A faux chocolate product that contains some but not all the components necessary to be considered true chocolate. Mockolate is most often missing cocoa butter, which creates a frustrating illusion of chocolate but little of the taste or mouthfeel.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
I picked up this Rally Bar at Hershey’s Chocolate World last month. The only place I know these are being sold is at the Hershey’s stores, as a few other candy bloggers have mentioned. (Hershey’s Insider, Jim’s Chocolate Mission & Sugar Hog.)
The Rally Bar was one of the few candy bars introduced by the Hershey’s company under its own brand name during the 70s. Sure, Hershey’s has plenty of chocolate bars with inclusions and they also have other candy bars like Almond Joy and Fifth Avenue but those were made by other companies that were later purchased by the Hershey’s corporation.
The Rally Bar wasn’t much of an innovation. It’s a nougat center with a coating of caramel, rolled in peanuts and then covered in a chocolatey coating.
I remember them existing when I was a kid, but I also recall them having a yellow, orange and red wrapper, not this generic white wrapper. The Rally isn’t quite extinct either, it’s found in some small enclaves around the world.
I was intrigued by the idea that Hershey’s would re-release nostalgic bars. Kind of like bringing back Good & Fruity.
The bar looks nice, it’s great to get a fresh candy product. Thought it wasn’t a real chocolate coating, it was glossy and smelled sweet and milky.
Biting into it, I got a feeling that this was familiar. The nougat center is a decent toasted vanilla flavor, the caramel around it didn’t do much for the flavor but adds a great texture and cements the peanuts to the bar. The nuts were well roasted and of the three bars I’ve eaten, only one had a bad nut. The mockolate coating is rather smooth, certainly less grainy that Hershey’s Milk Chocolate is these days and at least let the stars of the bar, the nougat and nuts come through.
After seeing them on Frances’ blog post though, I was pretty convinced that these were not really the Rally Bar, but just repackaged Oh Henry! bars as sold in Canada.
On the left is the Canadian Oh Henry and on the right is the Rally Bar.
They look rather similar. Each weighs 2.2 ounces (larger than most American bars). And Hershey’s no longer makes any of its candy in Canada, leading me to believe that they’re now made in the United States and exported. (Perhaps some Canadians could confirm this.) And they’re both mockolate.
The only appeal I see in this bar is the nostalgic value, whether you’re Canadian or American and remember it from the 70s. There are plenty of other bars that are remarkably similar and could probably serve the same role. Snickers, Chocolatey Avalanche Payday, Oh Henry (USA) and of course Baby Ruth. But I’ll finish the ones I picked up. No use letting them get stale.
Friday, October 10, 2008
While I’m probably painted as something of an anti-mockolate crusader, I don’t hate all quasi-chocolate products. Things like Andes Mints and Goldenberg’s Peanut Chew are pretty good even though they’re not quite real chocolate candies.
So I thought I’d give the Andes Fall Harvet limited edition mix a try.
It includes three flavors: toffee, orange and cocoa. Each little plank of candy is individually wrapped and comes in a nicely designed bag with orange leaf outlines all over it. Instead of the usual Andes logo on each piece of candy, these have three random embossed harvest themed designs.
The ingredients aren’t promising: Sugar, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (palm kernel & palm), nonfat milk, cocoa, lactose, milk protein concentrate, cocoa processed wtih alkalai, corn syrup solids, soy lecithin, salt, baking soda, molasses, orange oil, natural and artificial flavors, artificial colors (yellow 5 & 6).
This piece is the only one of the set that’s not layered like Andes Mints. Instead it’s a milk chocolatey confection with toffee bits mixed in.
The toffee bits are very crisp and crunchy and remind me more of a brittle (which is often a bit foamy but not quite a honeycomb or sponge candy). The crunches are a little salty as well. The mockolate confection is very sweet but doesn’t have much cocoa flavor to it. A little on the waxy side at room temperature, it does okay texture-wise in the mouth.
It smells like orange confection, kind of like a cheap version of Terry’s Chocolate Orange.
It’s quite sweet and a little grainy on the tongue (kind of like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange). The orange essence is quite pronounced with a strong zest and slight bitterness to it. To balance that there’s plenty of sugar. But don’t expect any dash of chocolate flavor in there. It might be a cocoa colored confection on the top and bottom, but the orange flavor goes straight through.
It’s the same light colored mockolate confection as the other two, this time with a darker mockolate sandwiched in the middle.
It’s a little saltier than the orange one, which helps. It does taste a bit like hot cocoa, but also a little like cardboard and Tootsie Rolls.
Four pieces provided 50% of my daily intake of saturated fat ... and not even a good one like cocoa butter.
I think I’ll stick with the original from now on.
Friday, September 26, 2008
When I was a kid chocolate was regarded as something completely lacking in any merit nutritionally. As an alternative there were carob products. Usually things like carob drops for oatmeal cookies and carob covered milk balls as treats.
Even though I don’t think I had much of a sophisticated palate as a child (I ate Jell-O powder straight from the box), I still knew the difference and preferred real chocolate products.
But now I’m an adult with an awareness of my ability to set aside childhood traumas of being given this supposed treat of carob raisins instead of actual chocolate. (And I certainly question why anyone without allergies would replace chocolate with carob in our modern and well-informed world.) So I picked up what I thought might be a representation of good carob.
Carob is an evergreen legume that puts out little pods which are harvested and turned into carob powder. (If you’ve seen Locust Bean tree, they’re closely related and look like that.) It’s been used by humans for at least 4,000 years throughout the Middle East and parts of Africa and the Indian subcontinent. Early sugar was made from these pods.
Carob contains both sugar-sweetness and a roasted flavor that is reminiscent of chocolate in some ways but because it contains no substantial oils or fats of its own, it’s usually consumed as a powder (often called St. John’s bread) in drinks or baked goods. When combined with some fats it can be made into a pasty block somewhat like chocolate.
The simple paper wrapper for Goldie’s Premium Carob Bar says, “no refined sugar, no preservatives, no chocolate, cocoa or caffeine.” Wow, there’s a lot that’s not in there. And I love every one of those things save one.
The ingredients don’t sound too bad to me: Barley malt, fractionated palm kernel oil, carob powder, soy lecithin and milk. (I don’t feel great about fractionated palm kernel oil - I don’t know what it is.) But I love barley malt and milk!
Opening it up, it looks like a milk chocolate bar, but the back of it looks more like freshly poured brownie batter. I recognize that comparing this to chocolate is unfair, so I won’t for the rest of this.
The snap is kind of soft, but the product is solid, not gooey or melted at all.
It smells like roasted grains. It reminds me a lot of Postum (a drink made from, well, roasted grains).
The texture is rather like eating unbaked pie crust or shortbread dough. It’s thick and rather hearty but with really no melt-in-your mouth-qualities.
I could dissolve it, but it was always a bit waxy. Chewing it resulted in a bit more of a creamy puddle in my mouth as long as I kept it circulating, though it still had a bit of a peanut butter stickiness to it.
I liked the roasted flavors and that it wasn’t very sweet. But the flavor never really popped for me. I’m a big fan of barley. My favorite tea lately is Mugi Cha, which is Japanese roasted barley steeped just like tea (which I was introduced to as a latte at a little place in Hollywood about four years ago). I love barley sugar candy, barley flour in baked goods, especially just barley in soups, pilafs and stews and of course malted milk balls.
I found Goldie’s Carob Bar rib-sticking and substantial but sadly lacking in satisfaction. I could see being happier with it as an ingredient in a combination bar of some sort, maybe with nuts, caramel or wafers/pretzels of some sort. A dash of salty cashews might be a nice complement.
I don’t think carob is a bad thing, I just think it got a bad reputation back in the 70s. This is good quality stuff with a really intriguing flavor (kind of reminds me of halvah in a way) but just not for me.
The nutritional profile of carob is actually not as good as chocolate - no minerals, no calcium or fiber but some protein and virtually the same fat and calories per ounce.
Friday, September 19, 2008
I went on a strange little odyssey. It all started with an interview I was prepping for with NBC’s Today show. Hershey’s was changing some of their products, swapping out real milk chocolate for coatings that used other oils instead of the native cocoa butter in chocolate.
I gathered up all the products I could find, including the ReeseSticks (previous review here). I found the single serve package at the drug store, but it was expired and I didn’t think that was fair, so I found this Reese’s Lovers Assortment (photo here) at CVS’s freshly stocked Halloween aisle. I found exactly what I wanted ... but I was a little surprised because the front of the package said that the ReeseSticks were crispy wafers | peanut butter | milk chocolate.
Well, that didn’t match what I had. This is happy news, right? The milk chocolate is back!
But when I opened up my Reese’s Lovers Assortment I was more than disappointed. The little single finger packages of ReeseSticks were quite clear, they said only crispy wafers | peanut butter. What are they pulling?
Well, I’ve already bought them, so I may as well try them and add them to my list of re-reviewed items.
Flipping over the bag, they do list all the ingredients for the products separately and though the front and both sides of the package mention milk chocolate, the ingredients tell the full story:
The old ingredients (courtesy of Mike’s Candy Wrappers) from 2003:
The little sticks in the assortment are a little smaller than the regular twin pack. These are .6 ounces each, but are still pretty substantial feeling.
The possibly-chocolate coating (well, the ingredients say that there may be cocoa butter in there and no other oils) looks pretty good, a little greasy but a nice medium color. It smells like peanuts and Easter grass. Sweet and artificial and, well, comforting.
Unless chilled the coating was pretty soft and sticky. The crunch of the foamy and flavorless wafers allowed the peanut butter to come through. Without much chocolate flavor, these reminded me of Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch, without all the sharp mouth-wounding bits. It’s pretty salty though, saltier than I would like. (135 mgs in a current twin pack versus 110 mgs in the original one.)
Overall, I prefer the memory of the real chocolate one - less salty and I recall it having some chocolate flavor input. I don’t like ingredients lists that tell me what might be in there in there. I don’t want to eat palm oil, I want cocoa butter. But it’s still a pretty good candy product and not as noticeable a change as the Kissables.
Final note: Though the package deceptively promised me milk chocolate in my ReeseSticks, it also said that the Fast Break was not real chocolate on the outside ... but on the inside and the reverse of the package it was.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
I realized when I started Candy Blog that there was no way I’d ever sample every single candy out there, let alone review them. What’s making it even harder now is that candies that I’ve already reviewed have changed and it hardly seems fair that the reviews here still stand against the present day products.
So, every once in a while I’ll revisit major products that have changed since my original review at least enough to warrant a new taste.
Hershey’s introduced the Take 5 in 2004 and it quickly became one of my favorite new candies. It combined all the great textures of crunchy pretzels and chewy caramel and creamy chocolate. But that was then, and this is now.
The package now says: made with chocolate & pretzels & caramel & peanuts & peanut butter. That “made with chocolate” part means that the coating may contain chocolate, but it has other additives such as vegetable oils that mean that it’s not pure chocolate. The actual chocolate as an ingredient comes far down on the list as the number 6 item, after vegetable oils and high fructose corn sweetener and before nonfat milk (you can imagine there’s not that much milk in there).
The bars actually still look quite fetching. Little rather rectangular lumps with a pleasant sweet & peanutty scent.
Mine were exceptionally fresh, the pretzel was good and crunchy, a nice salty complement to the sweet coating. The coating didn’t have much flavor but did add a creamy texture.
This one was passably good, but I’ve had others in the past few months (I picked them out of a mix of snack size in a bowl at the office a couple of times) and I didn’t realize why they were kind of empty tasting for what I remembered. I just thought they were stale ... turns out that they’re just not designed to be good any longer.
Hershey’s still has an opportunity to reverse this and make it real chocolate again.
Sunkist Fruit Gems are made by Jelly Belly these days. An alert reader let me know that the little “single serve” trays are back on store shelves, but instead of holding six fruit jellies, they now only have four.
Worst part of this news? The grapefruit one was missing. (What is it about grapefruit disappearing lately? Is it because of the news that grapefruit juice interacts with some prescription drugs?) This is not to say that the Sunkist Fruit Gems don’t come in grapefruit any longer, just not in this particular package.
Seeing how Sunkist is known as a citrus company, the fact that they made an assortment the neglects one of the citrus fruits and includes a berry is beyond me. The package is also similar to the old one and actually includes images of grapefruit (though the text clearly says which flavors are in the package).
The change in manufacturing location and ownership, as far as I’ve been able to tell, has made no difference at all for the actual candy. It’s still a nice, soft and flavorful fruit jelly without too much of a granulated sugar coating.
The only real difference here is that you get only 2/3 as much as you used to. I was hoping when Jelly Belly took over that they’d sell the jellies in individual flavors like they do with their famous jelly beans. No such luck yet. (For now whenever I see the Jelly Belly booth at a trade show I pick a half a dozen grapefruit jellies out of their sample bin and move along.)
Mars used to make a bar that was called, appropriately enough, the Mars Bar. That bar was discontinued and reintroduced under the much more famous Snickers umbrella of products as the Snickers Almond.
Then something happened, Mars mucked around with it and created the “More Satisfying Snickers Almond” which was really just the Snickers Almond with peanuts thrown in to make up for a lack of, well, almonds. It wasn’t a bad bar, but it wasn’t really distinctive.
Well, the old new Snickers Almond is back. It’s a white lightly sweet & salty nougat with a caramel stripe and whole almonds covered in milk chocolate.
I like the bar (though I prefer the dark chocolate version) and I’m glad they brought it back.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Hershey’s Miniatures were introduced in 1929. At that time the assortment was pretty much the same: Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, Krackel and Mr. Goodbar. (Though Hershey’s made a bar called Semi Sweet, the present iteration, a dark version didn’t find its way into the mix until the Special Dark came along.)
Hershey’s bills the mix as A little something for everyone (r).
I remember as a kid getting these in both my trick-or-treat haul and my Christmas stocking. They’re a great mix of candy because even though everyone has their favorites (and my rankings for them have changed over the years), even if you don’t like all of them it’s pretty easy to find someone to trade with.
Each piece is a nice size, two bites for those who prefer to savor or one big bite for those looking for a quick fix.
I wasn’t sure when I picked up the bag if they have a consistent mix, so I documented mine. It actually feels like a good proportion: 11 Hershey’s Milk Chocolate and 6 each of the Krackel, Mr. Goodbar and Special Dark.
This particular bag was 9.2 ounces, they’re available in a wide variety of sizes though and often in bulk bins at large grocery stores.
It’s hard to approach a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar without some sort of personal history. Those of us who have grown up on them know the flavor pretty well, though I don’t think most of us think much about it. Those who taste Hershey’s for the first time as adults though have expressed strong dislike for the taste and/or texture. All I can say is that it’s distinctive and they wouldn’t keep making it if someone didn’t like it well enough to keep buying it.
It has a sweet smell, a bit milky and dare I say, cheesy (feta) and milky. There are also notes of black pepper and caramel.
One of the nice things about the Miniatures is that the bar is thicker, so a bite (half the bar), is a nice mouthful that give more opportunity to revel in the flavors and textures. The milk chocolate is rather fudgy, not quite firm even a room temperature. It dents instead of chipping or flaking and is more likely to bend than snap. It’s a little grainy like a fudge, but the particle size is small. The flavors are strong, it’s sweet without burning the throat and has some mellow cocoa notes mixed with that inimitable tangy yogurt flavor of Hershey’s along with some toffee and maybe a touch of hazelnut.
I hate to sound like an old fart, but I think it was better before. I think something happened that it became grainier.
It sounds like I hate the stuff, but I don’t. I feel the same way about it as I do for things like Fritos, American cheese, grape soda and Fudgesicles. They’re really not that good, but I love them anyway.
All I can do is hope they don’t make it worse and give them a 6 out of 10.
The Special Dark bar was introduced in 1971. I always liked the packaging, but not the bar itself. It looked rich and sophisticated, which appealed to the part of me that yearned for status that could be bought for 20 cents at the corner shop. But to actually eat one as a child was akin to eating raw fish, I just didn’t have it in me. Yet.
Similar to the milk bar, this one also has a slightly soft snap.
It smells sweet, a little woodsy.
The texture is rather chalky and doesn’t melt into a creamy puddle in my mouth. Instead it just tastes sweet and more like hot cocoa made with water than real rich chocolate ... there’s a thin-ness to it all, probably because Hershey’s now uses milk fat.
There’s a dry finish with a slight metallic bite to it.
So while I’ve come to love and prefer dark chocolate, this is like eating cheap chocolate chips to me. A diversion while I wait for the better choice ... like those freshly baked chocolate chip cookies or a wonderful single origin Ocumare bar.
Rating: 4 out of 10
Mr. Goodbar was introduced in 1925. Later, during the depression, the bar was sold as “a tasty lunch” back when meal replacement bars were simply candy bars. (And it’s still not a bad idea if you get a really nutty bar.)
Even though the bars are smaller these days and don’t cost a nickel, it’s tempting to think that this bar is unchanged since Milton Hershey started producing it.
Sadly it’s not a war or a depression that’s change Mr. Goodbar. I can’t say what The Hershey Company is thinking these days but they’ve changed it. Mr. Goodbar is no longer a chocolate bar.
Instead he’s a silly oiled up shadow of what he used to be. The description of the bar was more recently peanuts in milk chocolate but is now just made with chocolate and peanuts.
The bar looks the same as ever. A milky, chocolatey sheen with little peanuts peeking through. It smells like deep roasted peanuts and sugar. (More like peanut brittle than a chocolate product.)
The flavor is overwhelmingly peanut. The peanuts are roasted dark too, so there’s a slight burnt taste to it that I think is meant to mask the nonexistent chocolate.
Yes, this mockolate is shallow and unimpressive. The texture isn’t all that different from the Milk Chocolate bar, but it has a different melt. It’s cool on the tongue. It’s actually salty (looking over the ingredients in the old recipe and the new, salt now appears).
For a mockolate bar, it’s quite passable. For a time tested icon it’s a travesty. I don’t care how depressed I am or the country might be, this is not a tasty lunch.
Rating: 4 out of 10.
Krackel, I’m told, is the last candy bar that Milton Hershey developed that still exists today.
It went through a few changes over the years, when introduced in 1938 it had nuts and crisped rice but by the late 40s it was a simple crisped rice and milk chocolate bar. (The packaging was also similar to the Mr. Goodbar, sporting a yellow stripe and brown instead of its present red.)
Today the bar is all but gone. The full size has been discontinued (2006), only the miniature remains. To add insult to injury, the bar isn’t crisped rice in milk chocolate, no, now it’s made with chocolate and crisped rice.
One of the things the Krackel bar has had going for it over the years, especially in the miniature size is the crisped rice. They’re big crisped rice pieces. Nestle Crunch has moved to some sort of BB-sized rice product that just doesn’t deliver the depth of crunch or the malty & salty taste.
The crisp is definitely there, the malty flavor peeks through. But the
mockolate, oh this isn’t even worthy of being wrapped up and called R.M. Palmer.
I’ve given away four of these little bars and asked people what they think to people who profess that the Krackel is their favorite in the miniatures assortment. I didn’t preface it with anything, yet they all recognized that this was terrible. Empty, vapid, lacking all chocolate flavor, no creamy component and no puddle of chocolate ooze melting so that all that’s left is the rice crisps.
I was curious how mock this mockolate was but I am simply unable to get the information out of Hershey’s. (Read more about that experience here.) It’s just disgusting that Hershey’s, the Great American Chocolate Bar company, is making this ... they should have just let this bar die a natural death than let it be zombified into this mess.
Rating: 1 out of 10
There is nothing to do but simply stop buying this deplorable product. 12 out of the 29 bars (41%) here are not even chocolate and yet I’m paying chocolate prices!
If you like the Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, I’d suggest getting just the snack sized bars, they’re a little bigger, but at least you don’t end up with any Krackels or Mr. Goodbars and you get more value for your money. (Unless you were looking for some individually wrapped & solidified cooking oils.)
Friday, August 15, 2008
On my continuing quest to try off brands of confections to see if saving a little money means sacrificing taste, I came upon this bar at the Walgreen’s, mixed in with the other upscale chocolate bars: Regal Dynasty European Chocolate. This bar was called simply Dark Chocolate. For $1.29 and clocking in at 6.3 ounces, I was more than curious how well it could compare.
The packaging is less than exciting, in fact it looks dated, like some sort packet of cheap stationery from the Office Max circa 1993. The paper is rather flimsy and the foil wrapper inside is similarly thin, though both seem to do their job of protecting the bar well enough. So I can look past that (especially since I’ve had some very expensive bars that I don’t think have very attractive or useful packaging).
The ingredients however are a big old red flag: sugar, cocoa mass, vegetable fat, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, flavor. It states that the cocoa solids are a minimum of 45%. But it never says what those vegetable fats are or if that flavor is natural.
The bar is lovely. It’s well molded and has a crisp snap.
It has a sweet and slightly cinnamon & cereal smell to it. It has a difficult melt though, but as it does soften, it is very sweet but at least not chalky or gritty. But it’s cool on the tongue, which usually means substitute fats or substitute sugars and always makes me a bit uneasy.
The chocolate notes aren’t deep or complex or satisfying. I would probably find this passable in a chocolate croissant, but standing alone as a piece of confection, it tastes watery and empty of nuance.
The simple fact is that it’s not chocolate. I’d hazard that since the vegetable fats come before the cocoa butter on the ingredients list that it wouldn’t even qualify under the laxer rules in Europe that allow veggie fats up to 5%. No, this is a plain old false label. It’s not chocolate. Not even close. But in an odd twist, it doesn’t have any dairy fats so can be considered vegan!
Even though I liked it a bit more than the Carlos V Chocolate Style Bar and it was cheaper, I can’t get past the fact that its downright false label.
Hopefully it will make passable brownies (which is what happens to many of the bars that I can’t bring myself to eat). Oddly enough, I can see myself buying this again though if I need a really nice looking, generic chocolate bar for a photo shoot. But if you’re looking for something you can actually eat that doesn’t cost too much, wait for a sale on something you know you like or just settle for a smaller package.
UPDATE November 3, 2009: Walgreen’s is discontinuing this bar. In it’s place you can buy an even more dreadful bar from R.M. Palmer called 2 Buck Choc, which has awful and unappealing graphics on the wrapper and of course doesn’t taste nearly as good as this (which I didn’t like but at least give it credit).
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
I tried the Mexican import some years ago, back when it was just a milk chocolate bar and found it interesting, very milky and quite different from American or UK style chocolate.
What I found alarming about the new bars that Nestle’s is now selling in the US market is this nuevo dark chocolate style bar. Gotta wonder what the style of dark chocolate is. I’ve got to tip my hat to Nestle, dark chocolate style sounds much better than mockolate or chocolatey or chocolate flavored.
It reminds me of the Superfriends characters of Zan and Jayna when I was a kid. They’d activate their Wonder Twin Powers (tm), Zan would take the form of something made with water and Jayna would take the shape of an animal. See, they weren’t actually changing, Zan wouldn’t actually be a huge iceberg, he’d just be the shape of an iceberg with iceberg qualities but remain sentient and with the full power to change back. Same with Jayna, she’d become a sea eagle, but that wouldn’t mean that she’d suddenly lose her senses and eat Gleek.
So while I get that this is a bar that walks like a chocolate bar and talks like a chocolate bar, that doesn’t make it a chocolate bar.
The Nestle Carlos V Dark Knight is nicely packaged. The new version is full sized, 1.41 ounces instead of the old 3/4 of an ounce version. The bar is nicely domed and segmented.
The color is good though the snap is a bit soft.
As a chocolate style bar, it has a good amount of chocolate in it, the ingredients go like this:
So it’s not even vegan friendly (also it is made in a facility that processes peanuts and wheat products).
It smells like cocoa, sweet and kind of empty.
The taste is, well, similarly empty. It’s chocolatey, in the sense that it’s the flavor, but not much else qualifies it as such. It’s not creamy, it doesn’t really melt well though it is rather smooth once chewed up. But later there’s an aftertaste ... of vitamins. You know, those tasty large horsepills with a high B vitamin content. Oh, the aftertaste, kind of bitter and musty.
It has very little style, chocolate or otherwise, and it’s sad. The traditional Carlos V bar has also become milk chocolate style, Candy Snob reviewed the new version recently.
(No, I’m not even going to go into how cheesy I think naming the bar Dark Knight is.)
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