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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    

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    

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    

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    

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    

Monday, June 23, 2008

Look! and Big Hunk

Look!I mention summer candy every now and then and this past weekend with sweltering June heat I figured it was time to start concentrating more on it.

Annabelle Candy makes a few good summer candy bars, ones that are exceptionally tolerant of the heat. The Abba Zaba is probably one of the best known, perhaps because of the name and whackable bar.

The Look! bar isn’t summer friendly, but the Big Hunk is. For a long time I though that the Look! bar as just a chocolate covered Big Hunk.

The Look! is a narrow and flat bar of rich chocolate covered nougat with peanuts and if that sounds like a Snickers without the caramel, it’s a bit more simple than that. Basically, as the package announces, it’s Chewy Good!.

It’s about 6 inches long but only a quarter of an inch high.

Look! I took a bite!

I’ve never had one of these. Though the appealing wrapper tells me to Look! and I do, I never buy.

And what a fool I’ve been! It’s everything I love about Bit-o-Honey plus real chocolate and even a hint of molasses.

The golden nougat center isn’t easy to bite, so I’ve found peeling back the wrapper and nibbling off a little bite is best (not as big a picture, please, spare yourself that drama of “will it pull out my teeth!”).

The dark, creamy and smokey chocolate melts quickly into a buttery chocolate mess just as the peanut molasses chew starts to warm and soften. As the chocolate taste drifts away the lightly salty, woodsy and nutty chew comes forward. It’s smooth and pliable, reminding me a bit of Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews (except for, you know, that real chocolate part).

The only thing I wish was that it was easier to eat. I need to find the snack size version.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Big HunkBig Hunk is exactly that. It’s 2 full ounces of chewy nougat studded with peanuts. This bar is about 7 inches long and about a third of an inch thick.

Unlike the Look! bar, Big Hunk contains no molasses.

Like the Look!, the Big Hunk were first made by another San Francisco-based-confectioner called Golden Nugget Candy Company. Annabelle Candy took them over in 1972 and helped to expand these regional bars to larger national prominence via placement at drug stores and discount retailers. I’ve found, though, that they’re easiest to find on the West Coast.

Big Hunk

I like to whack the bar to break it into pieces, though this isn’t always easy.

It’s studded with peanut & peanut pieces, the nougat itself is a bit lighter in color than the Look!, a bit on the yellow side, I’m guessing from the peanuts. It’s easy to bend, or if you bend it very quickly it also breaks. The wrapper also suggests microwaving for 5 to 10 seconds to make it super soft, but I don’t believe that candy should ever require preparation ... that’s veering into recipe territory. However, leaving on the dashboard of the car in the summertime can have the same result. It can actually become rather stringy this way, depending on how long you leave it in there and how hot it is.

It softens up quickly in the mouth, even at room temperature. It’s smooth and has a light honey flavor but mostly it tastes like dark roasted peanuts. It has far more flavor than the Abba Zaba and is a winner in my book. Besides chewing, you can suck on it to disslove it. It reminds me of Cap’n Crunch cereal milk - sweet, a little hint of malt perhaps and of course a creamy background.

I’m not as fond of it as the Look!, but it’s still very appealing and as mentioned earlier, this is an ideal summer treat. No melting but still a satisfying creamy experience along with the little boost of protein from the peanuts (3 grams). It’s also promoted as a low fat bar, and the fat that’s in there comes from the peanuts ... but that also means that it’s full of carbs ... which, you know, makes it pretty darn appealing in my book.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

Related Candies

  1. Tootsie Rolls & Fruit Rolls
  2. Mary Jane Peanut Butter Kisses
  3. Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews
  4. Annabelle’s U-No
  5. Rocky Road
Name: Look! & Big Hunk
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Annabelle Candy Company
Place Purchased: Rite Aid (Glendale)
Price: $.75
Size: 1.5 ounces & 2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 153 & 115
Categories: Chocolate, Chew, Peanut, United States, Annabelle Candy, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:30 am    

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Twizzlers Chocolate Twists

Chocolate TwizzlersNow that I’ve covered the classic Twizzlers, the newish Rainbow Twizzlers and the fantastically hot Pull & Peel Cinnamon Fire Twizzlers, I thought I’d go off the beaten track and try the Twizzlers Chocolate Twists.

The package is actually pretty, a maroon colored background with a big window to peek in at the shiny brown ropes. A little logo splash advertises that they’re made with REAL Hershey’s Chocolate. Turning over the package, the ingredients do list both chocolate and two different kinds of cocoa.

I admit going into this that I have my doubts about how good these could possibly be.

Chocolate Twizzlers

They’re attractive. They’re also soft (and don’t get as stale as the regular Twizzlers when you leave the bag open next to a fan for several days as I did in the Candy Blog Labs over the weekend).

Instead of having pinched ends like Twizzlers, these are open ... perhaps with the addition of chocolate they’re not as pinchable?

They’re a much softer chew, less like a plastic dough than Twizzlers. More like a brownie batter.

But the chocolate flavor is watery, lacks any creamy component to buoy the fakeness of it.

The only thing these are good for ... actually they’re fantastic for ... is as straws. Chocolate milk, plain milk ... even soy milk! They don’t have the crimps in the end, so they’re ready to use, right out of the bag. They do get a little soggy if you leave them in the drink, but a little nibble off the end and you’re ready to go. (I tried them with coffee, actually, not as good.)

Think of the environment benefits! No more plastic drinking straws ... instead these are edible and probably biodegradable. (Though a lot more expensive, there were 14 straws in this package for $1.25 and $1.25 would probably get you a bag of 50-100 straws.)

So there you go, good for decorating (try clipping them with scissors to make little “cogs” to decorate cupcakes or maybe a really chocolatey cupcake basket.)

Related Candies

  1. Twizzlers Chocolate Twists
  2. Black Licorice Twists & Snaps
  3. Whoppers Milkshake Strawberry
  4. Kenny’s Licorice Pastels & Root Beer Twists
  5. Tootsie Rolls & Fruit Rolls
  6. Twerpz
Name: Twizzlers Chocolate Twists
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Y&S Licorice (Hershey's)
Place Purchased: KMart (Park LaBrea)
Price: $1.25
Size: 5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 97
Categories: Chew, United States, Hershey, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:18 am    

Friday, June 13, 2008

Twizzlers (Strawberry)

Twizzler StrawberryIn the great lists of invented candy names, Twizzler has to be right up there at the top. Just look at them, they look like they’re twizzle.

It also fits because they really aren’t any other sort of candy. They’re not a chew like a taffy. They’re not chocolate. They’re not compressed dextrose. They’re not toffee, not caramel ... not marshmallow nor nougat. In fact, the only thing that adequately describes them is “Red Licorice” and even that’s confusing (especially when you get into flavors that aren’t red). While I’ve debated what to categorize these as before, I can only call them a wheat based chew. (Which sounds less than appealing.) Both Twizzler & Red Vines identify themselves as twists.


Twizzler Strawberry Twists are attractive little ropes. They’re insanely glossy and firm, but these were definitely fresh.

The bite is short, and when I say that it means that when you chew it up, it comes apart quite easily. So instead of becoming one chewy mass in the mouth, these become some sort of amalgam of smaller crumbles. (This is similar to how some caramels are dry, almost like a fudge and others are stringy and chewy like a taffy.)

The taste is sweet and mild, with more of the scent of strawberry jam than the taste of it. There’s no tang to it, it’s all mellow and sweet, kind of like a strawberry flavored pound cake.

I find them appealing, but not enough to eat them if they weren’t in front of me. I’ve had them in the candy cupboard since late March when I picked them up on sale at KMart. I think part of it is that red wheat based chews are simply not my thing. They’re a good thing, just not a good fit for me.

They’re a great candy option especially for mindless eating during the summer at the movies. Because they’re wheat based they’re rather low in calories. They do have a pinch of fat in there (1 gram per serving), which I’m guessing is to keep them supple. There are about 38 calories per twizzle.

Red Vines vs TwizzlerThere are a lot of folks who compare Twizzler and Red Vines. What I found a little surprising when I first started investigating the difference between the two earlier this year was that Red Vines are a raspberry flavor. Twizzler are strawberry. So they’re not really a one to one comparison. However, Red Vines does make a Pink Strawberry version, so I thought that would be an ideal place to start for a head-to-head.

Twizzler were introduced (I believe in the licorice variety) in 1929 though Y&S (Young & Smylie Licorice) was founded way back in 1845 in Lancaster, PA. The Hershey Company bought Y&S in 1977. Red Vines originated in 1920 (though the Strawberry variety came along much later), they’re made by the American Licorice Company then based in Chicago, IL (now in California & Oregon). So they have a concurrent regional evolution but are now on opposite sides of the continent.

The first difference is the color, obviously. The Twizzler are a deep and opaque red. The Red Vines are a strange pink that’s vaguely translucent.

Pink Strawberry Red VinesRed Vines Pink Strawberry smell like cotton candy, sweet and fresh, a little floral. Twizzler smell like strawberry jam, still sweet but more like preserves and perhaps boiled fruit.

And once you bite a Red Vine the difference becomes quite clear. Red Vines Pink Strawberry are tart. Not tingly tangy, just lightly sour (citric acid is listed on the ingredients, which does not appear on Twizzler).

The texture of Red Vines is more chewy than a Twizzler, a little more like dense dough and it holds together. It also sticks to the teeth.

So when it gets right down to it, they are different. Actually different enough that there’s no need to compare them (the old apples and oranges). Just try them both, eat whichever you have a preference for, though it’s entirely possible to like both.

Twizzler are Kosher and if you find the Canadian version, they’re nut free. The American package doesn’t have an allergen notice about tree nuts, peanuts or milk but does contain soy and wheat. They may also be suitable for vegans.

Related Candies

  1. Black Licorice Twists & Snaps
  2. Whoppers Milkshake Strawberry
  3. Kenny’s Licorice Pastels & Root Beer Twists
  4. Twizzlers Rainbow Twists
  5. Twerpz
Name: Strawberry Twizzlers
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Y&S Candies (Hershey's)
Place Purchased: KMart (Park LaBrea)
Price: $1.25
Size: 16 ounces
Calories per ounce: 94
Categories: Chew, United States, Hershey, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:49 am    

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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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