old school as they come. They weren’t like the standard hard candy lozenges, instead these were a glycerine pastille, similar to Grether’s or Dr. Doolittle’s. The ingredient they all share is glycerine, which is viscous and has soothing properties as it can coat irritated membranes.

Pine Bros Throat Drops and I were born in the same city, about a hundred years apart. Once I moved to the West Coast from Pennsylvania, I couldn’t find Pine Bros any longer. Part of it was that Pine Bros, which was made by Life Savers between 1930 and then Life Savers was bought out by Leaf (I believe they were manufactured outside of the US for a while and the formula changed) then when Leaf divested in 1998 a company called IVC picked up the Pine Bros name. By 2005 they were gone.

Pine Bros Softish Throat Drops - Wild Cherry Flavored

The word softish is perfect for these. They truly aren’t hard or soft, but have a great squishy quality. The pieces are nicely formed and comfortable for the mouth. The pieces are about three quarters of an inch long and have a little indentation in the bottom, which I believe is caused by the piece shrinking a bit due to evaporation as it cures in its mold.

The flavor is mild, a combination of a jammy wild cherry flavor and a little hint of honey (though there’s not actually any in there). The flavor is rather similar to blackcurrant with its deep wine notes. It’s more floral than many other cherry candies and because they’re colored naturally (with elderberry juice) there’s no weird aftertaste.

Most cough drops are hard candies, but these are soft, pliable yet tacky and stiff and pretty much impossible to chew up. They’re not quite bouncy like a gummi (which contains gelatin, which is a protein) but still have some of that firmness. The other great thing is because they’re so smooth, there’s little danger of sharp voids like some cough drops can have - so no little cuts or scrapes inside the mouth.

Pine Bros Softish Throat Drops - Wild Cherry Flavored

I picked up the Value Size not because of its value but because it was the only format available. It holds 32 drops for $3.49 (2.38 ounces) while a little tin of Grether’s of a similar quantity would be about $10.

If you always wished that Grether’s came in Wild Cherry and at a fraction of the price, Pine Bros may be the solution for you.

Pine Bros Softish Throat Drops - Natural HoneyMy favorite Pine Bros flavors were Licorice and Honey. So I was excited that even though the Licorice wasn’t in production yet, the classic Pine Bros Natural Honey Throat Drops were back.

The package is new and sharp, but still has a classic feel to it. The color coding is similar to the boxes I remember as a kid. Cherry came in a deep red box, Menthol was in Blue and Honey was in a deep amber. The new packaging is a bit brighter, with more of a mustard yellow.

The ingredients are listed as a medicinal product, not a candy. My Pine Bros Throat Drops were also taxed, so were not considered food so do not have any nutritional/caloric information.

Active Ingredients: Glycerin 65 mg. Inactive Ingredients: Gum Acacia, Sugar, Honey with other natural flavors, Corn Syrup, Water, Sunflower Oil, Canauba Wax.

I was a little confused by the “Gum Acacia” item until I looked it up on Wikipedia. It’s Gum Arabic with a fancy new name in an attempt to hide from an urban legend.

Pine Bros Softish Throat Drops - Natural Honey

The pieces are beautiful little amber drops. They actually remind me of true amber. They sound like it when dropped and feel lighter than they look they should. But they’re a little weird. They’re not like I remember them.

The package smelled quite a bit when I opened it. Not just like honey but like roses, like a jam made from rose petals, so it’s a very sweet, syrupy rose scent. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s not the toasty and more cotton candy notes I was prepared for.

The texture is smooth, the melt is wonderful and they truly are soothing for a throat a bit raw from the drying and dusty Santa Ana winds. But the flavor, which I was hoping would be mild and sort of fleeting is rather stubborn. It tastes, well, old. Like old flowers, old tea ... not fresh. I actually found myself reaching for the Wild Cherry ones.

There are two other flavors that Pine Bros is hoping to bring back: Licorice and Honey Lemon. So here’s to hoping that it’s actually Honey Lemon that I love so much and that my favorite will be restored. But I also have high hopes for Licorice.

They are made in the USA in a facility that also processes peanuts and tree nuts. They’re not listed Kosher but the non-honey versions should be considered vegan (unless the glycerine was from an animal source, which is pretty rare because it’s so much more expensive).

I’m not planning on reviewing cough drops on a regular basis, but now’s a good time to ask: what cough drop do you eat like candy? (My other favorite is Thayer’s Slippery Elm, which also has a dreamy smoothness with the flavor of maple sugar considering it starts out looking like a small tablet of rabbit food.)

Related Candies

  1. 12 European Licorices
  2. Perfetti Van Melle Golia
  3. Honees Honey Filled Drops
  4. Gimbal’s Honey Lovers
  5. Eat with your Eyes: Pine Brothers Cough Drops
  6. Boules de Miel (balls of honey)
  7. Puntini Jujubes - Frutti Tropicali
  8. Jujyfruits & Jujubes
  9. Pastiglie Leone


Name: Softish Throat Drops: Cherry
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Pine Bros
Place Purchased: CVS (Park LaBrea)
Price: $3.49
Size: 2.38 ounces
Calories per ounce:
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Jelly Candy, 7-Worth It, United States, Sav-On/CVS


Name: Softish Throat Drops: Honey
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Pine Bros
Place Purchased: CVS (Park LaBrea)
Price: $3.49
Size: 2.38 ounces
Calories per ounce:
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Jelly Candy, 5-Pleasant, United States, Sav-On/CVS

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:02 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewPine BrosJelly Candy5-Pleasant7-Worth ItUnited StatesSav-On/CVSComments (16)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Snickers Slice n’ Share (1 Pound)

Snickers Slice n' ShareAt Christmas one of the great gifts is an excessive version of something mundane but much-loved. For candy this means colossal proportions. Oh sure, you could just get a wholesale sized bag of M&Ms or Skittles. But there’s something special about a version that’s substantially larger than the norm: Giant Hershey’s Kisses, Giant Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars, World’s Largest Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Giant Candy Canes and Giant Gummi Bears.

Mars is in the game this year with their Snickers Slice n’ Share bar. This year it’s exclusive to CVS stores. I found mine after going to several stores and it was even on sale for $7.99, regular price is $9.99.

Snickers Slice n' Share

The Snickers Slice ‘n Share is 16 ounces, while a standard Snickers bar is 2.07 ounces (so 8 times bigger). It’s also 9 times the price. The best value is probably to buy the snack size, which are about $1.25 for eight little bars totally 5 ounces - which comes out to $4.00 a pound instead of $7.99 a pound. But that’s simply not magnificent enough for gifting or wowing your guests. (See this 1925 ad for Oh Henry! that features the suggestion to slice and serve.)

Snickers Slice n' Share

The bar is protected in a paperboard tray and came out looking pretty good. It’s 9.5 inches long, about one inch high and 2.5” wide. A standard Snickers is only 1” wide.

Snickers Slice n' Share

There’s simply no way to depict how massive this thing is with photos because it’s dense and heavy. Honestly, I expected one pound of candy to have a bit more volume, but Snickers are certainly compact.

Snickers Slice n' Share

Like the old advertising slogan, this Snickers is packed with peanuts. The caramel envelops them completely and they’re jam packed in there all the way through the bar. The caramel and nougat layers are completely distinct and the chocolate is very thick, especially on the sides and the ripple on the top. It does flake off easily, but usually in big chunks that are easy to pick up and pop in your mouth.

Snickers Slice n' Share

The serving size suggested is a 1 inch slice (which is about 1.75 ounces - less than the 2.07 ounce regular bar). I found that to be a bit too thick and unwieldy, so I usually went for something about a 1/2 inch slice. It slices quite easily without falling apart, as long as you have a good, wide knife. A butter knife or steak knife are too small and narrow. A chef’s knife or even a clever does a much better job. Anything less than a half an inch though and the piece will not hold together well.

Also, I found that cutting straight down, with even pressure (chopping) was better than trying to angle it. The pieces came out cleaner and with less chocolate loss.

Snickers Slice n' Share

I loved the bar. I actually think I enjoyed it more than any other Snickers I’ve had in years. The peanuts were fresh, the caramel was thick, distinct and chewy plus the nougat was soft, slightly salty with a nice peanut butter toffee flavor. The layers are much more defined and folks who like to eat particular parts separately will have a great time.

Giant candy has always struck me as the kind of gift a kid would give to a parent or other relative. Not that I’d complain if my niece or nephew came me a giant version of a beloved candy. It’s a way to make a favorite special. But they’re not for everyday consumption. The specialness of the price assures that. But I expect because it’s under $10, it should find its way into many stockings this year, or because of its size, it will be adjacent to the stocking ... and featured heavily on early nights of Hanukkah.

Snickers Slice n' Share Snickers Slice n' Share Snickers Slice n' Share Snickers Slice n' Share

The bar has all the same ingredients as the smaller versions. It’s hard to compare the nutritional value because of the difference in serving sizes, but the calories per ounce are greater for the Slice n’ Share than the regular size, so I’m going to guess that there’s more chocolate per bite on the small one since that’s where the densest calories are.

At a certain point something so large that it requires implements ceases to be candy. Candy is ready to eat, requires no knives or assembly.

The package warns that there are traces of tree nuts and wheat, plus it contains eggs, soy, peanuts and milk. Mars does not use fair trade or certified ethically traded chocolate for this product (though they’re working on it - their Maltesers malted milk balls will be Fair Trade next year in the UK).

UPDATE 12/5/2012: Snickers Slice n Share are back in stores for the holidays. They’re found in a much wider array of stores, I’ve seen them at Target, CVS, IT’SUGAR and a few others as well as on internet stores. Discount chains usually have them for $10-12, while the other stores like IT’SUGAR have them for about $20.

Related Candies

  1. Giant York Peppermint Patties (1 Pound)
  2. Big Bite Gummy Rocking Horse Ornament
  3. World’s Largest Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  4. Big Tex Giant Jelly Beans
  5. Big Bite Gummy Bear
  6. Daffin’s Candies Factory & World’s Largest Candy Store
  7. Mega Smarties
  8. Giant Pixy Stix


Name: Snickers Slice n’ Share
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Mars
Place Purchased: CVS (Carson, CA)
Price: $7.99
Size: 16 ounces
Calories per ounce: 130
Categories: Candy, Mars, Caramel, Chocolate, Kosher, Nougat, Peanuts, 8-Tasty, United States, Sav-On/CVS

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:59 am     CandyReviewMarsCaramelChocolateKosherNougatPeanuts8-TastyUnited StatesSav-On/CVSComments (10)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sour Patch Kids Berries

Sour Patch Kids BerriesCadbury Adams, makers of Swedish Fish and Sour Patch Kids have introduced a new product to their line of jelly candies. Sour Patch Kids Berries are a variety of four berry flavors of the classic chewy jelly candy covered in sour sand.

There’s no mention of this product on the Sour Patch Kids website, and the package is rather scant with details as well. There are four colors for the candies, but there’s no mention of the flavors. I think they’re: Cherry, Blue Raspberry, Strawberry and Grape.

The regular Sour Patch Kids come in four flavors: orange, cherry, lemon and lime. The Sour Patch Fruits come in watermelon, orange, lemon, lime, grape and cherry. Then there are the individual flavor packs like Watermelon, Peach and Cherry. It seems like cherry gets a lot of attention from the Sour Patch family, here it is in three different assortments plus a package all of its own.

Sour Patch Kids Berries

Sour Patch Kids are a simple construction, a firm jelly candy is molded and then coated in a sweet & sour sand. They’re small, so one is a good bite.

Grape (Purple) is a great sour flavor. This grape is just like a jelly version of Pixy Stix or SweeTarts. There’s a lot of fake grape flavor to go along with the sour.

Cherry (Red) is as I expected, tart and sharp with the strong woodsy notes then sweet and a little on the medicine side, especially as the food coloring kicked in.

Strawberry (Pink) this was the flavor I wasn’t quite sure about. It’s soft and floral and more delicate than the others, perhaps even a little citrusy.

Blue Raspberry is a well rounded flavor. It’s quite tart at first then morphing into a sweet and floral berry flavor that’s reminiscent of the Swedish Fish.

Sour Patch Kids BerriesHere’s something that’s been bothering me for years. Sour Patch Kids don’t look like kids. They don’t look like much of anything except maybe shaving brushes. There are little characters on the package, but I’ve never quite been able to make them out. Jelly Babies manage to look like their little characters on the package, so I know the molding technology allows this. Even Swedish Fish do an excellent job of looking like little fish.

It’s interesting to see a new mix of flavors for the Sour Patch Kids, even if the actual flavors are not new. There’s nothing earth shattering here or innovative, just a limited mix that might appeal to folks who don’t like the citrus flavors in the regular Sour Patch Kids or Sour Patch Fruits.

Related Candies

  1. Sour Punch Bits - Tangerine-Lemonade
  2. Tootsie Sour Dots
  3. Sour Patch Chillerz
  4. Haribo Saure Dinosaurier
  5. Lifesavers Gummies Sour
  6. Sour Patch Extreme
  7. Sour Patch Kids


Name: Sour Patch Kids Berries
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Cadbury
Place Purchased: CVS (Park LaBrea)
Price: $1.79
Size: 7.2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 99
Categories: Candy, Cadbury, Jelly Candy, Sour, 7-Worth It, Canada, Sav-On/CVS

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:20 pm     CandyReviewCadburyJelly CandySour7-Worth ItCanadaSav-On/CVSComments (13)

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Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.

 

 

 

 

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These candies will be reviewed shortly:

• 10 Candy Corn Candies that aren’t Candy Corn

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