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Monday, April 23, 2007

Starburst Baja California & Tropical

Starburst Baja CaliforniaI’ve never been to Baja. I hear that the experience in the lagoons where the Grey Whales nurse their calves is amazing. I also hear they make great fish tacos there. But I also hear they eat these. It still hasn’t been enough to get me to drive that 200 miles south.

The Starburst Baja California commericals make it seem to be a paradise.

It might well be.

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I admit that I’m always enchanted with candy that’s named for a place.

Limon - this was strange. It started with the distinct flavor of bubble gum. I can’t explain it. Then it got very tart with a pleasant lemon-lime flavor and a slight hint of key lime.

Strawberry Watermelon -  yes, this tasted just like you’d think a strawberry and watermelon Starburst should.

Baja Dragon Fruit - as a blue flavor, I was a little put off, I can’t quite put my finger on the flavor. It reminded me of mango and a little bit of plum.

Aztec Punch - the first time I tried this I thought I got my mixes mixed and it was a cherry one. So I dug out another one and the same thing happened. It tastes like cherry. Maybe that’s what the Aztecs put in their punch.

Starburst TropicalI often shun Tropical flavored stuff because it all ends up being passion fruit, papaya and guava, which I think are good fresh fruits but not really flavors I’m keen on.

But this array in Starburst Tropical of flavors sounded pretty good.

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Mango Melon - I don’t know. It was kind of melon, kind of mango, but not the best aspects of either of those flavors. Not tangy enough, not zesty enough.

Strawberry Banana - I don’t consider strawberries a tropical fruit. If something is indigenous to England, it’s not tropical. This was bad. I wanted to like it, as I love real strawberry and banana things, but the banana was just ooky, a little too fake and a little too much like a scented candle.

Royal Berry Punch - another punch flavor. It’s like they thought that there weren’t enough specific tropical fruit flavors so they had to do these punchy things. This is nice though, a little note of coconut with some melon and citrus and maybe kiwi.

Pina Colada - very coconutty and with a good tingly blast of pineapple. It doesn’t have that buttery flavor that coconut stuff often does, but the fully-rounded notes of the pineapple are great.

If I were to create a Tropical Fruit mix, I’d keep it simple and pick from these: Pineapple, Mango, Lychee, Passion Fruit & Banana. The ultimate mix from these two packs would consist of: Limon, Pina Colada and Royal Berry Punch. No, I can’t even manage to pick a fourth. They’re all okay, but I prefer the original mix best (because of its high citrus content).

Name: Starburst Baja California and Tropical
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Mars
Place Purchased: Rite Aid (3rd & Fairfax)
Price: $.69
Size: 2.07 ounces
Calories per ounce: 120
Categories: Chew, United States, Mars, Starburst

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:16 am     Comments (33)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Farce of the FDA’s Website

Michael brought up a very good point in the comments here. Where is the proof that Big Chocolate is trying to degrade the standards of chocolate?

If you’ve gone through the files that are up for public view listed under 2007P-0085: Adopt Regulations of General Applicability to all Food Standards that would Permit, within Stated Boundaries, Deviations from the Requirements of the Individual Food Standards of Identity you will see that there is a letter from the FDA, a letter about a phone conversation between the FDA and the Grocery Manufacturers Association and then two documents from the GMA (with co-signatories): the cover letter and the citizen petition. (PDFs)

Nowhere in these documents does it say anything specifically about allowing a one hundred percent swap of cocoa butter in chocolate for vegetable fats to be called chocolate.

However, in that Citizen Petition it mentions (page 4) that there is an Appendix C ... a handy chart that breaks things down. But where is Appendix C? It’s sure not on the FDA’s website. I have it (thanks to Gary Guittard) and you can view it right here. Though it’s only a brief explanation of everything asked for in the proposed changes, it’s quite clear in the first example in the second column that they are asking to swap cocoa butter for other vegetable fats.

Since the Citizen Petition had many signatories, and the primary one was the Grocery Manufacturers Association, not the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, I decided to contact them for an official statement of their position. This is what I said:

April 9

I was hoping you could help me with some information on the Chocolate Manufacturers Association’s position on the new FDA Chocolate Standards Identity Change.

(2007P-0085 - Adopt Regulations of General Applicability to all Food Standards that would Permit, within Stated Boundaries, Deviations from the Requirements of the Individual Food Standards of Identity)

Is there an official statement from the CMA about their support for this new change to the current standards for chocolate in the United States? If there isn’t, could I get one?

Specifically I’m looking for something about how this will effect the consumer and why the CMA has petitioned the FDA for this change at this time. Would you be able to tell me how each member of the CMA has supported or not supported this petition that is in the CMA’s name?

Thanks so much for your help and quick attention to this.

I got this reply:

April 11

Hi May,

Attached is a statement from CMA on the Standards filing.  For background, CMA cosigned a joint petition with 11 other food industry trade associations which was filed under the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

Also, each CMA member company is sending in individual comments under their company names so if you are interested in finding out more information on how they feel about this you will have to contact the member companies directly.

Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Thanks and best,

This was what the attached letter said:

April 4, 2007

In October 2006, the Chocolate Manufacturers Association (CMA) agreed to lend its name to the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) “citizen’s petition” calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to revise the standards of identity for food products.

The CMA’s support of the GMA petition is not an endorsement of any specific potential change to the standards of identity for chocolate. Rather, the decision reflects CMA’s view that now is an appropriate time for FDA to begin a general review of the standards of identity for many foods, including chocolate.

The petition in its current form is not the “final word” or a set of new standards. In fact, this proposal is the beginning of a long regulatory process.

Like any proposal before the FDA, the petition must go through a public notice and comment period before any final decision is reached. During this time, CMA, its member companies and any interested party will have the opportunity to comment on any proposed changes and share their views with the FDA.

Sincerely,
Lynn M. Bragg
President
Chocolate Manufacturers Association

As for the confusion about the changes not being entirely public (honestly, I’m not sure what else is in there), it is completely deplorable that the public comment period on these proposed changes ends on Wednesday, yet to this date there has been no coherent posting on the FDA’s website as to what we’re commenting on.

I was a bit panicked at first, after all, I was just getting my information from the Don’t Mess with Our Chocolate website. I actually waffled for a moment ... I can see a case being made for looser standards when it comes to using newer ingredients and keeping in step with other countries. But there came a reality check for me that I wasn’t just making this up in my head on the basis of one little old website. There have been quite a few articles written about this, with comments from the industry itself. I’m not sure why Hershey would respond to it (as they did in this article) if it weren’t true. I’ve also talked to two other journalists, one from ABC News and the other from Bloomberg.

But yes, it would be nice to get a hold of the actual document. Wouldn’t it?

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:37 pm     CandyFDANewsComments (5)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Valerie Lemon Hazelnut Nougat

Valerie Confections has another seasonal nougat. This one is Lemon Hazelnut Nougat Covered in Dark Chocolate.

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It’s heavenly looking stuff, with a good dark glossy sheen and sparlkling little slivers of candies Meyer Lemons from June Taylor. The chocolate is a buttery smooth dark Valrhona and the nougat itself is studded with organic hazelnuts from Trufflebert Farms.

Sigh.

I’m in heaven.

The price is, well, pricey. But Mother’s Day is around the corner, so if your mum is as nuts for nougat as I am, she might think you appreciate her or something if you were to show up for Sunday Brunch with a box of these. And maybe she’ll let you have a piece.

I think I was a little more fond of the Holiday nougat, which was orange and almond, but the fresh flavor of the lemon is really refreshing. There isn’t a trace of bitterness in the lemon zest, it’s just pure flavor and the chewy texture.

UPDATE 4/20/2009: I’ve just finished another box of this. I don’t know if it was the seasonal variation in the candied lemons, but this was divine. The bittersweetness of the chocolate and the bittersweetness of the candied peels was just spot on. I’ve bumped this up to a 10. I had a lot of fine candy around the house to eat, but this was what I kept going for. The price has also come down.

Name: Valerie Lemon Hazelnut Nougat
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Valerie Confections
Place Purchased: samples from Valerie Confections
Price: $40 $36 for a box of 14 pieces
Size: unknown
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Nougat, Nuts, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:43 pm     Comments (7)

Short & Sweet: Post Easter Tidbits

Snickers Sports EggThe Snickers Creme Sports Egg is odd. I don’t know who told them they needed more sporty Easter candy and I wonder if anyone’s been fired over this. First, there was a perfectly good Snickers Egg last year. The change this year, by all outward appearances, was putting a sporty theme on the package. But no! Instead they mucked around with the innards.

It’s not that this is bad, but I don’t know where they got the idea that this stuff is “creme”. It might be syrup or maybe caramel, but it’s not cremey at all. It’s a caramelly goo with some ground peanuts in it ... I think.

I rather liked it, but not as much as the original Egg.

Lifesaver Jellybeans PastelsAfter tasting the suprisingly good Livesavers Jellybeans, I wanted to try the Lifesavers Jellybean Pastels. But I just couldn’t bring myself to pay the price. So I waited.

Red Raspberry (medium pink) nice and berry, much more vibrant than all the other flavors
Watermelon (green) - not a winner for me, but fresh tasting, kind of like cucumber
Blueberry (blue) - more sweet and floral than rounded with tartness
Pina Colada (white) - I’m a sucker for pina colada flavored things, this could have used more pina.
Strawberry-Kiwi (light pink) a little tart, very sweet and rather flavorless
Banana (yellow) - mellow and sweet, kind of like cotton candy but instead of a caramelized sugar it was banana

The mystery here was the purple one. Sometimes it was tart and sometimes it was completely sweet. Is that Cotton Candy? Which one was supposed to be Mango Medley, are they also

peach

peach-colored?

Many of the colors are devilishly similar. Unless I looked at them in bright natural light, I couldn’t tell the peach and two pinks apart. As a mix, I found them all rather similar and didn’t dislike any of them enough to pick through it, so it wins on that front.

My final purchase I didn’t photograph. I stopped at Rexall by the Beverly Center and found that they had a nice display of 75% off goodies. It included two bags of Island Orange Mounds in the Fun Size. I wasn’t sure if they supposed to be part of the Easter sale. They expired last month but I’m okay with stuff on the cusp. When I got to the register they rang up at $2.00. I said I didn’t want it. The fellow shrugged and tossed in the 75% discount and I took them. They’re a little stiffer than the regular bar format I reviewed last year, but still quite nice. (Kosher)

The whole lot of stuff ... for only $1.24. At full price I wouldn’t love it ... at this price everything gets a 6 out of 10.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:12 am     CandyReviewEasterMarsWrigley'sCaramelChocolateCoconutJelly CandyKosherNuts6-TemptingUnited StatesComments (11)

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Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.

 

 

 

 

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ON DECK

These candies will be reviewed shortly:

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