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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

M&Ms Premiums

M&Ms Premiums AssortmentWith a smidge of fanfare last month, M&Ms/Mars introduced their new M&Ms Premiums line. The inaugural product launch includes five flavor variations that are a delightful chocolate gem with a colorful outside and a rich scrumptious inside.

These are not to be confused with the Special Edition offerings M&Ms had last year which featured such combinations as Cherry Almondine, Vanilla Crisp, Orange Creme and a few others I can’t remember. Those sold for $6.00 in a bag that held less than 6 ounces. (That bag was also unremarkable, similar to packaging for the regular M&Ms.)

Instead the new Premiums have radically different packaging, jewel tone boxes and most of all, a new type of colored coating in iridescent and speckled shading.

M&Ms Premiums Packages

The packages are narrow and tall, with curved waists. They look rather modern, but more like they have some sort of grooming product in them or perhaps even feminine hygiene products. (All joking aside, it’s rather cute how the boxes have little feet at the back that keep them standing up.)

The flavor variety is at once classic and adventurous. They use white, milk and dark chocolate in the line, often in combination with a layered effect and the only nut present in their initial offerings is the almond.

Shell Comparison between regular M&Ms and M&Ms PremiumsBut the radical departure here for M&Ms is the loss of the crisp, candy shell. Instead these morsels have no sugar shell. They have a wash of mottled colors and then a confectionery glaze to seal it all in and give it a shine.

As comparison I picked up some regular M&Ms to contrast this. The standard Milk Chocolate M&M has a clearly delineated shell, created by coating the tumbling lentil several times with the sugar syrup which dries in layers and builds up the familiar crunch.

So what is this new covering? It can’t be described as a shell, instead it’s more like a skin. It’s made from colorings, a little dash of oil and confectionery glaze (which contains shellac, a natural product but probably not vegetarian) - so it’s rather like a coat of latex paint. It’s not exactly flavored, but dissolves quickly, but into rather unappealing waxy flakes.

The new Premiums are also bigger than regular M&Ms. If you’ve have the limited edition Mint Crisp or even the Razzberry or Wild Cherry, these are more that size. Fatter and slightly irregular.

Chocolate Almond M&Ms Premiums

Chocolate Almond M&Ms Premiums

This cobalt blue and dark blue speckled egg shaped candies are milk chocolate around an almond.

They’re really not that different from the M&Ms Almond or if the shell thing is a bother, then compare them to the Dove Chocolate Covered Almonds, because other than the coloring, that’s exactly what they are.

It’s milk chocolate and to be honest, I would have preferred dark, but I have to review what’s in front of me.

The almonds are rather puny, some are smaller than peanuts. But they’re fresh and the milk chocolate is sweet and consistent and the right proportion. I can do better for the price. (Trader Joe’s.)

Raspberry Almond M&Ms Premiums

Raspberry Almond M&Ms Premiums

If I was disappointed with the classic milk chocolate covered almond, I should have kept my mouth shut. Because the twist on that is the over-engineered and under-tasty combination of raspberry flavored white chocolate over almonds covered in dark chocolate.

They smell like lipgloss and look like fake fingernails.

The texture is quite smooth and creamy, the white and dark chocolate a velvety. The almonds are fresh and crunchy, but the raspberry flavor just goes and spoils it all. It’s that fragrant raspberry essence - all flash and no real depth. I had a bunch of these mixed together in a bowl and they just polluted all the other ones. (That’s a tip if you were planning on using these for an event ... do not mix the raspberry.)

Mocha M&Ms Premiums

Mocha M&Ms Premiums

This amber and bronze little beads are a milk chocolate base lightly flavored with coffee.

The milk chocolate is moderately smooth, a bit milky and tastes rather like a mocha with a light fudgy grain to it. They’re even slightly bitter.

I’ve always wanted coffee M&Ms. These are pretty good. Pretty pricey and probably much harder to find but a nice change of pace from plain chocolate.

Triple Chocolate M&Ms Premiums

Triple Chocolate M&Ms Premiums

This is where things get exciting for this new line.

The triple chocolate is not triple the size of the others, instead if offers the three different kinds of chocolate: milk, white an dark.

The dark outer layer is buttery smooth, only a slight bitter tinge. It’s pretty thin and gives way to the slightly salty and very sweet white coating. Then the center is the milk chocolate. Kind of typical milk, a little more on the dairy side that I recall regular M&Ms tasting.

I liked chewing them up, but they’re fun to let melt through the layers.

Mint Chocolate M&Ms Premiums

Mint Chocolate M&Ms Premiums

As a twist on the ordinary minted chocolate M&Ms that are available around the holidays, the Mint Chocolate Premiums have layers as well.

Here the center is white chocolate (and it’s real white chocolate with actual cocoa butter) and then a thinner dark chocolate coating, all in the crazy mottled green.

They’re fresh tasting, smooth and really enjoyable.

I have to say that after I got over the no-shell shock, I really liked the Mocha and Mint (and the Triple Chocolate were also nice). The pricing is far better than I expected for a product called Premiums. I picked up this set at Target for $3.99 per package. They’re six ounces inside a little reclosable cellophane pouch. They’re far less expensive than the 7 ounce packages of single color M&Ms that are sold on the M&Ms website for $7.99 a package.

These are likely to be popular with brides and other folks planning large parties. I can only hope that M&Ms will provide more efficient packaging for that purpose.

M&Ms are by no means the first to create this sort of product. Koppers Chocolates has been selling jewel-toned chocolate covered almonds (and these are huge almonds) for at least 18 months and little flavored unshelled chocolates called Savouries (I tried the cayenne one here) for years. Koppers has also been making Mocha Lentils & Mint Lentils at least since I was a kid. Madelaine’s Chocolate has also been marketing jewel looking Malted Milk Balls for a couple of years.

Related Candies

  1. Head to Head: M&Ms vs Koppers Milkies
  2. Naked Chocolate Maltballs
  3. York Mints
  4. Fairway NYC
  5. Head-to-Head: Smarties vs. M&Ms
Name: M&Ms Premiums
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Mars
Place Purchased: Target (Hollywood)
Price: $3.99
Size: 6 ounces
Calories per ounce: 162
Categories: Chocolate, White Chocolate, Nuts, Mint, Coffee, United States, Mars, M&Ms, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:58 am     Comments (39)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Reese’s Select Clusters

imageIt sounds great. Reese’s Select Clusters feature Peanuts, Pecans, Peanut Butter and Caramel wrapped in Milk Chocolate. It’s like a peanut butter turtle.

Reese’s Signatures line is supposed to fancy up the standard Hershey’s fare, like the Bliss line is doing for their regular chocolate pieces. They were announced last fall at All Candy Expo and last I heard were supposed to come out late this summer. Imagine my delight seeing them at CVS over the weekend. Imagine my shock seeing myself pay $4.29 for a half a pound of Hershey’s!

image

The clusters are individually wrapped in a pleasant orange, maroon & mango colored wrapper. Each chocolate is a bit different in shape, but they’re mostly a half ounce each and mostly 1.5” in diameter. The little zig zags in the chocolate shell give them a rather handcrafted artisan look. The lumpy exterior teases that there may be real pecans in there. Each piece contains approximately 75 calories.

Biting into it, it’s rather soft. Unlike a turtle that has nuts and caramel to work through, these “nuts” are not quite abundant and certainly not whole - think chunky peanut butter. The caramel reservoir is centered under the little dome, a peanut butter layer with some nuts mixed in. The peanut butter is a bit salty, which balances the sweetness of the milk chocolate and caramel. The caramel is far too gooey and without any actual flavor of its own ... no buttery component, not burnt sugar flavors.

I thought maybe I was just not keen on the texture, so I froze a few. Instead of making a chewy caramel, I just made some sort of similarly tasteless toffee. The peanut butter remained soft and salty, but the caramel bit just never developed a chew, it was like hard candy.

They’re simply not a cluster. I consider a cluster to be something that has distinct items clumped together. In the case of a confection, I expect to be able to discern each of those items. I never really got any sense of pecan in this whole thing ... and come to think of it, I didn’t get much caramel.

imageIt’s appealing, but not something that I’ve found myself reaching for. (I have, however, been reaching for the dark chocolate Bats.) Rebecca at Sugar Hog also found them early and has a review (and paid far less then I did, grrr.).

The list of ingredients is exhaustingly long. The chocolate is real but contains both corn syrup solids & PGPR, the caramel contains high fructose corn sweetener and the whole thing is noted to have less than 2% of pecans. It also lists that it contains macadamia nuts & almonds (though much farther down on that less than 2% less). They call it Select but I don’t think it means selective. (Also, unlike most other Reese’s products, these are not Kosher.)

The final thing to note from the package: Reese’s Select Clusters were made in Mexico. These must be the first items coming off the lines for the American market. While it’s not a replacement for a product that we’re accustomed to from the US factories (so I can’t do a one-for-one comparison like so many folks do with American Coca-Cola & Mexican Coca-Cola).

Many folks have expressed dismay (and outrage) about the closing of the Oakdale, CA Hershey’s plant and have said that you’ll never buy another Hershey’s product because they’ve opened factories in Mexico. Contrary to some rumors, Hershey’s is not moving all production out of the United States (in fact, one of the greatest losses of jobs was not in the US but was in Canada at the Smith Falls, Ontario factory which employed 400 people directly.)

Here’s a statement from Hershey’s:

The Hershey Company is making changes to our global manufacturing network to ensure that our company remains competitive in the global marketplace for the long term. When these changes are completed, 90 percent of the items that Hershey sells in the United States and Canada will continue to be made in these countries.

And we will continue to make HERSHEY’S milk chocolate bars, HERSHEY’S KISSES milk chocolates and REESE’S Peanut Butter Cups as well as a wide range of other products in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

So if anyone wants to send a message to Hershey’s about their restructuring, an idea to consider is to continuing buying the candies made in the USA (it’s very clearly marked on the package) and eschew the Mexican produced ones. A complete boycott abandons the remaining American workers.

If this is an important issue for you, then I also encourage folks to look at the origin of all of your candy. Many “American” products are not made here. A few examples: Wrigley’s LifeSavers (Canada); Nestle Chunky (Brazil) & Wonka Gobstoppers (Mexico) and Starburst Jelly Beans (Mexico).

The reason I probably won’t be buying the Reese’s Select Clusters is purely because they weren’t good enough to warrant that price. Perhaps the name Select and Signatures set the bar too high (oh, and the tease that there were actually pecans in there). If this was just promoted as a new version of Reese’s cups, I would probably be more amenable. But for $7 to $9 a pound I’m more likely to splurge on some See’s Pecan Buds (okay, those are $15 a pound). And for an everyday treat, a simple Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup or for a more textured treat: Take 5 (really, this is just a Take 5 without the pretzel!).

Related Candies

  1. The Oh Henry!s
  2. Factory Fresh Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  3. Nestle Turtles
  4. Russell Stover Organic Pecan Delight
  5. GooGoo Cluster
  6. Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews
Name: Reese's Select Clusters
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Hershey
Place Purchased: CVS (Silverlake)
Price: $4.29
Size: 8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 145
Categories: Chocolate, Peanut, Nuts, Caramel, Mexico, Hershey, Reese's

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:29 am     Comments (13)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Reese Hazelnut Creme

Reese Hazelnut CremeThis curious limited edition comes from Canada. In Canada there are fewer possessives in their confections. Hershey’s products are marked only Hershey Canada and Reese’s products have a logo that omits the apostrophe S entirely. (Okay those are the only two instances I could find.)

The package says it was Imported by Hershey Canada, Inc., but I guess Canadian labeling laws don’t necessitate saying where the product is actually from, just that it’s not from Canada. We certainly didn’t get these in the States ... I find it hard to believe that the American factory would churn these out for Canada and not us, and that only leaves the Mexican factories as a possible source.

Reese Hazelnut Creme

I first learned of the existence of the Limited Edition Reese Hazelnut Creme candy on CacaoBug‘s blog. Even though she wasn’t pleased with them, I still wanted to give it a try and asked Canadian reader Amber to see if she could find them when she visited Los Angeles last month. (She’s my Canadian candy mule!)

Reese Hazelnut CremeThe cups, as viewed here, are naked. They have no paper cups. They’re also smaller than the typical Reese’s Peanut Butter cup, these clock in at a mere 15 grams each. (About the same size as the junior size individually wrapped ones.)

They smell like Easter. I think you know the smell, sweet and milky. The “chocolate” is marginal. Not chocolatey and though it smells milky, it doesn’t taste like milk chocolate. The melt on the tongue is waxy, which I was willing to chalk up to the hazelnut butter until ... well, read on.

The hazelnut creme center is less than creamy. It’s stiff, not quite a peanut butter and though it has sweet and smooth melt, I wouldn’t characterize it a creme.

The whole thing, sadly, doesn’t taste much like hazelnut. Not like the giuandiua I was hoping for. Oh, wouldn’t a Nuttela meets Reese’s be nice? This isn’t it.

I understand that hazelnuts are far more expensive than peanuts, so I understand why the little cups are 15 grams instead of the full-sized 21 grams. But if you’re gonna go to all the trouble of making a special edition for hazelnut lovers, give them what you promise. Hazelnuts! The ingredients for a RPBC are: milk chocolate then peanuts then all that other stuff. The Hazelnut Creme cup has an unappealing list of ingredients that goes like this: sugar, modified milk ingredients, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, hydrogenated coconut oil, hazelnuts, cocoa powder, dextrose, soy lecithin, artificial flavour, propyl gallate & ascorbyl palmitate.

So not only are you not getting any actual chocolate in here, you’re getting a scant amount of hazelnuts and that creme is made from modified milk ingredients.

It may as well be from R.M. Palmer, because that “Easter” taste I mentioned earlier is pretty much the Palmer taste. The taste of disappointment.

Related Candies

  1. Milka Alpenmilch
  2. Caffarel Gianduias
  3. Lake Champlain Hazelnut Eggs
  4. Caffarel Gianduia 1865
Name: Limited Edition Hazelnut Creme Candy
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Hershey Canada Inc.
Place Purchased: via Amber
Price: $.75 CDN
Size: 1.06 ounces
Calories per ounce: 151
Categories: Mockolate, Nuts, Hershey's, Limited Edition

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:40 am     Comments (25)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Snickers Adventure Bar (Indiana Jones)

Snickers Adventure BarI was looking forward to this bar when I heard about it at All Candy Expo last September. It was teased, “Satisfy your taste for adventure! Rich chocolate. Crunchy nuts. And a cliffhanger kick of exotic spice and a hint of sweet coconut flavor.” That description doesn’t sound that gripping, but still a tasty combo.

The bars began showing up on store shelves in the past few weeks, along with the other tie-in items like the new color & icons in the Milk Chocolate M&Ms and Peanut M&Ms as well as the Mint Crisp M&Ms.

Here’s the obligatory and gratuitous cross-section:

Snickers Adventure Bar

It looks like a regular Snickers, it has the same milk chocolate coating and two layers inside. The top layer is caramel studded with peanuts and the bottom is a fluffed nougat.

There is a faint whiff of coconut, but I’m not getting any chai spices in there.

Adventure Bar MinisI actually found the Minis first, and found them a little bland. So when I saw the full sized bar, I picked that up too, thinking maybe that would have the promised adventure.

Still, all I’m getting is a bit saltier nougat and the coconut flavor mixed into the caramel.

It’s not bad, but certainly doesn’t live up to its name. If you’ve always wanted a coconut Snickers (and I know a few people mentioned a love of coconut in the Snickers Rockin’ Nut Road Ideal Candy Bar question) this might be the bar for you. Of course it may also be a big disappointment for true coconut fans, as there is no actual coconut in there. You might just want to pick up an Almond Joy and smash it on top of a regular Snickers for a better effect (and a true mash up!).

M&Ms Peanut Indiana JonesWhile this may have disappointed me (and the Snickers Rockin’ Nut Road Bar didn’t), I’ve got to give them props for trying some new things instead of just using the same ingredients in different ways (like the Snickers Nut ‘n Butter Crunch) or taking away an element (like the Snickers Xtreme).

The package design is a bit better on this one, I think, than the Mint Crisp M&Ms. Don’t forget to check out the new colors of M&Ms, too.

The Milk Chocolate M&Ms are in a muted color palatte: Red, Brown, Amber and Cream.

M&Ms Indiana JonesThe Peanut M&Ms also come in Red, Brown, Amber and Cream with the traditional Yellow thrown in.

They all have assorted new icons on them, integrated with the letter M in some way. I like the one that’s wearing the Indiana Jones hat and the map ordinal. There are also various pyramids and native masks. Some of them feel a bit like a retread of the Pirates of the Caribbean, including the skull. But I guess that’s the genre of movie. The Peanut ones rarely have a legible icon on them as well, but hey, that’s the hazard with using a real peanut center.

All of the Indiana Jones tie in Mars products are available in stores now. I found mine at CVS and Walgreen’s.

I don’t think many folks are excited about the Adventure Bar. Check out reviews by Sera at Candy Addict and Rebecca at Sugar Hog.

Related Candies

  1. Starbucks Truffles
  2. Elvis Reese’s Peanut Butter and Banana Cup
  3. 100 Grand Coconut
  4. Mounds Island Orange
  5. M&M Pirate Pearls
  6. Dagoba Chai
Name: Snickers Adventure Bar (Limited Edition)
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Mars
Place Purchased: CVS (bar) & Walgreen's (minis)
Price: $.79 and $3.59
Size: 1.87 ounces & 10.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 134
Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, Coconut, Nougat, Peanuts, United States, Mars, Kosher, Limited Edition

POSTED BY Cybele AT 5:31 am     Comments (13)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Mint Crisp M&Ms (Indiana Jones)

Mint Crisp M&MsMars has a series of candies coming out with a marketing tie-in to the new Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull movie. (Which is set to premiere in the US on May 22nd.) This is rather similar to the stunt last year with Shrek the Third and the Pirates of the Caribbean movie the year before.

The standard Milk Chocolate & Peanut M&Ms got a new skin: a fun shift in their colors and little Indiana Jones inspired icons on some of them. Then, of course, to really excite candy fans they’ve done something completely new, the Limited Edition Mint Crisp M&Ms.

It’s not like they’re completely new though, there were once Crispy M&Ms in the United States (go to Australia if you miss them) and the seasonal Mint M&Ms.

Mint Crisp M&Ms

The package is one of the busiest known, rivaled perhaps only Pirate Pearls. There are lots of leaves all over the front, which at first I thought were mint, but turned out to be various palm and jungle-y things (I haven’t the foggiest what’s going on with Indy’s arm and that big palm leaf though). We’re encouraged to “Dig New Mint Crisp M&Ms” in the top left of the package and down in the lower right we’re told to “Get M before they’re Lost”.

The Green M&M wearing a pith helmet is looking admiringly at Indy saying, “Treasure is a girl’s best friend.” At first I thought it was a little creepy that Green has the hots for Indy, then I realized that the Green M&M is actually a year older than Harrison Ford. (M&Ms were introduced in 1941, Harrison Ford in 1942.)

Mint Crisp M&Ms

There’s only 1.4 ounces in the bag, but that little bit of air inside each center does wonders to bulk them up.

I was really looking forward to these, though it’s interesting to note that George Lucas has cautioned fans of the Indiana Jones movies not to build up their hopes to unreasonable levels. (And I think I know a bit about how much Lucas can let fans of a franchise down.)

They don’t look so great, some are horribly bumpy and the size variations are pretty extreme, from rather sphere-like ones smaller than a regular M&M all the way up to large ones that could be mistaken for Almond M&Ms.

The little icons are themed shapes that include the letter M. There are pyramids, masks, a compass ordinal and even a hat like Indiana Jones wears. They’re rather irregular as well, but more obvious on the themed Milk Chocolate M&Ms:

But shape and color aside, it’s what’s inside that counts, right?

Mint Crisp M&MsThe crispy shell gives one kind of crunch, then a layer of mostly semisweet chocolate strongly flavored with mint and then a bland crispy center that has a light kick of salt to it.

They’re really easy to keep crunching away at ... a little chocolate, a little mint, a little crisped rice. Kind of like a Girl Scout Thin Mint.

I’d be happy to see these as a seasonal item, though I doubt I’d eat them as often as the Almond M&Ms. I suspect they’ll be a huge hit.

Rebecca already got a hold of these and has a review of the Adventure Bar, too. I’ll have the Snickers Adventure bar review soon. Thanks to Define23 for helping me to find them here in Los Angeles.

UPDATE: Sera at Candy Addict also has a review now & I have the Snickers Adventure Bar. These are also available as a limited edition in Japan, here’s a photo I found by CindyC81 (you too can share photos in the Candy Blog Flickr Photo Pool).

Related Candies

  1. Skittles Chocolate Mix
  2. M&Ms Razzberry - Limited Edition
  3. Cherry Almondine M&Ms
  4. M&Ms Line
  5. M&M Pirate Pearls
  6. Darth M&Ms
Name: Mint Crisp M&Ms (Limited Edition)
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Mars
Place Purchased: CVS (Silverlake)
Price: $.79
Size: 1.4 ounces
Calories per ounce: 143
Categories: Chocolate, Mint, CookieUnited States, Mars, Kosher, Limited Edition

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:16 pm     Comments (40)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Snickers Rockin’ Nut Road Bar

I know nothing about this bar except what is in front of me: Limited Edition Snickers Rockin’ Nut Road Bar.

image

I got it directly from the Mars company, but no press materials. So all I have to go by is what’s on the wrapper and of course what’s inside that chocolate enrobing.

The package says: Almonds, Caramel and Marshmallow-Flavored Nougat wrapped in Dark Chocolate.

I was kind of dubious. I wasn’t fond of the Hershey’s S’Mores bar ... but that’s S’Mores, this is Rocky Road, which has the addition of nuts and the subtraction of graham crackers.

Like all the limited edition Snickers bars, this is smaller than the regular, clocking in at 1.83 ounces instead of 2.07 for the original. I’m okay with the slight of .24 ounces, it’s a satisfying bar, it says so right on the back.

Snickers Rockin' Nut Road BarIt smells lightly of vanilla and dark toasted nuts with a touch of chocolate. The chocolate shell is decent, and sets off the sweet innards well. The caramel has a good mix of almond pieces in it, they’re all fresh and crunchy and much more noticeable than those in the Snickers Almond. The nougat though is where this bar really differs from all others I’ve tried. It’s not the grainy fluffed nougat that ends up in Milky Way and 3 Musketeers. Instead this is like a dense marshmallow. Smooth and not too sweet, a little stringy like the caramel.

It’s a completely different texture experience with this smoother “marshmallow flavored nougat”, kind of like real European-style nougats. (The ingredients list says egg whites, there is no gelatin in here like marshmallows have, so this is still vegetarian-safe ... and probably a nice option for vegetarians who miss marshmallows.)

Perhaps it’s because I have a bounty of these bars and have eaten at least five for this review (instead of the usual 1 or 2 for most reviews), it’s grown on me quite a bit. Dark chocolate was a good choice, it keeps it all from feeling heavy and sticky. Brian also liked them, but also stopped short of love (and I agree, regular Snickers is still the best.)

Still, I can’t tell you where you can find them or when they’ll be available. (Except, of course, from me if you read on.)

Here’s a special peek into the life of a candy blogger.

On February 27th I got an email from someone at Mars, thanking me for my positive review on the Twix Java and offering, “I will be happy to send you samples of new products as they become available.” (Emphasis mine.) She also mentioned that Mars has launched a new direct buy store, where you can pick up boxes of their candies, including the hard to find Munch and Snickers Dark. Instead of being more expensive than regular stores (like the M&Ms online store - $5.99 for 7 ounces of green M&Ms?) it’s about $.68 cents a bar.

Well, I’ve been looking for an “in” with Mars for quite a while, as I’d love to know about the new releases and get them in advance of release (it’s pretty frustrating to have people ask about something they found in the store, and I can’t find it in any stores near me and no where to order it on the web). I do get some notice from PR folks, but it’s not always consistent.

I replied with my address and reminded her that there is no need for thanks for any reviews, “I just call them like I taste them.” (And it’s not like I’ve raved about everything Mars has ever made, but in general I like their products and usually turn down offers for items I don’t think I’d like.)

Stuff from MarsThen on March 5th I came home from work and found this in my kitchen. Perhaps I don’t understand the term “samples” but even in the world of generous interpretations a single box of 24 bars would be an ample sample. A full case of the bars? (Yes, that’s 12 boxes of Snickers Rockin’ Nut Road Bars with 24 bars each = 288 bars.)

Plus a case of Twix Java! (360 bars.) And another more responsible box of 24 packages of Starbust GummiBurst (goo filled gummis) and another box of 24 Snickers Charged.

I wrote back to Mars, thanking them for their generosity, but gently nudging that I really don’t know what to do with all that candy (seriously, almost 700 portions!). She responded, “Share with your friends wink

So here I am, with oodles of candy. I’ve given away quite a bit, boxes to the office, a couple for raffle prizes for the American Cetacean Society, three to a neighbor to take to work.

It’s drawing time.

I’m offering a box of candy bars (your choice: Twix Java with 36 bars or this new Snickers Rockin’ Nut Road Bar with 24 bars - you can tell me which you want if you win). There will be two lucky winners of this drawing. The rules are as follows:

  • Leave a comment here and tell me your ideal candy bar. It can be one that already exists, a better quality version of an existing bar, something that was discontinued or perhaps something that no one’s ever made before. (Mine would be a pretzel base, with good chewy caramel, pecans and covered in dark chocolate. A decadent Take 5.)

  • Leave a real working email address. I will not share this with anyone, but I will need to contact you if you’re the winner. If I don’t hear back from you in 72 hours after notifying you that you’ve won, I’ll draw a new winner. (I’ve got to get these out of the house before it gets too warm.)

  • Don’t click the “get updates to comments” or else you’ll get hundreds of updates. (If you do it accidentally, there’s an unsubscribe at the end of each email.)

  • All entries must be received by April 5th at 10 AM Pacific.

  • I can only ship to addresses in North America. (I’ll run a contest that’s a little more international soon.)

  • Winners will be drawn randomly from all eligible entries.

  • And there you have it, dear readers. With great candy comes great responsibility.

    UPDATE 3/30/2008: Since this post has now been linked a couple of places (I kind of thought it was a treat for regular readers), I’m going to award three prize boxes instead of two if the entries reach 500. Just to keep the odds similar. (So if the deadline is coming and we haven’t hit it yet, tell your friends!) Thanks to everyone new who’s stopped by, I hope you keep reading!

    UPDATE 4/9/2008: Thanks to everyone who entered. I drew three winners: Elise, Stijn & Donna ... two picked the Snickers Rockin’ Nut Road Bars and one chose the Twix Java. They’re all in the mail on their way to their recipients! To everyone else who is interested in trying the bars, they’ll be available starting in July 2008 according to Mars. Comments are open again.

    Related Candies

    1. Snickers Charged
    2. Snickers Nut ‘n Butter Crunch
    3. Snickers Dark
    4. Snickers Xtreme
    5. See’s Scotchmallow
    6. Hershey’s S’mores
    Name: Snickers Rockin' Nut Road Bar
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Mars
    Place Purchased: "samples" from Mars
    Price: $.68 if Mars sold them on their site
    Size: 1.83 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 131
    Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, nougat, Nuts, United States, Mars, Limited Edition, Kosher

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:46 am     Comments (893)

    Thursday, March 27, 2008

    Cinnamon Fire Twizzlers

    I teased Twizzlers Fire last fall when I first heard about them. Then I was further teased when Brian at Candy Addict found them (and loved them!) and I still hadn’t seen hide nor hair of them.

    Twizzlers Fire

    They turned up at Walgreens, and on sale to boot (well, it was strange sale where they’d charge $2.99 a bag to mortals off the street, but someone with a coupon could get 3 for the price of 2 or something like that, but I was charged $1.59 after I gave them my best, “I don’t understand, the tag on the shelf says they’re a dollar each, but I don’t want to buy three.” and then they tried to explain it and I just kind of kept sweetly repeating that I should be able to just buy one and still get a sale price, even if it’s not the super-low price. Finally they just put a key in the register and that’s what I paid).

    Twizzlers FireThese Twizzlers are the pull-n-peel variety. They’re a long, 9.5” long twist of 9 pieces of chewy “red licorice” in cinnamon flavor.

    Each of these ropes is just shy of an ounce (.988 ounces), so it’s a satisfying portion and about 100 calories to boot.

    They’re very soft, sometimes so soft that it’s hard to pull apart the ropes without breaking off pieces.

    They’re fun to twist and roll, even tie in knots or probably do macrame. (I should have photographed the little scarf I made for a Peeps Bunny.)

    And the taste? Well, it’s definitely a spicy cinnamon. It smells like Red Hots and has both a sweet flavor, a bit of a tangy bite and then after chewing for a bit, a low and pleasant cinnamon burn.

    I don’t know what’s taken Twizzlers so long to make a really good cinnamon twist like this, but I’m glad they did. For those minding their calories, you may enjoy the interactivity and the low caloric density and overall satisfaction of the candy. I’m not sure when they’ll come out with these in single serving packages, but they should.

    For some bizarro reason, these aren’t listed on the Hershey’s website even though they’ve been on shelves for at least three months.

    These are made with a corn syrup and wheat base, so they’re not suitable for those who cannot have gluten.

    Related Candies

    1. Gimbal’s Lavaballs
    2. Atomic Fireballs
    3. Good & Plenty (Fresh from the Factory)
    4. Twizzler Sourz
    5. Twizted Paradise
    6. Hot Tamales and Hotter Tamales
    Name: Twizzlers Fire Pull-n-Peel (Cinnamon)
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Hershey's
    Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park)
    Price: $1.59 (on sale!)
    Size: 12 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 100
    Categories: Chew, Cinnamon, United States, Hershey's, Kosher

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:14 am     Comments (35)

    Wednesday, March 26, 2008

    Starbucks Truffles

    Starburcks Chocolate Tasting KitThough I admit freely that I take samples from candy companies (always fully disclosed to you, dear readers), the new Starbucks chocolates line was one of the rare times when I actually asked for a tasting kit when the press release arrived via email. (Usually companies specifically offer to send me something, about half the time I say yes.) I actually had to ask twice, as the first person never actually sent it. (Or my UPS guy is wise to the contents of the packages delivered to my house.)

    The biggest reason for asking was because I knew that this tasting kit existed and the idea of going out and buying 7 different boxes at over $5 each was kind of prohibitive, even for someone who has a line item in her personal budget for candy.

    Starbucks Chocolate Truffles

    There are lots of chocolate bars out there that feature coffee and tea combinations (Joanie’s Smiles, Dagoba, Dolfin, Theo, to name a few). So whatever Starbucks was going to come up with should be distinctive. What they have going that that most others don’t is a line of “truffles”. Each comes in a single flavor box (4.2 ounces) and retails for $4.99 to $5.49. I saw them at Target yesterday for $5.29.

    Starbucks Coffee TruffleDark Chocolate Espresso Truffles - Intense, indulgent dark chocolate delights infused with our bold Espresso Roast coffee.

    The smelled of freshly ground coffee even before taking a bite. The dark shell is shiny and has a decent snap to it.

    Where I didn’t care for the inclusion of the crushed coffee beans in the chocolate tasting squares, this truffle just goes for flavor and texture.

    It’s a very dark mix of flavors, much stronger on the coffee than the chocolate side of things and with just a hint of acidity and bitterness.

    Starburcks TruffleMilk Chocolate Caff? Mocha Truffles - Luscious milk chocolate embraces creamy mocha centers infused with our rich Espresso Roast coffee

    I tried eating these truffles blind at first, just having one in the car without looking at the wrapper.

    I thought this one tasted like fudge. Nice fudge, but plain old chocolate fudge. The ganache center was smooth, but still not a decadent buttery melt that I’d associate with something called “truffle.” I really wasn’t getting the mocha vibe here.

    Then I felt really full and even though I was in the car for another half hour I didn’t feel like eating any additional truffles. Basically, this was my least favorite of the four ... not bad and I’d probably be happy with it in a mix of truffles, but pretty unhappy if I’d bought a whole box.

    Starbucks ChocolateMilk Chocolate Chai Truffles - Creamy milk chocolate wraps around a sweetly spiced Tazo(r) Chai black tea center.

    Oops, I photographed this one up-side-down. It’s supposed to look like a little teacup.

    The center is a mild and buttery ganache with a strong chai scent and flavor to it with a slight grain. The flavor notes, like the tasting square of the chocolate, omit the clove that’s so commonly the loudest part of chai and instead focuses here on cardamom & ginger and perhaps only the lightest hint of cinnamon & black pepper. I like the combo very much, I think it goes well with the milk chocolate. (But YumSugar didn’t like that at all, she thought it was missing its essential chai-ness).

    I’ve never had a Tazo Chai, as Starbucks won’t serve it unsweetened, so I can’t say how this flavor profile compares for fans of that drink.

    Starbucks TruffleDark Chocolate Vanilla Bean Truffles - Sweet and dreamy vanilla from Madagascar meets exquisite dark chocolate in a lovely pairing

    It’s definitely a strong dose of vanilla here. It was easy to smell those bourbon vanilla notes even before cracking the shell in my teeth.

    The white ganache has little flecks of vanilla in it and a mildly sweet flavor. The dark chocolate shell balances it all very well, a little bitter, a little bit of a dry finish.

    It goes very well with coffee.

    I loved the little wrappers. They have cute little icon designs on them that kind of reflect the flavors inside and an extra foil wrap around the chocolate itself for extra protection.

    They should sell a mixed box of these. Heck, they should sell the sample box I got as a gift selection. (It probably doesn’t need the full 3 ounce bars in it though, since the tasting squares are pretty much the same thing. I haven’t opened those yet as I wanted to get through the truffles first. I’m planning a head-to-head with Choxie 3 ounce bars.)

    Basically, the Chai and Vanilla are the two that I’d be most likely to buy, but I don’t know if I’d want a whole box ... I’d like a mix like the Tasting Squares are offered. There’s a fifth flavor as well, a Macchiatto, but that’s not sold via retail outlets at this time.

    What I’d probably be most likely to do is buy one or two to have with my coffee while sitting at the Barnes & Noble ... except that’s not really the kind of life I have where I sit around in bookstores.  And I don’t go into Starbucks very often, there really aren’t that many in my area that are more convenient that the indies and I’m kinda cheap and just as likely to stop at the 7-11 or McDonalds if we’re talking chains. But maybe the enticement of a little $1.00 piece of chocolate would make me stop and relax.

    UPDATE - Here are some other reviews: YumSugar, Chocolate Snob, Candy Addict and The Chocolate Life.

    Related Candies

    1. Starbucks Chocolate
    2. Caffe Acapella - Coffee Confections
    3. Joseph Schmidt
    4. Choxies in Boxies
    5. Dagoba Single Origin
    6. Scharffen Berger Tasting Squares
    7. Dagoba Chai
    Name: Starbucks Chocolate Truffles
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Starbucks (and Hershey's)
    Place Purchased: samples from Hershey's
    Price: $4.99-$5.49 retail
    Size: 4.2 ounces
    Calories per ounce: unknown
    Categories: Chocolate, Coffee, United States, Hershey's, All Natural

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:56 am     Comments (7)

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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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