Saturday, July 09, 2005
Name: Wilbur Buds
I’ve mentioned my favorite chocolate before, it’s Wilbur. Wilbur is made in a small town in Pennsylvania, Lititz, a scant 27 miles from the more famous Hershey. Wilbur, in fact, predates Hershey and even has a version of the kiss, known as the Wilbur Bud (which was also introduced several years earlier than the Hershey Kiss).
The Wilbur bud comes in milk or semi-sweet chocolate and is pure simplicity. It’s just a large chocolate chip, with a little curl on top and a molded bottom that says Wilbur. What’s great about the Wilbur buds is that they are incredibly smooth and creamy. Where Hershey and Nestle chocolate has a slight grain to it, Wilbur has none, it’s pure chocolate smoothness. The milk chocolate is European style, so those who are fond of Cadbury will appreciate it’s milkyness. The semi-sweet is bold, with a strong cocoa taste, complex and slightly bitter but melts easily on the tongue. Part of this explained by the cocoa butter content. I know a lot of people are into this movement of 70%+ cocoa solids, but besides the smoky flavor of chocolate, what sets it apart from all other candies is cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is one of those rare fats that is solid at room temperature and liquid at body temp. The more cocoa butter, the more melty the chocolate.
So knowing all that, it should come as no surprise that I would go to such lengths to purchase said chocolate. A few weeks ago I called up the factory order line and got a five pound box. After all, it’s the best deal. And I have a wine fridge to store it in through the hot summer months.
One of the big things about chocolate is that there are two kinds: there are candy chocolates and savoring chocolates. Wilbur, for me, falls into both categories. Because of the high cocoa butter content (only 50% cocoa solids) it’s more snackable but the creamyness makes it wonderfully rich. I love eating these with other foods, too. It’s great in a homemade trail mix for hiking where you mix in some dried fruits (cranberries, apricots or raisins) and nuts (almonds, hazelnuts or cashews) and some pretzels. When I’ve got a stash, I usually keep a small bowl of them around at all times.
Rating: 9 out of 10 (if I could find it easily it’d be pure 10)
Thursday, July 07, 2005
Name: Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Mint
I love these bars. Well, I did when they first came out. The thing is, I’m not sure they’re out now. I checked the Hershey’s site and didn’t find any mention of the Cookies ‘n’ Mint being reintroduced ... so is this a very old bar? It was certainly dusty. (Again, I’d love it if Hershey’s started putting freshness dates on their products.) While they’re at it, the packaging is a little deceiving - it’s milk chocolate, not some sort of green stuff like the picture shows.
That aside, when these were out and widely available I preferred the “nuggets” format. I don’t know why, but the flat bar didn’t make the crunchy parts sing as well. I think the surface area isn’t good for the chocolate either, I think it makes it all more prone to temperature changes.
But I digress.
This is a minted milk chocolate bar with small chocolate cookie bits (think of the cookie part of an oreo crumbled into minty chocolate). It’s a great combination. I think the crunch provides a nice contrast, and the fact that the cookie isn’t terribly sweet offsets the sweetness of the milk chocolate.
I hope this bar gets reintroduced or at least the nuggets will be available for a limited time every year. If you like this bar, I suggest the Harry London Cookie Joys as an excellent substitute.
Rating: 8 out of 10 (would be more if the bar were fresher)
UPDATE: See my Cookie Joys and Cookies ‘n’ Mint Nuggets head to head post.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Lollipops have kind of come back. When I was a kid there weren’t many good lollipops. There were those pretty ones that you’d see at the fair or candy shop - you know, those big paddle-looking ones that were of twisted hard tack. But they had no flavor. Then came the Charms pops, the Tootsie Pops and Blow Pops. There were the occasional novelty pop along the way, but that was pretty much it for some twenty years or so (I’m just saying this from memory ... I’ve done zero research).
Now there seems to be a revisiting of lollies. I noticed this a few years back when I discovered the wonderful Chupa Chups. These are great Spanish lollies that have good flavor, come in a huge assortment and have a PLASTIC stick, which means that it doesn’t fall apart on you if you’re a slobberer.
Name: Jolly Rancher Fruit Chew Center Lollipop
It’s kind of odd that this package doesn’t really give this candy a title. It’s Jolly Rancher, and it’s described in the sense that it’s assigned to be “GRAPE - artificially flavored” and “Fruit Chew Center” but it’s not really called Jolly Rancher Lolly or anything.
This was very artificially grape flavored and that’s okay. The flavor was through and through with a solid tart taste as well. The center was like a grape starburst, if they make those. What was a little weird though was the that lolly wasn’t made of a Jolly Rancher. You know, that tacky melty consistency that Jolly Ranchers have ... that’s not here. It’s not a bad thing, but something I missed.
Name: Way Sour Super Blow Pop
This is a downright huge lolly. It has a strong orange scent and an excruciatingly sour bite. Well, it’s called Way Sour, so I can’t complain. But I will. I think it comes from being an adult, there’s only so much sour I can take. I can eat Lemonheads because there’s a rest period when you’ve eaten through the sour layer. With the Way Sour Blow Pop, I never got there. I tried for about a half an hour and never made even a dent in this thing.
The flavor is great, very orangy, very sour. It’s not a blistering sour, but tart nonetheless.
UPDATE - I gave the Way Sour another try. I thought maybe my mouth was a little tender from eating too much fresh pineapple. Anyway, the second go around was much more doable, it’s still very tart, but has a lot of flavor, it’s not all about the sour. The gum center is a little bland after all that, and slightly rubbery instead of gummy. I’ve upgrade my initial score from a 4 to a 6.
Rating: Jolly Rancher Fruit Pops - 6 out of 10
See also - Starburst Chew Pops
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Name: Hershey’s Double Chocolate
I’m not sure what Hershey’s is up to with this one. It’s just a bad idea. There are plenty of good filled candy bars, but I’m not sure I understand how you’d go so wrong with this one.
Inside on the little white cardboard tray is a bar with four square segments of milk chocolate. Inside those is something that looks like Hershey’s chocolate syrup. Which we all know isn’t chocolate, it’s just cocoa/sugar/water. So what you end up with is a very sweet milk chocolate outside and a sickly sweet cardboard tasting sugar goo. It’s messy, it’s sticky.
I hope that this edition is very limited because this bar is just sad and cheap. I ate two out of the four squares and threw the other half out. Don’t get me wrong, I think that Hershey’s makes good product. It’s consistent and fresh and I applaud their use of the “Limited Edition” to try out new flavor combinations, but I’m not sure how this one made it past the test stage. I would also suggest the use of freshness dating.
Rating - 3 out of 10.
Monday, July 04, 2005
Name: Twix Dark Chocolate
You know what I like about Mars products? They have an expiration date. When I’m buying candy at a place where it might have been sitting around for a while (read: Liquor Store), I kind of like to know if I’m eating something ten years old.
This one was supposedly fresh, but the chocolate seemed slightly chalky. The liquor store had it’s doors wide open and it is now July, so I’m guessing climate control is not as important to them as getting people into the store.
Twix have been around for quite a few years (1979). I remember their introduction and walking to the corner store near the junior high and buying one. I was just mad about the $100,000 Bar and the Marathon Bar at the time and this seemed like a good evolution. But when I eat them they’re always too sweet. I don’t know what it is, I think that the cookie should be a pretzel or something and have a salty element to it. But that’d be a different candy bar and Mars has been very successful with the Twix and who am I to tinker with the recipe?
Well, Dark Chocolate Twix to the rescue! Where the milk chocolate in the classic Twix is cloying, the dark chocolate here has a slight bitter and smoky taste that complements the caramel and sweet cookie very well. I’m sure if the chocolate was fresh it’d taste even better.
I hope they add these to their repetoire permanently. I’d actually buy them.
Rating: 8 out of 10.
Friday, July 01, 2005
Name: Almond Joy Chocolate Chocolate
I wholeheartedly support making Almond Joys with dark chocolate. Because the difference between an Almond Joy and a Mounds bar is not just the nut ... it’s the milk chocolate/dark chocolate respectively. In fact, I think the dark chocolate/almond/coconut combo is even better.
This is not that bar though. Because they threw something else in the mix (literally), some chocolate into the coconut center.
You’d hardly know it though. At least I don’t. I’m not sure I can tell that there is anything different with this filling. Maybe it’s a ruse to get me to now buy a regular Almond Joy to do a side-by-side comparison.
Here’s a fun fact though ... this Almond Joy bar has 12% of your daily recommended intake of fiber.
Though they messed around with the perfect simplicity of a classic, this is still a very good bar. I’ve always found the coconut center of the Mounds/Almond Joy family to be sweeter and moister than the Bounty bars (do they still make those).
Rating: 8 out of 10.
Thursday, June 30, 2005
Name: Big Cherry
I had no idea there were made right here in Los Angeles. I also didn’t know that the Ben Meyerson Candy Co. is also behind all those Sunkist candy treats. It only makes sense then, that they’d have a big chocolate covered cherry in their repetoire. The primary curiosity of this candy, as Amy pointed out, is that the first ingredient on the label is not chocolate or cherries, but peanuts. Then sugar, corn syrup, CHERRIES and four items later is Cocoa. Hmm, might not be real chocolate on the outside.
It certainly smells nutty. Peanuts and cherries sound like a good combo. The wad is pretty big, picture a lumpy golf ball. Maybe it’s a bit bigger than that. It smelled chocolately and nutty and sweet.
I really should have taken a photo of the inside, because that’s the most interesting part. Inside is a bright pink cream - yes, pink like the package ... maybe brighter. The outside shell is thick and soft and the inside is well, thick and softer. There, far at the center was a dark, plump, red maraschino cherry.
I’m not overly fond of cherries and when I have chocolate I prefer the real stuff. The combo of peanuts and cherry cream was pretty good though a tad sweet without allowing the flavors to come through.
Rating: 5 out of 10 (because I don’t like cherries that much).
Monday, June 27, 2005
Name: London Mint
I’ve seen these bars a few times in the store and didn’t really “get” them. I figured, why buy a candy bar that looks like a $100 bill? But that’s not quite what they are. It’s a package of five little chocolate covered chocolate cream mints.
I also didn’t get the whole London thing and then it’s an American bill. Well, it’s from Harry London chocolates ... duh. Usually boxed chocolate companies don’t even enter my radar, but a few years back Trader Joe’s started carrying the best candy invention ever, the Mint Cookie Joy! Because of that, I’ll give anything with their name on it a try. Okay, now that I’m beyond the name and packaging, I can get to the tasting!
Inside are four square chocolates. Milk chocolate covering a fudgy chocolate/mint cream center. Perfection really.
The snackability on thise is pretty high. If the package were larger, I could probably shovel about a dozen of these down without a problem. They’re not heavy or cloyingly sweet, but friendly-sweet.
If you like really soft centers, just leave it in your un-airconditioned office on an 85 degree day near the window. If you prefer a chocolate with a snappy center, then you might want to stick these in the fridge during the warmer months.
Rating: 8 out of 10.
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