Tuesday, February 2, 2010
The newest wave is covering savory items in chocolate ... and what a wonderful and imaginative trend it’s become. The inventiveness of chocolatiers and confectioners goes far beyond pretzels and potato chips.
Today I have a new item from Kimmie Candy Company, which makes all sorts of panned items, it’s salty corn nuts, covered in chocolate and then in a colorful candy shell. They’re called Sweet & Salty Corn Bits which really doesn’t do them justice. I don’t know if they’re in stores yet, but the rather mousy looking package isn’t going to help them stand out from other items that look like they belong at a truck stop.
Corn Nuts originated back in the 1930s with Albert Holloway as a bar snack. They’re soaked whole corn kernels that are then deep fried. The big innovation came in the 1960s when Holloway found and hybridized a giant version of corn from Peru. Corn Nuts when national shortly after that when Holloway sold the company to Nabisco. (It’s now owned by Kraft and sold under the brand of Planters.)
A corn nut is a rather hard and crunchy nugget, far denser than popcorn and with a flavor more like a corn chip or Frito. They’re very satisfying but like corn chips but also don’t have that much fat in them for a fried snack (about 40 calories from fat per ounce).
The candies vary quite a bit in size and shape. Some are a small as a half an inch across, most are rather flat but some are almost an inch long ... but the average is actually right there in the middle at 3/4 of an inch.
The color mix of three earthy variations: saffron yellow, orangish-red and maroon-brown. The bag smells a bit like Fritos and chocolate ... I know it sounds a little weird, but I like it.
They’re quite crunchy, so much so that sometimes biting into one, it’s almost like a rock at first. The shells are thin and crispy and the milk chocolate inside is sweet and light. It provides a creamy background and a rather cool sensation on the tongue as it melts. It’s not terribly complex or challenging, but completely addictive. Kimmie Candy sent me two four ounce bags, and within 36 hours of opening either one, they were gone.
These should be sold in movie theater style boxes, because they’re the perfect mix of chocolate, candy and salty crunch. I didn’t feel sick or stuffed from eating them and for something that has a “salty” kick, there’s very little in there - only 75mg.
UPDATE 4.15.2010: Kimmie has changed the name of these to Milk Chocolate Covered Kettle Corn Nuggets with some slight reformulations. They’re now multi-colored (maroon, blue, green, yellow, orange & pink) and have a buttery toffee flavor on the corn bits. I haven’t tried the new version yet.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Ever since I tried my first candy-coated chocolate sunflower seed, I was hooked. (And I wondered why these haven’t been around all my life.)
Kimmie Candy offered to send me their new varieties of All Natural Sunbursts, including their new dark chocolate version.
Kimmie Candy is rather new to the candy game, founded in 1999, they focus on panned candies. Based in Reno, Nevada (Free factory tours if you’re in the area.), they seem to have found a niche with some novel products and “better for you snacks.”
Their original Sunbursts come in a huge array of colors and are described as a candy coated, cocoa covered sunflower kernels. So yeah, it’s a mockolate product. I’ve had them, and they are pleasant, but I’ve been on the prowl for something that parents can really get behind for their kids.
All Natural Sunburst (shown above) fit that bill. They come in a mix of seven colors which are made from all natural colorings, plus the chocolate coating is real milk chocolate. At the center is a flavorful sunflower seed. Watch a video tour of how they’re made.
The colorings aren’t quite a vibrant as the unnatural varieties, but are definitely eye-catching and don’t feel muted and old like some candies can. The yellow, green and brown are especially nice. The pieces vary in size quite a bit, just like most nuts and seeds do. The shell is sweet and has a light crunch. The milk chocolate imparts a slight dairy flavor but not much of a chocolate punch, just a creamy background. The highlight is the sunflower flavor, which is bright and fresh - I didn’t come across a bad seed in the handfuls that I ate.
Their newest product (not even listed on the website) is Sunburst Natural Mix Dark Chocolate. This blend came with two colors in it, green and yellow. I really liked the combination, as it of course reminded me of sunflowers.
The smell upon opening the package was of brownies, toasty hot brownies.
On the tongue the candies have a slight bitter snap to them, but like the milk chocolate counterpart, the shell is sweet and crunchy. The dark chocolate coating is quite strong with smoke and coffee tones to it - they’re rather intense. The roasted nut flavors come through nicely. But the candy is really different from the milk chocolate variety.
The Kimmie Candy website sells direct to consumers and has some excellent prices (especially if you’re willing to take a chance on their “oops” items). They also make ChocoRocks and other panned candies. The original Sunbursts have a wide variety of package options (single serve to 8 ounce bags) at retail stores. I hope they’ll ramp up production of these and maybe do the snack sized portion package in large bags for Halloween. It might actually make them a trick-or-treat item that doesn’t break the bank but satisfies both picky parents and picky kids.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.