Founded in 1983 and based in Merrillville, Indiana USA. Makers of World's Best Gummies (Bears, Worms, Butterflies, Sour Bears), Gold Label Chocolates, Rich's Chocolates and novelty gummi shapes.
Friday, September 30, 2011
There are two standard axioms for innovation in candymaking: Making it Bigger Makes it Better and Covering it Chocolate Makes it Gourmet. For the most part they’re true.
Albanese Confectionery didn’t invent the gummi bear and didn’t innovate chocolate covered gummis. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t do it well and possibly better than most other confectioners.
The Milk Chocolate Gummi Bears assortment is interesting, first that they’re pretty big. I can’t say for sure, but the bears seem bigger than the standard, but that could be the chocolate coating messing with my ability to gauge their size. The other interesting thing about the assortment are the flavors of the gummis in the center. Albanese has gone with flavors that complement milk chocolate: Orange, Strawberry/Banana, Raspberry, Marshmallow, Strawberry, Apricot.
Of course you’ll never know which you’re getting when you pick one out, kind of a fruity roulette.
Like all of the Albanese gummis, these were soft and flavorful, quite chewy and smooth. The chocolate coating is thin and sweet with a strong milky flavor. (I know that Albanese uses Wilbur Chocolate for their malted milk balls, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this is also Wilbur’s couveture.) The bouncy nature of the gummi goes well with the quick melting chocolate.
Albanese sells their chocolate covered bears for about $6.00 a pound online. Chances are pretty good if you’ve found a candy store that sells individually flavored gummi bears (with an A on their bellies) that also carries chocolate covered bears then you’ve probably seen these. If you’re looking for a chocolate treat that’s not so high in calories, these are a great option. They clock in at only 106 calories per ounce, which is very low for a chocolate coated item. The individual pieces and variations in flavors should make for a lean treat that doesn’t feel like a compromise.
They’re far and away better than the Muddy Bears that come in theater boxes and I prefer them to the Koppers version (but these do have artificial colors in them). Still, the top chocolate covered gummi in my heart are the Japanese Gummy Choco.
Friday, August 06, 2010
One of the most exciting parts of my recent trip was a visit to a real, working candy factory. I didn’t get a special tour or anything, but I always like to get close to the source of candy - even if it’s through a wall of glass. The Albanese Candy Factory is easy to get to, at the junction of I65 and RTE30. (Though Google Maps took me on a far more direct but slower route through the neighboring Indiana towns from I80.)
The factory is nicely situated with a large parking lot and a charming “house” entry for the candy store and tour portion of the facility. Entering the space, at first it just looks like a huge candy store - probably about 2,000 square feet of not just Albanese Candy, but oodles of other bulk items in bins, novelties and classic favorites from all sorts of manufacturers. At the back of this space is the tour.
No photos were allowed of their candy factory tour, which amounts to walking along one wall of the factory and peering into the active operation. I was able to see the starch molds stacked up and ready to be fed into the depositor, which squeezes out the gummy goo that becomes the bears. The next steps were a bit hidden, but the next conveyer showed the completed gummi bears on a belt being tossed around and bagged up. (The true intervening step is that the gummy bears cure for a while in their molds, are then cleaned of their corn starch coats & given a little shine in a tumbler called a panning machine.) The bears were then bagged up and robots came in and created huge boxes then pallets that were moved around.
The space is just a wide carpeted ramp with a few videos to demonstrate and explain the processes. It’s wheelchair accessible and easy for folks to spend as much or as little time on as they want.
I was really interested in the candy store and I wasn’t disappointed. First and foremost they sold Albanese Candy. By the door were piles of boxes of “seconds” at reasonable prices - a 5 lb box of Peach Rings was $8. Great for a party.
The perfect candy was sold either in pre-packs or at one of the three bulk candy stations. There were plenty of helpful and knowledgeable staffers there. All of the items that weren’t individually wrapped were packaged up by request by the staff. They stood there with their tongs, scoops, plastic bags and gloved hands at the ready for any request. They had every Albanese gummy candy I could think of. The standard items were all $2.49 a pound - a great price as anyone who has been to Dylan’s Candy Bar or other mall bulk candy shop will recognize. (Those shops sell Albanese Candy for anywhere between $9 and $14 a pound.)
I picked out their new Natural Sour Poppers, Gummi Butterflies (now in small and large sizes) and Gummi Fishes. I’ve actually had the last two items before, but I thought I’d try them again, especially because I wanted a standard flavor to try against the natural ones.
The packaging was nice. Just little stand-up zipper plastic bags. What I appreciated was the each one got its own label that did list the ingredients for the product - a rare service when buying in bulk. These little four ounce bags were just $65 cents, quite a deal for getting exactly what I wanted.
The new Natural Sour Poppers are cute little smiley faced buttons of gummis. I have no idea what the flavors are supposed to be, or even how many are in the assortment. I didn’t try to overthink them, I just ate them.
Though there’s no sour sanding on them they’re still quite tangy right from the start. They’re soft and squishy with good, well rounded flavors but very much on the sour side. I could pick out the cherry, lemon, orange and pineapple ones, there might have been green apple, fruit punch, strawberry and maybe watermelon in there.
I liked that there were no weird aftertastes associated with the coloring, though the flavors were less vibrant than the traditionally produced ones. They recognizable “emoticon” shape will probably be quite fun for kids. I also appreciate that they’re the same price as the unnatural gummi products.
I’ve reviewed the stunning-looking Albanese Gummi Butterflies before. I’m not quite sure why I picked them up again, but I was enchanted by their appearance. The wingspan on the large ones is a full 3 inches. The small ones are less than half that, at about 1.33 inches across and the same thickness.
Combining the two sizes was actually more satisfying for me than one or the other. I liked the look of them together, the small ones gave context for the large sized shape (which often get folded up). The flavors are the same charming Albanese cherry, orange, grape, punch and apple. I especially liked the orange ones, but found the cherry to have the robust woodsy notes and not too much red food coloring flavor.
Albanese’s chocolate products are far less well known. I picked up only one chocolate item to review, their Dark Chocolate Caramel Marshmallow. The prices on the chocolate items varied depending on the product itself. They had a good selection of traditional chocolate treats like toffee, fruit creams, caramels and nuts. They’re packaged just like the gummis, into little zipper bags.
The Caramel Marshmallow is smaller than the See’s Scotchmallow. A nicely domed piece, they were in pristine, unmarred condition when I bought them but got jostled around a bit in transit (drove to Chicago from there, then flew back to Los Angeles four days later).
It has a nice dark cocoa scent, a little sweet but woodsy. The bite is not at all like I expected a marshmallow to be. Instead of a latexy puff, it was more of a light fluffed cream. It still had a little chew to it, but not at all like I was accustomed to with See’s or Russell Stover. The flavor was barely sweet and had a light hint of vanilla to it (they use both real vanilla and vanillin in them). The caramel was soft and chewy but lacking much of a salty or burnt sugar punch. The dark chocolate was decent quality and well tempered though not complex. They’re certainly edible but of course don’t hold a candle to my favorite, the Scotchmallow. Since they’re about the same price at $11.99 a pound, I can’t see myself getting these again - even though I know they’re extremely fresh.
The diversity of candy offerings in the store is amazing. They had a huge selection of nostalgic favorites, such as swirl lollipops, candy buttons, wax lips and theater box favorites. I lucked out and found Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy as well as the more recent Doscher’s French Chew. They also had a great wall of individually wrapped candies which included Mary Jane’s, Anise Squares, Honey Drops and all sorts of items from Atkinson’s like their Peerless line. I picked up Angel Mints and my mother found Sen Sen and got a tin of Anis de Flavigny. Prices for the candy that they don’t make there is a little more than a drug store but less than most other candy stores.
The shop is only about one hour outside of Chicago and a half an hour south of Gary, Indiana. So if you’re in the area, it’s a nice place to stop. (Though it’d be nice if they also had coffee, we really needed some to go with our toffee that we ate in the car.)
Albanese Candy Factory Outlet Store
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Candy and toys are a classic combination. It’s surprising that there hasn’t been a candy version of the Plastic Green Army Guys before Albanese introduced them in the early 2000s. These guys, you know these guys, right? They were sold by the pound and featured all sorts of pre-posed soldiers doing soldier-like things.
This version of the candy features all opaque green candies in four different poses. They’ve even assigned names: “Bazooka” Bob, “Forrest Fight” Steve, “GI” Johnny, “Sniper” Scott, and “Rifleman” Rich! They’re green apple flavored.
I got this 4.5 ounce bag for $1.99 at Powell’s Sweet Shoppe in Paso Robles. It was the first store I saw them in and was a little surprised at the price, considering the fact that I can buy a half pound of Albanese other gummi products at the 99 Cent Store for a buck. But hey, these were cute and unique.
I don’t have much else to say beside the fact that they’re in fact green, look exactly like plastic army guys (except they’re only about 2 1/2 D instead of 3D because they have a flat back). They’re green apple flavored, soft and chewy. Above is Sniper Scott.
So enjoy the photos of the Gummy Army Guys. This is Rifleman Rich.
Apparently Albanese also makes a smaller version of these in red and green - but they’re transparent instead of the opaque army green. Albanese makes a lot of other fun shapes in their gummis, including fighter jets, snakes, butterflies, bears, rings and fish.
And that brings us to the last one: Bazooka Bob.
On the whole, a quality product. A little more expensive than the other really well priced Albanese gummis, but still a good deal, especially when you need a themed item. I’m not as keen on the green apple flavor - I prefer their citrus and pineapple.
Monday, July 21, 2008
I was cruising through the 99 Cent Store and noticed a new line of candies called All Gummies Gourmet. I recognized the actual candies as Albanese Candy Company (and this was confirmed in the small print on the back of the package). So finally Albanese are available at stores without going into the bulk candy aisle.
This bag of Fruity Fish caught my eye. Here was a half a pound of red fish for less than a dollar? Could they be any good? A little further down the aisle and there was the good old, reliable Swedish Fish (made by Cadbury Adams), so I decided to see if this designer impostor could fulfill a penny pinchers craving.
The packages are both attractive enough. The Swedish Fish is traditional, pretty much the same package I recognize from ten years ago - yellow with a little scale pattern on it. The All Gummies Gourmet packaging is rather generic - a vibrant blue and bronzy gold. The nice part is that the bottom of the package is clear cellophane and it’s easy to see the candies inside. And they do look fresh, moist and tasty!
The detail on both is nice, they look like fish. The scales, lips and eyes on the Fruity Fish is sharper, but I wouldn’t call one better than the other. So while I consider the appearance of both to be about equal, the comparable-ness ends there.
The fish themselves are about the same size. The Swedish Fish is a bit flatter and therefore weighs a bit less. The Swedish Fish are lighter in color and smell a little like raspberries and cotton candy. The Fruity Fish are a deep red and smell like, well, black cherry flavor with a touch of bitter amaretto. I wasn’t happy about this.
First, Fruity Fish are gummis. That’s right, they’re not jelly candies like the Swedish Fish, they’re full on gelatin-carrying gummis. (I can’t be upset, it does say All Gummies Gourmet right on the front.)
Second, they’re not any kind of berry flavor. Swedish Fish flavor is rather unique, I’ve always considered it lingonberry flavor, though it’s never been officially declared what flavor they are. The Fruity Fish are soft, chewy and have a good mix of tangy and sweet. But the flavor is black cherry, through and through.
So, these are no designer impostor as I suspected. They’re certainly a good deal, as the package heralds Big Value. But they are very jarring if you’re expecting the dulcet berry tones of Swedish Fish. Even though the Swedish Fish cost twice as much, I’ll stick with them ... but only because of the cherry flavor issue with Fruity Fish. They’re still a darn good candy.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I was enamored of the name of this new guarana boosted line of gummis called Loud Truck. (And I said so! Which prompted the company to offer me some samples, which I accepted.)
The crazy logo features a classic old truck with a gazillion different horns and loudspeakers mounted to it. It’s cute and it gives the impression that these candies can wake me up! That they’re in my face! They’re in a blazing orange bag! I’m up! The flavor is called citrus blast! I’m up already!
It’s a tiny little bag, it holds only an ounce, but then again, it’s powerful stuff. I couldn’t tell from the opaque packaging or any of the material on the Loud Truck website what they’d look like. I thought, you know, maybe like little trucks. Nope.
The gummis are little bears! Loud, truck driving bears! (Okay, they don’t have their trucks on the, but if you look very carefully I think you can see the keys to their trucks in their pockets.)
But wait, they have little As on their bellies which either means they’re adulterous bears (and being cooped up in a tiny bag with perhaps no hope of being reunited with their loved ones, you can imagine the temptations and perhaps even forgive any transgressions) or more likely it means that they’re made by Albanese Confectionery Company.
They feature a blend of nutrients, though the package is kind of odd. They recommend a pair of bears as a serving, which features 7 mgs of caffeine and a blend of things like Vitamin C, B vitamins and Taurine. A whole package (4.5 servings) has about 32 mgs of caffeine. (Red Bull has 80, a 12 ounce cup of coffee can have anywhere between 70-160.)
So even if you eat the whole package, it’s not gonna kill you. You’ll be lucky if it keeps you up at all, depending on your sensitivities.
The texture is similar to most other soft gummis. Bouncy, soft and nicely scented. The smell, on the other hand, is kind of odd. It’s more like jasmine tea than orange or lemon. The flavor is only slightly tart and has a slight zest, but not definable as citrus, per se. They are slightly bitter, at least to me.
They’re odd, not unappealing, but I don’t consider it citrus in the slightest. I think the bitterness is not zest but probably the guarana, which has a flavor of its own.
At about $2 per package, they’re not cheap, but as a non-liquid caffeine source they’re more palatable than many other items I’ve tried.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Here are a few items I sampled, I’m probably not going to do a full review of them but I wanted to show them to you:
The newest addition to the ChocoPod line. I got this one in a simple little cellophane bag, so I didn’t think it was fair to give it the full tilt boogie review without final packaging.
It’s similar to the classic Spicy Maya ChocoPods, just a little cacao pod shaped disk of 60% dark chocolate, weighing in, I guess, at a little over a third of an ounce, it’s about two bites.
The inclusions make it a little bumpy in spots. The chocolate smells more like chili, but a little sweet and smoky. There are a lot of pop rocks in there, they’re completely unflavored, just lightly sweet little sugar bits ... that just so happen to pop. Some of the little bits, however, are salt crunches.
Some bites are pretty poppy, some bites are really hot, others are salty. It’s a noisy bit of chocolate (and even got a few sneezes out of me).
It’s a fun little diversion. I appreciate that it’s a small piece, not a huge bar, but I don’t think I’d want more.
Rating: 7 out of 10
First, you’ll probably note that I don’t mention PEZ much on Candy Blog. I don’t like it. The candy just isn’t very good and the idea of collecting the little dispensers never thrilled me. But I fully applaud those who get into it.
PEZ has brought out a few other flavors of their candy tablets. Last year it was Cola and they have a Sugar Free version as well. This year they’re highlighting the Chocolate version.
As you can tell from the photo, they’re very light in color, which should give you an indication of the depth of the flavor. It tastes like I’ve inhaled some Cocoa Pebbles. Not actually eat then, just, you know, been near the Cocoa Pebbles dust. They’re sweet but have just a slight cocoa note.
Rating: 3 out of 10
It’s an organic twist on classic tastes.
So just looking at it, with only the name to go off of, I thought, “this is a white chocolate bar with dried raspberry bits in it.” Which sounded pretty good in my head, kind of like the Hershey’s Limited Edition one a couple of years back ... but organic!
Hmm, somewhere I led myself astray. It’s not white chocolate, it’s a non-colored confection made of organic sugar, organic whole milk powder and organic fractionated palm kernel oil. And it’s crunchy. Those presumed raspberry bits are actually crushed raspberry flavored hard candy.
It took me a while to get used to the texture, but it wasn’t creamy enough for me.
Rating: 5 out of 10
These little milk chocolate covered nuggets smell sweet and like a light coffee drink. They’re about the size of a garbanzo bean, though some are twinned (not that it keeps me from eating them). The nugget inside isn’t quite as hard and crunchy as a biscotti, but they’re plenty crunchy. They’re almost like graham cracker nuggets.
The combo is quite nice, easy to eat and keep munching.
Rating: 8 out of 10
It’s not an illusion in the photo, these are very dark, like clumps of tar. The chocolate covered dried cranberries are not as flavorful as I’d hoped. Honestly, I’ve tried a few products over the years and none of them have really satisfied me. The cranberries, while soft and chewy, they’re just not tangy or flavorful. The chocolate is sweet, but not dark and flavorful enough ... though the texture combo of the creamy melt and moist chew is good.
They’re probably jam packed with antioxidants, but I’ll probably stick with chocolate covered raisins, if only because they’re cheaper and provide pretty much the same experience.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Friday, May 23, 2008
I was in love with these gummis sight unseen. I saw the teaser on the All Candy Expo website New Product Showcase. There was no photo ... but the description alone Gummi Butterflies: Bold colors and delicious flavors. Flutter away with the newest version of the World’s Best Gummi! convinced me that these were going to be gorgeous.
Everything Albanese makes in the gummi category is lovely.
Their Krunchy Bears (and other ring & heart shapes) are pure delights to look at and offer a new twist on the gummi + crunch. They offer at least 15 different flavors of gummi bears not to mention other gummi items like green army men & fighter jets, and at really reasonable prices.
If I have any complaints about the company, it’s that they don’t have a very good website featuring their candies and the online ordering section doesn’t have all their products.
When I got them in my set of sample items from All Candy Expo, I practically squealed because they were just what I hoped they were.
They’re large gummis, about 3 inches across at the widest. Thick and soft (mine were a little bent in spots, but they were stuffed in a tiny ziploc), they remind me of Gel Gems. So that’s what I did with them, I went into the guest room, wiped the window to clean it and then slapped them up on the glass.
I could see these being great fun to have in the car with kids on a road trip. Edible window decorations. (Though do keep some window cleaner handy, as they get things greasy eventually.)
I felt rather evil as I was essentially eating the wings off the butterflies, but it’s the only obvious way to eat them. (Though a non-obvious and perhaps more interesting way to eat them would be to fold the wings and take a bit out of them ... then put them back up on the window, or perhaps cut them apart and piece them together much like I did with franken-bears as a kid.)
I wish their pineapple was in this mix, but maybe it wasn’t vibrant enough in color.
Other new products introduced this week:
Gummi Sugar Plums: Visions of these flavorful Sugar Plums will be dancing in your head all year long!
Theater Size Boxes: Fantastic value, attractive, eye catching theater boxes will be a real hit with customers! Available in our popular and unique 12 Flavor Gummi Bears and Super Sour Mini Neon Gummi Worms.
There’s no word how the Butterflies will be sold, but I’d expect them to turn up in the same tubs & packages that they use for their other novelty items like the Army Men and of course in bulk bins.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
I went to Toys r Us yesterday to pick up a booster seat in preparation for the arrival of my niece, nephew, brother and sister in law this weekend. Of course after completing the mundane safety-oriented task I browsed the candy aisle, which is conveniently the entire section in front of the registers. There were lots of novelty items, but the one that caught my eye was the Gummy Fishies, which looks like a purple sardine can and has a little key on the top and everything.
I was a little annoyed with the price, $1.29 for .67 ounces of what I figured were Swedish Fish. But I was already there and though the folks in the car seat section were super helpful, the two cashiers were strangely hung up (one registering someone for the birthday club and the other didn’t give the right change and had to call a manager to open the cash drawer). The longer I waited the more it meant that I had to make this trip more productive. So the Fishies were purchased.
The little plastic box is shaped like a tin of fish, right down to the little flutes on the side. The key is anchored at the top in a little holder, when inserted into the hole on the bottom side of the box, it meshes with the little grooves like a cog. Turning the key moves the lid of the box smoothly. The first time it needs to break the little perforations on the label, but that happened just like it should.
I think the Fishies are made by Albanese, they have an A on their sides, which is the same way Albanese brands their gummi bears (but the package says Made in China ... but they might be referring to the box). The first ingredient is not sugar, it’s pectin ... it also has gelatin in it, these are some seriously gummy fishes. Soft but super springy. The flavor of the red one was rather like raspberry, not like the strange Swedish-berry that’s so distinct. I have no clue what the green one was. It tasted fresh, but kind of like cucumber.
The price is stupid at Toys r Us, I know that you can get these at a better price elsewhere and for under a dollar I think it’s a fun little toy to give to a kid that also has candy. The good part is that the little box is really well made, so you can buy a big bag of Swedish fish or gummi bears or anything else you like and keep refilling it for your kid. Because it holds less than an ounce, that does mean controlled portions. (Or let them use it as a bank ... it’s got a KEY!) The key system actually works, I really couldn’t budge the lid without it unless I wanted to actually break it. (Of course it’s a universal key, so if you’ve given one to each of your kids they have keys to each other’s boxes.)
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