Saturday, October 31, 2015
I’ve got something for everyone if you come knocking at my front gate this year: Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups, Payday Bars, Airheads Minis, Charms Sweet & Sour Pops, assorted Wrigley’s sugar free gums, and some lemon drops.
If you’re curious what Halloween in Los Angeles is like, one of my digital buds has been tracking what he gives out and what costumes the kids appear with going back 10 years.
Happy Halloween! Stay safe, eat lots.
Thursday, October 29, 2015
It’s the Candyology 101 podcast anniversary. Our first episode was also about Halloween. This year we talked about some of the new products we’ve seen, recommended candies for dietary restrictions (allergies) and the goofiest candy poll we’ve seen in years.
Happy Halloween, sweet friends!
Monday, October 26, 2015
Peeps are made for all the holidays now: Valentine’s, Christmas, Halloween, your Birthday and, of course, Easter. The newest Halloween edition of the Peeps chicks come in new flavors with the addition of a little cream dip.
The Caramel Apple Peeps are described as apple flavored marshmallow dipped in caramel fudge. This brings me to the fact that fudge has no actual definition, kind of like frosting. It’s just a sugary thing that’s not caramel or chocolate ... so they called it fudge. The package shows apple trees and a basket of all colors of apples. It might have been fun if the Peeps themselves were different colors, like pink and yellow and green. But they’re all just green.
They do smell like fake green apple. The bite is sweet but has a green apple candle note to it, it’s all scent and no real tart flavor. The caramel fudge is actually kind of believable in this instance, as it does have a hint of salt and butter flavoring.
The overall effect isn’t very successful. There are really no textural elements of an actual caramel apple: no crunch, no tart juice, no chewy caramel. The color is oddly soft and minty, not something I would expect to be fruity and the caramel fudge is full of palm kernel oil.
This flavor seemed pretty promising, as I did like the Gingerbread Peeps I had some years ago. The idea of adding a touch of spice to a marshmallow and something resembling white chocolate was solid.
The Peeps are lightly orange or creamy brown. The spice is very mild, less potent than those Gingerbread Peeps. There’s a coconut note from the fudge dipped base and a creamy sweetness to the whole thing. It’s not a revelation of deliciousness, it’s just kind of plain. There was a weird bitterness to the marshmallow which I can only guess is the artificial color, which goes all the way through instead of just on the sugar coating.
The Candy Corn Peeps were a disappointment in concept, but the execution is decent. First, I wanted a layered triangle shape, not a yellow peeps with some orange sprinkles on it. That is not candy corn. Candy corn is layers, candy corn is triangles.
The Candy Corn Peeps smell a little popcorny, a little sweet and buttery, but there’s a floral strawberry note that takes the greasy notes of diacetyl away. They’re basically okay, they might smell a little buttery, but they mostly taste like a fake honey. They’re sweet and the white fudge base makes them sweeter. They’re just really sweet, to the point where I can’t even leave the package open near me because they’re just too sweet. (But so is Candy Corn, so that’s authenticity.)
Overall, these are not Peeps for me. They’re too mild, and the fake fudge stuff is just waxy and disappointing. The flavors are certainly on trend, but lacking the oomph needed to cut through the seasonal flavor noise.
Friday, October 23, 2015
Have you ever wished that you could get American-made Ferrero Rocher? You know, a whole hazelnut with some crispy crunch and milk chocolate? Well, keep wishing, because Hershey’s Kisses Deluxe do not fill that hazelnut-flavored hole in your heart.
The new Hershey’s Kisses Deluxe are definitely a step above the regular Milk Chocolate Hershey’s Kiss. They’re twice the size of a regular Kiss and feature a whole roasted hazelnut, creamy layers and delicate crisps. They’re just as expensive as Ferrero Rocher and come in little gold foil wrappers. This goofy plastic tray that I picked up at Walgreen’s holds four pieces, cost $1.59 but is only 1.2 ounces. That comes to $21 for a pound. And like many Hershey’s products, they’re also made in Mexico.
So, I went into this with very low expectations because of the price and the packaging and the reputation of the brand.
Out of the flimsy tray the bronzy gold foil is quite nice, and the grand size is actually very appealing. The chocolate shell is glossy and has a balanced sweet and nutty scent.
The bite is quite nice, the milk chocolate is much creamier than the standard Hershey’s Kiss and the whole hazelnut in the center was perfect. The light crispies are not a huge flavor component, but a very good addition to the texture. The sweetness is a little strong, but because the pieces aren’t very big, it didn’t seem too cloying. The overwhelming note afterwards was the roasted hazelnut.
The package says there’s only 170 calories, which is easy to explain when it’s only 1.2 ounces, but they’re still only 142 calories per ounce ... or 43 calories for each deluxe Kiss.
I didn’t think I was going to like these, I was prepared to mock them, but they turned out to be pretty good candy. However, as far as hazelnut candies wrapped in foil goes? I’m still going to pick up Perugina Baci if it’s an option (and it seems they’re similarly priced). I’m most curious to see if Hershey’s will introduce a dark chocolate version, or perhaps expand with some other varieties, such as marzipan or pistachio.
These are made with milk, soy and hazelnuts and also may contain pecans and almonds. The package states that Kisses Deluxe are gluten-free.
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Next month Mars is introducing a new Snickers variant, the Snickers Crisper. The new bar boasts multiple textures and “delivers on [Snickers] satisfaction pledge with the chew of caramel and the crunchy crispiness of rice and peanuts.”
Like the recent Snickers Peanut Butter Squared that came out five years ago, these are actually two squares in one package instead of a single bar.
The new bar is supposed to be in response to consumers wanting healthier options. I’m not sure what would make this bar healthier than a regular Snickers, though this one has crisped rice in it, instead of nougat and is actually 12 grams lighter, which means fewer calories per serving.
Each square is about 1.25 inches on each side. They’re about two or three bites.
The bar smells well roasted and a bit like toffee. The bite is very soft, the caramel on top has a lot of give to it, but not much pull. The chew has a nice texture, with the peanut butter coated crisped rice as a highlight. It’s quite sweet though there’s also a hint of salt. I don’t get much more peanut butter or sort of thick satisfaction that I find in a regular Snickers. I do enjoy the malty notes of the rice though as well as the few peanut scattered about. I think I just wanted more peanut butter and less sweetness.
About ten years ago there was another bar called the Snickers Cruncher, which was similar: it was a peanut butter coated crisped rice bar with caramel coated in chocolate. It was all one bar and actually really good. When they disappeared in the United States, I was still able to find them in Europe (and a few sellers on eBay would import them).
Monday, October 19, 2015
It’s a pretty good deal for a half a pound of candy made with all natural ingredients, though Trader Joe’s doesn’t say where the chocolate comes from.
The product popped up at my local Trader Joe’s about a week before it was listed on the website, so I bought a box. Then I ate it all, so this is my second box. (You’d think it would get a better rating than a 6 out of 10 if I’ve eaten a full pound.) After the first box I figured I’d pick up another, but it disappeared from the three Trader Joe’s I frequent for nearly a moth.
I think this is intended as a hostess gift item, or perhaps something you’d buy to put out for guests at a party or after dinner.
The tray holds 8 pieces of each variety, so I’ll go ahead and calculate that each is a half an ounce (and about 75 calories). The tray is rather flimsy, and the box doesn’t reseal after you open it. The whole thing, oddly enough, felt a little like a See’s item (they also use a lot of black and white in their packaging, but this has some brown elements and the full product image).
They’re very attractive. The first box was unphotographable because the heat got to it, though it was still edible. The little planks have a squiggle of chocolate across them, making for a lot of chocolate heaped on the top.
The milk chocolate variety is very sweet. The milk chocolate is milky and creamy, the toffee inside has a salty note and an excellent crunch but it falls apart into a bit of a grainy mess, like eating brown sugar towards the end. (I love eating a pile of brown sugar, but not when I think it’s supposed to be toffee.)
The dark chocolate version had the same crunchy then grainy texture and excellent butter flavor, but the dark chocolate really meant nothing. The flavor of the dark chocolate was so non-descript I really kept wondering what it tasted like. If I shaved it off with my teeth, it was like a creamy dark chocolate baking chip, but eating with the toffee it just became a texture.
I don’t think these are bad, mostly I ate the whole box because I was trying to figure them out, but I never really liked them much. They’re better with something else, like crushing them up on ice cream or with some strong coffee. As a hostess gift, they’re probably acceptable, especially for the price point. I don’t see myself buying them again though.
They’re made with milk and soy and may also contain traces of wheat, eggs, peanuts and/or tree nuts.
Thursday, October 15, 2015
It’s the season where candy corn is everywhere. If it’s not actual candy, then it’s little decorative cutouts or orange, yellow and white themed products. Halloween, in the current century, is inextricably tied to Candy Corn. Have a listen to hear more about the iconic candy in this episode of Candyology 101 with Maria.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Last year about this time Toblerone introduced a new version of their classic milk chocolate mountain bar: Toblerone Toasted Corn Crunch. Oddly enough, they were available exclusively at that time at duty free shops in Europe. I never thought I’d run across a bar. But I was strolling the candy section at Cost Plus World Market and not only did they have a stack of them, they were also on sale for 99 cents for a 3.52 ounce bar.
The bar features Toblerone’s Swiss milk chocolate with toasted crushed corn, honey and almond nougat.
The bar format is exactly like all the other Toblerones. This comes in the classic cardboard prism box. Inside there’s a foil wrapped bar made of 12 triangular segments.
The bar looks like any other milk chocolate Toblerone from the sides, but the bottom reveals there’s lots of bumpy stuff inside. The scent is sweet and milky along with a really strong corn note. The corn doesn’t smell quite like popcorn, more like, well, corn or maybe polenta. The chocolate is quite sweet, though smooth, it’s very sugary. The corn bits are like corn nuts, very crunchy though not quite hard enough to break any teeth. (Sometimes I feel like I’m chewing on teeth when I eat corn nuts.)
The combination of the lightly malty, cereal flavor and the very mild chocolate is pretty good. There’s a nice boost of salt in there, which also offset the sugary chocolate. But I never really got the nougat and honey flavors that I enjoy so much in a Toblerone. The only good thing is that I felt like it keep me busy a long time, as I was working those corn bits out of my teeth for about 20 minutes.
It’s an interesting bar but I see no need to consider it as a replacement for a Ritter Sport Knusperflakes (Corn Flakes). It’s hard to be harsh on the bar when it’s so much better than a Nestle Crunch Bar which is half the size and the same price. As far as their new bars, I think the Toblerone Salted Almond is worth seeking out.
Toblerone still does not provide consumers with any information about their cacao sourcing with regards to ethics or sustainability. The bar contains eggs, soy, milk, corn and almonds. It’s made in facility that also handles other tree nuts. There’s no gluten statement on the package.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.