Tuesday, July 12, 2005
To follow up on the earlier review of the Cup-O-Gold I figured I’d contrast that with Hershey’s S’mores bar. The S’mores bar is marshmallow on top of a graham cracker crust covered in chocolate. If you recall the S’mores most of us have made, they were a toasted marshmallow (or two), a few squares of Hershey’s chocolate between two graham crackers. What was great about that combo was that you’d freshly toasted the marshmallow so it was retardedly hot in the middle and of cuorse melted the chocolate and the ratio being the dominance of the graham crackers (which also kept your fingers from being burned).
In this bar Hershey’s has the ratios all askew. By far the dominant feature of this bar is the marshmallow center. It’s not a traditional white marshmallow but a slightly tan version that seems a tad nougaty ... perhaps they’re trying to make it taste toasted. Much sweeter than it needed to be and lacked that meringue feeling that a good marshmallow has. There no graham cracker here. Instead the crust seems to be a crisco and cookie bits amalgamation. Then it’s covered in very sweet milk chocolate.
Too sweet, not enough toasty flavor and the graham cracker thing was just plain wrong. Move along, nothing to taste here.
Rating: 4 out of 10
Thursday, July 07, 2005
Name: Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Mint
I love these bars. Well, I did when they first came out. The thing is, I’m not sure they’re out now. I checked the Hershey’s site and didn’t find any mention of the Cookies ‘n’ Mint being reintroduced ... so is this a very old bar? It was certainly dusty. (Again, I’d love it if Hershey’s started putting freshness dates on their products.) While they’re at it, the packaging is a little deceiving - it’s milk chocolate, not some sort of green stuff like the picture shows.
That aside, when these were out and widely available I preferred the “nuggets” format. I don’t know why, but the flat bar didn’t make the crunchy parts sing as well. I think the surface area isn’t good for the chocolate either, I think it makes it all more prone to temperature changes.
But I digress.
This is a minted milk chocolate bar with small chocolate cookie bits (think of the cookie part of an oreo crumbled into minty chocolate). It’s a great combination. I think the crunch provides a nice contrast, and the fact that the cookie isn’t terribly sweet offsets the sweetness of the milk chocolate.
I hope this bar gets reintroduced or at least the nuggets will be available for a limited time every year. If you like this bar, I suggest the Harry London Cookie Joys as an excellent substitute.
Rating: 8 out of 10 (would be more if the bar were fresher)
UPDATE: See my Cookie Joys and Cookies ‘n’ Mint Nuggets head to head post.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Lollipops have kind of come back. When I was a kid there weren’t many good lollipops. There were those pretty ones that you’d see at the fair or candy shop - you know, those big paddle-looking ones that were of twisted hard tack. But they had no flavor. Then came the Charms pops, the Tootsie Pops and Blow Pops. There were the occasional novelty pop along the way, but that was pretty much it for some twenty years or so (I’m just saying this from memory ... I’ve done zero research).
Now there seems to be a revisiting of lollies. I noticed this a few years back when I discovered the wonderful Chupa Chups. These are great Spanish lollies that have good flavor, come in a huge assortment and have a PLASTIC stick, which means that it doesn’t fall apart on you if you’re a slobberer.
Name: Jolly Rancher Fruit Chew Center Lollipop
It’s kind of odd that this package doesn’t really give this candy a title. It’s Jolly Rancher, and it’s described in the sense that it’s assigned to be “GRAPE - artificially flavored” and “Fruit Chew Center” but it’s not really called Jolly Rancher Lolly or anything.
This was very artificially grape flavored and that’s okay. The flavor was through and through with a solid tart taste as well. The center was like a grape starburst, if they make those. What was a little weird though was the that lolly wasn’t made of a Jolly Rancher. You know, that tacky melty consistency that Jolly Ranchers have ... that’s not here. It’s not a bad thing, but something I missed.
Name: Way Sour Super Blow Pop
This is a downright huge lolly. It has a strong orange scent and an excruciatingly sour bite. Well, it’s called Way Sour, so I can’t complain. But I will. I think it comes from being an adult, there’s only so much sour I can take. I can eat Lemonheads because there’s a rest period when you’ve eaten through the sour layer. With the Way Sour Blow Pop, I never got there. I tried for about a half an hour and never made even a dent in this thing.
The flavor is great, very orangy, very sour. It’s not a blistering sour, but tart nonetheless.
UPDATE - I gave the Way Sour another try. I thought maybe my mouth was a little tender from eating too much fresh pineapple. Anyway, the second go around was much more doable, it’s still very tart, but has a lot of flavor, it’s not all about the sour. The gum center is a little bland after all that, and slightly rubbery instead of gummy. I’ve upgrade my initial score from a 4 to a 6.
Rating: Jolly Rancher Fruit Pops - 6 out of 10
See also - Starburst Chew Pops
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Name: Hershey’s Double Chocolate
I’m not sure what Hershey’s is up to with this one. It’s just a bad idea. There are plenty of good filled candy bars, but I’m not sure I understand how you’d go so wrong with this one.
Inside on the little white cardboard tray is a bar with four square segments of milk chocolate. Inside those is something that looks like Hershey’s chocolate syrup. Which we all know isn’t chocolate, it’s just cocoa/sugar/water. So what you end up with is a very sweet milk chocolate outside and a sickly sweet cardboard tasting sugar goo. It’s messy, it’s sticky.
I hope that this edition is very limited because this bar is just sad and cheap. I ate two out of the four squares and threw the other half out. Don’t get me wrong, I think that Hershey’s makes good product. It’s consistent and fresh and I applaud their use of the “Limited Edition” to try out new flavor combinations, but I’m not sure how this one made it past the test stage. I would also suggest the use of freshness dating.
Rating - 3 out of 10.
Friday, July 01, 2005
Name: Almond Joy Chocolate Chocolate
I wholeheartedly support making Almond Joys with dark chocolate. Because the difference between an Almond Joy and a Mounds bar is not just the nut ... it’s the milk chocolate/dark chocolate respectively. In fact, I think the dark chocolate/almond/coconut combo is even better.
This is not that bar though. Because they threw something else in the mix (literally), some chocolate into the coconut center.
You’d hardly know it though. At least I don’t. I’m not sure I can tell that there is anything different with this filling. Maybe it’s a ruse to get me to now buy a regular Almond Joy to do a side-by-side comparison.
Here’s a fun fact though ... this Almond Joy bar has 12% of your daily recommended intake of fiber.
Though they messed around with the perfect simplicity of a classic, this is still a very good bar. I’ve always found the coconut center of the Mounds/Almond Joy family to be sweeter and moister than the Bounty bars (do they still make those).
Rating: 8 out of 10.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Name: Reese’s Pieces Peanuts and Peanut Butter
Introduced last year, Reese’s Pieces Peanuts and Peanut Butter are a natural evolution of Reese’s Pieces (which have been around since 1978 ... why didn’t they do this sooner?).
They’re just Reese’s Pieces with a whole peanut at the center. The colors are the same RP colors, except for some reason they don’t quite have the consistent sheen to them, they’re slightly speckly. I don’t think it’s bad for the flavor or anything, they just aren’t as pretty as they could be.
I bought these at Target in a “theater box” and they’re a pretty good deal at 89 cents. I’ve not seen them in smaller bags anywhere. Actually, until I saw them at Target I didn’t even know they existed. The Reese’s site says that they’re a limited edition. Reese’s seems to be trying out a lot of different variations on their products lately, the inside out peanut butter cup, the white chocolate peanut butter cup and the Swoops. I still prefer just plain old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Not just for the nostalgia, but it was just a great combo and sometimes you get it right the first time.
I always found regular RPs just a little too artificial in the peanut butter part, a little too sweet, a little too creamy. Well, that an all the hydrogenated oils. Where these succeed is the pure peanut taste of a real peanut in the center. It really balances out the greasiness of the RP filling and makes a nice combo. I’m still not likely to buy these over Peanut M&Ms for movie snacking, but I’m not sorry I tried them. If I went to the theater and these were available, I might pick them up. Unless they were like, $3 a box, which they’d probably be. Then I’d regret not sneaking them in.
The other thing is that the name is just too long.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Friday, June 03, 2005
Dovetailing with my earlier post about revisiting classics with new interpretations, Hershey’s recently launched “Candy to Go!” It’s just smaller packaging of their previously introduced Bites, but what I found interesting is that I thought most candy was packaged for going ...
These are perfect little bites of candy bars. I picked up three at the store on the lot today. Kit Kat Bites, Reese’s Peanut Butter Bites and York Bites. Each is about the size of a small marble, more or less. The York bites are exactly what you’d expect, dark chocolate covering a mint cream center. The Reese’s bites are covering a peanut butter cup filling (not that waxy Reese’s pieces stuff) and the Kit Kat bites are like little Kit Kat cubes.
Here’s my thing: I like appropriate ratios. In the case of the Reese’s bites and the York bites, the ratio of chocolate to filling is appropriate. Though the chocolate in these little poppers is slightly different - because it’s in a spherical shape, I think they toss a little resinous glaze on it. This makes for a slight waxy coating, which in one respect is good, because you can actually hold them in your hand for a moment without getting melty all over you, but it also means that you’re eating this resin and that you need to kind of get past that when you put it in your mouth.
In the Kit Kat bites, it feels like too much chocolate (Kit) and not enough crisp wafers (Kat).
The other odd thing about these are the portion size: 2.75 oz and that’s a full serving. Most candy bars are about 1.5 oz and have about 200 calories. The Reese’s bites have 410 calories! If you can control yourself and not eat them all at once, you’ll make it to fifty without a coronary. Me? I ate the whole York Bites and then moved on to the Reese’s and of course had to open the Kit Kat for a taste. Sadly, all that’s left now are some of the Kit Kats.
Name: York Bites
Good chocolate, nice mint, pretty much a tiny spherical peppermint patty. The only problem I had with these was the variation in quality. Some were soft and fresh, but others were rather hard. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that they’re spoiled, maybe the chocolate didn’t seal in the filling completely and they dried out.
Name: Reese’s Peanut Butter Bites
Okay, of the three, these smelled absolutely divine when I opened the package. A wonderful roasted peanut scent with the sweet overtone of chocolate. Really, these smelled awesome. They taste good, and I think I’d buy them again, especially as something to eat when at the movies, but I still prefer the miniatures for the ratio of chocolate to peanut butter.
Name: Kit Kat Bites
My least favorite of the three, but I’ve always been fond of Kit Kats and buy them often. But my favorite thing about Kit Kats is deconstructing them while I eat, which means prying off each layer with my teeth. That’s not really feasible with this iteration, so I’d just have to eat them and where’s the fun in that?
I’m not always fond of miniatures or giganto bars, but I think that Hershey’s really did a nice job of inventing these as candy that stands alone without the other versions. As always, freshness helps, if these were old and had bloomed or something, I’d find them absolutely unappealing. But I find these to be the perfect movie food or good to tuck in your bag to share with others.
UPDATE: It looks like these didn’t go over very well and have been discontinued. The remaining inventory can still be found at discount stores like 99 Cent Only. (But be sure to look at the expiration date before you take a chance.)
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
I can’t fault the candy manufacturers trying to tweak their most popular candies instead of reinventing the wheel. Sometimes they arrive at something that’s as good or even better than the original.
In the spirit of my recent review of the White Chocolate Reese’s, I picked up a few other reduxes.
Name: Nestle Crunch Dark
Very fresh, the crisps were crunchy and the bar was glossy and smooth. The chocolate was not waxy, but didn’t really have the melt-in-your mouth feel. The chocolate content was pretty good, but not quite enough to soothe me completely. Maybe it was a little sweet.
On the whole, I think crunch bars are perfect the way they are. Milk chocolate and crisped rice are perfect together. Why mess with it?
Name: White Chocolate Kit Kat
Again, there was nothing wrong with the original Kit Kat. This white Kit Kat seems a bit saltier, which helps to balance the bland sweetness of the white chocolate. It’s not something that I’d be interested in again.
Name: Milky Way Midnight
First, I congratulate them for spelling midnight correctly. This bar was very fresh but reminded me that I never cared much for Milky Ways because they’re too cloyingly sweet. I like Snickers, mostly because they mixing sweet and savory. Also, I don’t like candy bars that are too much sugar and not enough fat (and maybe a little protein thrown in). So, in that respect the dark version is much more successful. The richer taste of the chocolate balances the caramel and bland nougat much better.
I have to say, after having plenty of imported candies and things from the remainders at the 99 cent stores, having fresh candy really makes a difference. Even a middle-of-the-road candy like Hershey’s Kisses are better when they’re fresh. Candy’s a treat - if you are going to use those “discretionary” calories on something with no nutritional value, choose something fresh and satisfying. Life too short for bad dessert.
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