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Friday, August 22, 2008

Hershey’s Miniatures

Hershey's MiniaturesHershey’s Miniatures were introduced in 1929. At that time the assortment was pretty much the same: Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, Krackel and Mr. Goodbar. (Though Hershey’s made a bar called Semi Sweet, the present iteration, a dark version didn’t find its way into the mix until the Special Dark came along.)

Hershey’s bills the mix as A little something for everyone (r).

I remember as a kid getting these in both my trick-or-treat haul and my Christmas stocking. They’re a great mix of candy because even though everyone has their favorites (and my rankings for them have changed over the years), even if you don’t like all of them it’s pretty easy to find someone to trade with.

Each piece is a nice size, two bites for those who prefer to savor or one big bite for those looking for a quick fix.

Hershey's Miniatures

I wasn’t sure when I picked up the bag if they have a consistent mix, so I documented mine. It actually feels like a good proportion: 11 Hershey’s Milk Chocolate and 6 each of the Krackel, Mr. Goodbar and Special Dark.

This particular bag was 9.2 ounces, they’re available in a wide variety of sizes though and often in bulk bins at large grocery stores.

imageIt’s hard to approach a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar without some sort of personal history. Those of us who have grown up on them know the flavor pretty well, though I don’t think most of us think much about it. Those who taste Hershey’s for the first time as adults though have expressed strong dislike for the taste and/or texture. All I can say is that it’s distinctive and they wouldn’t keep making it if someone didn’t like it well enough to keep buying it.

It has a sweet smell, a bit milky and dare I say, cheesy (feta) and milky. There are also notes of black pepper and caramel.

One of the nice things about the Miniatures is that the bar is thicker, so a bite (half the bar), is a nice mouthful that give more opportunity to revel in the flavors and textures. The milk chocolate is rather fudgy, not quite firm even a room temperature. It dents instead of chipping or flaking and is more likely to bend than snap. It’s a little grainy like a fudge, but the particle size is small. The flavors are strong, it’s sweet without burning the throat and has some mellow cocoa notes mixed with that inimitable tangy yogurt flavor of Hershey’s along with some toffee and maybe a touch of hazelnut.

I hate to sound like an old fart, but I think it was better before. I think something happened that it became grainier.

It sounds like I hate the stuff, but I don’t. I feel the same way about it as I do for things like Fritos, American cheese, grape soda and Fudgesicles. They’re really not that good, but I love them anyway.

All I can do is hope they don’t make it worse and give them a 6 out of 10.

imageThe Special Dark bar was introduced in 1971. I always liked the packaging, but not the bar itself. It looked rich and sophisticated, which appealed to the part of me that yearned for status that could be bought for 20 cents at the corner shop. But to actually eat one as a child was akin to eating raw fish, I just didn’t have it in me. Yet.

Similar to the milk bar, this one also has a slightly soft snap.

It smells sweet, a little woodsy.

The texture is rather chalky and doesn’t melt into a creamy puddle in my mouth. Instead it just tastes sweet and more like hot cocoa made with water than real rich chocolate ... there’s a thin-ness to it all, probably because Hershey’s now uses milk fat.

There’s a dry finish with a slight metallic bite to it.

So while I’ve come to love and prefer dark chocolate, this is like eating cheap chocolate chips to me. A diversion while I wait for the better choice ... like those freshly baked chocolate chip cookies or a wonderful single origin Ocumare bar.

Rating: 4 out of 10

imageMr. Goodbar was introduced in 1925. Later, during the depression, the bar was sold as “a tasty lunch” back when meal replacement bars were simply candy bars. (And it’s still not a bad idea if you get a really nutty bar.)

Even though the bars are smaller these days and don’t cost a nickel, it’s tempting to think that this bar is unchanged since Milton Hershey started producing it.

Sadly it’s not a war or a depression that’s change Mr. Goodbar. I can’t say what The Hershey Company is thinking these days but they’ve changed it. Mr. Goodbar is no longer a chocolate bar.

Instead he’s a silly oiled up shadow of what he used to be. The description of the bar was more recently peanuts in milk chocolate but is now just made with chocolate and peanuts.

The bar looks the same as ever. A milky, chocolatey sheen with little peanuts peeking through. It smells like deep roasted peanuts and sugar. (More like peanut brittle than a chocolate product.)

The flavor is overwhelmingly peanut. The peanuts are roasted dark too, so there’s a slight burnt taste to it that I think is meant to mask the nonexistent chocolate.

Yes, this mockolate is shallow and unimpressive. The texture isn’t all that different from the Milk Chocolate bar, but it has a different melt. It’s cool on the tongue. It’s actually salty (looking over the ingredients in the old recipe and the new, salt now appears).

For a mockolate bar, it’s quite passable. For a time tested icon it’s a travesty. I don’t care how depressed I am or the country might be, this is not a tasty lunch.

Rating: 4 out of 10.

imageKrackel, I’m told, is the last candy bar that Milton Hershey developed that still exists today.

It went through a few changes over the years, when introduced in 1938 it had nuts and crisped rice but by the late 40s it was a simple crisped rice and milk chocolate bar. (The packaging was also similar to the Mr. Goodbar, sporting a yellow stripe and brown instead of its present red.)

Today the bar is all but gone. The full size has been discontinued (2006), only the miniature remains. To add insult to injury, the bar isn’t crisped rice in milk chocolate, no, now it’s made with chocolate and crisped rice.

One of the things the Krackel bar has had going for it over the years, especially in the miniature size is the crisped rice. They’re big crisped rice pieces. Nestle Crunch has moved to some sort of BB-sized rice product that just doesn’t deliver the depth of crunch or the malty & salty taste.

The crisp is definitely there, the malty flavor peeks through. But the


mockolate, oh this isn’t even worthy of being wrapped up and called R.M. Palmer.

I’ve given away four of these little bars and asked people what they think to people who profess that the Krackel is their favorite in the miniatures assortment. I didn’t preface it with anything, yet they all recognized that this was terrible. Empty, vapid, lacking all chocolate flavor, no creamy component and no puddle of chocolate ooze melting so that all that’s left is the rice crisps.

I was curious how mock this mockolate was but I am simply unable to get the information out of Hershey’s. (Read more about that experience here.) It’s just disgusting that Hershey’s, the Great American Chocolate Bar company, is making this ... they should have just let this bar die a natural death than let it be zombified into this mess.

Rating: 1 out of 10

There is nothing to do but simply stop buying this deplorable product. 12 out of the 29 bars (41%) here are not even chocolate and yet I’m paying chocolate prices!

If you like the Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, I’d suggest getting just the snack sized bars, they’re a little bigger, but at least you don’t end up with any Krackels or Mr. Goodbars and you get more value for your money. (Unless you were looking for some individually wrapped & solidified cooking oils.)

Related Candies

  1. Kissables (Reformulated)
  2. American Value Chocolate Bars
  3. The Shame of Some “Healthy” Candy
  4. Whoppers Twosomes
Name: Hershey's Miniatures
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Hershey's
Place Purchased: Rite Aid (Echo Park)
Price: $3.29
Size: 9.2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 138
Categories: Chocolate, Mockolate, Peanuts, Crisp, United States, Hershey's, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:47 am     Comments (43)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Nips: Caramel & Dulce de Leche

NipsI was surprised at readers’ passion for Nips, so I thought I’d try a few more varieties.

I found Nips Caramel and Nips Dulce de Leche at the Rite Aid for only 99 cents (same price as the 99 Cent Only Store, see you don’t have to look far for a bargain).

Though the candy is described as rich & creamy hard candy on the front of the box, I don’t think it quite qualifies as hard since it’s not crunchable. It’s also not a caramel, because it’s not chewable. It’s just a Nip, I guess.

Caramel Nips

Caramel Nips look pretty similar to Coffee Nips, but just a smidge lighter in color. They have the same ultra smooth texture, light burnt sugar flavors and slow dissolve.

They’re creamy and milky without being cloying or sticky. They fit well in the mouth, too.

It’s taken me a while to retrain myself when eating Nips that they’re not like Werther’s Originals, I can’t crunch them, instead I’d end up cementing my teeth together.

Overall, not quite as good as the Coffee ones, but that’s a personal preference thing, these are still quite tasty and an excellent candy that belongs in everyone’s candy dish. (Except in really humid climates.)

Dulce de Leche Nips

Readers were lamenting that they thought that the Dulce de Leche Nips were possibly discontinued. I was quite happy to see a large inventory of them at Rite Aid, so I’m just guessing that they focus on regions where dulce de leche is a more recognizable. (Large Latino populations - I’m guessing because the packages for both of these are in both English and Spanish.)

I was a little nervous about these, I do remember having the chocolate parfait ones years ago and not caring much for the grainy and flavorless filling (but that could have been a bad or old batch). There’s no real description on the box either, just the banner that says dulce de leche (which means milk candy and is usually made from sweetened condensed milk boiled slowly to caramelize both the sugar and the milk sugars and served either as a sauce or fudge).

In this case it’s a shell like the Caramel Nip but inside is a layer of a sort of creme like the filling of an Oreo, a little grainy, sweet and chalky.

The overall flavor here is not really caramelized milk to me, instead it’s maple or pecan. It’s woodsy and sweet and nice, but doesn’t really enter into the dulce de leche zone for me. So if they’re looking for a way to make these appealing to other regions, maybe in New England they’d call it Country Maple and in the South they’d call it Toasted Pecan.

The cream made the candy disappear much faster, which wasn’t as fun either. They weren’t as consistent, some had a little cream sticking out of the sides. I’ll stick with the solid ones.

The other flavors still out there: Butter Rum, Chocolate Parfait, Peanut Butter Parfait and Mocha.

Related Candies

  1. Crown Nuggets Borrachitos
  2. Caramilk Maple
  3. Milk Maid Caramel Candy Corn
  4. Nestle Turtles
Name: Nips: Caramel & Dulce de Leche
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: Rite Aid (Echo Park)
Price: $.99
Size: 4 ounces
Calories per ounce: 121
Categories: Caramel, United States, Nestle, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:31 am     Comments (13)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Coffee Nips

Coffee NipsWhen I was a teenager I discovered Pearson Coffee Nips. Like my other favorite at the time, Andes Mints, they represented a sophisticated taste in an easy to share individually wrapped portion. I’d buy them by the box, usually for about a dollar and they’d last forever.

I wasn’t quite developed enough at the time to drink coffee straight, about all I could stand was coffee floats (hot coffee with vanilla ice cream in it) but I loved the taste of the stuff.

That’s what attracted me to Coffee Nips. They combine the rich coffee taste with a creamy texture and a long lasting hard candy experience. And they were pretty inexpensive.

Pearson Coffee Nips were known simply as Pearson Nips when they were introduced over 70 years ago. But now they’re made in a wide variety of flavors (and some even have flavored goo centers). The Pearson line of Nips was sold to Nestle back in 1989 and looking closely on the package, they’re not even called Pearson any longer.

Coffee Nips

Even though they’ve changed hands, they’re the same as they ever were. A lump of hard caramel, made from a combination of sugar, corn syrups and milk products and a few tropical oils ... boiled down with some real coffee to become a slow dissolving bit of concentrated coffee. It’s almost a toffee, but more of a hard caramel.

They’re smooth and creamy and not too sweet (though far sweeter than I like my liquid coffee). They’re impossible to chew, which makes them last a long time (though I caution you to not try to chew them as they will cement your teeth together).

They’re an excellent summer candy because they travel well but provide a rich creamy experience and mimic a hot drink that many of us eschew on hot days. (Okay, I only eschew hot coffee in the middle of the day, I pretty much always drink hot coffee in the morning.)

Refreshing. Classic. I’ve never tried the other flavors which include Butter Rum, Caramel, Chocolate Parfait, Dulce de Leche, Mocha and Peanut Butter Parfait. The coffee suits me just fine.

Related Candies

  1. Caffe Acapella - Coffee Confections
  2. Cafe Select Chocolate Coffee Trios
  3. Walkers Nonsuch Toffee
  4. Storck Chocolate Riesen
  5. Pocket Coffee
  6. Bali’s Best Coffee & United Coffee Candy
Name: Coffee Nips
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: 99 Cent Only Store (Miracle Mile)
Price: $.99
Size: 4 ounces
Calories per ounce: 121
Categories: Coffee, Caramel, United States, Nestle, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:43 am     Comments (28)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Kissables (Reformulated)

Alert and distressed readers informed me that Hershey’s Kissables have been reformulated and not in a good way.

I was fortunate enough to find both the old variety and the new ones at the 99 Cent Only Store, which is like some sort of time capsule, just dig deep enough into the layers and you can find stuff that goes back to the last century. (Don’t worry, both were still within their expiry dates - made only five months apart.)

Kissables Candy Coated Milk ChocolateFirst, the Original Kissables, as introduced were called Candy Coated Milk Chocolate. (Original review from 2006 here.)

The ingredients: Milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, nonfat milk, milk fat, lactose, soy lecithin, PGPR & artificial flavors), sugar, red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, blue 1 & carnauba wax.

The taste is familiar. The crunch of the shell is crispy and nondescript but gives way to the inimitable Hershey’s chocolate flavor that’s a little tangy, a bit like yogurt and has a rather interesting rum note to it.

Kissables Chocolate CandyThe new version is called Chocolate Candy which is code for chocolate-flavored confection, or candy that contains chocolate but can’t be called chocolate because it has other stuff in it that’s not permitted by the FDA definitions (like more oil than actual chocolate).

The ingredients: Sugar, vegetable oil (palm, shea, sunflower and/or safflower oil), chocolate, nonfat milk, whey, cocoa butter, milk fat, gum arabic, soy lecithin, artificial colors (red 40, yellow 5, blue 2, blue 1, yellow 6), corn syrup, resinous glaze, salt, carnauba wax, pgpr and vanillin.

They look exactly like their old “pure” counterparts (which really weren’t so pure if you ask me). The colors and size are identical. The flavor though, is quite obviously off. The crunch of the shell is familiar, but the flavor of the chocolate lacks any particular pop and feels less fresh. The texture is cooler on the tongue, though has the same fudgy grain that it’s always had.

Old and new Kissables

It’s not that the new formula is bad, but it certainly lacks a pizazz and familiarity that the old ones had. They old ones were like Kisses. The new ones are like, well, nothing much special. Kind of like chocolate frosting. As a mockolate product, well, they’re actually pretty good. These are still far and away better than the Garfield Chocobites or other off-brand/fake chocolate lentils I’ve had.

The ingredient tweaking had some interesting results as well, which show that it’s entirely possible to tell the two apart on taste alone:

..............Original Formula ....................2008 Formula
Total Fat…......10 grams…............................10 grams
Cholesterol….....5 mg…................................0 mg
Sodium….........30 mg…...............................60 mg
Carbohydrates…..28 g…................................30 g
Protein….........3 g….................................1 g

(This info was taken right from the packages, the Hershey’s website lists strangely different nutritional specs for this size package - where the portion is only 1.4 ounces instead of the full 1.5 ounces in the package.)

So the new ones have more salt and sugars, a third of the calcium but no cholesterol. Ten fewer calories, but also made with all sorts of other replacement oils. Oh, and the new ones also have a resinous glaze, which is shellac, which is on most vegetarian’s forbidden list.

It strikes me as odd that Hershey’s new Pure Chocolate campaign comes on the heels of their attempts to dilute the definition of chocolate and have changed the formulation on many of their favorite candies (5th Avenue & Whatchamacallit) to include new coatings that are not pure chocolate any longer.

The copy goes like this (set to a cover of I Melt with You):

What makes a Hershey’s bar pure?
Pure simplicity.
Pure happiness.
Pure delicious chocolate.
Pure Hershey’s.

Watch the video here or here. While it’s for Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar, I take it as a whole branding campaign that Hershey’s wants to stress that they make pure chocolate. I’m just not buying it.

More fun with new formulas: Check out what Hershey’s has done to the iconic Hershey’s Miniatures collection.

UPDATE: Kissables were discontinued in early 2009. They will be replaced by a new line called Pieces which will come in Special Dark, Almond Joy and York Peppermint. (No straight milk chocolate replacement though.) Look for them in December 2009.

Related Candies

  1. Hershey’s Special Dark Pieces
  2. Hershey’s York Pieces
  3. Hershey’s Almond Joy Pieces
  4. Hershey’s Website Inaccuracies
  5. Today Show: Kissed Off!
  6. ReeseSticks (Revisit)
  7. Hershey’s Miniatures
  8. Nestle Crunch Crisp
  9. What Made Hershey’s Want to Change Chocolate?
Name: Kissables (2008 formula)
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Hershey's
Place Purchased: 99 Cent Only Store (Wilshre Blvd.)
Price: $.39
Size: 1.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 133
Categories: Mockolate, United States, Hershey's, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:51 am     Comments (37)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Young & Smylie Traditional Licorice

Young & Smylie Licorice (Flavor No. 1)Hershey’s has reinvigorated one of their old lines: Young & Smylie Licorice. Known more for Twizzlers, Young & Smylie is one of the oldest candy companies in the country.

This new line, called simply Old Fashioned Soft Eating Licorice and includes three flavors in their initial offerings. Flavor no. 1, oddly enough, is Strawberry. Nope, it’s not licorice, it’s strawberry. I’ll admit, right away I’m offended by this. While I fully accept that “red licorice” is a grand and glorious genre of confection, the original flavor of licorice is actually licorice.

However, I’m at least a bit appeased by reading the package which says that even this strawberry flavor has licorice extract in it.

Young & Smylie Licorice (Flavor No. 1)

These soft little nuggets are pretty. They’re opaque and shiny logs. It smells tangy, kind of like strawberry yogurt.

The bite is quite soft, a cross between Dots and HiCHEW. It’s sweet and mild, the strawberry flavors are all in the range of toasted sugar and floral. It’s not the slightest bit tangy, though exceptionally smooth.

Young & Smylie Licorice (Flavor No. 2)Flavor no. 2 is Traditional Black Licorice.

The resealable packages are a hefty 8 ounces. It feels like more. The plastic is matte and rather elegant. Easy to open and reclose, the design is quite nice - modern yet classic. I like the geometric background pattern that’s used on all three.

I’ve seen them in a few stores, usually selling for $2.99 a package, so it’s on the high end of Hershey’s sugar products at the moment. Small wonder, it must be hard to make an inexpensive product when the list of ingredients is so long. No less than 15 ingredients. It starts with corn syrup and ends with soybean oil. But hey, I can’t be too disappointed, there is licorice root extract but I don’t have high hopes as there’s no molasses in there. (Not that licorice must have molasses, but I do love the combo so.)

Young & Smylie Licorice (Flavor No. 2)

Opening the bag, it’s an odd scent. It’s a combination of anise and curry. It smells hearty and warm.

It’s very soft stuff, kind of salty (190 mg of sodium per serving). Mild and sweet, it has a nice anise or fennel bump to it, but not terribly intense. It is a little sticky, but not like Crows.

It’s appealing and certainly different than the other soft eating licorice brands on the market, so I at least have to tip my hat to their originality. But it just doesn’t satisfy my licorice desire. I’ve had these since the beginning of the month, yet I found myself buying Good & Plenty last weekend instead of eating these.

I was also kind of annoyed that these made my tongue greenish black thanks to my old friends Red 40 & Blue 1. (Many black licorices are colored by the presence of molasses.)

Young & Smylie (Flavor No. 3)The final sample I got was their remaining flavor in their intro line, Flavor no. 3 is Peach Mango.

I have to just wonder how it was that this became one of the top three contenders for a soft eating licorice line.

Like the Strawberry & Licorice, Peach Mango is naturally and artificially flavored. In this instance it smells artificial from the get-go. Both the Strawberry & Peach Mango list that each serving contains 35 mg of licorice root extract (the licorice variety makes no mention of how much it contains, only that it’s above that “less than 2% of the following” line).

Young & Smylie (Flavor No. 3)

This package smelled even before I opened it. The peach and mango blend becomes something like apricot, which I admit is a fresh and enticing smell. But generally I stay away from stone fruit flavors, they never seem quite authentic to me.

These are the softest of the three varieties. It’s all sweet and no tartness. The chew is smooth but has a pasty quality, kind of like too-soft macaroni. After eating a few pieces I realized that it was just peach flavored and I wasn’t getting anything mango out of it (which is usually a rather pine tasting note). It also left a lingering and mellow bitter taste in my mouth ... it wasn’t bad, just kind of strange.

I’ll be curious to see if this flavor makes it. It’s certainly different, but inconsistent with the other two and of course so out of the range of traditional licorice it may not attract those folks who might like a mild apricot-scented overcooked pasta.

On the whole, I appreciated that these were actually different from other soft-eating licorice products out there. This tastes nothing like Panda, Kookaburra or Finnska. Licorice products are being marketed as a low-calorie treat. As a wheat-based product they are less calorically dense but this particular variety does have a smidge of fat (1.5 grams per serving). Not a deal breaker but regular Twizzlers are a bit better in that respect. (Twizzlers are 92 & 94 calories per ounce for black & red, respectively, Y&S Soft Eating is 94 & 101 for the same.)

These contains wheat, soy products and artificial stuff but no dairy. But they’re certified Kosher.

Other views: YumSugar, Candy Addict, The Hershey Insider + Candy Critic has it on his upcoming review list.

Related Candies

  1. Twizzlers Licorice Twists
  2. Twizzlers Chocolate Twists
  3. Twizzlers (Strawberry)
  4. Runts
  5. Dutch Licorice
Name: Old Fashioned Soft Eating Licorice: Strawberry, Licorice & Peach Mango
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Young & Smylie (Hershey's)
Place Purchased: samples from Hershey's
Price: retail $2.99
Size: 8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 101 & 94 & 101
Categories: Chew, Licorice, United States, Hershey's, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:07 am     Comments (20)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Dove Beautiful vs Bloomsberry Beauty-Bar

Beautiful vs Beauty BarWith all the health claims & research studies revolving around chocolate these days it’s not surprising to see bars also capitalizing on our vanity to get a few more sales.

I got both these bars around the same time, both samples. The Dove Beautiful bar is fortified to help promote beautiful-looking skin. The Beauty-Bar from Bloomsberry & Co is formulated to make you feel gorgeous ... on the inside.

Dove Beautiful Bar

Well, I admit, it’s a beautiful bar to look at.

Dove Beautiful BarThe Dove Beautiful bar features vitamins C & E plus the natural flavanols in cocoa to make you attractive.

The full array of additives is: tricalcium phosphate (10% of the RDA of calcium), ascorbic acid (10% of the RDA of Vitamin C), vitamin E acetate (10% of the RDA of Vitamin E), niacinamide (10% of the RDA of Niacin), zinc oxide (10% of the RDA of Zinc) and biotin (10% of the RDA).

The bar looks a bit darker than the standard Dove Smooth Milk Chocolate fare. It has the same slightly soft snap. A sweet scent.

The melt is nice, a bit cool on the tongue, milky and less sticky than its unfortified counterpart.

The flavor has some dairy components to it ... and an odd taste as well. I can’t put my finger on it, but I want to say that it tastes like drinking out of a galvanized bucket. Slightly metallic ... not in a bad way, just in a narrowly noticeable way.

I’ve come to understand that I’m not the kind of person who likes to compromise on my candy. My candy is made for enjoyment and mucking around with the taste in order to pump up its nutritional value means that it simply doesn’t fulfill its primary obligation - make me happy. Instead it makes me furrow my brow ... and that’s not beautiful.

Rating: 5 out of 10

Beauty Bar - Bloomsberry & CoThe second bar is just another in Bloomsberry & Co. huge line of high end novelty bars.

Bloomsberry & Co. has made a name for themselves world-wide with their inventive, imaginative and whimsical box designs (flat pack Easter bunny and eat me have made me chuckle - laugh lines are beautiful right?). I have fully advocated using chocolate bars instead of greeting cards, and their line meets most needs with all the major holidays covered and a line with an ultra-modern take on romance (and chocolate obsession).

All that aside, the funky box is fun the first time, but just like the pretty picture on the greeting card, what does it say inside? Well, to start with, the foil inner wrapping is also lovely. It’s a graphic paper with a foiled paper under that ... plus the box. That’s a lot of protection.

Beauty Bar - Bloomsberry & Co

And all that protection paid off, the bar was pristine.

Instead of a lot of crazy additions, this is simply dark chocolate (sugar, chcoolate liquor, cocoa butter, soy lecithin & vanilla). It doesn’t say what the cacao percentage is.

If I understand it correctly the idea goes like this: if dark chocolate is what you want and if you get what you want, you’ll be happy and happy people are beautiful. Or something like that.

The bar is thick and has a profound snap to it. The flavor is well rounded, if a little bland. It satisfies a craving, but doesn’t really do much else to make me swoon. As the bars usually retail for $4 to $5, unless the box is just so spot on, I’m going to pass. There are some wonderful bars that not only come in nice packages (that say more about the chocolate than my desires, of course) but area also tasty on the inside.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Both bars are Kosher.

Related Candies

  1. Dove Silky Smooth Milk Chocolate Bars
  2. BonBonBars: Malt Ganache & Scotch
  3. Theo 3400 Phinney Bars
  4. Charles Chocolates Bars
  5. One Dollar Bars
  6. Vosges Exotic Candy Bars
Name: Beautiful & Beauty-Bar
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Dove & Bloomsberry & Co
Place Purchased: samples from Dove & All Candy Expo
Price: unknown
Size: 3.53 ounces
Calories per ounce: 156 & 160
Categories: Chocolate, United States, New Zealand, Mars, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:20 am     Comments (2)

Monday, June 30, 2008

Nestle Crunch (Now Even Richer Milk Chocolate)

2006 Crunch Bar WrapperThe Nestle Crunch was introduced in 1938, invented in Nestle’s Fulton, New York factory. The bar combines milk chocolate with crisped rice, which adds a crunch as well as a malted barley flavor to it.

When I was a kid I was a Krackel girl. I don’t know if I preferred the crisped rice and Hershey’s chocolate combination, the color red or simply couldn’t find the Nestle Crunch bar as often.

Later when I moved to the west coast Krackels became pretty much impossible to find, so I sometimes picked up the Nestle Crunch bar.

But then something happened, I’m not sure when, perhaps ten years ago ... the bars were utterly inedible. Bland, tastesless, waxy and too sweet. The crisped rice became less rice shaped and more like little spheres. So I stopped buying those, too. The last time I had a proper Nestle Crunch was about two years ago when I was photographing a bunch of candy bars and I was so underwhelmed I didn’t even bother to finish the bar.

Old Crunch bar versus Now Even Richer Crunch BarThen in late 2005 or early 2006 the Krackel disappeared and besides the fringe budget candy companies or a sack of Hershey’s Miniatures, Nestle Crunch became the only crisped rice and chocolate combination bar. It is still in the top ten candy bar list, year after year, though it’s been consistently losing traction against the other top brands.

So I was quite happy to see that Nestle may have improved the bar, or perhaps just restored it to its former glory.

Since the new formula just came out, I was able to grab both the old and new versions for a head to head test.

Old Crunch bar versus Now Even Richer Crunch Bar

The bars look the same, the molding is identical, the ingredients are even identical.

2007 Crunch Bar WrapperThe Old Crunch bar is slightly darker. It smells like sweet cardboard.

It tastes sweet, but kind of empty. There’s no real chocolate punch, just a hint of it. The crisped rice is great. It’s well dispersed, crunchy and has a slight hint of salt. But it’s not enough to carry the bland chocolate or overcome the lack of creamy texture.

While the bar is attractive with the big words CRUNCH molded into it, I prefer the old bar which was segmented (and I believe slightly thicker to accomodate stacks of crunchies). This can still be simulated with the snack sized bars.

Now Even Richer Crunch Bar

This flipped over bar shows the size of the crunchies. (As a comparison, this bar shows what the old Krackel looked like.)

2008 Crunch Bar Wrapper (Now Even Richer!)The Even Richer bar is a bit lighter, kind of counter-intuitive when it comes to selling the whole “richer” thing, but I was actually pleased that something was perceptibly different.

It smells about the same, maybe a little maltier, but I had to allow for the fact that the new bar was, well, newer, so freshness could account for some of the differences.

The texture of the chocolate did actually seem creamier, not quite as sweet and just a bit more chocolatey.

Still, it’s not a great bar, it could be, but Nestle needs to use their premium chocolate that they’re so well known for in Europe to make it outstanding. It’s better but not enough to get me to start buying it, but I’ll certainly take it when offered.

Related Candies

  1. Nestle Crunch Cappuccino Stixx
  2. Nestle Crunch Crisp
  3. Endangered Species: Peanut Butter Brittle & Rice Crisp
  4. Malted Crisped Rice Squares
  5. Pocktacular
  6. Nestle Crunch with Peanuts
Name: Nestle Crunch
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: convenience store (Hollywood)
Price: $.85
Size: 1.55 ounces
Calories per ounce: 142
Categories: Chocolate, Cookie, United States, Nestle, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:30 am     Comments (20)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

M&Ms Premiums

M&Ms Premiums AssortmentWith a smidge of fanfare last month, M&Ms/Mars introduced their new M&Ms Premiums line. The inaugural product launch includes five flavor variations that are a delightful chocolate gem with a colorful outside and a rich scrumptious inside.

These are not to be confused with the Special Edition offerings M&Ms had last year which featured such combinations as Cherry Almondine, Vanilla Crisp, Orange Creme and a few others I can’t remember. Those sold for $6.00 in a bag that held less than 6 ounces. (That bag was also unremarkable, similar to packaging for the regular M&Ms.)

Instead the new Premiums have radically different packaging, jewel tone boxes and most of all, a new type of colored coating in iridescent and speckled shading.

M&Ms Premiums Packages

The packages are narrow and tall, with curved waists. They look rather modern, but more like they have some sort of grooming product in them or perhaps even feminine hygiene products. (All joking aside, it’s rather cute how the boxes have little feet at the back that keep them standing up.)

The flavor variety is at once classic and adventurous. They use white, milk and dark chocolate in the line, often in combination with a layered effect and the only nut present in their initial offerings is the almond.

Shell Comparison between regular M&Ms and M&Ms PremiumsBut the radical departure here for M&Ms is the loss of the crisp, candy shell. Instead these morsels have no sugar shell. They have a wash of mottled colors and then a confectionery glaze to seal it all in and give it a shine.

As comparison I picked up some regular M&Ms to contrast this. The standard Milk Chocolate M&M has a clearly delineated shell, created by coating the tumbling lentil several times with the sugar syrup which dries in layers and builds up the familiar crunch.

So what is this new covering? It can’t be described as a shell, instead it’s more like a skin. It’s made from colorings, a little dash of oil and confectionery glaze (which contains shellac, a natural product but probably not vegetarian) - so it’s rather like a coat of latex paint. It’s not exactly flavored, but dissolves quickly, but into rather unappealing waxy flakes.

The new Premiums are also bigger than regular M&Ms. If you’ve have the limited edition Mint Crisp or even the Razzberry or Wild Cherry, these are more that size. Fatter and slightly irregular.

Chocolate Almond M&Ms Premiums

Chocolate Almond M&Ms Premiums

This cobalt blue and dark blue speckled egg shaped candies are milk chocolate around an almond.

They’re really not that different from the M&Ms Almond or if the shell thing is a bother, then compare them to the Dove Chocolate Covered Almonds, because other than the coloring, that’s exactly what they are.

It’s milk chocolate and to be honest, I would have preferred dark, but I have to review what’s in front of me.

The almonds are rather puny, some are smaller than peanuts. But they’re fresh and the milk chocolate is sweet and consistent and the right proportion. I can do better for the price. (Trader Joe’s.)

Raspberry Almond M&Ms Premiums

Raspberry Almond M&Ms Premiums

If I was disappointed with the classic milk chocolate covered almond, I should have kept my mouth shut. Because the twist on that is the over-engineered and under-tasty combination of raspberry flavored white chocolate over almonds covered in dark chocolate.

They smell like lipgloss and look like fake fingernails.

The texture is quite smooth and creamy, the white and dark chocolate a velvety. The almonds are fresh and crunchy, but the raspberry flavor just goes and spoils it all. It’s that fragrant raspberry essence - all flash and no real depth. I had a bunch of these mixed together in a bowl and they just polluted all the other ones. (That’s a tip if you were planning on using these for an event ... do not mix the raspberry.)

Mocha M&Ms Premiums

Mocha M&Ms Premiums

This amber and bronze little beads are a milk chocolate base lightly flavored with coffee.

The milk chocolate is moderately smooth, a bit milky and tastes rather like a mocha with a light fudgy grain to it. They’re even slightly bitter.

I’ve always wanted coffee M&Ms. These are pretty good. Pretty pricey and probably much harder to find but a nice change of pace from plain chocolate.

Triple Chocolate M&Ms Premiums

Triple Chocolate M&Ms Premiums

This is where things get exciting for this new line.

The triple chocolate is not triple the size of the others, instead if offers the three different kinds of chocolate: milk, white an dark.

The dark outer layer is buttery smooth, only a slight bitter tinge. It’s pretty thin and gives way to the slightly salty and very sweet white coating. Then the center is the milk chocolate. Kind of typical milk, a little more on the dairy side that I recall regular M&Ms tasting.

I liked chewing them up, but they’re fun to let melt through the layers.

Mint Chocolate M&Ms Premiums

Mint Chocolate M&Ms Premiums

As a twist on the ordinary minted chocolate M&Ms that are available around the holidays, the Mint Chocolate Premiums have layers as well.

Here the center is white chocolate (and it’s real white chocolate with actual cocoa butter) and then a thinner dark chocolate coating, all in the crazy mottled green.

They’re fresh tasting, smooth and really enjoyable.

I have to say that after I got over the no-shell shock, I really liked the Mocha and Mint (and the Triple Chocolate were also nice). The pricing is far better than I expected for a product called Premiums. I picked up this set at Target for $3.99 per package. They’re six ounces inside a little reclosable cellophane pouch. They’re far less expensive than the 7 ounce packages of single color M&Ms that are sold on the M&Ms website for $7.99 a package.

These are likely to be popular with brides and other folks planning large parties. I can only hope that M&Ms will provide more efficient packaging for that purpose.

M&Ms are by no means the first to create this sort of product. Koppers Chocolates has been selling jewel-toned chocolate covered almonds (and these are huge almonds) for at least 18 months and little flavored unshelled chocolates called Savouries (I tried the cayenne one here) for years. Koppers has also been making Mocha Lentils & Mint Lentils at least since I was a kid. Madelaine’s Chocolate has also been marketing jewel looking Malted Milk Balls for a couple of years.

Related Candies

  1. Head to Head: M&Ms vs Koppers Milkies
  2. Naked Chocolate Maltballs
  3. York Mints
  4. Fairway NYC
  5. Head-to-Head: Smarties vs. M&Ms
Name: M&Ms Premiums
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Mars
Place Purchased: Target (Hollywood)
Price: $3.99
Size: 6 ounces
Calories per ounce: 162
Categories: Chocolate, White Chocolate, Nuts, Mint, Coffee, United States, Mars, M&Ms, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:58 am     Comments (40)

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Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.





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