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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Revisit: Take 5, Sunkist Fruit Gems & Snickers Almond

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.

Take 5Hershey’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.

Sometime when I wasn’t looking (I photographed it last summer again) the Hershey’s Take 5 left the list of chocolate candy bars and joined the growing list of Hershey’s Real Mockolate

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).

Take 5

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.

Product: Hershey’s Take 5
Previous Review: 7/13/2005
Change: milk chocolate coating is replaced with a fake chocolate coating (which contains chocolate but also other vegetable oils).
Result: For now they’re off my list but still get a passing rating of 5 out of 10.

Sunkist Fruit GemsSunkist 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.

Sunkist Fruit GemsThe flavors included now are: Orange, Lemon, Lime and Raspberry. The old package was 2.4 ounces, the new one is only 1.35 ounces.

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.)

Product: Sunkist Fruit Gems
Previous Review: November 15, 2006
Change: New owners (Jelly Belly) and smaller package
Result: I didn’t care much for raspberry or lime, so with such a small package and only two pieces I do like it’s not worth it. 4 out of 10

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.

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.

Product: Mars Snickers Almond
Previous Reviews: 12/28/2005 & 8/14/2006
Change: reverting to old recipe (eliminating peanut ingredients from previous version)
Result: A great bar with a long history and I’m glad that it’s back to a more classic formulation so it bumps up a notch. 6 out of 10

Related Candies

  1. Grapefruit Mentos (Japan)
  2. Snickers Rockin’ Nut Road Bar
  3. Head to Head: Twisted vs Take 5
  4. Snickers Almond Dark
  5. Take 5 Peanut Butter

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:09 am     CandyReviewSnickersHershey'sJelly BellyMarsCaramelChocolateCookieKosherMockolateNougatNutsPeanuts4-Benign5-Pleasant6-TemptingUnited StatesRite AidComments (16)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hershey’s Special Dark Miniatures

Hershey's Special Dark MiniaturesHershey’s makes several varieties of their Miniatures line. I picked up Hershey’s Special Dark Miniatures as I’d never seen them before and they seemed to promise dark chocolate versions of the old favorites Krackel and Mr. Goodbar (though not by name).

The bag was a bit larger than the other Hershey’s Miniatures that I bought at the same time and has only three varieties instead of four.

But the most notable part is the appearance of the little seal that Hershey’s puts on some of their dark chocolate confections, it says that this is a “natural source of flavinol antioxidants.” At only about 45% cacao content, yes, I guess it qualifies as a source, though not a terribly dense one. Hershey’s has some wonderfully convincing documentation about this on their website, though they’re probably purposefully vague about how much of these beneficial compounds are in any given serving.

Hershey's Special Dark Minatures

The assortment here is rather balanced between the three varieties: 13 Special Dark, 11 Special Dark with Crisp Rice and 12 Special Dark with Peanuts.

imageI just reviewed the Special Dark on Friday, but for those who don’t feel like clicking over, here are the relevant parts of that again:

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.

Rating: 4 out of 10

imageThe Special Dark with Peanuts comes in a mustard yellow wrapper, which I figured is to remind us of the Mr. Goodbar. Why they don’t just call it Mr. Goodbar Dark or Mr. Darkbar or something, I have no clue.

Though the ingredients on the wrapper are not broken out for each of the individually wrapped varieties, the list is clear, these are all real chocolate. There are no additional oils present except for those native to the chocolate or dairy ones (permissable in present definitions).

The little bars are cute and look really just like you’d expect a dark Mr. Goodbar - dark sheen and little nuts poking through.

It smells like dark roasted peanuts and cocoa.

The bite has a good snap and an immediate mix of bitter notes from both the peanuts (which look like they’re roasted very dark) and the chocolate. The texture isn’t super creamy, but is consistent with an okay melt.

Rating: 5 out of 10.

imageI brought a lot of my own baggage to the Special Dark with Crisp Rice as I was hoping Hershey’s could be redeemed. Perhaps with the one hand they’d taken away a beloved favorite but with the other they’d snuck a glorious replacement into this mix.

It looks much like the Peanut version, but smells much sweeter with only the lightest whiff of malt.

The crunch isn’t as pronounced as the old Milk Chocolate or present Mockolate version, but has a nice texture. The malty flavor of the rice is completely lost in the thin cocoa flavor and sweetness. The texture doesn’t seem as creamy or melt as easily for some reason, but I can’t call it waxy.

It’s less bitter than the others though, so provides a nice counterpoint.

Is the Krackel and Hershey’s redeemed? No. But it’s a passable effort.

Rating: 5 out of 10.

I didn’t even try asking Hershey’s what the ingredients for the individual pieces are, because I’m not entitled to know should I decide to pick only one of the variety to eat.

If I needed to buy a chocolate miniature assortment from Hershey’s again, I’d have to pick this one up instead of the old favorites. But even with the higher ratings than that one, I don’t see myself picking this up again.

Related Candies

  1. Hershey’s Special Dark with Almonds
  2. M&Ms Premiums: Dark Chocolate
  3. Hershey’s Nuggets Double Chocolate
  4. Hershey’s Special Dark Pieces
  5. Kissables Dark
Name: Hershey's Special Dark Miniatures
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Hershey's
Place Purchased: Rite Aid (Echo Park)
Price: $4.29
Size: 11 ounces
Calories per ounce: 131
Categories: Chocolate, Peanuts, Crisp, United States, Hershey's, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:36 am     Comments (9)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Hershey’s Miniatures

Hershey's MiniaturesHershey’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.

Hershey's Miniatures

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.

imageIt’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.

imageThe 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

imageMr. 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.

imageKrackel, 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.)

Related Candies

  1. Kissables (Reformulated)
  2. American Value Chocolate Bars
  3. The Shame of Some “Healthy” Candy
  4. Whoppers Twosomes
Name: Hershey's Miniatures
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Hershey's
Place Purchased: Rite Aid (Echo Park)
Price: $3.29
Size: 9.2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 138
Categories: Chocolate, Mockolate, Peanuts, Crisp, United States, Hershey's, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:47 am     Comments (43)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Heide Red Raspberry Dollars

Heide Red Raspberry DollarsWhen I was a kid these were called Red Hot Dollars. They were introduced during the depression by Henry Heide when a “red hot dollar” was an enviable thing, even though the candy itself was always raspberry flavored (and red and shaped rather like a one dollar coin).

The Heide candy company later sold out to Hershey’s in 1995 who decided in 1999 that the name was confusing (because many people would buy them thinking they were cinnamon) and changed them to their present name of Red Raspberry Dollars. The company was later sold to Farley’s & Sathers Candy Company in 2003. To make it even more confusing, Farley’s & Sathers does sell cinnamon (and licorice) dollars and reunites them with their name of Red Hot Dollars (I can’t find them in stores, but look sharp and you may see them on the internet).

Red Raspberry DollarsBy all appearances F&S took over the Heide name and production of the candy itself but hasn’t done much else. The box design looks like someone created it with some royalty free clip art circa 1998 (but the copyright on the back says 2003). But what they’re saving on designs, four color photo realistic images, an actual description of the product and advertising they’re putting into value. This box I picked up for $1 holds a 7.8 ounces, making it an excellent deal.

The images on the package don’t really represent the candies either. They make it look as if these are flat disks with large dollar signs. Instead they’re thick, ranging from 1/4 of an inch to 3/8 of an inch and about 3/4 of an inch around. More like nobs than coins. The color is a pleasant red, kind of translucent.

The design on the pieces consists of a dollar sign and the letters HEIDE curved above it. Of course I coulnd’t really make that out on many of the candies. About half of them were “rejectable” for any number of reasons. Some were underweight (too thin), still others were mangled and irregular in shape and size.

Quality Control Issues at Heide

The outer texture is soft and the candies are quite firm, somewhere between Jujubes and a Jujyfruits. (These candies are well sealed in the box, but the box is still only paperboard and has no plastic overwrap to seal it from drying out and nearing their expiry when I bought them.)

The flavor is a bit similar to Swedish Fish. A mild and pleasant raspberry, but all sweetness and floral flavors, none of the tangy sour bite of the berry. It’s pretty mellow, almost like honey. Later there a bit of a bitter aftertaste, but I’ll go ahead and say that’s the Red 40 that I always seem to detect. But then there’s the texture. They’re quite sticky ... not that they’ll pull out any fillings but they sure stick to your teeth in big clumps on the sides and in between. I find hot tea dislodges them well. Or, well, brushing.

I think I’ll stick to Swedish Fish. And I’ll keep my eye out for the cinnamon variety.

Related Candies

  1. All Gummies Gourmet Fruity Fish (Swedish Fish knock-off)
  2. Dots Elements: Earth, Air, Fire & Water
  3. Red Vines
  4. Dots
  5. Swedish Aqua Life
Name: Red Raspberry Dollars
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Heide (Farley's & Sathers)
Place Purchased: Rite Aid (Echo Park)
Price: $1.00
Size: 7.8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 92
Categories: Jelly, United States, Farley's & Sathers

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:40 am     Comments (23)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Nips: Caramel & Dulce de Leche

NipsI was surprised at readers’ passion for Nips, so I thought I’d try a few more varieties.

I found Nips Caramel and Nips Dulce de Leche at the Rite Aid for only 99 cents (same price as the 99 Cent Only Store, see you don’t have to look far for a bargain).

Though the candy is described as rich & creamy hard candy on the front of the box, I don’t think it quite qualifies as hard since it’s not crunchable. It’s also not a caramel, because it’s not chewable. It’s just a Nip, I guess.

Caramel Nips

Caramel Nips look pretty similar to Coffee Nips, but just a smidge lighter in color. They have the same ultra smooth texture, light burnt sugar flavors and slow dissolve.

They’re creamy and milky without being cloying or sticky. They fit well in the mouth, too.

It’s taken me a while to retrain myself when eating Nips that they’re not like Werther’s Originals, I can’t crunch them, instead I’d end up cementing my teeth together.

Overall, not quite as good as the Coffee ones, but that’s a personal preference thing, these are still quite tasty and an excellent candy that belongs in everyone’s candy dish. (Except in really humid climates.)

Dulce de Leche Nips

Readers were lamenting that they thought that the Dulce de Leche Nips were possibly discontinued. I was quite happy to see a large inventory of them at Rite Aid, so I’m just guessing that they focus on regions where dulce de leche is a more recognizable. (Large Latino populations - I’m guessing because the packages for both of these are in both English and Spanish.)

I was a little nervous about these, I do remember having the chocolate parfait ones years ago and not caring much for the grainy and flavorless filling (but that could have been a bad or old batch). There’s no real description on the box either, just the banner that says dulce de leche (which means milk candy and is usually made from sweetened condensed milk boiled slowly to caramelize both the sugar and the milk sugars and served either as a sauce or fudge).

In this case it’s a shell like the Caramel Nip but inside is a layer of a sort of creme like the filling of an Oreo, a little grainy, sweet and chalky.

The overall flavor here is not really caramelized milk to me, instead it’s maple or pecan. It’s woodsy and sweet and nice, but doesn’t really enter into the dulce de leche zone for me. So if they’re looking for a way to make these appealing to other regions, maybe in New England they’d call it Country Maple and in the South they’d call it Toasted Pecan.

The cream made the candy disappear much faster, which wasn’t as fun either. They weren’t as consistent, some had a little cream sticking out of the sides. I’ll stick with the solid ones.

The other flavors still out there: Butter Rum, Chocolate Parfait, Peanut Butter Parfait and Mocha.

Related Candies

  1. Crown Nuggets Borrachitos
  2. Caramilk Maple
  3. Milk Maid Caramel Candy Corn
  4. Nestle Turtles
Name: Nips: Caramel & Dulce de Leche
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: Rite Aid (Echo Park)
Price: $.99
Size: 4 ounces
Calories per ounce: 121
Categories: Caramel, United States, Nestle, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:31 am     Comments (13)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Now & Later

Classic Now & LaterNow and Later were first introduced in 1962 with only three flavors by the Phoenix Candy Company. They were designed as an all-year-round candy, no problem eating these in the summer.

The little individually wrapped taffy squares start hard but become chewy. One of the original taglines for the candy was “Eat some now, save some for later.” (I remember the tune for the jingle, but nothing beyond those words.) They currently say, “Hard ‘n Fruity Now, Soft ‘n Chewy Later.”

The 18 piece classic bar features the flavors Strawberry, Grape and Lime. In some ways they resemble Starburst, since they are a fruit chew (they were introduced as Opal Fruits in 1960 in the UK) or Tangy Taffy which was sold in bars that you could whack and break into bite size pieces. (That’s now discontinued.)

Classic Now & LaterNow and Later have gone through a few different standard flavors and even a few owners. Phoenix Candy Company of Brooklyn, NY later sold out to Beatrice Foods (1978), who later sold their confectionery lines to Huhtamaki Oy of Finland (1983) which then turned around and sold it off in 1986 to a Finnish investment firm called Kouri Capital. They held onto it until 1992 when they sold it to Nabisco (who also held LifeSavers back then). Then it was sold to Kraft ... ultimately landing at Farley’s and Sathers in 2002. (Either people really love this candy or just don’t know what to do with it.)

Wikipedia has a fun list of all the flavors known to have existed. Even today, there are a lot of flavors of Now and Later, though I never see them in stores.

The most common format for the candy these days is either the pack shown here or in tubs of either mixed flavors or single flavors.

I ate a lot of these as a kid. They came in 5 cent packs (little stacks of the squares), so were easy to buy even when I had little money. But I gave up on them later as I got my permanent teeth. There was something anxiety-producing as I wasn’t disciplined enough to just let them soften in my mouth, I had to chew them while they were still hard and then anchor my jaw together.

Soft Now & Later and Classic Now & LaterGrape: was always my favorite in the Now and Later pantheon. Artificial through and through, it tastes like SweeTarts and ball point pen ink smells. Not terribly tangy, but still flavored to the very end and never gritty or grainy.

Lime: the neon green wax wrapper is matched by the neon green color of the candy. It’s very tangy and has the flavor of Lime Kool-Aid.

Strawberry: is a rich pink color. The flavor is at once like strawberry jam and those Italian strawberry hard candies that have the gooey filling. Tangy, fragrant, artificial and satisfying.

Now and Later don’t pretend to be healthy, there’s no real fruit juice in there, no detectable levels of vitamin C.

They can also be considered vegan, as they contain no animal products. (But do have soy, for those who might be sensitive and are processed on machinery that also handles eggs.)

Soft Now & Later and Classic Now & LaterA while back Farley’s & Sathers introduced Soft Now and Later, which seem to solve that problem most adults have with them.

Soft Now and Later are actually soft! They’re soft enough to bend while still in the wrapper.

A regular N&L is one inch square and a quarter of an inch high. The Soft N&L is one and a quarter inches square and a third of an inch high.

And they come in oodles of flavors. 

Soft Now & Laters

Grape: this was the only crossover flavor I had between the regular and soft. It has an identical flavor. The texture makes it a little less punchy at first, but after that it’s tangy and artificial to the very end.

Banana : insanely chemical, so much that it’s like inhaling fingernail polish remover. Sweet and chewy, not quite as good as Laffy Taffy, but darn close. Even though they’re pretty horrible, I love them more than any of the other flavors. (I can’t explain it any further, it’s kind of like circus peanuts.)

Vanilla: is a nice toasty cream color. It tastes extremely artificial, but pleasant, rather like toasted marshmallows. Much softer chew than Tootsie’s version.

Chocolate: it’s a glossy-rich red-brown. It doesn’t smell like much, and really doesn’t taste like it either. Kind of like a very sweet brownie batter. The chew is nice, but overall I’d probably go with Tootsie Rolls.

Watermelon: is a zap of summer in the mouth. At first it’s that fake watermelon scent, then it tastes more like real apple juice. Not at all what I expected, and fans of fake watermelon and Bonne Bell lipsmackers will probably be disappointed.

Apple is a really weird light green color, almost has a cast of blue to it that makes me think it might be minty. Nope, it’s pure green apple flavor.

Cherry looks exactly like the Watermelon out of the wrapper (maybe a smidge darker). It has an intense black cherry flavor, nicely tart and less medicinal than many cherry candies.

The fun thing about the Soft N&L is that they are soft enough for mash-ups. I took my vanilla and chocolate and twisted them together. (It didn’t really make them any better.) Then I twisted them in with some banana. (Still not really better, just fun.) I pushed some bits of the Watermelon and Apple together and it looked horrid and tasted even worse. (But there have to be good combos in there somewhere.)

As a soft taffy with intense flavors, these aren’t quite Starburst. However, they don’t have any gelatin in them (but do have egg whites, so they’re not suitable for vegans but fine for vegetarians).

Other reviews: Candy Addict, Wisconsin Candy Dish & Slashfood.

Related Candies

  1. Look! and Big Hunk
  2. Banana n Cream & Red Orange Mentos
  3. Tootsie Pop Drops
  4. Tootsie Rolls & Fruit Rolls
  5. Starburst
  6. Doscher’s French Chew Taffy
Name: Now and Later & Soft Now and Later
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Farley's and Sathers
Place Purchased: Rite Aid (Glendale) & samples from CandyWarehouse.com
Price: $.89 & $18 per tub
Size: 2.75 ounces & 57 ounces
Calories per ounce: 87
Categories: Chew, Mexico, Farley's and Sathers

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:35 pm     Comments (64)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Look! and Big Hunk

Look!I mention summer candy every now and then and this past weekend with sweltering June heat I figured it was time to start concentrating more on it.

Annabelle Candy makes a few good summer candy bars, ones that are exceptionally tolerant of the heat. The Abba Zaba is probably one of the best known, perhaps because of the name and whackable bar.

The Look! bar isn’t summer friendly, but the Big Hunk is. For a long time I though that the Look! bar as just a chocolate covered Big Hunk.

The Look! is a narrow and flat bar of rich chocolate covered nougat with peanuts and if that sounds like a Snickers without the caramel, it’s a bit more simple than that. Basically, as the package announces, it’s Chewy Good!.

It’s about 6 inches long but only a quarter of an inch high.

Look! I took a bite!

I’ve never had one of these. Though the appealing wrapper tells me to Look! and I do, I never buy.

And what a fool I’ve been! It’s everything I love about Bit-o-Honey plus real chocolate and even a hint of molasses.

The golden nougat center isn’t easy to bite, so I’ve found peeling back the wrapper and nibbling off a little bite is best (not as big a picture, please, spare yourself that drama of “will it pull out my teeth!”).

The dark, creamy and smokey chocolate melts quickly into a buttery chocolate mess just as the peanut molasses chew starts to warm and soften. As the chocolate taste drifts away the lightly salty, woodsy and nutty chew comes forward. It’s smooth and pliable, reminding me a bit of Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews (except for, you know, that real chocolate part).

The only thing I wish was that it was easier to eat. I need to find the snack size version.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Big HunkBig Hunk is exactly that. It’s 2 full ounces of chewy nougat studded with peanuts. This bar is about 7 inches long and about a third of an inch thick.

Unlike the Look! bar, Big Hunk contains no molasses.

Like the Look!, the Big Hunk were first made by another San Francisco-based-confectioner called Golden Nugget Candy Company. Annabelle Candy took them over in 1972 and helped to expand these regional bars to larger national prominence via placement at drug stores and discount retailers. I’ve found, though, that they’re easiest to find on the West Coast.

Big Hunk

I like to whack the bar to break it into pieces, though this isn’t always easy.

It’s studded with peanut & peanut pieces, the nougat itself is a bit lighter in color than the Look!, a bit on the yellow side, I’m guessing from the peanuts. It’s easy to bend, or if you bend it very quickly it also breaks. The wrapper also suggests microwaving for 5 to 10 seconds to make it super soft, but I don’t believe that candy should ever require preparation ... that’s veering into recipe territory. However, leaving on the dashboard of the car in the summertime can have the same result. It can actually become rather stringy this way, depending on how long you leave it in there and how hot it is.

It softens up quickly in the mouth, even at room temperature. It’s smooth and has a light honey flavor but mostly it tastes like dark roasted peanuts. It has far more flavor than the Abba Zaba and is a winner in my book. Besides chewing, you can suck on it to disslove it. It reminds me of Cap’n Crunch cereal milk - sweet, a little hint of malt perhaps and of course a creamy background.

I’m not as fond of it as the Look!, but it’s still very appealing and as mentioned earlier, this is an ideal summer treat. No melting but still a satisfying creamy experience along with the little boost of protein from the peanuts (3 grams). It’s also promoted as a low fat bar, and the fat that’s in there comes from the peanuts ... but that also means that it’s full of carbs ... which, you know, makes it pretty darn appealing in my book.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

Related Candies

  1. Tootsie Rolls & Fruit Rolls
  2. Mary Jane Peanut Butter Kisses
  3. Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews
  4. Annabelle’s U-No
  5. Rocky Road
Name: Look! & Big Hunk
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Annabelle Candy Company
Place Purchased: Rite Aid (Glendale)
Price: $.75
Size: 1.5 ounces & 2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 153 & 115
Categories: Chocolate, Chew, Peanut, United States, Annabelle Candy, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:30 am     Comments (15)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter Novelty Toys (with candy)

Here are a few combo candy-toy items for Easter baskets and beyond:

M&Ms Mini

I thought this little M&Ms mini figure was pretty cute. He’s made of some sort of durable hard plastic, not that cheap thin stuff.

The little figure is full of mini M&Ms. They’re regular M&Ms, not the Easter pastel version, but I’m okay with that.

The most vexing thing about this is the little hat that twists/pops off to reveal the candy. It was like a frelling child safety cap without the insane instructions.

There were a few varieties, including Green, Red and Yellow. I liked the Blue because it felt most like Easter pastels even if he did have some sort of a goofy look on his face. I don’t know if the bunny hats are swappable for other non-holiday novelties.

It was expensive for the scant amount of candy involved, $1.99 regular price. But a fun grab next week on sale, perhaps.

Hershey's Lamb with Kisses

When I was a teenager I had a thing for sheep items. (Well, in college we actually had a sheep living at a house I was renting a room at, but he was more of a lawnmower.)

My obsession caused me to rewrite passages of Shakespeare with sheep in mind:

Methought I heard a voice cry ‘Sheep no more!
Macbeth does murder sheep’, the innocent sheep,
Sheep that knits up the ravell’d sleeve of care (1)

I’ve kind of moved on from the sheep thing (though if I ever have one I get to name, he’ll be called Fleance).

While this little cheap plastic egg with sheep features was only 99 cents, it also only has give Hershey’s Kisses in them. (At least they’re pastel foil.)

M&Ms Toys with CandyMoving up in price, Candyrific recently expanded their toy/candy line with some M&Ms themed items.

They fall more in the realm of toys than candy containers and are pretty fun combinations.

The first is a set of fans. Candyrific came out with a really good candy novelty a couple of years ago, which is the fan that has little LED lights on it and a candy container in the handle. This new version has the M&Ms characters in various colors holding the fan. The central container at the base of the handle holds .7 ounces of regular M&Ms. (There’s supposedly a version of this for Easter, but I got the year-round version as a sample and haven’t seen the pastel ones with bunny ears in stores.)

The second is a miniature Etch A Sketch that holds a small fun-sized pack of M&Ms.

          M&Ms Fan Toy

I have to admit that I enjoy these a lot. I don’t care about the candy inside. I wish that they lit up like the other versions do, but I’m guessing the money they spend on those LEDs in this instance goes to M&MS for the licensing of the characters. But at least they have real M&Ms in there.

They’re well made and even have a real battery compartment that can be opened and replaced for actual lasting play.

I really could have used a few of these last September during that blackout on Labor Day weekend where my house was over 100 degrees inside.

The fan blade is made of a soft foam, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t hurt myself with it. Maybe if I stuck it in my eye. (Please don’t try that, or if you do, please don’t blame me.)

M&Ms Etch A Sketch

The other fun item is this little Etch A Sketch with a couple of M&Ms on there. They come in a few different colors, but they’re pretty much the same. I had an Etch A Sketch as a kid and enjoyed it ... actually got pretty good at drawing on it. This one doesn’t work quite as well, the little stylus draws a very thin line, probably a little too thin on the first pass, so I ended up going over my lines twice.

M&Ms Etch A SketchIt’s a crazy small amount of candy, but like the fan, it’s pretty easy to put any kind of candy in there and refill it however you like.

The biggest drawback is trying to clear the Etch A Sketch, which everyone knows involves turning it over and shaking it wildly. With the M&Ms in the little container part it makes a lotta noise and to clear the EAS properly, I broke some of my M&MS.

There is an easy solution to this of course, just take the lid off (the part that has the EAS on it) and just shake that. Like my problems with getting the hat off of the Easter minis, I’m sure a child would figure this out much quicker than I did.

The last item is a bit of a re-review of one of my favorite candy novelties so far, an Easter version of the Gummy Lightning Bugs.

Lightning Bunny Gummy CandyThis version has little gummy rabbits and is called Lightning Bunny Candy by Kandy Kastle. They’re all one flavor, instead of a mix. I was worried when I saw that they’re all red, but it’s cool, they’re strawberry, not cherry.

For only 99 cents there are 9 little gummis and the cute purple light up tongs.

The package said that the tongs were redesigned. Actually, it says “New & Improved Tong Included” so they’re better than before and there’s only one. (Tongs, I’m guessing are like scissors and pants and are always plural.)

The tongs aren’t really improved, if you ask me. They’re just shorter than before, probably easier to grasp for little fingers and they don’t stay on as readily, which probably provides a lot more longevity.

This is the kind of exploratory toy that I think is good for kids. It makes them slow down and really look at everyday things in a different way.

Lightning Bunny Gummy CandyI tried them on some other items, they don’t open as widely as they used to, so anything as large as say, a Spearmint Leaf is too big. But small items like jelly beans (awesome!) and chocolate covered coffee beans (boring) are the right size.

I think adding a little toy in an Easter basket is fun. (I think the best one I ever got was a kite, which me & my brother and sister took out to the field across the street behind the cemetery and promptly got caught in a tree within an hour.)

The Hershey’s one isn’t the best toy in the world, but the design is nice. The filled M&M is also nice and certainly well built, but doesn’t offer much opportunity for interaction. I can see it being collectible though. The fan & Etch A Sketch are the best of the bunch, but a little pricier for “candy” items at $3.99 retail, but still a good value for a small toy.

If parents are looking for a way to still have a bit of bounty in the basket, a novelty item that contains a small amount of candy (especially something that can be refilled on a regular basis) is a good compromise. I mean, I wouldn’t have felt cheated if I got one of these as a kid.

They all get a solid 7 out of 10. The Lightning Bunny was made in China, in all other cases the candy was made in the USA, but the toys were made in China.

Related Candies

  1. Gummy Fishies
  2. Bug Jar Candy
  3. M&M and Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Eggs
  4. Gummi Lightning Bugs
  5. Light Lollipops

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:32 pm     CandyReviewEasterHershey'sMarsChocolateGummi CandyNovelty/Toy7-Worth ItChinaUnited StatesRite AidSav-On/CVSComments (0)

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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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