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All Natural

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Flicks Cacao: Premium Dark Chocolate

Flicks CacaoI first review the revived Flicks chocolate candy about two years ago. (Read that here.) But when I saw this new version called Flicks | Cacao at the drug store last week, I stopped to read the label before I dismissed them.

I’m so glad I did, because these are quite different from the original Flicks, which are tubes of mockolate chips wrapped in foil. The Flicks Cacao are disks of Premium Dark Chocolate. It’s premium West African Cacao, made in a recipe with five simple and tasty ingredients: Cocoa Liquor, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Lecithin, & Vanilla.. They even say that they’re GMO free (I’m guessing that’s the lecithin. In Europe many chocolate companies are replacing soy lecithin with sunflower lecithin, which is not only GMO free, it’s also soy free. I don’t know which kind of lecithin they’re using in Flicks.)

Flicks Cacao

The pieces are more consistent than the standard Flicks, each is about 1 inch round. They’re still a bit scuffed up, but well protected in the package. As I noted in my first review, the packaging was changing. The foil wrapped tube holds a little mylar pouch instead of the chocolate rattling around inside the untreated cardboard tube.

Though the ingredients list is short and possibly vegan, the package says they may contain traces of milk (but nothing about gluten or nuts.)

Flicks Cacao

The disks are perfectly sized for a single bite of chocolate. They fit in the mouth, with a good rounded shape so that they melt easily and mold to the roof of my mouth. The melt is decent, not buttery but at least smooth though a little on the firm and sweet side. The flavor is mild, it’s not intense dark chocolate, it’s light and approachable, hints of oak and vanilla. It’s like brownies.

I enjoyed it well enough and found the package simple, charming and fun. I would prefer a still darker version, but this is a huge step in the right direction for the product line to offer something that isn’t filled with tropical oils. I’d like to know the ethical sourcing of the cacao.

Related Candies

  1. Six Kilos of Felchlin Arriba 72% Chocolate
  2. Sweet Earth Bittersweet Chocolate Drops & Coffee Caramels
  3. Four 99%-100% Chocolate
  4. Ghirardelli Intense Dark
  5. Guittard Akoma Fair Trade Chocolate Chips


Name: Flicks Cacao
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Tjerrild
Place Purchased: CVS (Park LaBrea)
Price: $.99
Size: 1.6 ounces
Calories per ounce: 150
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Chocolate, 7-Worth It, United States, Sav-On/CVS

POSTED BY Cybele AT 5:03 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewChocolate7-Worth ItUnited StatesSav-On/CVSComments (4)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Honey Mints

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Honey MintsTrader Joe’s often has wonderful finds where they package up a candy that’s hard to find. In this case it’s their newly introduced Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Honey Mints.

Sure they’re peppermint patties, so you’re wondering what’s so special about that? They have three ingredients in them. Just three: honey, chocolate liquor and oil of peppermint. The center is creamed honey (it just means whipped, there’s no additional dairy) and some peppermint to flavor it. The dark chocolate coating is just cacao, there’s no sugar in it. All the sweetness comes from the whipped honey center.

As far as I can tell, they’re made by Honey Acres of Wisconsin. I first tried them at the Fancy Food Show in 2008 (brief review here) and could only find them online for a while at Natural Candy Store (I’m hesitant to order chocolate candy because of melting problems with deliveries). The first time I tried them, I thought they were good, but not fantastic. But the memory of them stuck with me, so I was glad to see that I could pick them up again. (Update on that, it’s possible they’re made by Heavenly Organics.)

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Honey Mints

They’re gluten free, contain no artificial colors or flavors and no preservatives.

The honey is creamed by adding special seed honey and a hint of peppermint oil to create a smooth and refreshing center, which is then covered in a rich, dark chocolate.

The patties are 1.5 inches in diameter and wrapped tightly in an aqua colored aluminum foil.

While the ingredients are good and considered pure, this is by no means a low calorie product. There’s more chocolate on them than a York Peppermint Pattie, so don’t expect them to be extremely low calorie. York Patties are about 102 calories per ounce, so almost pure sugar, very little fat. Dark Chocolate Honey Mints are 127 calories per ounce, so less than a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup or something similarly fatty.

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Honey Mints

The dark chocolate is thick and densely dark. It’s all chocolate, so it’s intense. Just eating the chocolate is tough, because it’s unsweetened. But there’s plenty of cocoa butter, so it may be a little bitter but it does have a smooth and silky melt. The element here that surprised me, and remember, I’ve had these before, was the creamy honey center. The mints I had four years ago must have been a little bit older, because these are fresh and exquisitely textured. The honey center is smooth and buttery but not greasy, the dissolve is cool on the tongue. It’s sweet and has that musky honey note to it, but also a refreshing and crisp peppermint note. It’s not too strong, not too sugary.

Taken together, the bitterness of the unsweetened chocolate is offset perfectly.

After writing last week about candy being “unjunked” from artificial ingredients, here’s a candy that takes the confection back to its barest basics ... and then leaves it there. No nutritional fillers ... just pure ingredients, each with a job to do.

Update 3/7/2013: I bought another bag of these recently and noticed that they’ve changed their production style. They’re now a molded candy instead of enrobed, so the shells are very consistent and shiny. The flavor profile is the same, though perhaps a little more chocolate now.

Related Candies

  1. Zachary Thin Mints & Raspberry Thin Mints
  2. RM Palmer Peppermint Patties
  3. Sunspire Peppermint Pattie
  4. Candy Bites: The Sweet, Crunchy & Creamy
  5. Junior Mints Deluxe
  6. 3 Musketeers Mint with Dark Chocolate
  7. York Pinkermint Patties


Name: Dark Chocolate Honey Mints
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe’s
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's
Price: $3.99
Size: 7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 127
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Trader Joe's, Chocolate, Kosher, Mints, 7-Worth It, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:53 am     All NaturalCandyReviewTrader Joe'sChocolateMints7-Worth ItUnited StatesComments (13)

Friday, June 29, 2012

UNREAL #8 Chocolate Caramel Peanut Nougat Bar

Unreal 6 Chocolate Caramel Peanut Nougat Bar UnjunkedThe final candy I have in the initial launch of the UNREAL candy line is the UNREAL #8 Chocolate Caramel Peanut Nougat Bar. If the description doesn’t spark any recognition for you, it’s a Snickers-type bar.

Like my other profiles of the UNREAL candies, there’s a lot to explore and expose in this new line. There are inconsistencies and it’s a little hard to find things out, but if you’re just interested in the review, skip to the third picture and read on from there. If you’re interested to know more about what’s inside and what they say is inside, well, then read the whole review.

DSC_9569rb

I was really surprised with the #5 Nougat Caramel Bar being so low in calories, but figured it was all the protein. It clocks in at 106 calories per ounce, which usually pure sugar candy, like Starburst or gummi bears. York Peppermint Patties are about that level of caloric density, but they have so little chocolate and a

So I went through and added up all the elements to get to the listed 200 calories listed for the #8 Chocolate Caramel Peanut Nougat Bar.
12 grams of fat (9 calories per gram) = 108 calories
25 grams of carbs (4 calories per gram) = 100 calories
5 grams of protein (4 calories per gram) = 20 calories

Well, that adds up to 228 calories (and accounts for 42 of the 49 grams, fiber which has no calories makes up an additional 5 grams)

The only way it adds up to 200 is if you only added the sugar, not the full carbs. The package lists 17 grams of sugar (4 calories per gram) which would be 68 calories, making the whole bar 196 calories (rounded up to 200 calories). That would make the calories per ounce a more believable 134 calories for a chocolate and nut candy bar. (For the record, a Snickers bar is 135 calories per ounce.) When I redid the calculations for the #5 Chocolate Nougat Caramel Bar I got 191 calories instead of the stated 170 calories on the package. They’re off by 10-12% of what I believe to be the true calorie count. (The other candies in the UNREAL line seem to add up properly.)

DSC_9574rb

The bar is the same size as the #5 Nougat Caramel, about 3.5 inches long and a little more than one inch wide. It smells like toffee and roasted nuts. The bite is soft, the nougat on the bottom of the layers gives easily. The caramel has a wonderful stringy pull and chewy texture. The chocolate is creamy, has a light bitter chocolate note to it, but a good dairy profile to emulate the milky caramel experience that was missing in the #5 bar for me. In this case the peanuts are what changed it. They’re crunchy, not roasted too dark and all fresh and perfect. If there was an extra level of protein enhancement to the nougat on this bar, I didn’t catch it at all.

The textures meld well, the bar isn’t too large and is completely satisfying. It’s great that it doesn’t have partially hydrogenated oils in it, though I’d prefer a bar without palm oil. The darkness of the milk chocolate also keeps it from being too sweet with the really sugary filling of caramel and nougat.

This bar is a winner on so many levels. I have to hope that the company gets through it’s labeling and transparency issues (still haven’t heard back from them) and can expand to make snack size version for easier portion control and Halloween.

The bar is made in Canada and is Kosher. It contains dairy, eggs, peanuts and soy. Made in a facility with tree nuts and wheat. The website says the ingredients are GMO free, but not the package.

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. UNREAL #5 Chocolate Caramel Nougat Bar
  2. UNREAL #41 & #54 Candy Coated Chocolates
  3. UNREAL #77 Peanut Butter Cups
  4. Route 1 Racer Bar
  5. Justin’s Peanut and Almond Candy Bars
  6. Snickers Slice n’ Share (1 Pound)
  7. Dark Angell Organic Candy Bar
  8. Go Max Go Jokerz Candy Bar
  9. Snickers Dark


Name: #8 Chocolate Caramel Peanut Nougat Bar
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: UNREAL
Place Purchased: CVS (Silver Lake & Park LaBrea)
Price: $1.19
Size: 1.7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 134
Categories: All Natural, Candy, UNREAL, Caramel, Chocolate, Kosher, Nougat, Peanuts, 9-Yummy, Canada, Sav-On/CVS

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:30 am     All NaturalCandyReviewUNREALCaramelChocolateKosherNougatPeanuts9-YummyCanadaSav-On/CVSComments (13)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

UNREAL #5 Chocolate Caramel Nougat Bar

Unreal 5 Chocolate Caramel Nougat Bar UnjunkedHow lovely would it be to have a candy bar that starts with a fluffy plank of nougat and is then topped with some buttery caramel all wrapped up in rich milk chocolate.

The description matches the Mars Milky Way bar pretty well. It’s been around since 1923 and pretty much established the Mars candy company. Companies come and go over the years trying to make that simple formula better, and right now the prime contender in the field is the new line called UNREAL which features all natural ingredients and even some nutrient fortification.

The UNREAL #5 Chocolate Caramel Nougat Bar is 22% smaller than the Milky Way bar, so that right there makes it a more responsible portion. (Milky Way is 57 grams, UNREAL #5 is 45 grams.)

What’s so bad about a Milky Way? Well, just look:

MILKY WAY® Bar ingredients: milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, skim milk, chocolate, lactose, milkfat, soy lecithin, artificial flavor), corn syrup, sugar, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, skim milk, less than 2% milkfat, cocoa powder processed with alkali, lactose, malted barley, wheat flour, salt, egg whites, artificial flavor.

According to UNREAL, the junk ingredients are partially hydrogenated soybean oil, GMO corn syrup and artificial flavor (I’m guessing vanillin. )

DSC_9587rb

The UNREAL #5 bar is pretty impressive to look at. The insides contain just as many ingredients, though I wouldn’t say that all are specifically better.

UNREAL #5 Ingredients: Milk Chocolate (cane sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, milk powder, organic blue agave inulin, skim milk, soy lecithin, vanilla extract),Caramel (tapioca syrup, cane sugar, fructan (prebiotic fiber), organic palm kernel oil, whey, milk protein concentrate, organic cream, vanilla extract, salt, soy lecithin), Tapioca Syrup, Cane Sugar, Milk Protein Concentrate, Organic Palm Kernel Oil, Skim Milk Powder, Cocoa Powder, Salt, Hydrolyzed Milk Protein, Evaporated Cane Syrup, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla Extract

The bar is 3.5 inches long and a little over an inch wide.

DSC_9595rb

It smells good, quite a bit richer and darker than a standard Milky Way. The cocoa notes are far more pronounced. The caramel has a wonderful, stringy and chewy pull without being too stiff to chew easily. The caramel isn’t really a buttery caramel, as far as I can tell from the ingredients it’s just sugar with more palm oil than real cream like they promise. The chocolate is much darker than the standard milk chocolate of Mars, it’s rich and has a smooth melt on the tongue, though a light bitter note.

Oh, but that nougat. I’m not fond of the nougat in the Milky Way or 3 Musketeers. But this nougat, this is something else. It’s like a fluffy Tiger Milk bar. There’s a lot more protein in this bar than the Milky Way, and it’s easy to assume that it’s in the nougat as “milk protein concentrate”. It’s grainy, it tastes like cardboard and stale Nestle Quik powder. It really ruins it for me.

I was concerned that I got a bad bar, so I actually went out, to a different store across town, and bought another. It was the same texture and flavor profile. (The did share the same expiry date of 5/4/2013.)

I think the rest of the line is doing great things, but this one is a huge miss for me. Fortification is one thing, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of the primary reason I’m eating it: for enjoyment. (And the burps later on remind me of B vitamins.) For a bar that wants to be transparent, I’m having some trouble getting info directly out of the company. I’ve tried emailing them and messaging on Twitter. They haven’t replied to either. They say that they’re sourcing things ethically and sustainably, but there’s nothing to back that up. (Where does the chocolate come from, what kind of Palm Fruit Oil is that? Is that really non GMO soy lecithin? Why doesn’t it say those things on the package?)

The bars are made in Canada. They contain milk, soy, eggs and wheat. They’re made in a facility with peanuts, wheat and tree nuts.

UPDATE 8/1/2012: I have sent multiple messages to UNREAL on several different addresses. The first was to the address they published on their website on June 20, 2012. In the interim I’ve sent twitter messages. Then on July 20, 2012 I sent another message to a named contact at UNREAL at an email address given to me by a reader who met her at a twitter event. I have still not heard back (and sent another message today). So my confidence in the company’s transparency is quite low at the moment. Eat it for the taste and what you know is in the package, but I can’t buy into the ethics at the moment for the claims on the website.

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. Bees & Beans Honey Bar
  2. Double Dutch Sweets: The Ramona Bar
  3. 3 Musketeers Richer Chocolate Taste
  4. Go Max Go Twilight Candy Bar
  5. Milky Way Simply Caramel
  6. Zingerman’s Zzang! Candy Bars
  7. Head to Head: Milky Way & Mars (Canada & UK)


Name: #5 Chocolate Caramel Nougat Bar
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: UNREAL
Place Purchased: CVS (Silver Lake & Park LaBrea)
Price: $1.19
Size: 1.6 ounces
Calories per ounce: 106
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Review, UNREAL, Caramel, Chocolate, Kosher, Nougat, 5-Pleasant, Canada, Sav-On/CVS

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:38 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewUNREALCaramelKosherNougat5-PleasantCanadaSav-On/CVSComments (5)

Monday, June 25, 2012

UNREAL #41 & #54 Candy Coated Chocolates

Unreal 41 Candy Coated Chocolates UnjunkedCandy coated chocolates are so simple, yet so many folks find many of the commercial ingredients objectionable. It seems like it would be easy to make a good chocolate lentil with all natural, wholesome ingredient. Yet, here we are in 2012, and I can’t say that I like any of the alternatives to M&Ms very much.

You can imagine that I greeted the new UNREAL candy line with a bit of trepidation and suspicion. After all, if it could be done, why isn’t it done? (Try Sundrops.)

The UNREAL line uses all natural ingredients, specifically no artificial colors, no preservatives, no GMOs and no hydrogenated oils. The two elements that are interest in the instance of M&Ms would be artificial colors (which can make some colors taste bad to some consumers and have been linked with hyperactivity and other sensitivities with some kids) and genetically modified organism.

M&Ms Milk Chocolate Ingredients: Milk Chocolate (sugar, chocolate, skim milk, cocoa butter, lactose, milkfat, soy lecithin, salt, artificial flavors), sugar, cornstarch, less than 1% corn syrup, gum acacia, coloring (includes Red 40 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6, Red 40, Blue 2 Lake, Yellow 5, Yellow 6 Lake, Blue 1, Blue 1 Lake, Blue 2), Dextrin.

Unreal 41 Candy Coated Chocolates

Part of what irritates me is their positioning of this candy on their website. They compare the candy to M&Ms and to a fresh peach. The listing of qualities below the specs for #41 Candy Coated Chocolates is:
No Corn Syrup
No Partially Hydrogenated Oil
No Artificial Ingredients
No GMOs
No Preservatives

Okay, that’s great. But to be fair, M&Ms do not have any partially hydrogenated oils and no preservatives. And a peach also has none of those (though I’d say that somewhere out there, there are GMO peaches, I don’t think they’re commercial at this time.) The comparisons are also a little skewed by the portion sizes. M&Ms are sold in bags of 1.69 ounces (47.9 grams) and UNREAL #41 are 1.5 ounces (42 grams). So the grid is not converted to a one to one comparison.

The little candies are pretty, and I appreciate that they don’t look as unnatural as I ofter regard M&Ms to be (the blue and red ones, especially). However, the colors are a little on the dark and morose side. Honestly, I don’t know why they have to be so dark, why couldn’t it just be a touch of color, instead of some sort of thick slathering of turmeric extract?

The lentils are slightly smaller than M&Ms but consistent for the most part and well made. The package protects them, they weren’t crushed or cracked.

Unreal 41 Candy Coated Chocolates

The flavor is interesting and far different from the wide appeal of M&Ms. They’re creamy and smooth, the melt is great and only slightly sticky. The crunchy shell is crisp and has a great dissolve, depending on your eating style. But the chocolate is where these little lentils are completely different from M&Ms or any other chocolate candy lentils.

The chocolate is smoky, rather dark and has a toffee and charcoal note from both the cocoa and milk. I get a lot of bitterness from it, something I noticed in the peanut butter cups, but it was well moderated by the peanut butter center. Here, it’s just the chocolate and the candy shell. I didn’t care for the intensity, however, I recognize that not all people detect bitterness in the same way. So some folks may find these delightful, I found they required a little more effort on my part to appreciate.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Unreal 54 Candy Coated Chocolates with Peanuts UnjunkedThe UNREAL #54 Candy Coated Chocolates with Peanuts have a consistent package with the rest of the UNREAL line, this one with a neon or highlighter green and yellow logo and little candies scattered across the front of the package.

This packet also holds 1.5 ounces with the same sticker price as the non-natural M&Ms which are 1.74 ounces.

Unreal 54 Candy Coated Chocolates with Peanuts

I’ve often found that Peanut M&Ms, though good, are not my favorite when given a choice. In this case, I preferred the UNREAL #54 to the UNREAL #41. The nuts were fresh, big and not roasted too dark. The bitterness of the chocolate was still there, but moderated by the savory characteristics of the peanuts.

Unreal 54 Candy Coated Chocolates with Peanuts

A curious item on the nutrition panel says that the Peanut variety has 45% of your daily value of Calcium and the Milk Chocolate one has 50% of your daily value. The full ingredients list shows that it’s not the milk that’s contributing that (M&Ms have about 4% of your DV), it’s Calcium Carbonate. (No source is given for that, is it oyster shell? Egg shells? Bone meal?) Full ingredients:

Ingredients: Milk Chocolate (chocolate, skim milk, cane sugar, cocoa butter, milk powder, organic blue agave inulin, soy lecithin, vanilla extract), Peanuts, Cane Sugar, Calcium Carbonate, Peanut Oil, Colored with (beetroot juice, turmeric root extract, purple cabbage juice), Gum Arabic, Vanilla Extract, Carnauba Wax & Beeswax

So, it still has that inulin stuff in it that I remarked about in the #77 Peanut Butter Cup review. It’s basically a nice, clean candy that has some nutritional fortification. Personally, I’d prefer just clean candy and let me get my nutrition elsewhere.

Rating: 8 out of 10

I like the line. I’m annoyed at the marketing and lack of true information (but they’re new and I’m still waiting for a response to my email on Saturday). But the candy is good, they’re on the right track and I’m excited about it. It would be fun to see where they go with it, if they create a few candies that are vegan as well, or at least dairy free.

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. UNREAL #77 Peanut Butter Cups
  2. Nestle Skinny Cow Heavenly Crisp
  3. NewTree Dark Milk
  4. Hershey’s Drops: Milk Chocolate & Cookies n Creme
  5. Hershey-ets
  6. Sunspire Coconut Bars
  7. UK Smarties (no artificial colors)
  8. Best Intentions: Sun Drops
  9. Chocolate Sunflower Seed Drops


Name: #41 Candy Coated Chocolates
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: UNREAL
Place Purchased: CVS (Silver Lake)
Price: $1.19
Size: 1.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 133
Categories: All Natural, UNREAL, Chocolate, Kosher, 7-Worth It, United States, Sav-On/CVS


Name: #54 Candy Coated Chocolates with Peanuts
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: UNREAL
Place Purchased: CVS (Silver Lake)
Price: $1.19
Size: 1.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 127
Categories: All Natural, Candy, UNREAL, Chocolate, Kosher, Peanuts, 8-Tasty, United States, Sav-On/CVS

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:42 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewUNREALChocolateKosherPeanuts7-Worth It8-TastyUnited StatesSav-On/CVSComments (11)

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)

Friday, June 15, 2012

RJ’s Licorice Allsorts

RJ's Licorice AllsortsThere are lots of different kinds of black licorice with different flavor profiles and styles. There’s American twist licorice, Dutch salty licorice and Australian soft chew licorice. New Zealand even has its own brand, RJ’s Licorice.

I picked up this sample package at the Fancy Food Show earlier this year. It’s RJ’s Licorice Allsorts and they’re made with all natural ingredients, with no artificial colors. I thought this was a great idea, because I’m often turned off by weird flavors and aftertastes from artificial colors.

The other New Zealand twist on this is the flavor set for these candies, they come in four colors and flavors: Passion Fruit, Black Cherry, Lime and Orange.

RJ's Licorice Allsorts

They smell really good. They’re soft and have a strong anise and molasses note. The stack for the little sandwiches starts with a white layer or fondant, which seems to be unflavored or at least lightly flavored. Then there’s a thin square of black licorice. On top of that is the special flavored fondant. This fondant is just a soft sugar mixture, there’s no coconut in there like some Allsorts feature.

The orange pieces are Orange flavored. The white fondant is like a frosting, sugary and sweet and with only a light and soft touch of orange essence. There’s no tartness and little balance. The licorice layer is soft and pliable, chewy and has a nice profile. It’s a mix of woodsy molasses, toffee and other burnt flavors. It’s only the faintest bit bitter and quite sweet in that light way that licorice is. The white layer is unflavored, as far as I can tell.

The green looks rather like a highlighter and is Lime. This one was not entirely pleasant. I didn’t care for the lime layer, it was sweet and weirdly artificial even though it does use natural flavorings.

The faint pink is Black Cherry and has a great profile. The flavor is floral and a bit more punchy than the previous citrus ones. It dissipates quickly but still goes well with the licorice layer. It tasted far sweeter though on the whole than the other flavors.

The yellow sandwich was Passion Fruit which was the odd one in the batch. It was musky and had strong honey and floral notes. It goes pretty well with the licorice, which I never would have guessed. But still, it was a lot of different sweet notes, too much for me.

If you’re the type who likes very sweet and sugary candy, the type of person who eats straight sugar cube, this is a good choice. It wasn’t licorice-y enough for me and without enough of a fruity note from the fondant. I’ll stick to plain licorice from RJ’s for now.

Related Candies

  1. Trader Joe’s Allsorts -a- Licorice
  2. Gatos Licorice
  3. Haribo Pearlico Lakritz
  4. 12 European Licorices
  5. Leaf Schoolchalk, Allsorts & Pipes
  6. Lifesaver Musk
  7. Bassett’s Licorice Allsorts


Name: Licorice Allsorts
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: RJ’s Licorice, Ltd.
Place Purchased: samples from Fancy Food Show
Price: $5.00 retail
Size: 6.3 ounces
Calories per ounce: 107
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Fondant, Licorice Candy, 5-Pleasant, New Zealand

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:30 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewFondantLicorice Candy5-PleasantNew ZealandComments (1)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Feodora Mocca’s Dark and Milk

Feodora Mocca's - Zart-Bitter & VollmilchI’m traveling again, which means I’ve got a hankering for portable coffee. I know that coffee flavored chocolates don’t have the same caffeinated kick as actual coffee, but a little snacking on some coffee-ish candy probably has some sort of placebo effect.

I’ve written about Feodora Moccas before. When I was in Germany I actually visited the factory where Feodora and Hachez chocolate is made and picked up both versions of their chocolate coffee beans. Even at the factory store, they’re still not cheap, though certainly less expensive than the prices I pay in the United States.

The Feodora Moccals Zart-Bitter is the most common version, but I was eager to try their Feodora Mocca’s Vollmilch because Feodora is so well known for their extremely smooth milk chocolate. The Feodora website had a product page for them in English:

Besides the well-known chocolate specialty FEODORA Mochas – mocha beans of superior semi-dark chocolate with coffee – a new product was introduced in September 2009: FEODORA Mochas WHOLE MILK. The premium whole milk chocolate refined with coffee gives the Mochas new momentum.

The handy, resealable pack is easy to use and the compact size fits ideally in any shirt pocket and handbag. FEODORA Mochas – the ideal companions for chocolate gourmets and everyone who wants to become one!

Feodora Mocca's - Zart-Bitter

The previous review of these holds up, as I still feel the same way about the slightly grainy texture. They’re quite strong in flavor, on the bitter side but not too acidic. They’re very woodsy but also sweet and have a note of cinnamon to them.

Feodora Mocca's - Zart-Bitter & Vollmilch

The pieces are excellently detailed, larger than a real coffee bean but with the little crease down the middle. They fit well in the mouth, and one is actually a great portion. There chocolate is mixed with 3% coffee beans ... I don’t know what that means for caffeine content, but I’d probably put it at least than 20 mg per portion.

I was a little disappointed by the Vollmilch variety (called Superior Milk Chocolate with Coffee on the back of the box in English). The Feodora chocolate is extremely smooth and milky, slick and cool on the tongue. However, the Moccas lack that smoothness, probably because of the addition of the actual coffee beans. It’s a little bit grainy, bitter and the milky flavors are more toffee and almost molasses.

Much to my surprise though, I went through the milk chocolate variety much quicker than the dark chocolate. It really shouldn’t surprise me, I prefer my coffee with a bit of milk in its liquid form. My favorite coffee flavored chocolate lentil is still the Meiji Coffee Beat from Japan, but this one does have an authentic coffee kick to it.

Related Candies

  1. Askinosie Intelligentsia Coffee Bar
  2. Sukoka Soft Coffee Candy
  3. Ginger Chews: Hot Coffee
  4. Coffee Rio
  5. Coffee Nips
  6. Feodora Chocolates
  7. Pocket Coffee
  8. Coffee Beat


Name: Mocca’s Vollmilch
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Feodora
Place Purchased: Feodora & Hachez Factory Store (Bremen, Germany)
Price: 2 Euro (about $2.89)
Size: 2.47 ounces
Calories per ounce: 145
Categories:

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:26 am     All NaturalCandyReviewHachezCaffeinatedChocolateCoffee7-Worth ItGermanyComments (1)

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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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COUNTDOWN

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Which seasonal candy selection do you prefer?

Choose one or more:

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ON DECK

These candies will be reviewed shortly:

• Patric Chocolate

• Amano Chocolates

• Candy Rant: Stimulants are not Energy

• Candy Encyclopedia: The Difference Between Gummi and Jelly

• Candy Rant: If your Licorice isn’t black, it isn’t Licorice

 

 

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