Monday, October 18, 2010

Kraft & Ferrara Pan Caramels

Kraft CaramelsKraft Caramels are one of those products that transcends the definition of candy. Like chocolate chips, they’re also an ingredient in countless recipes. I’m more likely to see these bags in the baking aisle of the grocery store than the candy section.

Kraft Caramels were introduced in 1933, the same year Kraft brought Miracle Whip into people’s lives. In a strange twist, Kraft decided to sell their industry-standard caramels and spun them off with a few other brands to a new company called Favorite Brands. They made the caramels with the Kraft name for two years under the agreement, but after that they rolled them into their other candy brand, Farley’s and called them Farley’s Original Chewy Caramels. Well, I don’t know if you remember those years of not being able to find Kraft Caramels ... I’m not sure how brand aware I was at that time, but I think I considered myself confused and ended up buying Brach’s Caramels. Kraft got their caramels back in 2000 and I think they learned their lesson. (You can read more here.)

Kraft Caramels

The caramels are packaged simply and perfectly. Each cube is wrapped in clear cellophane, like little gifts with the surprise spoiled with the transparent packaging.

The color is beautiful and mine were fresh, slightly soft and glossy. They smells sweet, like vanilla pudding. The bite is soft and easy, but not a stringy chew. It’s also not quite a fudge texture. This style of caramel is called a short caramel, the sugar and milk is completely emulsified so there are no sugar crystals. The sugar is caramelize, so it has a light toffee note to it along with the mellow dairy flavors of the milk.

Kraft Caramels

The chew is interesting and flavorful, but lacks a bit of the stickiness that I desire in a caramel. I like a complex flavor and silkier texture. They’re sweet but at least have a salty note to balance that out. They stick in my teeth a bit, but don’t bind my molars together like some stale Sugar Babies can do.

The ingredients are decent enough for cheap candy: corn syrup, sugar, skim milk, palm oil, whey, salt, artificial flavor and soy lecithin.

I understand that one of the benefits to this style though is its versatility for recipes. They can be melted and added to other ingredients like swirled into brownies, drizzled on popcorn and of course their most popular use - caramel dipped apples.

There are 32 calories in each caramel cube and they’re still made in the U.S.A. Kosher.

Finally, an early TV commercial for Kraft Caramels:

Ferrara Pan Traditional CaramelsWhile looking for Kraft Caramels these past few weeks, I stumbled on these smaller bags of Ferrara Pan Traditional Caramels. This little 6.75 ounce bag also included sticks for making the classic caramel covered apples.

Ferrara Pan is known for their panned candies (hence the company name) like Lemonheads, Boston Baked Bean and Atomic Fireballs. A boiled sweet like caramels is kind of out of place, but then again Ferrara recently branched out into chocolate, so why not caramel?

Ferrara Pan Caramels

Turning over the bag to compare the ingredients I found something more substantially informative. Ferrara Pan doesn’t make these. They’re made by Embare in Brazil. Embare is a premiere candy maker in South America, known for their dairy-based confections like caramels and pudding mixes. Caramel has a fine tradition in South America, so why not go there for some great ones?

Ferrara Pan CaramelsThey look just like the Kraft version. They’re the same size, and have roughly the same variations. (Some are bigger than others and have little ridges on them from manufacturing.)

The cellophane seems a little heavier and is actually sealed at the ends. They’re soft enough to pinch. They don’t smell like much out of the wrapper.

The bite is much softer and chewier. They’re not quite a stringy caramel, but halfway between. They’re not as sweet as the Kraft variety, quite smooth and have a strong real vanilla flavor profile. The caramel notes are also great - a little toasty with just a hint or rum or molasses.

Each cube has 27 calories. I don’t actually mind that they’re made in Brazil and I appreciate Ferrara Pan saying exactly who is making the product.

Ferrara Pan Caramels & Kraft Caramels

On the left are the Ferrara Pan and on the right are the Kraft. They really do look the same.

The ingredient list on the Ferrara Pan version is longer: Sugar, corn syrup, skim milk, hydrogenated vegetable oil (soybean, cottonseed and/or palm kernel), whey, milk, cream, salt, soy lecithin, mono- & di-glycerides, artificial vanilla flavor.

I can’t say which is better for recipes, but I preferred the texture and flavor profile of the Ferrara Pan. But I can’t say that I really loved either, if I really wanted a bite sized caramel, I’d probably go for Sugar Babies, pay a premium for See’s ... or make my own.

Related Candies

  1. Bequet Gourmet Caramels
  2. Grandma’s Caramels
  3. Caramel Texture Poll Results
  4. Werther’s Original Chewy Caramels
  5. Sugar Babies
  6. Caramel Previews: Mitchell Sweets & Caramoos

Name: America’s Classic Caramels
Brand: Kraft
Place Purchased: Target (West Hollywood)
Price: $2.49
Size: 14 ounces
Calories per ounce: 111
Categories: Candy, Kraft/Mondelez, Caramel, Kosher, 5-Pleasant, United States, Target

Name: Traditional Caramels
Brand: Ferrara Pan
Place Purchased: Rite Aid (Echo Park)
Price: $.99
Size: 6.75 ounces
Calories per ounce: 113
Categories: Candy, Halloween, Ferrara Pan, Caramel, 6-Tempting, Brazil, Rite Aid

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:41 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry     CandyReviewHalloweenFerrara PanKraft/MondelezCaramelKosher6-TemptingBrazilUnited StatesRite AidTarget

  1. i lived about 5 miles from ferrara pan candies
    my entire life and just love their products.
    at least once a month i go the their factory outlet
    where the candy is extremely fresh and affordable!
    its run by a wonderful lady named sylvia.anyone
    near forest park illinois should stop in the outlet

    Comment by joe on 10/18/10 at 2:31 pm #
  2. I used to have a serious addiction to Kraft Caramels when I was in high school. I always had a handful in my pocket.

    My favorite thing was when the bag would have a couple renegade Fudgies in it. As I’m sure you know, Fudgies were(are?) Kraft’s chocolate caramel; wrapped and packaged the same way.

    Comment by Kim on 10/19/10 at 7:24 am #
  3. We used to give out Kraft Caramels and Fudgies at Halloween.  I wish they’d bring back the Fudgies as well.

    Comment by Ash on 10/19/10 at 7:32 am #
  4. I’ve never had Fudgies, but I think Werther’s makes a chocolate caramel, right? Would they be a reasonable substitute?

    Comment by Nyssa on 10/19/10 at 12:37 pm #
  5. @Nyssa- not sure if Werther’s would be similar, as I’ve never had those. Storck Riesen were kind of the same, at least they were back then. The Riesen were a little tougher, for lack of a better word. Fudgies had a very smooth texture and weren’t all that sticky.

    Comment by Kim on 10/20/10 at 7:59 am #
  6. that commercial is AMAZING.

    Comment by a on 10/21/10 at 7:05 pm #
  7. Interesting.  I have been buying Atomic Fireballs in bulk for about a year now.  They are also made by Ferrara Pan.  I wondered why they come in differing sizes and different intensities of heat, so I started looking around the internet for some answers and I bet this is it.  They must contract them out to different facilities.  Some have pink ink on the package and some don’t.  It has been my experience that the ones with no pink ink are larger and hotter and I find them at Wegmans.  Topps has a bulk candy area, but theirs are the pink ink ones and they are smaller and all sweet.  I wish they would come up with a hot ball that is ALL cinnamon and no sweet.  I throw the sweet inside away.

    Comment by Tami on 7/11/12 at 4:34 pm #
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