These are chewy.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
I went to the Bay Area last weekend and instead of going on a spree to all the most luxurious chocolatiers and confectionery shops I went to the Dollar Tree and Long’s. (Yes, we have Long’s & Dollar Tree in Los Angeles, but this plaza in Dublin had some really good shops.)
I was pleased to find the new LifeSavers Gummies Tangy Fruits which were announced at All Candy Expo a few months ago. I was drawn to them because they feature tangerine, which is my absolute favorite LifeSavers flavor (and will prompt me to by Tropical LifeSavers just for those).
I wasn’t sure when they were announced if they were going to be like the LifeSavers Sour Gummies, which are coated in a grainy sugar/sour sanding or if they’d be like the traditional smooth rings of the LifeSavers 5 Flavors. After purchasing and opening, I was pleased to see that they are the smooth variety. (Yes, I prefer my gummis without the grainy mess, because I like to play with them.)
While the LifeSavers 5 Flavors Gummies follow the flavor set of the 5 Flavors hard candies, the Tangy Fruits were free to be whatever tangy fruits they wanted to be without a parallel. In this case they’re Tangerine, Watermelon, Lemon, Sour Apple, Tangy Cherry & Wild Fruit Punch. Now, what I found most interesting about that list was that three of those flavors are kind of in the 5 Flavors (Green Apple, Watermelon & Cherry). So in order to fully compare, I also bought a pack of the 5 Flavor Gummies.
The new packaging that LifeSavers introduced last year has a helpful key on the front that details the color & flavor combinations.
Aqua = Wild Fruit Punch - I don’t think there’s a wild fruit flavor in here at all. It tastes like a chemistry set. Perfumy, a bit like Kool-Aid fruit punch but there are some citrus notes and even though it’s blue, it was kind of bitter.
Green = Sour Apple - yeah, it’s green apple, but I was really missing the tangy bite I felt I was promised. Granted it does taste different from the 5 Flavors Green Apple, but not any more sour. Just different.
Light Red = Watermelon - I’ve never understood the desire to make anything watermelon flavored sour. Watermelon flavor has nothing to do with tartness as far as I’m concerned, so it’s like making sour honey, it just doesn’t make any sense. In this case it’s not sour, it’s actually quite nice. It reminds me of the perfect Jolly Rancher.
Dark Red = Tangy Cherry - I was expecting the black cherry flavors of a regular LifeSaver and I got a lot of those really intense woodsy-floral notes here. It’s not that “tart cherry pie” flavor but it’s also not at all the same as the Cherry in the 5 Flavors (which after tasting again reminds me of lipstick).
Yellow = Lemon - I’ve been missing lemon in the 5 Flavors, so I was glad to see its return here. And it was lemon! Tangy, zesty (almost too zesty!), soft and fragrant. Much more potent than the old hard candy LifeSaver.
Orange = Tangerine - I saved the best for last. And I wasn’t disappointed. This is no drink mix flavor, it tastes like someone peeled a tangerine right in front of me. There’s even a slight bitterness, plus the juicy taste of the gummi is enhanced by the soft and rubbery chew. I think it could be tarter, but I think all of them need to be more sour if they’re going to call the product Tangy Fruits.
The texture of the gummis was nice. They felt less greasy than they used to, but a little tougher.
While Tangy Fruits has more flavors that I actually like, buying six flavors just to get two that I like (tangerine & lemon) is insane. So here’s my request: Citrus Mix. Orange, Lemon, Lime, Tangerine and Grapefruit. (And if they wanted to throw Pineapple in there, I wouldn’t argue with the violation of the definition of citrus.)
LifeSavers hard candies are made in Canada, but these are made in the USA. They contain gelatin so are not suitable for vegetarians and are not Kosher.
Monday, July 21, 2008
I was cruising through the 99 Cent Store and noticed a new line of candies called All Gummies Gourmet. I recognized the actual candies as Albanese Candy Company (and this was confirmed in the small print on the back of the package). So finally Albanese are available at stores without going into the bulk candy aisle.
This bag of Fruity Fish caught my eye. Here was a half a pound of red fish for less than a dollar? Could they be any good? A little further down the aisle and there was the good old, reliable Swedish Fish (made by Cadbury Adams), so I decided to see if this designer impostor could fulfill a penny pinchers craving.
The packages are both attractive enough. The Swedish Fish is traditional, pretty much the same package I recognize from ten years ago - yellow with a little scale pattern on it. The All Gummies Gourmet packaging is rather generic - a vibrant blue and bronzy gold. The nice part is that the bottom of the package is clear cellophane and it’s easy to see the candies inside. And they do look fresh, moist and tasty!
The detail on both is nice, they look like fish. The scales, lips and eyes on the Fruity Fish is sharper, but I wouldn’t call one better than the other. So while I consider the appearance of both to be about equal, the comparable-ness ends there.
The fish themselves are about the same size. The Swedish Fish is a bit flatter and therefore weighs a bit less. The Swedish Fish are lighter in color and smell a little like raspberries and cotton candy. The Fruity Fish are a deep red and smell like, well, black cherry flavor with a touch of bitter amaretto. I wasn’t happy about this.
First, Fruity Fish are gummis. That’s right, they’re not jelly candies like the Swedish Fish, they’re full on gelatin-carrying gummis. (I can’t be upset, it does say All Gummies Gourmet right on the front.)
Second, they’re not any kind of berry flavor. Swedish Fish flavor is rather unique, I’ve always considered it lingonberry flavor, though it’s never been officially declared what flavor they are. The Fruity Fish are soft, chewy and have a good mix of tangy and sweet. But the flavor is black cherry, through and through.
So, these are no designer impostor as I suspected. They’re certainly a good deal, as the package heralds Big Value. But they are very jarring if you’re expecting the dulcet berry tones of Swedish Fish. Even though the Swedish Fish cost twice as much, I’ll stick with them ... but only because of the cherry flavor issue with Fruity Fish. They’re still a darn good candy.
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.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.