Monday, June 8, 2009

Hershey’s Special Dark Pieces

Special Dark PiecesThe final of my series of reviews of the new Hershey’s Pieces line is Hershey’s Special Dark Pieces.

The Special Dark bar was introduced in 1971 (though Hershey’s made a dark chocolate bar on and off before that). With the news of dark chocolate’s high antioxidant content the line of Special Dark products has been expanding to include baking chips, its own assortment of Miniatures, Kisses, Syrup, Cocoa and Kissables.

It seems kind of odd that not only are Kissables being discontinued, but that this new Pieces line doesn’t have a simple milk chocolate version. Further, the Special Dark Pieces are the only product in the line that has a comparable item in the M&Ms line.

Special Dark Pieces

The Pieces are simple. Dark chocolate lentils with a candy shell. The colors are muted and dark: maroon, red and brown.

The shell is quite crunchy and has only a slight “cereal” flavor to it, for the most part it’s just sweet.

The center is smooth and has an excellent melt. The chocolate flavor is rather ordinary - a mix of coffee notes, a light touch of raisin or berry with a dose of smoke. It’s quite sweet, so any lingering bitterness is covered up completely.

Dark Chocolate M&Ms vs Hershey's Special Dark PiecesI pretty much did the above review a couple of weeks ago when I first got my Pieces samples. I was hanging onto it because I wanted to do a full comparison of the product to both Dark Chocolate M&Ms as well as the Kissables Dark which came out in 2007.

So I went to the store to buy some.

And I came up empty handed. I went to a lot of stores. I couldn’t find any Kissables in any variety anywhere, except for a wrinkly old pack of original Milk Chocolate Kissables at the 99 Cent Only Store in Mid Wilshire and some Valentine’s that were likely as old. It’s like someone combed the country and pulled all Kissables from all stores. (I don’t think this is any loss for the confectionery world seeing that the Pieces line is far superior in quality.)

Dark Chocolate M&Ms vs Hershey's Special Dark Pieces

Comparing them side by side with M&Ms, it’s easy to see now how the shapes are slightly different.

The Pieces, though they have the same diameter as the M&Ms, are meatier. They’re thicker & puffier.

The shells on the Pieces are slightly thicker, which gives them more crunch but also makes them a bit sweeter and hides the chocolate flavor a little longer.

The chocolate punch of the M&Ms is a bit bolder, but the flavor is also chalkier/dryer. The Pieces have a smooth melt on the tongue and a mellow cocoa note.

I can’t say that one product is better than the other. I found myself preferring the Special Dark Pieces to the Dark Chocolate M&Ms, even though they were sweeter. I liked the consistent crunch and the buttery melt. The M&Ms, though, did have a good dark chocolate flavor to them though a little bitter towards the end.

Final Thoughts on Pieces Line:

image

Now that I’ve tried them all, I thought I’d give a bit of a review of the new line, that won’t be out in stores until December 2009.

The Pieces line is based on some of Hershey’s most popular candies: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Almond Joy, York Peppermint Patties and the Special Dark bar.

The creation of a lentil version doesn’t quite measure up to the combination of textural elements in quite the same way as the previous Bites line did, but these are definitely a winning confectionery creation. Instead these are more “inspired by” than just a new shape & ratio.

My only comments on how this could have been done better would be to set themselves apart further from M&Ms by enlarging their customer base to people who can’t eat M&Ms. That would be using all natural food colorings for the shells (granted, a tough proposition seeing that two of the three lines employ blue shells) and to be gluten free & nut-free (even the Almond Joy could be peanut-free, one of the most common allergy issues in candy).

I’m looking forward to the product launch later this year.

Related Candies

  1. Candy Tease: All Candy Expo 2009 - Hershey
  2. Hershey’s Special Dark Miniatures
  3. Hershey’s Miniatures
  4. Head to Head: M&Ms vs Koppers Milkies
  5. UK Smarties (no artificial colors)
  6. Dark Chocolate Peanut M&Ms
  7. M&Ms Line
  8. Coffee Beat
Name: Special Dark Pieces
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Hershey's
Place Purchased: samples from Hershey's
Price: unknown
Size: unknown
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, United States, Hershey's

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:39 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

Comments
  1. Dear Cybele - I think the idea of the “pieces” is great.  For years we had those after dinner lentils that nobody was quite sure of or the more juvenile M&Ms;.  These are for the grownups who wouldn’t eat the lentils and would recognize their favorite candy bar in the form of a dot.  Love it.  Eva

    Comment by Eva on 6/08/09 at 9:41 am #
  2. I was excited by the idea of these until I saw that half of them are red. As someone who can taste the red dye in most candy shells, I’m forced to put these in the YUCK pile before they even come out. This makes me sad.

    Comment by roachc420 on 6/08/09 at 10:46 am #
  3. YAY! I’ve been waiting for a dark chocolate-mixed Reeses Pieces for a while and I’ve got my wish… sort of. It seems they picked my favorite candy bars to turn into “pieces” I also like York Patties and Almond Joy. FINALLY something besides plain ol’ Reeses Peanut Butter/Chocolate pieces.
    Now they need to bring back the famed Pieces jingle with the f***in’ candy shell lyric.

    Comment by Ange on 6/08/09 at 11:06 am #
  4. ha! when i saw this in my reader i thought it read “Hershey?s Special Dark Places” :O not what i expect from Candy Blog wink

    Comment by santos. on 6/08/09 at 4:09 pm #
  5. I think Hershey is an awful chocolate. But you always find it tasty. Wonder why…

    Comment by Rosa on 6/08/09 at 10:53 pm #
  6. I *just* ran across dark chocolate Kissables at a Big Lots store last week! Which makes sense if the line is on its way out, since that’s an overstock/clearance store. So you might want to check them if you still want to do the comparison.

    Comment by Brandy on 6/09/09 at 2:40 pm #
  7. Not until December?  Bummer!

    Comment by Pam Walter on 6/11/09 at 6:47 am #
  8. these are SO good! definitely worth trying smile i will be buying another bag!

    Comment by kelsy on 3/10/10 at 6:43 pm #
  9. Hershey ruined the whole opportunity for nut-allergic consumers by producing the “almond joy"and “reeses”. (Could have made “Mounds”-coconut-not a treenut-,and *truly-yummy* creamy sunflower butter,instead.Those two flavor ruin the *entire line* of flavors because of the nut-traces! Why do they do this? I miss nut-free Kissables! :( 

    PS-Seth Ellis Chocolatiers now make Sun-butter Cups! (Sold at Peanut Free Planet!) So delicious, you may *prefer* them to peanut-butter cups!

    Comment by anonymous nut-allergic consumer on 3/27/10 at 9:22 am #
  10. Cybele's avatar

    anonymous nut-allergic - I agree that they missed the boat on the allergens. I’m not sure Kissables are completely gone though - I just saw them in theater boxes at the 99 Cent Store with expiration dates of November 2010.

    I do love the Sun Cups, here’s the review - they’re a great alternative because even kids who aren’t nut allergic won’t feel like they have to compromise.

    Comment by Cybele on 3/27/10 at 9:52 am #
  11. These are lousy.

    You’d think that “candy-coating” them would make for good eats, but these are so flavorless that it makes them hard to eat.

    Sort of like eating little shards of plastic with a candy shell.

    They get a -10 in my book.

    :-(

    Comment by Dave on 4/02/10 at 2:36 pm #
  12. Thank you Cybele! - For the link to your SunCups review and info. and comments about Kissables! Keep up the great work! raspberry

    Comment by anonymous nut-allergic consumer on 4/02/10 at 9:24 pm #
  13. Late to the party! I deliberately went to find something in the store that I haven’t had and that was a bit unusual; telling my boy-friend that I had to report back to my new favorite candy blog. I love your writing style and I learned today that candies like these are called ‘lentils.’

    Maybe these are on the way out because they were $2.39 at Ralph’s. My bag tastes plenty fresh though and I like ‘em. I think Eva is right to say that this is an adult candy and I wouldn’t be ashamed to put them in a candy dish at an adult party with their smart dark colors.

    Is it possible that I taste a note like ‘cherry’ in this chocolate? Is that a candy connoisseur term? Anyway, I discern something like that. Normally I’m not a Hershey’s chocolate fan. The bars just taste like wax to me, but this seemed quite nice.

    Comment by Margot C on 6/05/12 at 9:13 pm #
  14. I have searched stores and the Special dark chocolate has been taken off the shelves

    Comment by Barbara on 4/21/13 at 6:51 pm #

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