Monday, September 13, 2010
When Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy was discontinued by Tootsie back in the late eighties, candy fans searched far and wide for an adequate simulation. For years candy stores suggested Doschers Famous French Chew Taffy. (I even tried it.) But earlier this year Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy returned. I tried the other flavors: Vanilla, Chocolate & Strawberry, but when I picked them up, I also decided to get a package of the Banana in both the Bonomo & Doscher’s brand to compare head-to-head.
As far as the stats go, they’re a little different on a few fronts. I paid $1.99 for the Bonomo and only 99 cents for the Doscher’s. The Bonomo bar is slightly smaller at 1.5 ounces to the Doscher’s 1.62. The ingredients are similar, both are basically corn syrup, sugar and egg whites. The Bonomo uses mono- & di-glycerides while the Doscher’s uses hydrogenated soybean oil (only 1 gram of fat for the bar, so it’s not that much) and a dash of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).
Both bars are artificially colored. The Doscher’s is a little more dusty yellow than the Bonomo. Doscher’s feels lighter and fluffier, in fact, when I bend it, it’s more pliable. It’s like it has a little air folded in, more like a nougat than a taffy.
The Bonomo is very smooth. It’s a bit stiff at first to chew, but the flavor is bold and consistent. The banana is a bit artificial, relying only on that circus peanut note instead of some other things like vanilla to round it out.
The Doscher’s tastes a little more starchy in comparison, like a Nilla Wafer with banana flavoring. The airy texture seems to make it dissolve quicker, so I actually went through the bars in about the same amount of time. The flavor wasn’t as intense but also seemed friendlier.
On the whole, they’re different but similar enough for me to lump them into a list of taffy products that are descent enough but just not my thing. If you’re a die hard fan of either, I can see why you can’t just swap one for the other.
Monday, August 30, 2010
For something that’s described as “Chew Mints”, Mentos fail on diversity of mint flavors. In the United States there is exactly one mint flavor available: Mint. In other countries there are Spearmint, Xtra (double strong Peppermint or Spearmint), Lime Mint, Ice Mint, Cool Chews Orange Mint, Pomelo Mint, Strong Mint, Barley Mint and Lakritz Mint.
The only other flavor in the current American repertoire that I think features Freshmaking abilities is the Cinnamon Mentos. They’re not easy to find, I rarely see them in stores but grabbed this roll when I saw them at Walgreen’s last week.
The package is hard to spot though, because it’s red and looks a lot like Strawberry at first glance.
The pieces don’t smell cinnamon-like. It’s not like having a package of cinnamon gum and having the scent of it waft through your purse or desk drawer. These are quiet and self-contained.
They’re smooth and have a good crunch to the outside. The inside is like a candy version of Big Red gum. They’re woodsy and a little warm from the cinnamon flavoring, but not overly hot. The flavor last through the whole chew and is in general satisfying. There’s a little hint of mint to it, but that may just be me imagining it.
Some of the fruit flavors of Mentos can have a weird aftertaste, but the Cinnamon ones have a fresh note at the end. They cut mid-morning coffee mouth without making me feel like I’ve eaten a wad of toothpaste.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy is a curious little confection. It’s curious in that it’s not really Turkish and it’s not really taffy. But it really was made by a guy named Victor Bonomo, whose father was from Turkey.
Turkish Taffy is made by boiling sugar, corn syrup and egg whites. But instead of being fluffed like a traditional nougat or pulled like taffy it was poured and baked in large sheets like candy bark. The resulting texture has an incredibly smooth and long chew with no hint of sugar crystals. It was originally sold in bulk and pieces could be purchased by weight at candy counters at department stores and five & dimes back in the 1940s. By the 1950s the company started selling bars where the customers were encouraged to whack them before opening to break into individual pieces.
When Victor Bonomo retired in the 1970s, the company was sold to Tootsie who made the candy from 1980 to 1989. Around 2003 there were tickles on the internet that the candy was going to return (including a few emails I got that never turned into anything), but it wasn’t until this year that it actually happened. Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy is now available in the classic bar format and little individually wrapped bites in the original four flavors: Vanilla, Strawberry, Chocolate and Banana.
I’ll start by saying that most chocolate chews are a disappointment. They can never match the chocolate punch of actual chocolate. The only thing going for a chocolate chew is the chew part, so it’d better be good enough to transcend the watered down flavor.
The color of Bonomo Chocolate Turkish Taffy is like chocolate nonfat milk, a light creamy brown. A bit lighter even than a Tootsie Roll, which I’m guessing is the most widely consumed chocolate chew in the United States.
To eat I followed the directions to whack the package firmly before opening on the corner of a table. I did it several times until I felt that the bar had been cleaved into several pieces along its length.
The pieces are thick and firm, but with some gentle pressure they do bend. Bend quickly enough and you can actually break it or pull very slowly and it will stretch. It smells lightly sweet and a little like cocoa and sweet, powdery marshmallows.
The chew is hard at first but melts after some work and warmth. The flavor is thin and watery - a light cocoa note but very little more than that. It’s not terribly sweet, which is a relief. The texture however, is dreamy. It’s smooth and silky, a chew that has no middle or end, it’s completely the same all along. The only thing that’s different is that it gets smaller the more I chewed.
The cocoa was disappointing, but the fact that it wasn’t too sweet and provided a strong texture without anything left sticking in my teeth was a huge plus.
The chew is firm and tough at first but softens. It’s exceptionally smooth and consistent, all the way to the end. The flavor is lightly creamy and has a good vanilla flavor that’s not too artificial though really not that deep either. It’s more robust than a Vanilla Tootsie but still not exceptionally interesting at a certain point.
Of the three classic Neapolitan flavors I tried, this was by far my favorite. The bar last a long time and since it’s a chew, it’s a lot lower in calories than a chocolate or nut product. So this 1.5 ounce bar has only 160 calories (the chocolate one has 150).
I avoid strawberry taffy for the most part. It lacks the things that I like about strawberries - like the texture of the seeds, the mixture of tartness, sweetness and floral aromas. Strawberries smell like cotton candy to me, or maybe cotton candy smells like strawberries - it’s like part of consuming it is the scent which carries its own portion of sugary calories.
The Bonomo’s Strawberry Turkish Taffy is bright, bismuth pink. It’s artificial looking, like a lump of plastic left over from an injection molding project for Barbie Corvettes. The scent is similarly off-putting. It says “strawberry with a hint of vinyl”. The texture is the same as the other varieties - smooth and a long, glossy chew. The flavor though was all sweet, a strange fake strawberry that was like a cheap body wash and a terrible bitter note from the food dye (it said Red #3 & Blue #3, which is not usually one I call out for bitter, metallic aftertastes).
While I thought it was ghastly, I can understand that some folks will love the stuff. I get it, I love things that I know are fake and weird, too - like American Cheese.
I know that Bonomo’s is a well-loved brand. I know that it’s also pretty intensive to create, so these packages were $1.99 each - twice the price of the Doscher’s French Chew, which is often sold as a replacement. Maybe with time and larger volume the price will drop back down, but I’d much rather have some real nougat. But at this price I expect artisan or all natural. They are Kosher but there’s no statement about gluten or nuts (they do say that they’re processed in a facility with milk products). Classic Caramel of Camp Hill, PA is making the taffy for the Bonomo Turkish Taffy company. Classic Caramel also makes SloPokes, Kits and BB Bats.
It also comes in Banana, I picked that up too, along with Doscher’s French Chew in Banana and will do a comparison soon.
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 9, 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.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.