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Mars

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Limited Edition Strawberried Peanut Butter M&Ms

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.

M&Ms Strawberried Peanut Butter

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.

M&Ms Strawberried Peanut Butter

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):

DSC02405

Related Candies

  1. Mint Chocolate M&Ms
  2. M&Ms Razzberry - Limited Edition
  3. Head to Head: M&Ms vs Koppers Milkies
  4. 3 Musketeers Mini Mix
  5. M&M and Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Eggs
  6. Sandy Candy
Name: Limited Edition Strawberried Peanut Butter M&Ms
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Mars
Place Purchased: 7-11 (Vermonica)
Price: $1.09
Size: 1.4 ounces
Calories per ounce: 164
Categories: Chocolate, Peanuts, United States, Mars, Kosher, M&Ms, Limited Edition

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:32 am     Comments (56)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Starburst Sour Gummibursts

Seems like sticking goo inside classic candy categories is the confectionery trend for the late aughts.

Starburst Sour GummiBursts

Mars introduced the Starburst Gummibursts in early 2008, which were pretty much just a Starburst branded version of Fruit Gushers (which isn’t called a candy because it’s not sold in the candy aisle, it’s a “fruit snack” but has virtually identical ingredients).

Starburst has now expanded the new product line to include Starburst Sour Gummibursts.

The original tart but not sour came in strawberry, lemon, orange and cherry. This new assortment comes in Strawberry, Watermelon, Green Apple and Orange Tangerine.

Starburst Sour GummiBurstsThe little disc shaped candies are similar to the original. They’re three quarters of an inch across, soft and have a raised S on the top.

Unlike the originals these are covered in a granulated sour powder. They also seem a bit softer.  Unlike packs of Starburst chews which have a regular proportion of each flavor, Gummiburst are random. And by random I mean that the luck of the universe means that whatever flavor is your favorite will be shorted in your packages. I’ve opened four packages and only one had Orange Tangerine in them. The one for this review broke down like this: 4 Strawberry, 5 Green Apple and 1 Watermelon. 

Pink = Watermelon: I don’t like eating unripe melon and usually shy away from the stuff that’s really close to the rind. So sour watermelon isn’t exactly one of my top sour flavors. This had a wonderful sweet aroma, like summer picnics & lip balm. The chew on it was nice but it was absolutely sour which overpowered most of the watermelon-ness at that point. (Though this depended on how much goo was in the centers - the center goo is flavored but all sweetness.)

Red = Strawberry : this also had a nice floral scent, so I had no trouble telling it from the rather similar looking watermelon. The flavor is stronger than the watermelon but still just as tangy. Very sweet center.

Green = Green Apple: this is definitely a winner on the sour apple front. The flavor is artificial but with a nice dash of real apple juice notes. The juicy center provides a bit of relief from the tartness.

Orange = Orange Tangerine: I didn’t get to eat many of these, but they smelled divine, had a great mix of tartness, super-sour and zest. Juicy & lip smacking good. The center was especially deep in its variety of flavor notes.

Some liquid filled candy can go wrong inside the package. There are plenty that I’ve had recently that have at least one leaky or exploded candy, which gets the rest of them moist & sticky. These all seemed in great condition.

Unlike the regular Starburst Chews, these have no additional Vitamin C. They are pretty low in calories though (as are all gummi products). The little 1.5 ounce package only has 130 calories. Since they’re packed with so much flavor and the pieces are pretty meaty, they might be a good candy option for someone watching calories. (They’re also gluten free but not vegetarian because of the presence of gelatin.)

Related Candies

  1. Starburst Sour & Sweet
  2. Trader Joe’s Gummy Tummies
  3. Lemonhead Fruit Snacks
  4. Tootsie Pop Drops
  5. Starburst
Name: Starburst Sour GummiBursts
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Mars
Place Purchased: samples from CandyWarehouse.com
Price: $.75 retail
Size: 1.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 86
Categories: Gummi, Sour, United States, Mars

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:01 am     Comments (9)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

M&Ms Memorable Moments (Disney)

For something as simple as a candy coated chocolate lentil, there sure is a wide variety of M&Ms products.

IT'SUGAR M&Ms

(IT’S SUGAR M&M wall at Universal City Walk)

This isn’t so much a review as a rundown of the products.

For the most part we buy M&Ms in single serve packages that hold an ounce or two of five different colors. Currently they come in Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Peanut, Dark Chocolate with Peanuts, Peanut Butter and Almond. (Then there are various limited editions like the upcoming Transformers: Strawberried Peanut Butter, last year’s Crispy Mint for Indiana Jones, Wild Cherry or Razzberry and the seasonal varieties like Milk Chocolate Mint and holiday color versions.)

M&Ms Memorable MomentsThen M&Ms introduced Colorworks: the ability to buy individually colored or themed color mixes (circa 1996). Later they added in customized printing (2004). After that they allowed customers to not only add logos but now you can get your own picture on M&Ms.

Most recently M&Ms introduced their themed MyMMs.com tie-ins with Disney. These are called M&Ms Memorable Moments. (I got this bag as a sample from Mars’ PR folks.)

The theme on this assortment is Fairies. There are four colors & five imprints: Tinkerbell, Jasmine, Belle, “Believe in Magic!” and the M.

The candy itself isn’t very different (except for those of us who can taste artificial colors). I was a bit disappointed that there weren’t more images ... and the choice of the gals.

M&Ms Memorable Moments

The colors are dark pink, green, yellow and teal. The printing was a little sloppy. The photo is of the best in the package, some were mottled with little splotches, that are all too familiar to me as a lefty. (The classic M&Ms are all imprinted in a creamy grey, not black.)

The other Disney assortments are:

  • Princess: Cinderella, Ariel & Sleeping Beauty with “Happily Ever After!”
  • Cars: ‘Mater, Lightning McQueen, Cars Logo, “Get in Gear!”
  • Toy Story: Buzz Lightyear, Green Alien, Woody and “Friends Forever”
  • Mickey Mouse: Mickey Head, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and “M-I-C ... You Know the Rest”
  • Winnie the Pooh: Eeyore, Tigger, Pooh and “Winnie the Pooh”
  • High School Musical: Wildcat, School Bullhorn, “Dive In’ and “High School Musical”
  • Princess Wedding: Dancing Cinderella, Heart & Silhouette, Wedding Bells and “Dreams Do Come True”
  • Disney Baby: Baby Minnie Sitting, Baby Minnie Crawling, Baby Mickey Sitting, Baby Mickey Playing
  • The Disney themed are $12.99 for a 7 ounce bag and you have to buy at least 3. That’s over $29 per pound ... before you add the shipping. That’s some seriously pricey stuff - maybe dilute them with the plain colored ones ($6.99 for 7 ounces) to make the themed ones a little more precious.

    Over the past few years I’ve been to a few parties & celebrations and have picked up some other customized M&Ms. Some were just text and some had logos on them.

    image

    Ordering from M&Ms there are a few options for pre-packaged favors. They can put them in little tins, clear boxes or tiny bags or you can just buy in large bags and put them in a buffet or bundle them up yourself.

    Beyond the color mixes & pre-made icons, customized M&Ms are big. They’re a popular wedding and celebration item and of course the crazy internet kids like to go to mymms.com to probe the content filter of what they can put on their candies that won’t be censored.

    Personally, I prefer a personalized container over the actual edible. After all, you want me to eat it.

    On the whole, the Memorable Moments are passably unique and cute, but I think they’re really only for diehard fans of those characters. They’re extremely expensive for the actual product ... somehow I think just a properly themed box or other container would be a better deal.

    If you have money to freely convert into perishable candy coated chocolate, well, this is pretty inventive.

    Related Candies

    1. Mint Chocolate M&Ms
    2. M&Ms Premiums
    3. Head to Head: M&Ms vs Koppers Milkies
    4. Disney Branded Chocolate Candies
    5. Disneyland Candy Novelties
    6. Disneyland Candy Palace - Candy Case Chocolates
    7. M&Ms Line

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 5:10 pm     CandyReviewMarsChocolateKosherM&Ms7-Worth ItUnited StatesComments (6)

    Wednesday, April 22, 2009

    Seeds of Change: Dark Chocolate with Mango and Cashew

    Seeds of Change 61% Dark with Mango and CashewsLong before Hershey’s got into the organic chocolate act by buying Dagoba in 2006, Mars bought a small organic & heritage seed company called Seeds of Change in 1999. Since then, Seeds of Change also became an organic food company (sauces, grains & frozen meals) and launched a line of organic chocolate bars.

    Seeds of Change is dedicated to preserving food diversity and promoting organic growing techniques and food worldwide, and cacao is definitely one of those plants that needs that sort of nurturing. In addition to using organic ingredients they also donate 1% of their net sales to advance the cause of sustainable organic agriculture worldwide. I tried their bar called Isle of Skye last year, which I thought was an excellent and noteworthy crisped grain in milk chocolate bar.

    Seeds of Change 61% Dark with Mango and CashewsThis year, while browsing ExpoWest, a natural & organic products trade show in Anaheim, I found out that Seeds of Change has shifted their product line. They changed the names of their bars, dropped a few of them and added some more classic versions (a plain dark chocolate bar, for instance) and also redesigned all their packages. (I did love their previous wrapper images.)

    I was excited to see the new package, which is a wallet style paperboard package with three individually wrapped bars inside. Perfect for portion control, great for keeping all pieces fresh and excellent for sharing. The three bars in a reclosable package may look familiar ... Dove introduced it last year.

    The Seeds of Change version has little plastic wrapped bars instead of foil.

    I picked their 61% Dark Chocolate with Mango and Cashew as the intro to this new look & product line.

    Seeds of Change 61% Dark with Mango and Cashews

    The little bars are nicely molded, shiny and with a crisp snap. They’re scored into four pieces - the whole bar weighs only an ounce.

    I like the thickness of it, as it allows a nice bite and a slow melt of the bar.

    The dark chocolate is smooth and silky, it has a quick melt and a lot of cocoa butter feel on the tongue. Unfortunately it’s not a vegan bar, there’s milkfat in there.

    The flavors are pretty simple. It’s rich coffee & woodsy flavored chocolate, a little bit of dark charcoal and then some grassy notes of the cashew pieces. The little dried mango bits are a little fibery but pack a powerful punch of tangy chew - kind of orangy-citrus with a hint of peach and green tea.

    The little inclusions are rather small. The cashew pieces weren’t big enough to be crunchy, which is too bad, because I think the buttery crunch of cashews would really bolster this bar.

    As it is, the shining star here is the chocolate followed by the mango notes. Aa good, fun taste combination.

    The complete list of products in their line is now: Milk Chocolate (43%), Milk Chocolate with Puffed Grains (formerly Isle of Skye), 61% Dark Chocolate, Dark Chocolate with Cherries & Vanilla, Dark Chocolate with Coconut. It’s an interesting array because besides the plain chocolate, the flavors are different from the usual offerings when standing in the chocolate bar aisle. I’ve seen Seeds of Change at drug stores (Long’s Drugs in California). Oddly enough, Seeds of Change also just sent me some of the other new bars, so I’ll have reviews of those soon, too.

    In recognition of Earth Day, Seeds of Change is running a contest (deadline July 21, 2009) - submit you video, photo or essay to tell the world what you’re doing to make a difference.

    The Grand Prize winner will receive 365 days of Seeds of Change(r) Organic Chocolate, plus a variety of our other Seeds of Change Organic products. The runner-up will receive a sampling of Seeds of Change Organic Chocolate and our other Seeds of Change Organic products.

    I buy their sauces and think they’re very tasty and usually well priced for organic products.

    Related Candies

    1. Chocolate Dipped Altoids - Creme de Menthe
    2. Organic Zootons
    3. 3400 Phinney: Fig, Fennel & Almond and Hazelnut Crunch
    4. Zotter Candy Bars
    5. Terra Nostra Pocket Bars
    6. Green & Black’s Ginger Chocolate
    7. Dagoba Hazelnut
    Name: 61% Dark Chocolate with Mango & Cashew
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Seeds of Change (Mars)
    Place Purchased: sample from ExpoWest
    Price: retail $3.50 a bar
    Size: 2.99 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 140
    Categories: Chocolate, Nuts, United States, Mars, Kosher, Organic, All Natural

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:01 am     Comments (5)

    Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    Triple Chocolate Twixels

    Twixels Triple ChocolateAt Target over the weekend I stumbled across these. They’re called Twixels and come in three flavor varieties: Triple Chocolate, French Vanilla and Creamy Caramel.

    I’ve never seen them before, so I’ve done a little poking around.These were introduced in 2001 or so in Europe. The package says that these were manufactured in Russia ... I’m hoping that’s a temporary thing until Twixels either succeed or fail in the US (as Mars has pledged to support the communities where they make their candy in the United States - Twix are made in Cleveland, Tennessee).

    Twix Triple ChocolateI picked out the Triple Chocolate variety which was described as Dark Chocolate with Chocolate flavored Caramel & Chocolate Cookie. This sounds like the limited edition Twix Triple Chocolate from late 2006/early 2007. 

    The box is pretty ordinary but has a funky parallelogram shape - bigger on the top than the bottom. The tray inside protects the contents well, after all, they’re coming all the way from Russia. The tray has three discrete sections, but the plastic film seal over the top covers the whole thing, so no way to just open one little bit and save the rest of later.

    Twixels Triple Chocolate

    Inside are basically mini Twix bars. They’re three inches long and have a similar ripple to the chocolate as in the large Twix.

    The little sticks have a crisp bite, the cookie is very firm but not terribly flavorful. The chocolate enrobing says it’s “sweet chocolate” and though it has no milk in it, it does have milkfat. It’s very sweet, but rather rich as well and gives me a satisfying “Dove Chocolate” feeling. The caramel is just a tiny strip on the top of the cookie, so it’s hard to get much chew out of it. It doesn’t have the wonderful pull like the large sized Twix does, but here it gives just a bit of texture.

    Overall, I can’t say I liked them any more than any other Twix product (except for the Limited Edition Java Twix).

    They’re easy to eat and a nice size for controlled portion snacking. The box recommends four sticks as a serving which is 140 calories (35 calories per stick). Four sticks actually feels like a lot, so for those trying to have a small and satisfying indulgence, these may be a good trick. (Or just eat one Twix out of the pack.)

    I paid $2.99 for 4.4 ounces of slenderized Twix bars ... too much for me. Think about it, a regular Twix is 2 ounces and costs less than a dollar. The only reason to buy these is if you actually prefer this flavor profile to the original full-figured bars. (You can stop reading here if you want, that’s about it for the actual product review, the rest is just me ranting.)

    imageAs a side note, I find the current version of the Twix.com site as supremely annoying and poorly executed as Mars other “hot” site, Skittles.com.

    First, I have to “load” a huge flash thing that takes an actual minute. While I’m waiting there’s a progress tally that has a guy “chewing it over for me” ... one of my least favorite things to do on the web is watch people chew. In fact, I’d say it’s something I actively avoid. If there were a ChewBlock add on for Firefox, I’d be all over it.

    Second, once it’s loaded, I go right to the PRODUCTS option because the “game” is going. The products pop over plays AUDIO ... audio which cannot be turned off or controlled in any way.

    Finally, as I navigate the products, there are three: Twix with all its different sizes and shapes, Twix PB and Twix Ice Cream. There is no mention of the actual existence of these Twixels. Thanks Mars, thanks for putting a relevant web address on the package.

    If you want more snark on their advertising campaign and the other contents of the flash game, please read this Happily Bitter post (some strong language).

    Since Mars was unable to help me learn more about their product, I turned to YouTube, where I ended up finding some advertising from Russia’s TBWA agency that made me realize that the whole Fling marketing concept was no accident.

       

    The end tag line is “it makes us chat about everything” if by everything you mean “fluff” - let’s see, they have a prince on a white horse, some clothes, an inept plumber, a man’s ass, fighting children, drinks, a manicure, a goat-headed boss/co-worker and a gift car. I guess it’s actually realistic, candy is just about as relevant and important as all those other consumerist nuggets. (Okay, child rearing is important ... and I know that workplace annoyances are, well, annoying, but boiling women down to shopping, image-obsessed daydreamers who want to be rescued is insulting.)

    So, to sum up: in a complete vacuum, I found Twixels Triple Chocolate to be okay, regular Twix patrons will probably like the change of proportions & snackability. In the presence of everything else like the current Twix advertising campaign, their equally insulting & unworkable companion website plus the paucity of information about the actual product ... well, I like them slightly less. They get a 6 out of 10 based on the former.

    Related Candies

    1. Q.Bel Crispy Wafer Bars
    2. Trader Joe’s Chocolate Covered Gingersnaps
    3. Revisit: Take 5, Sunkist Fruit Gems & Snickers Almond
    4. BonBonBars: Malt Ganache & Scotch
    5. Twix PB
    6. KitKat Caramel
    Name: Twixels: Triple Chocolate
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Mars
    Place Purchased: Target (Glendale Galleria)
    Price: $2.99
    Size: 4.4 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 140
    Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, Cookie, Mars

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:47 am     Comments (8)

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009

    New Flavors: Skittles Sour & Wonka Runts

    Sour SkittlesFrom time to time candy formulas change enough that I think the product deserves a re-evaluation.

    Skittles Sour have shifted their flavor array. Originally Sour Skittles were just a sour dusted version of the Fruit Skittles in Strawberry, Orange, Lemon, Grape and Lime.

    Somewhere along the way they dumped the Lime in favor of Blue Raspberry (which is a bit odd, considering that limes are the only other naturally super sour fruit besides lemon). I reviewed this version back in 2007.

    Sour SkittlesThe newest version of Skittles features two new flavors: Green Apple and Watermelon. They’re subbing in for Orange and Grape.

    So the new version is: Lemon, Strawberry, Blue Raspberry, Watermelon and Green Apple.

    I think the addition of Green Apple is a natural evolution. It’s not one of my ideal flavors but really lends itself to a super-tangy version like this. The flavor was completely artificial, like some sort of off-gassing of some fresh plastic product, but that’s not necessarily a turnoff when it comes to ultra-artificial candies like Skittles.

    The Watermelon is one of those bees in my bonnet. Unripe watermelon isn’t even sour, it’s just a different texture and lacking in sweetness ... it’s not like an unripe apple or strawberry. In this instance is a fake watermelon with a super burning blast of sour powder. It reminded me, though, of salty watermelon because of the sharp shock to the tongue.

    Sour Skittles have their fanatical following, so I think it’s important for Skittles to cater to them. In my ideal candy world, the Sour Skittles would be more like the Crazy Cores, with a non-powdery shell that has the super tart blast and then the nicely flavored chew center. They’re really messy and even sealed packages are dusty and leave a sour residue on my fingers before I’ve even opened it. For me, I really only love the lemon one, so it’s not worth it for me to buy them.

    Rating: 6 out of 10

    Runts

    The other new tweak on the market is Wonka Runts which seems to change their flavors about every 18 months lately. (Here’s my last review from March 2008.)

    When originally introduced in 1982 Runts were Banana, Orange, Lime, Cherry and Strawberry. Each candy was shaped in some way like the fruit they were flavored for. Bananas are banana shaped, Oranges were little spheres, Strawberries were hearts, Limes were footballs and so on.

    Then in the 90s instead of just a single substitution, Lime was removed and two new flavors were added, Watermelon and Blue Raspberry. Sometime in late 2007 there was a shift again and Watermelon, Cherry and Blue Raspberry left in favor of the more tropical Mango (a large football) and Pineapple (actually pineapple shaped!). I really liked the pineapple but many folks complained not only about the loss of their favorite flavors over the years, but also that the color variation was very citrusy.

    So early this year I spotted the newest change.

    Runts are now: Green Apple, Grape, Strawberry, Orange and Banana.

    I was pretty excited about the Grape. They’re a big ovoid, I think the same mold as the Mango was. They’re extremely purple, but have that great fake grape flavor of SweeTarts or Spree.

    The Green Apple is okay, but the addition of this flavor to the mix along with Grape makes this very similar to SweeTarts (though Banana still keeps these closer to the long-gone Wacky Wafers).

    After munching on these for several days (it was a big 7 ounce box) I’m left with only the Green Apple ones, which aren’t bad so much as they were just more prevalent in my mix. (I really could have used more Orange and Grape.)

    Of the two candies, simply because I bought this theater box at the Dollar Tree, it’s a really good deal - 7 ounces of candy for a buck, versus the 80 cents or so for the Skittles.

    Rating: 7 out of 10

    Related Candies

    1. Skittles Crazy Cores
    2. Gobstopper Heart Breakers
    3. Skittles Chocolate Mix
    4. Skittles (Fruits, Wild Berry, Tropical, Smoothies & Sour)
    5. Runts Freckled Eggs
    6. HiCHEW Assortment
    7. SweeTarts: Chicks, Ducks & Bunnies (2006)
    Name: Sour Skittles & Runts
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Mars & Wonka (Nestle)
    Place Purchased: CandyWarehouse & Dollar Tree (Harbor City)
    Price: $.80 & $1.00
    Size: 1.8 ounces & 7 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 115 & 113
    Categories: Chew, Chalk, Sour, Skittles, United States, Mars, Nestle

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:19 am     Comments (19)

    Thursday, February 12, 2009

    Starburst Sour & Sweet

    Starburst Sour & SweetMars has definitely mucked around with new Starburst over the past few years. Luckily they don’t touch the original.

    The newest item on the shelves is this Starburst Sour & Sweet mix. (It’s a little unclear if this replaces the Starburst Sour or not, but the actual words on the package are New flavors - Starburst Sour - Sour (6 chews) Sweet (6 chews).

    The two sour flavors are Sour Watermelon & Sour Green Apple and two sweet flavors are Sweet Strawberry & Sweet Blue Raspberry.

    image

    Sour Watermelon - hot pink - this has an immediate sour bite that’s almost salty. The flavor other than that is the typical fake watermelon. It’s quite intense all the way to the end.

    Sour Green Apple - acid green - quite tangy and juicy, there’s the plastic flavor of chemical green apple and just a little dash of apple juice flavor in there.

    Sweet Strawberry - maroon - This was weird. I thought it was just a regular strawberry Starburst, but the flavor, maybe from being near the green apple, is much more artificial and less floral.

    Sweet Blue Raspberry - cerulean blue - at first this seemed much too tangy to be called a “sweet” flavor, but then I ate a few more sours and it seemed a bit tamer after that. The raspberry flavor is mellow, a little jammy but not much in the floral notes.

    The balance of sweet and sour was fun, especially since I don’t think I could eat a whole package at once. The sours seemed much more sour than the previous Starburst Sours I’ve had. I enjoy Starburst’s smooth chew and intense flavors. I think they could probably lighten up on the food coloring, seeing how they’re individually wrapped. But the flavor assortment was kind of boring, I’d love to see them really reach for some exotic, powerful flavors instead of these same retreads.

    Starburst’s website is insanely annoying. It takes two minutes to load ... and then another two minutes once I clicked on “products” ... then clicking on nutritional info takes me to a Mars list of products (okay, no biggie, central databases are good) but I have to navigate that list AGAIN. It also doesn’t list this product specifically, it still has the old flavor array for the Starburst Sour on the Starburst site and not at all on the Mars site.

    Starburst Sour still contain gelatin but are listed as Gluten Free on the package.

    Related Candies

    1. Eiffel BonBons
    2. Starburst GummiBursts
    3. Cinnamon Fire Twizzlers
    4. Sour Extinguisher
    5. Starburst Baja California & Tropical
    6. Starburst Berries & Creme and Fruit & Creme
    7. Starburst
    Name: Starburst Sour - Sour & Sweet
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Mars
    Place Purchased: 7-11 (Vermonica)
    Price: $1.19
    Size: 2.07 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 116
    Categories: Chew, Sour, United States, Mars, Starburst

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:46 am     Comments (9)

    Tuesday, February 3, 2009

    Fling: Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate & Hazelnut

    FlingSomeday I may write a long(er) article about public relations, marketing and product launches. I have a few case studies. Well, not really case studies, perhaps they’re just essays where I make fun of PR. Mars’ new Fling would probably be at the top of the list.

    (If you just want a review of the candy, skip down to the photos of the actual candy bars out of the package, because I’m gonna go on here for a while with liberal use of parentheticals.)

    The Ranting about Marketing & Press Spin

    Fling is a new candy bar being test marketed in Los Angeles. The tag line is naughty but not that naughty (tm).

    It’s geared towards women, and even more specifically towards women with food issues.

    Dark Chocolate FlingBut it’s packaged like tampons (the individual fingers sold in stand up boxes moreso), so maybe it gives women who are embarrassed to be seen with a chocolate bar a more discreet package to disguise it. (If I were a child or man searching through someone’s handbag for a snack, I’d certainly think at first glance that this was some sort of feminine hygiene product and not a sweet consumable.)

    The press release that accompanied my single sample (yes, I requested samples since I hadn’t seen it in Los Angeles, yet and I was overnighted a huge box with a too-small tee-shirt, press release and one package of the milk chocolate ... no samples of the other flavors, which is pretty much what I do here, eat all the flavors and then provide oodles of description & photos) is filled with fascinating stuff that defies logic:

    Can chocolate be a replacement for men? Not yet, but California women confess that they enjoy chocolate as much as passionate kissing (77% enjoy chocolate, 75% enjoy passionate kissing).

    There was no accompanying Venn diagram to show me what the overlap of that was. Is that 75% that enjoy passionate kissing a subset of the 77% of all women that enjoy chocolate? (The footnotes did provide me with the information that these surveys were conducted in Los Angeles and San Francisco, so perhaps this is only the leanings of 500 California urban women who were willing to talk about items so personal?)

    Milk Chocolate FlingThe only fact contained in the release that I think will be of interest to retailers is that “California women claim they are less likely to give up chocolate and splurging on clothes than other indulgent flings, such as drinking gourmet coffee, having girls’ night out and spa treatments.” So with the current economic situation, this product will thrive. I have to say, I am not these women! (I don’t drink gourmet coffee, I don’t have girls’ night out, spa treatments or splurge on clothes ... really the only thing that I fling my money at is chocolate.)

    The other threats contained in the press release include a marketing campaign that will include innuendo-laden headlines. (Just when I was starting to recover from the Herbal Essence commercials - as long as they don’t become the GoDaddy of candy.) Oh, I could go on and on about the things that I found insulting about the press release. But hey, consumers don’t get to read it.

    Flings

    There’s a companion website as well, which actually contains information about what the product actually is (there is an accompanying fact sheet that does have some additional scant info with more marketing-speak).

    We’ve broken the rules by creating FLING(tm) Chocolate, an un-regrettably indulgent premium chocolate. It is a delicate truffle sitting on a subtle crisp layer enrobed in shimmering chocolate that looks at glamorous as the woman it speaks to.

    The marketing mentions that these are 85 calorie treats, but they’re sold in packages that are pairs. So each package, each serving size is 170 calories. They come in three flavor varieties: Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut.

    The Actual Candy Review

    The Fling Milk Chocolate is meringue plank with a layer of chocolate cream covered in milk chocolate. The milk chocolate has an iridescent/pearly finish to it.

    Milk Chocolate Fling

    The marketing calls this premium chocolate, yet careful reading of the ingredients reveals that it has PGPR in it. Odd.

    The fingers are rather like a Twix bar, about 4.25” long in a mostly half-round log. There are little squiggles that distinguish it from the Hazelnut variety.

    They smell sweet and a little milky. The bite is quite nice. The meringue is crispy and has a very distinct crunch. It’s a very smooth meringue, not like a honeycomb. The vaguely sweet and toasted meringue is set off by the truffle cream, which is silky smooth and a little salty. The milk chocolate coating is a bit milkier than the rest of the bar and gives it a little malty punch and pulls it all together.

    It’s a rather nice bar, wonderful blend of textures and delicate flavors. A bit on the sweet side for me when eaten alone, but with some strong tea or a cup of coffee, it’s a good break.

    The Fling Dark Chocolate is meringue plank with a layer of chocolate cream covered in dark chocolate (which contains milk, milkfat and lactose) but no PGPR.

    Dark Chocolate Fling

    The iridescent coating on this was more noticeable and frankly, more disturbing to me. What is that stuff? Eyeshadow? Crushed gemstones? Powdered mussel shells?

    The smell of this bar reminded me a lot of Dove Dark Chocolate. It has a woodsy and slightly acidic/milky scent to it.

    Again, the snap of the bar was really refreshing. It releases a little waft of toasted marshmallow flavor from the meringue. The darker chocolate gives it a dry finish and a bitter bite towards the end, leaving me feeling a bit more satisfied.

    The Fling Hazelnut is the same meringue plank with a layer of hazelnut-flavored chocolate cream covered in milk chocolate. (The zig zags are doubled on these.)

    Hazelnut Fling

    I thought this one was the most innovative. Hazelnut isn’t a common flavor in the United States for candy found in single packs at grocery & drug store checkouts, so they’ve found a unique selling proposition right there.

    The bar smells like a flavored mocha drink. Sweet, with a toasted nut scent like hazelnut “flavor.”

    The crisp bite still pleases me in this version, but the overly fake hazelnut flavor doesn’t do much for me. I would have preferred an actual giaunduia instead of the truffle cream, but I recognize that the coffee drink culture owns this hazelnut flavor thing.

    There are a lot of things to like here. It’s a completely new style of bar, they’re really well made. The attention to detail is great (even the imprinting on the bottom of the bar is little flowers & swirlies like the package design).

    I think the use of meringue, the mix of textures and the finger format is excellent - perfectly proportioned. It was crisp, it was creamy and overall, two bars was satisfying. The dark chocolate was my favorite of the three, but all were definitely good and different enough that I can see people having favorites.

    The calories controls stuff is a little disingenuous (as most stuff regarding dieting and portion control is). The packages only hold 1.11 ounces. The caloric density is actually higher than most other candy bars on the market at 153 calories per ounce ... just a smaller portion. Twix, which is their own product and perhaps the target audience for this is only 140 calories per ounce, 3Musketeers is about 125, KitKat is about 150. The big difference here is that it doesn’t look small. (I think this was a similar hurdle with the 3 Musketeers Mint.)

    To bring this back to my earlier assessment of the marketing and positioning of the product, I think it’s a huge error to launch this as its own product line. I think it should be part of the Dove products, which are already about indulgence (and strike me as less likely to alienate men) and have a recognizable package & logo design.

    The other striking thing is that Fling is not new to planet Earth. It’s been around in Australia for two years. (Candy Addict had a review of it on its launch.) The packaging there was less feminine (no pink) and though still aimed at women it had a quirky campaign that used the tagline, forever is overrated. Here’s an animated commercial. (Thanks Sera!)

    They’re only available in Los Angeles in stores right now, but if you’re convinced this will be your new secret love, you can order online.

    UPDATE 2/15/2009: A couple of other blogs have picked up on this marketing campaigns & have commented on it. Read more views on Mother Jones (picks up on women with food issues) & Jezebel.

    Related Candies

    1. Trader Joe’s 100 Calorie Chocolate
    2. Ferrero Prestige (Ferrero Garden)
    3. 100 Calorie Packs - How Lazy Are We?
    4. Twix PB
    5. Candy Mash Ups - Marshmallows & Chocolate
    6. Head-to-Head KitKat vs KitKat!
    Name: Fling Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate & Hazelnut
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Mars
    Place Purchased: sample + CVS (Silverlake)
    Price: $.75 (on sale)
    Size: 1.11 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 153
    Categories: Chocolate, United States, Mars, Kosher

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:51 am     Comments (24)

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