Friday, April 25, 2008
When I was afraid I was getting sick earlier this winter I turned to candy. After all, many candies started out as medicine. The cough drops of yesteryear are the root beer barrels and cherry LifeSavers of today. Sometimes I eat vitamin C enriched hard candies, figuring, what could it hurt and it might help.
The government keeps candy companies from making grandiose claims, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to nudge us to buy something because it might have nutritional value (I seriously doubt I’m at high risk for scurvy). I spied these Brach’s Gummi+Plus (is that supposed to be said aloud as Gummi Plus Plus?) at the 7-11 and though they might ease an aching throat. I was also intrigued because they had different flavors: Cranberry, Pomegranate, Orange, Apple, Strawberry & Blueberry. I was really curious to taste a pomegranate or cranberry gummi!
They look just like any other gummis, each in a little fruit shape. What gives these their +Plus is an infusion of three antioxidants: 25% of your RDA of vitamin A, Vitamin C & Vitamin E.
Though they’re throwing “immune boosting” powers at us, it’s obvious that they didn’t really commit to the whole line, as they didn’t even bother to make up molds for these new fruits.
Besides the freaky shape and unnatural color, the flavor is, well, kind of like a berry of some sort. You could tell me it’s a black raspberry and I’d probably believe you.
It’s soft and tangy and has a good strawberry jam flavor to it.
Not exciting in a plus plus way, but tasty.
The package had no purple on it, but did show a red “berry” that I’m going to guess is this one: Pomegranate. The shape is a pretty good patch to what pomegranate seeds look like if you peel away the membrane carefully.
It’s quite a good flavor, like a combination of raspberry and cherry ... not quite pomegranate, but certainly a lot less fuss.
It’s a good apple juice flavor instead of just the fake green apple (but there’s a little bit of that in there too).
In fact, the ingredients list apple juice as an ingredient (I’m guessing they use it instead of a splash of water so they can say “made with real fruit juice!”
No matter, this one is much like the pomegranate. Very deep, with a much more tart and acidic overtone. I welcome the cranberry to the gummi mix! I hope it sticks around, as far as super sours go, cranberries are overlooked.
I rather liked that, it made it feel more medicinal, more like candied orange peel or some sort of soothing tea.
As far as the antioxidant properties, I still got the flu, but then again I didn’t finish the bag until I decided to write these up while I’m traveling. (Gummis are great traveling candy.) I couldn’t detect any flavors that were particularly indicative of “vitamins” and vitamin E can be like that sometimes.
Brach’s also offers an assortment of Tropical Gummis. One of the fun parts of this was that the only flavor that intersected with the Gummi +Plus was Orange. I got to test whether the fortified gummis really tasted different from the regular ones. (Nope.)
You can tell here, too, that they’re similar molds.
Orange was just as zesty.
Purple was probably raspberry. It’s hard to tell because there is no retail label on the bulk bag. It tastes like a very sweet raspberry jam.
Strawberry Banana was kind of cute. At first I didn’t know what that shape was. But the pink color and mild, sweet strawberry flavor (less tart than the Gummi +Plus) kind of cinched it. It reminds me a little of yogurt. The banana component is a little artificial tasting, but that’s okay with me.
Lime was cute. It’s nice to see lime instead of apple. It was zesty, a little bit of that bitterness that I noticed in the orange, but definitely convincing.
Lemon was pretty dark in color and I often mistook it for the orange. The shape and size were perfect, but the flavor was sadly bland. Not bad, just not rising to the same level as the rest.
Pineapple was what drew me to this mix in the first place. Look at it, it’s a cute little pineapple shaped gummi! Soft and tangy, with the floral note and that little thing that only pineapple can do to the salivary glands. (But luckily it didn’t burn my tongue, like I do sometimes with fresh pineapple.)
The texture of the gummis is far softer than something like Haribo, but not quite as pliable as Trolli. They do well sitting out, I left some out on my desk, and though the outside was a little drier after a weekend, they were still soft. The flavors are distinct, the molding very good and of course the price is quite reasonable. So many of the Brach’s candies are made overseas, these were made in the USA.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
One of the few candies that seemed to be in our house regularly when I was a kid were Cinnamon Imperials. Perhaps it was because they were considered “baking products.”
Around Valentine’s Day each year they’re available in little heart shapes. (Actually, lately this is the only way I can find them unless I’m willing to buy the stupidly expensive packages from the cake decorating companies, teensy boxes of Ferrara Pan Red Hots or in huge quantities via the web.)
They’re the perfect little candy and a rather simple construction. The center is a tiny pressed hard candy in the shape of a heart. They’re then tumbled in a panning machine and given several coats of red flavored sugar syrup and then shined up with a little edible wax.
They’re not super hot, just a pleasant spicy cinnamon. These feature the devilish Red #40, but for some reason the cinnamon flavor masks it well enough for me to keep eating these. Of course everyone knows I’ve been eating them because my tongue has been red for the past week.
They’re a fun candy to share and great for putting in a covered jar for everyone to enjoy. Definitely something to put on your list of items to pick up when they’re wildly on sale after Valentines.
I’ve never noticed much difference between the brands. I’ve had Ferrara Pan & Necco and probably a bunch of other brands that I never managed to figure out. The Food Network’s Unwrapped show did an episode on Valentines candy last weekend and showed a company named Primrose in Chicago also making them.
I’m fairly certain these were produced after Brach’s was taken over by Farley’s & Sathers last fall. The coding on it is the Farley’s & Sathers style. This particular bag has a code of 7332CYP5, using a Julian date system for the first four characters which means that it was produced on the 332rd day of 2007. That’d be November 27th, 2007. I’m guessing that a panned hard candy like this is good for at least 12 months. Tasted pretty fresh to me.
Monday, November 19, 2007
There’s rarely anything “new” in hard candy, so I was pleased to see Brach’s has a new assortment of hard candies called Soda Poppers.
They boast real fruit juice and come in four licensed soda flavors (from Cadbury Schweppes): A&W Root Beer, Doctor Pepper, Orange Crush & 7-Up.
Rather than just being a mix of hard candies in soda flavors, the twist on these is that they’re shaped like little cans and feature a firm goo center. (There’s no carbonation, though.)
I’m a hard candy cruncher, so I liked that I could crunch these pretty quickly and get a whole new texture. They were kind of sticky once crunched, but I don’t mind digging piece of hard candy off my teeth as an afternoon diversion.
Like the assortment that Jelly Belly has called Soda Pop Shoppe, there’s no cola in this mix. Strange, as that’s one of the flavors that’s unique to the carbonated drink arena (besides Dr. Pepper).
Would I buy these again? Probably not. I prefer the simple root beer barrel, lemon drop or orange slice. If they managed to get a cola flavor in the mix, well, now then we’d have something! As a flavor mix and the fact that they added the chewy jelly filling, well, it certainly changes the ordinary hard candy idea on its head. These are being sold in bulk in Pick a Mix and in small bags (I think 7 ounces).
Of note: Brach’s was recently sold by French chocolate company Barry Callebaut to Farley’s & Sathers (which itself is made up of a bunch of other candy companies rolled into one: Heide, Trolli, Farley’s, Sathers, Bob’s, Now & Laters and RainBlo gum). These candies were made in Argentina.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
There used to be rules and people followed them. Oh, they were informal; things like no white shoes after Labor Day, your shoes should match your belt. Seasonal merchandise wouldn’t be put out until the previous holiday was over (no Christmas goodies before Thanksgiving). But those rules are long gone.
So I shouldn’t have been surprised to see Halloween candy out already at the RiteAid before Labor Day. But at least this was something different. Instead of fruity flavors, this twist is from Brach’s Milk Maid line and is called Caramel Candy Corn.
Most of us have a love-hate relationship with Candy Corn. Well, some folks have a love-love or a hate-hate ... which averages out in the big scheme of things to a love-hate for the general population. I hate-love candy corn. I don’t really like eating it, but I love looking at it and the smell of it.
This stuff smells really promising, if a little overwhelming. Like caramelized sugar. It smelled so great in the store, I really wanted to take it home. Of course in the car (which I admit was as hot as one of those scented oil diffusers) the smell started getting to me in the way that candle stores do.
It all boils down to this, if you like Buttered Popcorn Jelly Belly, you’ll probably like Caramel Candy Corn. I don’t and I didn’t.
The texture is good, a nice smooth fondant. The white tip is unflavored and the two lower layers, orange and brown, are butter flavored fondant. The caramel flavor that the smell implies is completely missing, instead it has that intense note of butter flavored popcorn just crackling away in the microwave.
I just didn’t like them as much as I wanted to. Not nearly as much as the Brach’s Autum Mix (candy corn, Indian corn and mellow cremes). I was really unhappy that it was $2.29 for the bag to boot ... yeah, it’s a 19 ounce bag, but what do I need 19 ounces of buttered popcorn flavored candy corn for?
Monday, April 2, 2007
The full name on these is Brach’s Pastel Fiesta Malted Milk Eggs which of course made me wonder if they have another product that is perhaps primary colors or just black and white. Malted milk eggs at Easter were a particular favorite of mine. They were one of those interactive candies, you can lick the shell and then color your lips with the coral pink or white chalky edible makeup. (That white lipstick was quite the look when I was very little.)
Now of course I’m much more interested in the “real milk chocolate” part of the wrapper. Brach’s has been owned by Barry Callebaut since 2003, so maybe they were teaching Brach’s a thing or two about chocolate. They don’t need to be taught how to make boiled sugar candy, they do that just fine.
The Fiesta Eggs are big and bold. They make a satisfying clacking sound in the bag when you roll them around. They can be eaten whole (or applied liberally over the face) but I prefer to bite them in half and have a look. I don’t know what I expect to find, as it has always been the same ... malt center, chocolate layer and then hard colored shell. But you never know! (Actually, I’ve eaten very old malt balls before and every once in a while I’ve gotten ones with “melted” centers but shells that are intact or just a little dented.)
Fiesta Eggs smell like Easter. They’re sweet and have a slight vanilla hint to them. This bag was very fresh, the shells were super crisp and the centers were light and airy.
Unlike the normal chocolate covered malt balls, the Fiesta Egg is more about the combination of the texture of the hard sugar shell and the light crunch of the malted center. The chocolate layer provides a little bit of a creamy texture, but not much flavor. In the Brach’s chocolate, as far as I can tell, is too too sweet.
These still aren’t my ultimate malted egg. I’m not sure I’ve found it yet. I wasn’t blown away by the Jelly Belly ones either and I picked up some more vibrant colored ones (but I don’t know the brand) a the Sweet Factory a few weeks ago in the bulk bins. They tasted too much like food coloring and not enough like malt. Perhaps such a candy doesn’t exist.
But you can be sure that I’m going to finish these! How do I look with lilac lipstick?
UPDATE: 3/30/2011 - The pastel ones are hard to find, but I did run across a white version. They say they’re made with real milk chocolate, but they’re still not very chocolatey.
UPDATE 3/2/2012: Another newer version has appeared on store shelves. They are much, much larger, but have a more flavorful malt center and perhaps better chocolate. Check out the new review here.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Yeah, candy corn. What can I say about candy corn? Some people love it, some people hate it. Joanna at SugarSavvy.net already covered one of my favorite passages about candy corn by Lewis Black.
Based on her review I went off in search of candy corn last week. My results were dismal. I came home with one bag. Some stores did not have ANY candy corn at all (well, some also had CHRISTMAS candy out already so they had the lame reindeer corn). I picked up the Brach’s Autumn Mix. It’s a mix of pumpkin mallowcreams, candy corn and Indian corn.
Brach’s always makes nice looking, high quality candy. Their candy corn is no different and uses top-notch ingredients. Though candy corn is basically sugar and corn syrup boiled into a stiff fondant, Brach’s throws a little honey in there for taste besides the colorings.
The candy corn is big and narrow. Good definition between the colors, bright and with an attractively sweet smell. It’s soft and a bit grainy, but I kind of like that. Plain candy corn is eaten by putting the entire thing in the mouth and chewing.
Another variety of candy corn that is seen from time to time is often called “Indian Corn” but is really chocolate candy corn. Well, kind of chocolate. Someone walked by a vat of candy corn batter with a chocolate bar.
In order to rationalize the purchase of Indian corn, one must eat it by biting off the chocolate bottom first. It tastes like candy corn, but perhaps with a tint of a Tootsie Roll chocolatey-ness added.
The big plus in this bag of the Autumn mix is that it has the pumpkins in it. They’re a dense, semi-soft piece of sugar. There’s a throat burning sweetness that makes you want to go back to eating the candy corn for a moment until the lure of the large, compact sugar-singularity calls to you again. By the time you learn your lesson, the bag is empty, your teeth hurt and your stomach aches.
When I was in grad school I saw a production of a play called Seventy Scenes of Halloween by Jeffrey M. Jones. Candy corn is featured heavily in it. I don’t know why I mention that, but you know, in case someone was looking for advice on what plays to include in a candy themed theatre festival, I’d love to help!
I like candy corn as a concept. I like it as decoration. I don’t think it’s great as a candy, but I have to give it a passing grade because I keep eating it. I really like to buy it when it’s 10 cents for a pound of it sometime in late November. Then it scores a 7 out of 10.
For another view on Brach’s Autumn Mix, Rebecca coincidentally posted on the same product today.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Candy is a microcosm of society and existence. I know this because there are certain candies that indicate the presence of the divine in every scrumptious bite. Then there is evidence of evil on this planet. The Easter “marshmallow egg” is one of the latter candies.
This candy has promise on the outside, as all temptresses do. It’s big, so of course it’s appealing to any foolish child who hasn’t learned that “bigger is not always better.” What’s more, it is an evil that has no name. Really, what are these things called? If I say marshmallow egg, you might thing of the satisfying marshmallow half-hemispheres that are drenched in chocolate this time of year. Or even something that resembles an Easter-themed Circus Peanut. Brachs has chosen to call their version of these Bunny Basket Eggs. I will hereafter refer to them as BBBE, which when pronounced as an acronym (as all good acronyms should be) it will sound like a stuttered bee-bee or a very cold person trying to say ‘bean.’
Part of their temptation lies in their beguiling size, which is made up entirely of sugar with a dash of artificial color and carnauba wax. That’s a Starburst Jelly bean there; it’s no match for the Mastodon known as a Brachs Bunny Basket Egg.
I hope you understand that Brachs probably makes the finest BBBEs there are. They’re generous with the color and they’re even flavored. The green ones are lime and orange ones are orange. I can’t tell you what the rest are. Please don’t make me eat more of them.
If you haven’t already guessed, these are horrid candies. It’s not like I’m against eating pure sugar, I have in fact indulged in full spoonfuls of honey or brown sugar as a treat quite often. The shell of a BBBE is similar to a jelly bean. It’s a rather grainy sugar coating that’s smooth on the outside and lightly flavored. The center of a BBBE is a fluffy, grainy sugar that really isn’t like marshmallow, but I call it that because the ingredients mention gelatin and corn starch.
I don’t think BBBEs can be made and delivered fresh, not to mention the fact that few people eat them right out of a pristine bag. They’re intended to sit in amongst the pastel cello grass of an Easter basket until all the other choice candies are consumed and a desperate sugar-toothed child is force to eat it. Then the last thing this child remembers of his Easter experience is this deplorable egg. The smell of these inside the bag is like a mess of flavored lipsticks or a bad candle shop. A combination of fake fruit flavors and of course airborne microfine sugar which is intent on giving you that satisfying sweet feeling on your tongue before you even eat one.
I realize that this candy has its champions, and that by no means makes you minions of evil. I can only surmise that the experience of eating these foul little fingers of pure sucrose is inextricably tied to a pleasant experience and these help you relive a little of it. If that’s the reason, then I completely support their continued, but limited, production as a therapy device. If you would like to read someone who might share your unending love of these, you might want to pick up Hilary Lifton’s memoir called Candy and Me: A Love Story (you can preview the chapter online).
I honestly did try to like these. I never cared for them as a child, but I did buy them, make them look pretty in the photos (they are actually very pretty) and of course ate TWO! That’s why they get a rating of two instead of one. (You may now commence in the comments section telling me how wrong I am.)
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