These are chewy.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
About a year ago reader Charlene suggested I try Katjes sour gummis. I couldn’t find those, so I ended up trying Katjes Yoghurt Gums and Tropical Gummis. Though they weren’t my favorite candies ever, I still thought that a different set of flavors would suit me. I was also impressed that they used all natural colors and flavors.
Finally at another visit to Cost Plus World Market I stumbled across Saure Ananas, which are sour pineapple gummis.
The package says (in German) that it’s New! and that it has real pineapple juice in it (reading the ingredients it’s actually 10% pineapple juice, not just a splash of some grape or pear concentrate). Oh, and the obligatory, fat free!
When I was a teen one of my favorite snacks was canned pineapple and cream cheese. Throw some rings of pineapple on a plate, throw little cubes of cream cheese about the size of the hole in the ring and eat a little cream cheese with each bite of pineapple. Simple, delicious. Sometimes I’d spruce it up by rolling the cream cheese in crushed nuts but that seemed like a lot of trouble most of the time.
Now I like to get fresh pineapple and eat it until my tongue is fully tenderized. (Though the new low acid ones mean I can eat more pineapple with less tongue damage.)
So I was especially pleased at the appearance of these little gems, which look just like little pineapple pieces cut right from the ring.
Opening the package they smelled more like canned pineapple than the fresh stuff, but as I mentioned above, I quite love that stuff even though I prefer fresh. They have a sugar coating which protects the soft pieces from sticking together. They’re a stunning light yellow, slightly opaque but dead ringers for pineapple chunks.
The sugary coating isn’t flavored so after putting them in the mouth I’d either dissolve the sugar or start chewing to release the flavor.
They’re tart, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call them full on sours. But the pineapple flavor is deep and complex with the high tangy notes and the deep fragrance and mid-level sweetness.
Dang tasty. I’m glad I finally found them. Katjes is a huge confectionery company in Germany and I hope to come across more of their products (I really need to try their licorice line). Cost Plus World Market carries a lot of the line as does the online store, GermanDeli.com. While at Cost Plus, Sera (formerly of Candy Addict and now out on her own with The Candy Enthusiast) picked up Katjes fruit jellies, so look forward to her notes on those soon.
Next on my hitlist is to track down their mixed pack called Saure Heringe that includes lemon, lime and blackcurrant and has a sour coating along with the soft flavorful gummi.
Monday, July 14, 2008
I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of reviews for candies with health claims lately. I blame it on there actually being a lot of new candy introductions that make health claims. Some tout being fat free, others have beneficial natural ingredients pumped up others are fortified with nutrients not normally found in candies.
Part of this is because of the perception that candy is to blame for the current obesity crisis. Vending machines are being removed from schools and where they still exists, the snacks must pass a rigorous test to be deemed healthy enough to be included. (Some ban high-calorie portions, others put limits on the fat ratio and/or the sugar content. More here.)
In order to maintain their marketshare many confectionery companies are tweaking their candies to stay in the diets of kids everywhere. Sunkist is pretty much synonymous with fruit so it’s a pretty good guess they’d want any candy with their name on it to be regarded as healthy. So they’ve launched some Better For You! gummi.
Not only do they have 100% of the RDA of vitamin C and are made with fruit juice but they also state that they contain 35% less sugar than average leading gummi.
The ingredients go like this:
What’s nice is that Sunkist went with a combination of sugar alcohols (sorbitol and maltitol) instead of artificial sweeteners but still kept sugar and corn syrup as the primary sweeteners here. Sugar alcohols can cause intestinal distress in some people, so I took it very slow with these.
They look gorgeous. No kid is going to look at these and not think that they’re soft and fruity gummi. As a whole they smell like fruit punch.
Each piece is formed like the fruit it’s flavored for.
Cherry - rather medicine-like. Tart and sweet, very soft.
Strawberry - looks more like a shoe tread than a fruit, but still nicely fragrant and fruity, only slightly tangy but basically tasty. There’s a slight throat burn towards the end. These were redder than the cherries so I blame my personal nemesis Red 40, your mileage may vary.
Lemon - I expect great things from a lemon product from Sunkist, which made its name on citrus. This doesn’t disappoint. The shape is perfect, the chew is soft and the flavor is a blend of tartness, sweetness and zestiness. It could be a little more intense, but overall a great middle of the road lemon gummi.
Orange - the little translucent orange slices are just lovely. They smell like orange zest and are surprisingly complex with lots of zest to back up the light tart bite.
So they make a believable candy. And nutritionally? Well the sparing use of the sugar substitutes means that these clock in at a mere 78 calories per ounce. 31 grams are carbohydrates but 11 of them are from the sugar alcohols per 40 gram serving (which amounts to 110 calories). There are no other fortifications ... no crazy fish oil or Zinc or anything to give the gummi a crazy aftertaste. Just 100% of the RDA of vitamin C in every serving.
Though the package says 35% less sugar, it’s not that significant in the whole scheme of things. Regular gummi have about 100 calories per ounce ... but really, how many are you eating? I suppose if you’re eating gummi every day you can save yourself 150 or so calories per week. (Every bit helps!) As long as you’re not sensitive to the use of sorbitol or maltitol.
On the whole only half of the flavors were of interest to me and the very soft texture and threat of an evening in the bathroom isn’t enough for me to buy them again. But they might be right for some folks.
As with all true gummi, these are made with gelatin and are unsuitable for vegetarians. (Note: while Sunkist Fruit Gems are made by Jelly Belly here in the USA, these are made under license from Sunkist by Healthy Food Brands in China.)
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I was enamored of the name of this new guarana boosted line of gummis called Loud Truck. (And I said so! Which prompted the company to offer me some samples, which I accepted.)
The crazy logo features a classic old truck with a gazillion different horns and loudspeakers mounted to it. It’s cute and it gives the impression that these candies can wake me up! That they’re in my face! They’re in a blazing orange bag! I’m up! The flavor is called citrus blast! I’m up already!
It’s a tiny little bag, it holds only an ounce, but then again, it’s powerful stuff. I couldn’t tell from the opaque packaging or any of the material on the Loud Truck website what they’d look like. I thought, you know, maybe like little trucks. Nope.
The gummis are little bears! Loud, truck driving bears! (Okay, they don’t have their trucks on the, but if you look very carefully I think you can see the keys to their trucks in their pockets.)
But wait, they have little As on their bellies which either means they’re adulterous bears (and being cooped up in a tiny bag with perhaps no hope of being reunited with their loved ones, you can imagine the temptations and perhaps even forgive any transgressions) or more likely it means that they’re made by Albanese Confectionery Company.
They feature a blend of nutrients, though the package is kind of odd. They recommend a pair of bears as a serving, which features 7 mgs of caffeine and a blend of things like Vitamin C, B vitamins and Taurine. A whole package (4.5 servings) has about 32 mgs of caffeine. (Red Bull has 80, a 12 ounce cup of coffee can have anywhere between 70-160.)
So even if you eat the whole package, it’s not gonna kill you. You’ll be lucky if it keeps you up at all, depending on your sensitivities.
The texture is similar to most other soft gummis. Bouncy, soft and nicely scented. The smell, on the other hand, is kind of odd. It’s more like jasmine tea than orange or lemon. The flavor is only slightly tart and has a slight zest, but not definable as citrus, per se. They are slightly bitter, at least to me.
They’re odd, not unappealing, but I don’t consider it citrus in the slightest. I think the bitterness is not zest but probably the guarana, which has a flavor of its own.
At about $2 per package, they’re not cheap, but as a non-liquid caffeine source they’re more palatable than many other items I’ve tried.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
I like the kind of sour stuff that gets the jaw a-tingling, stuff that has a bit of flavor to go along with the intense acidity. Warheads by Impact Confections makes some pretty intensely sour stuff, but their new QBZ are simply rated sour on their intensity scale. (The Warheads Junior Extreme Sour are two steps above.)
These little gem cubes come in Green Apple, Strawberry, Blue Raspberry & Watermelon. They’re marketed as “bite-sized, sour-coated cubes don’t stick to teeth like many chewy candies.” I picked these up at Walgreens in a cute single serve package.
They are actually little cubes, a bit irregular but brightly colored. They have a little sugary/sour sanding on them to keep them from sticking together.
They have an easy, soft bite, a bit of a cross between a fruit jelly and a gummi (they do have gelatin in them).
Pink: Watermelon - the outer coating is tangy and has that metallic watermelon taste to it.
Green : Green Apple - a bit more tangy than watermelon, it has a kind of double flavor to it. At first it’s quite sour and then has a chemical apple taste. Then the chewy center tastes a bit more like apple juice.
Red : Strawberry - tart but not blastingly so, the strawberry flavor is pretty good.
Blue : Blue Raspberry - a nice fruity, jam taste with the sour coating.
These are definitely edible, not something you’d only do for a dare. The flavor mix is fun though I’m mystified why there’s no orange or lemon in there as they are actually flavors that are supposed to be sour.
They’re fun to eat either way - you can suck the sour powder off and get a really intense tingly kick or chew it quickly to mix the tangy outer coating with the milder, more flavorful center.
I think I still prefer the sour gummi bears, but then again those just had a flavor variety that I prefer. These are also similar to the Albanese Beeps (Caitlin at Candy Addict reviewed them here). Albanese is made in the USA, Warheads are made in China.
Preferences aside, these may be easier to find than other, better gummi sour options or, of course, Sour Patch Kids.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Please note, I’m not a gamer. I do play, but not enough to be anything more than personally aware of how addictive and fun these things can be, but it takes a special game to suck me in. At home we have an XBOX 360 right now (loved the Lego Star Wars last summer), before that it was a PS2 and before that it was a Turbo Grafx (well, that wasn’t technically mine, I was “storing” it for my brother while he was living in Europe).
I’ve never played the Wii, but I totally see the attraction and I love the selection of games.
To capitalize on the affection folks have for their platforms, Au’some has these cute little Wii Klik-on Candy Dispensers shaped like the innovative game controllers (Wiimote).
It’s just a dispenser, like PEZ, and it comes with four rolls of candy - two Smarties-like rolls and two mini-rolls of Smarties Bubble Gum. The rolls fit in the battery compartment (because they’re the same size as batteries).
In order to load the candy package, just slide the faceplate up and it reveals a small empty space (probably where there’d be some circuitry if it worked). The candies are placed flat then the controller tipped down slightly, the little trigger button on the underside of the top is pressed, and bingo, a piece of candy comes out.
PEZ does not fit in the Wii Candy Dispenser, just like Nintendo Wii games don’t work in XBox 360.
I think the design of the item is pretty cute. I wish it put out really cool candy, it’s like they spent all that time on the plastic box and then said, “Eh, throw some Smarties in there.” It doesn’t even hold a whole roll of Smarties at once (though the battery compartment holding more is pretty ingenious). Filling it with something better would improve the appeal of this.
The retail price on these is $2 or so, but who knows what they’re going for in the wild. I got this one as a sample from All Candy Expo. They can be found on the internet and at places like Urban Outfitters.
Rating: 5 out of 10
On the other side of things, Au’some has another line of candies also themed off of a more classic Nintendo product: Mario Bros. They’re called Nintendo 3D Gummy Candies.
The Donkey Kong & Mario Bros. characters have been around since 1981 and have become recurring characters in the Nintendo game pantheon, so these aren’t some flash in the pan licensing tie-ins. Even if you’ve never played or haven’t in years, most of us have great affection for the little Italian plumber who battles the strange ape named Donkey.
Mario is a hardworking guy. Not only does he hold a contractors license and perform excellent plumbing work, in the original version of the game he was a carpenter. He’s also a superhero. He can rescue a damsel in distress or vanquish an infestation of angry apes all on the clock.
The Mario 3D Gummi is, well, awesome. It’s actually three dimensional. At about 2.75 inches tall, he’s the same height as his gummi brethren, though pretty narrow (I guess he slimmed down for his session with the mold-maker). His little hat has an M on it and he has big work boots.
The texture of the gummis short, that is, biting into it, it’s not at all stringy. It’s more like Jell-O than Swedish Fish.
Mario is Strawberry. He’s sweet and slightly floral, a little tangy and has a well-rounded artificial berry flavor. I think he’s two bites, but it’s up to you.
Donkey Kong actually started this whole thing with his game named after him. Mario was simply known as Jumpman back then. Donkey didn’t have much of a personality either, he was just angry and grabby.
In later years Donkey Kong started wearing a tie, which might have caused part of his anger issue (it was the go-go-eighties, even Donkey Kong learned a lot from Gordon Gecko). But Donkey Kong never really returned to his primary role, this is the sad fate of monsters.
In this gummi Donkey Kong is Orange in both color and flavor. He’s actually rather sparkly. The flavor of the gummi isn’t particularly complex, rather like concentrated Tang.
Definitely one of my favorites and it wouldn’t be a batch of gummis without Donkey Kong or an orange flavor.
Diddy Kong is probably not even technically a Kong. (I think they call him a nephew somewhere, but that’s like saying that humans and orangutans are cousins.) Though he’s some sort of ape, he’s not the same species as Donkey Kong. I think he’s some sort of chimp, as far as I can tell (he has smaller, narrower chest).
But he also wears a cap and tee shirt. While Donkey Kong was the big bad guy in many of the adventures, Diddy is the one who sets off to rescue Donkey Kong, in a way redeeming the Kong family name.
(For a while I thought it was Donkey Kong Junior, feel free to dispute this in the comments.)
He’s a lovely aqua color and Raspberry flavored. Tangy, pretty zesty and flavorful.
Finally we have Yoshi. Yoshi is some sort of baby dinosaur and is one of the only characters who displays any sense of self preservation (when you’re not in control of course) and actually runs from danger.
His large snout makes it nearly impossible to sit this gummi upright (if you feel like lining them all up like some sort of action figure display). I took this photo by holding him in place, releasing my finger, then snapping the shot before he fell over.
While he’s cute and has wonderful detail with his little crest and buggy eyes, the flavor is weird. I think it’s supposed to be watermelon or green apple. It’s kind of metallic but tangy. It’s not bad as long as you don’t get too hung up on what it is.
The Nintendo 3D Gummy Candies are available in bags at grocery stores, drug stores and at other specialty shops. I got mine from CandyWarehouse, who sells them in bulk, just individually wrapped. (Of course you also end up with a 100 of them.) It’s a much better price than most of the smaller packages. Individual wrapping means they stay fresh and you can throw them in a bowl at a party or gaming night.
Rating: 7 out of 10
(If video games aren’t your bag but you think that this 3-D Gummi technology is cool enough to eat, try the Wildlife ones where they also say that they’re donating money to protect endangered species.)
Victoria has a cool list of other Nintendo-themed candies at Candy Addict.
Friday, May 23, 2008
I was in love with these gummis sight unseen. I saw the teaser on the All Candy Expo website New Product Showcase. There was no photo ... but the description alone Gummi Butterflies: Bold colors and delicious flavors. Flutter away with the newest version of the World’s Best Gummi! convinced me that these were going to be gorgeous.
Everything Albanese makes in the gummi category is lovely.
Their Krunchy Bears (and other ring & heart shapes) are pure delights to look at and offer a new twist on the gummi + crunch. They offer at least 15 different flavors of gummi bears not to mention other gummi items like green army men & fighter jets, and at really reasonable prices.
If I have any complaints about the company, it’s that they don’t have a very good website featuring their candies and the online ordering section doesn’t have all their products.
When I got them in my set of sample items from All Candy Expo, I practically squealed because they were just what I hoped they were.
They’re large gummis, about 3 inches across at the widest. Thick and soft (mine were a little bent in spots, but they were stuffed in a tiny ziploc), they remind me of Gel Gems. So that’s what I did with them, I went into the guest room, wiped the window to clean it and then slapped them up on the glass.
I could see these being great fun to have in the car with kids on a road trip. Edible window decorations. (Though do keep some window cleaner handy, as they get things greasy eventually.)
I felt rather evil as I was essentially eating the wings off the butterflies, but it’s the only obvious way to eat them. (Though a non-obvious and perhaps more interesting way to eat them would be to fold the wings and take a bit out of them ... then put them back up on the window, or perhaps cut them apart and piece them together much like I did with franken-bears as a kid.)
Orange - soft and chewy with strong tangy taste. Not complex or zesty like some, more like orange-ade.
Blue Raspberry - quite tart with a good floral berry taste. As an added bonus, there are actually butterflies that are this color.
Concord Grape - I can’t say that I’ve had many grape gummis, this was in the SweeTart family of artificial grape flavors. It wasn’t very strong, lightly tangy.
Watermelon (pink) - really much too sour for watermelon. What’s great about real watermelons is that they’re sweet and mellow, bursting with quenching water. Instead this is like chewing on the unripe rind ... just a too acidic and artificial tasting.
Wild Cherry (red) - a bit mellower than the other flavors. It’s a bit tangy, but not too much. It’s a good black cherry flavor, much like a chewy LifeSaver.
I wish their pineapple was in this mix, but maybe it wasn’t vibrant enough in color.
Other new products introduced this week:
Gummi Sugar Plums: Visions of these flavorful Sugar Plums will be dancing in your head all year long!
Theater Size Boxes: Fantastic value, attractive, eye catching theater boxes will be a real hit with customers! Available in our popular and unique 12 Flavor Gummi Bears and Super Sour Mini Neon Gummi Worms.
There’s no word how the Butterflies will be sold, but I’d expect them to turn up in the same tubs & packages that they use for their other novelty items like the Army Men and of course in bulk bins.
Friday, May 2, 2008
There are a few candies still on my list of “I can’t believe you haven’t tried that before!” and chocolate covered gummi bears were one of them. Once I had the Japanese version, I realized I should try the original. They were invented over 30 years ago by none other than the ultimate “if it should be covered in chocolate, we’ll cover it in chocolate” company: Koppers Chocolates.
When I was in San Francisco I found not only Koppers Milk Chocolate Covered Gummi Bears, but also the White Chocolate Polar Bears at Sweet Dish on Chestnut Street.
I’m not sure why I’ve been reticent about trying them. It might be that I was expecting a Haribo gummi bear, which are rather firm. Instead Koppers uses Swiss gummis (I don’t know anything beyond that) that they are appropriately soft.
I got just a quarter of a pound each of mixed milk & polar bears to try. What struck me at first was the fact that all the white chocolate bears were the same milky yellow color. Even held up to the light, there was no indication what color the gummi bear beneath was.
What I found out later, after diligently sucking the chocolate off of enough of them for a scientific sample, is that they’re all the same color (whether milk or white covered)! Though they’re yellow, I’m hard pressed to say that they’re lemon flavored, merely that they’re a sweet & tangy mix.
The milk chocolate was pretty smooth, and very milky tasting. It melted well and didn’t have that light waxy glaze that many other panned candies have. The white chocolate was similarly milky in its taste, but not too sweet. As a combination goes, I still wasn’t completely on board with having chocolate with my gummi bears. They’re cute and easy to eat, but I think I might like them apart.
Rating: 6 out of 10
To be fair, even though Koppers invented the confectionery genre of chocolate covered gummi bears, the ones I see most often in drug stores, movie theaters & discount chains are called Muddy Bears and are made by Taste of Nature (who also makes Cookie Dough Bites) which I think is an awesome name for an unappetizing looking product.
The box features a yellow bear who is entirely too happy to be covered in chocolate. I’m not sure if he understands that once he’s sealed in his confectionery shell he’s doomed.
I’ve only seen them in the theater sized boxes. Inside the box is a cellophane pouch that holds the bears and keeps them fresh. (And makes for extra wrapper noises at the theater and probably scowly looks from me if I’m sitting near.)
As unattractive as the Koppers were, I think the Muddy Bears are even worse. But since they’re meant to be eaten at the movies based on the packaging, I’m going to guess that doesn’t matter much. (For the record, I like candy that looks the same after sitting unwrapped at the bottom of my purse, so that when I switch purses and find it down there, I know what it is ... and then I eat it.)
One of the big differences in the products is the gummi center. Muddy Bears use multi-flavored gummis. Of course being covered in milk chocolate there’s no way to know which flavor is which. It’s a benign chocolate-covered Russian roulette. Mostly I seemed to get green apple.
The chocolate coating seems a bit crumbly, not as smooth melting as the Koppers and very sweet without much of a “chocolate” taste. I can’t see myself buying these.
Candy Addict did a review last summer as well, interestingly, their photo of the box says, “The Original”, I’m guessing Koppers took issue with the accuracy and they’ve changed it to the version I have.
Rating: 4 out of 10
Meiji Gummy Choco set the bar too high. Their candies come in lots of different flavors, they’re packaged so nicely, the price is right even for an import and if you get a flavor mix, they’re color coded. But if you’re not able to get a hold of those, give the Koppers a try (you’ll probably see them in bulk bins), if the shop also carries chocolate cordials, they’re probably Koppers.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
In this case, it’s an assortment of little car shaped candies called Autodrop Total Loss. It includes 11 different flavors in one bag (Elf Heerlijke Smaken in een Zak).
I thought that the “total loss” thing meant something different in Dutch, but honestly I can’t figure out if it’s a cognate or not. I thought maybe it was something like “massive pile up” but internet translators are only good with verbatim things, not interpretive use of language.
The purple bag has whimsical drawings of cars motoring down the street, making little “toet, toet” sounds, which I’m guessing is like “putt, putt”. The style of the drawings reminds me of Quentin Blake (whom many of us were introduced to via Charlie & the Chocolate Factory).
Klein Zacht Fiatje (little black car) - this is sweet and a little woodsy tasting. Not quite licorice, it’s a little like brown sugar but maybe a little hint of menthol in there. It’s chewy and soft, reminds me a bit of those old Pine Brothers cough drops (before they got really stale).
Zacht Kadettje is the larger car driving to the left, it has two layers, a light layer on the bottom and a black layer on the top. It’s much like the Klein Zacht Fiatje, the base layer is a little more like a mello-creme, kind of soft and grainy and less chewy. Still a very mellow woodsy flavor.
Dubbele Dubbeldekker (red & black bus) is a firm, berry flavored “fruit gum” candy with a little hint of licorice to it, a little dash of mild salt. It’s kind of odd, the berry isn’t that strong, but neither is the licorice.
Aardbei Rode Cadillac (red gummi Caddy) is a strawberry fruit gum. It’s soft and has a pretty intense flavor. Not quite as floral or aromatic as the German strawberry candies I’ve had, this one is more like a strawberry jam flavor.
Bovsrucht Paarse Chevy is pretty much the same as the Caddy, a mild cassis or cherry, depending on the color. Again, it tastes more like the preseves of the fruits than the fresh ones. (Not a bad thing, just different.)
Dubbel Frisse Fruit Limo came in a couple of color combos: green and red or red and yellow. The green & red tasted a bit like lime & strawberry. Red and yellow was a similar mild lemon and berry (but possibly cassis, I can’t be sure).
Romige Rolls (beige Rolls Royce) was a dreamy caramelized mellow cream. Kind of like the crust of a toasted marshmallow. I ate them several different ways. I sucked on them like a lozenge (though they do get a little grainy towards the center) and others I just chewed up. They’re much harder than candy corn, probably because they have some sort of thickener/binder like gelatin in them. I believe the translation of the word toffeeschium is “toffee foam” which is pretty much what this was. Tasty simplicity.
Colaflesje Op Wieland (Cola bottle on wheels) - this one was easy. It was a mild and tangy cola gummi. A little too much on the tangy side and not enough cola, but still, a tasty and comforting piece.
If I were able to translate all the descriptions in the shop I would have known that none of the black ones were actually licorice, so with my expectations now set aside, these were tasty and fun. The variety is huge and the molding of all the items is fun and different. I don’t see myself buying this particular mix again, but there are other Autodrops that are actually licorice (called Drop Donders that includes sweet, salt, honey and salmiak licorice) that I might give a try based on the quality of this product.
Autodrops contain gelatin so are unsuitable for vegetarians (and don’t appear to be Kosher either).
Many thanks to Babelfish for helping me at least translate some of the words from the package.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.