Thursday, August 7, 2008

Kissables (Reformulated)

Alert and distressed readers informed me that Hershey’s Kissables have been reformulated and not in a good way.

I was fortunate enough to find both the old variety and the new ones at the 99 Cent Only Store, which is like some sort of time capsule, just dig deep enough into the layers and you can find stuff that goes back to the last century. (Don’t worry, both were still within their expiry dates - made only five months apart.)

Kissables Candy Coated Milk ChocolateFirst, the Original Kissables, as introduced were called Candy Coated Milk Chocolate. (Original review from 2006 here.)

The ingredients: Milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, nonfat milk, milk fat, lactose, soy lecithin, PGPR & artificial flavors), sugar, red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, blue 1 & carnauba wax.

The taste is familiar. The crunch of the shell is crispy and nondescript but gives way to the inimitable Hershey’s chocolate flavor that’s a little tangy, a bit like yogurt and has a rather interesting rum note to it.

Kissables Chocolate CandyThe new version is called Chocolate Candy which is code for chocolate-flavored confection, or candy that contains chocolate but can’t be called chocolate because it has other stuff in it that’s not permitted by the FDA definitions (like more oil than actual chocolate).

The ingredients: Sugar, vegetable oil (palm, shea, sunflower and/or safflower oil), chocolate, nonfat milk, whey, cocoa butter, milk fat, gum arabic, soy lecithin, artificial colors (red 40, yellow 5, blue 2, blue 1, yellow 6), corn syrup, resinous glaze, salt, carnauba wax, pgpr and vanillin.

They look exactly like their old “pure” counterparts (which really weren’t so pure if you ask me). The colors and size are identical. The flavor though, is quite obviously off. The crunch of the shell is familiar, but the flavor of the chocolate lacks any particular pop and feels less fresh. The texture is cooler on the tongue, though has the same fudgy grain that it’s always had.

Old and new Kissables

It’s not that the new formula is bad, but it certainly lacks a pizazz and familiarity that the old ones had. They old ones were like Kisses. The new ones are like, well, nothing much special. Kind of like chocolate frosting. As a mockolate product, well, they’re actually pretty good. These are still far and away better than the Garfield Chocobites or other off-brand/fake chocolate lentils I’ve had.

The ingredient tweaking had some interesting results as well, which show that it’s entirely possible to tell the two apart on taste alone:

..............Original Formula ....................2008 Formula
Total Fat…......10 grams…............................10 grams
Cholesterol….....5 mg…................................0 mg
Sodium….........30 mg…...............................60 mg
Carbohydrates…..28 g…................................30 g
Protein….........3 g….................................1 g

(This info was taken right from the packages, the Hershey’s website lists strangely different nutritional specs for this size package - where the portion is only 1.4 ounces instead of the full 1.5 ounces in the package.)

So the new ones have more salt and sugars, a third of the calcium but no cholesterol. Ten fewer calories, but also made with all sorts of other replacement oils. Oh, and the new ones also have a resinous glaze, which is shellac, which is on most vegetarian’s forbidden list.

It strikes me as odd that Hershey’s new Pure Chocolate campaign comes on the heels of their attempts to dilute the definition of chocolate and have changed the formulation on many of their favorite candies (5th Avenue & Whatchamacallit) to include new coatings that are not pure chocolate any longer.

The copy goes like this (set to a cover of I Melt with You):

What makes a Hershey’s bar pure?
Pure simplicity.
Pure happiness.
Pure delicious chocolate.
Pure Hershey’s.

Watch the video here or here. While it’s for Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar, I take it as a whole branding campaign that Hershey’s wants to stress that they make pure chocolate. I’m just not buying it.

More fun with new formulas: Check out what Hershey’s has done to the iconic Hershey’s Miniatures collection.

UPDATE: Kissables were discontinued in early 2009. They will be replaced by a new line called Pieces which will come in Special Dark, Almond Joy and York Peppermint. (No straight milk chocolate replacement though.) Look for them in December 2009.

Related Candies

  1. Hershey’s Special Dark Pieces
  2. Hershey’s York Pieces
  3. Hershey’s Almond Joy Pieces
  4. Hershey’s Website Inaccuracies
  5. Today Show: Kissed Off!
  6. ReeseSticks (Revisit)
  7. Hershey’s Miniatures
  8. Nestle Crunch Crisp
  9. What Made Hershey’s Want to Change Chocolate?
Name: Kissables (2008 formula)
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Hershey's
Place Purchased: 99 Cent Only Store (Wilshre Blvd.)
Price: $.39
Size: 1.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 133
Categories: Mockolate, United States, Hershey's, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:51 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. How utterly ridiculous considering the “Pure Chocolate” campaign. What an abolute joke!
    Thanks for the heat to head Cybele compelling and informative as ever.

    Comment by Jim on 8/07/08 at 12:59 pm #
  2. Thanks for the insight, Cybele.  I was a little skeptical about Kissables when I first saw them, but I found them to be pretty good.

    But my friend gave me some to try a week ago and it tasted like fake frosting to me.  Something was just wrong. I’m glad to see (sort of) that I wasn’t just imagining it or it was a bad batch.  “Pure Chocolate” if you’ve never tasted chocolate before.

    Something about it reminds me of 1984’s “Victory Chocolate”

    Comment by Meg on 8/07/08 at 2:49 pm #
  3. Well, I tried the “old” Kissables, and I didn’t like them. So I never bought them again. I still don’t like them. We already have M&Ms;. I prefer Kisses over Kissables. To me, Kissables are “fake”. Yes, even with its original formula. To each, his/her own grin Thanks for the review. Very enlightening. I definitely won’t try the Kissables now! Oh, and I enjoy your blog. It gets me to buy candy from time to time, thanks to your blog. I’ve revisited candy from my childhood in recent days thanks to your blog grin

    Comment by Anna on 8/08/08 at 1:01 am #
  4. So disappointing, on so many levels. I was at Hershey’s Chocolate World last night looking for the new Pumpkin Spice Kisses and came home with a Dagoba bar—just because unlike most Hershey products, it’s REAL pure chocolate.

    Milton Hershey is probably spinning like a lathe in his grave.

    Comment by Frances on 8/08/08 at 1:21 am #
  5. I never liked Kissables to begin with, so I know I wouldn’t like them now, but I do agree that it sucks what they’re doing to chocolate. I think it’s an unexpected side effect of a bad economy with rising materials costs, like sneakily making packages smaller for the same price.

    Comment by Debby on 8/08/08 at 3:04 am #
  6. They just keeping digging themselves into a deeper hole, aren’t they? *snort*

    Comment by Sera on 8/08/08 at 5:03 am #
  7. I just wanted to let you know that Consumerist wrote about this and quoted you:

    Comment by Sasha on 8/08/08 at 6:26 am #
  8. Hi, I am from Australia, and my co-worker bought back chocolate from America. AND ITS DISGUSTING!!!! It tastes like cheese and nothing like chocolate. Don’t you guys have any of the European chocolate? Like the stuff with just cocoa, butter and sugar?

    Your chocolate seems to consist of oil and sodium? HOW CAN THAT TASTE ANY GOOD?

    Comment by Emily on 8/08/08 at 4:18 pm #
  9. I was angered when they made White Chocolate Reese’s into simply “White” Reese’s.

    I no longer buy Hershey’s products.

    Comment by Brad on 8/08/08 at 5:55 pm #
  10. So, What’s next for Hershey’s?  A merger with Palmer’s?  They’ve obviously decided the market of people who want actual chocolate costs them too much profit margin to pursue…

    (The guys who make the really cheap Chocolate-Like Food Product type easter candies, if you don’t recognize the name…)

    Comment by Epicanis on 8/08/08 at 6:46 pm #
  11. Who cares? Fat people will still eat them.

    Comment by Uriah Bennett on 8/09/08 at 3:00 am #
  12. ^ See, this is what happens when Digg invades.

    Comment by Synonymous on 8/11/08 at 3:10 pm #
  13. I’m wondering about the dark chocolate kissables—they are one of my favorite candies.  What will they call them “dark flavored almost chocolate candy like things”—I might need to stock up on the real stuff!

    Comment by girlbuffalo1 on 8/12/08 at 6:59 am #
  14. Thank you for this article!  I thought I was losing my mind (or taste).  I was obsessed with Kissables for months, then noticed them slowly disappearing off the candy shelves.  When I stopped being able to find them I reverted to their “kissin cousin”, M&M;.  I recently “found” them again and they were terrible; I thought maybe they were just OLD.  Seems the truth is even worse.

    I will now attempt to get on with my life.

    Comment by Meghansaunt on 8/13/08 at 4:54 am #
  15. This makes me so mad.  I used to like Kissables.  In fact, they’re one of the few chocolate candies I like. (Symphony bars also rank up there.) But now they’re just crap, like a lot of candy out there. =\

    Comment by Rita on 8/17/08 at 6:36 am #
  16. Tricia's avatar

    Well drat. I preferred Kissables to plain M&Ms;, but I guess I won’t be buying them anymore!

    Comment by Tricia on 8/21/08 at 6:44 am #
  17. I’m so sick of all these companies using fake products.  I know you focus on Chocolate, but have you noticed that Dryer’s and Bryer’s are now calling some of their ice creams ” frozen dessert”  They dont contain enough dairy to be called Ice Cream.  Here in Canada, Bryer’s is going so far as to call it ” Frozen Indulgence”.  Indulgence my arse!!

    Comment by Randi on 8/22/08 at 4:24 am #
  18. Have you see the book Hello Cupcake?  They author’s use lots of different candy in interesting ways.

    Comment by Randi on 8/22/08 at 4:25 am #
  19. Hershey has been making the reformulated Kissables for several months now.  I picked up some bags of the Kissables they made for Valentine’s Day and Easter, and both of them said “chocolate candy.”

    Comment by Johnny Carruthers on 8/29/08 at 8:48 am #
  20. Wow, unbelievable.  For years I cried over the disappearance of Hershey-ets. M&Ms;could not hold a candle to them. Then the Kissables came out and it was like being re-born!! I just bought a new package yesterday and thought, ugh what is the problem with these? I too thought they were old. Agree with Epicanis-tastes like Palmer fake chocolate.

    Comment by LouAnn on 9/03/08 at 7:37 am #
  21. Now Hershey’s isn’t just being cheap, it’s being environmentally irresponsible.  Using palm oil destroys the orangutan habitat and is endangering wildlife.

    Comment by J.M. on 9/19/08 at 1:59 am #
  22. I picked up a little bag of kissables yesterday and noticed a difference in taste from the last time I had some… which was months ago. So your article is confirmed as far as I’m concerned; there is a substantial difference in taste.

    Comment by Thomas Springs on 10/12/08 at 10:31 am #
  23. Hmm. Here in Canada I have noticed that Kissables have left the shelves almost completely.  I figured that it was the demise of the reborn hershey-et again.  :-(  First the disappearance of the hershey-et, then hersheys pieces, now kissables.  I will be equally disappointed if they bring out this lame attempt that you are describing.

    Has anyone thought to leave some feedback with Hershey directly??

    Comment by Hershey-et lover on 10/14/08 at 1:00 pm #
  24. Cybele's avatar

    Hershey-et lover - yeah, unfortunately quite a few of us have written to Hershey’s and they insist that this is what we want and they make top notch products.

    If you’ve written to them, you can post their response here.

    Comment by Cybele on 10/14/08 at 1:08 pm #
  25. I found your site on a google search after tasting a new bag and having to spit them out. Hershey has always had the best chocolate and the worlds worst marketing department. Now I guess they moved the marketing guys to the product development department. This is a real shame, I remember Hersheyettes from 40 years ago (plain and peanut!) and the incomparable taste of Hershey chocolate. The company survived for decades on one thing—great chocolate—what do they think they will finally beat Mars with lousy chocolate *and* lousy marketing?

    Comment by jcp on 11/04/08 at 9:48 am #
  26. I just bought a bag of Kissables and they are what you were calling the “original” formula.  It says “milk chocolate” on the bag and the number one ingredient is milk chocolate.  So either it’s a regional thing, or they’ve gone back to the original formula, or your article is completely wrong.

    Comment by michael on 12/01/08 at 9:15 pm #
  27. Cybele's avatar

    Michael - what was the expiration date on the package? (As the other possibility is that you simply found a package of the old formula.)

    Comment by Cybele on 12/02/08 at 4:20 am #
  28. Easy with the accusations Michael.  There’s no reason to get belligerent. 

    If you took a look at the photos above, they clearly show Hershey’s had at least not used real chocolate in the Kissables at some point.

    It would be nice if they reformulated…

    Comment by Zoidberg on 12/02/08 at 10:54 am #
  29. New formula comes no where near original and ruined taste. I have a large bag of Valentines Kissables that sits and will be thrown out. I try to find kissables in the smaller kingsize bags but the last store ran out and I think they are either no longer in distribution or not regionally offered. 
    Anyone know if they are still in production and if sold where?

    Comment by Doug on 4/01/09 at 5:32 pm #
  30. Now I think they have discontinued this product.  I am really disappointed but will have to do with M&M’s even though I don’t think they are as good.

    Comment by Shawn on 8/09/09 at 10:03 am #
  31. They still carry a full stock of these at my campus bookstore. I saw them while rushed so I wasn’t able to check if they were the originals or reformulateds, but it made me wonder how long they were sitting there. I preferred them over m&ms; anyday, so if they are the original I might have to go back and get them. Though paying full price (on a student budget) stinks for old candy!

    Comment by Adriana on 8/27/09 at 6:45 am #
  32. I’m really disappointed because my son is allergic to peanuts, and Kissables were good for him - like M&M’s but without the peanut warning!  NOW what are we going to decorate our gingerbread cookies with?!?

    Comment by Anne Marie on 12/08/09 at 3:22 pm #
  33. OMG!!!  Really bummed about the kissables. My son has peanut allergies and NOW what are we to do??  Very frustrating.  I think M&M/Mars better get on board and make a product on peanut/tree nut free equipment and get with the times.  There are soooooo many more people/children with food allergies these days. 
    Any suggestions?????

    Comment by Jackie on 12/08/09 at 4:13 pm #
  34. Cybele's avatar

    Jackie & Anne Marie - your best bet is probably Nestle Smarties. Unfortunately they’re not available readily in the United States. However, they do have them in Canada, so you may be able to order them, or have a friend who is traveling there pick them up for you.

    Comment by Cybele on 12/08/09 at 6:52 pm #
  35. I just found the new Kissables in the checkout line at an ACME supermarket, bought two to try, blah, not very good.
    expires in april ‘10 so they must have been old stock.

    Comment by whotony on 2/19/10 at 3:53 pm #
  36. I heard about the Kissables.2 years ago in July,a little boy ate them and apparently he didn’t know he was allergic to the peanut oil on them.So his mom complained to the company to reformulate it.But why do they have to do what SHE says?You know SOME of us may turn out to be allergic to them,but that doesn’t mean ALL of us are!So Hershey Company,I would like to tell you that I want my local store(WALMART,OGDENSBURG)to have the “ORIGINAL” Kissables back!SO EVERYONE IN THE WORLD,TAKE A STAND WITH ME!!!
                    -Allison Hockey

    Comment by allison on 7/19/10 at 11:48 am #
  37. Last week I found some of the real choc bags in my big freezer. Should I eat them?

    Comment by Whotony on 7/19/10 at 12:16 pm #
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