These are chewy.
Friday, August 19, 2011
One of my favorite Japanese products are the Meiji Poilful. They’re not as easy to find in the United States as some other Japanese candies and are often quite expensive for a sugar candy. Every once in a while Meiji issues a new flavor variety. I found this Poifull Mint at the Japanese grocery store a few weeks ago. It features two flavors, Lemon and Muscat with an added dash of Mint.
These are not mere jelly beans, though they look like it. Instead they’re gummi beans. Inside the typical grainy sugar shell there’s a small gummi. Like gourmet jelly beans, the center is flavored, not just a plain sugary center.
I have to say that I find the flavors a little odd. The idea of mint and lemon is not that uncommon, though it’s something I associate with cough drops more than candy. (Though I admit that I do eat cough drops like candy sometimes.)
Lemon & Mint (yellow) starts out very tangy and zesty but the mint comes in like a strong menthol. It is absolutely like a cough drop but could probably use a little touch of honey to put it over the top. I liked the intensity of it, I was satisfied with one or two of them as the zest and menthol lingered.
Muscat & Mint (green) is much more subdued. The white grape flavor is tart and robust, with notes of grape juice and grape skin in there. The mint tastes more like mint than menthol, though still has that same cooling tingle. I still find it a strange and incongruous combination that I wouldn’t choose as a single flavor package, but I can enjoy as part of a mix.
Overall, I love how intense and authentic Meiji makes all of their fruit flavored candies, these are no exception. They’re a little fringe but make a nice change up for a little mouth freshener that’s different from Altoids. The box is nicely designed, unlike some other Meiji products where the box isn’t full, this one is and has a nice little flip top with a dispenser hole for sharing easily.
On a side note, one of the hazards of buying these import candies are the little translated labels they put on them. The box is quite small, but the label is even smaller with microprint. I had to take this photograph and then zoom in on it in order to read the label.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Storck is a German candy company that makes some fantastically chewy stuff, such as Reisen Chocolate Caramels, Toffifay, Werther Caramels and Mamba fruit chews. While Germany is the homeland of gummis, it’s strange to see such a large, established candy company suddenly get into the crowded gummi market.
I found a fun new, and unlikely place to shop for candy. It’s a gas station convenience store simply called Food Mart near my mother’s house in Glendale, CA. I’d filled up with gas there many times before (because it was one of the least expensive places in the area, clean, well maintained and had soapy windshield cleaner). One day when I actually went into the store I was shocked to see a huge selection of international candies. They carry German products including the most popular items in the Kinder line, Ritter Sport bars (including the seasonal varieties), British bars (Mars, Cadbury, Maltesers) and a really wide selection of American candies.
So I picked up this little package of Storck Mamba Gummies which are called funny fruity gummies and feature banana, orange, raspberry, pineapple, watermelon and cherry flavors. They feature real fruit juice in the ingredients and no artificial colors.
What I thought was interesting about this flavor assortment was the fact that it included banana, not a common gummi flavor. After I got the little package home (it’s only 1.5 ounces) I noticed that I didn’t have the full assortment of flavors. Above is everything inside the packet, four different flavors.
The texture is soft and pliable, they don’t stick together though they do have a little touch of oil on them. The shapes are tropical, little palm trees, snakes, a chameleon, sharks and something that’s either a raspberry or a puffer fish.
Banana (yellow) is tangy but with that creamy banana flavor. It was less artificial tasting than some other banana candies that have more of a caustic flavor. This was pleasant and soothing.
Pineapple (clear) is tangy, floral and jammy all at once. It’s an excellent rendition of pineapple.
Raspberry (deep red) was by far the most common flavor in my package, which is just fine with me because these are well done. The flavor is a mix of the boiled sweetness of raspberry puree with a light touch of the woodsy seeds and a note of iced tea in there. It wasn’t overly tart like some “blue raspberry” versions of the fruit.
Watermelon (pink) was quite authentic, at least as far as watermelon candies I’ve had this summer. It had a sort of rind taste to it, not just the sweetness of the flesh. Watermelon really isn’t much of a flavor as an actual melon, it’s more of a texture.
So, I missed out on Orange and Cherry in my package. I think I scored overall, as these were all nicely done. The fact that it’s a small package (only 130 calories) with no artificial colors makes it a pretty light treat for kids.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
I found this package of new Life Savers Gummies Collisions at the drug store. It’s not listed on their websites.
The concept is pretty simple, each piece has two flavors, divided longitudinally. There are three sets in the package: Raspberry Lemonade, Cherry Watermelon and Pineapple Punch. Two flavors in one gummi isn’t really new, gummi worms have been doing it for years. Here we have the worm eating its tail to form a hoop of gummi.
Each piece is just shy of one inch around. They’re easy to identify and all were nicely molded. Life Savers gummis are quite soft and pliable. They’re also pretty big, clocking in at about 4 grams each while most gummi bears (using Haribo as a standard) are about 2.2 to 2.5 grams.
Raspberry Lemonade is yellow and red. The raspberry flavors are really interesting, because I got a lot of the seed notes along with the floral overtones. But the lemon only gave up a smidge of zest, no actual tart lemonade vibe in there.
Pineapple Punch is half aqua and half yellow. It smells mostly of punch and unfortunately also tastes of fruit punch. I was hoping for some of that inimitable Life Savers pineapple flavor, and the yellow side did have a little hint of it, but it was dominated by the artificial punch flavor. There was a slight sizzling, effervescent intensity to the flavor. It was sweet and had a lot of guava notes with a little hint of mango, papaya and of course the pineapple.
Cherry Watermelon is light green and red. This one definitely had the strongest scent, which was the watermelon. The watermelon flavor was also strong in the candy, even when eating the cherry half. It reminded me of a slightly thinned out Jolly Rancher. Tangy, sweet and with a sort of rind flavor. The cherry gave the whole thing that slight woodsy flavor. Mostly I think they missed the boat on the cherry thing: Life Savers wrote the book on Wild Cherry, they own that flavor. It should be in here, if they have a cherry something, it should be the iconic Life Savers Wild Cherry.
There was a sameness to each of the varieties, I didn’t taste a distinction between the two sides. So that means instead of having six flavors in the bag, there were really only three. That’s not an amazing diversity, however, if you like all three flavors, that means you’re never going to be disappointed at getting any particular version. I didn’t care for the watermelon & cherry one, so a third of the bag would have been disappointing for me.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
I know there are a lot of blogs out there that review candy these days, but somehow I feel alone in my obsession for licorice. (And I feel sometimes that I’m alienating my non-licorice loving readers by featuring something black every week.)
I picked up this cute little can from Van Slooten called Flowers & Butterflies Mix of Sugared Liquorice. It’s Dutch and as far as I could tell, was a mix of salted and sweet licorice much like the previous little can I picked up and reviewed of Licorice Figures. It seemed a bit pricey, something the size of a can of beans that cost $3.99, but they really packed the candy in there, it’s over a half a pound at 8.82 ounces.
The mix inside was as described, at least six different shapes and as far as I could tell, three different varieties.
Gummi Flower & Tulip is chewy and dense but with a very mild flavor. It was mostly a toasted sugar flavor, sort of like a marshmallow and some light anise. That was it. I liked it and I ate them all. At first I didn’t realize that the tulip was the same as the flatter 10 petal flower. But once the tulips were gone (yes, I ate them first), I figured it out.
Butterflies are a great medium brown color with sparkly grains of sugar. There are two shapes for the butterflies, but I found the texture and flavor to be the same with them. I expected a griotten flavor and texture, which is a light and airy gummi with a salted licorice flavor. These did have that brown sugar and salted licorice flavor but with instead the texture was sort of tacky and chewy. I can’t say that it as quite a gumdrop, but it definitely wasn’t a gummi marshmallow. I enjoyed these, the salt was quite noticeable but not so much of the ammonia aftertaste taste that I don’t care for.
Gumdrop Flower is really chewy and has a strong molasses flavor. Aside from the grainy sugar coating, it’s quite smooth. I enjoyed it at first, but then there’s a tangy element that creeps in along with something metallic, then I got a hit of the ammonia. As long as I alternated them with the other versions, I found them passable. Ultimately I was left with a dozen of them in the bottom of the can.
I would eat these again, especially for the milder gummi varieties. They’re also pretty and I like the compact, easy to open and close package.
Candy Gurus tried their Fruit Gums called Fun & Sun Fruit Gum
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
A few years ago Brach’s came out with Soda Poppers, which were licensed soda flavors (from the Cadbury Schewppes line) in hard candy form with gooey chewy interiors. Since Trolli and Brach’s are owned by Farley’s and Sathers, it’s no surprise that they’ve come out with a line of gummis called Trolli Soda Poppers.
Each piece is shaped like a little can with the name of the soda embossed on it: Cherry Cola, Root Beer, Lemon Lime, Orange and Cola.
Upon opening the bag I was greeted with a scent that reminded me of a box of cheap soap and aftershave. There are hints of lime and the soft powder smell of wintergreen but mostly it’s a soap and dated smell of the seventies.
One of the novelties I enjoyed as a child was the self serve soda fountain. Naturally, as a tween, I knew that I could design a better flavor than all the soda companies in the world with only their soda as a source material. Even at that time I was a frugal person, so all mistakes were consumed, even though there were free refills and I probably could have dumped that mix of lemon-lime, root beer and grape soda. Not all candy flavors should be mixed and since many candies have strong scents, they probably shouldn’t be in the same bag together.
Cherry Cola is quite subtle and a bit masculine. The cola flavor is pronounced enough that I could tell this wasn’t just straight ahead cherry. The cherry notes are woodsy and black while there’s a light tangy finish to the whole thing. I really didn’t like it at all, it was medicinal and too perfumey.
Root Beer in many cases is mistaken for Cola in candy mixes because of the similar caramel color. In this case they mark each candy with the name, and the fact that Root Beer is two words means that even poorly molded pieces are easy to distinguish. I love Root Beer flavor and one of my favorite all time candies are Root Beer Barrels. The hard candy version provides all the flavor of a whole glass of soda in one little piece of candy. In the case of this gummi, it’s really not that dense. It’s more tangy that rooty, with more cola notes than the soft sassafras and wintergreen.
Lemon Lime is the color of Gatorade instead of the refreshing colorlessness of Sprite or Seven Up. The flavor is a mere hint with less of a citrus tang than the Root Beer. The zest is missing so what’s left is rather like a bland cleaning product.
Orange is actually like orange soda. It’s completely fake and rather like Jell-O or Tang but still pleasant and different enough from a regular Orange Trolli Bear to make me believe that I’ve purchased a different product.
Cola is such an underrepresented product in candy, I was really hoping these would be a good. The flavor was bland and not enough strong enough to be considered watered down. There was a hint of lemon in there, maybe a little snap of cola nut, but mostly it was a let down.
There’s nothing that emulates sodas, such as effervescence or even a foamy texture (but there’s also no tooth dissolving phosphoric acid, so we can celebrate that). Though there was nothing offensive about the flavors, the combination of them in one bag was off-putting (and actually stunk up my candy drawer). So while I might have wanted more intense flavors, I can only imagine what sort of smell that would create. I don’t drink soda, so my only way to get those classic soda flavors is through candy ... this isn’t the candy that does that. I’ll stick to the hard candy version (which lacks a Cola flavor) or just Root Beer Barrels.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Mederer GmbH is a Germany candy company best known for its Trolli is a brand of gummis. By 1975 gummis were already very popular in Germany, with most of the market dominated by Haribo. So Mederer introduced the Trolli line with an affectionate mascot, the Trolli troll, with rainbow hair. The Mederer company also started making gummis in the United States, in Iowa, but later sold that off in 1996. It changed hands a bunch of times (passing through Nabisco & Wrigley’s, notably) to what is now known as Farley’s and Sathers Candy Company.
So in the United States, the Trollis you buy here are different from the Trolli candies from Europe (which are now made in Germany, Spain and Czech Republic). But that doesn’t mean that you can’t get the German Trolli brand, you just have to look for it under their American brand, called e.fruitti.
While I was in Europe earlier this year, I visited with the Trolli company’s booth at the ISM Cologne candy fair. They make an amazing array of candy and many of their gummis, most in novelty flavors and shapes, which are available in the United States as well. One that I was excited about was the Trolli Gummi Bear Rings. (They’re sold here in the United States with the same name, here’s a comparison of the non-US branding of the candy with the Trolli brand and the American efruitti branding.) They’re exactly what the name sounds like, rings made out of gummi candy with gummi bears on them like gems.
The bears are made with real fruit juice. Each piece is a combination of two flavors which are: orange, strawberry, apple, lemon/lime and cherry. The bears come in a variety of poses as well, with reclining bears, bears doing single pawed handstands, waving and splits.
The pieces are firm and have a soft, non greasy waxy coating. They fit pretty well on the top of my rather chubby fingers. If I tried I could get them down across the big knuckle. As long as your hands are really sweaty or damp, they don’t get sticky.
The gummi part is quite stiff though still chewy and intense in its flavor. I’ll just dissect them and take the flavors separately:
Cherry (red) is quite good and not the American style, it’s more Kirsch-like, more like a classic cherry juice flavor.
Lemon/Lime (yellow) is zesty and tangy. It really is a great flavor to complement just about all the others.
Orange (orange) is rather ordinary. There’s a fair amount of zest which keeps it from tasting like a rubberized version of orange Jell-O. But it was still a little bland.
Apple (green) isn’t the regular artificial American green apple flavor, this was quite authentic, with apple juice flavors, it reminded me a little bit of a fruit roll up with a much smoother texture.
Berry (blue) is the one I wasn’t sure about. The flavor of the blue gummi was rather berry-ish, more like raspberry. But the package said strawberry. However, the red was most definitely cherry. So I’m not sure about this one. It was tasty, chewy and a bit sour with some nice florals and jam notes.
The big point to these though isn’t the flavor it’s the fact that they’re rings. You can wear them while you eat them. As an alternative to keeping them on your fingers, I’d say putting them on a necklace (just a piece of string) might be fun too. Just in case you were thinking that these were the gummi equivalent of brass knuckles, well, they would have the opposite effect if you punched someone with them on. They’re quite bouncy. (Don’t try that at home, please.)
Friday, June 24, 2011
The company sent me some sample packages back in May in advance of the Sweets & Snacks Expo. Summer is a great time for gummis, the sweet and tangy flavors are great for quenching dry mouths and of course as a sugar candy they’re not prone to melting.
Trolli Big Bold Bears come in six flavors: Blue Raspberry, Wild Cherry, Grape, Green Apple, Lemon-Lime and Orange.
My package came with only five flavors, the Wild Cherry was missing. There were only fifteen bears in the bag.
The bears stand two inches tall and have a arms-pan of one inch.
The look alien. The colors are vivid and plastic, the colors aren’t even normal for the classic gummi bear flavors. They look like toys or keychains, really anything but something to eat.
They’re firm and pliable, they don’t stick together and don’t have that greasy coating of some gummi products.
Lemon-Lime smelled spicy and zesty, though a little like aftershave. The flavor was more on the lime side of things though still sweet and maybe even a little fizzy (but maybe that’s just Sprite on my mind). The color was like antifreeze.
Green Apple is vague and muted, only slightly tangy. It’s not a peppy artificial green apple flavor and not even an authentic apple juice flavor.
Orange is reliably zesty and artificially juicy. I enjoyed this one most of all.
Grape was bland and much like a flat grape soda.
Blue Raspberry was more like a fruit punch than a floral berry flavor. It was still good, but just a little more tropical than I expected.
So the name is Big Bold Bears. I did find their colors and size to be bold but their flavors were downright timid. For smaller kids, parents may prefer the larger size (but maybe not the extra artificial colors). The mild flavor may actually be a selling point for adults who don’t necessarily want the overpowering sour gummi worm experience.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Since I’m on the topic of classic candies this week (starting with Orange Slices) another favorite are what are simply called the Raspberry. They’re a simple construction that mimics the actual berry quite nicely: it’s a gummi center covered with crunchy colored nonpareils in the approximate size and shape of a real raspberry.
Quite a few companies make them, Haribo’s are probably the most famous, but there’s also a great version made here in the United States by Jelly Belly (they also come in a white grape version called Champagne Bubbles).
Today’s new item is Bebeto Premium, a line of crunchy coated gummis made in Turkey by a company called Kervan. They’re being introduced to the American market at the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago this week. I picked up a few samples in Cologne at the ISM candy fair there in February, and now that I know that they may be available here, I thought I’d review them.
The product line boasts all natural flavorings and colorings. They’re packaged in stand up bags with zip lock tops for freshness and each variety comes with two flavors in the mix. I got to try three of their new varieties: Tropical, Berry & Turkish Coffee
Tropical: The crunchy bits outside are sweet and have a very light fruity flavor. It isn’t until I got to the gummi center that the flavor really developed. The Tropical Ananas (Pineapple) was intense, a good blend of tartness and those pine and rosemary notes that fresh pineapples have. It was more like the fresh flavors than the canned ones. The Tropical Orange was a little more subdued, but with a good dose of zest in there to carry off a fully developed fruit flavor.
ones were rather like I expected. Blackberry starts very sweet with the light, crunchy nonpareils but then gets a good fruit jam kick from the gummi center. The flavor notes were dark enough to be considered blackberry. The Raspberry was more fragrant and floral than the Blackberry and of this pairing, it was definitely my favorite. Happily I also experience no flavor interference from the colorings.
The Turkish Coffee & Mint variety was the one I was looking forward to the most. I know that coffee or anything creamy sounds like an odd match for a gummi base, but I’ve had some wonderful Japanese versions, so I know it can be done well.
As this is an actual Turkish candy from a Turkish candy company, I expected a lot from their Turkish Coffee. The package was a mix of brown and white candies, the brown ones were the coffee (obviously) and white was mint.
The Turkish Coffee pieces smelled wonderful, like strongly sweetened, fresh coffee. The coffee flavor, in this piece, was much more apparent on the outside with the little crunchies. So far, so good. I was enjoying it and looking forward to the more intense coffee center. But that didn’t happen. The center was tangy. Generically tangy, but still with a coffee note to it. It’s like someone tossed a spoonful of lemon juice in my coffee. I thought for a while it was an error, that the little packet I had was a mistake, that they were changing over a production line. But every packet I had (I think I had four or five of these little samples that had three or four pieces each in them that I gathered from several different places - both the press room and the booth for Bebeto) was the same.
Mint was similar. The white crunchies were a strong peppermint with just a hint of spearmint. But the center was tangy. I didn’t mind that as much, I thought of it kind of like a less than zesty mojito.
I love that there are no artificial colorings in these candies. The flavors chosen for this line are great with the exception of the Turkish Coffee. I though the fruit flavors went well together in their pairings. However, the Turkish Coffee was just too weird, when I want a coffee flavored candy, I don’t want too much extra with it. Tartness definitely not a bonus. They’re a little more adult in their packaging and flavor combos, but this can easily be a family candy. I don’t know the recommended retail prices on these, but if they’re comparable to Haribo, they could fit well in the American market. The crunchy coating means they don’t stick together and would look great in a candy dish. I give the fruits a 7 out of 10 but Turkish Coffee gets a 5 out of 10 and should go back to the drawing board.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.