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Peanuts

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Mary Jane Peanut Butter Kisses

Like Candy Corn, Peeps and Peanut Butter Kisses are one of those seasonal candies that people either love or hate. I’m gonna go ahead and say right now, I’m on the side of love here.

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I don’t know if I’ve ever had “name brand” peanut butter kisses before, these are the first I’ve ever seen that have anything on the black & orange wax wrappers. Made by Necco, Mary Jane Peanut Butter Kisses are a molasses taffy with a little blurp of peanut butter in the center.

The molasses taffy is soft and flavorful, with a rustic taste of mellow molasses with a little smoke and woodsy maple in there. In the center (or somewhere near there) is a pocket of peanut butter, a little crumbly and of course nutty and roasty tasting. The salty hit of the fatty peanut butter is a great combo with the sweet taffy. I much prefer them to the traditional Mary Janes, which I find not only a little too hard but also not enough of a “concentrated peanut butter” dollop.

Since these are not a spectacularly popular candy, with their rather mousy wrappings and bland colors they’re easily found dirt-cheap in the remainder bins after Halloween, which is when I prefer to buy them. If they’re a little old and stale, a little warm-up in the palm of your hand will revive them.

Some other notes: Mary Janes were originally made by the Miller Company starting in 1914, which was later bought by another taffy company called Stark Candy Company that continued the Mary Jane tradition. In 1990 Stark sold out to Necco, who continues to make the traditional Mary Janes pretty much unchanged from its original format.

Related Candies

  1. Hershey’s Pumpkin Spice Kisses
  2. Frankford Marshmallow Pals
  3. Milk Maid Caramel Candy Corn
  4. The Great Pumpkin Roundup
Name: Mary Jane Peanut Butter Kisses
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Necco
Place Purchased: Rite Aid (Echo Park)
Price: $1.29
Size: 12 ounces
Calories per ounce: 106
Categories: Chew, Peanuts, United States, Necco

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:16 am     Comments (87)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Trader Joe’s Mini Peanut Butter Cups

Every great candy has variations in size. Of course shrinking or enlarging a candy doesn’t necessarily make it better, in fact, it usually makes it different. Same components, just different ratios.

imageTrader Joe’s has gone and mucked around with their Peanut Butter Cups. These are made by the same manufacturer but are wee-tiny. Seriously, you can hardly call them cups. They look like knobs. Little peanut butter and milk chocolate knobs.

The little knobs don’t have flat tops, so they don’t sit quite right, they roll over easily. The easiset way to line them up is to have the top of the cup facing down ... which makes them more knob-like.

image

The ratio on these definitely leans towards chocolate over peanut butter. The chocolate is cool and sweet and slightly grainy, but matched well with the dash salty peanut butter.

It’s quite easy to just grab a handful of these out of the tub. And of course being chocolate they start to melt in your hand and you have to pop them in your mouth ... then you’ve got an empty hand and need to repeat. So the tub can go quickly. I know it’s tempting to want peanut butter cups with out the little fluted paper cup so that you can shovel them into your maw faster, but really no one needs anything to improve the efficiency of gobbling Trader Joe’s candy.

In the end I kept eating them because I wanted more peanut butter. I think I’ll stick to my Reese’s miniatures.

Note: Yes, I’ve been eating a lot of peanut-heavy candies lately, I credit it to the change in the weather. Some people think fall is all about spice, I think it’s all about nuts.

Related Candies

  1. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels
  2. Daffin’s Candies Factory & World’s Largest Candy Store
  3. Trader Joe’s Espresso Chocolate
  4. Disneyland for Candy Bloggers
  5. Maud Borup Potato Chips
  6. Trader Joe’s Chocolate Covered Banana Chips
Name: Mini Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe's
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (Silverlake)
Price: $2.99
Size: 12 ounces
Calories per ounce: 158
Categories: Chocolate, Peanuts, United States, Trader Joe's, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:10 am     Comments (28)

Monday, October 9, 2006

Atkinson’s Peanut Butter Bar

Ever want a Chick-o-Stick without the coconut? Well, Atkinson’s makes those, too, though they come with the rather boring name of Peanut Butter Bars.

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They’re not really bars, either. They’re more like rods. About the size and shape of a cigar or pretzel rod, they’re a hard candy shell with a crunchy peanut butter honeycomb center.

The candy actually comes in a variety of sizes, I usually see a small “changemaker” size with little one bite, individually-wrapped morsels. I like the ratio on this rods quite a bit, it’s a lot more peanut butter honeycomb than it is a hard candy. It has a nice flaky quality with a good salty hit and nutty crunch. It’s really crunchy, which is a great plus and they’re not nearly as messy as the Chick-o-Sticks but also a good all-weather candy.

Atkinson’s also makes something called a Pico-o-Sito which is a spicy peanut butter candy. Sounds pretty good to me, why can’t I find them at a store near me? Atkinson’s does have a nice website where you can order all of their candy and at pretty good prices (and free shipping).

Interesting fact from the website: Chick-o-Sticks & Peanut Butter Bars are vegan - there are no animal products in there (however, it depends on how observant you are on the sugar thing, their site doesn’t say if they use cane sugar or beet sugar).

Name: Peanut Butter Bars
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Atkinson's
Place Purchased: 99 Cent Only Store
Price: $.33
Size: 1.7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 129
Categories: Peanuts, Hard Candy, United States, Atkinson's

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:51 am     Comments (26)

Friday, October 6, 2006

Endangered Species: Milk Chocolate with Peanut Butter

Around this time last year I barely knew what Fair Trade was and there really weren’t that many chocolate products out there that were Fair Trade Certified. Now you can not only get cocoa and plain dark chocolate, but also some pretty cool flavored chocolate bars. Endangered Species seems to be leading the way with the Fair Trade “candy” bars in their new Premium Organic line.

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Each bar is a single serving and easy to pick up at the checkout of your favorite “wholesome” market like Whole Foods, Wild Oats or Zoo gift shop.

Along with the Fair Trade and organic certifications, this bar boasts high cocoa content of 52% (high for a milk chocolate). This wrapper has a giraffe on the label and everyone knows that the pattern on giraffes is known as the peanut shell. (Okay, I made that part up.)

The chocolate is buttery smooth and very sweet on the tongue. It has very strong smoky qualities with a slight bitterness at the start but a good nutty flavor. Once I start eating the bar, the unpleasant burnt quality goes away, but each time I stop and start I have to go through the process all over again. I’m afraid I can’t give it the highest marks because of that. Now, I’m one of those “supertaster” people, so I tend to be more sensitive to bitter, so your mileage may vary.

Interesting fact about giraffes from the wrapper: A giraffe’s neck contains seven vertebrae, just like ours.

Name: Smooth Organic Milk Chocolate with Peanut Butter
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Endangered Species
Place Purchased: samples from Endangered Species
Price: retail ~$1.49
Size: 1.4 ounces
Calories per ounce: 157
Categories: Chocolate, Peanuts, United States, Endangered Species, Kosher, Organic, Fair Trade

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:21 am     Comments (4)

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Peanut Butter Kisses

These aren’t really called Peanut Butter Kisses ... I believe those are molasses taffy with a bit of peanut butter inside of them and are often wrapped in black or orange waxed paper with twisted ends. The real name of these is Hershey’s Kisses filled with Peanut Butter.

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PB Kisses were introduced as a limited edition item but were quickly deemed popular enough to become part of the regular repertoire and were added in June 2006.

The PB Kiss sports a light gold wrapper with red wiggly stripes and the word Peanut Butter on the foil. The little red flags say Peanut Butter as well. The Kisses look a little different out of the wrapper, the shell is smoother. These Kisses are molded instead of being extruded, so they’re shiny.

Inside the milk chocolate shell is a little dab of peanut butter filling. It’s got a good roasted flavor with a little hit of salt. It’s not super-smoothed like a Reese’s Pieces, but more like the inside of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (but not quite as crumbly).

They’re very tasty and quite addictive. The only problem I have with them is they’re a little greasy feeling when you take them out of the foil - I know that’s because of the peanut butter.

I’m not quite sure why these needed to be created though ... how different are then from the Reese’s Miniatures, except that there’s only one wrapper on them instead of a cup and a wrapper? The ratio, which everyone knows is very important with peanut butter items, is different though - there’s less peanut butter to chocolate here. So if you’re a chocolate fan but not so keen on a giganto hit of peanut butter, this may be your new favorite candy.

I picked these up at the 99 Cent Only Store and at 99 cents for an 11 ounce bag, they’re quite a deal. Don’t worry, they’re not three years old or anything, I’ve got the Hershey’s code!

Name: Kisses filled with Peanut Butter
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Hershey's
Place Purchased: 99 Cent Only Store
Price: 99 cents!
Size: 11 ounces
Calories per ounce: 159
Categories: Chocolate, Peanut, United States, Hershey

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:52 am     Comments (7)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Flippin’ Fudge

One of the things I’ve always struggled with when evaluating fudge is that it’s so unappealing looking (I have this problem with toffee, too). You usually just buy it in lackluster chunks and then you have to figure out how to slice it up and how big is a serving supposed to be? How do you close it back up without the edges getting crusty?

Flippin’ Fudge contacted me a few weeks ago to tell me about their new fudge and I was kinda skeptical, mostly because I really didn’t want to take photos of amorphous lumps of sugar and chocolate. Well, when it arrived, I realized that Tim & Liz Young at Flippin’ Fudge has figured out how to make fudge look great.

image

First, the box it came in. It was a white lidded corrugated shipping box that had the logo on it, you open it (easily, not with a lot of struggle) and inside is the smaller box padded by some confetti colored packing shreds.

The real treat is inside, each piece of fudge is individually wrapped in a royal purple/magenta piece of foil and labeled with the flavor.

All the fudge has a very good “bite” to it. It’s soft without being limp, firm without being chalky. None of it is particularly sweet right out of the gate, instead the chocolate flavor predominates and there’s less milky mellowness to it.

Dark Secret - a plain fudge but with a bit more of a chocolate kick. The fudge itself is smooth and dense, without being the slightest bit sticky. It’s missing that crystalline crumbliness that I kind of like in cheap fudge, but where that’s lacking the signs of bad fudge you’ll find lots of flavor.

Wake Up Call - coffee and chocolate, what could be better in the morning? This was a nice mellow chocolate fudge, but I never really got the coffee flavor kick out of it. It had a slightly more acidic bite to it, but no really smokin’ coffee to wake me up.

Skippy’s Surprise - a layer of chocolate fudge, a layer or peanut butter fudge and then another layer of chocolate fudge. The peanut butter is ultrasmooth and creamy and has a strong roasted nut taste. A little kick of salt and you’ll be searching the assorted box for more of these. Very satisfying.

Fuzzy Bubble - this is peach champagne fudge, and I’m sure lots of folks think this is a good idea, but I just have to exempt myself from this one. I really don’t care for mixing peach with chocolate for some reason and this fudge is no exception.

Citrus Shot - It’s a rich orange, with more essence to it than tart juicy taste. I’ve always loved the combo of orange and chocolate. This could be kicked up a notch, but it’s still wonderful.

Toffee Crunch - A nice salty hit with a buttery smell and taste of caramelized sugar mixed in with the chocolate.

Island Retreat - Coconut and chocolate is a great combo. If you like Mounds bars but don’t want to be bothered with all that actual coconut to chew, is a great option. All the flavor is there, that sort of floral fragrance, nutty bite and of course the chocolate smoothness to wash it down. It seriously made me think of summer and walking around the boardwalk in Wildwood, NJ.

Overall the fudge is very different from what I’m used to. I looked over the ingredients and noticed that they all have

peanut butter in them, and I suspect that that’s what gives it the ultrasmooth texture

(I emailed with Tim and he said that there’s no peanut butter in the non peanut butter flavors, so his secret of how he makes it so smooth is his alone) without adding the milky-sticky texture that sometimes turns me off.

I did all this without looking at the price so as not to color my judgement one way or the other. The standard mixed box that I got is 12 ounces and contains 16 pieces. It costs $20.00 but the larger 28 piece assortment (about 21 ounces) is a better deal at $32. The site is well laid out with a good variety of product combinations and you can calculate the shipping before you check out, but all shipping is done through FedEx, which can cost a pretty penny for overnight but the ground shipping isn’t too bad.

(Not tried: Berry Nuts which is Raspberry & walnuts - it sounds awesome.)

UPDATE 10/14/2006 - you can win a $50 gift certifcate!

Name: 16 Piece Variety Pack of Fudge
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Flippin' Fudge
Place Purchased: samples from Flippin' Fudge
Price: $20.00
Size: 12 ounces
Calories per ounce: 120
Categories: Chocolate, Toffee, Nuts, Peanuts, Coconut, Coffee, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:59 am     Comments (18)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Endangered Species: Peanut Butter Brittle & Rice Crisp

The lovely folks at Endanged Species thought I should try more of their bars (well, so did the lovely Candy Blog readers in the comments section). They happily sent me a small selection to try, here are a couple of the milk chocolate bars.

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Milk Chocolate with Peanut Brittle - there’s an elephant on the package! I’m guessing because elephants like peanuts. The base of this bar is a very dark, rich milk chocolate with 52% cocoa content. In fact, it’s so chocolatey that the sugar (made from water-filtered beet sugar) is third on the list of ingredients instead of first in most milk chocolates. That’s not to say that the chocolate isn’t sweet, but it also has an intense creaminess to it that I’ve found very rare in other milk chocolates. The dairy component is quite rich but it doesn’t feel sticky.

Sprinkled in there are peanut brittle chips. They have a nice salty bite and crispness and add a good peanut crunch. I’d argue that it isn’t really peanut brittle but toffee, since it’s so buttery, but I don’t feel that argument much matters.

This is a fantastic bar that may convert some folks who say they don’t like milk chocolate because it’s too homogeneous tasting but it still retains its munchability. I ate the whole bar in a matter of two days. 9 out of 10.

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Milk Chocolate with Rice Crisp - this bar has a manatee on the front. I doubt manatees have a fondness for rice though as vegetarians I don’t imagine they’d be adverse to it. This bar contains the same dark 52% cocoa content milk chocolate. This bar has a slightly smokier taste to it, which I’m guessing is added by the crisped rice. The first third of the bar, I hated it. The crisped rice tasted bitter and burnt to me. But I thought maybe I just had a bad rice crisp or two. I waited a day and tried it again. The crisped rice still reminds me of those bits of barely popped popcorn that end up in the bottom of the bowl. Very toasted tasting and with a much denser crunch.

Though the second try was more successful, I just wasn’t keen on the rustic taste of the rice crisps. There weren’t enough of them to make it a really crunchy bar and the intense flavor they added didn’t thrill me. I’m a huge fan of grains and eat a lot of them (barley is my favorite, if you didn’t already know) but this just wasn’t my thing. 6 out of 10.

Endangered Species is now based in Indiana (they moved from Oregon last year) and the make ethically traded chocolate bars in a huge variety of flavor combinations. The cool part is that the commitment to the environment goes to all facets of the production and marketing. The packages are printed on recycled paper and with soy-based biodegradable inks. The 10% of all profits are donated to animal conservation causes. Each bar is branded with a different endangered animal and the inside of the wrapper has that animal’s story. There are often coupons as well and tips for making small changes in your life to lessen your impact on the environment.

Though the bars are all natural, these are not organic (though there are other bars in their repertoir that are). Some of the cocoa beans that they acquire are Fair Trade certified and others do not have the certification but are ethically traded. Their packaging and story helps them to appeal to kids moreso than other wholesome-branded chocolates.

Name: Milk Chocolate with Peanut Butter Brittle & Rice Crisp
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Endangered Species
Place Purchased: samples from Endangered Species
Price: $2.39 retail
Size: 3 ounces
Calories per ounce: 153
Categories: Chocolate, Cookie, Peanuts, Toffee, United States, Endangered Species, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:40 am     Comments (5)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Garfield’s Chocobites

imageWhen I was the All Candy Expo there were lots of candies there that I’d never seen before, and many that I’ll probably never see again. One that seemed to be everywhere in the little freebie bowls were Garfield’s Chocobites by Arcor.

Yeah, they’re knock-offs of Peanut M&Ms. They’ve been sitting in my pile o’ candy I really don’t wanna eat.

I got a little piece of email last week that I had to share. Kendra wanted to make sure that everyone know about the bad candy known as Garfield’s Chocobites.

Here are some of her words:

For awhile now they’ve been offering “Garfield’s Chocobites” in my company’s vending machine, and I’ve wisely avoided them. However today I found the vending machine to have slim pickings, so I decided to give the chocobites a try, how bad could they be?

How bad you ask? Bad. I bought the “Peanut Chocolate Candies” variety, and the first one I pulled out, was covered in a fairly large splatter of lard. You heard me, lard. At first I thought it might be some candy coating glaze, but it was most certainly some sort of fatty lardy, crisco-like substance.

Technically that white greasy substance isn’t lard, it’s probably cocoa butter (though the ingredients also list something called polyricinoleic acid, which is a red flag that whatever is in the package will disappoint you). And usually I say hurray for cocoa butter, but when cocoa butter leaves the chocolate, it’s not a pleasant thing. If the cocoa butter has left the candy, it means that the candy has been stored improperly, in a warm environment long enough for the cocoa butter to melt and vacate the candy ... ew. And what’s left inside the candy shell if the cocoa butter is gone? Sugar and cocoa, dried milk and some other additives. What’s worse is that a vending machine would have this issue - it should be some sort of climate controlled machine! It’s plugged in, can’t they keep the temperature below 80?

Now, I’d say that Kendra should just forgo that vending machine ... but she’s not the only one. Even Candy Addict Victoria has found the similarly dismal results with her experience:

I bit a red one in half, which is what I do to almost everything when I eat, just to make sure there’s nothing unwanted hiding inside. It looked okay, again, much like a peanut M&M, so I chewed up the entire thing, which was a mistake.

A quick websearch did find one person who liked them, giving them 4.5 gummi bears out of 5.

Some anonymous person commenting at Junk Food Blog posits that:

You have to take into account that the Chocobites are made using real milk (the traditional way to make milk chocolate). [snip] So its not that they taste “terrible” one here is just not used to it…

Um, yeah, anonymous should check out the ingredients list and notice the presence of PGPR. It’s not that we’re uneducated dweebs, they’re made with inferior ingredients.

Anyway, my take on them (and mine are fresh) is that the peanuts are substandard. The candy shells are pretty but not tasty looking. They’re a little more textured than M&Ms (which isn’t a bad thing, just different) and the colors are vibrant, but a little uneven. The red and orange ones were a little mottled which made it look like someone had dribbled another color of dye in there. The shell is very crisp and thicker than M&Ms which is kind of fun. It makes them very crunchy. But after that it’s downhill. The peanuts are simply substandard. At least half of them were awful, chewy and bitter or tasted burnt. The chocolate is sweet and uninteresting with no creamy balance to the peanuts or crunchy shell.

I’m really sorry that some vending companies are putting in bad quality products to up their profits. At 1.74 ounces, it’s the exact same size as a bag of Peanut M&Ms, so you’re not the one getting a better value here. I’m all for generics, I buy them all the time, but this is one case where you’re gonna get burned.

Name: Garfield's Chocobites
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Arcor
Place Purchased: All Candy Expo sample
Price: retail $.75
Size: 1.74 ounces
Calories per ounce: 138
Categories: Chocolate, Peanuts

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:33 am     Comments (6)

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Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.

 

 

 

 

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COUNTDOWN

Candy Season Ends (Easter)

1 days

 

 

 

Which seasonal candy selection do you prefer?

Choose one or more:

  •   Halloween
  •   Christmas
  •   Valentine's Day
  •   Easter

 

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ON DECK

These candies will be reviewed shortly:

• Patric Chocolate

• Amano Chocolates

• Candy Rant: Stimulants are not Energy

• Candy Encyclopedia: The Difference Between Gummi and Jelly

• Candy Rant: If your Licorice isn’t black, it isn’t Licorice

 

 

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