Friday, August 13, 2010
I found this small bag of Crazy Candy Co Candy Laces at Aldi. They have a few sugar-based candies from this Crazy Candy Co on the shelves, like gummi bears and sour neon worms. Though Aldi sells Haribo, this Crazy Candy Co is one of their house brands.
The Candy Laces are like fruity licorice; they’re made from wheat and come in four flavors: Strawberry, Apple Peach, Raspberry, Peach. The package says they use no artificial flavors or colors. The package is cute and inviting and would certainly appeal to juveniles. The price is pretty good at 79 cents for three ounces - it’s not a lot of candy or a lot of money for a little treat.
The laces are about 18-20 inches long each. Though it’s natural coloring, they’re bold and bright.
The laces are soft and flexible, but still strong enough to take a little tugging and pulling. They have a light beeswax coating on them to keep them from sticking and drying out, but it’s not oily or sticky. I found it easy to twist and braid the laces together. Let’s face it, one of the reasons I bought them was because I thought they’d be fun to play with and photograph.
The laces are lightly translucent and well made. Not bumps, tacky or chalky spots.
The peach and apple flavors are authentic. It’s like a lightly sweet glass of juice. The texture of the chew is a little sticky but since the cords are so thin to begin with, it’s not like big gobs can get stuck in my teeth.
The color is bright and the laces sometimes look like a heap of curry ramen to me.
The peach flavor is a little tart and has a little pine note to it, like peach skins. It’s not overwhelming or artificial, though still not quite authentic.
I was hoping for something really intense and jammy. Instead it’s just a little tart, vaguely floral and mildly berry-flavored.
One thing that I noticed about the Raspberry laces is that they’re slightly smaller in diameter from the other flavors. Still the same texture though.
Strawberry is a common flavor for red licorice, so I went into this with a lot of experience with red laces. My first impression: nicely done.
The flavor is tart and good mix of floral, berry and tangy notes. The chew is firm, like an al dente pasta and it’s not as leathery or doughy as some other American and Australian versions.
I found that they kept fresh even without sealing the bag up inside a zippered plastic bag like I do with many of my opened candies. After about a week they got a little firmer, but never tacky or dry.
The package is nicely designed and the candy itself is well made. I don’t care personally for the flavor mix much, but I know that children would probably be drawn to the bright colors and mainstream flavors. (They might be disappointed that the apple isn’t more like the Jolly Rancher Green Apple.) These would be great for decorating as well.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
About five years ago Twizzlers, a Hershey’s company, introduced Twerpz (original review). They were cute little nibs of flavored “licorice” that had a grainy and flavored cream filling. They were around for about three years then slowly faded away. Twizzlers introduced a few similar products such as the Twizzlers Sweet & Sour Filled Twists, but didn’t relaunch the Twerpz line. In a completely unrelated area, Hershey’s had a line of chocolate bar “Awesome Twosome” brand mashups around the same time. They were regular Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars with bits of other bars mixed in, like Whoppers, Heath, Almond Joy and Reese’s Pieces.
So it appears that this new product, now under the Jolly Rancher brand is taking over the Twizzlers Twerpz product, but giving it a little twist by combing two flavors in each piece (that’s the Twosome part).
The flavors of the Awesome Twosome Chews are standards in the Jolly Rancher palette. One is Watermelon on the outside and has a Green Apple filling. The other is Cherry on the outside and has an Orange filling. Each has a sour grainy dusting.
The Watermelon/Green Apple is kind of fun because it’s a reverse of the colors of an actual watermelon. That’s about where the fun for me ended. The package itself smells rather plastic and artificial, like bubble gum, wood glue and one of those discount movie palaces that always smells a little damp. They’re soft and chewy and the sour coating isn’t that powerful, just a nice zap.
The tube of watermelon licorice is well flavored, in the Jolly Rancher arena, which is good if you like that sort of thing. The green apple inside goes pretty well, but again, horribly artificial and acidic in a way that reminds me of burps.
The Cherry/Orange was at least made up of one flavor that I generally like. The cherry chew part was very flavorful, but sadly it was a very bad flavor. The use of food coloring and one note of medicinal cherry kept me from enjoying it at all. There were only four of these in my bag, so I didn’t get a lot to try. The paste filling was an interesting texture but in the case of the orange one, far too mild and like Tang instead of a well rounded zesty orange to stand up to the cherry.
The aftertaste was like I’d chewed on PlayDoh for a while and then swallowed Country Time Lemonade drink mix. However, I know that there are folks who are really looking forward to these. I like the concept but the texture, flavors and general execution just doesn’t fit my style.
Friday, July 09, 2010
I was cruising the aisles of Cost Plus World Market looking for a pick me up after Christmas and saw this rather generic looking Sukoka Soft Coffee Candy by Unican on the shelf. It said it was made with real milk and apparently real coffee, so I figured it’d have a little caffeinated kick. So I bought it. Then I ate them all, without reviewing them. So I had to buy another bag.
It seemed a bit on the expensive side, 3.2 ounces was $1.99. But it was also only $2 and it might be great, so why not give it a try.
Mostly the package was focused on the nutritional benefits: With 6% daily value Calcium in each serving, which is 5 pieces. So a little more than 1% per piece. There are 30 pieces in the bag, so at least I know if I went wild, I wouldn’t overdose on calcium.
Each little piece was individually wrapped and sealed. I’ve noticed this is common with candy from Indonesia (also Malaysia and Philippines), I’m guessing it’s because people buy single pieces and that the weather there is very humid so sugar candy needs to be well sealed to keep from getting sticky.
The description on the back of the package goes on to extol more of the virtues of the candy:
But I don’t think that the ingredients are the very best (that that they’re terrible):
I don’t know what condensed filled milk is, I’m guessing it’s sweetened condensed milk.
The pieces are about the size and shape of a cough drop. Just light and creamy brown lozenges. They smell sweet and like black coffee. The flavor is immediately like coffee ice cream: milky and with a soft bitter note of coffee and burnt sugar. The toffee notes are most evident and the coffee has a good mix of bitterness, charcoal and woodsiness. They’re firm but have a give to them that’s more dense and more dairy than a caramel. The chew is smooth but never quite gets grainy or diluted.
The coffee flavor wasn’t intense but it was satisfying and rich. I have no idea if there’s a measurable amount of caffeine in them, I didn’t notice any effects, and I’m rather sensitive to it. I bought this second bag yesterday and it’s already gone, so I must have liked them. I wouldn’t eat them for the health benefits though.
These are a great summer candy. They’re exceptionally durable, even in the heat they might melt a bit, but are still perfectly edible even if they lose their shape and reform. They’re creamy and rich, so it’s kind of like chocolate without the sticky mess. The individual wrapping means you can even tuck them in your pocket.
Unican also makes a milk tea version called Suteka and a mint chocolate one called Mint Choka as well as a whole line of fruity milk candies called Milkita (strawberry & melon). The tea one sounds like it would be very good. These are marked Halal and should be suitable for vegetarians (but not vegans, obviously).
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Sour Punch Straws are a sour sanded fruity licorice made by the American Licorice Co.. They’re fun and certainly pack a lot of flavor, but they’re messy to eat and share. So the Sour Punch folks came up with Sour Punch Bits which are little nibs of fruity chewy with a similar sweet & sour sand. The fun part for me was that they came up with some new flavors. I got a hold of their new Sour Punch Bits Tangerine-Lemonade.
It comes in a theater box (but I think they also have peg bags), so it’s easy to dispense and share. And of course they’re meant for taking to the movies, so you can get that sour fix without a lap full of tart dust.
The pieces are small: about 3/4 of an inch long and 1/4 of an inch around. They’re not as “sanded” with the sour sugar powder as the Sour Punch Straws I’ve had before, but that’s okay with me. The only issue I had was that these were a little stickier. There are two flavors in each piece supposedly: lemon (yellow) and tangerine (orange) though actually separating them was nearly impossible.
They don’t smell like anything at all. Maybe a faint whiff of Play Doh or erasers.
They’re quite sour on the tongue right away, but also extremely flavorful. There’s an intense wave of citrus that hit me when I first bit into them - an almost bitter orange and lemon zest note. Even though there’s no real orange or lemon oil in there, it tasted like there was. The tart chew is firm, hearty and almost creamy because it has a starchy wheat base to it, instead of a taffy chew like Starburst. Still, there is some sticking to the teeth. They’re not really sour, just sour enough to make my mouth water, but not quite enough to get my neck tingling.
I liked them more than I thought I would initially. When I talked to some folks at American Licorice about them last year, they were positioning these as a sour treat for adults, instead of kids. I think they succeeded there. They’re a little chewier though and the bitterness got to me after a while, it certainly kept me from eating the whole package (which is technically two servings).
They also come in Lemon-Lime and Strawberry-Watermelon.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Licorice Caramel Creams are not new, they were made years ago and then discontinued as licorice fell out of favor and Goetze’s concentrated on the core products in their line.
The new caramel creams are formatted in the same way. A hoop of wheat-based caramel surrounds a crumbly soft sugar center. They’re individually wrapped and in the case of this new line, they’re sold in 9 ounce stand-up gusseted bags.
The gourmet part isn’t about fine, locally sourced ingredients or small batches:
First, I have to remind folks that Caramel Creams are a little different. They’re really not caramels at all, they’re a wheat-based chew so they’re hardly even sweet on the outside. I liken them to cookie dough, but in the case of the Licorice variety I can only say that they’re like a very chewy version of the Aussie-style of soft licorice.
The scent of the licorice is strong on the anise and reminds me of Ouzo. The molasses notes are restrained. The chew is tough and long lasting, the acidic notes of the molasses and licorice come through very well. There’s a tar quality to it, the strength is so aromatic at times it’s practically corrosive (I mean the best way possible). The cooling sugar center gives a little splash of cold water and helps spread the flavors around.
I really enjoyed these a lot. I’ve tried them several times now as samples from trade shows and I’ve been looking forward to buying a full bag for myself in stores ... if only I could find them. (Looks like OldTimeCandy.com has them, maybe I’ll have to place an order.)
They’re so different from any other licorice or caramel product. The closest thing I can think of might be a Licorice Allsort - but with a softer, fresher and more intensely-flavored chew.
Each Bullseye has 40 calories each, 10% of your calcium one gram of fat plus they’re made in a no-nuts/no peanut facility.
The second gourmet version is the Double Chocolate Caramel Cream which honestly doesn’t differ that much from the straight Chocolate Caramel Cream. Sure the center has a little cocoa in it, but the chocolate flavor is all in the caramel chew outside. The selling point here is the addition of calcium, which is substantial.
The flavor is like eating brownie batter, or the edges of a freshly cooked brownie bar where it’s really chewy. It’s not terribly sweet, so the cocoa flavors are rich and a little milky with just a slight hint of salt.
They’re both really filling and sometimes feel more like a snack than a candy.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Back in October I heard that Wrigley’s was introducing some new Skittles. These weren’t just new flavors, they were going to be a completely new way to experience the chewy fruit-flavored candy lentils.
Skittles Fizzl’d Fruits are billed as Fizzling fun for your mouth. As you can imagine from the name, they’re Skittles with a foaming, fizzy component.
The package is cobalt blue and holds the same amount as the Sour Skittles, 1.8 ounces (the regular flavors are 2.17 ounces). I couldn’t wait to find them in stores locally, so when I saw a box of them posted on eBay, I bought them right away.
From the outside of the package they looked like Sour Skittles, which of course gets my mouth watering immediately. The images show a softly sanded set of Skittles, my guess was this was the fizzing part.
This sort of fizzing reaction is the same as AlkaSeltzer or other effervescent tablets. Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is mixed with an acidic agent, in this case citric acid. When it’s dry, nothing happens but when water (or saliva) wets it, they begin a reaction that results in carbon dioxide (the air) and sodium citrate (an alkaline salt with a tangy flavor that works as a mild antacid).
I took one Skittle and carefully put a drop of water on it and sure enough as the water wicked around the whole candy the surface started to bubble slightly. It looked like it was being deep fried, or like putting a strawberry in a glass of champagne. It’s not like the whole thing got covered in scrubbing bubbles nor would a whole bowl of them create a “snap, crackle, pop” but it’s still a remarkable little chemistry demonstration.
The flavors are Berry Punch, Melon Berry, Raspberry, Strawberry and Wild Cherry. If this set of flavors sounds familiar, yes, it’s the same as Wild Berry Skittles.
They smell softly sweet with a light floral note, but nothing that really hints at the experience to come.
They are strange! I can say right now they are not for me, but they are definitely intriguing.
I was expecting the caustic and biting sour coating when I popped two of the Melon Berry flavor in my mouth, and yes, there was a sour tingle, but then there was a fizz. It’s not a carbonation fizz, it’s more like putting an Alka Seltzer tablet on your tongue. The foaming is soft and has small bubbles which dissipate quickly, especially when I chewed up the candy. I didn’t care much for the melon berry flavor as it was, so the additional component was weird and slightly metallic.
The Raspberry went nicely, the sour bite was less noticeable and the foam seemed to support the floral flavors. The coating, I was noticing, has a medicinal mineral salt flavor to it, like eating antacids.
Berry Punch had a kind of bubble gum note to it, so the bubbly coating fit right in. It reminded me of a cheap soda from my childhood, in the best way possible.
Strawberry was much more tangy than the one found in the regular mix and combined well with the fizzling.
Wild Cherry was a strange combination of foreign flavors, it simply put, an effervescent cough drop. It had all the worst aftertastes for me, a mid-tone metallic note and then the lingering cherry and bitter red dye afterglow.
As I mentioned earlier, they’re just not for me. I’m not much for effervescence; the caustic burps after just aren’t worth the tongue tingling. The mineral aftertaste is also a bit disconcerting for me, but I know it’s completely benign. Finally, I’m not that keen on the name. They’re using the Wild Berry mix so seems like they could have gone for Bubbly Berry instead of Fizzl’d Fruits since Fruits is the name of the classic flavor mix. I also ate three bags of these over the past five days and found that the fizzy coating was inconsistent. Sometimes it was fizzy but flavorless, other times it was a perfect blend of tangy and foamy.
I know that kids like to snort the sour powder from Sour Skittles, but this would be a very bad idea ... I give it about 11 days before videos start showing up on youtube of kids doing it. Skittles are now gelatin-free and gluten-free. They’re also no nuts and vegan if you’re the kind who will eat artificial stuff. Not Kosher.
Monday, February 08, 2010
Most candy coated licorice is the same. They’re little snips of licorice laces covered in a hard candy shell. The exception might be Good & Plenty, which uses a thicker and softer licorice nib for coating. Now there’s a new version on the marketing called Wiley Wallaby Outback Beans with Chewy Black Licorice Centers.
Wiley Wallaby is the Australian Style licorice brand from American maker Kenny’s Candy. They’re known for making licorice twists in a rainbow of flavors, from Root Beer to Spearmint to Pina Colada.
I picked these up at the Fancy Food Show and was told they should be hitting the stores via wholesalers sometime later this month. This format is a generous 13 ounce tub, which makes it easy to serve right from the package then seal it back up.
The short little rods are about one half to three quarters of an inch long. They’re matte and bright - a mix of purple, hot pink and a slightly lavender white. The shell is not quite crispy and becomes grainy and cool when chewed. It has a light anise flavor to it, but the real licorice impact comes with the black licorice center. It’s a soft and chewy mix of molasses woodsy notes and clean and sweet licorice. (There’s real licorice extract in there plus anise oil.)
My only hesitation with these is that the pink ones use Red 40, and I just couldn’t stand the bitter aftertaste. (There was a hint of it in the purple ones, but not enough to dissuade me from eating them after I’d gone through the white ones.)
The consistently soft chew and well rounded flavor put these right up there with Good & Plenty. Even after keeping the tub around for several weeks with the seal broken, they were still fresh (try that with a theater box of Good & Plenty). The good news for vegans is that it’s all artificial colors and no glazes in there (and mostly natural every thing else).
Since Hershey’s created their new version of Good & Fruity, which is no more than a crazy neon jelly bean, I’ve mentioned to more than one candy maker that there are still plenty of candy fans who long for a candy coated red licorice.
The Wiley Wallaby Outback Beans with Chewy Red Licorice Centers may fit that hole in the confectionery pantheon quite well.
The short little pieces come in three colors, a festive mix of orange, green and yellow. At the center of each grainy and not quite crunchy candy coating is a piece or red licorice.
I don’t know what flavor this red center is. At times I think it’s strawberry, but other times it’s a mild cherry. Whatever it is, it has a nice soft chew, a pleasant smoothness and a light tangy note of berries. The candy shell is very much like that on Good & Plenty. It’s smooth on the outside but not quite a hard crunchy shell, instead it becomes grainy and sweet. They’re quite satisfying and addictive to keep popping.
I expect these to be well-priced, as the Wiley Wallaby brand is usually less expensive than the true Australian imports. I also expect these to show up in bulk bins and probably stores that already carry the Wiley Wallaby line.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
The old Danish Rolls or Delfa Rolls are back, though now with the name Broadway Rolls. I finally found the black licorice version being sampled at the Winter Fancy Food Show at the Gerrit Verburg (a licorice importer) booth.
These are made in China but bear a striking similarity to the original Danish Rolls.
The construction of the candy is that it’s four small spools of flat licorice strands served up as one long bar in a single wrapper. The Strawberry Broadway Roll I tried before was interesting, but not so much that I would long for it if I couldn’t get it again.
The black licorice is glossy, smooth and quite dark. They’re soft and as long as I unrolled them, were easy to bite. (Biting a whole roll was tough and kind of silly.) Each spool is about 3/4 of an inch tall and one inch wide. Each strip, unrolled, is about one foot (12”) long - though that varied a little bit.
It didn’t smell like much at first, just a bit spicy and like anise. After unrolling and biting one though, it was quite complex and good. The main ingredients are wheat flour, sugar and molasses with real licorice extract and artificial flavors. I’ve noticed that I prefer licorice made with molasses, as I like the mineral and earthy flavors and how they combine with the sweet and spicy licorice. In this case the licorice tasted more like a really good ginger spice cake than a plain black licorice. Notes of cloves, ginger and nutmeg were quite apparent.
For a single serve black licorice, it’s great. It’s hard to find really intensely flavored licorice that’s not overly sticky. This had a good bite that became a bit crumbly and short after chewing, so it didn’t stick to my teeth at all. The aftertaste was a little bitter, but I blame that on the artificial food colors (which is too bad as well). There are some shortcomings to it, but overall I can see myself buying this again, especially since it’s a single serve, fun to play with and interestingly flavored roll.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.