Wednesday, May 8, 2013

10 Underrated Candies

I often try to champion exceptional candies, ones that don’t have million dollar advertising budgets or huge fandoms on social networks. But there are other candies out there that have been plugging away for decades just being dependable. They’re not the best they could be, but they certainly don’t get the attention they deserve.

So here they are, not the only 10 candies that are underrated, but just 10 that I happen to love and find myself eating more often, now that I’ve circled around and tried a few thousand other candies in the past eight years.

Atkinson Chick-o-Stick

Chick-O-Sticks (Atkinson’s)

Description: Orange crunchy layers of peanut butter crisp rolled in coconut.

What’s to like about it?

Crispy peanut butter layers. You get right to it, no busting your way through some crazy overly-sweet mockolate. It’s just about the peanuts, it’s completely crispy, a little salty and totally nutty. The best format are the individually wrapped minis shown, they make far less mess than the long bar format.

They’re vegan and gluten free.

Hesitations?

Well, there’s coconut on the outside. I’m not sure why, but it’s there and it’s always been there. There’s not a lot and it really doesn’t contribute much to the flavor but does give a little chew to the texture. What would make me even happier is if they got rid of the artificial colors in it, which I could swear give them a slight bitter aftertaste that I don’t get from the equally lovely Atkinson’s Peanut Bars.

What makes it underrated?

The packaging is lackluster and they can be hard to find, especially in the Northeast.

Goldenberg's Peanut Chews

Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews (Just Born)

Description: a molasses chew studded with peanuts covered in dark mockolate.

What’s to like about it?

Molasses and peanuts. That’s it. It’s dark and mysterious, only slightly sweet, sometimes a little bitter. It’s chewy and crunchy and with a lot of nuts, it’s very satisfying and filling. They come in cute little bars, so you can just eat one or two and save the rest for later or share. They’re vegan!

Hesitations?

The mockolate coating is disappointing. It’s usually a bit toasty flavored but waxy so it lacks a creamy smooth quality that might really tip this over into being an incredible candy.

What makes it underrated?

The name and packaging marks it as an old-time, regional candy bar. Just Born, who bought out Goldenberg’s, renamed the candy, then brought back the classic name & design, further confusing people. The molasses component is a hard sell in artificial times.

Ferrara Pan Root Beer Barrels

Root Beer Barrels (Various Brands)

What’s to like about it?

It tastes like root beer! I tastes more like root beer than most of the cheap and weak sodas on store shelves and it’s more portable. It’s a hard to find flavor that really shines in hard candy form.

Hesitations?

Some brands are better than others. Voids in the candy can be sharp and make small cuts or abrasions on the tongue or palate.

What makes it underrated?

It’s hard candy and hard candy is for old ladies.

Honees

Honees Honey Drops (DiNatura)

Description: little honey flavored hard candies filled with honey.

What’s to like about it?

They’re dead simple and satisfying, the honey center coats the throat and does actually soothe without medication.

Hesitations?

They can be expensive and can be messy, as many packages get sticky because of the delicate filling in the pieces.

What makes it underrated?

They’re stuck in the cough drop aisle, not with the rest of the candy. Sure, they’re soothing, but they’re also comforting, and who doesn’t want to be comforted regularly?

Compartes Candied Orange Peel Dipped in Chcoolate

Chocolate Covered Orange Zest (your local chocolate shop)

Description: candied orange peel is dipped in dark chocolate

What’s to like about it?

It’s extremely simple with a good combination of textures and flavors. There’s the bitterness of the orange oils and dark chocolate, the chewy texture of the peel and the creamy melt of the chocolate.

Hesitations?

They’re a small treat, and the satisfaction is usually due to good quality peels done well (not to soft and sticky, not leathery tough) and appropriate amounts of chocolate. They’re often expensive, which is odd because it’s basically chocolate covered garbage, but they do require a bit of manual labor to make.

What makes it underrated?

Probably the fact that some places sell bad versions or put awful chocolate on them. They’re also not for everyone, citrus is just not everyone’s thing.

Hot Tamales

Hot Tamales (Just Born)

Description: rod shaped hot cinnamon jelly beans.

What’s to like about it?

They’re cinammony, soft and chewy. They’re not too hot, so you can eat a lot of them, unlike some other super sizzling cinnamon candies.

Hesitations?

The red food coloring is a bit overwhelming and sometimes I get a package that tastes like cherry.

What makes it underrated?

They’re just jelly beans. There’s only one flavor in the box.

Butter Mints

Buttermints (Richardson)

Description: buttery mint puffs

What’s to like about it?

They’re like sweet, minty air. They’re soft and melt in your mouth. They’re lightly flavored like peppermint, the opposite of the blast of flavor from an Altoid.

Hesitations?

They’re hard to find and can get stale quickly or take on flavors from other foods around them. If they’re sitting out in a bowl, they’re going to be disappointing.

What makes it underrated?

They’re marketed as an after dinner mint, not a treat in their own right.

Old Dominion Butter Toffee Peanuts

Toffee Peanuts (Various brands - shown is Old Dominion also Adams-Brooks Candies)

Description: crunchy caramelized sugar covering peanuts

What’s to like about it?

They’re often found at truck stops and in vending machines. They’re a great combination of satisfying peanut protein and sweet, buttery toffee. Though they’re similar to French Burnt Peanuts, they’re not as tough to crunch and often have a more authentic peanut and browned butter flavor to them.

Hesitations?

They can be sticky and sometimes if the bag has been shaken up too much, all the toffee comes off the nuts. (But then it’s just perfect as a topping for ice cream.)

What makes it underrated?

As you may have already noticed a theme here, underrated candies are usually in small pieces, not bar form. It’s easy to dismiss a toffee coated peanut because there are other, more trendy candies out there. But they’ve been making these for hundreds of years for a reason.

Spearmint Leaves

Spearmint Leaves (Generic)

Description: spearmint flavored jellies shaped like a mint leaf.

What’s to like about it?

There are so few spearmint candies in the United States these days, and these endure for a reason. They’re sweet but with a really powerful spearmint note to them that balances it out. The sugar crust balances the sticky jelly of the center. They’re usually vegan as there’s no gelatin used in gumdrops.

Hesitations?

They can get stale quickly, or worse, get sticky and damp. They’re not easy to combine with other candies in a trail mix. I feel like an old lady when I pick them out in the store.

Sugar Babies

Sugar Babies (Tootsie)

Description: caramel bits covered in a grainy sugar shell.

What’s to like about it?

If you’ve ever thought, “why don’t they make caramel jelly beans”, this is the answer. Why make a flavored item when you can give the same treatment to the real thing.

Hesitations?

When the get stale, they’re pretty hard. They don’t do well in trail mix with things like dried fruit because the moisture will make them even grainier or sticky.

What makes it underrated?

I think folks stop eating them when they grow up, and never go back.

So that’s my list. What do you think is undervalued or poorly marketed?

Related Candies

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  2. Flix Candy Flix Mix
  3. Candy Tease: Sweets & Snacks Expo 2011 Part 1
  4. Candy Tease: Nostalgia in 2011
  5. The 110 Essential Candies for Candivores

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:20 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry     CandyBrittleCaramelChewsChocolateCinnamonJelly CandyMintsMockolatePeanutsToffeeHighlightFun Stuff

Comments
  1. I always knew I liked you. I love 7/10 of these (and haven’t tried 2). They’re total guilty pleasures, though- being underrated, and all.

    Comment by Valarie on 5/08/13 at 12:58 pm #
  2. LOL: “...chocolate covered garbage…” Yum!

    My vote is for Bit-O-Honey. I love them, but I think their lack of popularity has something to do with the difficulty in unwrapping the full-bar and people getting tired of picking out all the paper bits.

    Don’t try to sell me on those individually wrapped bulk bags. They’re just not the same.

    Comment by Rick on 5/08/13 at 1:42 pm #
  3. I was introduced to the toffee peanuts relatively late in life, during high school, when we had to sell them for band uniforms or some such thing. Ever since, I buy and eat them a few times a year.

    The World’s Finest Chocolate bars that everyone sold in the office for their kids around the turn of the century never impressed me nearly as much.

    Comment by Russ on 5/08/13 at 2:49 pm #
  4. I second a vote for Bit-o-honey!

    Comment by captainskyhawk on 5/09/13 at 7:58 am #
  5. I have never had Chick-O-Sticks! Okay now i need to find&try; them all the other candies i like an have had a million times.I give a vote for MARY JANES!

    Comment by artemis on 5/09/13 at 1:23 pm #
  6. I wholeheartedly second the spearmint leaves.  A couple of Christmases ago, I was putting together a pre-fab gingerbread house, and there were some “bushes” included.  One of them didn’t look right for the display, so I decided to eat it and happily discovered that they were spearmint flavored.  Suffice it to say that the house went bush-less since I thought about how stale they’d get before I could enjoy them.  I hadn’t had them since I was a kid, hadn’t even thought about them… I guess that’s why it makes sense to say they’re underrated.

    I’d add Big Hunk to my personal underrated list.  I just don’t see anyone eating them anymore.

    Comment by Paul on 5/09/13 at 2:25 pm #
  7. I love this list. I agree with 8/10. Not a fan of orange and chocolate and the root beer barrels. Love everything else on the list.

    Comment by Mitch on 5/09/13 at 2:40 pm #
  8. I think Zagnuts are fabulous…like Chick-o-Stick, but better.  They are so hard to find, though!

    Comment by Caley on 5/09/13 at 2:46 pm #
  9. Hershey’s Skor.

    Hesitations?

    The packaging. It’s so dated that it practically screams 1970.

    What makes it underrated?

    I don’t know a soul who buys these except me.  When you do find them in the store they’re usually down on the far end of the bottom shelf; pushed aside by trendy and top-selling candy.

    What’s to like about it?

    Simplicity.  Dark butter toffee and milk chocolate.  It reminds me of the homemade toffee my grandmother used to make in her kitchen at Christmas.

    Comment by Kevin on 5/10/13 at 4:38 am #
  10. I’m fond of several of these.  My favorite go-to candy is Fun Dip and I think it has a bad rap.  It is both an activity and a sweet rush and 50 calories of sugar are stretched out to several minutes of dipping and licking.  The flavors are distinct and the bland sugar wand, after being nursed on for several minutes, takes on a pleasant soft quality.

    Very embarassing to buy these.  I tend to get the single-serving packets, though Apple is my least favorite flavor.

    Comment by Sarah on 5/10/13 at 8:17 am #
  11. I have to say Werther’s Original, and I mean the actual original ones, not the 50 brand extensions they’ve had in the past few years. They also get written off as “old people candy.” I never had these until I was an adult because I wasn’t quite sure what they were supposed to taste like, and I didn’t think I would like them, but surprise! I did. They’re so simple but have a lovely flavor. They also make good substitute cough drops because they are so smoothe and creamy.

    Comment by Sarah on 5/11/13 at 12:17 pm #
  12. This list is cool! Some i wouldnt go near but i like how you had detail about them. I would recommend to have categories of continents and list where certain ones originated. Maybe even have some recipes for a few of them. Why did you start this in the first place? does it interest you a lot?

    Comment by Erica Vanloon on 5/21/13 at 9:56 am #
  13. Awesome list, and some great new treats to try! I agree with Sarah on Werthers - those and Sugar Babies are two of my only indulgences outside of fine candy!

    I think it’s a bit unfair to call chocolate dipped orange peels “chocolate covered garbage.” Candying an orange peel properly is definitely a labor of love, and peeling all those suckers is also a challenge (and what do you do with the fruit inside, once you start using more than a couple a day?) Commercial juice manufacturers explode the orange, so it’s hard to buy in bulk quantities, even for small businesses.

    Comment by Katherine on 5/30/13 at 7:25 am #
  14. I love to check in to Candy Blog every so often. I, too, am extremely sensitive to red food coloring, so it’s nice to get recommendations from someone who understands! (I thought I was the only one who got cherry notes from Hot Tamales.)

    I wholeheartedly agree with 7 of your list items. I haven’t tried the Honees or Peanut Chews, but you can bet I’ll be on the lookout. I need to try chick-o-sticks again as an adult. A childhood chicken bone (generic chick-o-sticks) binge has kept me away from that type of candy for too long.

    I’d like to put in another vote for Bit o’ Honey. I like the bars and the individually wrapped pieces. They’re just so satisfying! I think PayDay is also underrated - it got me through a lot of late nights in grad school with its combo of protein and carbs. I also love Atomic Fireballs, despite the red food coloring.

    Comment by Senora H-B on 7/13/13 at 5:33 am #

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