Tuesday, September 15, 2009
The newest thing about Candy Corn over the past five years has been flavors: Green Apple, Pumpkin Spice, Caramel Apple, Tangerine and on and on. The odd thing is that their kin, little shaped mellocremes, have always come in different flavors - harvest mixes come in maple & chocolate and the Easter specialties often had delicate citrus & berry flavors.
So now comes the ultimate mash-up of candy corn. Both flavored and covered in chocolate. It seems odd that this product hasn’t succeeded before.
I found this bag of Toffee Flavored Candy Corn covered in Milk Chocolate at Target. They have a special line of little stand up pouches like this marketed in their house-brand.
The package is cute & compelling - a dark orange accented thick cellophane bag with a clear window to show off the shiny chocolate covered mix. I thought it was a little expensive at $2.99 ... but $7 a pound for a chocolate item isn’t that bad, and this is a Candy Holiday.
About one third of the package is chocolate covered. The rest are plain Naturally & Artificially Flavored Toffee Candy Corn. The colors are a muted amber center with the stereotypical yellow base and white tip.
The package smells off-putting. It’s a fake butter flavor which leads me to a rant about toffee:
Toffee is carefully boiled sugar and butter. The essential qualities of toffee (as it’s made in America) besides the crunchy texture & cleave are the toasted flavors of the caramelized sugar and the creamy melt of the butter/heavy cream. It’s not about the butter flavor, it’s about the burnt sugar. So when someone offers me something toffee flavored I expect dark sugar notes not artificially flavored buttered popcorn.
I tried sampling it a few times and found it too artificial, so I left the package open overnight and that seems to have let some of the volatile organic compounds evaporate and it became a bit more appealing if bland. Rather like ordinary candy corn. I even detected the smell of milk & chocolate in there.
The plain candy corn is nicely textured. It’s soft but not too crumbly, it melts easily and though it’s sweet it’s not too sickly. It could have used just a tad more salt to sell the toffee flavor.
It seems more sugary than the uncoated stuff. The milk chocolate isn’t particularly creamy, though the flavor profile has a fair bit of the dairy component to really sell the toffee part. I liked the combination of textures - the fondant of the candy corn has a crumbly texture, kind of like the center of a York Peppermint Pattie. (Which makes me wonder why I’ve never seen Mint Candy Corn and then the logical conclusion of Chocolate Covered Mint Candy Corn.)
I give them kudos for the attractive mix and the innovation factor here. It’s also available in Green Apple flavor (maybe some green apple fans would love it - I’m not keen on the combo of chocolate & green apple).
The package gives full disclosure: Candy made in USA. Bag made in China. Packed in Mexico. (Best by December 27, 2010) It also says that it contains milk, eggs, soy and coconut and may contain peanut & tree nuts. The only thing it doesn’t mention is gluten.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Candy Season has started with the first Halloween candy entering the aisles as drug stores, discount warehouses & grocery chains move their summer & back to school merchandise to clearance.
I was excited to find the new Bat Dots in the large theater-sized box at Target over the weekend. They haven’t quite put out all their Halloween items yet, but I found these in the regular candy aisle on a little hanging display at an endcap. I first tried them after All Candy Expo and was looking forward to seeing this single flavor box.
Bat Dots are black but instead of being the black licorice Crows in a different box, they’re Blood Orange.
The package is great and plays with themes of the orange as a harvest moon, the word bat is juicy and the little bat shaped Dot uses an orange slice as a smile.
It’s unusual to find a box of Dots that has just one flavor, and for it to be blood orange is quite a coup for citrus lovers.
As far as flavor goes, these are packed with it. There’s an immediate tartness followed by some nice zesty notes and a strong orange juice flavor. They’re soft and easy to chew ... and for some reason they’re not sticking to my teeth quite as much as other Dots.
My only misgiving with these is the heavy use of food coloring so I get a little weird aftertaste ... if I don’t pop another one in my mouth right away.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Candy Corn Dots seem like a natural mash-up. They look pretty cute - though I have to say that they weren’t as consistent as the package leads me to believe. The layering is sometimes spot on, with a yellow third on the bottom and an orange top (no white tip) but other times I had to turn over the Dots to even see the yellow.
I didn’t know what flavor to expect but I girding myself for fake butter. Instead they ended up being a pleasant French vanilla or maybe pudding flavor. It was missing that light touch of honey that the better candy corn has ... but overall it’s a cute take on Dots.
Rating: 5 out of 10
Ghost Dots have actually been a seasonal product for three years now. Again, I give Tootsie some props for the package design and the concept itself.
They’re regular fruit Dots, but they’re all the same translucent & spooky beach glass light green color.
The spooky part is you never know what you’re going to get. It’s rather interesting to experience the flavors without the color contribution to the flavor event. It confirmed that I really don’t like cherry much, even if there isn’t a crazy aftertaste and I had trouble telling my citrus apart from time to time. It’s tempting to think that they should be glow in the dark, but I don’t think that’d be safe. (Though maybe it would be - kids could mount them on little sticks and carry them around while trick or treating for extra visibility!)
Rating: 6 out of 10
I really couldn’t beat the price on these either - for a buck they’re a fun change-up and hopefully they’ll go over well and return every year. (I haven’t seen them in the Trick-or-Treat size yet ... has anyone else?)
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Trolli is a big gummi brand in the United States. Originally founded by a German (actually West Germany at the time) company named Mederer Corporation in 1981, they quickly established an American production facility in the United States in 1986.
Though you wouldn’t notice it as a candy buyer, Trolli has passed through quite a few corporate hands over the years. First Favorite Brands, Inc bought them in 1997, but went bankrupt and were bought out by Nabisco in 1999. Nabisco sold them off in 2000 to Kraft. Then Kraft sold all their candy brands to Wrigley’s in 2005 and within that same year it was acquired by Farley’s and Sathers.
Trolli has the distinction of innovating the Gummi Worm. Not only was it a new shape (one that kids love to play with and adults might find a little off-putting) but it also features multiple flavors in one piece.
Trolli’s Sour Brite Crawlers not only have that duo of flavors, they’re also fluorescent colors with a slightly sour grainy coating.
There are three flavor varieties in the bag, though there is no directory or description of what they are:
Orange & Green = Orange & Lime - these are not Sour Patch or Sour Skittles style sour ... they’re just a little more tart than the regular gummis. The flavor combo here is a nice mix of citrus. The lime is rather ordinary and I don’t think I’d care for it much in a plain gummi, but it goes well with the juicy and tangy orange. Some good zest notes to keep it from being all about some sort of bland punch flavor.
Pink & Blue = Strawberry & Raspberry - nice berry mix though the distinction between the two isn’t terribly clear. I liked the tangy bite to the chew and the graininess on the outside especially on this version.
Yellow & Red = Lemon & Cherry - the cherry flavor was dominant when I opened the bag, so I fully expected both ends of this worm to taste the same. Cherry is, well, a light sour cherry without the dark woodsy “black cherry” notes. The lemon side is distinctive, a good lemonade flavor though not quite sour enough for a product that calls itself sour.
On the whole, a fun candy. The colors are, as described, very bright. They’re nicely made, the bag was fresh and cheap ($1.59 at Target). The only hesitation is that these in no way qualify as a sour candy.
Monday, July 6, 2009
The Werther’s Original line has really expanded over the past few years. Known best for their classic toffee/hard caramel candies they’ve expanded into caramels and chocolate. Their newest product, Caramel Dreams combines the two.
The package says: Rich Creamy Caramel Covered in Smooth European Chocolate.
The bag is an interesting soft matte mylar. My bag was puffed up from a lot of air, which I assumed was to like the air in a bag of potato chips - meant to protect the contents from getting smashed. And it did its job well. Each little piece I picked out looked pretty close to perfect.
Each little molded chocolate is wrapped in the classic golden folk/cellophane wrapper that Werther’s is known for.
They smell a little milky, a bit like Cadbury chocolate. The caramel center is quite liquid and gooey, so I don’t recommend biting into them expecting a chewy caramel. They’re best enjoyed popping the whole thing in the mouth.
The caramel center is smooth, a bit thick & sticky with a slight salty note to it. It’s more on the milky side of caramel than toasted sugar flavors.
They’re very pretty, well crafted and decently priced. If you’re a fan of Rolos, Cadbury Caramello or Dove Promises Caramels you might also find these to your liking. I think I’ll stick to See’s or perhaps something a little more nutty like Snickers for my caramel needs or just some Sugar Babies.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
It feels like I’m reviewing a lot of Hershey’s products lately: Thingamajig, Good n Fiery, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate with Peanuts, Dark Chocolate Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Reese’s Select Cremes. But they’re putting them out and I’ve gotta try everything at least once.
I passed this by more than once (Candy For Dinner always seems to find new products first) mostly because I wasn’t in the mood: Twizzlers Sweet & Sour Filled Twists. But when the weather gets warmer, I seem to crave tangy.
I bought them in a long “bar” format that has four twists, two of each flavor: Cherry Kick! and Citrus Punch!
The twists are clean & shiny, like they’re made of vinyl. They’re similar to the Twizzlers Rainbow Twists, but I think these are just a little larger in diameter or at least not dried and stiff.
Of course, I gravitated towards the Citrus Punch! first. The yellow and red twists reminded me more of mustard and ketchup than lemon and cherry, but I still admit that they were glossy and appealing.
The bite is much softer than the regular Twizzlers, less like biting into some sort of extruded & dried acrylic paint. The gooey filling is soft and has a texture of buttercream frosting. It has an immediate tangy pop and a good mix of flavors, both citrus zest and the tartness. It reminded me of a fresh lemon tart.
Next up was the Cherry Kick! which I resisted. It’s lighter in color from the deep red & berry flavored Twizzlers. The texture is identical to the citrus package mate. The licorice twist is soft and chewy and has a mild sweet flavor. Then the soft center popped in with a very strong note of woodsy black cherry, cough syrup and artificial flavorings. As far as I was concerned, there are a lot of folks who are going to like the play of the mild chewy outside and the intense flavor of the inside.
I really just want to buy the Citrus by itself, perhaps I can pick them out if they package them in individual ropes for Halloween or something.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
The Reese’s Select line has finally expanded beyond the initial offering of the Reese’s Select Cluster which launched in early 2008.
I spotted these new Reese’s Select Peanut Butter Cremes at Target over the weekend. They sport no banner that says “new” but they certainly weren’t there last month.
The 8 ounce bag is long and sturdy and kind of oddly puffed up. I assumed this was to protect the candy inside from getting smashed. (And air is pretty cost effective.) Inside are approximately 18 little individually wrapped pieces.
The pieces are about 1.5” inches square, slightly domed (a full 1 inch high). They have a little R medallion molded on the top for Reese’s.
I had a little trouble with the integrity of a few pieces. I thought I chose my bag well and was careful bringing it home, yet two of the pieces that I ate (I consumed about half the package) were smashed completely.
Aside from that, the little individual wrappers are sturdy and feature full ingredients info (many individually wrapped Hershey’s items do not).
The little pieces smell of sweet peanut butter.
The bite is interesting, the chocolate shell, though soft, is thick enough to give a big burst of chocolate texture and slight dairy taste immediately. The melt is smooth and rather silky. The center is not at all like a meltaway - this is a full on gooey cream. (Spreadable like room temperature butter.)
At first I was taken aback because I found it extremely salty. But it did balance the sweet milk chocolate well. The texture combination and the rounded flavors gives these pieces well earned decadence points.
In case you were curious, the ingredients are:
The sodium content isn’t as extreme as it tastes. It’s 95 mg for 36 gram serving, which is actually less proportionally than regular Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
These are not made in Mexico, like the Clusters, and these are also Kosher.
Overall, an interesting addition to the Reese’s line, a smoother melt and much higher quality than I expected. I enjoyed them quite a bit, and found that everyone else in the office did. Perhaps an 8 ounce bag isn’t big enough?
Monday, May 4, 2009
The Dark Chocolate Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups have finally returned as a regular product (teased here in CandyForums.net).
Dark chocolate Reese’s come and go from Hershey’s. Last summer they were a limited edition product as a tie in with the Batman: The Dark Knight movie.
The new package design is different enough that I was able to spot them from the next checkout aisle at Target (though I definitely have candy-vision) on Saturday.
I have to say that the wrapper is rather spare, though bold. As someone who has to look at design pretty often in her day job, I wasn’t really pleased with the mix of fonts. (The script logo, the italic san serif “dark chocolate” and then the regular san serif of the “2 peanut butter cups” and weight info ... but then the use of black outline on white in a serif font for “dark” feels like an afterthought.)
But enough of this judging a book by its cover. It’s what’s inside that matters, right?
So what does the package say is inside?
Okay, so it’s not really dark chocolate, it’s dark chocolate with some milk fats ... not that big of a deal. It’s pretty common in mass-marketed semi sweet chocolate candies.
The encouraging part is that these cups are full sized. When Mars makes a limited edition or dark chocolate version of a milk chocolate product, they have a tendency to make it smaller. This package is 1.5 ounces, the standard these days for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup two packs.
Each 3/4 of an ounce cup is lovely to behold. Satiny smooth with lightly fluted sides. It may be that these were fresh (as it’s a new product) but there was no little oily pool on the top of the chocolate.
They smell very dark - like deeply roasted nuts and woodsy charcoal.
Like most other Reese’s products, the chocolate is a very soft bite. The dark chocolate, though it lists sugar as the first ingredient, is not at all sweet. The first impression I get is bitterness - a nutty toasted bitterness that goes well with the deep peanut flavors.
The salty hit from the crumbly & grainy peanut butter went well against the creamy chocolate. It has a nice melt without the fudgy grain that the classic milk chocolate has.
Overall, this is a winner. I can see craving these in the evening (I usually don’t want super-sweet after dinner) and keeping the Reese’s Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups for daylight hours (afternoon pick-me-up).
They also come in the little foil-wrapped miniatures, but Target didn’t seem to have those in stock yet. If you’ve tried though (they were also available about three years ago), let me know how they are.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I’ve never seen them before, so I’ve done a little poking around.These were introduced in 2001 or so in Europe. The package says that these were manufactured in Russia ... I’m hoping that’s a temporary thing until Twixels either succeed or fail in the US (as Mars has pledged to support the communities where they make their candy in the United States - Twix are made in Cleveland, Tennessee).
I picked out the Triple Chocolate variety which was described as Dark Chocolate with Chocolate flavored Caramel & Chocolate Cookie. This sounds like the limited edition Twix Triple Chocolate from late 2006/early 2007.
The box is pretty ordinary but has a funky parallelogram shape - bigger on the top than the bottom. The tray inside protects the contents well, after all, they’re coming all the way from Russia. The tray has three discrete sections, but the plastic film seal over the top covers the whole thing, so no way to just open one little bit and save the rest of later.
Inside are basically mini Twix bars. They’re three inches long and have a similar ripple to the chocolate as in the large Twix.
The little sticks have a crisp bite, the cookie is very firm but not terribly flavorful. The chocolate enrobing says it’s “sweet chocolate” and though it has no milk in it, it does have milkfat. It’s very sweet, but rather rich as well and gives me a satisfying “Dove Chocolate” feeling. The caramel is just a tiny strip on the top of the cookie, so it’s hard to get much chew out of it. It doesn’t have the wonderful pull like the large sized Twix does, but here it gives just a bit of texture.
Overall, I can’t say I liked them any more than any other Twix product (except for the Limited Edition Java Twix).
They’re easy to eat and a nice size for controlled portion snacking. The box recommends four sticks as a serving which is 140 calories (35 calories per stick). Four sticks actually feels like a lot, so for those trying to have a small and satisfying indulgence, these may be a good trick. (Or just eat one Twix out of the pack.)
I paid $2.99 for 4.4 ounces of slenderized Twix bars ... too much for me. Think about it, a regular Twix is 2 ounces and costs less than a dollar. The only reason to buy these is if you actually prefer this flavor profile to the original full-figured bars. (You can stop reading here if you want, that’s about it for the actual product review, the rest is just me ranting.)
As a side note, I find the current version of the Twix.com site as supremely annoying and poorly executed as Mars other “hot” site, Skittles.com.
First, I have to “load” a huge flash thing that takes an actual minute. While I’m waiting there’s a progress tally that has a guy “chewing it over for me” ... one of my least favorite things to do on the web is watch people chew. In fact, I’d say it’s something I actively avoid. If there were a ChewBlock add on for Firefox, I’d be all over it.
Second, once it’s loaded, I go right to the PRODUCTS option because the “game” is going. The products pop over plays AUDIO ... audio which cannot be turned off or controlled in any way.
Finally, as I navigate the products, there are three: Twix with all its different sizes and shapes, Twix PB and Twix Ice Cream. There is no mention of the actual existence of these Twixels. Thanks Mars, thanks for putting a relevant web address on the package.
If you want more snark on their advertising campaign and the other contents of the flash game, please read this Happily Bitter post (some strong language).
Since Mars was unable to help me learn more about their product, I turned to YouTube, where I ended up finding some advertising from Russia’s TBWA agency that made me realize that the whole Fling marketing concept was no accident.
The end tag line is “it makes us chat about everything” if by everything you mean “fluff” - let’s see, they have a prince on a white horse, some clothes, an inept plumber, a man’s ass, fighting children, drinks, a manicure, a goat-headed boss/co-worker and a gift car. I guess it’s actually realistic, candy is just about as relevant and important as all those other consumerist nuggets. (Okay, child rearing is important ... and I know that workplace annoyances are, well, annoying, but boiling women down to shopping, image-obsessed daydreamers who want to be rescued is insulting.)
So, to sum up: in a complete vacuum, I found Twixels Triple Chocolate to be okay, regular Twix patrons will probably like the change of proportions & snackability. In the presence of everything else like the current Twix advertising campaign, their equally insulting & unworkable companion website plus the paucity of information about the actual product ... well, I like them slightly less. They get a 6 out of 10 based on the former.
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