Monday, October 1, 2007
Richard H. Lenny, the CEO, President and Chair of The Hershey Company is calling it quits at the end of the year. He took his current position in 2001.
You can read the press release below, which is obviously geared towards investors and not consumers, because not once does it mention anything good that’s happened since Lenny took over ... a period which saw the addition of PGPR to Hershey’s chocolate, the swapping of real milk chocolate in the Fifth Avenue bar to subpar mockolate and of course their support for the Grocery Manufacturers Association proposal to lower the standards of identity for chocolate (a reversal from their earlier position logged in 2000). Oh, yeah, and the closing of the Smith Falls, ONT and Oakdale, CA along with many smaller factories totalling at least 1,500 people directly.
If I were in charge, I’d go private. If I were the Hershey Trust, I’d slowly buy the company back. They have (or at least it looks like they have) the capital to do it. Move away from all for the profit business and move to become and socially and ecologically responsible company both in the United States and abroad. Mars has a huge advantage over Hershey’s in that it is privately owned and can take bigger risks when the consumer confectionery market is in flux as it is now.
Hershey’s should get back to making quality confectionery products at affordable prices, pay people a decent wage and the Hershey Trust will be able to continue the Milton Hershey School without problems. After all, the Trust is there to help mold disadvantaged youth - give them the education and boost that they need. Are they really teaching them anything if they abandon the town, communities and ideals that Hershey built?
I had high hopes for the Reese’s Whipps bar. The bar goes something like this: light and fluffy peanut butter flavored nougat wrapped in a layer of peanut butter then coated in mockolate. Okay, I’m not completely certain it is mockolate, as the ingredients include chocolate, but it’s so low on the list, I have my doubts. Especially since they don’t list it as part of the description of the bar and say that this element is “Made with Smooth Chocolate.” Whether it is or not is immaterial because it’s flaky and not that good.
The bar is hefty at 1.9 ounces, just a little smaller than a 3 Musketeers (2.12 ounces) and wrapped in that unmistakable Reese’s orange.
A little blue triangle in the corner heralds that this bar has 40% less fat*. That * leads to the disclaimer that it contains 9 grams of fat versus 15 grams of fat for the average leading chocolate candy brands. I really want to know what they consider the leading chocolate candy brands, which I’m guessing are M&Ms, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers and Hershey Bars. The bar itself has 230 calories. But I’ll rant about that more a bit later.
The bar looks just like the wrapper promises. It smells lightly sweet and peanutty. The bite on the bar is soft, not stiff. The nougat inside has an immediate peanut butter flavor to it with a little salt and a kind of molasses darkness.
The peanut butter layer around that gives a little extra peanutty zazz to it. The mockolate adds nothing. It gives no chocolatey contribution to the thing, no creamy component, no milky, buttery texture. It merely contains the other two elements, that are actually pretty good. The only good thing about the glaze is that it’s used sparingly ... it’s ultra thin. You could probably shine a light through it.
Yes, with a good coating of real chocolate (like a 3 Musketeers), this could have been a standout bar.
But I guess my real disappointment is that they’ve grabbed a play from the book of 3 Musketeers and are calling it “lower in fat” without mentioning on the front that it contains pretty much the same number of calories as any other candy bar. I’ve made a little list of the size, calories and caloric density of the leading bars, arranged with the least dense at the top. Pay careful attention to the number of calories though, even if it’s not dense, it’s certainly big:
Candy Bar…..............size in grams….calories/cals per gram
It’s pretty clear that the York Peppermint Pattie is the candy to have if you want straight carbs (no fat, no protein). 3 Musketeers does pretty well as does the Whipps, but remember, if there’s no fat and no protein it’s all sugars. While I find sugar to be wonderful, straight sugar doesn’t really provide much long-lasting satisfaction if you’re looking for a snack that’s a treat.
That chart means nothing if you don’t actually like the candy bar though. And this bar proves that Hershey’s does not need the FDA to change the definition of chocolate, they’re free to make a substandard product and try to sell it to us. Yeah, I’m probably been pretty harsh, but this could have been a really good bar.
Shopping Jen found these at WalMart already and has a review posted here. I also saw these this weekend at Walgreen’s (at two for a dollar!), so they’re in the wild now.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Each day a the All Candy Expo I balanced my sense of discretion with each candy booth’s generosity.
I think the candy companies won.
Each attendee was given a small bag to put their samples in on the floor. The same bag was used each day and it was about the size of a shoe box for some nice women’s dress shoes. Basically, not too big.
Many booths had “eat it here” samples, little cups or sections of their products for sampling. I generally didn’t eat much while on the floor of the show, so I didn’t go for those often. (I couldn’t bring them home, they didn’t have the ingredients and nutrition info on them.)
I was pretty picky about what I picked up, but often when I’d get into conversations with the candy purveyors, they’d offer me full sized samples. A 6 ounce bag of some new gummi spiders, a stack of six 3.5 ounce chocolate bars, a 5 ounce bag of delicious dark chocolate coated toffee almonds or a half a dozen full-sized Ritter Sport bars. It adds up. So somewhere around the middle of the morning my bag would be full and probably weigh about five pounds. I had a benefit over most attendees, somewhere to stash the contents of my bag. I’d go to the press room and empty it out and leave it with my other stuff (my jacket, etc.) and go back out onto the floor.
At the end of the day I’d be hoofing it back to the hotel with 15 or so pounds of candy along with a sampling of press kits which are also heavy in their own right.
So with a little math you can tell where this is going. At the end of the show I had at least 45 pounds of candy, probably closer to 55 pounds (if you include the press kits, which as I said in my defense, are heavy).
I planned well, or at least I thought. I brought one large suitcase to Chicago. I packed my 8 days worth of clothes (I was heading to visit family in the Midwest when I was done) and another smaller, collapsible suitcase in the bottom. I had my laptop messenger bag and a purse. Once back at the hotel I tried to pack all my stuff. It all technically fit, but I was concerned that the large bag was going to be over the weight limit. If figured if I could carry the large suitcase down the three flights of stairs to the lobby, it couldn’t be that heavy. Certainly not over 50 pounds.
I got to the airport dragging things behind me (may I thank the fellow who invented the wheel at this moment?) I found that I was correct ... my luggage weight 101.5 pounds. However, the large bag was 61 pounds and the little one was over 39. (The good news, apparently, is that I can carry 61 pounds down three flights of stairs!)
Luckily the nice agent at American Airlines said I could take a moment and transfer some things around instead of charging me for being overweight (that’d be $50). She even helped me by pointing out the items she thought were heaviest. I stuffed some of the heavier things into my carry on and in the end each of my bags was balanced at 47 pounds each. (Yes, I was now toting an additional seven pounds in my carry ons.) I thanked the ticket agent for her patience and help and gave her a full-sized Hershey’s Cacao Reserve nibby bar. This was when she told me that she only worked part time for American Airlines. Her day job was as a dental hygienist. She said she would have given me a toothbrush if she had one on her!
At my brother’s (where the guest room is sadly on the third floor, but happily he carries my bags up for me) I took all my candy out and organized it and repacked it, using a bathroom scale to make sure that each bag was 45 pounds. I left plenty of chocolate and candy there, too. I gave my mother three full sized dark bars plus a box of Russell Stover Private Reserve chocolates that I just wasn’t going to get to review anytime soon (but I’ll go buy at some point). I left only a few things at my brothers ... sadly I didn’t find his new perfect candy bar for him at the Expo. He was a Snickers Cruncher fan. I’ll have to keep working on it.
It took about three days after I got home for the sore shoulders to go away (carry forty pounds on them regularly takes a while to get over). It’s been 10 days since the Expo ended and I can now say that my feet don’t hurt any longer. Maybe next year I won’t walk that mile to and from the convention center and just splurge on a cab.
In case you’re wondering, this is what 50 pounds of candy looks like, all dumped out on my dining room table (which is 50 inches around, by the way).
In case you’re wondering the result of this trip on my weight ... I’ve lost four pounds. Don’t worry, I have a notion of where to find them.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Chocolate Bytes is also running a drawing for some cute See’s Foil Wrapped Autumn Leaves. Check that out and enter! (Deadline is Sunday.)
X-Entertainment marks the beginning of Candy Season with their first haul of Halloween Candy. If that’s not enough to get you through to the sales that start on the day after, check out their huge archives that go back years and years.
Buzzle has up a list of the 10 Great Moments in the History of Chocolate. Of course any top ten list will generate comments. I’m pretty sure Hershey should be on there, mostly because it was when chocolate became accessible to the masses and large-scale production techniques were applied to what had been a rather upscale artisan product. But there are other things left out of there as well.
Tasty Show (mostly chocolate) attended the Chocolate and Beer pairing sponsored by Cote d’Or at All Candy Expo. (I would have put this in my roundup, but it was posted on the same day and I didn’t see it.)
Jessica posts on Su Good Eats about a new chocolate maker in the US called Askinosie ... definitely on my list now!
I didn’t do a This Week roundup last week, I was traveling and having spent all that time and money to get across the country to see my family, I thought it best to spend time with them! I had a great trip and my mother and I went to visit Daffin’s Candy Factory in Farrell, PA and then to the Daffin’s Candy Store (the World’s Largest, they say). I’ll have a complete write up on that soon and tell you what’s in that box.
I also got to watch my niece and nephew try out a bunch of the All Candy Expo candies. The biggest hit with the two of them seemed to be the Candy Stampers that Concord makes. They’re a compressed dextrose disk that has a little shape on it and lots and lots of food coloring. You wet it on your tongue and then stamp the shape on your skin, or paper, or whatever. They seemed most interested in stamping their tongues.
Here’s what I know my niece doesn’t like: Razzles, Russell Stover’s Mocha Truffle (I don’t know why she wanted to open it), Trolli Gummi Bears or Concord Bananas. She seemed happiest when I opened my bag of Swedish Fish Aqua Life and she picked out all the red fish. They both got a couple of Pez as well, and seemed to like them. My nephew is more mellow about candy and seemed happy with most of the stuff I gave him. He likes sour, but not super sour. Sour Patch Kids are just about his speed.
I’m so happy to be home but haven’t even really looked at all my candy yet, I’ve just been trying to respond to your requests for the new candies revealed at the All Candy Expo.
Monday: Tootsie Rolls & Fruit Rolls (5 out of 10)
Tuesday: Chewy Lemonheads & Atomic Fireballs (7 out of 10 & 8 out of 10)
Wednesday: Skittles Chocolate Mix (5 out of 10)
Thursday: Pop Rocks Milk Chocolate Bar (7 out of 10)
Friday: Junior Mints Deluxe (7 out of 10)
Average rating: 6.27 ... 29% chocolate content.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
I’m keen on the combination of dark chocolate and mint. I’d say that there’s nothing better, but then avid readers will probably find instances where I’ve said the same about the combination of chocolate and peanut butter and probably orange and chocolate and probably pretzels and chocolate.
There have been a few new versions of Junior Mints, including the Inside Out, Junior Mints Pastels and Heart Shaped Junior Mints over the past few years. They didn’t mess with the peppermint flavor or the proportions of the elements. Instead they messed with the chocolate element.
The new Junior Mints Deluxe are jumbo sized. They’re the same size as Cella’s Chocolate Covered Cherries, which are also made by Tootsie. At the top of the chocolate shell are the initials JM.
They’re two bites big (about a half an ounce each) and the soft fondant center flows quickly if you don’t tip it up quickly after biting it open. The chocolate shell is thick and dark but is pretty sweet. It doesn’t have that waxy shellac that Junior Mints usually have.
I really liked the flavor of the huge reservoir of the fondant center. It was intensely minty, so much that it cut through what would ordinarily be very sweet. The large two bite version can be messy and I haven’t quite gotten the hang of it. I suspect popping the whole thing in the mouth at once is the way to go, but I can’t resist looking at the innards.
Again, there is the issue of proportions here, I think this is a little off for my tastes with the gooey center, but if you’re a fan of the gooey center, this may be your new favorite. They should be available in stores after Halloween. This box comes with 12 in it and weighs 6 ounces. There are no dairy or egg products in this (though may be processed on equipment that comes in contact with milk) so it may be suitable for liberal vegans.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.