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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Spearmint Leaves

Walgreen's Spearmint LeavesSome candies need no review, no introduction or marketing campaign. They simply are and hopefully always will be.

Spearmint Leaves are such a simple candy. A firm jelly molded in the shape of a mint leaf and flavored with spearmint oil (or a reasonable facsimile).

I don’t how long they’ve been around (earliest mention on Google’s news archive is 1928). There’s no fantastical tale of their historical debut at any World’s Fair or even a county fair. They’re probably just a novelty shape of a traditional spice gumdrop. I don’t know who invented them or even who makes the best ones. Even passably good ones are good enough for me.

They’re sold without any fancy brand names, simply Spearmint Leaves. You can get them in bulk, in tubs at the office supply stores or in peg bags at the drug stores.

Walgreen's Spearmint LeavesThe ingredients are identical to gum drops. They’re sugar, corn syrup and a bit of corn starch for jelling. Then a little artificial flavor & color to complete the illusion of a platform shoe equivalent of a real leaf of mint.

I picked up my package of Walgreen branded Spearmint Leaves from their 99 cent peg bag selection. I usually look for bags that appear dry and the candies move around easily but that the candies also have a little give when squeezed. Too much moisture is an enemy of jelly candies. It makes the granulated sugar coating sticky and allows their qi to leak out.

Walgreen's Spearmint Leaves

I picked a good bag. The color is rather light and oddly on the blue side. The shape of the leaf is a bit narrower at the top than the bottom and has a nice point to it on the end with a little stem. So the molding is nice. The granular sugar coating is good - there’s enough to keep them from sticking but not so much as to overpower the flavor.

The texture inside is smooth. It’s not sticky (at least not as sticky as Dots) and not too sweet. The spearmint notes are dead on - aromatic and kind of sparkly. There are small spots where the spearmint flavor really tingles to the forefront.

It’s a fresh feeling, but not like eating a mint. I can eat a whole bag if I don’t control myself. They’re even still good when stale and a bit tacky.

I know they’re not the sexiest, hippest candy but to be around this long without any sort of marketing support is a testament to their excellence.

Other big candy companies that make Spearmint Leaves are Brach’s & Farley’s and probably others, if you have a favorite, please let me know. It’d be nice to find a company that makes all natural ones (which really shouldn’t be that hard to do) - the closest I’ve come are the fruit flavored gourmet Gum Drops from Whole Foods.

This package isn’t marked Kosher and it says that it’s a product of Canada & USA (I can’t quite figure that one out). They are marked Gluten-Free. (And are probably also considered vegan.) They’re also silly-cheap, so it’s a low risk sort of thing.

Related Candies

  1. Jelly Belly Sunkist Citrus Mix
  2. Spearmint Licorice
  3. Loukoumi Artisan Confections
  4. Dots Elements: Earth, Air, Fire & Water
  5. Barley Mint Mentos
  6. Hot Tamales Ice
  7. Chuckles
Name: Spearmint Leaves
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Walgreen Co.
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park)
Price: $.99
Size: 9.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 104
Categories: Jelly, Mint, United States, Canada

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:03 pm     Comments (13)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Short & Sweet: Tropical Flavors

As I was on my little candy walkabout late last week I noticed a lot of popular candies have a tropical flavor mix. So I decided to start picking them all up and do a little roundup.

Tropical Candy

For the most part I consider the tropical flavors to be pineapple, mango, papaya, durian (not that I advocate its use), carambola (starfruit), passionfruit, banana, lychee, guava and coconut. Citrus goes in there but things like strawberries and melons are definitely not a tropical fruit (my rule is if it can be grown in Ohio, it’s not tropical).

Overpackaging on Tropical Nerds Rope

First, I have to say that I’ve never had Nerds Rope before. It arrived on the scene sometime after my candy experimental days (you know, when you’re a kid) but before it was launched as a new product during my Candy Blog phase.

But the concept is simple, a sticky gummi rope is rolled in Nerds. In this case it’s a Tropical Nerds Rope.

Tropical Nerds Rope

The candy is kind of odd in that it’s rather over-packaged and overpriced (look how long the rope is compared to the wrapper). It’s less than an ounce but costs the same as a regular candy bar. But then again, it’s a 100 calorie snack! (90 to be precise.)

There are no flavors actually mentioned on the packages, just eensy images of Nerds in swim trunks and flower leis. In this case the gummi cord at the center is a sparkly green. The tangy Nerds are mostly pineapple tasting.

The chewy center and excellent Nerd stickage makes this much less messy than I had anticipated. The combination of textures and flavors is really nice. I enjoy the pineapple quite a bit (maybe some papaya in there) and don’t really feel the need to try any other flavor after this. (I could see a build your own rope kit too, a little length of gummi and kids could roll their own.)

Rating: 7 out of 10 (Made in USA by Wonka/Nestle)

Tropical Now and LaterNow and Later were off limits to me for a long time, mostly because I thought they were too risky for my teeth. But now that I have a good dentist, I’m not as apt to give into such unfounded fears.

Tropical Now and Later has a flavor assortment that’s right up my alley: Mango Melon, Pineapple and Banana. (I’ve never met a yellow flavor I didn’t like.)

Mango Melon Tropical Now and LaterMango Melon is Orange

Often mango flavored candies taste a lot like peach to me. And peach flavored candies often taste more like over-syruped peach pie than actual peaches. This was pretty much like that. The dominant flavor was of the musky mango with a little cantaloupe thrown in.

It got tangier the more I chewed, which I enjoyed, because that took over the flavor profile for the most part.

Banana Tropical Now and LaterBanana are Yellow

These are everything you’d expect from a banana taffy. Bold and artificial tasting with a strange blast of dry cleaning smell in the back of my throat and the old standby - fingernail polish remover.

Still, I love banana taffy.

Pineapple Tropical Now and LaterPineapple is also Yellow

This is only slightly lighter than the Banana, but luckily they print the name of the flavor on there.

Tangy and fruity but with a strange, warm Play Doh note in the middle.

I found them pretty much irresistible even if they were rather fake.

Rating: 6 out of 10 (Made in Mexico by Farley’s & Sathers)

Mike and Ike Tropical Typhoon

On the back of the box of Mike and Ike Tropical Typhoon is a flavor guide. It includes little images of fruits: banana, kiwi, lime, mango, strawberry and pineapple (also on the front).

The flavors, on the other hand, don’t quite match up.

Blue = Caribbean Punch: the initial flavor is a bit green & pine-ish. Then it becomes more punch-like. It’s all sweet and no tangy.

Peach = Mango: a little tart at first, then rather floral. Not exactly mango but definitely not peach and the longer I chewed the closer it got to the rosemary notes that mangoes have.

Red = Strawberry-Banana: the initial note here is sweet banana, then a little strawberry bobs by for a little floral note.

Green = Kiwi-Banana: it starts like the strawberry banana but then just stops ... it’s not that it’s an all banana flavored Mike and Ike, but just half-flavored. Some of them had a slight tangy melon flavor on the shell, but not all of them and it certainly didn’t taste like kiwi to me.

Pink = Paradise Punch : just a slight tingle of tangy in there, but it’s mostly a sweet punch flavor ... like the Caribbean Punch but without the strange balsam notes.

Overall, too much like the original Mike and Ike - too bland and not enough real punchy flavor in there. I really wanted some pineapple flavor in there, too. I’ll stick to Tangy Twister (which has Pineapple) or the Alex’s Lemonade Stand mixes.

Rating: 6 out of 10. (Made in USA by Just Born)

Tropical Dots

I have to say that I’ve always regarded the Tootsie company as rather traditional and slow to adopt to changing American tastes. But then it’s like they have this strange rebellious group known as the Dots Makers. They’re fully encouraged to do bizarre flavor assortments from the crazy Ghost Dots at Halloween (to be paired with Bat Dots this year which are Blood Orange flavored - which I would have called Blood Dots) then the Yogurt Dots but the real innovation came in the limited edition line called Elements that came in single flavor packages of Cinnamon, Green Tea, Wintergreen and Pomegranate.

So Tropical Dots are kind of tame in comparison, but they must be popular because they’ve been around since 2003.

Tropical Dots

Bright Pink = Tropical Nectar: it tastes like Hawaiian Punch with a strong bitter aftertaste. Sweet, tangy and definitely with that “tropical candy flavor” that I think is papaya.

Orange = Wild Mango: tart and rather citrusy with a pretty good imitation of mango flavor in there. Still tastes like the mango version of Tang.

Turquoise = Paradise Punch: an insane color for a candy, it’s rather similar to the Tropical Nectar but with more of a citrus twang to it and less aftertaste.

Yellow = Grapefruit Cooler: why didn’t someone tell me there was a grapefruit Dot? These are fabulous and I want to buy them by the box. The first notes are tangy then there’s a deep zesty flavor that has a black cherry note to it that dissipates and then it’s just a nice grapefruit & citrus flavor.

Green = Carambola Melon: - when my mother came to visit last time we went to a new Korean market in Little Tokyo (that replaced my favorite market, Mitsuwa). They had these little melons called Korean Melons ... they were small, about the size of a papaya or mango. Bright yellow with some mild bumps and distinct ridges. I bought two. I cut them up and was rather unimpressed with the flavor - like weak Musk Melon. The problem was later in the evening I kept smelling something like garbage. I turned out it was the melon. (I really like the idea of a one-serving melon though.)

Anyway, this one is supposed to be starfruit and melon. I don’t know starfruit that well. I usually eat it off of garnishes at dessert displays, but I’ve never actually bought my own from the produce department and tasted it. It had a rather musty taste to it that was also on the violet side of things ... it was just weird, but not in a terrible way, just in a “this is new to me” way.

The box was wrapped in cellophane so the Dots were soft and fresh. This didn’t stop them from sticking to my teeth, but still, it’s worth it for their smooth texture.

Rating: 7 out of 10. (Made in USA by Tootsie)

Tropical Razzles

The final item on my list is Tropical Razzles.

Like all Razzles, they look terrible out of the package.

Yellow = Pineapple: Nice tangy burst but with a light flavor & texture of a chewable vitamin C tablet. It holds its flavor pretty well, though becomes less tart and more sweet towards the end when it becomes as appealing and chewed paper.

Pink = Strawberry-Banana: nice mix of strawberry & banana notes, almost reminds me of the old Wacky Wafers at first. Chewing too long just disappoints, I vote for spitting out when it become sweet but the grain wanes.

Red = Tropical Punch: definitely like Hawaiian punch. Strong bitter aftertaste & cherry notes towards the end. The gum was much tougher on this one too.

Orange = Tangerine: more orange than tangerine. The tangy notes aren’t as forward as some of the others. When the flavor is gone there’s a weird metallic aftertaste.

Green = Kiwi-Lime: if there was kiwi in here, I missed it completely. This was lime. Very lime, nicely tangy with a little bitter zest note (or maybe the food coloring).

Overall, I think that Razzles suffer from too much artificial coloring. After chewing the pieces they’re extremely dark & vibrant ... that’s a lot of food coloring. If I wanted to treat it like candy (which I do), it means a lot of sticky leftover bits in a very short period of time.

Rating: 4 out of 10 (Made in Canada by Concord Brands)

Related Candies

  1. Mike and Ike Berry Blast
  2. Mike and Ike Italian Ice
  3. Tropical and Xtreme Sour Smarties
  4. Mentos Tropical & Black Currant
  5. Wonka Nerds Jelly Beans
  6. Starburst Baja California & Tropical
  7. Nerds Gumballs
  8. Tootsie Tropical Pops

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:46 am     CandyReviewConcord ConfectionsFarley's & SathersJust BornNestleTootsieChewsGumGummi CandyJelly Candy4-Benign6-Tempting7-Worth ItCanadaMexicoUnited StatesDollar TreeWalgreen'sComments (6)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

House Brand Creme Eggs

While some folks find the Cadbury Creme Egg to be the ultimate achievement in Easter confectionery, be warned that there are some pretenders to that throne. At the stores this year I found two such “knock offs.”

Generic Eggs & Cadbury

I found Walgreen’s and CVS had their own eggs this year. The CVS brand is called Absolutely Divine and comes in gold foil with a purple and black logo ... which made me wonder if they were a dark chocolate product. The Walgreen’s version is in primary/secondary colors and comes in both the Creme Egg and Caramel Egg.

Easter Eggs: Creme & Caramel (Walgreens)What could a store brand have to offer? Well, the first thing I noticed about these CCE simulations is that they’re bigger. In fact the shelf box for the Walgreen’s said that they’re 14% larger. These eggs are like the once powerful Cadbury Creme Eggs in their original 1.38 ounce size (CCE are now 1.2 ounces).

Walgreen’s had these generic looking Creme Eggs on sale this past weekend for 40 cents each, which is not much less than an actual Cadbury Creme Egg. What I found so surprising is that I’ve been to that Walgreen’s at least twice before during this Easter season and these weren’t out on the shelves.

It was tough to read the wrapper. What I did get was that these are made in Canada and the chocolate shell is made of real chocolate.

Walgreen's Creme EggThe shell has a little line design on it, not the same as the Cadbury Creme Egg, so at least they’re using different molds.

Biting into the egg was a bit tough. It’s a thick shell and I was greeted with a creme that resembled a cordial more than the fondant than I was used to.

The difference between the egg white and egg yolk wasn’t quite apparent, though the best I could tell was there were two different colors of fondant in there. The center was sticky and inconsistent. Sweet, flavorless with little patches of clotted graininess.

Rating: 3 out of 10.

Walgreen's Caramel EggThe Walgreen’s Caramel Egg comes in a purple wrapper. It was pretty easy to unwrap, but it felt quite heavy.

Biting it was similarly difficult to the Creme version - the shell is thick and almost solid on either end with only a minor void for the caramel at the center.

The caramel isn’t chewy or flowing. Instead it’s more of a pudding-like goo. As far a flavor though, it’s like a good caramel pudding, it’s very smooth and has some toasted sugar flavors. The chocolate shell is a bit hard, a little grainy and very milky tasting.

As far as this brand goes, I rather liked this Caramel Egg ... not enough to buy it again, but as a simulation of the venerable original, it at least meets expectations.

Rating: 4 out of 10.

Absolutely Divine (CVS)The CVS Absolutely Divine Creme Egg didn’t look like much in the store. There was no explanation on the display box, and actually finding the “creme egg” part on the wrapper was pretty tough sleuthing that involved carefully flattening the foil after unwrapping.

I fully expected these to be made in Canada like the Walgreen’s counterpart ... that they just came spilling off the line to be randomly divided into different groups for different foil wrappers. This was more shocking when I read that they have identical ingredients and molding. But origins aside, the important part is how much they cost and how they taste.

I paid 50 cents each for these.

CVS Absolutely Divine EggThe egg was similarly thick-shelled.

The creme center was also similarly inconsistent, though not quite as flowing as the Walgreen’s version.

The chocolate shell was disgusting. It tasted like roasted cardboard. Musty, grainy and overly sweetened, perhaps steamed cardboard.

The sweet filling was completely overpowered by this too-much-bad-shell. And the name, well, they’re absolutely not divine.

Rating: 2 out of 10.

I have one other piece of not-so-shocking info. These are all sticky. Not something to be eaten while using a keyboard.

What I came away with is this: if you love Cadbury Creme Eggs, buy Cadbury Creme Eggs. If you don’t like Cadbury Creme Eggs, these aren’t going to persuade you that they’re a great candy. Spend the extra eight cents or whatever the price difference is and get the real stuff.

Related Candies

  1. Cream Drops versus Creme Drops
  2. Junior Fruit Cremes
  3. Vanilla Creme Kisses
  4. Cadbury Canadian Creme Eggs
  5. Cadbury Orange Creme Eggs
  6. Cadbury Mini Eggs
Name: Creme Eggs & Caramel Egg
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Walgreen's & CVS
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park) & CVS (3rd & Fairfax)
Price: $.40 & $.50
Size: 1.38 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Fondant, United States, Canada, Designer Imposter, Easter

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:45 am     Comments (14)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Brach’s Robin Eggs (Solid Milk Chocolate)

Brach's Robin Eggs - Solid Milk ChocolateEaster is all about eggs. It’s all about making classic candies available in the format of little ovoids.

Brach’s Robin Eggs are a beautiful version of this. They’re simply a solid milk chocolate egg covered in a crunchy candy shell. They’re light blue, about one inch long and speckled to look like a real robin egg.

I found mine on sale at Long’s for only $1.99 for the 7.5 ounce bag.

Brach's Robin Eggs - Solid Milk Chocolate

Upon opening the bag I found that they smelled a lot like most other sweet Easter candies - like sugar & milk, fake vanilla & cereal. Not much chocolate scent, but then again, a candy shell can do a good job of sealing in the chocolate goodness.

The ingredients didn’t really give me a lot of confidence though.

Milk Chocolate (Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Whole Milk Powder, Chocolate Liquor, Soy Lecithin, Vanillin), Sugar, Corn Syrup, Modified Food Starch, Artificial Colors, Artificial Flavor, Carnauba Wax, Confectioner’s Glaze, White Mineral Oil, Beeswax.

Mostly what I was disappointed about was how far down on the list of the chocolate ingredients the actual chocolate liquor was. But cocoa butter being ahead of milk (and whole milk at that) had me intrigued.

The shell is nice and crunchy, with a good snap to it. The chocolate inside is immediately sweet and has a slight nutty flavor to it, like peanuts or sunflower seeds. The melt of the chocolate is a bit grainy, as milk chocolate can often have that fudgy grain and this obviously has a lot of milk in it.

But it lacked a chocolate punch. I’m not saying that I didn’t find them edible and interesting, certainly better than the fake chocolate in the Whoppers Robin Eggs (made by Hershey’s) that I’ve been chowing down on for the past week.

Hershey's Candy Coated Milk Chocolate EggsMy guess immediately was that I was expecting something else. And part of that is that my ideal egg-shaped candy shelled chocolate candy is the Hershey’s Candy Coated Milk Chocolate Eggs (original review).

As harsh as I am on Hershey’s as a brand, part of it is because I love some of the products so much.

So I picked up some of the Hershey’s Eggs, not just for this comparison but also to give them a check since Hershey’s has been mucking around with so many of their formulas & packaging.

The package is redesigned from the previous shoot that I did. I can’t say that it’s better, but at least they’ve finally given the candy a name. (Before they were just Hershey’s Eggs, but so were the foil wrapped eggs.)

Hershey's Eggs & Brach's Robin EggsThe Hershey’s Eggs are smaller than the Robin Eggs. According to the packages a single Hershey’s Egg weighs about 6.33 grams and a single Robin Egg weighs 8.60 grams.

The Hershey’s Eggs obviously come in an array of solid pastels and the Brach’s Robin Eggs are this blue with speckles.

In the package the Hershey’s Eggs smell like Kisses, a tangy, fudgy aroma. The Brach’s Robin Eggs don’t give away their chocolate insides.

Given a choice between the two, I’m going to have to go with the Hershey’s. The Brach’s just lack a distinct & pleasing flavor to them. I think they’re lovely, and the aesthetics of them certainly tips in their favor. The price is good, there are also certainly folks who would wish to purchase from someone other than Hershey’s at this time with the backlash over the Mexican move of some of the manufacturing. (The Eggs are still made in the US.) However the Brach’s Robin Eggs are made in the US and Canada.

I think it all goes to personal taste at this point. There are a few options for this type of candy (though Mars stopped making the Mega M&Ms which were rather close in size to the Hershey Eggs) so go with what you like.

Related Candies

  1. Godiva Easter Eggs
  2. Brach’s Fiesta Eggs
  3. Runts Freckled Eggs
  4. See’s Scotchmallow Eggs
  5. Cadbury Royal Dark Mini Eggs
  6. Brachs Bunny Basket Eggs
  7. Cadbury Mini Eggs
Name: Robin Eggs Solid Milk Chocolate
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Brach's (Farley's & Sathers Candy Co.)
Place Purchased: Long's (Laguna Woods)
Price: $1.99 (on sale)
Size: 7.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 125
Categories: Chocolate, United States, Canada, Brach's, Farley's & Sathers, Easter

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:43 am     Comments (6)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Caramilk Deluxe

Caramilk DeluxeThis is another Canadian import, the Cadbury Caramilk Deluxe.

I got it from my Canadian candy source, Amber, along with a bunch of other bars that we simply can’t get here in the States (Oh Henry!). While the Caramilk bar has an American counterpart, the Caramello bar it just doesn’t have the same profile.

It turns out the Caramilk bar is the #3 bar in Canada. Different versions seem like a no-brainer for capturing a bigger market share. (I tried the Caramilk Maple, too.) But they might want to include it on their website (I think it was launched in mid 2007, so you’d think someone might have updated the site since then).

Deluxe CaramilkYou can tell this is a modern candy launch because Caramilk Deluxe has its own Facebook page.

Instead of the traditional bar format, the Caramilk Deluxe opted for pieces. There are four little milk chocolate molded pieces tucked into a folded paperboard tray. At only 45 grams (1.59 ounces) it’s a bit smaller portion size than a regular candy bar. But don’t worry, it still clocks in with 230 calories.

They’re a little bigger than the regular sized Rolos (which is kind of what I was expecting at that point), more like a hefty Hershey’s Kiss.

The nicely molded pieces have a little swirl on the top. Again, nice touch for something called Deluxe.

Deluxe CaramilkAs I don’t live in Canada and didn’t think to look for this on Facebook, I just had to muddle through my first tasting. There is no description on the package of what it is, just the picture. And the picture is vague. Sure, I get that there’s a shell and caramel ... but what is that red-brown stuff at the top?

Well, even after the first bite I wasn’t sure.

The caramel is flowing, sweet and extremely smooth. The chocolate is milky and tastes kind of like pudding. The other filling is rather like dark chocolate fudge. But it tastes like Oreo cookies. A very dark, burnt cocoa flavor. While thought the slight chew of the fudge was a little offputting, the flavor it added was pretty good.

Since they seem to be marketing these to women as a little indulgence the packaging and little pieces feel upscale. But the flavor of the product is pretty ordinary. If you’re a Caramilk fan, you might like these, but I’m not going to go placing a special import order or anything.

Related Candies

  1. Big Mo’ Bars: Peanut Butter & Creamy Caramel
  2. Fran’s Gray Salt Caramels
  3. Cadbury Eggs: Creme & Caramel
  4. Head to Head: Rolo vs Caramel Kisses
  5. Short & Sweet: Caramello /  Mega M&Ms / Orange Kisses
Name: Caramilk Deluxe
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Cadbury (Canada)
Place Purchased: gift (thanks Amber!)
Price: unknown
Size: 1.59 ounces
Calories per ounce: 138
Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, Canada, Cadbury

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:47 am     Comments (7)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Oh Henry!s

Oh Henry!The Oh Henry! bar is one of oldest extant candy bars in North America. There are two stories of the origin of the bar. The first is that the bar was invented by Tom Henry in 1919, who ran the Peerless Candy Company (known for their hard candies) where the bar was known as the Tom Henry Bar. He sold the recipe for the bar to Williamson Candy Store in Chicago.

Oh Henry (American & Canadian)The other story is that it was actually invented by the Williamson Candy Store and named for a helpful customer whom the female clerks would often ask favors of, by saying “Oh, Henry, could you move that heavy box.”

It was often billed as “the ten cent piece of dollar candy” and became popular in Chicago eventually expanding as a national candy bar through the tenacious efforts of John Glossinger (whom Glosettes are named after). Williamson Candy, at some point, sold out to Ward-Johnson which was swallowed up by Nabisco in 1981 (which was also holding the Curtiss bars - Baby Ruth & Butterfinger included- at that time). Finally in 1990 Nestle bought the Curtiss bars, SnoCaps, Goobers & Raisinets from Nabisco. (Some of this is a bit murky and I traced it mostly through trademark registrations, and probably matters very little in the end.)

Oh Henry (American & Canadian)The bar is simple enough, a vanilla fudge center with caramel & peanuts then covered in chocolate. It’s gone through some changes over the years besides ownership. This is where things get interesting from an evolutionary standpoint. In 1987 Hershey Canada got the rights to produce the bar (through Nabisco which owned Canadian confectioner Lowney). The Hershey’s Oh Henry! is more than a little different from the American bar, as we’ll see.

Though the American bar used to be a single, it has now morphed into a double bar (a la Mounds) while the Canadian version remains pretty much the same as it was 30 years ago.

The package on the Nestle version says: 2 peanutty * caramel * fudge bars in milk chocolate. It weighs 1.8 ounces (51 grams). It comes sealed in a simple yellow plasticized wrapper.

The package on the Hershey version says: crunchy peanuts, chewy fudge, creamy caramel, covered in a chocolaty coating. It weighs 2.2 ounces (62.5 grams). It comes in a mylar wrapper with a small folded paperboard tray.

Oh Henry (American & Canadian)

The innards of the two Oh Henrys! tell more about them. The American Oh Henry! is rather organized and stratified.

The Nestle one has a caramel base then a fudge mixed with peanuts. It’s all covered in what they call real milk chocolate. It has a nice roasted peanut flavor, but the difference between the caramel and the fudge is minimal. The fudge is a bit saltier, but caramel is short and grainy instead of being chewy and creamy. At first I thought it was just a not-so-fresh bar, so I bought another. And another. This is the third I’ve bought and second I’ve photographed for this review.

The two pieces are nicely sized and the flavor balance overall is good. I would prefer some really good creamy chocolate to pull it together, but that’s just not Nestle’s style.

The Hershey one reminds me a bit of a narrow Payday Chocolatey Avalanche. The fudge is at the center here and much lighter in color (reminding me quite a bit of a nougat except there are no eggs in it). On top of the fudge is a thin layer of caramel which holds the peanuts. The whole thing is covered in a chocolatey coating (which actually contains real chocolate with cocoa butter, but it also has modified palm oil in it, which takes it out of the real chocolate column).

The nuts play a much bigger role here, probably because they mingle with both the (mock)chocolate and the caramel. For fake chocolate, it does a much better job of being creamy and tasty than Nestle’s real stuff. The caramel has a kind of fake butter flavor to it, but this is only noticeable if you take the bar apart and try to eat the elements separately (now why would you wanna do that?).

Canadian Oh Henry! (Hershey)

While Nestle just lets the Oh Henry! bar do its thing here in the States, up in the Great White North it’s another story entirely. Hershey goes to down with the bar. First, it’s one of the largest single-serve bars in Canada, so it’s known as a good value. Hershey also does limited editions and other versions of the bar. I got a hold of a few.

Oh Henry DarkOh Henry! Dark is exactly what you’d think: the same Oh Henry! bar but with real dark chocolate.

It’s not quite as sweet as the regular Oh Henry! and really quite a nice bar. The dark chocolate gives it a bigger chocolate pop instead of all that dairy-tasting milk chocolate. I could use a dash of salt, but, that’s just me, eh.

All of the variation bars are slightly smaller, at only 60 grams (2.12 ounces).

Oh Henry Reese'sThe Peanut Butter Oh Henry! (with Reese (r) Peanut Butter) swaps out the fudge with a peanut butter mass in the center.

It’s a bit flatter than the other bars. It’s also a bit greasy. This one also has a mockolate coating which isn’t as creamy and just a bit bloomed.

It’s really peanutty. It’s also pleasantly salty ... or unpleasantly so if you think that 115 mg is a little much for a candy bar (the standard Hershey Oh Henry! has 50 mg).

The peanut center also made the caramel more noticeable, probably because it isn’t as dense and chewy as the fudge. (This one is not a limited edition but appears to be a permanent variation.)

Oh Henry Oh CanadaThe final limited edition item is the Oh Henry! Oh Canada. It first appeared last year for Canada Day (July 1st) so mine is a bit past its prime (the expiration says January 2008).

The bar is described on the wrapper: Crunchy peanuts, red chewy fudge, white creamy caramel, covered in a chocolatey coating. This combo results in red and white in every bite!.

Yes, that fudge center there is actually red. And maple flavored.

Even if it is expired, it was still pretty tasty. I liked the intense maple flavor that permeated the bar. It was like toasted, caramelized pecans.

Overally, I much prefer the Canadian Oh Henry! from Hershey, even if it does have mockolate on it. The Dark Oh Henry! is superior to all the others, but since it was a Limited Edition, the original (which by the way, better reflects the American original anyway) will do in a pinch. But given a choice, I’d probably opt for the whole thing sans (mock)chocolate and get a Payday.

Related Candies

  1. Caramilk Maple
  2. Payday Fresh from the Factory
  3. Eat-More
  4. Payday Avalanches
  5. Pearson’s Nut Roll
Name: Oh Henry! (American & Canadian)
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Nestle & Hershey
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park) & WalMart (Canada) - thanks Amber!
Price: $.85 each (approx)
Size: 1.8 ounces & 2.2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 127 & 136
Categories: Chocolate, Mockolate, Caramel, Peanuts, United States, Canada, Hershey, Nestle, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:15 am     Comments (34)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Crispy Cat

Crispy Cat Organic BarsIt’s often puzzled me why there aren’t more organic candy bars out there. For the most part candy bars are made (or can be made) with all natural/organic ingredients pretty easily. Why no one does this is beyond me, so for the most part candy fiends with an eco bent have to eat just chocolate (sometimes flavored) or hard candies or pay for bars to be flown from far away places and pay ridiculous prices for kinky combinations ... in reality all I want is the tried and true candy bar, only made with pure ingredients.

Crispy Cat Toasted AlmondCrispy Cat has a nice line of candy bars that seem to defy that notion that candy bars have to be made with sub-par ingredients. Their bars are also dairy free, gluten free, non GMO and use a large proportion of organic ingredients (70-90% organic, depending on the bar). In fact, their ingredients list only looks long because they put things like “organic” or “made with gmo” all over it.

They come in three varieties: Toasted Almond, Roasted Peanut and Mint Coconut ... all with dark chocolate.

Here’s what Joel, the founder of Crispy Cat has to say:

Growing up ... I loved candy. Over the years .... I learned to love my body. This candy bar is the result of trying to satisfy both cravings. I now live happily ever after. I hope you will too. P.S. Try ‘em cold.

Crispy Cat Toasted Almond

The Toasted Almond features dark chocolate, crispy rice & toasted almonds.

It has a wonderful dark, woodsy and chocolatey aroma. The bite is a bit stiff, it’s not quite crunchy and certainly not chewy. It’s just lumpy.

Once I got used to the complex center, I was pleased with the combination of flavors and textures. It’s part crisped rice, a little bit of a caramel-like chew to hold it together, a toasted sugar flavor and some pieces of almonds for an added crunch. I would have preferred a lighter crunch to it, something easier to chew (either crispier or softer).

Crispy Cat Mint CoconutI admit, I thought Mint Coconut is a weird combo. I love mint, I love coconut but I don’t put them together. (Well, partly because it probably never occured to me.)

This bar also has a crisped rice center. In this case it’s a bit fluffier and softer than the others, with a light peppermint scent.

Instead of the firm and chewy center, this one was a bit crumblier and has big pieces of naturally sweet coconut in it. It’s an interesting flavor combo, very tropical and fresh, a bit of a grassy note to the whole thing.

I can’t say that I loved this one, in fact it was my least favorite of the three. But I can’t help but be pleased that someone is paying attention to coconut these days. I love the stuff.

Crispy Cat Roasted PeanutThe Roasted Peanut bar was much softer (and a little flatter) than the Toasted Almond.

The center felt fattier though had the same number of calories as the Toasted Almond at 220 it has 10 grams of fat (TA has only 9).

The dark chocolate is rather bitter but has a decent melty texture. The crunchy rice, peanut butter and peanut chunk center is tasty. It’s dark and nutty, a bit salty and only lightly sweet. This one hits it out of the park as far as a peanut candy bar can go.

It definitely tasted like a candy bar, not one of those nutrition bars.

I was kind of surprised to see that they weighed only 1.75 ounces, it’s actually bigger than a Snickers bar, which gives the perception of a much larger mass of satisfaction.

Overall, these are fun and have very few compromises. And what’s the biggest one? Price. These retail for $2.50 ... that’s three times the price you’d pay for a non-organic bar. Pretty startling. But compared to other premium meal replacement bars, they can hold their own. The two nut varieties have 4 grams of protein (not from soy, though they do use soy lecithin so they’re not soy free) and 2 grams of fiber. They also clock in at 220 calories, which is a decent snack. I’d probably prefer these in a smaller variety though ... they’d make an awesome Halloween Treat if they came in snack size.

The Roasted Peanut bar is the one most likely to appeal to kids but none are too mature to miss with a true candy bar fiend.

I’d also recommend a bit of a change in the design of the package. I’m not sure who it’s supposed to appeal to, but it’s not grabbing me. They call themselves “tree huggin’ treats” and have the image of a couple of arms around a tree on the left size of each wrapper. (I’m not sure where the cat comes in.) The website looks completely different and inconsistent from this (but I’m not keen on the web’s cartoon designs either).

I’m not quite sure about them, they’re definitely on the right track and I’d be most inclined to eat the Roasted Peanut again, but if I were faced with eating one of these or a Lara Bar, I’d probably go for the Lara Bar.

Want to win some? Check out Crispy Cat Chronicles, if you can guess Ann’s new baby’s height, weight & birthdate you can win three cases of the bars of your very own.

Related Candies

  1. Theo 3400 Phinney Bars
  2. Organic Surf Sweets
  3. Russell Stover Organic Pecan Delight
  4. 100 Grand Coconut
  5. Pure Fun Candy Floss
  6. Coffee Beat
Name: Crispy Cat Bars: Toasted Almond, Mint Coconut & Roasted Peanut
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Crispy Cat
Place Purchased: samples from ExpoWest
Price: $2.50 retail
Size: 1.75 ounces
Calories per ounce: 126
Categories: Chocolate, Cookie, Nuts, Peanuts, Mint, Coconut, Canada, All Natural, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:06 am     Comments (5)

Monday, March 31, 2008

Cadbury Popping Mini Eggs

Cadbury Popping Mini EggsAmber, a dear reader from Toronto, came to Los Angeles over Easter weekend and was kind enough to run around to three stores before leaving Canada in search of a list o’ candies from the Great White North. Her timing couldn’t have been better for this one, the Cadbury Popping Mini Eggs which are pretty much what the name implies.

They’re Cadbury Mini Eggs (a creamy milk chocolate egg with a crunchy shell) with a little bit of carbonated candy thrown in.

They look just like their non-bubbly counterparts, except they don’t have the little speckles on them. They come in all the standard eraser colors: white, yellow, pink and turquoise.

Cadbury Popping Mini Eggs

I have to say that the bag is teensy and contains a rather small amount: 32 grams (1.13 ounces). The standard Canadian single serve bags are 39 grams. I guess instead of charging more for that special ingredient they just give you less.

Where the Pop Rocks Chocolate Bar had an odd texture because of the addition of Pop Rocks, these don’t have that jarring granularity, because we’re already accustomed to the crunchy bits of the shell.

After chewing a few times the chocolate melts away, it’s sweet, creamy and a little malty ... then the popping starts. It’s not a lot of popping, not as much as the Pop Rocks bar, but still a nice experience.

The regular packaging is purple, this is yellow, so it’s hard to mistake one for the other on the shelves. And once you pop it in your mouth, well, it’s the same sort of shocking difference.

I thought these were a bit of a novelty item, but I like it. I wouldn’t want to have a huge 11 ounce bag of them, but a little handful brought a smile to my face.

Related Candies

  1. Cadbury Crunchie
  2. Chocolate Poppers
  3. Pop Rocks Milk Chocolate Bar
  4. Peeps Mash Ups
  5. Cadbury Orange Creme Eggs
  6. Cadbury Royal Dark Mini Eggs
  7. Cadbury Mini Eggs
Name: Popping Mini Eggs
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Cadbury (Canada)
Place Purchased: unknown
Price: unknown
Size: 1.13 ounces
Calories per ounce: 133
Categories: Chocolate, Carbonated, Canada, Cadbury, Easter

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:19 am     Comments (11)

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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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• 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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