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Compressed Dextrose

Known as chalk candy, this is candy that's made from powdered ingredients, mostly dextrose (also known as glucose). Pieces are created compacting the powder with a small amount of binder in molds in a compression machine.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Choward’s Guava

Choward's GuavaThe first new Choward’s flavor that I can remember in my lifetime is Guava. Introduced earlier this year it joins the current line up of flavors of square compressed sugar mints that come in Peppermint, Spearmint, Lemon and Violet.

This new version is called simply Tropical Candy. It’s not a mint at all, more of a little treat with no breath freshening powers.

The package is the same weird salmon pink of guava flesh and mid-fifties tiled bathrooms.

Choward's GuavaChowards are not your ordinary mints. They’re exquisitely made to exacting tolerances. Build a house for your Lego mini-fig out of Altoids? Never! But these little squares are smooth and perfect with straight sides, consistent colors and crisply chiseled logos.

The best thing about them, as far as I’m concerned, is their stack-ability. They’re stable. Dependable. The same on both sides.

I’m not a guava fan. If it’s in a fruit salad, I pick around it. I’m not even keen on the musky flavor it imparts by proximity. So I wasn’t really looking forward to these.

They smell tropical, like pineapple and orange blossoms. Or a Tommy Bahama store.

They’re tangy and fruity, the flavor is a mix of melon and pineapple for those who have never had guava before. For those who have had guava, it’s authentic enough though a bit more tart.

The texture is smooth. Since they’re made with sugar and not dextrose they have a very sweet note to them with a strong honey-fruity finish.

On the whole, they’re better than I expected and they’re certainly different from other candies on the market (as are all of Choward’s offerings). They’re not minty but still leave my mouth feeling fresh (like a tropical green iced tea will); they’re not quite tangy and flavorful enough to compete with SweeTarts.

Related Candies

  1. Puntini Jujubes - Frutti Tropicali
  2. Short & Sweet: Tropical Flavors
  3. Starburst Baja California & Tropical
  4. Chuao ChocoPod Collection
  5. SweeTarts: Chicks, Ducks & Bunnies (2006)
  6. Choward’s Violet


Name: Guava Tropical Candy
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Choward’s
Place Purchased: sample from Sweets & Snacks Expo
Price: $1.25 retail
Size: .875 ounces
Calories per ounce: 114
Categories: Candy, Compressed Dextrose, 7-Worth It, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:41 pm     CandyC. Howard Co.Compressed Dextrose7-Worth ItUnited StatesComments (4)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Swizzels Matlow Parma Violets

Parma VioletsWhile most candy is fruit or spice flavored there are a few that are floral. Parma Violets, made by Swizzels Matlow, are probably one of the best known, perhaps because they’re widely available in the UK and pretty cheap.

They come in little rolls of tablets, similar to another Swizzels Matlow product, Swizzels Fizzers. (Those in North America are probably more familiar with Ce De Smarties, also known as Rockets in Canada.)

The name Parma Violet is for the city of Parma in Italy. Starting in the 1500s the violet plants (possibly originating in Africa or East Asia) were grown, hybridized and traded by the ruling elite. They spread through Europe in manicured gardens as well as greenhouses and sunporches in cooler climates. The flowers themselves, besides being cut and used in bouquets, were candied and used as decorations and eaten. Violet flavoring was common in candies like chocolate creams, fondants and dragees through World War I when it eventually fell out of favor. Of course it’s still around, but certainly not as ubiquitous.

Parma Violets

Parma Violets a compressed sugar tablet flavored like violet. The roll holds 14 little tablets that are 1/2 inch in diameter. They’re a soft lavender color and are now made with all natural colorings (since 2008).

The big difference I noticed in the ingredients is that they’re made with sugar (sucrose), not dextrose. Dextrose or glucose is the sugar of choice for Smarties and SweeTarts in the US, it’s a monosaccharide that is actually less sweet than sucrose (which is a disaccharide). Parma Violets are made from sucrose. So they’re quite sweet, sweeter than I expected from a “chalky” candy. The texture is the same as most other compressed sugar candies, it’s soft on the tongue and has a slow and sugary, slightly grainier melt.

Parma Violets

Of course the overriding flavor of the candy is violet. Yes, the flowery kind. A honey-sweet smell of violets - cloying and definitely not nuanced. Violet for me is a humid flavor, moist and sticky like syrup. Part of this is probably because I gathered bouquets of violets in the yard as a kid and associate the smell of the real thing with dewy grass. These are dry and don’t stimulate a whole lot of saliva from me.

The aftertaste is mellow and long-lasting. For folks who like jasmine, rose or orange blossom over mint as a breath freshener, violet might be for you.

The good news (at least for me) is that the package contained the smell adequately. Since I tend to carry around a lot of candy at once, it would have been a travesty to contaminate my Mast Chocolate Bars with violet.

They’re a curiosity for me, I ate three packages without complaint but only because they were in front of me. I can’t see buying them again, but I guess I’ll have to see if a craving kicks in. I prefer the panned layering of Anis de Flavigny.

Related Candies

  1. Anis de Flavigny
  2. The Apothecary’s Garden: Herbs (and some Bees)
  3. Flippin’ Giveaway!
  4. Mega Smarties
  5. Pierre Marcolini Chocolates
  6. Choward’s Violet


Name: Parma Violets
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Swizzels Matlow
Place Purchased: Mel & Rose Wine & Liquors
Price: $.50
Size: .25 ounces (7 grams)
Calories per ounce: 101
Categories: Candy, Compressed Dextrose, 5-Pleasant, United Kingdom

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:20 am     CandyReviewCompressed Dextrose5-PleasantComments (9)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Au’some Snerdles Super Mario Power Up Box

Au'Some SnerdlesWhat’s in the box?

I’m sure some folks recognize it, it’s a Super Mario Power Up Box. Inside this mystery block are eight power ups: Starman, Super Mushroom and the gold coin in the form of Snerdles.

Next question: What are Snerdles? They’re are a candy mosaic made by Au’some. Chewy fruit strips covered with tangy, crunchy candies. Think of them like a Nerds Rope, but flat with the Nerds forming an image.

Au’some introduced Snerdles about 10 years ago and they appear on the market from time to time. The last time I heard of them was when they did a limited edition for Marvel back in 2003-2005 including Spiderman. They also made a generic version which was little squares or strips with images of the different flavors of fruit on them.

Au'Some Snerdles

The promo material I got last year said: Each candy fruit strip is decorated with tiny and tart crunchy candies for an amazing mouthful of texture. I was fascinated and really wanted to see them in person.

Au'Some Snerdles

Each Power Up Box holds eight individually wrapped Snerdles. Each weighs 11 grams (.39 ounces). They’re not quite square - they’re 2 inches high and 1.75 inches wide and about an eighth of an inch thick (without the toppings).

Au'Some Snerdles

They absolutely look like the box illustrates. The translucent fruit squares have designs made from little crunchies in different colors. They’re not quite as perfect, but the effect is quite cute and all of mine were faithful and easy to identify. They come in three flavors to go with the designs (though they’re not matched at all, any color can be any design). Blue Raspberry is Aqua, Strawberry is red and Apple is green.

Au'Some Snerdles

Apple Snerdles

It doesn’t smell like much out of the package. The fruit bar is a little sticky but very pliable. There’s a little pull to it, but it’s not at all a gummy.

It’s not quite fruit leather, it’s not as pulpy as that.

Goodness, this was realistically like an apple. The peel flavors and actual flavor of a granny smith were in there. The second ingredient is pear puree, so it really is fruity.

Au'Some SnerdlesStrawberry Snerdles

Really authentic scent of strawberry jam. It’s tangy and sweet with just a hint of grape in the background, but mostly a vague strawberry flavor. The candy pieces provide a crunch and flavor somewhere between a nonpareil and a Nerd. They’re tangy and sweet, but not quite flavored. They’re crunchy but have a slight starchy and chalky afterglow.

I found I could just bite them and eat them that way, but like a fruit roll up or fruit leather I did play a bit. I rolled some up, with the crunches on the inside to keep them from falling off (they’re little devils inside a keyboard). I also pulled some apart, so the mosaic was distorted, like the scattering of galaxies after the Big Bang.

Au'some Snerdles

The crunchies just sit on the top, they’re not pressed into the fruit square.

Au'Some SnerdlesBlue Raspberry Snerdles

Blue raspberry was certainly an odd color, an ocean aqua. It had an appealing scent, a mixture of floral berries and limes. This one was more tart than the others, though I can’t say that any rise to the level of sour candy. The flavors were like a berry jam, though not subtle or nuanced. Just straight ahead real berry flavor.

These really are an inventive candy. They’re not quite a fruit leather and without the nutrition panel I can’t say exactly whether I’d call these a snack or a candy. The fact that they’re made with a substantial amount of fruit puree should make parents happy and the cute designs and inventive package should make any kid who gets these the envy of his friends.

Made in a no peanut facility but no other notations of allergens on the list (such as tree nuts, eggs, milk, wheat/gluten). They’re also Kosher. Full ingredients: Sugar, pear puree from concentrate, dextrose, corn syrup, tapioca starch, citric acid, apple fibre, sodium citrate, artificial flavors, pectin, maltodextrin, carnauba wax, colours. They are made in China, though it says “Made responsibly in China.” I talked to some folks at the company, it’s a family run business who supervise the manufacture of the candies themselves so it appears that there’s more oversight than a company that outsources the production. They have more information on their website.

The box is easily reusable, it’s a 2.5” cube with a well fitted lid. I think you can peel off the top sticker and then throw change in there or game tokens or just keep refilling it with different candy. I don’t know the true retail price, I expect a box like this will be under $2.00, but on the internet where licensed merchandise can go for more, they might be around $3.

Au'Some Snerdles Au'Some Snerdles Au'Some Snerdles Au'Some Snerdles  Au'Some Snerdles

Aggrogate had a roundup of many Nintendo-themed candies, including Snerdles.

Related Candies

  1. Au’some Easter 3-Dees Gummy
  2. Short & Sweet: Tropical Flavors
  3. Wii Candy Dispenser & Nintendo Gummis
  4. The Simpsons Fruit Snacks
  5. Dogs versus Cats (fruit snacks that is)
  6. Bubble Roll Message Maker
  7. Florida’s Natural Sour Fruit Juice String


Name: Super Mario Snerdles Mystery Box
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Au’some
Place Purchased: samples from Au'some
Price: $2.00 retail
Size: 3.1 ounces
Calories per ounce:
Categories: Candy, Au'some Candy, Compressed Dextrose, Jelly Candy, Kosher, 7-Worth It, China

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:00 pm     CandyReviewAu'some CandyCompressed DextroseJelly CandyKosher7-Worth ItChinaComments (8)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Necco Conversation Hearts (Sweethearts) 2010

Sweethearts - 2010 FlavorsAs we’re in the middle of Candy Season one of my favorite things to do after a holiday is to see what’s on sale from the previous holiday and glance at the early merchandise on the shelves for the next one. The Epiphany usually marks the emergence of Valentine’s Day candy. I scour the aisles looking for something new. So when I saw the new packaging for Necco Sweethearts I thought they’d expanded their line. They have been offering an all-chocolate version, Spanish language version and lately a Tart version. I thought this new fruity array was an addition.

I bought them but didn’t open them, just tossing them on my pile for review. Then the comments started trickling in from readers, who were finding my old review and weighing in on the changes. It appears that it’s a complete replacement for the classic Necco Sweethearts (see my review of them in 2008).

Necco Sweethearts

There are so many things wrong. Let me start on the front of the package.

The Official Candy of Love

Does Love have a governing board that can decide these things, like the Olympic Committee? No, no it does not. Love, Freedom, Justice and Anger ... these concepts and emotions are boundless and cannot have anything official about them. Invoking any sort of official in association with them is false advertising. Love does not do endorsements. (Unless Necco would like to step forward and show me their contracts with Love.)

New Package Design

I actually like it. It’s bold but still soft and, yeah, a bit feminine and childish. At first I though the colors of the hearts were a little too vivid, but after seeing the actual candies inside, I’m setting that aside. The choice of Love Bug as the statement on the featured heart is a bit odd.

Necco Sweethearts - AngelThe Price

It’s marked in a black stamp there in the upper right corner, 99 cents and the package holds 7 ounces. Can’t really beat that, especially when the little boxes are usually selling for 50 cents for one ounce (though sometimes on for as little as 20 cents each). Not terribly attractive but kind of makes me nostalgic for the time before bar codes.

Lack of Branding

The front of the package does not bear the name of the maker. The name Necco isn’t actually on the package anywhere ... just New England Confectionery Company under the nutrition facts panel (followed by the web address of www.necco.com). The previous years’ packaging does have Necco and its logo featured prominently both on the front and the back of the packages.

Necco Sweethearts - I Heart YouAn Undone Website

It’s January 13, so a little more than a month before Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s candy has been in stores for at least a week. On the back of the package is says for baking, gifting, craft ideas and more visit mysweethearts.com. You know what’s on that page as I write this? It’s a placeholder about some sort of iPhone app. No promised recipes or craft ideas ... not even any mention that would be what I expect to find it there. (See screengrab.)

The New Flavors - Show You Care ... 6 Delicious Ways to Share!

Strawberry, Grape, Green Apple, Lemon, Orange and Blue Raspberry.

I’m not going to break the flavors down one by one. What was nice about Necco Sweethearts was the subtle sweet flavors, nothing exciting, they were simply pleasant.

The new flavors are a blend of sweet and tart. The texture is smoother than the usual compressed dextrose candy like SweeTarts, because this is made with mostly sugar and corn syrup instead of dextrose (which is just a powder form of glucose and has a different mouthfeel).

Necco Sweethearts - Real HeartThe citrus flavors are completely artificial with a tangy note that is wholly un-citrus and more like a chemical. The pink ones taste like a combination of lipstick and the old wintergreen ones, which is just a disgusting mix. Grape has as much clove flavor in it as food coloring though the mixture is nearly palatable.

These do not show I care ... these show that I have no regard for my lover or friend’s expectations of what a heart shaped candy should taste like.

It’s as if Necco took all the artificial colors that they aren’t using for their new All Natural Necco Wafers and pouring it all into these improved Necco Sweethearts. Simply put, they’re a mess. (Now, I would’ve been thrilled if the conversation hearts were also going to be all natural, what an awesome innovation that would have been.)

Necco Sweethearts - Meet MeThey Stink

Once I opened the bag I was in trouble. The smell is a blend of Love’s Baby Soft and strawberry candles. And if I were just sniffing the bag, well,  yeah, I have to expect that. But this thing made my car smell, they make my office smell. When I’m done with this review they’re going in the trash someplace where I am not.

Better Printing

The one thing they have improved upon was one of my beefs with them previously. They production quality is better. The pieces are well formed and most especially the printing is clear. Sure about a quarter of them aren’t printed square in the center, but they’re still readable.

The sayings are cute. They’re using the heart symbol quite a bit. Hey Baby, Smile, Sweet Love,  Dream Big, You Rock, Puppy Love, Meet Me, Love Me, Hug Me, Kiss Me, For Ever, Ask Me, even Marry Me

I’m not saying they shouldn’t make these, someone probably likes them, but they should be an additional product in the line, not a replacement for the iconic original.

UPDATE 1/27/2010: It’s been a few weeks and it seems that the response posted here has been overwhelmingly negative about the flavor change (few have mentioned the new texture).

Necco SweetheartsSo I talked to Jackie Hague, the Vice President of Marketing for Necco who navigated this new change (along with the All Natural Necco Wafers, which I fully support). We had a great talk about candy in general (she worked for Mars for 20 years and was responsible for many of the limited edition M&Ms that so many of us have loved over the years).

First, you can still get the classic Necco Sweethearts. The change over was made mid-way through the production schedule. So the first part of the production run was the classic flavors (Banana, Wintergreen, Orange, Cherry, Grape) and then they switched over the ingredients and equipment for the new formula. They are sold at very few stores, basically the discounters: Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Family Dollar , 99 Cent Only, Freds , Odd Lots, Wakefern and Sav A Lot. (The image shown here is the classic flavors on the left that I found at Dollar Tree and the ones on the right are the new flavors/colors - here’s what the package looks like.)

Second, Ms. Hague said that the changes were made based on consumer feedback. The most common requests from folks who wrote or called were for a softer texture and for more intense & modern flavors. Banana was not well liked, apparently yellow is not ordinarily expected to be banana. The texture was introduced first with the Twilight version of Sweethearts (though future versions won’t have Passion Fruit) as well as the tangier, more vibrant flavors.

So the takeaway from this would be, if you don’t like the new flavors, make sure that Necco knows that. Return the product, write to them or call. I wouldn’t expect a whole lot in return (a canned response) but I do think that they log the feedback - it’s in their best interest. (Ms. Hague also said that they’ve assigned more people to help out with the feedback process, so perhaps the responses will be more appropriate instead of a copy/paste FAQ.) Ms. Hague understood my frustration with not just the lack of information but the contrary information provided by the website and candy packages and it’s apparent they’re working on that.

The Necco website’s Sweethearts product page used to say this, “One thing Sweetheart lovers can count on each year is the candy’s simple, familiar formula. The basic recipe has never been changed. Both Sweethearts and the familiar NECCO Wafers use the same batter—sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, gums, coloring and flavoring.” However, they’ve finally updated their websites to reflect this new change and have omitted that statement that they honor the time-tested flavors ... because they were tested by time and after about a hundred years, even as the #1 Valentines candy selling 8 billion hearts a year, they lost. Necco thinks that this new version will appeal to more people, which is possible, but it’s clear it’s not the same people who have been buying them.

Update 2/10/2013: Both versions of Necco’s Conversation Hearts are on store shelves this year. By far the most ubiquitous are the newer fruity version, but I did find the almost-classic “Conversation Hearts” at Walgreen’s. The old ones are called Conversation Hearts, not Sweethearts. I’ve only seen them in the little boxes, only as singles (not in the shrinkwrapped five packs and no bags).

Necco Conversation Hearts & Necco Sweethearts

The classic version has white (cinnamon), green (lime), yellow (banana), pink (cherry), purple (grape) and orange (orange). So they’ve eliminated clove and wintergreen. It’s too bad. The texture has returned to the crunchier version. The colors are more vibrant and the printing just as inconsistent.

Necco Conversation Hearts & Necco Sweethearts

Related Candies

  1. All Natural Chocolate Necco Wafers
  2. Twilight Sweethearts: Forbidden Fruits
  3. Jelly Belly for Valentine’s Day
  4. See’s Cinnamon (Hearts & Lollypops)
  5. Necco Conversation Hearts (Sweethearts)
  6. SweeTart Hearts
  7. Necco Smoothies
Name: Sweethearts
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Necco
Place Purchased: CVS (3rd & LaBrea)
Price: $.99
Size: 7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 113
Categories: Chalk, United States, Necco, Valentine's Day

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:22 am     Comments (435)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cool Honey Altoids

If you’d asked me a year ago if there were any more mint flavors that Altoids could come in, I would have said, “Nope, it’s all been done.”

Altoids Cool Honey

I know, this is a really short review but it has a really big picture. I spotted these new Cool Honey Altoids at Walgreen’s. I liked the prison stripes of yellow and black,oh wait, maybe they’re supposed to be bee colors. It’s distinctive enough I don’t think anyone will mistake this for Ginger or Licorice.

I liked the idea of cool honey, like a cough drop version of Altoids. (Honestly a eucalyptus version might be good.)

They’re lightly tinted, maybe a little yellow, I thought sometimes they looked a tad green. Perhaps absinthe! But the flavor? They’re minty and strong but other than that I wasn’t getting anything honey-ish out of them. They’re milder than a regular Altoid, but lacking the complex flavor combination that I enjoyed in the Creme de Menthe version.

It’s too bad, it was a nice idea. But at least the tin is cute. Gigi also reviewed them.

Related Candies

  1. Menu for Hope V - Confectionery Round Up
  2. Christmas Mint Round Up
  3. Chocolate Dipped Altoids - Creme de Menthe
  4. Palmer Bee Mine
  5. Altoids Chocolate Dipped Ginger Mints
  6. Chocolate Dipped Altoids
Name: Altoids Cool Honey
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Wrigley's (now Mars)
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Las Vegas)
Price: $1.99
Size: 1.76 ounces
Calories per ounce: 141
Categories: Chalk, Mint, United States, Wrigley's, Mars

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:38 am     Comments (7)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

All Natural Chocolate Necco Wafers

All Natural Chocolate Necco Wafers (4 Flavors)Yesterday I reviewed the new All Natural Necco Wafers. Today I have the All Natural Chocolate Necco Wafers and I’m sure some people are thinking, Why review a single flavor from the regular Necco Wafer roll?.

When Necco went all natural, they also tweaked their Chocolate roll to include four flavors instead of just one. Now it contains Milk, Dark, White and Mocha.

I’m was scratching my head, wondering if something so un-chocolately and bland can possibly come in four different flavors when the original is barely flavored.

First, I like the new package. I like the little brown on brown dots on the background. I don’t like the new logo, but hey, the frustrating paper wrapper is usually torn into little strips to get to the candy, so it’s not like I’m saving it and making noisy jewelry out of it.

All Natural Chocolate Necco Wafers (4 Flavors)

The first problem I encountered when trying to review them was determining which disk was which flavor. I had to assume the white one was white chocolate, but beyond that I really couldn’t tell. There’s definitely a medium chalky brown that I assumed was milk but then I lost the key, the dark colors were too close for me to call and they weren’t even that much darker.

White Chocolate - this is not chocolate. There is nothing chocolatey about this. It’s not creamy, it’s not milky, it’s certainly not cocoa-ish. It’s an unflavored Necco Wafer. It’s like the test strip for Necco Wafers. You can reset your tasting abilities with this. It’s sweet, maybe it has a hint of vanilla but a toasted marshmallow would have been better. (Or maybe they could have done salted caramel instead of the white chocolate.)

Milk Chocolate - it’s like the old chocolate Necco Wafer, a bit like cardboard in both texture and taste. Not quite musty but not anywhere near chocolate or even chocolate milk.

Mocha - I think this one was the lighter of the dark browns. It was just as sweet as the milk chocolate and did have a hint of coffee flavor. But half the time I didn’t know if I was eating the mocha or the dark, so again I missed the point. It was kind of like eating old frosting from a donut wrapper. By far the most successful in the roll for me.

Dark Chocolate - I can accept chocolate ones in the regular roll because they’re just kind of sweet and different and not trying too hard. But in a roll where I’m supposed to be having a great time with four great flavors I’m greatly disappointed. Maybe it even rises to the level of irritated.

I had two rolls of these. The first roll I photographed and then threw into a little bowl to munch on while I watched TV. After three days of not munching on them, I kept smelling something that was akin to paper grocery bags. (I had no trouble eating the regular rolls though.) So I threw them out. Then I took out the second roll and started on those for the review. They can’t be stale or old, they’re brand new. Just so incredibly bland.

If you want to buy a candy to help you lose weight, this is something to stock up on. You’ll never touch them. For fans of the original Chocolate roll, I think you’re going to be disappointed.

Related Candies

  1. All Natural Necco Wafers
  2. Goldie’s Premium Carob Bar
  3. Regal Dynasty European Dark Chocolate
  4. Bel Chocolatey Bars
  5. Necco Conversation Hearts (Sweethearts)
  6. Andes Mints & Dessert Indulgence
  7. Necco Smoothies
Name: All Natural Chocolate Necco Wafers
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Necco
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Las Vegas, NV)
Price: $.75
Size: 2.02 ounces
Calories per ounce: 109
Categories: Chalk, United States, Necco, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:01 am     Comments (6)

Monday, November 2, 2009

All Natural Necco Wafers

All Natural Necco Wafers (7 flavors)It’s hard to believe that I’ve never reviewed Necco Wafers. In the early years of Candy Blog I tried to concentrate on candies I’d never had before, but it became apparent that in order to discuss things that were new (or new to me) I had to cover the classics as well. So I’m slowly adding those.

Necco Wafers were introduced in 1863 by the Chase and Company candy makers. They were known for their hard candies (boiled sweets), lozenges and “Oriental style” sweets including Turkish Delight. They also innovated machinery and techniques to create confections like the wafers. Chase later merged with Ball and Forbes and Bird, Wright and Company to become the New England Confectionery Company in 1901. By the time they’d been around for almost fifty years they finally settled into their present day name, assortment and packaging style in 1912.  Necco Wafers were available in different sizes and were a popular penny candy of the time.

All Natural Necco Wafers (7 flavors)The wafers are lightly flavored and colored disks of sugar. The product is rather unusual for the modern era of confections and is more similar to breath mints than regular candy. They’re not fussy but perhaps a little homely and dated.

To make them, a dough of sugar and corn syrup is mixed up and stabilizers and binders such as gelatin, tragacanth, xanthan and gum Arabic are added. Then after the base is created it’s customized with the flavors and colors. The whole mass is loaded into a roller like it’s some sort of infinitely long pie crust then the disks are cut and stamped with the Necco name. They’re not baked, just air dried.

What’s created is a beguilingly crunchy lozenge. Crisp, thin and sweet.

The classic roll of Necco Wafers contained eight flavors and has always been a random assorted stack sealed in a glassine wrapper. I know most folks who like them also searched the store shelves for one that had just the right mix of colors they preferred.

This year marks a new generation of Necco Wafers now with all natural flavorings and colors. Because of the new restrictions Necco placed on itself, they dropped one flavor from the original that could not be replicated adequately: Lime.

The current flavors are chocolate, cinnamon, clove, lemon, licorice, orange and wintergreen. Since no artificial colors are used I was hoping that the flavors would be truer. (I’ve always had a problem with the pink ones having a bad bitter aftertaste.)

All Natural Necco Wafers (7 flavors)

I haven’t been able to find the large two ounce rolls in the stores near me, but I did finally find this package of the mini rolls at CVS in the Halloween section. (I visited about a dozen stores in two states in a month looking for them.)

The colors are quite a bit more subdued, as if Necco Wafers weren’t already a bit washed out. They’re so muted that I have trouble telling the pale yellow, lavender and white apart. And for folks that like to preview a roll before they open it, it’s quite hard to tell the light colors apart. The new wrapper also sports an updated logo ... though I find the logo to look more like something from 1998 (when the titled oval was all the rage in logos) than a modern candy, but not quite a reflection of its classic past.

Clove - I always avoided the clove for two reasons. I don’t like clove flavor and I didn’t like the food coloring aftertaste. In this case the clove (faint lavender) is much more mild and less caustic than before. Of course there’s no weird aftertaste either. I still didn’t like it much and was a little irritated that it was so hard to pull them out of the mix in anything other than bright sunlight.

Chocolate - the easiest to spot and one that needs no coloring. I found the cocoa flavors to be overly sweet, but at least true. It was like an old piece of dried chocolate frosting. A little pointless if you really want chocolate, but it has a freshness to it that doesn’t leave me thinking of cardboard.

Wintergreen - I was so happy about these. The color is still a teaberry pink, so they’re easy to spot. It’s exactly like a piece of teaberry gum if it was a crunchy piece of sugar (and a stale piece of gum can be like that). The flavor starts out rather soft and quaint, but builds up to a bit of a Ben Gay burn later. There’s a lingering buzz in the mouth. The best part of the finish is that it’s all flavor and no food coloring mess. My tongue looks like when I started (normal pink) and no metallic aftertaste.

Cinnamon - this white piece lots its mojo in the conversion to all natural. It’s sad how lacking in cinnamon punch it is now, it’s not that it’s bad, but I just don’t feel like picking them out and eating them first any longer.

Licorice - the color is so much lighter on these, it took me a while to realize that they weren’t the clove ones. They’re a light putty color that sometimes has a lavender cast to it. The flavor is quite a strong anise note. It’s sweet and has an aromatic and slightly menthol quality to it. It reminds me a little bit of the Fisherman’s Friend lozenges.

Lemon - the lemon flavored Necco Wafers were never spectacular and they haven’t changed one way or the other. Sweet and with only the slightest hint of lemon flavor, there’s no tartness (thank goodness - if you’ve had the SweetHearts Sour Conversation Hearts you’ll know what I mean), no zest.

Orange - this faint orange colored one has a little orange peel note to it. It didn’t seem as sweet as the lemon one, but that’s not saying much about it. It was mostly inoffensive.

I don’t miss Lime, but I did enjoy the flavor. As an assortment, I’ve found myself munching through the bag of minis without any problems. I’ve picked out most of the clove, but find all the other flavors enjoyable. So I consider the new mix a definite winner. The only issue was the strength of the flavors varies - the clove, licorice and wintergreen were very strong and left a distinct burn in the mouth while the rest were pretty mellow. So after a licorice, I could barely tell that I was eating a lemon.

Each roll of 9 pieces has only 50 calories. They take a while to eat and of course there’s the variety, so it’s a nice snack that’s easy to take anywhere. I do have a problem with the little white powder that seems to get everywhere though. (I tend to wear a lot of dark colors.)

I think this is a great development and I’m actually looking forward to see if the classic SweetHearts Conversation Hearts will also go all natural. They do still have gelatin in them, so sadly no good for vegetarians and they’re not Kosher/Halal. I really like my candies to taste like candy, not artificial colors.

Related Candies

  1. Chocolate Dipped Altoids - Creme de Menthe
  2. Canada Wintergreen
  3. Necco Conversation Hearts (Sweethearts)
  4. VerMints
  5. Chocolate Dipped Altoids
  6. Lifesaver Musk
  7. Pastiglie Leone
  8. Necco Smoothies
Name: All Natural Necco Wafers
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Necco
Place Purchased: CVS (Eagle Rock)
Price: $2.29
Size: 11 ounces
Calories per ounce: 109
Categories: Chalk, Cinnamon, Licorice, United States, Necco, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:37 pm     Comments (23)

Friday, July 17, 2009

World Confections: Jaw Slammers

Long Lasting Jaw SlammersI picked up this variety pack of jawbreakers from a brand called World Confections at the Dollar Tree, mostly because they’re made in Pakistan. 

Each variety is a little different and sports a different package design. And each package holds a little over an ounce. (Actually, the boxes were basically twice as big as they needed to be.)

The Fruit Flavors Jaw Slammers introduced me to the product line’s mascot, this blond kid with a big jawbreaker in his mouth.

Long Lasting Jaw SlammersThere’s no list on the box of what the fruit flavors should be, so I was left to guess.

But more disturbing than the lack of info was the look of the jawbreakers.

Each is about the size of a garbanzo bean, nicely spherical but mottled and uneven in color.

The melt on the tongue isn’t smooth until the first layer of color dissolves away.

I tried a few of the colors but the flavor was never more than “bland fruit” with a blend of citrus, banana and sweet berry. The texture is much like most jawbreakers, smooth and then a little burst of flavor (it you could call it that) and then a little bit rougher texture ... then smooth again.

About two layers down the candy stops and becomes a piece of compressed dextrose about the size of the old Tart n Tinys. But unflavored.

They’re wholly unoffensive, but not terribly stimulating or satisfying. I don’t feel ripped off, but I was hoping for a bit more flavor.

Sour Jaw Slammers

The Sour Jaw Slammers box is pretty bold in color.

At first the pieces looked to be similarly mottled as the fruit ones, but after touching them, they’re softly textured. I expected that to be a sour blast coating like Toxic Waste. Instead it was just the same as the fruit.

I waited through the layers until finally I got to that chalky candy layer and was rewarded with a very tart SweeTart like nugget.

Again, none of the flavors were particularly distinct, but the sweet outer layer and then the textural difference of the sour center was at least interesting.

Bubble Gum Center Jaw Slammers

Once I got the style of these candies down, I thought I knew what to expect with the Bubble Gum Center Jaw Slammers.

These were even more bumply than the others.

They were also more flavorful. Not a good flavor. It was a combination of Country Time Lemonade and ketchup.

Then there was the center.

I was expecting a piece of bubble gum at the center. Because that’s what the box said .. with bubble gum center.

So get to the middle and it feels just like a piece of compressed dextrose ... a bit tangy though. So I chew and find that it’s like a Razzle.

The net amount of gum (bubble gum, you know, for blowing bubbles) is about the size of a mustard seed.

These are terrible.
Hot Red Shockers

Hot Red Shockers are, as I expected, to be like mini Atomic Fireballs.

The box design is a bit more of a downer than the others. Nowhere does it say that these are cinnamon.

In truth, they’re not just cinnamon. After first the little ball was a smooth and sweet cinnamon, then it ebbed into spearmint territory. The combination was like toothpaste or mouthwash. But then it came back around to cinnamon and there was definitely a red hot layer in there somewhere before the center became just a sugar ball.

I’m not sure why I would buy these when there are already two very good jawbreakers that fit the bill: Gobstoppers and Atomic Fireballs.

But I suppose if if I needed some water soluble ball bearings, this would fit the bill. Perhaps if I was looking for something to give away to people that I don’t care if they like me or not after receiving it. But not for me.

Related Candies

  1. Cinnamon Imperial Hearts
  2. Boston Baked Beans
  3. Atomic Fireballs
  4. Gobs of Gobstoppers
Name: Jaw Slammers, Sour Jaw Slammers, Bubble Gum Filled Jaw Slammers, Red Hot Shockers
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: World Confections
Place Purchased: Dollar Tree (Anaheim)
Price: $1.00 for set
Size: 4.08 ounces
Calories per ounce: 120
Categories: Hard Candy, Cinnamon, Chalk

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:34 pm     Comments (3)

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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

Halloween Candy Season Ends

-27 days

Read previous coverage

 

 

Which seasonal candy selection do you prefer?

Choose one or more:

  •   Halloween
  •   Christmas
  •   Valentine's Day
  •   Easter

 

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ON DECK

These candies will be reviewed shortly:

• Theo Chocolate Nutcracker Brittle

• Orgran Molasses Licorice

• Rogue Chocolatier

• Godiva Chef Inspirations

• Hachez Braune Blatter (Chocolate Leaves)

 

 

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