Tuesday, July 12, 2005
To follow up on the earlier review of the Cup-O-Gold I figured I’d contrast that with Hershey’s S’mores bar. The S’mores bar is marshmallow on top of a graham cracker crust covered in chocolate. If you recall the S’mores most of us have made, they were a toasted marshmallow (or two), a few squares of Hershey’s chocolate between two graham crackers. What was great about that combo was that you’d freshly toasted the marshmallow so it was retardedly hot in the middle and of cuorse melted the chocolate and the ratio being the dominance of the graham crackers (which also kept your fingers from being burned).
In this bar Hershey’s has the ratios all askew. By far the dominant feature of this bar is the marshmallow center. It’s not a traditional white marshmallow but a slightly tan version that seems a tad nougaty ... perhaps they’re trying to make it taste toasted. Much sweeter than it needed to be and lacked that meringue feeling that a good marshmallow has. There no graham cracker here. Instead the crust seems to be a crisco and cookie bits amalgamation. Then it’s covered in very sweet milk chocolate.
Too sweet, not enough toasty flavor and the graham cracker thing was just plain wrong. Move along, nothing to taste here.
Rating: 4 out of 10
Thursday, July 07, 2005
Name: Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Mint
I love these bars. Well, I did when they first came out. The thing is, I’m not sure they’re out now. I checked the Hershey’s site and didn’t find any mention of the Cookies ‘n’ Mint being reintroduced ... so is this a very old bar? It was certainly dusty. (Again, I’d love it if Hershey’s started putting freshness dates on their products.) While they’re at it, the packaging is a little deceiving - it’s milk chocolate, not some sort of green stuff like the picture shows.
That aside, when these were out and widely available I preferred the “nuggets” format. I don’t know why, but the flat bar didn’t make the crunchy parts sing as well. I think the surface area isn’t good for the chocolate either, I think it makes it all more prone to temperature changes.
But I digress.
This is a minted milk chocolate bar with small chocolate cookie bits (think of the cookie part of an oreo crumbled into minty chocolate). It’s a great combination. I think the crunch provides a nice contrast, and the fact that the cookie isn’t terribly sweet offsets the sweetness of the milk chocolate.
I hope this bar gets reintroduced or at least the nuggets will be available for a limited time every year. If you like this bar, I suggest the Harry London Cookie Joys as an excellent substitute.
Rating: 8 out of 10 (would be more if the bar were fresher)
UPDATE: See my Cookie Joys and Cookies ‘n’ Mint Nuggets head to head post.
Monday, July 04, 2005
Name: Twix Dark Chocolate
You know what I like about Mars products? They have an expiration date. When I’m buying candy at a place where it might have been sitting around for a while (read: Liquor Store), I kind of like to know if I’m eating something ten years old.
This one was supposedly fresh, but the chocolate seemed slightly chalky. The liquor store had it’s doors wide open and it is now July, so I’m guessing climate control is not as important to them as getting people into the store.
Twix have been around for quite a few years (1979). I remember their introduction and walking to the corner store near the junior high and buying one. I was just mad about the $100,000 Bar and the Marathon Bar at the time and this seemed like a good evolution. But when I eat them they’re always too sweet. I don’t know what it is, I think that the cookie should be a pretzel or something and have a salty element to it. But that’d be a different candy bar and Mars has been very successful with the Twix and who am I to tinker with the recipe?
Well, Dark Chocolate Twix to the rescue! Where the milk chocolate in the classic Twix is cloying, the dark chocolate here has a slight bitter and smoky taste that complements the caramel and sweet cookie very well. I’m sure if the chocolate was fresh it’d taste even better.
I hope they add these to their repetoire permanently. I’d actually buy them.
Rating: 8 out of 10.
Friday, June 03, 2005
Dovetailing with my earlier post about revisiting classics with new interpretations, Hershey’s recently launched “Candy to Go!” It’s just smaller packaging of their previously introduced Bites, but what I found interesting is that I thought most candy was packaged for going ...
These are perfect little bites of candy bars. I picked up three at the store on the lot today. Kit Kat Bites, Reese’s Peanut Butter Bites and York Bites. Each is about the size of a small marble, more or less. The York bites are exactly what you’d expect, dark chocolate covering a mint cream center. The Reese’s bites are covering a peanut butter cup filling (not that waxy Reese’s pieces stuff) and the Kit Kat bites are like little Kit Kat cubes.
Here’s my thing: I like appropriate ratios. In the case of the Reese’s bites and the York bites, the ratio of chocolate to filling is appropriate. Though the chocolate in these little poppers is slightly different - because it’s in a spherical shape, I think they toss a little resinous glaze on it. This makes for a slight waxy coating, which in one respect is good, because you can actually hold them in your hand for a moment without getting melty all over you, but it also means that you’re eating this resin and that you need to kind of get past that when you put it in your mouth.
In the Kit Kat bites, it feels like too much chocolate (Kit) and not enough crisp wafers (Kat).
The other odd thing about these are the portion size: 2.75 oz and that’s a full serving. Most candy bars are about 1.5 oz and have about 200 calories. The Reese’s bites have 410 calories! If you can control yourself and not eat them all at once, you’ll make it to fifty without a coronary. Me? I ate the whole York Bites and then moved on to the Reese’s and of course had to open the Kit Kat for a taste. Sadly, all that’s left now are some of the Kit Kats.
Name: York Bites
Good chocolate, nice mint, pretty much a tiny spherical peppermint patty. The only problem I had with these was the variation in quality. Some were soft and fresh, but others were rather hard. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that they’re spoiled, maybe the chocolate didn’t seal in the filling completely and they dried out.
Name: Reese’s Peanut Butter Bites
Okay, of the three, these smelled absolutely divine when I opened the package. A wonderful roasted peanut scent with the sweet overtone of chocolate. Really, these smelled awesome. They taste good, and I think I’d buy them again, especially as something to eat when at the movies, but I still prefer the miniatures for the ratio of chocolate to peanut butter.
Name: Kit Kat Bites
My least favorite of the three, but I’ve always been fond of Kit Kats and buy them often. But my favorite thing about Kit Kats is deconstructing them while I eat, which means prying off each layer with my teeth. That’s not really feasible with this iteration, so I’d just have to eat them and where’s the fun in that?
I’m not always fond of miniatures or giganto bars, but I think that Hershey’s really did a nice job of inventing these as candy that stands alone without the other versions. As always, freshness helps, if these were old and had bloomed or something, I’d find them absolutely unappealing. But I find these to be the perfect movie food or good to tuck in your bag to share with others.
UPDATE: It looks like these didn’t go over very well and have been discontinued. The remaining inventory can still be found at discount stores like 99 Cent Only. (But be sure to look at the expiration date before you take a chance.)
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
I can’t fault the candy manufacturers trying to tweak their most popular candies instead of reinventing the wheel. Sometimes they arrive at something that’s as good or even better than the original.
In the spirit of my recent review of the White Chocolate Reese’s, I picked up a few other reduxes.
Name: Nestle Crunch Dark
Very fresh, the crisps were crunchy and the bar was glossy and smooth. The chocolate was not waxy, but didn’t really have the melt-in-your mouth feel. The chocolate content was pretty good, but not quite enough to soothe me completely. Maybe it was a little sweet.
On the whole, I think crunch bars are perfect the way they are. Milk chocolate and crisped rice are perfect together. Why mess with it?
Name: White Chocolate Kit Kat
Again, there was nothing wrong with the original Kit Kat. This white Kit Kat seems a bit saltier, which helps to balance the bland sweetness of the white chocolate. It’s not something that I’d be interested in again.
Name: Milky Way Midnight
First, I congratulate them for spelling midnight correctly. This bar was very fresh but reminded me that I never cared much for Milky Ways because they’re too cloyingly sweet. I like Snickers, mostly because they mixing sweet and savory. Also, I don’t like candy bars that are too much sugar and not enough fat (and maybe a little protein thrown in). So, in that respect the dark version is much more successful. The richer taste of the chocolate balances the caramel and bland nougat much better.
I have to say, after having plenty of imported candies and things from the remainders at the 99 cent stores, having fresh candy really makes a difference. Even a middle-of-the-road candy like Hershey’s Kisses are better when they’re fresh. Candy’s a treat - if you are going to use those “discretionary” calories on something with no nutritional value, choose something fresh and satisfying. Life too short for bad dessert.
Friday, May 13, 2005
Name: Botticelli Bites
I was excited to see these at Big Lots. I’ve been buying something called “Cookie Joys” made by Harry London Chocolates from Trader Joe’s for a few years now. I assumed that these were the same thing. And they probably were - about four years ago when these were probably manufactured.
I guess this is one of those things you learn the hard way from buying at the closeout stores. Chocolate is not something to buy on the cheap. Most often I am sorry when I do.
These came in three different flavors - Mint Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter and Double Chocolate. Only the Mint Chocolate ones did not have a bloom on them.
The Chocolate Peanut Butter looked fairly good (as they do in the photo) but the peanut oils must have gone rancid. The Double Chocolate were just plain white and chalky and I tossed them after sorting through to see if any of them were good.
However - if you ever find the Harry London varieties, I heartily recommend them. Hershey’s introduced a mint cookie bar a few years back which I was positively addicted to. This is the new replacement for it.
EDIT: Since writing this review I’ve found out that Botticelli is owned by Alpine Confectionery that also owns Harry London. They’re the same thing, just different packaging. Obviously these were stored improperly and were past their prime, thus got a poor rating.
Rating: 2 out of 10 (because I actually ate some of the mint ones, otherwise it’d be a 1)
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Name: Pocky (Chocolate)
I love Pocky. Can I just start with that? What a perfect candy. It’s got the savory crunch of a biscuit and the smooth velvety flavor of chocolate.
Opening one of the foil packs I was met with the overwhelming scent of dark chocolate. The sticks were nicely coated (not too much) with chocolate, and leave a little uncoated spot at the bottom where you can hold it without getting chocolately fingers - something they don’t do with chocolate covered pretzels.
The coating is a thin sheath, but because of the richness of the chocolate, it’s the right proportion. The biscuit or pretzel part is bland - it’s not salty nor sweet, but the perfect bit of crunch and crispness for the chocolate.
The portion size is huge. Half the package (250 calories, 90 from fat but only 20 mg of trans fats). I wasn’t able to eat that big of a portion - that’s 22 sticks. I think they’re a great thing to tuck in a lunch bag or to go off on a picnic (provided your pack doesn’t get too hot and they melt and stick together). Easy to snack on, easy to share.
Rating: 9 out of 10
See earlier review of Green Tea Pocky.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Name: Mousse Pocky (Green Tea)
Pocky is one of those Japanese treats that’s gone mainstream in the States. I’ve seen them at Ralph’s and even some convenience stores. I’d never had them before and I think if I had it to do all over again, I’d start with a more common flavor. However, I’ve got to hand it to the Mitsuwa Marketplace, they had a huge selection. There’s also something known as “Men’s Pocky” which I haven’t quite figured out.
If you’ve never seen them before, Pocky are little cracker/biscuit sticks dipped in something chocolatey or creamy. My choice was Green Tea. The sticks look just like the package promises. Long, unsalted pretzel looking things dipped in a green, creamy coating. You grab them by a small uncoated end for clean fingers.
The coating is like white chocolate flavored with green tea, and it tastes just like room-temperature green tea ice cream. Smooth, delicately flavored with a crisp bite to the cracker inside. They’re definitely addictive and one of the better items I bought on my last Little Tokyo trip. They do have a bit of hydrogenated oils in them (though the main fat is cocoa butter, which is what gives the coating its smooth-meltyness).
I’m eager to try more flavors. The neutrality of the crunchy stick makes it idea for just about anything. Mostly I’m going to see if other varieties don’t have hydrogenated oils.
Rating: 8 out of 10
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