Monday, September 24, 2007
In case you haven’t been following along at the new show launches at This Week in Tech, they’ve got a new one called Munchcast.
The show is about, well, munchies! It’s hosted by Cammy Blackstone and Leo Laporte.
I’m on this week’s episode, it’s only their eighth and I’m honored to be part of it. It’s all about the All Candy Expo and the new candies introduced there.
(I haven’t listened to it all yet as I’m hopping on a plane in a few minutes ... but I had a fun time recording it.)
The funny thing about fall is that I always see the Tootsie Roll products around a lot more starting at Back to School. The amusing part is that Tootsie Rolls and the Tootsie Fruit Rolls are so well suited to the summer because of their durability.
The Tootsie Roll has been around for a long time, first manufactured in 1896, the chocolate taffy was named after Leo Hirshfield’s (the founder of the candy company) daughter. The chocolate taffy was a good alternative to regular chocolates which didn’t keep very well in the years before widespread refrigeration and air conditioning. Though the Tootsie Roll is associated with the Chicago area (which is known as a center of candy production in the United States), the factory was originally located in New York City and then Hoboken, not making the shift to the Midwest until 1966. (Read more on the history of the Tootsie Roll here.)
Tootsie Rolls come in many sizes, from a large log of a bar down to the Midgies, which I think is probably the best format. They’re still wrapped in the same waxed paper (though the larger logs have shifted to the fully sealed plastic wrap).
Tootsie Roll had one of the most identifiable jingles of its era.
The Tootsie Roll itself is simply a very dense and smooth taffy with a good boost of chocolate in it. The chew is long and smooth, though sometimes hard to get going. The flavor is not necessarily creamy or complex, just sweet and often tasting more of musty cardboard than hot cocoa (depending on how fresh it is). I don’t usually have high expectations for Tootsie Rolls, so I’m never disappointed.
The good thing about the chew is that it’s not sticky like some taffy can be, it’s also not fluffy and not overly sweet. It’s lower in fat than regular chocolate bars (but still has about 3 grams per serving.)
The Fruit Rolls are a little harder to find on a regular basis. They come with five flavors: Orange, Cherry, Lemon, Lime and Vanilla.
Yes, that last one is Vanilla. Last time I checked that’s not a fruit flavor. The Vanilla are also available in a single-flavor bag as well. I’ve always called these Midgees, which I think is the smallest Tootsie Roll in the line. (Well, except for the Chocolate Covered Tootsie Rolls that came out last year.) But these weren’t called Midgees on the bag, go figure.
Hey, it’s a flavorless Tootsie Roll! That’s always how I viewed them. Like they were for Boys in Plastic Bubbles or those allergic to chocolate taffy or perhaps just exceptionally bland. The child that picked out the Vanilla Midgee first over all other candies in a bowl was suspect in my world. It just screamed “I lack adventure and imagination” and while that’s fine for them, it didn’t make me want to spend time with them.
The good thing about encountering such as child is the prospect of trading ... so there’s something to be said for being the kind of kid with such diverse friends, it meant that everyone always got what they wanted.
The Vanilla Midgee is sweet and smells strongly of fake vanilla and a bit like an ice cream parlor. The chew is stiff at first but softens up quickly in the mouth. Not too sticky, not too sweet. Not terribly flavorful.
The Lemon Tootsie Roll is really quite pleasant. The chew is soft and tangy and has a nice smooth quality to it. It’s just the slightest bit milky, in a yogurt kind of way.
The Cherry Tootsie Roll is like a chewable cough drop. Not terribly strong, but a well rounded cherry flavor with a long-lasting flavor in the chew. A little bitter bite for me, but I think that’s the coloring.
The Orange Tootsie Roll used to be my favorite. Probably a sad substitute for a Starburst, these don’t have any gelatin in them, so certainly more suitable for those on animal restricted diets. It tastes like a decent orange sherbet. A little tart, but mostly orange.
The Lime Tootsie Roll was best saved for last or left sitting in the candy bowl after Halloween to show my mother that I had some self restraint ... though eventually it’d end up in my tummy.
On the whole, I think the only Tootsie Roll I like much is the regular chocolate one. The rest are probably not a very good replacement for Starbursts (but if you’ve never had them, I suppose I can tell you that they’re EXACTLY the same and you’d never know the difference ... except that I wouldn’t steer you wrong like that). They’re definitely inexpensive and great traveling candy. Middle of the road fare, I’m glad they’re around and rather fun to look at but best covered in hard candy with a stick in them. (Why don’t they make vanilla centered orange Tootsie Pops? That’d be just like a Creamsicle!)
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Yes, I have way too much candy from the All Candy Expo, so I’m going to share some of the extra booty with you. I have a nice package set aside of some of the new product previews, including a package of Chocolate Mix Skittles, Mike and Ike Lemonade Stand Mix, TicTac Bold! Apple Sour, Junior Mints Deluxe, Chewy Lemonheads, Chewy Atomic Fireballs, Welch’s Fruit ‘n Yogurt Snacks as well as packs of your favorite existing products.
I’ll ship anywhere in North America. You may only enter once.
Entries will be accepted until September 30th, 2007 at 11 PM Pacific. I’ll notify the winner within 48 hours (if the winner does not respond within 48 hours after that, then I’ll draw again).
UPDATE: Entries are closed at this time. Keep reading, I’ll have more giveaways at some point.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Since I’m traveling right now, I thought I’d just leave you this weekend with a little tasty nugget. Last year I tried the Mentos Sour and thought they were pretty good, not the best Mentos I’d ever had, but a nice change of pace from the regular rather under-flavored fruity Mentos available here in the States.
It’s hard to believe that two packages that look so similar have such different contents. While at the All Candy Expo I cornered one of the Mentos people at the Perfetti Ven Melle booth and chatted with her about Mentos. (Okay, chatted is hardly the word, I think I overwhelmed her with questions and comments.) There are several things I wanted to know about, the major one is about the differences in flavors between the United States and everywhere else in the world (why do the Australians get the Citrus Mix? Why do the Japanese get Pineapple?). The other thing is whether or not their switch from gelatin (an animal derived product) to gellan gum (safe for vegans).
The Sour Mix Mentos from China (but available all over Asia) are a pretty good representation of all of the questions I have about the global brand.
Santos brought me some more Mentos a month or so ago and I was puzzled at first by the Mentos Sour Mix, but she quickly pointed to the reason she included it ... pineapple. The other two flavors in the roll are grape and green apple. In fact, green apple is the only flavor that’s in the American mix (which also has watermelon and lemon).
I liked the pineapple so much that I decided to order the “Pine Fresh” Mentos from JList in Japan. I’m hoping they’ll be at the house when I get home. Hopefully I’ll get some answers on the above questions soon too!
Thursday, September 20, 2007
I’ve been on quite a nougat roll this summer, mostly because it’s a very satisfying candy that does well in the heat. The funny thing is, before this year I don’t think I considered nougat a summer candy, I’ve always associated nougat with Christmas.
My husband picked up these two nougat bars at a deli in Santa Monica. (He’s always so considerate that way!) It’s always a good sign when the ingredients list for a nougat starts with nuts. In this case it’s pistachios. They were nicely sized and spread out in the bar and provided the chewy crunch that sets off the sweet nougat so well.
This pistachio bar was also flavored with pistachio, so it had that perfumed taste rather like green tea ice cream and violets along with the grassy notes of the nuts. The honey didn’t stand out much, as I often prefer in my nougat.
The flatness of this bar made it particularly easy to eat. The nougat was also pretty soft. The only weird thing about it was because there was a wafer on each side, biting it was sometimes a little difficult (maybe I need my teeth sharpened) and the nougat wanted to spread out the sides of the wafers. Also, because there was more wafer by proportion, there was more of a “cereal” taste to it.
Overall, it wasn’t my favorite nougat of all time, but certainly portable and a nice after dinner snack.
There was a slight grainy note to the nougat, like little sugar crystals. The chocolate flavor was more like cocoa than chocolate but exceptionally nutty - the ingredients list both toasted almonds and hazelnut paste. Think of a very high end Tootsie Roll with nuts, I know it sounds weird, but it was still very satisfying.
The nuts were just as abundant in this nougat as the Pistachio. I wanted a stronger honey note to it, but it wasn’t too sweet and had a light texture that was definitely just the kick I needed during the summer heat.
Nougat also travels particularly well, so keep that in mind when putting together your air travel survival kit.
While at the All Candy Expo I made a point to stop by the booth of the American importer of Ferrara products. The company also makes the La Florentine line of torrones, you know, the ones in the little boxes that come in orange, lemon and vanilla and have stately portraits of royalty on them. That was the brand I used to get those in my stocking at Christmas, so they’re one of the first nougats I’ve ever had and quite special to me.
The bars above, of course, are more meaty portions (and more economical packaging). I grabbed a traditional Ferrara nougat bar which I’m excited to try after the Pistachio as well as their chocolate covered plain nougat (it comes in a large box and they’re not individually wrapped). I think nougat is a wonderful hostess gift, though some might disagree. (But if I’m the hostess and you’re coming to my house, I’ll think you’re pretty special and invite you back often.)
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.