Monday, July 13, 2009
The simple bar features Fudge with peanut butter nougat & peanuts wrapped in milk chocolate. Like most other limited edition bars, it’s smaller than the standard, this one is the smallest yet at 1.78 ounces.
While the bar may feel a little light, it’s pretty dense and the textures consistent throughout.
I’ve often felt like the Snickers/Milky Way/3 Musketeers nougat is more like a fluffy fudge than a nougat anyway, so this seemed like a stack of dense fudge on top of a layer of light fluffed fudge.
The peanut butter nougat layer has a light creamy color with a distinct salty hit and peanutty flavor. The peanuts studded in the fudge are distinct, a little on the soft side but crunchy and tasty.
The fudge itself has a slight but consistent grain to it, a nice chocolatey flavor and good salty/sweet balance.
The creamy chocolate coating brings it all together.
I missed the chewy caramel, but give this one its due because it is rather different from other existing bars. The salt keeps it from being cloyingly sweet like a Milky Way. Also, I noticed as I was trying to do my bites & slices that there were quite a few voids in there around the nuts. I can’t tell if this is normal or if mine was just an anomaly.
It’s quite a satisfying bar and I can see it being a big success all on its own.
Clocking in at 250 calories, honestly it doesn’t need to be bigger. (Regular bars are 2.07 ounces and 280 calories.)
This bar is supposed to be on shelves in August, but that’s what they said about the Coconut M&Ms which are actually out, so look sharp they may already be available. I’m planning to try another one when I find them.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
While wandering around Mel & Rose’s wide selection of imported mass-produced candies I finally found Galaxy Minstrels in single sized packs.
The package seemed light and didn’t seem to have a lot of candy in it, but I’m always game for something new to me.
Galaxy is a chocolate brand made by Mars and sold in the UK and selected parts of Europe (if the languages on the back of the package were any evidence, I’d say Greece/Cyprus and Spain). Though many folks consider Dove to be the American equivalent of Galaxy, there are a few subtle differences. (My previous Galaxy review.)
Minstrels are big, about .75 inches in diameter. They’re like giant M&Ms but the proportions are more like Nestle Smarties - a bit flatter.
All of the candies are dark brown ... no color varieties here. These are serious candies, somber and easy to pick up.
The flavor is like chocolate milk, slightly weak but sweet & rich chocolate milk. It’s not strongly chocolate ... it doesn’t even have a distinct cocoa flavor, it’s more about milk. The crunch of the shell is good - crispy and without any additional flavors (like I experience with Smarties, which have a bit of a Cheerios flavor).
They’re completely different from M&Ms as far as I’m concerned, they’re more like white chocolate than milk chocolate. Looking at the ingredients list I can see that they’re not even qualified to be called chocolate in the United States, which has more stringent standards than the UK, which allows vegetable fat and whey - though it still has a strong proportion of cocoa butter as it is the second ingredient. (I’m lumping this in both the mockolate and chocolate categories.)
They’re really nice, I had two packages and ate both. There’s a slight malty tone to it, it’s milky without being sticky sweet like Cadbury and of course the bold disks make them fun to play with. If these were widely available, I’d certainly pick them up regularly, especially to pair with pretzels, Sugar Babies and almonds for a summer trail snack.
Friday, July 03, 2009
When I reviewed the upcoming Hershey’s Special Dark Pieces, I didn’t realize how crowded the field of dark chocolate lentils was getting.
Mars has expanded their line of M&Ms Premiums (which is barely a year old) with a new variety: M&Ms Premium Dark Chocolate.
The package calls them deeply decadent, rich and intense dark chocolate. They do look deep and dark, the package is a stirring red and brown affair that really jumped off the shelf at me at Target last week.
Like many mass-marketed dark chocolates these days the semi-sweet chocolate is more than cocoa beans, sugar, emulsifiers and vanilla. Inside these little morsels are three different kinds of dairy: milkfat, skim milk and lactose.
The deep maroon/purple metallic coating looks like food (the blue almond ones don’t actually look like something you’re supposed to eat, they look like fingernail polish).
As a solid chocolate piece, they’re not terribly large like some of the other layered versions, most are about the same size as the Peanut Butter M&Ms.
The scent is a soft cocoa, sweet and woodsy. It’s a mellow chocolate with a decent soft melt, but a not-quite-smooth texture. It’s a little chalky and has a bit of a dry aftertaste. They’re pleasant and certainly attractive but don’t quite hit me with a strong premium taste or texture. (This is the hazard of eating stuff like this after an Amano bar and an Askinosie.)
They don’t taste that different from the Dark Chocolate M&Ms either, they just lack that crunchy shell, so they’re a bit less sweet. (There’s also salt in there.)
They’re a great candy to chose for aesthetics over taste, but I admit that the field of good chocolate in lentil form is pretty narrow. (If you’re really looking for great little morsels, go for the Valrhona, they’re not little tiny pieces but they are awesome.)
Friday, June 19, 2009
If there’s one thing I think that’s might pull our government out of the red, it might Mars excessive registration of trademarks for their limited edition & marketing tie in candies.
For the new Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen movie this summer, Mars has created a line of collectible M&Ms packages that feature different characters from the Transformers pantheon plus M&Ms in Transformers-styled outfits.
The seven packages:
(Yeah, I’m missing some package images, but that’s all that came with the press kit Mars gave me ... how odd.)
What I think is most interesting about this is that the package is the only thing that’s different (besides, of course the Strawberried Peanut Butter M&Ms). Open up the packet of the M&Ms (mine was Bumblebee 2 of 7) and there’s no fun new design of the M imprint with a twist on the Transformers like they did with Pirates of the Caribbean Pirate Pearls, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull and Shrek II (basically Mega M&Ms). The Star Wars ones, though introducing Dark Chocolate M&Ms, did not have fancy imprints.
What is good news is that the packages are no smaller. With many of the limited editions what you get in addition to “specialness” is less. The Milk Chocolate Chocl-O-Bots packages have the same 1.69 ounces as the standard Milk Chocolate M&Ms.
The only truly transformed product for the movie tie-in is the Snickers Nougabot (tm). Due to physical laws of the conservation of matter, the energy required for the transformations, the bar is smaller than an unTransformerized one. *
This isn’t the first time Mars has mucked with the nougat for a movie. Back in 2007 they turned it green for Shrek but left it the same size, because really, how could a Shrek-ified candy be smaller? The traditional bar is 2.07 ounces and the Nougabot is 1.83 ounces.
The difference, otherwise, is really just the addition of Yellow #5. Considering how much some parents hate Yellow #5 (hint: enough to get it banned in Europe), it’s hard to understand why a candy which was formerly artificial coloring free would add it. Further, the Snickers website doesn’t list the Yellow 5 on the page for the Nougabot bar (sorry, can’t link directly to the page because of stupid flash & beware of annoying sounds).
So how does it taste? About the same. The flavor seemed a little “darker” but I don’t know if that was the caramel batch ... sometimes even big factory candies like Snickers can vary from day to day.
The only thing I liked about it is the same thing that I prefer about the Snickers Dark, that there’s one less bite in it. Because honestly I think that 1.83 ounces is the perfect size for a Snickers bar.
* My theory of this kind of violates the whole world of Transformers and many other fantasy, action & sci-fi movies where small things turn into big things without the perceivable addition of extreme amounts of energy. Anyway, in order to turn back and forth without loss of mass, you’d need lots of energy to turn into matter ... conversely to shrink you’d need to have a way to store a huge reservoir of energy (if you wanted to grow again) or release it. I’ve always wondered if Alice became super-dense when she shrank and puffy, aerated & light when she grew.
Friday, June 05, 2009
It seemed odd to me that Dove never had any peanut butter items in their line. While most of us probably think that Reese’s has the corner on peanut butter, Mars has been doing a pretty good job with peanut confections with Snickers, Peanut M&Ms and PB Twix.
The new Dove Peanut Butter Silky Smooth Milk Chocolate comes in both in the form of a single-serving bar and the foil wrapped Promises. I found the bar at 7-11 but the Promises were sent to me by Mars.
The bar, like all Dove single serve bars, is rather small. It looks like a series of conjoined Dove Promises. Inside each little domed piece is a bit of peanut butter filling.
The Promises are wrapped in orange foil (the universal color for peanut butter).
The silky & sweet milk chocolate stands up well flavor-wise to the peanut butter filling. The filling is a smooth peanut butter paste that’s both sweet and salty. Both of those qualities overshadow the peanut butter flavors, which exhibit a nice even roasting but a bit of blandness.
The bar seems to have less peanut butter filling, for some reason, than the Promises, so overall I preferred them. (I also like foil wrapped things.)
Because they were introduced at virtually the same time, I had to do a little comparison between the Dove Peanut Butter Promises and the Reese’s Select Cremes.
The Reese’s Cremes are a bit bigger (same footprint but taller). The ingredients are similar (especially use of salt, partially hydrogenated palm oil & TBHQ) ... but surprisingly Dove uses PGPR in their chocolate while the Reese’s Cremes don’t plus use real vanilla instead of artificial flavorings.
The centers are different - the Reese’s Cremes are whipped-smooth but shockingly salty and of course the larger reservoir of filling makes it more of a counterpoint to the chocolate. The Dove Promises are more of an even ratio of chocolate & filling, but a similarly salty center.
I don’t think either quite rise to the level of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Miniatures (when fresh) but the Dove Promises are quite elegant and definitely an item to satisfy folks who like both milk chocolate and peanut butter. However, since I had both a bag of the Reese’s Cremes and a dozen of the Dove Peanut Butter Promises sitting around as a test, the Reese’s Cremes disappeared first.
Monday, June 01, 2009
The cream colored packet holds 1.5 ounces of green, white and brown milk chocolate morsels flavored with coconut.
As with most limited editions, the package is a bit slighter than the regular products. This one clocks in at 1.5 ounces instead of the normal 1.69 in a Milk Chocolate M&Ms pack.
The package is cute and playful, featuring Ms. Green reclining in the sand, leaning against a coconut filled with coconut M&Ms. In the background the Yellow Peanut M&M is falling out of a coconut palm laden with more coconuts.
The contents smell much like most M&Ms, sweet and slightly woodsy but only the slightest whiff of coconut.
The individual lentils are a bit puffier than regular M&Ms, though not as big as the Peanut Butter variety.
Inside they’re just milk chocolate but with an added touch of coconut flavoring (but no actual coconut to be found in the ingredients).
The chocolate is fudgy, the flavor is a little salty and tropical but with a strange yogurty tang (kind of like Hershey’s) ... the crunch of the shell is crisp.
On the whole, it’s a nice change-up, very appealing. It’s not something that I think deserves to be made part of the regular repertoire. But see the review on Hershey’s Almond Joy Pieces.
UPDATE 9/29/2009: Mars has announced that M&MS Coconut will become part of their permanent line of candies. You can expect them in stores starting in December 2009.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Mars has recently become one of the kings of limited editions. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not innovating new candies, too. On Tuesday at All Candy Expo they held a press conference and announced their slate of new products and releases.
Name: M&Ms Premiums Chocolate Candies
Notes: I mentioned these yesterday and already have a sample in hand of the Triple Chocolate variety. However, I’ve not tried nor seen the Dark Chocolate version before. I’m wondering if they’ll be like Dark Chocolate M&Ms or more like Dove dark chocolate. The retail price will be $1.29 for a 1.2 ounce box. The press release says they’ll be on shelves this spring. Anyone spotted them in the wild?
Name: Snickers Transformers
Notes: This is pretty much the same as the Shrek Snickers which had a green nougat. I didn’t care for how I though the food coloring changed the flavor of the bar. On another note, Nougatbot is a trademarked name for Mars.
Name: Limited Edition Snickers Fudge
Retail customers who join the fudge craze will be a part of a $215 million growing fudge market (according to 2007 Mars Sensory RGT Research). Consumers are sure to love the combination of their favorite SNICKERS(r) brand and the nostalgic taste of rich fudge.
Notes: They should be hitting the shelves in August. I have a sample (though it’s kind of smashed) and will post a review closer to the release date.
UPDATE: Review of Snickers Fudge bar is here.
Name: Limited Edition Coconut M&Ms
Notes: On the list of M&Ms flavor variations they should come out with, this wasn’t even on my radar. Not that I’m not happy to hear it. I have a sample and will post about them soon. Early thoughts are that they’re not bad, but I think they might have been better in dark chocolate. They should be hitting the shelves in August.
UPDATE: Review of Coconut M&Ms is here.
Other new products announced I’ve covered previously. They include: Dove Silky Smooth Milk Chocolate with Peanut Butter, Fling Chocolate Fingers, M&Ms Strawberried Peanut Butter Chocolate Candies, M&Ms Disney Memorable Moments.
Then there’s the Real Chocolate Relief Act ... I haven’t blogged about it and I probably won’t do anything beyond this mention of it. Basically, you can go to their website on Fridays until 9/25/09. They’re giving away a quarter of a million coupons for a free candy bar each week. It seems like a lot of work for 75 cents that you don’t get it for 6 weeks. I can’t decide what they can or will do with your info besides get an awesome cross section of the American population and who will fill out a form for less than a dollar. If that’s not a demonstration of America’s capability to delay gratification, I don’t know what is. (Kind of makes you think we’re gonna be okay.)
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
For the past few years M&Ms has linked up with blockbuster movies to make Limited Edition M&Ms. Shrek (Mega M&Ms), Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull (Mint Crisp M&Ms), Pirates of the Caribbean (White Chocolate M&Ms) and Star Wars (Dark Chocolate M&Ms). This summer is no different with the release of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
To tie into the movie about aliens that are two kinds of robots in one (more than meets the eye) Mars is introducing Limited Edition Strawberried Peanut Butter M&Ms.
Not only are the candies inside of the “you’ve never tasted this before” variety, they’ve also made seven different versions of the wrapper. Pictured above is The Twins - Pack 7 of 7.
What is a strawberried peanut butter M&M?
They’re pretty much the same as the regular Peanut Butter M&Ms: a peanut butter center covered in milk chocolate and a hard candy shell ... except here the milk chocolate is strawberry flavored.
I admit at first I squintched up my nose at the idea. Then I thought about PB&J (which is ideal with concord grape and white bread on one side, but also fabulous with sunflower wheat bread and raspberry jam) and it kind of made sense.
The colors are red, brown and yellow.
There were no clever motifs on the printing, just the regular M imprint. Except the yellow ones had some red splatter on them (I’m guessing that’s red transformer motor oil).
The strawberry flavor is just that, a flavoring applied on top of the inherent flavors in the peanut butter and the chocolate. The chocolate flavor is pretty much overwhelmed by the floral and sweet berry essences. The peanut butter grounds it pretty well, it’s mostly smooth, rather soft and has a good salty pop towards the end.
They’re not my favorite M&Ms ever, but I had no problem eating the whole bag. They feel about as relevant to the movie as last year’s mint crisp was to Indiana Jones.
I’ll leave you with a photo of the Bumblebee Transformer. Because I had it (hey, I work in Hollywood, I see a lotta stuff):
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