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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

10 Underrated Candies

I often try to champion exceptional candies, ones that don’t have million dollar advertising budgets or huge fandoms on social networks. But there are other candies out there that have been plugging away for decades just being dependable. They’re not the best they could be, but they certainly don’t get the attention they deserve.

So here they are, not the only 10 candies that are underrated, but just 10 that I happen to love and find myself eating more often, now that I’ve circled around and tried a few thousand other candies in the past eight years.

Atkinson Chick-o-Stick

Chick-O-Sticks (Atkinson’s)

Description: Orange crunchy layers of peanut butter crisp rolled in coconut.

What’s to like about it?

Crispy peanut butter layers. You get right to it, no busting your way through some crazy overly-sweet mockolate. It’s just about the peanuts, it’s completely crispy, a little salty and totally nutty. The best format are the individually wrapped minis shown, they make far less mess than the long bar format.

They’re vegan and gluten free.

Hesitations?

Well, there’s coconut on the outside. I’m not sure why, but it’s there and it’s always been there. There’s not a lot and it really doesn’t contribute much to the flavor but does give a little chew to the texture. What would make me even happier is if they got rid of the artificial colors in it, which I could swear give them a slight bitter aftertaste that I don’t get from the equally lovely Atkinson’s Peanut Bars.

What makes it underrated?

The packaging is lackluster and they can be hard to find, especially in the Northeast.

Goldenberg's Peanut Chews

Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews (Just Born)

Description: a molasses chew studded with peanuts covered in dark mockolate.

What’s to like about it?

Molasses and peanuts. That’s it. It’s dark and mysterious, only slightly sweet, sometimes a little bitter. It’s chewy and crunchy and with a lot of nuts, it’s very satisfying and filling. They come in cute little bars, so you can just eat one or two and save the rest for later or share. They’re vegan!

Hesitations?

The mockolate coating is disappointing. It’s usually a bit toasty flavored but waxy so it lacks a creamy smooth quality that might really tip this over into being an incredible candy.

What makes it underrated?

The name and packaging marks it as an old-time, regional candy bar. Just Born, who bought out Goldenberg’s, renamed the candy, then brought back the classic name & design, further confusing people. The molasses component is a hard sell in artificial times.

Ferrara Pan Root Beer Barrels

Root Beer Barrels (Various Brands)

What’s to like about it?

It tastes like root beer! I tastes more like root beer than most of the cheap and weak sodas on store shelves and it’s more portable. It’s a hard to find flavor that really shines in hard candy form.

Hesitations?

Some brands are better than others. Voids in the candy can be sharp and make small cuts or abrasions on the tongue or palate.

What makes it underrated?

It’s hard candy and hard candy is for old ladies.

Honees

Honees Honey Drops (DiNatura)

Description: little honey flavored hard candies filled with honey.

What’s to like about it?

They’re dead simple and satisfying, the honey center coats the throat and does actually soothe without medication.

Hesitations?

They can be expensive and can be messy, as many packages get sticky because of the delicate filling in the pieces.

What makes it underrated?

They’re stuck in the cough drop aisle, not with the rest of the candy. Sure, they’re soothing, but they’re also comforting, and who doesn’t want to be comforted regularly?

Compartes Candied Orange Peel Dipped in Chcoolate

Chocolate Covered Orange Zest (your local chocolate shop)

Description: candied orange peel is dipped in dark chocolate

What’s to like about it?

It’s extremely simple with a good combination of textures and flavors. There’s the bitterness of the orange oils and dark chocolate, the chewy texture of the peel and the creamy melt of the chocolate.

Hesitations?

They’re a small treat, and the satisfaction is usually due to good quality peels done well (not to soft and sticky, not leathery tough) and appropriate amounts of chocolate. They’re often expensive, which is odd because it’s basically chocolate covered garbage, but they do require a bit of manual labor to make.

What makes it underrated?

Probably the fact that some places sell bad versions or put awful chocolate on them. They’re also not for everyone, citrus is just not everyone’s thing.

Hot Tamales

Hot Tamales (Just Born)

Description: rod shaped hot cinnamon jelly beans.

What’s to like about it?

They’re cinammony, soft and chewy. They’re not too hot, so you can eat a lot of them, unlike some other super sizzling cinnamon candies.

Hesitations?

The red food coloring is a bit overwhelming and sometimes I get a package that tastes like cherry.

What makes it underrated?

They’re just jelly beans. There’s only one flavor in the box.

Butter Mints

Buttermints (Richardson)

Description: buttery mint puffs

What’s to like about it?

They’re like sweet, minty air. They’re soft and melt in your mouth. They’re lightly flavored like peppermint, the opposite of the blast of flavor from an Altoid.

Hesitations?

They’re hard to find and can get stale quickly or take on flavors from other foods around them. If they’re sitting out in a bowl, they’re going to be disappointing.

What makes it underrated?

They’re marketed as an after dinner mint, not a treat in their own right.

Old Dominion Butter Toffee Peanuts

Toffee Peanuts (Various brands - shown is Old Dominion also Adams-Brooks Candies)

Description: crunchy caramelized sugar covering peanuts

What’s to like about it?

They’re often found at truck stops and in vending machines. They’re a great combination of satisfying peanut protein and sweet, buttery toffee. Though they’re similar to French Burnt Peanuts, they’re not as tough to crunch and often have a more authentic peanut and browned butter flavor to them.

Hesitations?

They can be sticky and sometimes if the bag has been shaken up too much, all the toffee comes off the nuts. (But then it’s just perfect as a topping for ice cream.)

What makes it underrated?

As you may have already noticed a theme here, underrated candies are usually in small pieces, not bar form. It’s easy to dismiss a toffee coated peanut because there are other, more trendy candies out there. But they’ve been making these for hundreds of years for a reason.

Spearmint Leaves

Spearmint Leaves (Generic)

Description: spearmint flavored jellies shaped like a mint leaf.

What’s to like about it?

There are so few spearmint candies in the United States these days, and these endure for a reason. They’re sweet but with a really powerful spearmint note to them that balances it out. The sugar crust balances the sticky jelly of the center. They’re usually vegan as there’s no gelatin used in gumdrops.

Hesitations?

They can get stale quickly, or worse, get sticky and damp. They’re not easy to combine with other candies in a trail mix. I feel like an old lady when I pick them out in the store.

Sugar Babies

Sugar Babies (Tootsie)

Description: caramel bits covered in a grainy sugar shell.

What’s to like about it?

If you’ve ever thought, “why don’t they make caramel jelly beans”, this is the answer. Why make a flavored item when you can give the same treatment to the real thing.

Hesitations?

When the get stale, they’re pretty hard. They don’t do well in trail mix with things like dried fruit because the moisture will make them even grainier or sticky.

What makes it underrated?

I think folks stop eating them when they grow up, and never go back.

So that’s my list. What do you think is undervalued or poorly marketed?

Related Candies

  1. Candy Tease: Bar None, Reed’s and Regal Crown Sours
  2. Flix Candy Flix Mix
  3. Candy Tease: Sweets & Snacks Expo 2011 Part 1
  4. Candy Tease: Nostalgia in 2011
  5. The 110 Essential Candies for Candivores

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:20 pm     CandyBrittleCaramelChewsChocolateCinnamonJelly CandyMintsMockolatePeanutsToffeeHighlightFun StuffComments (14)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Las Trojes Pepitoria Brittles

Las Trojes Pepitoria Mixed Seeds BrittleI was shopping for candy downtown at Jack’s Wholesale Candy and found these brittle disks. They’re made by a local company named Las Trojes which is based in Anaheim. I’m not quite sure what the name means, as troje is a granary or barn but could also be a storehouse.

The packages are quite simple, and do a fantastic job of showing off the product. They’re all extremely simple: a mix of sugar and seeds and/or nuts. They were also very inexpensive, at only $1 each for a two ounce package.Seed brittles are a beguilingly good snack but they’re also a great way to bind together vexing little seeds into something easier to transport and consume.

I picked up all three varieties they had at the store.

Las Trojes Pepitoria Brittles

The packaging features a thick piece of cellophane folded over the round disk and held in place by the label sticker on the back (or is it the front?).

Las Trojes Pepitoria Mixed Seeds Brittle

Las Trojes Pepitoria Mixed Seeds Brittle is quite a gorgeous little find. There are peanuts, sesame seeds, almonds, coconut and pumpkin seeds (pepitas) with only the addition of sugar to hold it all together. There are no added oils or partially hydrogenated fats or gelatins. It’s a vegan snack.

Las Trojes Pepitoria Mixed Seeds Brittle

The disk is easy to snap apart for eating. It’s firm and crisp, but if you live in a humid area, they can become a sticky mess quite quickly. I don’t expect these would do well in parts of Texas or Florida for that reason.

Las Trojes Pepitoria Mixed Seeds Brittle

The distribution of nuts and seeds is pretty even, I didn’t find parts that seemed to be all one nut, though peanuts were by far the largest bulk. The plank smells quite toasty, with a little note of toasted sesame and perhaps even a bit of burnt nuts. The sugar has a honey note to it but doesn’t add a whole lot of sweetness to the brittle, as there really isn’t much more than is needed to bind everything together. The pepitas, peanuts and sesame seeds have the strongest flavor, I didn’t catch much of a contribution from the almonds or coconut.

Las Trojes Pepitoria Coconut Brittle

Las Trojes Pepitoria Coconut Brittle is a great looking disk. It’s thick and crisp and doesn’t look like anything you’d make at home with store bought coconut flakes. These look fresh and rustic.

Las Trojes Pepitoria Coconut Brittle

The brittle has a little bit more bend to it, probably because the coconut is more fibrous and makes breaking it a little harder. The toasted coconut scent is incredible, the caramel and creamy tropical notes all swirl together. Though there’s a lot of crunch at first, it turns very chewy after that. The toffee flavor of the burnt sugar is great and again, it’s far from being too sweet, though it is the sweetest of the three products.

Las Trojes Pepitoria Pepita Brittle

Las Trojes Pepitoria Pepita Brittle is a great mix of greens and browns, the pumpkin seeds are glossy and toasty. I love pepitas in trail mixes, but I never eat them on their own. It smells like toasted pumpkin seeds, just like you’d expect. The seeds are crunchy and a little grassy tasting. This is the least sweet of the entire set and for the most part it’s about the pumpkin seeds. Though some of the seeds looked a bit burnt, I didn’t get the same sort of bitter toasted note from this that I did with the mixed brittle.

Las Trojes Pepitoria BrittlesThey’re all beautiful and wholesome snacks that barely qualify as candy. That’s not to say that they’re not laden with calories. The Pepita one is the leanest at 260 calories for the 2 ounce portion, but it also has 7 grams of protein and only 16 grams of sugars. The Mixed Brittle is 300 calories but packs 8 grams of protein and only 15 grams of sugar. The fat in there is from the nuts and seeds, which are generally regarded to be better for you than dairy or animal fats ... though still watch the calorie count. The Coconut one comes in as full on candy, even with only two ingredients with 310 calories, 200 of them from fat and only 3 grams of protein.

All the nutrition aside, I find these sorts of snacks more satisfying than many candies. There’s a great mix of textures and flavors, plus they’re really beautiful to look at. I’d definitely pick these up again, but I’d probably try to share them. They work far better when consumed right after opening and of course I find it hard to keep from eating the whole package anyway.

Related Candies

  1. Joyva Sesame Crunch
  2. Adams & Brooks P-Nuttles plus Coconut
  3. Trader Joe’s Soft Peanut Brittle
  4. El Almendro Turron Selection
  5. Old Dominion Brittle
  6. Morning Glory Confections: Chai Tea & Cashew Brittle
  7. Munch Bar
  8. Pocky Kurogoma (Black Sesame)


Name: Pepitoria Mixed Seeds Brittle
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Las Trojes
Place Purchased: Jack's Wholesale Candy (Los Angeles)
Price: $1.00
Size: 2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 150
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Brittle, Nuts, 8-Tasty, United States


Name: Pepitoria Pumpkin Seed Brittle
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Las Trojes
Place Purchased: Jack's Wholesale Candy (Los Angeles)
Price: $1.00
Size: 2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 130
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Brittle, 8-Tasty, United States


Name: Pepitoria Coconut Brittle
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Las Trojes
Place Purchased: Jack's Wholesale Candy (Los Angeles)
Price: $1.00
Size: 2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 155
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Brittle, Coconut, 8-Tasty, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:58 pm     All NaturalCandyBrittleCoconutNuts8-TastyUnited StatesComments (2)

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

Halloween Candy Season Ends

44 days

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Choose one or more:

  •   Halloween
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ON DECK

These candies will be reviewed shortly:

• Smarties Lollies and Mega Lollies

• Candy Cliches

• Seattle Chocolates Devil’s Delight Bar

• SweetWorks Celebration Candies - Bears

• Halloween Candy Spotting 2014

 

 

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