Friday, July 25, 2014

Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Krackel

Hershey's KrackelFor many years I have chronicled the demise of once-great candies that were cultural touchstones for generations of Americans. The usual trajectory of a candy like this is that the company making it compromises too many times with cheaper ingredients and formulas until consumers lose interest in the product entirely and it is quietly discontinued. No one misses it much, because it broke their heart before it died.

It’s rare to see a reversal. I’m glad to be here to tell you about it. Hershey’s Krackel bar was one of the last candy bars that Milton Hershey personally developed before he passed away. It was introduced in 1938 (and had nuts in as well, for a time). When the Hershey’s Miniatures were developed, it was one of the bars chosen to represent the favorite of the Hershey bar assortment. The single-serving bar always stood out at the candy counter, in a bold red wrapper and large letter with a made-up word for the name.

Hershey's Krackel Miniatures (Faux)
(Hershey’s Krackel mockolate miniatures circa 2008)

In 2006 Hershey’s discontinued the single-serving, king-size and larger sizes of the Krackel bar. It was still included in the Hershey’s Miniatures ... but with a substantial change to the formula, it was now “made with chocolate” but also adulterated with other vegetable oil fillers. (What they were, I can’t say, because Hershey’s would not disclose the ingredients at the time, though later packaging did list each bar separately.) At the same time Mr. Goodbar continued to be produced in all sizes, though they did move to the mockolate recipe.

With some small fanfare Hershey’s announced the return of the Krackel bar, citing shareholders as part of the reason for the return. The change to real chocolate was made in miniatures early this year and the bars returned in May. The current ingredients are:

Milk Chocolate (sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, nonfatmilk, milk fat, soy lecithin, PGPR, vanillin), Crisp Rice (rice flour, sugar, malt extract, salt, monoglycerides, tocopherols.

Hershey's Krackel

I can’t exactly recall the actual Krackel bar any longer. I know I liked it as a kid and I know that I preferred it in the miniature version, because the chocolate was thicker. But other than that, I’ll have to judge the Krackel on its current merits without any comparisons because I don’t have a time machine and if I did, I probably wouldn’t use it to taste old candy recipes.

Hershey's Krackel

The bar smells sweet and lightly milky. It’s not like the regular Hershey’s chocolate that has that yogurty tang. Instead it’s just sort of fudgy, like cheap frosting. The crunches are good, they’re spaced out a bit, so it’s not terribly airy, just crunchy. Crisped rice often has malt in it, as this does, which usually gives Krackel a sort of malted-milk-ball-in bar-form vibe. Sadly, there’s not much going on here, though the hint of salt keeps it from being too sweet.

It’s much better than the previous mockolate version, though a far cry from being a good chocolate bar. It’s simply a passable candy bar.

Crunch and Krackel

I did pick up a Nestle Crunch bar at the same time, which has gone through a few formula changes over the years as well. The ingredients are similar, they’re both 1.55 ounces, though the Nestle has 10 more calories.

The ingredients on the Nestle Crunch are actually a bit better, with no preservatives or PGPR. When I tried the bar last time, I found it much better than previous versions, but not something I was likely to seek out.

Crunch & Krackel

As you can see from the comparison of the bars, the Crunch is on the bottom and has a lot more crisped rice in it. I did prefer the airy texture and crispy rice, but the chocolate flavor was nearly impossible to discern. As a piece of candy, it was passable. As a chocolate bar with crisped rice, it was very disappointing.

The Hershey’s chocolate texture was a bit better, but that could be that there was just a slightly higher chocolate ratio, since there were fewer crisped rice bits.

Neither comes out a huge winner, really. I like both package designs. Both are made in the United States. Neither Nestle or Hershey’s are using ethically source chocolate yet. (Though Nestle does have a “Cocoa Plan”, its little seals are just to direct you to information about its plan, not as a notation that this bar is actually using traceable cacao.)


Hershey's Special Dark with Crisp Rice  American Hershey's Krackel  Mexican Hershey's Krackel  Hershey's Miniatures

You can see more examples of classic Krackel wrappers here.

I’m still going to say that the Trader Joe’s Crispy Rice Milk Chocolate is my favorite. Though the ingredients don’t differ that much, there are no preservatives and no PGPR and it has 18% cacao content (about 1.5x the amount of Hershey’s). Still ... even though it’s made with Belgian chocolate, I don’t know the sourcing of it, but would like to see Trader Joe’s give some assurances about the ethical sourcing in the future.



Name: Krackel
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Hershey’s
Place Purchased: Ralph's (Silver Lake)
Price: $.99
Size: 1.55 ounces
Calories per ounce: 134
Categories: Candy, Hershey's, Chocolate, Cookie, 5-Pleasant, United States, Ralph's

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:43 am Tracker Pixel for Entry     CandyReviewHershey'sChocolateCookieKosher5-PleasantUnited StatesRalph's

Comments
  1. All the press I’ve seen on the return of the full size Krackel says it’s been gone for nearly 20 years, with some sites getting more specific with 17. I’m 30, and I don’t remember ever eating this other than in the miniatures, so my own memory’s no help here.

    Comment by Sarah Tobergta on 7/25/14 at 3:54 pm #
  2. I was so happy to see it in the full size bar, I don’t remember them in a full size bar and I’m only 28!

    I don’t know if you know but Hershey’s has updated their miniatures line and the Krackel and the Mr. Goodbar are much better than they used to be.

    Comment by Kelly on 7/26/14 at 7:00 am #
  3. I’m 27 and I’ve never seen Krackel in full-sized bars, but I enjoy the miniatures. I’ve always thought the crisped rice to chocolate ratio was a bit off in Nestle Crunch. The fact that Krackel has fewer crunchy pieces is appealing to me. Plus, a bar that tastes like fudgy frosting sounds right up my alley. I’ll have to give it a try. (By the way, I love the line: “No one misses it much, because it broke their heart before it died.” That sums up soooooooo many discontinued candies for me!)

    Comment by Heather on 7/26/14 at 3:39 pm #

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