Monday, November 03, 2008
The exception is the Wilbur Chocolate Factory with its little museum and factory store in Lititz, Pennsylvania. First, Wilbur chocolate products are not easy to find, especially since I live on the other coast. Yes, I can order online, but shipping costs and the possibility of melting always makes it a nail biting adventure for me. Second, the prices there on all the products in the store are fabulous. The website & catalogue offerings are spare, but in their little store they don’t just sell their own chocolate products, they also have pre-packed bags of candy favorites such as gummi bears, mint creams, Swedish fish, and various hard candies.
They also feature products like their own fudge and chocolate-covered site-made goodies (my sister got some chocolate covered marshmallows). I also found barley sugar candies and a local brand of a coffee crunch bar. The store is neat and clean, the service great and the candy is always fresh. So even though my sister lives an hour away, while there everyone (my sister, sister-in-law & mother) indulged me on the little diversion on a crisp fall afternoon. (We also went to Hershey’s Chocolate World and up to the Hotel Hershey for drinks.)
This big bar is 2.25 ounces and packaged simply and classically in a paper-foil wrap and a creamy yellow sleeve.
As part of my search for the best crisped rice bar, this was one that I was looking forward to. I was a little worried though. I’ve tasted, literally, thousands of different candies since the last time I had a Wilbur’s Milk Chocolate Crisp bar. Would it still hold up?
The first plus right away is that it’s a thick bar. I like a bar with depth to hold the crisped rice - I like my rice to get completely enveloped in the chocolate.
Next, the sections were easy to break for sharing or portioning.
The chocolate smelled a bit like milk and mostly like malt. Another great sign.
The chocolate is sweet, melts quickly and is much more silky than most other bars I’ve had lately, including the upscale ones. Yes, there’s a lot of fat in there, but I consider that a selling point as well.
The rice crunchies are a little small but plentiful enough. They have a little bit of salt and a good bit of malt as well.
The flavor combination is excellent, the textures meld well. It’s simple, it’s nicely done. I can’t resist. The Ghirardelli uses all-natural ingredients, this has some vanillin in it instead of vanilla plus some mono-diglycerides in the crisped rice.
I bought two of these bars and am regretting that I didn’t get more as they are both gone now. They were $1.59 at the Wilbur store and I would happily pay $2 for them at my local drug store chain.
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)
Friday, June 17, 2005
Name: Malted Milk Balls
As I’ve stated before, I love malt. I will eat spoonfuls of Ovaltine malted milk powder straight from the jar. Good malt balls are not easy to find. First, they have to be covered with real chocolate. Those egg-shaped ones available around Easter are usually some fake chocolate compound and too sweet. The best bet is usually in the bulk candy aisle at the grocer if they carry Harmony Foods bulk chocolate covered malted milk balls.
Earlier this week I placed a bulk order from Wilbur and one of the items was their Malted Milk Balls. These are not simply malted milk balls covered with a thin layer of chocolate, they’re super thick with high-quality milk chocolate. The malt inside is crisp, large and very malty with a touch of salt.
They are by far the best malted milk balls I’ve had in my life. My big question is if anyone knows if naked malt balls exist, you know, just the malt balls without the chocolate coating.
Rating: 9 out of 10.
Monday, April 18, 2005
Name: Wilbur Semisweet Chocolate
Not only is this one of the best domestic chocolates I’ve ever had, it’s really well priced. Of course it’s ridiculously hard to find so I usually go to the factory when I’m in Central Pennsylvania or order from them over the phone (nope, they don’t even have a web store).
Their dark chocolate is exceptionally buttery, not too bitter. It has no dry finish like most of the denser gourmet chocolates. I consider Wilbur more “eating” chocolate than “savoring” chocolate. The mouth feel is really wonderful and not at all grainy. It’s just tad sweet, maybe a little too sweet for my taste, but is great for melting and dipping things like strawberries or pretzels.
You can find the chocolate bars sometimes in east coast and midwest department stores in their gift departments but still the best way to get a hold of the freshest chocolate is to order from the factory.
Rating: 9 of 10
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.