Monday, December 12, 2011

Pine Bros Softish Throat Drops

Pine Bros Softish Throat Drops - Wild Cherry FlavoredWhen I was a kid and candy was hard to come by, there was always the old standby of cough drops. I grew to love Hall’s Honey Lemon Eucalyptus drops as if they were decadent candy. Of course they are, there’s little that’s nutritional or therapeutic about them. But sometimes it’s a small pleasure that lifts the spirits when you have a cold.

My favorite cough drops as a kid were Pine Bros, which were about as old school as they come. They weren’t like the standard hard candy lozenges, instead these were a glycerine pastille, similar to Grether’s or Dr. Doolittle’s. The ingredient they all share is glycerine, which is viscous and has soothing properties as it can coat irritated membranes.

Pine Bros Throat Drops and I were born in the same city, about a hundred years apart. Once I moved to the West Coast from Pennsylvania, I couldn’t find Pine Bros any longer. Part of it was that Pine Bros, which was made by Life Savers between 1930 and then Life Savers was bought out by Leaf (I believe they were manufactured outside of the US for a while and the formula changed) then when Leaf divested in 1998 a company called IVC picked up the Pine Bros name. By 2005 they were gone.

Pine Bros Softish Throat Drops - Wild Cherry Flavored

The word softish is perfect for these. They truly aren’t hard or soft, but have a great squishy quality. The pieces are nicely formed and comfortable for the mouth. The pieces are about three quarters of an inch long and have a little indentation in the bottom, which I believe is caused by the piece shrinking a bit due to evaporation as it cures in its mold.

The flavor is mild, a combination of a jammy wild cherry flavor and a little hint of honey (though there’s not actually any in there). The flavor is rather similar to blackcurrant with its deep wine notes. It’s more floral than many other cherry candies and because they’re colored naturally (with elderberry juice) there’s no weird aftertaste.

Most cough drops are hard candies, but these are soft, pliable yet tacky and stiff and pretty much impossible to chew up. They’re not quite bouncy like a gummi (which contains gelatin, which is a protein) but still have some of that firmness. The other great thing is because they’re so smooth, there’s little danger of sharp voids like some cough drops can have - so no little cuts or scrapes inside the mouth.

Pine Bros Softish Throat Drops - Wild Cherry Flavored

I picked up the Value Size not because of its value but because it was the only format available. It holds 32 drops for $3.49 (2.38 ounces) while a little tin of Grether’s of a similar quantity would be about $10.

If you always wished that Grether’s came in Wild Cherry and at a fraction of the price, Pine Bros may be the solution for you.

Pine Bros Softish Throat Drops - Natural HoneyMy favorite Pine Bros flavors were Licorice and Honey. So I was excited that even though the Licorice wasn’t in production yet, the classic Pine Bros Natural Honey Throat Drops were back.

The package is new and sharp, but still has a classic feel to it. The color coding is similar to the boxes I remember as a kid. Cherry came in a deep red box, Menthol was in Blue and Honey was in a deep amber. The new packaging is a bit brighter, with more of a mustard yellow.

The ingredients are listed as a medicinal product, not a candy. My Pine Bros Throat Drops were also taxed, so were not considered food so do not have any nutritional/caloric information.

Active Ingredients: Glycerin 65 mg. Inactive Ingredients: Gum Acacia, Sugar, Honey with other natural flavors, Corn Syrup, Water, Sunflower Oil, Canauba Wax.

I was a little confused by the “Gum Acacia” item until I looked it up on Wikipedia. It’s Gum Arabic with a fancy new name in an attempt to hide from an urban legend.

Pine Bros Softish Throat Drops - Natural Honey

The pieces are beautiful little amber drops. They actually remind me of true amber. They sound like it when dropped and feel lighter than they look they should. But they’re a little weird. They’re not like I remember them.

The package smelled quite a bit when I opened it. Not just like honey but like roses, like a jam made from rose petals, so it’s a very sweet, syrupy rose scent. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s not the toasty and more cotton candy notes I was prepared for.

The texture is smooth, the melt is wonderful and they truly are soothing for a throat a bit raw from the drying and dusty Santa Ana winds. But the flavor, which I was hoping would be mild and sort of fleeting is rather stubborn. It tastes, well, old. Like old flowers, old tea ... not fresh. I actually found myself reaching for the Wild Cherry ones.

There are two other flavors that Pine Bros is hoping to bring back: Licorice and Honey Lemon. So here’s to hoping that it’s actually Honey Lemon that I love so much and that my favorite will be restored. But I also have high hopes for Licorice.

They are made in the USA in a facility that also processes peanuts and tree nuts. They’re not listed Kosher but the non-honey versions should be considered vegan (unless the glycerine was from an animal source, which is pretty rare because it’s so much more expensive).

I’m not planning on reviewing cough drops on a regular basis, but now’s a good time to ask: what cough drop do you eat like candy? (My other favorite is Thayer’s Slippery Elm, which also has a dreamy smoothness with the flavor of maple sugar considering it starts out looking like a small tablet of rabbit food.)

Related Candies

  1. 12 European Licorices
  2. Perfetti Van Melle Golia
  3. Honees Honey Filled Drops
  4. Gimbal’s Honey Lovers
  5. Eat with your Eyes: Pine Brothers Cough Drops
  6. Boules de Miel (balls of honey)
  7. Puntini Jujubes - Frutti Tropicali
  8. Jujyfruits & Jujubes
  9. Pastiglie Leone

Name: Softish Throat Drops: Cherry
Brand: Pine Bros
Place Purchased: CVS (Park LaBrea)
Price: $3.49
Size: 2.38 ounces
Calories per ounce:
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Jelly Candy, 7-Worth It, United States, Sav-On/CVS

Name: Softish Throat Drops: Honey
Brand: Pine Bros
Place Purchased: CVS (Park LaBrea)
Price: $3.49
Size: 2.38 ounces
Calories per ounce:
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Jelly Candy, 5-Pleasant, United States, Sav-On/CVS

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:02 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry     All NaturalCandyReviewPine BrosJelly Candy5-Pleasant7-Worth ItUnited StatesSav-On/CVS

  1. I used to eat those Halls Fruit Breezers like candy as a kid, although I don’t know if they even qualify as a throat drop. Now my favorite is probably the eucalyptus Halls.
    I couldn’t help but think of wine gums when I read this post! If you were to let the softish throat drops sit out, do you think you could achieve a similar texture?

    Comment by Melissa on 12/13/11 at 5:57 am #
  2. Ludens Wild Cherry! i used to chew them, totakky negating any cough-soothing effect I’m sure ...

    Comment by Anne on 12/13/11 at 10:38 am #
  3. I had no idea you were from PA before you moved to the West Coast! I’m from the Philly area & I remember Pine Bros! You sure brought back some memories by reviewing these! I loved the honey ones and also the cherry and we’d eat them like candy as kids.

    Comment by Jenn T. on 12/13/11 at 10:50 am #
  4. Haha, I knew someone would bring up Luden’s.  Since they were “cough drops,” we were allowed to eat those in class, as opposed to any other candy, so they were very popular in middle school.  They tasted just like Wild Cherry Life Savers to me.  Good times.

    Comment by Dennis on 12/13/11 at 2:59 pm #
  5. These look like Jujyfruits to me—how do they compare, texture-wise?

    Comment by Michaela on 12/13/11 at 3:44 pm #
  6. I’ve been eating bags of the Wild Cherry, I think I have a problem smile

    Comment by Sal on 12/13/11 at 9:24 pm #
  7. I was told that the Licorice will be out sometime this summer.

    Comment by Sal on 12/13/11 at 9:25 pm #
  8. Butter Menthols. Tasty tasty butter Menthols.

    Comment by Leigh on 12/13/11 at 10:59 pm #
  9. Ludens and Smith Bros. Wild Cherry as a kid. Now I just use Jolly Ranchers (minus that horrible blue flavor) for the same effect.

    Comment by spinetingler on 12/16/11 at 8:39 am #
  10. I gre up in the Philly area as well and I loved these! I haven’t seen them since I was a kid!

    Comment by spacemonkey1138 on 12/22/11 at 5:00 pm #
  11. Waiting for the Licorice !!!!!! I grew up in Reading, PA - home of the Ludens factory, but also loved the cherry and licorice Pine Bros.

    Comment by BK on 2/19/12 at 5:35 pm #
  12. The Thayer’s elm drops are plenty of tasty, as are the Ricola herb drops

    Comment by Sparkina on 10/10/12 at 2:50 pm #
  13. I am once again hooked on the Honey.  In fact, I actually like the new taste better than the old one.  I sense a bit of tea flavorin the honey.
    I used to take 1 honey and 1 lemon together and kind of squeeze the 2 together.
    I am in heaven.  It’s like finding the TRUE (not the fake taste of today) Bonomo Vanilla Turkish Taffy.

    Comment by Arepo on 12/03/12 at 6:40 pm #
  14. I was thrilled to find them in CVS. My grandmotherbought them, and i remember sneaking to get one. I think I have a mild addiction to the Natural Honey ones.

    Comment by J R on 3/10/13 at 8:01 pm #
  15. I am addicted o the pine brothers cherry drops.. I eat at least 2 bags a day, with 32 in each bag… I spend about $75.00 at a time when purchasing them… I love them.. Do you think I can experience some side effects from them some day??

    Comment by Judi on 12/03/13 at 5:50 pm #
  16. So I work for the company that is contracted to make and package these. We currently are not making the licorice ones though they are advertised on new packaging(specifically the plastic “tin”). Anyhow we currently started packaging a new “lemon” flavor not “honey lemon”.  I personally eat one of each at the same time. I can’t say where the glycerin is sourced from but I know the company that makes it. It’s a huge well known reputable household company. The honey flavor is made from real grade A honey and it’s good high quality honey. The ingredients and flavors are all natural. We take great pride and care in making sure the product is made correct and to spec. I eat tones of them the days we run this product.  We do also process nuts and milks in the plant but we are very cautious with allergens. Clean and sanitize extensively and do many allergen test before non allergens are run. This product is made and packaged on machinery where allergens are never present though.

    Comment by John Nash on 7/19/14 at 3:52 pm #
  17. Loved these as a kid glad to see someone who works at the factory comment that what I was looking for

    Comment by ej sapunarich on 10/01/16 at 2:17 am #
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