Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Crackheads

One of the more timely items I got from the All Candy Expo folks is this box of Crackheads candy. It’s been around for at least a year, but I haven’t seen it in stores.

Crackheads

I first saw them on ThinkGeek and reviewed on CandyAddict. I wasn’t terribly interested in them, after all, they’re just chocolate covered coffee beans, not exactly an innovative new product. The unique selling proposition in this case is that they’re in “single serve” boxes and come as a mix of both white chocolate and dark chocolate coatings.

The boxes look similar to Lemonheads or Boston Baked Beans. Easily portable and resealable.

Crackheads Close-UpThey’re really nicely panned coffee beans. Though they’re not all consistent in size, the panning is excellent with shiny coats and well-tempered chocolate. The white chocolate is real white chocolate made with cocoa butter. The mellow malty milky flavors go really well with the coffee bean. This was the first time I’d had a white chocolate coated one, and it’s a natural match - the fatty sweetness with the dairy flavors are pretty much a dense version of a latte.

The dark verison are not nearly as sweet, but still provides a nice counterpoint to the dark and lightly bitter beans. The beans are crunchy without being fiberous or too burnt tasting. My box had a bit more white chocolate to it, but I was okay with that.

imageThe “creator” of Crackheads, John Osmanski, was on The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch last night on CNBC. The segment was One Minute to Millions where they featured a panel of three experts: Kevin Nealon (who was there promoting his book and probably provided the consumer point of view), Pam Macharola of Blair Candy and Brian Pipa of Candy Addict!

The product was introduced with a little pretaped segment. It made no mention of the fact that chocolate covered espresso beans have been around for at least 30 years. They’re pretty widely available, at least in specialty stores or at coffee locations like Starbucks (and of course the new Hershey’s Starbucks chocolates). While the back of the box has a breakdown of caffeine content of other beverages (cocoa, cola, tea, coffee & espresso), it doesn’t exactly spell out the caffeine content of the actual product. However, the Crackheads website pegs it at about 120 mgs (about half of a cup of coffee).

imageOsmanski introduced the product as a solution to those low caffeine moments, especially for students and academics.

The new tagline “because everyone’s addicted to something” works well with the name. The product packaging has been redesigned since my sample (you can see the new one here). But the general consensus from the panel was that the name would never have the wide appeal that would guarantee it placement on the shelves of stores like Walmart (which might be necessary to make millions off a single $2 product). Instead it would probably stay in places like Think Geek and coffee houses (where it’s currently found).

imageWhile I think it’s a good quality product, the packaging feels a bit downscale, not rising to the $2 per package price tag - which translates to over $24 per pound (the Starbucks version is about $12 a pound). The name, which tries to co-opt drug culture fails ... there may be other names that might fit the addiction tag better (but I’m not going to come up with it here, Osmanski has a blog if you want to give him feedback directly). Perhaps coming up with two lines, one under this name and another more mainstream version would be a success story worthy of follow up on Donny Deutsch.

(I suspect that Osmanium doesn’t actually manufacturer these, just repacks them, as they package says that they are made in a facility that processes peanuts & tree nuts. The website also says that they’re Kosher. My prime candidate as the maker of these is Koppers Chocolates.)

Related Candies

  1. Starbucks Chocolate
  2. Snickers Charged
  3. Caffe Acapella - Coffee Confections
  4. Java Twix
  5. Green & Black’s Espresso Chocolate
  6. Pocket Coffee
Name: Crackheads
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Osmanium
Place Purchased: samples from All Candy Expo
Price: $2.00 retail
Size: 1.3 ounces
Calories per ounce: 146
Categories: Chocolate, White Chocolate, Coffee, United States, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:52 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

Comments
  1. Crackheads? Are you kidding me? Maybe I’m in the minority, but I candy that makes me think of crazy drug addicts is totally unappealing, even before it comes out of the box. And kudos to you for calling him out on his complete lack of innovation.

    Comment by Maybelline Jones on 5/20/08 at 9:31 am #
  2. Cybele your 100% this guy must have named this product after himself becaue if he truly believes that he ‘invented’ coated beans then he must be on crack.

    I reviewed some Trader Joe ones the other day which were simply delicious. Its a shame I cant sample some of these out (with difficulty at least)

    Great work as normal

    Kind regards

    Jim
    Chocolate Mission

    Comment by James on 5/20/08 at 1:05 pm #
  3. This is an interesting story and I have purchased these and they are great.  I don’t remember seeing that he claims he ‘invented’ chocolate covered espresso beans anywhere so please don’t misquote him or others in your posts that is what breeds garbage on the internet.  I have also had Kopper’s and they don’t compare so who knows.

    Comment by Jamie Cartson on 5/20/08 at 1:20 pm #
  4. Cybele's avatar

    Jamie Cartson - this is what I read on the crackheads website: John Osmanski, the owner and creator of Osmanium’s first and flagship product, Crackheads? was completing his undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering at the time and ran across an electronic book highlighting methods to pay for college. (bold emphasis mine).

    I pointed out what I felt were the unique attributes that sets this apart from other chocolate covered coffee bean products. My issue in part was that the pre-taped piece didn’t do any background to show how there are other chocolate covered espresso bean products.

    James - yes, I’ve had Trader Joe’s! They are fabulous and very consistent in their quality (as are all the panned items from TJ’s - my particular favorite are the milk & dark mixed cashews). But the tubs are just too much caffeine for me, so I do appreciate this smaller portion of Crackheads.

    Maybelline Jones - I know that many other folks are probably equally or more upset about it. The solution seems pretty simple - find a new name. The product is good. (Not novelty driven like some confections like “marijuana flavored lollipops” as if people use weed for the taste.)

    Comment by Cybele on 5/20/08 at 2:28 pm #
  5. Always good to see chocolate bloggers on the television. I’ve been approached to do a few shows but they’re always in London and I’ve never had the time to get down and get things sorted for them which is a shame. Personally I’m not bothered by the name of this product though this guy must be perhaps taking the real thing if he expects these to be sold nationwide and on supermarket shelves with a name like that.

    Comment by Terry on 5/21/08 at 3:50 am #
  6. was wondering if you have a review of chocolate skittles?  I saw a co-worker with a box, told me she picked them up at Wal-Mart.  Wanted your take on this one.

    Comment by elina on 5/21/08 at 10:46 am #
  7. Cybele's avatar

    Terry - what was really cool was this Big Idea show actually flew Brian up at their expense! (I did a CNBC show and they didn’t even give me a cup of coffee.)

    Elina - yes! I did try the chocolate skittles last year. I wasn’t that fond of them, not intense or chocolatey enough for me. I would have much rather seen them keep the Carnival limited edition as a regular product. The review is here: Skittles Chocolate Mix.

    Comment by Cybele on 5/21/08 at 11:19 am #
  8. This is completely inappropriate, who is the target market for these candies? Little children, of course… I don’t get the meaning of this name, what does an 8 years old think when he hears about crackheads? Do we really want to raise our children inducing them drug names? How can we expect them to beware of drugs when they get older?

    Comment by dd on 9/08/08 at 3:25 am #
  9. I have seen this product sold as “Jitterbeans”

    Comment by Max on 12/08/08 at 8:45 am #
  10. Come on now, what 8 year old kid drinks coffee?  You have got to be kidding me.  This product looks like it is for adults, I bought some and they are good.

    Comment by Jeff on 3/28/09 at 4:21 pm #

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