Monday, April 2, 2007
I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but the FDA controls what fits under the definition of chocolate for sale in the United States. They want to make MOCKOLATE into CHOCOLATE.
As it is, chocolate is not an unhealthy treat. Cocoa Butter, which is composed of stearic acid, has been found to have no effect on blood lipid levels (cholesterol). Cocoa solids have been shown to have a positive effect on our bodies because of the high levels of antioxidants, insulin-like and anti-inflammatory compounds.
The new rules would completely obliterate the current definition, basically making any concoction containing cocoa solids and a fat into Chocolate. Like magic!
The rules currently state (basically) that chocolate must contain cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Other things can be in there, like milk fat and milk solids to make milk chocolate and a small amount of milk fat can be added to dark chocolate as well. The new proposal would allow products that contain NO COCOA BUTTER to be called chocolate.
We all know that these mockolate products are crappy. They don’t taste the same ... they feel oily or greasy on the tongue and don’t have the smooth buttery melt. What’s worse? They usually contain partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) or tropical oils (saturated fats) ... these fats raise our cholesterol levels.
Why is the Chocolate Manufacturers Association pushing for this? Because it’s more cost efficient.
There’s no reason that consumers want this dilution of the standards for chocolate!
It’s all for the chocolate companies to be able to make a cheaper product, an inferior product. Think about it, have you ever picked up a mockolate product and thought, “Goodness, that’s better than real chocolate!” Have you? I thought not. There will be a few holdouts that will continue with the tried and true traditional formulations of chocolate and they’re going to be the losers. Sure, the high end companies will do okay, because they’ve always had consumers with deeper pocketbooks. But the big chocolate companies that want to make this cheap mockolate will flood the market and confuse consumers ... ultimately just frustrating us with bad experiences and wasted money (and possibly a fatter belly and clogged arteries).
You know what? The FDA doesn’t have to give the CMA what they want. You have the power to reject this ... but you have to tell the FDA!
It’s never been easier ... just visit the FDA’s public comment portion of their website and tell them that you don’t want to lose real chocolate in a sea of wax and tropical oils. You can fill out the form, or send them a letter or a fax. Here’s what you’re commenting on:
Just visit this page for a tutorial and some talking points ... or read through the issues and draft your own letter. The important thing to do is to tell them that this change does NOT PROTECT CONSUMERS. The use of alternate fats not only makes for crappy chocolate, it’s not good for us.
The deadline for public comment on this is
April 25th, 2007
June 25, 2007.
The full name on these is Brach’s Pastel Fiesta Malted Milk Eggs which of course made me wonder if they have another product that is perhaps primary colors or just black and white. Malted milk eggs at Easter were a particular favorite of mine. They were one of those interactive candies, you can lick the shell and then color your lips with the coral pink or white chalky edible makeup. (That white lipstick was quite the look when I was very little.)
Now of course I’m much more interested in the “real milk chocolate” part of the wrapper. Brach’s has been owned by Barry Callebaut since 2003, so maybe they were teaching Brach’s a thing or two about chocolate. They don’t need to be taught how to make boiled sugar candy, they do that just fine.
The Fiesta Eggs are big and bold. They make a satisfying clacking sound in the bag when you roll them around. They can be eaten whole (or applied liberally over the face) but I prefer to bite them in half and have a look. I don’t know what I expect to find, as it has always been the same ... malt center, chocolate layer and then hard colored shell. But you never know! (Actually, I’ve eaten very old malt balls before and every once in a while I’ve gotten ones with “melted” centers but shells that are intact or just a little dented.)
Fiesta Eggs smell like Easter. They’re sweet and have a slight vanilla hint to them. This bag was very fresh, the shells were super crisp and the centers were light and airy.
Unlike the normal chocolate covered malt balls, the Fiesta Egg is more about the combination of the texture of the hard sugar shell and the light crunch of the malted center. The chocolate layer provides a little bit of a creamy texture, but not much flavor. In the Brach’s chocolate, as far as I can tell, is too too sweet.
These still aren’t my ultimate malted egg. I’m not sure I’ve found it yet. I wasn’t blown away by the Jelly Belly ones either and I picked up some more vibrant colored ones (but I don’t know the brand) a the Sweet Factory a few weeks ago in the bulk bins. They tasted too much like food coloring and not enough like malt. Perhaps such a candy doesn’t exist.
But you can be sure that I’m going to finish these! How do I look with lilac lipstick?
UPDATE: 3/30/2011 - The pastel ones are hard to find, but I did run across a white version. They say they’re made with real milk chocolate, but they’re still not very chocolatey.
UPDATE 3/2/2012: Another newer version has appeared on store shelves. They are much, much larger, but have a more flavorful malt center and perhaps better chocolate. Check out the new review here.
Sunday, April 1, 2007
Last month’s search string are obviously focused on Easter. What I found rather funny was the number of people who found the site while looking for Cadbury Mini Eggs ... why aren’t people going to the Hershey site? What are they finding here that they’re not getting from the site set up by the manufacturer? Is it the opportunity to offer comments, the photos or just because they want more.
1. cadbury mini eggs
The other thing I found interesting about the search listing is how many people came to the site in search of info about Barnegat, Hometown Candy or Jordan Almonds dot com. About 150 people came to read the post I wrote last year, and plenty more are still adding their comments to the thread with their experiences.
Friday, March 30, 2007
After the review of Lifesavers Jelly Beans, I kept hearing that the SweeTart Jelly Beans were also very good. (Actually, readers have been telling me this for a year, but I was hoping to catch them on sale after Easter last year, but wasn’t so lucky.)
So I went out last night looking for them. Luckily they were on sale ($1.50 a bag instead of $2.29) at RiteAid. I carefully chose a bag that looked like it had lots of yellow ones in it (the others looked very pink).
Unlike the Lifesavers Jelly Beans that made up flavors to include in the bag, the SweeTart Jelly Beans stick to the regular SweeTart flavors: Grape, Cherry, Orange, Lemon, Green Apple and Blue Punch.
The colors are typical of an assortment of highlighter pens (well, the purple one just wasn’t photographing well, it’s much more lilac that the photo makes it appear). They’re matte and opaque. They’re also not terribly regular in size and shape, with the colors sometimes looking a little faded in spots and other little bloops of other colors in them.
These beans are different. They candy shell on them isn’t like any other jelly bean I’ve had. Instead of just being a flavored sugar shell, these feel different. They’re a little crumbly and a little cool on the tongue. The ingredients lists dextrose as one of the main ingredients. Dextrose is the same sugar used to make SweeTart and other compressed sugar candies.
It takes a little getting used to, because at first it feels like the bean is past its prime or something. But then I really started to enjoy cleaving off parts of the shell in my mouth before chewing the rest up. They’re kind of like Lemonheads in that respect, except not as sour. The jelly center isn’t really flavored, but does have a slight tang to it (yes, I managed to just nibble off the shell on a few of them). The jelly center is the same for all of them as far as I can tell (Jelly Belly uses specific flavored centers for their beans, which is one of the reasons they’re so flavorful).
I really liked the orange and lemon, but found the grape to be a huge disappointment. It was completely missing that “malic acid” flavor of the grape SweeTart. The green apple also seemed a little weird, just not quite complete. The blue punch was much better than I expected and of course the cherry was just bitter to me. Though all of them are a bit tart, they’re not really sour like a SweeTart is. I can say from experience here that there’s no tongue damage from eating a third of a bag for breakfast (which there definitely would be with the regular chalky SweeTart).
I’m not as fond of these as I’d hoped, so they’re not going to knock the Lifesavers Jelly Beans off the current favored spot for the special Easter jelly beans. Part of it is the lack of visual appeal, they just look old. I also wanted them to be more tart. But I have to give them props for making me eat my jelly beans in a different way. I still have another bag of the SweeTart Ducks, Chicks & Bunnies (I finally found them at Walgreen’s) ... it’s gonna take a big candy innovation for something else from SweeTart to knock them off the top spot.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
I found myself frustrated last year trying to put together a “Green Halloween”, and part of that is that at Halloween we’re buying candy for strangers (trick-or-treaters). For Easter we’re buying candy for our close friends and family, so taking that extra step to pick the most wholesome and ethically produced is perhaps a little easier on the wallet. So if you’re looking to put something together this year, take a look over those product reviews for Green Halloween as most are also available for Easter (and all year round). I’ll put together an updated list of green candy choices this weekend.
Endangered Species makes their little Bug Bites in a “Hoppy Treats” version, which I think are nice Easter basket options. Since I’ve already reviewed those, I thought I’d give a new Endangered Species item a review today!
Introduced late last year, Eco-Rounds are a set of three little dark chocolates with caramelized cacao nibs. They come in a single serving “bar” (a plastic package, instead of the usual foil & paper wrapper). The little disks of chocolate are attractive, rather thick and very shiny.
While the Endangered Species Bat Bar also has cacao nibs in it, these little morsels aren’t quite as dark. The chocolate here is 60% dark instead of the 75% dark in the Bat Bar. The chocolate is smooth and a little sweet. The disks have an excellent crunch from the abundant nibs. Unlike many bars with nibs in the, these are caramelized, so they have a little sweet toffee crunch taste to them.
Excellent stuff, if these were easier to find, this might be one of my favorite new nibby items. I was very disappointed when I finished them (seriously, they could put four in there very easily)!
I think Endangered Species should really consider wrapping these individually in foil (or those little sealed sleeves they use for Bug Bites) and selling them seasonally in larger bags. I’d love a bowl of pastel ones for the spring and some fall colors later this year. Or if you want to go the non-seasonal route, maybe some different patterned foils in animal prints. Some zebra stripes, leopard Spots, tortoise shell ... it could be sassy!
Note: this is not organic, but is all natural and ethically traded. Also note that they call this dark chocolate, but the wrapper says that it contains milk products, so is not suitable for vegans. (Drat!)
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.