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Walgreen's

Friday, July 31, 2009

Walgreen’s Australian Licorice (Chocolate Covered)

Walgreen's Chocolate Covered LicoriceSometimes house brands can be a little mystifying, but this one really caught my eye. Walgreen’s Candy Classics Australian Traditional Black Licorice Smothered in Real Milk Chocolate.

The matte beige & powder blue wrapper does give it that classic look, though the mylar/plastic packaging made it feel modern (as did the presence of a web address on the back of the package).

It also comes in a raspberry licorice version, which I also bought but was disappointed to find it crumbled to bits (so I’m not reviewing it now).

Walgreen's Chocolate Covered Licorice

The bar is attractive and looks like it could easily be an unsalted pretzel rod covered in milk chocolate.

It smells nice, a bit like anise and chocolate cake.

The bite is soft, the chocolate barely flakes, which is a great relief after the red licorice catastrophe.

The licorice at the center is quite soft and has a strong molasses flavor - the chew is almost jelly like, but has the satisfying rib-sticking of a wheat-based confection. The anise and licorice notes are rather mild and more of a generic spice cookie feel. The chocolate is sweet, not terribly chocolatey but seems to seal in all the flavors well.

It’s nice to see an Aussie licorice being sold at American candy prices. It was a nice change up from Twizzlers, Good & Plenty or Crows, which are really the only plain licorice products sold in single serve packages any longer.

My big hesitations are why they put artificial colors in a chocolate covered item. But my guess is that this licorice is available bald.

Aussie readers, do you recognize this bar? (I was thinking it was RJs but those aren’t real chocolate.)

I’m eager to try the raspberry again and see what else Walgreen’s is going to put in their Candy Classics brand.

Note: The calories made no sense on this package. 220 calories for 1.4 ounces is insane for a chocolate covered licorice. It says 2.5 grams of fat, 22 grams of carbs and 2 grams of protein (that makes 120 calories or so) ... I can’t figure where the rest of the calories are coming from. The ingredients are Sugar, Treacle, Wheat Flour, Molasses, Chocolate, Hydrogenated Coconut Oil, Licorice Extract and then a bunch of less than 2% things.

Related Candies

  1. Trader Joe’s Chocolate Covered Gingersnaps
  2. Kookaburra Choc Coated Liquorice
  3. Darrell Lea Licorice & Ginger
  4. Kookaburra Licorice
  5. Panda Bars
Name: Traditional Black Liquorice Smothered in Real Milk Chocolate
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Walgreen's
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park)
Price: $.69
Size: 1.4 ounces
Calories per ounce: bizarre
Categories: Chocolate, Licorice, Australia, Walgreen's

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:28 pm     Comments (24)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Starbucks Caramel Macchiato (Discontinued)

Starbucks Caramel Macchiato TrufflesStarbucks Chocolate is a study in short attention spans.

It was launched barely more than a year ago with little promotion to support it, no website (just a page on the Starbucks site) and a baffling retail plan where it was sold everywhere except Starbucks.

The line included coffee & tea infused chocolate bars, tasting squares and truffles. The packaging echoed Starbucks strong image, was all natural and made no direct mention of Hershey’s as the manufacturer. For Christmas special flavors were created that echoed the seasonal coffee drinks. However, the new brand was a tad on the expensive side and entered the mass-manufactured upscale chocolate market just terms like staycation entered the vernacular.

So last week as Hershey’s announced huge second quarter profits, it also formally announced that they were discontinuing the Starbucks Chocolate line.

CNN Money summed it up pretty well:

But that new line was badly timed because the economy started slowing soon after. Consumers slashed spending last year and early this year, turning away from most extravagances, including pricey chocolate. “The timing of the launch of the Starbucks proposition, frankly, we just missed the window,” said Hershey Chief Executive David West during a Thursday conference call. “Our partner obviously had some other business challenges and the consumer at that price point wasn’t sustainable.”

Added to that happy news about their profits (which were the result of cutting manufacturing costs by closing factories in the US, moving to a Mexican facility, raising prices and using cheaper ingredients), Hershey’s also formalized the discontinuation of Cacao Reserve, Hershey’s own branded high end chocolate line. (Hershey’s also closed Joseph Schmidt, a chocolatier line based out of San Francisco earlier this year and moved all production for Scharffen Berger to Illinois.)

Starbuck's MacchiatoWith this news, I grabbed the last Starbucks product in their line that I hadn’t reviewed yet (and as illustrations for this little death knell post).

The Caramel Macchiato Truffles come in a nicely packaged pair at the ghastly price of $1.39 at the drug store. Honestly, if this sort of truffle pair was available at an actual Starbucks to accompany my plain coffee, I might have gone for it more regularly. With the “startling news” that coffee drinks contain huge amounts of calories which cause cancer, a simple cup of coffee with cream and two truffles would actually be a smaller indulgence than an actual Caramel Macchiato.

I’ve never had a Macchiato (I’ve never actually had anything fancier than a latte or mocha in all my years), so I can’t comment on how well it mimics the frothy creation described thusly by Starbucks:

A signature Starbucks(r) beverage. A creamy mix of vanilla and freshly steamed milk marked with intense Starbucks(r) espresso, topped with velvety foam and our own proprietary buttery caramel sauce.

The milk chocolate shell is nicely molded. It holds a fudgy, smooth cream that tastes a bit like a mocha cheesecake. Sweet, a little tangy with a light coffee taste and maybe, just maybe a hint of toffee (caramel).

It was pretty sweet but with coffee it works ... though the actual coffee overpowers the not-much-coffee-taste.

In the end, I don’t think it was bad timing that sunk this line. I think it was bad merchandising - it should have been available at actual Starbucks. And a year is far too little to decide the success of a new line of chocolate. My view is that Hershey’s is uninterested in building brand loyalty through quality.

The only thing that makes sense about this is the statement on the side of the box:

Starbucks is committed to purchasing cocoa and coffee that are grown and traded in an ethical, transparent and sustainable manner.

To learn more about our cocoa-purchasing practices, please visit us at www.starbucks.com/cocoa

Watching Cadbury & Mars move more and more towards ethically traded and sustainably grown & harvested cacao, I’m not seeing much for Hershey’s except from their Daboga arm. I can see where this Starbucks line is just a liability for profits. Hershey’s has shown itself to be more concerned with profits (and high profits, not just tidy ones) than the quality of its products and place within the economies it locates itself.

Related Candies

  1. Hershey’s announces closing of Joseph Schmidt & Scharffen Berger Bay Area Facilities
  2. Starbucks Chocolate: Eggnog Latte Truffles
  3. Rising Cost of Candy - A Brief Study of Hershey Prices
  4. Starbucks Truffles
  5. Starbucks Chocolate
Name: Starbucks Caramel Macchiato Truffles
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Starbucks (and Hershey's)
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park)
Price: $1.29
Size: .84 ounces
Calories per ounce: 150
Categories: Chocolate, Coffee, United States, Hershey's, All Natural, Kosher, Discontinued

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:43 am     Comments (5)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hershey’s Special Dark with Almonds

Hershey's Special Dark with AlmondsHershey’s has been pushing its Special Dark line, promoting the products as a Natural Source of Antioxidants | Flavanol Antioxidants.

The new Hershey’s Special Dark with Almonds joins Hershey’s standard Special Dark bar as the companion with nuts.

Hershey’s dark chocolate isn’t daringly dark, it’s just 45% cacao content, which these days isn’t even as chocolatey as some milk chocolates. It’s nice to finally have the option of a dark bar with almonds at the convenience mart or drug store ... though it’s a little late to enter the game as Dove beat them there and even Lindt, Ritter and Ghirardelli are available pretty widely now.

Hershey's Special Dark with Almonds

The bar is lovely, it’s molded just like the Hershey’s Milk Chocolate with Almonds bar. 

It’s not a huge bar, but still a nice portion, clocking in at 1.45 ounces and 190 calories if you’re counting.

Ingredients: Sugar, chocolate, almonds (roasted in cocoa butter and/or sunflower oil), cocoa butter, cocoa processed with alkali, milkfat, lactose, soy lecithin, PGPR, vanillin and milk.

Hershey's Special Dark with AlmondsAs almonds were a little lower on the list or ingredients than I expected, I counted them. 10 whole almonds. Not bad. (Though they’re about the size of peanuts.)

My first reaction is that it’s sweet. My second reaction is that it tastes like cocoa. The almonds have a good crunch and were fresh. Because of the almonds, for the most part I chewed the bar instead of letting it just melt on my tongue. But for the purposes of this review I found some pieces without almonds just for tasting the chocolate.

It’s sugary and a bit grainy, there’s a distinct chalkiness that isn’t that “this is really dark chocolate dryness” instead it’s more like the chocolate’s not fully combined with the sugar. The cocoa butter isn’t really supporting the chocolate, it’s standing next to it so everything just kind of falls apart.

It’s not terrible, but it’s like eating a bunch of chocolate chips. Chocolate chips are meant to stand up to baking and are almost always used in combination with other elements. Here the almonds just can’t cover up the lackluster flavors & texture.

If you’re desperate for a non-milk chocolate bar (that actually has milk products in it) and nothing else is around, this is certainly more palatable than the straight Special Dark. I found it filling, but not satisfying.

Related Candies

  1. Hershey’s Almond Joy Pieces
  2. Hershey’s Special Dark Miniatures
  3. Hershey’s Miniatures
  4. Dove Promises (Caramel & Almonds)
  5. Endangered Species Halloween Treats
  6. Equal Exchange Miniatures
  7. See’s Awesome Nut & Chew Bar
Name: Hershey's Special Dark with Almonds
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Hershey's
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park)
Price: $.69
Size: 1.45 ounces
Calories per ounce: 131
Categories: Chocolate, Nuts, United States, Hershey's, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:36 am     Comments (2)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Snickers Nougabot Bar & Transformer M&Ms

If there’s one thing I think that’s might pull our government out of the red, it might Mars excessive registration of trademarks for their limited edition & marketing tie in candies.

image

For the new Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen movie this summer, Mars has created a line of collectible M&Ms packages that feature different characters from the Transformers pantheon plus M&Ms in Transformers-styled outfits.

The seven packages:

  • Milk Chocolate - Pack 1 of 7 - Chocl-O-Bots (tm) - Optimus Prime

  • Milk Chocolate - Pack 2 of 7 - Chocl-O-Bots (tm) - Bumblebee

  • Milk Chocolate - Pack 3 of 7 - Chocl-O-Bots (tm) - Ironhide

  • Peanut - Pack 4 of 7 - Delect-O-Cons (tm) - Megatron

  • Peanut - Pack 5 of 7 - Delect-O-Cons (tm) - Star Scream

  • Peanut - Pack 6 of 7 - Delect-O-Cons (tm) - Barricade

  • Strawberried Peanut Butter - Pack 7 of 7 - The Twins

  • (Yeah, I’m missing some package images, but that’s all that came with the press kit Mars gave me ... how odd.)

    Snickers & M&Ms for TransformersWhat I think is most interesting about this is that the package is the only thing that’s different (besides, of course the Strawberried Peanut Butter M&Ms). Open up the packet of the M&Ms (mine was Bumblebee 2 of 7) and there’s no fun new design of the M imprint with a twist on the Transformers like they did with Pirates of the Caribbean Pirate Pearls, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull and Shrek II (basically Mega M&Ms).  The Star Wars ones, though introducing Dark Chocolate M&Ms, did not have fancy imprints.

    What is good news is that the packages are no smaller. With many of the limited editions what you get in addition to “specialness” is less. The Milk Chocolate Chocl-O-Bots packages have the same 1.69 ounces as the standard Milk Chocolate M&Ms.

    The only truly transformed product for the movie tie-in is the Snickers Nougabot (tm). Due to physical laws of the conservation of matter, the energy required for the transformations, the bar is smaller than an unTransformerized one. *

    SnickersFrom the outside the packages look rather similar. (Click to enlarge to read the ingredients if you wish.)

    This isn’t the first time Mars has mucked with the nougat for a movie. Back in 2007 they turned it green for Shrek but left it the same size, because really, how could a Shrek-ified candy be smaller? The traditional bar is 2.07 ounces and the Nougabot is 1.83 ounces.

    Snickers Transformer & Regular

    The difference, otherwise, is really just the addition of Yellow #5. Considering how much some parents hate Yellow #5 (hint: enough to get it banned in Europe), it’s hard to understand why a candy which was formerly artificial coloring free would add it. Further, the Snickers website doesn’t list the Yellow 5 on the page for the Nougabot bar (sorry, can’t link directly to the page because of stupid flash & beware of annoying sounds).

    So how does it taste? About the same. The flavor seemed a little “darker” but I don’t know if that was the caramel batch ... sometimes even big factory candies like Snickers can vary from day to day.

    The only thing I liked about it is the same thing that I prefer about the Snickers Dark, that there’s one less bite in it. Because honestly I think that 1.83 ounces is the perfect size for a Snickers bar.

    * My theory of this kind of violates the whole world of Transformers and many other fantasy, action & sci-fi movies where small things turn into big things without the perceivable addition of extreme amounts of energy. Anyway, in order to turn back and forth without loss of mass, you’d need lots of energy to turn into matter ... conversely to shrink you’d need to have a way to store a huge reservoir of energy (if you wanted to grow again) or release it. I’ve always wondered if Alice became super-dense when she shrank and puffy, aerated & light when she grew.

    Related Candies

    1. Reese’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Bats (Dark Knight)
    2. Snickers Adventure Bar (Indiana Jones)
    3. Snickers Rockin’ Nut Road Bar
    4. Snickers Nut ‘n Butter Crunch
    5. Elvis Reese’s Peanut Butter and Banana Cup
    6. M&Ms Line
    7. Snickers Xtreme

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:49 am     CandyReviewSnickersMarsCaramelChocolateKosherLimited EditionM&MsNougatPeanuts7-Worth ItUnited StatesWalgreen'sComments (8)

    Wednesday, June 17, 2009

    Spearmint Leaves

    Walgreen's Spearmint LeavesSome candies need no review, no introduction or marketing campaign. They simply are and hopefully always will be.

    Spearmint Leaves are such a simple candy. A firm jelly molded in the shape of a mint leaf and flavored with spearmint oil (or a reasonable facsimile).

    I don’t how long they’ve been around (earliest mention on Google’s news archive is 1928). There’s no fantastical tale of their historical debut at any World’s Fair or even a county fair. They’re probably just a novelty shape of a traditional spice gumdrop. I don’t know who invented them or even who makes the best ones. Even passably good ones are good enough for me.

    They’re sold without any fancy brand names, simply Spearmint Leaves. You can get them in bulk, in tubs at the office supply stores or in peg bags at the drug stores.

    Walgreen's Spearmint LeavesThe ingredients are identical to gum drops. They’re sugar, corn syrup and a bit of corn starch for jelling. Then a little artificial flavor & color to complete the illusion of a platform shoe equivalent of a real leaf of mint.

    I picked up my package of Walgreen branded Spearmint Leaves from their 99 cent peg bag selection. I usually look for bags that appear dry and the candies move around easily but that the candies also have a little give when squeezed. Too much moisture is an enemy of jelly candies. It makes the granulated sugar coating sticky and allows their qi to leak out.

    Walgreen's Spearmint Leaves

    I picked a good bag. The color is rather light and oddly on the blue side. The shape of the leaf is a bit narrower at the top than the bottom and has a nice point to it on the end with a little stem. So the molding is nice. The granular sugar coating is good - there’s enough to keep them from sticking but not so much as to overpower the flavor.

    The texture inside is smooth. It’s not sticky (at least not as sticky as Dots) and not too sweet. The spearmint notes are dead on - aromatic and kind of sparkly. There are small spots where the spearmint flavor really tingles to the forefront.

    It’s a fresh feeling, but not like eating a mint. I can eat a whole bag if I don’t control myself. They’re even still good when stale and a bit tacky.

    I know they’re not the sexiest, hippest candy but to be around this long without any sort of marketing support is a testament to their excellence.

    Other big candy companies that make Spearmint Leaves are Brach’s & Farley’s and probably others, if you have a favorite, please let me know. It’d be nice to find a company that makes all natural ones (which really shouldn’t be that hard to do) - the closest I’ve come are the fruit flavored gourmet Gum Drops from Whole Foods.

    This package isn’t marked Kosher and it says that it’s a product of Canada & USA (I can’t quite figure that one out). They are marked Gluten-Free. (And are probably also considered vegan.) They’re also silly-cheap, so it’s a low risk sort of thing.

    Related Candies

    1. Jelly Belly Sunkist Citrus Mix
    2. Spearmint Licorice
    3. Loukoumi Artisan Confections
    4. Dots Elements: Earth, Air, Fire & Water
    5. Barley Mint Mentos
    6. Hot Tamales Ice
    7. Chuckles
    Name: Spearmint Leaves
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Walgreen Co.
    Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park)
    Price: $.99
    Size: 9.5 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 104
    Categories: Jelly, Mint, United States, Canada

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:03 pm     Comments (13)

    Tuesday, June 16, 2009

    Short & Sweet: Tropical Flavors

    As I was on my little candy walkabout late last week I noticed a lot of popular candies have a tropical flavor mix. So I decided to start picking them all up and do a little roundup.

    Tropical Candy

    For the most part I consider the tropical flavors to be pineapple, mango, papaya, durian (not that I advocate its use), carambola (starfruit), passionfruit, banana, lychee, guava and coconut. Citrus goes in there but things like strawberries and melons are definitely not a tropical fruit (my rule is if it can be grown in Ohio, it’s not tropical).

    Overpackaging on Tropical Nerds Rope

    First, I have to say that I’ve never had Nerds Rope before. It arrived on the scene sometime after my candy experimental days (you know, when you’re a kid) but before it was launched as a new product during my Candy Blog phase.

    But the concept is simple, a sticky gummi rope is rolled in Nerds. In this case it’s a Tropical Nerds Rope.

    Tropical Nerds Rope

    The candy is kind of odd in that it’s rather over-packaged and overpriced (look how long the rope is compared to the wrapper). It’s less than an ounce but costs the same as a regular candy bar. But then again, it’s a 100 calorie snack! (90 to be precise.)

    There are no flavors actually mentioned on the packages, just eensy images of Nerds in swim trunks and flower leis. In this case the gummi cord at the center is a sparkly green. The tangy Nerds are mostly pineapple tasting.

    The chewy center and excellent Nerd stickage makes this much less messy than I had anticipated. The combination of textures and flavors is really nice. I enjoy the pineapple quite a bit (maybe some papaya in there) and don’t really feel the need to try any other flavor after this. (I could see a build your own rope kit too, a little length of gummi and kids could roll their own.)

    Rating: 7 out of 10 (Made in USA by Wonka/Nestle)

    Tropical Now and LaterNow and Later were off limits to me for a long time, mostly because I thought they were too risky for my teeth. But now that I have a good dentist, I’m not as apt to give into such unfounded fears.

    Tropical Now and Later has a flavor assortment that’s right up my alley: Mango Melon, Pineapple and Banana. (I’ve never met a yellow flavor I didn’t like.)

    Mango Melon Tropical Now and LaterMango Melon is Orange

    Often mango flavored candies taste a lot like peach to me. And peach flavored candies often taste more like over-syruped peach pie than actual peaches. This was pretty much like that. The dominant flavor was of the musky mango with a little cantaloupe thrown in.

    It got tangier the more I chewed, which I enjoyed, because that took over the flavor profile for the most part.

    Banana Tropical Now and LaterBanana are Yellow

    These are everything you’d expect from a banana taffy. Bold and artificial tasting with a strange blast of dry cleaning smell in the back of my throat and the old standby - fingernail polish remover.

    Still, I love banana taffy.

    Pineapple Tropical Now and LaterPineapple is also Yellow

    This is only slightly lighter than the Banana, but luckily they print the name of the flavor on there.

    Tangy and fruity but with a strange, warm Play Doh note in the middle.

    I found them pretty much irresistible even if they were rather fake.

    Rating: 6 out of 10 (Made in Mexico by Farley’s & Sathers)

    Mike and Ike Tropical Typhoon

    On the back of the box of Mike and Ike Tropical Typhoon is a flavor guide. It includes little images of fruits: banana, kiwi, lime, mango, strawberry and pineapple (also on the front).

    The flavors, on the other hand, don’t quite match up.

    Blue = Caribbean Punch: the initial flavor is a bit green & pine-ish. Then it becomes more punch-like. It’s all sweet and no tangy.

    Peach = Mango: a little tart at first, then rather floral. Not exactly mango but definitely not peach and the longer I chewed the closer it got to the rosemary notes that mangoes have.

    Red = Strawberry-Banana: the initial note here is sweet banana, then a little strawberry bobs by for a little floral note.

    Green = Kiwi-Banana: it starts like the strawberry banana but then just stops ... it’s not that it’s an all banana flavored Mike and Ike, but just half-flavored. Some of them had a slight tangy melon flavor on the shell, but not all of them and it certainly didn’t taste like kiwi to me.

    Pink = Paradise Punch : just a slight tingle of tangy in there, but it’s mostly a sweet punch flavor ... like the Caribbean Punch but without the strange balsam notes.

    Overall, too much like the original Mike and Ike - too bland and not enough real punchy flavor in there. I really wanted some pineapple flavor in there, too. I’ll stick to Tangy Twister (which has Pineapple) or the Alex’s Lemonade Stand mixes.

    Rating: 6 out of 10. (Made in USA by Just Born)

    Tropical Dots

    I have to say that I’ve always regarded the Tootsie company as rather traditional and slow to adopt to changing American tastes. But then it’s like they have this strange rebellious group known as the Dots Makers. They’re fully encouraged to do bizarre flavor assortments from the crazy Ghost Dots at Halloween (to be paired with Bat Dots this year which are Blood Orange flavored - which I would have called Blood Dots) then the Yogurt Dots but the real innovation came in the limited edition line called Elements that came in single flavor packages of Cinnamon, Green Tea, Wintergreen and Pomegranate.

    So Tropical Dots are kind of tame in comparison, but they must be popular because they’ve been around since 2003.

    Tropical Dots

    Bright Pink = Tropical Nectar: it tastes like Hawaiian Punch with a strong bitter aftertaste. Sweet, tangy and definitely with that “tropical candy flavor” that I think is papaya.

    Orange = Wild Mango: tart and rather citrusy with a pretty good imitation of mango flavor in there. Still tastes like the mango version of Tang.

    Turquoise = Paradise Punch: an insane color for a candy, it’s rather similar to the Tropical Nectar but with more of a citrus twang to it and less aftertaste.

    Yellow = Grapefruit Cooler: why didn’t someone tell me there was a grapefruit Dot? These are fabulous and I want to buy them by the box. The first notes are tangy then there’s a deep zesty flavor that has a black cherry note to it that dissipates and then it’s just a nice grapefruit & citrus flavor.

    Green = Carambola Melon: - when my mother came to visit last time we went to a new Korean market in Little Tokyo (that replaced my favorite market, Mitsuwa). They had these little melons called Korean Melons ... they were small, about the size of a papaya or mango. Bright yellow with some mild bumps and distinct ridges. I bought two. I cut them up and was rather unimpressed with the flavor - like weak Musk Melon. The problem was later in the evening I kept smelling something like garbage. I turned out it was the melon. (I really like the idea of a one-serving melon though.)

    Anyway, this one is supposed to be starfruit and melon. I don’t know starfruit that well. I usually eat it off of garnishes at dessert displays, but I’ve never actually bought my own from the produce department and tasted it. It had a rather musty taste to it that was also on the violet side of things ... it was just weird, but not in a terrible way, just in a “this is new to me” way.

    The box was wrapped in cellophane so the Dots were soft and fresh. This didn’t stop them from sticking to my teeth, but still, it’s worth it for their smooth texture.

    Rating: 7 out of 10. (Made in USA by Tootsie)

    Tropical Razzles

    The final item on my list is Tropical Razzles.

    Like all Razzles, they look terrible out of the package.

    Yellow = Pineapple: Nice tangy burst but with a light flavor & texture of a chewable vitamin C tablet. It holds its flavor pretty well, though becomes less tart and more sweet towards the end when it becomes as appealing and chewed paper.

    Pink = Strawberry-Banana: nice mix of strawberry & banana notes, almost reminds me of the old Wacky Wafers at first. Chewing too long just disappoints, I vote for spitting out when it become sweet but the grain wanes.

    Red = Tropical Punch: definitely like Hawaiian punch. Strong bitter aftertaste & cherry notes towards the end. The gum was much tougher on this one too.

    Orange = Tangerine: more orange than tangerine. The tangy notes aren’t as forward as some of the others. When the flavor is gone there’s a weird metallic aftertaste.

    Green = Kiwi-Lime: if there was kiwi in here, I missed it completely. This was lime. Very lime, nicely tangy with a little bitter zest note (or maybe the food coloring).

    Overall, I think that Razzles suffer from too much artificial coloring. After chewing the pieces they’re extremely dark & vibrant ... that’s a lot of food coloring. If I wanted to treat it like candy (which I do), it means a lot of sticky leftover bits in a very short period of time.

    Rating: 4 out of 10 (Made in Canada by Concord Brands)

    Related Candies

    1. Mike and Ike Berry Blast
    2. Mike and Ike Italian Ice
    3. Tropical and Xtreme Sour Smarties
    4. Mentos Tropical & Black Currant
    5. Wonka Nerds Jelly Beans
    6. Starburst Baja California & Tropical
    7. Nerds Gumballs
    8. Tootsie Tropical Pops

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:46 am     CandyReviewConcord ConfectionsFarley's & SathersJust BornNestleTootsieChewsGumGummi CandyJelly Candy4-Benign6-Tempting7-Worth ItCanadaMexicoUnited StatesDollar TreeWalgreen'sComments (6)

    Thursday, April 16, 2009

    Hershey’s Whatchamacallit & Thingamajig

    Hershey's Thingamajig & WhatchamacallitHershey’s Whatchamacallit was introduced in 1978. I remember the launch, the commercials and buying the candy bar quite a bit in the first few years when it came out.

    It was a peanut butter & crisped rice bar covered in milk chocolate. It was simple, crunchy, looked really big and was satisfying.

    Hershey’s has never seemed particularly proud or supportive of the Whatchamacallit. Their advertising for it waned after the eighties; maybe they wanted to go out on a bang with this classic commercial:

    The Hershey’s website lists only four notable moments in Whatchamacallit history: introduction (1978), reformulation (1987), package redesign & king size release (2002). You can see the earlier, less “blasty” package design on Brad Kent’s wrapper archive and Mike’s Candy Wrappers (2002 & 2003)

    The page mentions nothing about the second reformulation where the bar lost its milk chocolate and gained its rich chocolatey coating (circa 2006).

    ThingamajigSo you can imagine how surprised I was to see that the Whatchamacallit earned a Limited Edition version, called Thingamajig.

    This bar is made with chocolate, cocoa crisps and peanut butter. At first glance it sounds like it might be the original Whatchamacallit, the one without the caramel (well, that also had real chocolate).

    Instead it’s a block of cocoa flavored crisped rice covered with a strip of peanut butter and then covered in Hershey’s inimitable imitation chocolate.

    As with many limited edition products, this bar is slightly smaller than the original. It’s 1.5 ounces versus the 1.6 ounces of the Whatchamacallit.

    Whatchamacallit & Thingamajig

    Whatchamacallit on the left and Thingamajig on the right

    It’s hard to review the Thingamajig in a vacuum, so naturally I’m comparing it to the Whatchamacallit. I’m also prone to wondering if, when Hershey’s was developing the Whatchamacallit, that they didn’t go through this bar as part of the evolution of the new product, obviously rejecting it.

    The Thingamajig has a nice cocoa scent along with a whiff or roasted peanuts. It’s not quite a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup smell, but pretty close.

    The bit into the bar is a quick snap, biting through the cocoa crispies is easy, they’re crunchy but have plenty of give since they don’t seem to be held together by marshmallow or peanut butter like the Whatchamacallit.

    The mockolate coating is rather good ... I have to give Hershey’s credit, their fake chocolate can often be better than some other companies’ real chocolate. The cocoa flavors from the crispy center probably help.

    The peanut butter is a bit salty, creamy and smooth (smoother than a peanut butter cup center).

    Overall, it’s a nice experience ... probably not something I’d want again. I’m not sure why Hershey’s did it, but they’re not really taking any credit for it (they never emailed me about it, it doesn’t appear on their website) and it will probably disappear without any fanfare as well.

    Rating: 6 out of 10

    As a little side note, since I’ve never done an official review of the Whatchamacallit (which by now I’m rather dreading typing), I thought I’d add that here:

    The bar smells like cocoa and toffee. The peanut butter crisped rice center is great. It’s buttery, salty, crunchy and has a good roasted nut flavor and a strong butter/dairy note to it. The caramel, though only a very thin layer, gives it a bit of a chew that holds it together in the mouth. The mockolate coating is creamy and melts well but offers no chocolate flavors here ... just a sealant for the crispy bar.

    Rating: 6 out of 10

    But most of all, I have to wonder why the Whatchamacallit isn’t a Reese’s branded product, getting the full benefit of the peanut butter branding.

    I was really late in finding these bars in my area. Here are some other opinions on them: AV Club Taste Test (also a head to head), Cocoa-Heaven (head to head) and Candy Yum Yum.

    Related Candies

    1. Q.Bel Crispy Wafer Bars
    2. Rising Cost of Candy - A Brief Study of Hershey Prices
    3. Palmer Nest Eggs
    4. I Miss: Bar None
    5. 100 Grand with Peanuts
    6. Snickers Cruncher
    Name: Thingamajig & Whatchamacallit
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Hershey's
    Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park)
    Price: $.89
    Size: 1.5 ounces & 1.6 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 147 & 138
    Categories: Mockolate, Peanuts, Caramel, Cookie, United States, Hershey's, Kosher, Limited Edition

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:44 am     Comments (33)

    Thursday, April 9, 2009

    House Brand Creme Eggs

    While some folks find the Cadbury Creme Egg to be the ultimate achievement in Easter confectionery, be warned that there are some pretenders to that throne. At the stores this year I found two such “knock offs.”

    Generic Eggs & Cadbury

    I found Walgreen’s and CVS had their own eggs this year. The CVS brand is called Absolutely Divine and comes in gold foil with a purple and black logo ... which made me wonder if they were a dark chocolate product. The Walgreen’s version is in primary/secondary colors and comes in both the Creme Egg and Caramel Egg.

    Easter Eggs: Creme & Caramel (Walgreens)What could a store brand have to offer? Well, the first thing I noticed about these CCE simulations is that they’re bigger. In fact the shelf box for the Walgreen’s said that they’re 14% larger. These eggs are like the once powerful Cadbury Creme Eggs in their original 1.38 ounce size (CCE are now 1.2 ounces).

    Walgreen’s had these generic looking Creme Eggs on sale this past weekend for 40 cents each, which is not much less than an actual Cadbury Creme Egg. What I found so surprising is that I’ve been to that Walgreen’s at least twice before during this Easter season and these weren’t out on the shelves.

    It was tough to read the wrapper. What I did get was that these are made in Canada and the chocolate shell is made of real chocolate.

    Walgreen's Creme EggThe shell has a little line design on it, not the same as the Cadbury Creme Egg, so at least they’re using different molds.

    Biting into the egg was a bit tough. It’s a thick shell and I was greeted with a creme that resembled a cordial more than the fondant than I was used to.

    The difference between the egg white and egg yolk wasn’t quite apparent, though the best I could tell was there were two different colors of fondant in there. The center was sticky and inconsistent. Sweet, flavorless with little patches of clotted graininess.

    Rating: 3 out of 10.

    Walgreen's Caramel EggThe Walgreen’s Caramel Egg comes in a purple wrapper. It was pretty easy to unwrap, but it felt quite heavy.

    Biting it was similarly difficult to the Creme version - the shell is thick and almost solid on either end with only a minor void for the caramel at the center.

    The caramel isn’t chewy or flowing. Instead it’s more of a pudding-like goo. As far a flavor though, it’s like a good caramel pudding, it’s very smooth and has some toasted sugar flavors. The chocolate shell is a bit hard, a little grainy and very milky tasting.

    As far as this brand goes, I rather liked this Caramel Egg ... not enough to buy it again, but as a simulation of the venerable original, it at least meets expectations.

    Rating: 4 out of 10.

    Absolutely Divine (CVS)The CVS Absolutely Divine Creme Egg didn’t look like much in the store. There was no explanation on the display box, and actually finding the “creme egg” part on the wrapper was pretty tough sleuthing that involved carefully flattening the foil after unwrapping.

    I fully expected these to be made in Canada like the Walgreen’s counterpart ... that they just came spilling off the line to be randomly divided into different groups for different foil wrappers. This was more shocking when I read that they have identical ingredients and molding. But origins aside, the important part is how much they cost and how they taste.

    I paid 50 cents each for these.

    CVS Absolutely Divine EggThe egg was similarly thick-shelled.

    The creme center was also similarly inconsistent, though not quite as flowing as the Walgreen’s version.

    The chocolate shell was disgusting. It tasted like roasted cardboard. Musty, grainy and overly sweetened, perhaps steamed cardboard.

    The sweet filling was completely overpowered by this too-much-bad-shell. And the name, well, they’re absolutely not divine.

    Rating: 2 out of 10.

    I have one other piece of not-so-shocking info. These are all sticky. Not something to be eaten while using a keyboard.

    What I came away with is this: if you love Cadbury Creme Eggs, buy Cadbury Creme Eggs. If you don’t like Cadbury Creme Eggs, these aren’t going to persuade you that they’re a great candy. Spend the extra eight cents or whatever the price difference is and get the real stuff.

    Related Candies

    1. Cream Drops versus Creme Drops
    2. Junior Fruit Cremes
    3. Vanilla Creme Kisses
    4. Cadbury Canadian Creme Eggs
    5. Cadbury Orange Creme Eggs
    6. Cadbury Mini Eggs
    Name: Creme Eggs & Caramel Egg
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Walgreen's & CVS
    Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park) & CVS (3rd & Fairfax)
    Price: $.40 & $.50
    Size: 1.38 ounces
    Calories per ounce: unknown
    Categories: Chocolate, Fondant, United States, Canada, Designer Imposter, Easter

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:45 am     Comments (14)

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