Morselization is when a known product gets a new version where the pieces are ready to eat and without individual wrappers.
Monday, June 8, 2009
The Special Dark bar was introduced in 1971 (though Hershey’s made a dark chocolate bar on and off before that). With the news of dark chocolate’s high antioxidant content the line of Special Dark products has been expanding to include baking chips, its own assortment of Miniatures, Kisses, Syrup, Cocoa and Kissables.
It seems kind of odd that not only are Kissables being discontinued, but that this new Pieces line doesn’t have a simple milk chocolate version. Further, the Special Dark Pieces are the only product in the line that has a comparable item in the M&Ms line.
The Pieces are simple. Dark chocolate lentils with a candy shell. The colors are muted and dark: maroon, red and brown.
The shell is quite crunchy and has only a slight “cereal” flavor to it, for the most part it’s just sweet.
The center is smooth and has an excellent melt. The chocolate flavor is rather ordinary - a mix of coffee notes, a light touch of raisin or berry with a dose of smoke. It’s quite sweet, so any lingering bitterness is covered up completely.
I pretty much did the above review a couple of weeks ago when I first got my Pieces samples. I was hanging onto it because I wanted to do a full comparison of the product to both Dark Chocolate M&Ms as well as the Kissables Dark which came out in 2007.
So I went to the store to buy some.
And I came up empty handed. I went to a lot of stores. I couldn’t find any Kissables in any variety anywhere, except for a wrinkly old pack of original Milk Chocolate Kissables at the 99 Cent Only Store in Mid Wilshire and some Valentine’s that were likely as old. It’s like someone combed the country and pulled all Kissables from all stores. (I don’t think this is any loss for the confectionery world seeing that the Pieces line is far superior in quality.)
Comparing them side by side with M&Ms, it’s easy to see now how the shapes are slightly different.
The Pieces, though they have the same diameter as the M&Ms, are meatier. They’re thicker & puffier.
The shells on the Pieces are slightly thicker, which gives them more crunch but also makes them a bit sweeter and hides the chocolate flavor a little longer.
The chocolate punch of the M&Ms is a bit bolder, but the flavor is also chalkier/dryer. The Pieces have a smooth melt on the tongue and a mellow cocoa note.
I can’t say that one product is better than the other. I found myself preferring the Special Dark Pieces to the Dark Chocolate M&Ms, even though they were sweeter. I liked the consistent crunch and the buttery melt. The M&Ms, though, did have a good dark chocolate flavor to them though a little bitter towards the end.
Final Thoughts on Pieces Line:
Now that I’ve tried them all, I thought I’d give a bit of a review of the new line, that won’t be out in stores until December 2009.
The Pieces line is based on some of Hershey’s most popular candies: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Almond Joy, York Peppermint Patties and the Special Dark bar.
The creation of a lentil version doesn’t quite measure up to the combination of textural elements in quite the same way as the previous Bites line did, but these are definitely a winning confectionery creation. Instead these are more “inspired by” than just a new shape & ratio.
My only comments on how this could have been done better would be to set themselves apart further from M&Ms by enlarging their customer base to people who can’t eat M&Ms. That would be using all natural food colorings for the shells (granted, a tough proposition seeing that two of the three lines employ blue shells) and to be gluten free & nut-free (even the Almond Joy could be peanut-free, one of the most common allergy issues in candy).
I’m looking forward to the product launch later this year.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
I like York Peppermint Patties, so I was pretty excited to hear about York Pieces (more here). Especially since I disappointed when Hershey’s discontinued the York Bites, I thought this would be a great “morsel” version of the Peppermint Pattie ... great for snacking & sharing.
The new Hershey’s Pieces line takes classic candy bars and makes them into little lentils covered in a candy shell.
The description from the press release was a little vague: Peppermint Flavored Dark Chocolate Candy in a Crunchy Shell, so I wasn’t sure what they would be like until I got my hands on these sales samples direct from Hershey’s. Would they have the classic fondant center? It begs the question, what is the essence of a York Peppermint Pattie?
It turns out, to my disappointment, that they are exactly as described above. Mint flavored dark chocolate with a candy shell. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but where’s the fondant?
The Pieces come in two colors in this assortment: royal blue and white. The grey package with blue accents and the yellow logo was easily identifiable as York Peppermint.
The shell is pleasant & crunchy, the chocolate inside is quite smooth and has a nice peppermint pop to it. The cocoa flavors come out really well, and is very close to the chocolate flavor profile of the York chocolate coating.
While M&Ms have their holiday Mint version, this year round dark chocolate mint lentil will definitely have a unique selling position. I prefer the naturally less sweet dark chocolate of the York Pieces to the very sweet but a touch salty Mint Chocolate M&Ms. (Though they end up with the same rating.)
I got to thinking about whether or not it’d be possible to make a fondant centered lentil and then I remembered that the York Mints (and Dutch Mints or Holland Mints) were just that.
So I picked up some York Mints just to compare them. (Luckily I found them at the 99 Cent Only Store ... which means that they’re only three months from their expiry and who knows what conditions they were stored under.)
The shell on the York Mints is thinner than the York Pieces. But the York Mints, with their not-quite-soft-and-crumbly fondant are quite minty ... enough to be called breath mints. The York Pieces, on the other hand, do not freshen the breath to the point where I’d think it was perceptible by others.
The point though is that a lentil version is possible, at least in my eyes, but for some reason (perhaps the fact that they sell 1.35 ounces for more than $2.00) they decided to go with a much easier to produce product: the York Pieces.
That said, I think I prefer the York Pieces anyway. They’re certainly different from most other minty lentils, which are usually mockolate or milk chocolate.
Candy Addict also previewed these last week and found them to be nice.
These won’t be hitting shelves until December 2009. (I didn’t have nutrition info on them either and there was no Kosher status on the package but it did mention that it was processed on equipment that handles peanuts, tree nuts, egg & wheat ... plus they contain milk & soy.)
Monday, June 1, 2009
It’s sad in a way that I’m writing about these now, since they’re not due in stores until December, but I really couldn’t wait. (I know Candy Addict was also too excited for them to hit store shelves.)
The choice of Almond Joy as one of the first lentilized Hershey’s bars in this line is kind of odd, but a welcome one as far as I’m concerned - coconut candies are few and far between.
The samples I got were directly from Hershey’s and came in little “for sales samples only” packets of only .7 ounces each. I’m not certain what the final packaging sizes will be.
The nutrition information is missing but the ingredients are here:
The pieces are similar in size & proportion to M&Ms, perhaps a little thicker. The sizes and manufacturing are quite consistent. The colors are blue, dark brown and tan.
The candy shells are rather thick & crunchy, the candy center is a milk chocolate base studded with coconut bits and crushed almonds.
They’re quite sweet and taste mostly of coconut, but the texture combinations are fantastic - the light crunch of the candy shell combined with the chew of the coconut bits and the occasional appearance by an almond bit. The flavors are a bit mild but I enjoyed these quite a bit and if I had an opportunity to chose them for a snack at a movie or while at my desk, I certainly would, mostly because they are unique, there are no other candies like this.
There’s no Kosher status listed on the package (though that may be because this is not final packaging), and it also says that it’s not nut, peanut, wheat, egg or soy free. Further, the use of resinous glaze means that this is not a vegetarian product.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Years ago, before the current rage of putting carbonated popping candy into chocolate, there was a Wonka bar called the Exploder. It was released in 1999, though I don’t recall seeing it until the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie was released in theaters. And then poof, it was gone before I even got to try it.
Flash forward about four years and suddenly chocolate and pop rocks are all the rage. And finally Wonka (part of Nestle) has gotten back into the act. Earlier this year they released Wonka Tinglerz which they bill as Poppin’ Tinglin’ Chocolate Candy or Chocolattos que revientan en tu boca.
The package doesn’t hold much, just an ounce, but comes at a pretty dear price of a normal sized candy bar. (I got mine for $.69 at KMart.)
Nope, Nestle Wonka-fied these and the result is pretty surprising.
Instead of just chocolate covered unflavored pop rocks, it’s a combination of pop rocks and crisped rice. So biting into the bits, it was a gamble as to whether they were going to bite back.
The flavor isn’t as stellar as I’d like though. The chocolate is sweet and waxy and tastes more like powdered hot cocoa mix than rich chocolate. But the malty flavors of the crisped rice and of course the blend of textures sets this apart from other candies.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Above, on the left are Wonka Tinglerz. On the right are Nestle Buncha Crunch. Obviously Buncha Crunch are bigger nuggets (though some were the same size).
Pretty different, not just in size.
Buncha Crunch came along after I’d already made my crisped rice affections be known. As I’d already decided that I didn’t like Nestle Crunch much any longer, trying Nestle’s movie bite version seemed silly.
So at least I get to approach this with an open mind!
The movie box was a pretty good deal at only a dollar and filled with 3.2 ounces.
The idea behind the candy is pretty simple, globs of crisped rice covered in milk chocolate. They’re irregular, some as large as hazelnuts, some as small as peas.
Biting into them, they’re less than crunchy. There’s a lot of chocolate in most of them, which is a disappointment for someone who is expecting bunches of crunches.
The texture of the chocolate is decent. There’s a little waxy glaze on the bits but the chocolate flavor is mostly sweet, kind of musty and empty.
I was hoping the crunches would offset the sweetness or have a little salty kick. I can see these being a nice antidote to popcorn, but that’s about it.
Crispy M&Ms were far better at this game.
Rating: 5 out of 10
Friday, June 3, 2005
Dovetailing with my earlier post about revisiting classics with new interpretations, Hershey’s recently launched “Candy to Go!” It’s just smaller packaging of their previously introduced Bites, but what I found interesting is that I thought most candy was packaged for going ...
These are perfect little bites of candy bars. I picked up three at the store on the lot today. Kit Kat Bites, Reese’s Peanut Butter Bites and York Bites. Each is about the size of a small marble, more or less. The York bites are exactly what you’d expect, dark chocolate covering a mint cream center. The Reese’s bites are covering a peanut butter cup filling (not that waxy Reese’s pieces stuff) and the Kit Kat bites are like little Kit Kat cubes.
Here’s my thing: I like appropriate ratios. In the case of the Reese’s bites and the York bites, the ratio of chocolate to filling is appropriate. Though the chocolate in these little poppers is slightly different - because it’s in a spherical shape, I think they toss a little resinous glaze on it. This makes for a slight waxy coating, which in one respect is good, because you can actually hold them in your hand for a moment without getting melty all over you, but it also means that you’re eating this resin and that you need to kind of get past that when you put it in your mouth.
In the Kit Kat bites, it feels like too much chocolate (Kit) and not enough crisp wafers (Kat).
The other odd thing about these are the portion size: 2.75 oz and that’s a full serving. Most candy bars are about 1.5 oz and have about 200 calories. The Reese’s bites have 410 calories! If you can control yourself and not eat them all at once, you’ll make it to fifty without a coronary. Me? I ate the whole York Bites and then moved on to the Reese’s and of course had to open the Kit Kat for a taste. Sadly, all that’s left now are some of the Kit Kats.
Name: York Bites
Good chocolate, nice mint, pretty much a tiny spherical peppermint patty. The only problem I had with these was the variation in quality. Some were soft and fresh, but others were rather hard. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that they’re spoiled, maybe the chocolate didn’t seal in the filling completely and they dried out.
Name: Reese’s Peanut Butter Bites
Okay, of the three, these smelled absolutely divine when I opened the package. A wonderful roasted peanut scent with the sweet overtone of chocolate. Really, these smelled awesome. They taste good, and I think I’d buy them again, especially as something to eat when at the movies, but I still prefer the miniatures for the ratio of chocolate to peanut butter.
Name: Kit Kat Bites
My least favorite of the three, but I’ve always been fond of Kit Kats and buy them often. But my favorite thing about Kit Kats is deconstructing them while I eat, which means prying off each layer with my teeth. That’s not really feasible with this iteration, so I’d just have to eat them and where’s the fun in that?
I’m not always fond of miniatures or giganto bars, but I think that Hershey’s really did a nice job of inventing these as candy that stands alone without the other versions. As always, freshness helps, if these were old and had bloomed or something, I’d find them absolutely unappealing. But I find these to be the perfect movie food or good to tuck in your bag to share with others.
UPDATE: It looks like these didn’t go over very well and have been discontinued. The remaining inventory can still be found at discount stores like 99 Cent Only. (But be sure to look at the expiration date before you take a chance.)
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