Friday, August 8, 2008

Bel Chocolatey Bars

Bel 12 Pack Candy BarsIn tough economic times it’s tempting to try to save a little money on items like candy. Buying in bulk is usually the most economical way to go, but some of us also recognize that a 5 lb bag of gummi bears will last as long as a 1 lb bag.

So another option is to find a generic or off-brand of a tried and true favorite. The bargain stores like 99 Cent Only are an excellent place to find these lesser known brands. While it’s understandable to assume that all the candy at 99 Cent Only or Dollar Tree or the like is past its prime, often these stores have special deals with candy companies to make sizes that can come in at their price point, so much of it is specially sized for value. (Well, either that or just be a reliable deal instead of waiting for the snack packs to come on sale at the grocery store.)

I found this line of snack sized candy bars at 99 Cent Only made by Bel. The package is a veritable Rosetta Stone with ingredients lists in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French with some other Arabic script on the wrapper as well. I found four varieties and bought three: Strawberry Burst, Vanilla Cookies and Toffee Taste. (The other flavor was some sort of Peanut Butter, but I stupidly grabbed two of the Toffee.)

Strawberry Burst - 12 pack

Strawberry Burst is billed as milk chocolate compound coating with strawberry filling.

Strawberry Burst Choc BarBefore even opening any of the individual packages, this smelled like strawberries. Like some sort of Strawberry Shortcake candle or something, but still, it was a nice floral and fresh scent.

The wrapper is generic and simply says ChocBar. Only in tiny print stamped on the back does it have the expiry and variety (“STRAW”).

I knew going in that these are mockolate, but I also know that there are some decent candies out there with fake chocolate in them, so I was keeping an open mind. It’s a rather thin coating and around the edges I could see the pink nougat filling underneath. But still, it was a nice looking little plank. Each bar is about 2.5” inches long and .75 inches wide.

The nougat is soft and fluffy. It has the scent of berries, but very little taste besides sweet. The mockolate doesn’t add much, but it also doesn’t distract. It’s not terribly waxy or grainy or flavorful. Basically it just seals up the nougat fluff.

It’s, well, just not my kind of candy, even when well done. (Witness the 3 Musketeers Strawberry limited edition from last year.)

Rating: 3 out of 10

Vanilla Cookies - 12 Pack

Vanilla Cookies is billed as vanilla candy with crispies and cookies coated in chocolate compound

Vanilla Cookies Chocolatey Bar

I regarded this one as promising, I thought some Oreo type crunchies in an otherwise bland nougat might be good. (Seriously, why isn’t there a 3 Muskteers version of this?)

The format is pretty much the same as the Strawberry Burst, but a little lumpier, as you can imagine the chocolate cookie crunches are irregular.

The crunches are, well, crunchie. But they don’t taste like anything. The whole candy tastes like the marshmallows from Lucky Charms. While those are fine as little marbits mixed in with oaty sugar sweetened cereal, this is just fake vanilla sweetness with no chocolate crunch relief.

It’s too bad because I thought this was a really good package design for a cheap product.

Rating: 2 out of 10.

Toffee Taste - 12 Pack

Toffee Taste is billed as milk chocolate compound coating with toffee filling.

Toffee Taste Choc Bar

The wrapper here was identical to the Strawberry Burst. It smelled like sugar cookies, which is a promising thing as far as I’m concerned.

The filling is a fluffed nougat, it looks like peanut butter but actually tastes a bit like sponge candy, but with a definite artificial bite to it. The burnt sugar notes were not authentic and the lack of a good chocolate component to balance it just kind of left this one hanging.

Rating: 3 out of 10.

If you’re looking for candy you can display in your house to demonstrate to people who barely know you that you have excellent self control (let’s face it, folks who you know will know the disposition of your self control, you’re reading a candy blog!), this is the stuff. The outer wrapper is enticing enough that someone might be impressed that you haven’t scarfed down all 12 in the package.

But if you’re looking for a great value, this isn’t it. You’re getting what you paid for, which is twice as much candy, but it’s only half as good as you’d like it to be. The previous week I bought some Almond Joy bars - 8 snack sized bars in the package for 4.8 ounces and only 99 cents ... this package has 12 bars but weighed only 5.5 ounces ... so really not that much more candy even. If you can’t afford to go upscale, at least get stuff that’s tried and true.

Related Candies

  1. All Gummies Gourmet Fruity Fish (Swedish Fish knock-off)
  2. 3 Musketeers Cherry & Raspberry
  3. Palmer Milk Chocolate Balls
  4. Bonkers
  5. Marpoles
Name: Chocolatey Bars: Strawberry Burst, Vanilla Cookies & Toffee Taste
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Bel
Place Purchased: 99 Cent Only Store (Miracle Mile)
Price: $.99
Size: 5.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 112
Categories: Mockolate, Nougat, Argentina

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:28 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. “Chocolate Compound”????  Mmmm…sounds delish!

    Comment by LN on 8/08/08 at 9:45 am #
  2. I dunno, Cybele.  I really really love fluffy nougat and was scandalized when you ripped the Reeses Whipps a new one so… I think these might have my name all over them.  You’re on target with most things, but I just can’t trust you on this nougat-on-the-cheap business. smile 

    I may come crawling back in shame in a day or so, though. haha.  We’ll just have to see.

    Comment by Elise on 8/08/08 at 12:01 pm #
  3. Cybele's avatar

    Elise - my issues with the Whipps bar was the same as here - the mockolate coating. Could have been a fabulous bar. But I do admit that the fluffy nougat is not my favorite thing in the world, I prefer the European style stuff.

    Comment by Cybele on 8/08/08 at 1:28 pm #
  4. Oh, I understand.  I prefer the real thing to a layer of waxy mockolate any day too, but I have to be honest here: trashy, misfit candy holds a special place in my heart.  Probably stems from one too many vacation bible school treat bags or Easter baskets from my grandmother assembled on the fly.

    Plus I find a lot of real chocolates (hello, Ritter Sport) to be WAY too rich.  Next time I’m out I’m going to troll for one of those vanilla cookie packs.  smile smile

    Comment by Elise on 8/08/08 at 1:50 pm #
  5. The strawberry one calls to me when I’m in the store. Now I know once and for all to ignore this candy siren. wink

    Comment by Sera on 8/11/08 at 11:09 am #
  6. I feel like reaching out and grabbing the “Strawberry Burst”. It looks very inviting.

    I remember the Candy called “Cabana” years and years ago. Cherries and white coconut covered with a thick layer of chocolate.

    The Strawberry Burst reminds me of that Candy Bar.

    Comment by Plantation Caribbean Restaurant on 8/12/08 at 4:07 am #
  7. Oh man, are you kidding me? I found these candies in a dollar store over in Japan awhile ago - Chocolate, Strawberry, Vanilla (Orea) and Dulce de Leche (a caramel).  My fellow American friend & I loved them. Well, not so much the strawberry, but the others were delicious. We even froze them, them crushed them up in our ice cream to add a treat to Japan’s limited selection of Vanilla.

    I was actually online looking for where to buy them when I came across your blog. If anyone knows where I can buy them online, email me! .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Comment by Cliff Miller on 10/09/08 at 5:21 am #
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