Monday, August 31, 2009
Kits & BB Bats
In their 85 years of existence they remained largely unchanged. Simple firm taffy in a variety of classic candy flavors wrapped in serviceable waxed paper and sold as changemakers (early on they were penny candy, but even today they’re purchased with pocket change).
Ownership of the company and recipes changed hands a few times. The earliest owner I know of was Sophie Mae based in Atlanta, Georgia. They made Slo Pokes, Black Cows, BB Bats and Kits. Back in 2004 they sold out to the Georgia Nut Company (of Illinois) which rolled them into their Family Brands.
. Georgia Nut sold the brand to Warrell (who also make Pennsylvania Dutch Candies and Katherine Beecher).
Kits are small stacks of taffy squares and BB Bats are a slightly firmer version on a stick. Both came in the same array of flavors: Chocolate, Peanut Butter/Molasses, Strawberry and Banana.
Chocolate was oddly salty. They taste a bit like brownie batter and less like chocolate than many other cocoa flavored taffy confections I’ve had.
They’re pleasant enough with a good stiff chew that doesn’t descend into grain at the end. But they lack even the chocolate punch that a Tootsie Roll has, instead these are more like a malty version of a piece of taffy than a chocolate one.
These are often sold online as Peanut Butter & Molasses flavor, though none of the little wrappers I have say that.
They’re a nice light brown like peanut butter. They smell a little nutty but mostly like sweet taffy.
These were soft and easy to chew. A little salty and after a few chews the peanut butter flavor came out. The molasses is only a light touch, rather like the Peanut Butter Kisses that come wrapped in orange or black waxed paper for Halloween. The flavor reminded me of Nutter Butters. They’re nice enough, the big selling point is that there are few peanut butter flavored chews out there and these are definitely not tooth pullers like Mary Janes.
Banana flavored items are those candies that folks are either going to love or hate.
They’re extremely yellow and out of the package smell like banana or Circus Peanuts.
The flavor is intense and chemical - I felt a slight burning in the back of my throat from these - maybe because they’re so sweet or maybe because the isoamyl acetate that makes up the flavoring is similar enough to fingernail polish remover.
The pink here is quite bright out of the uncolored wax paper. The strawberry flavor is all floral fragrance and no berry tartness. Towards the end of the chew I was getting the artificial flavor bitterness so these were the least appealing for me.
I’m not really in a position to review the BB Bats, I have a few of them, but I fear that they’re hopelessly old. Some say Family Brands of Skokie Illinois on them so I think they’re at least three years old (the Kits say Georgia Confections). The big difference between Kits & BB Bats is that the BB Bats were usually a bit firmer to hold up on the stick, but the flavors and texture were similar - meant for sucking instead of chewing.
Though Kits bear a passing resemblance to Starbursts in format, they’re actually more like Tootsie Rolls (though Tootsie never came in Peanut Butter). The fact that they’re sold in single flavor packs and mine cost only 30 cents each give these a special spot in the confectionery purchase pantheon. It’s sad to see a unique product like this disappear.
UPDATE: My apologies for not completely researching this - I had two different sources tell me of the discontinuation. What I didn’t know is that yes, it’s true that the factory that made them closed, but Warrell is currently in the process of transferring the manufacturing to another facility. The confusion arose when Georgia Nut sold off Gilliam but not all of the products, including the BB Bats, Kits and Slo Pokes.
So to sum up, there may be some interruption in supplies, but production will resume. Also, folks who were sad that they wouldn’t be around but hadn’t bought them in a while should probably try to buy them more often ... or else they might go away for good for lack of sales.
POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:40 am
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.