Thursday, July 29, 2010
About five years ago Twizzlers, a Hershey’s company, introduced Twerpz (original review). They were cute little nibs of flavored “licorice” that had a grainy and flavored cream filling. They were around for about three years then slowly faded away. Twizzlers introduced a few similar products such as the Twizzlers Sweet & Sour Filled Twists, but didn’t relaunch the Twerpz line. In a completely unrelated area, Hershey’s had a line of chocolate bar “Awesome Twosome” brand mashups around the same time. They were regular Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars with bits of other bars mixed in, like Whoppers, Heath, Almond Joy and Reese’s Pieces.
So it appears that this new product, now under the Jolly Rancher brand is taking over the Twizzlers Twerpz product, but giving it a little twist by combing two flavors in each piece (that’s the Twosome part).
The flavors of the Awesome Twosome Chews are standards in the Jolly Rancher palette. One is Watermelon on the outside and has a Green Apple filling. The other is Cherry on the outside and has an Orange filling. Each has a sour grainy dusting.
The Watermelon/Green Apple is kind of fun because it’s a reverse of the colors of an actual watermelon. That’s about where the fun for me ended. The package itself smells rather plastic and artificial, like bubble gum, wood glue and one of those discount movie palaces that always smells a little damp. They’re soft and chewy and the sour coating isn’t that powerful, just a nice zap.
The tube of watermelon licorice is well flavored, in the Jolly Rancher arena, which is good if you like that sort of thing. The green apple inside goes pretty well, but again, horribly artificial and acidic in a way that reminds me of burps.
The Cherry/Orange was at least made up of one flavor that I generally like. The cherry chew part was very flavorful, but sadly it was a very bad flavor. The use of food coloring and one note of medicinal cherry kept me from enjoying it at all. There were only four of these in my bag, so I didn’t get a lot to try. The paste filling was an interesting texture but in the case of the orange one, far too mild and like Tang instead of a well rounded zesty orange to stand up to the cherry.
The aftertaste was like I’d chewed on PlayDoh for a while and then swallowed Country Time Lemonade drink mix. However, I know that there are folks who are really looking forward to these. I like the concept but the texture, flavors and general execution just doesn’t fit my style.
Monday, July 19, 2010
It’s not hard to find candy that’s colorful and flavorful, but what makes it harder is when you want it to be all natural, free of the major allergens (wheat, soy, dairy, nuts) and vegan. So Goody Good Stuff is here to fill that hole in your life.
I picked up this sample of their Sour Mix & Match at some trade show and have been hanging onto it until it hit the stores.
Now here’s the thing, their marketing says that these are vegan gummis. Instead of gelatin, which is made from pigs, cows or fish, Goody Good Stuff is using a new gelling agent called gellan. (I first noticed the ingredient in Halal Mentos.) Gellan is made from bacteria, not vertebrates. It sounds like a great idea, however in practice gellan is closer to agar (that jelly stuff in petri dishes) that’s made from seaweed than gelatin. Gelatin is a protein; gellan is polysaccharide. They’re simply different, they do different things and behave in different ways.
At first glance jelly candies and gummis look very similar, but they don’t behave the same way. Gummis tear sharply - you can pull a gummi apart and it will make flat edges where it breaks. Pull apart a jelly and it just, well, pulls. It doesn’t bounce, though sometimes it might jiggle nicely. The great thing is that both carry fruit flavors really well, they create a smooth texture and often a glass-like appearance.
So with all that chemistry aside, I’ve got a handful of candy to taste. There are quite a few different pieces in this mix and match, but I could only review three versions because I needed at least three tries to taste the flavors. They’re like little bulbous, rounded planks - about an inch and a half long.
Without any clue as to what the flavors are supposed to be, and that these are British (which is always a little different in the fruity flavors), I can only describe what I’ve got.
Green & Peach - it tastes like peach. Both ends taste the same as far as I’m concerned, but there’s a weird “ketchup” note to it that I find a little disturbing. The peach is tangy and light with a good sour bite at the start. The jelly center is smooth and doesn’t stick too much.
Red & Yellow - tastes like strawberry lemonade. The lemon is strong, sour and zesty with a slight floral note I attribute to strawberry.
Orange & Blue - is shocking. The blue is amazing for a natural product. It’s zesty and well rounded and tastes mostly like grapefruit but maybe with some pineapple thrown in.
For those who were curious, here’s what’s inside:
These look and taste like there is no compromise. The colors are intense and I’d say kind of unnatural looking. The shape is fun and easy to grasp. They’re not messy at all, the sugar crust stays on so well there were scarcely ten grains in the bottom of the bag of these I had. They’re sour, but not that searing kind that’s likely to create blisters on the tongue after a serving.
I feel like kids or grown ups who have had true gummis before may be disappointed with the texture based on my expectations.
They also make a few other products that I’m quite eager to try: Strawberry and Cream, Cola Breeze, Sour Fruit Salad, Tropical Fruit, Koala Gummy Bears while the ones that I found less interesting were Summer Peaches and Cheery Cherries. These should be available in Stop & Shop on the East Coast and Booths and ASDA in the UK.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Sour Punch Straws are a sour sanded fruity licorice made by the American Licorice Co.. They’re fun and certainly pack a lot of flavor, but they’re messy to eat and share. So the Sour Punch folks came up with Sour Punch Bits which are little nibs of fruity chewy with a similar sweet & sour sand. The fun part for me was that they came up with some new flavors. I got a hold of their new Sour Punch Bits Tangerine-Lemonade.
It comes in a theater box (but I think they also have peg bags), so it’s easy to dispense and share. And of course they’re meant for taking to the movies, so you can get that sour fix without a lap full of tart dust.
The pieces are small: about 3/4 of an inch long and 1/4 of an inch around. They’re not as “sanded” with the sour sugar powder as the Sour Punch Straws I’ve had before, but that’s okay with me. The only issue I had was that these were a little stickier. There are two flavors in each piece supposedly: lemon (yellow) and tangerine (orange) though actually separating them was nearly impossible.
They don’t smell like anything at all. Maybe a faint whiff of Play Doh or erasers.
They’re quite sour on the tongue right away, but also extremely flavorful. There’s an intense wave of citrus that hit me when I first bit into them - an almost bitter orange and lemon zest note. Even though there’s no real orange or lemon oil in there, it tasted like there was. The tart chew is firm, hearty and almost creamy because it has a starchy wheat base to it, instead of a taffy chew like Starburst. Still, there is some sticking to the teeth. They’re not really sour, just sour enough to make my mouth water, but not quite enough to get my neck tingling.
I liked them more than I thought I would initially. When I talked to some folks at American Licorice about them last year, they were positioning these as a sour treat for adults, instead of kids. I think they succeeded there. They’re a little chewier though and the bitterness got to me after a while, it certainly kept me from eating the whole package (which is technically two servings).
They also come in Lemon-Lime and Strawberry-Watermelon.
Monday, May 17, 2010
The world of gummis is filled with candy that looks like other things: soda bottles, centipedes, spiders, body parts (brains, whole hands, eyeballs, lips), dinosaurs, rabbits, birds, flowers, butterflies, toads, frogs, sharks, fast food, fruits, vegetables, cracked eggs, and of course bears.
Sour Gummy Pop Corn from Flix Candy looks like popcorn. But they go one further, instead of making it popcorn flavored, or some other yellow themed flavor they’ve made them apple, strawberry, popcorn & watermelon. You don’t know until you eat them.
The package is cute, it looks like the tall box of popcorn that they used to sell at the fair and probably at the movies before people starting consuming it by the bucketful.
Here’s the first thing: a caramel corn flavored gummi sounds fabulous to me. It wouldn’t have a year ago, but after the caramel gummis I reviewed last week I truly believe you could make a great Cracker Jack flavored gummi with real molasses, caramelized sugar and milk.
This isn’t that ... so I’ll have to adjust my expectations.
I thought maybe I could tell the difference between them by smelling them, but they all smelled like Bed, Bath and Beyond (a mixture of watermelon, strawberry and carpeting).
Watermelon (yellow) was tart and fresh, though more sour than I actually like my watermelon to be. The bounce of the gummi was satisfying and fresh.
Strawberry (yellow) was sweeter at first and had a good berry flavor but then descended into sour.
Apple (yellow) if that’s what I tasted, this one was the most sizzling of the, it was an odd sort of burnt note along with that chemical green apple flavor of Jolly Ranchers.
The Pop Corn gummi was either elusive or so similarly flavored that I couldn’t tell. After finding the first three flavors in about 8 tries, I ended up just biting the rest of the pieces in the package. Something smelled vaguely like artificial butter flavor, but nothing tasted like it (but who wants sour buttered pop corn?).
These weren’t that good for me, but I get that when watching a movie the look of the candy isn’t that important since I can’t see it anyway. But the flavor mix with apple and watermelon wasn’t high on my list either.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
As with many sour iterations of popular products the package went for yellow and green, the seemingly universal colors of tartness.
The package design is cute. In this case the blue Dots logo dominates to give cohesion with the other boxes on the shelf (currently I’ve been seeing classic Dots, Yogurt Dots and Tropical). The little Dots themselves are depicted in each of the five colors with puckery faces. They’re called The Dot that bites back!
The flavor assortment is middle of the road, though not just a sour dusted version of the regular fruit Dots (which come in Strawberry, Cherry, Lemon, Lime & Orange), these are Grape, Orange, Lemon, Green Apple and Cherry
The Dots are a traditional smooth jelly center with a sour coating that includes citric acid and malic acid. Dots boxes are wrapped in cellophane so they’re soft and fresh.
The sour coating is definitely tart, the kind of sour that makes the back of my jaw tingle.
Grape - very sour and quite artificial but ultimately a chewy gum drop version of Pixy Stix.
Orange - so sour it’s almost salty at first, but the zesty notes of the gum drop give this a flavor depth that few other sour citrus candies have.
Lemon - really more like lemon peel than lemon juice, it’s fresh, bitter and tangy all at once. It really gave the feeling of those shaken lemonades from the fair.
Green Apple - not quite a Jolly Rancher, it’s far too tart. It’s more than just the chemical green apple, there is a hint of apple juice in there.
Cherry - this one was simply caustic. The cherry flavors were artificial and buried beneath the sourness, it was like fruity/woodsy toilet cleaner. I do admit that the cherry notes, once the sour is gone are rather deep, but still not my thing.
The smooth gum drop centers set these apart from other sour dusted jelly candies like Sour Patch Kids. They’re chewy, but kind of a slick smoothness that the others don’t have, there’s no graininess after the sour sanding dissipates. They don’t even stick to the teeth in the quite the same way as regular Dots. They’re a great value for only a dollar and some nice deep flavors. I found myself avoiding the cherry and green apple, but I’m sure that I could find friends (or husbands) to share those with.
Friday, April 2, 2010
They’re also crazy cheap, most of the time a theater box like this that holds 7 ounces is just a buck. When I looked at the flavors on this box I was a little confused about what made these an Easter version besides the box (Mike and Ike come in holiday boxes that are the exact same candy). The flavors are Blueberry, Lemon, Lime, Cherry and Orange. The flavors of the classic Dots box are Strawberry, Lemon, Lime, Cherry and Orange. So in this version the Strawberry has been swapped for Blueberry.
These were very fresh. Tootsie does a good job of sealing up the boxes well and Dots have a clear cellophane overwrap.
Once I opened the box I found out the big difference, it’s the color. Easter Dots are bright and opaque little nubbins.
Well, maybe there was another difference. These seem to be just as smooth but have a “shorter” chew to them, so they didn’t stick to my teeth like Dots usually do. I liked the freshness of the flavors, though it’s a little bland it’s also soothing. The blueberry was pretty convincing though I wish that one replaced the cherry instead of the strawberry.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Divine Milk Chocolate Speckled Eggs are all natural and fair trade milk chocolate eggs with a candy shell.
They’re freakishly expensive at $4.99 for 3.5 ounces, far more than I’d be willing to pay on a regular basis. I really only bought them because I’d been searching so hard for them it seemed weird to find them and then get decide they were too expensive. The chocolate is made from beans from the Kuapa Kokoo cocoa cooperative in Ghana. Seems like Easter is one of those holidays where folks may want to pay more attention to the social responsibility behind the treats.
The stand up box is charming. Inside is a little clear cellophane bag with a little more than a handful of eggs.
They’re very similar to Cadbury Mini Eggs. The shape is more football than pear. They beautiful muted colors and a matte finish.
The shell is smooth and softly decorated. The shell is quite thick and crunchy. The chocolate inside has a silky melt, a little sticky with a good caramelized dairy note. I liked them a lot and will probably buy them again next year. Hopefully they can be found in larger packages for better value. (Also, Whole Foods could do a better job of putting them where people can find them. I went to three different stores and it wasn’t until the fourth circuit of the one at 3rd & Fairfax that I found them - even after asking a stockperson.)
Rating: 7 out of 10
I liked the box a lot, it was easy to tell apart from the regular Sour Patch offerings. The only quibble is really the packaging. Like many theater box candies, inside the box the candy is inside a plain cellophane bag. As I mentioned above, the Dots are just tumbling around in the box and there’s a cellophane seal on the outside. For this version I have to open the box top completely to get the bag out, dump the candy into the box and then I’m faced with an opening that is really too large for dispensing.
They’re a little lighter in color compared to the Sour Patch Kids. Honestly, I prefer this. They’re colored enough that I can tell them apart and guess the flavor and that’s really all I need. Other than that, the shape was so vague, unless you told me these were bunnies I wouldn’t have known. Pink is the classic Swedish Fish flavor with a tangy coating. Green is lime, yellow is lemon and orange is orange. A biting sour coating, a chewy sweet jelly candy in the center ... they’re great.
Rating: 7 out of 10
The rabbit is similar to the white chocolate one I tried last year (and didn’t like that much, so I wonder why I was curious about this one). It’s a peanut butter coating (like peanut butter baking chips) with a peanut butter filling.
The three ounce flat rabbit is nicely molded. The butterscotch color is also really appealing. It smells like vanilla pudding and peanut butter. The coating though is a bit waxy and stiff, it melts but not in a dreamy way that good white chocolate does. But it’s not too sweet, which is a relief as well. The filling is a crumbly peanut butter with a salty note and a dry grainy crunch. I kind of got into it. I’d prefer it in a smaller format though, maybe one of the smaller eggs they do.
Rating: 6 out of 10.
They’re only 99 cents for a generous 9 ounce bag. Even at that bargain price, they’re not much of a deal. They’re pretty enough to look at and probably decorate with, but they’re inconsistent in flavor and execution. I also resent not knowing what’s inside. It’s not like the bag is tiny and has no room for information like the flavor array.
White is pineapple. It’s sweet and floral but bland. Green is lime and rather strong but lacking zest. Purple is grape and is utterly stupid ... seriously, it tastes like sweet stupidity. Black is licorice. All of the black ones seemed to be smaller than the other jelly beans. Still, they were tasty and well done. Pink is bitter and just dreadful. Perhaps it’s strawberry. Red is not as bitter but still dreadful. Orange is sweet and empty. Finally there’s yellow, which is actually pretty good, it’s like a sugared lemon peel.
Rating: 4 out of 10
I was hoping for rich flavors, but of course I know Brach’s well enough that I really won’t be getting much more than a decent looking product. The bag doesn’t promise much more than a good value, so I should probably adjust my expectations.
Red is a mild cinnamon, not as good as Hot Tamales and kind of tinged with some of the mint notes, but still pleasant like a cup of spiced chai. White is peppermint. I have to say that a peppermint jelly bean is a little odd especially since it’s so grainy but still fresh tasting. Pink is wintergreen which I really love except when there’s too much food dye like this one that has a weird bitter clove & plastic aftertaste - but at moments it’s kind of like root beer. Purple is clove and is actually mild enough for me to enjoy though true clove lovers will probably be disappointed. Orange is sweet and again lacking in any pizazz. Black is again licorice and pretty good (though it makes my tongue dark green).
I think the problem is that I’ve already had some pretty good spice jelly beans from Hot Tamales (Just Born) and there’s really no need to switch brands, the price is comparable, availability is the only issue.
Rating: 5 out of 10
POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:17 pm All Natural • Candy • Review • Easter • Brach's • Cadbury • Divine Chocolate • Farley's & Sathers • Russell Stover • Tootsie • Chocolate • Ethically Sourced • Jelly Candy • Licorice Candy • Peanuts • Sour • 4-Benign • 5-Pleasant • 6-Tempting • 7-Worth It • Canada • United Kingdom • United States • Rite Aid • Target • Walgreen's • Comments (9)
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Wonka introduced a line of jelly beans back in 2006 (original review). They were matte, opaque pastel jelly beans with a strange grainy shell but familiar SweeTart flavors.
This year the product seems to have been reformulated, though there’s no mention of it on the package which is also redesigned. Readers alerted me that they were different this year.
The 2010 version of SweeTart Jelly Beans are more vibrant and come in the current SweeTart flavors of Cherry, Lemon, Grape, Blue Punch, Green Apple and Orange.
I noticed the color difference before I even took the bag home. They’re more opaque and shinier with consistent colors. They’re at once familiar and a little different.
The version I’ve had before had a grainy and cool-to-the-tongue shell. When I saw these and remembered the comments, I was wondering if Wonka was just using the Spree Jelly Beans which have a harder shell.
The shell is more crisp than the previous version and the flavors seem a little more distinct and intense. They also seem to be more faithful to the flavors of the chalky original SweeTarts disks. But what’s missing is probably the tangy hit that the real SweeTarts have.
As you’ll notice, I found quite a few abnormal ones in my bag. These were a few that had distinctive shapes, quite a few were just larger than what I’d call normal or smaller than what I would have thought should be the target. They all tasted fine - the narrow ones obviously had more shell to them proportionally.
They’re still nice - the grape is much better as it is tangier now. I enjoyed the citrus flavors even though they weren’t particularly sour. Green apple is okay, though bland and I usually pick out the cherry and blue punch ones but if I ate them it’s not the end of the world.
In the end, the update is definitely different but I wouldn’t call it an improvement. I think it brings them more in line with what I’d expect from a product extension but still not as good as actual SweeTarts. Now if they could only do the SweeTarts Chicks, Ducks & Bunnies with all the flavors of SweeTarts we’d have something to talk about.
The versions I’ve tried before (2007 & 2008) were made in Canada. This bag was made in Mexico. There are no allergen statements on the bag, so they may be nut free/gluten free and contain no animal-derived products.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
The new Lemonhead & Friends Jelly Beans stand out on the shelves among all the other Easter candies. The bright primary colors - mostly yellow and red are definitely spring-ish but not the usual pastels.
The small bag is jam packed with candy. It’s 14 ounces of little jelly beans made with real fruit juice. Most other bags on the same shelf were about 9 ounces.
This new version of the popular Lemonhead candy is rather similar to the new Chewy Lemonheads. They’re a jelly center covered with the tart and grainy shell that Lemonhead fans have come to know and love. (My mouth just waters at the thought of it.)
The beans are small, not quite as small as Jelly Belly, but pretty close. If you can’t tell already, they’re also vivid - strikingly, saturatedly vivid. They’re probably the most deeply colored jelly beans I’ve seen. I’m not that fond of too much food coloring for two reasons. The first is that it often leaves an aftertaste. The second is that it often colors my tongue and I don’t like people to know how much candy I’ve been eating. Other folks are not fond of artificial colors as they’ve been linked to hyperactivity in children.
The ingredients list an array of acids that I’m accustomed to seeing in candies: fumaric acid (fermented apples & grains), malic acid (found in grapes and green apples) and citric acid (found in citrus) but another that I hadn’t noticed before called adipic which Wikipedia tells me is used mainly as a precursor for the production of nylon. (That sounds alarming but doesn’t mean that it also isn’t food.)
The five flavors are: Lemon, Orange, Grape, Green Apple and Cherry.
The bag definitely smells fruity, mostly citrusy.
Lemon is intense and sour. There are both tangy juice notes and a good dose of almost-bitter zest. It’s convincing. Kind of mind blowing.
The levels of acid in these is quite high, so I wouldn’t recommend eating more than a small handful at a time. I found after more than a dozen of them it gave me a literal sour stomach. But for a little pick me up while driving or mixed with some other candies they’re definitely not your grandmother’s jelly beans.
I found them a little pricey for sugar candy compared to the cheap jelly beans usually around this time of year, but then again, they’re quite concentrated so it only takes a little. I liked that the bag was actually full. So many candies these days come in half empty bags, these feel sumptuous and indulgent.
There are no statements about the gluten free status on the package, they’re not vegan (confectioners glaze). Made in a facility where peanuts, tree nuts, milk, and soy is used. There was also a choking hazard warning (on all the Ferrara Pan products as far as I can tell). This was an extremely fresh package - the expiration date is 12/22/2011.
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