Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Private Reserve Russell Stover and Whitman’s Reserve

Private Reserve Russell Stover & Whitman's ReserveI was at the drug store a few weeks ago and wasn’t really thrilled with the selection of candy. Well, it was a nice selection but I’ve tried all of that stuff before. Then I spotted the new display of Russell Stover & Whitman’s Samplers (they’re owned by the same company now) and was debating whether to review a full box of candy from them.

Instead I wussed out, blaming the heat that it was impractical to bring a large amount of chocolate into my 90+ degree home. So I got one of each of their little 1 ounce boxes - just as a teaser. I thought, here’s an opportunity for Russell Stover & Whitman’s to wow me ... they have two pieces to do it. For the opportunity to snare me, I gave them $1.25 for each sample sized box.

Russell Stover Private Reserve

Russell Stover Private Reserve features two pieces of their premium assorted chocolates. The red foiled box is elegant and simple.

I have no idea what they are, the box tells me nothing specifically about them, well, it specifically tells me the combined ingredients and that’s about it. I only have the shapes go on. Inside is a little tray with spaces shaped like the candies.

The nut looking one was in fact a nut flavored paste inside ... perhaps a gianduia since far down on the list of ingredients were hazelnuts.

This was terrible. It looked great, I’ll grant you but had an odd waxy & greasy feel to it. The hazelnut paste as more of an amaretto flavor, which is fine with me ... though confusing because the nut shape was kind of like a walnut and kind of like a hazelnut but definitely not an almond.

The second one was a lovely milk chocolate covered caramel. The caramel was stiff & had an excellent pull. It had a good combination of toasted sugar flavors and a touch of butter. A little bit of vanilla. It was sweet, the milk chocolate was decent but didn’t really contribute much of a chocolate punch.

Whitman's Reserve

The Whitman’s Reserve was the same price, but honestly didn’t look as appealing on the box. It bills itself as a Premium mini collection as if a pair is a collection. Like the Russell Stover, it makes no mention on the box as to what’s actually in the box besides the ingredients. As far as the actual ingredients go - they both use vanillin (fake vanilla) but otherwise rather decent source materials.

The large and puzzling piece here was the white chocolate item with the stripes. It does look just like the one on the box - both pieces are pristine - so I’m satisfied right away with the appearance.

Sniffing it brought me no closer to discerning what it was (no nuts, that was certain, though). It smells simply sweet & milky.

The bite is soft and I decided it was either a poor excuse for a truffle or simply a chocolate cream. It’s a milk chocolate center - sweet and greasy but at least not as sweet as the white chocolate coating. It doesn’t do a thing for me.

Happily the second piece was identical to the second piece in the Russell Stover - a simple milk chocolate covered caramel. I couldn’t tell it apart at all and that’s not a bad thing.

For the $1.25 I spent, I got two pieces of candy. One I liked and one I didn’t. So for the future I’ll probably stick to the Russell Stover Pecan Delights, which are usually a better value and of course a good variety of textures & flavors. (They can now be found in a “candy bar” format for about the same price in stores.)

Am I missing something about the appeal of Russell Stover & Whitman’s boxed chocolates?

Related Candies

  1. Russell Stover Private Reserve Vanilla Bean Brulee
  2. Storck Chocolate Riesen
  3. Caffarel Gianduias
  4. Russell Stover Organic Pecan Delight
  5. Dove Jewels
  6. Whitman’s Sampler Tin
Name: Premium Assorted Chocolates
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Russell Stover and Whitman's
Place Purchased: Rite Aid (Echo Park)
Price: $1.25
Size: 1 ounce
Calories per ounce: 140 & 170
Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, Nuts, White Chocolate, United States, Russell Stover

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:04 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. I don’t think you’re missing anything. RS candy is always a disappointment and I think the only reason I’m interested in Whitman’s is because when I was a kid and we received a box it was such an adventure to choose just the right one. As an adult I think they all lack something.

    Comment by Bonney on 9/02/09 at 12:07 pm #
  2. Makes me appreciate Sees all the more! It’s my “comfort food” chocolate.

    Comment by KateC on 9/02/09 at 12:20 pm #
  3. I don’t know if you’re missing anything—to me, these are just standard cheapo pharmacy store box candies for valentine’s day.  V-Day is kinda cheesy and informal, and these candies are appropiate for it.  But you’d never bring out a box of Whitman’s at Christmas (not in my family!).

    Comment by the pizza on 9/02/09 at 3:33 pm #
  4. I’m afriad you folks miss the whole point of Russel Stover/Whitman’s!  Yep cheap(ish), yep pedestian, yep dime-storey, but the joy in childhood was the key to the assortment on the inside of the lid of the box!  It was like a guide to a galaxy of holiday happiness.  And the solid chocolate delivery boy piece in the center of the box was the most plain piece but somehow the most coveted.  My husband and i were at the outlet store in Bethany, Missouri today, as a matter of fact!  I stocked up on pb cups (they are much fudgier than Reeses!), white chocolate easter bunnies and a sampler tin.  And that brings me to a second point, i save the boxes (clean of course!) And use them just as my grandmother did to store hankies and momentos and such.  There is a place in this world for sophisticated stuff just as there is for routine things. I think either extreme of the spectrum let’s us appreciate the other.
    [edited by admin to remove all caps]

    Comment by Ruth on 9/02/09 at 4:14 pm #
  5. “Am I missing something about the appeal of Russell Stover & Whitman?s boxed chocolates?”

    I htink it’s just about tradition, a powerful draw in and of itself.

    Comment by Scott Roche on 9/03/09 at 4:07 am #
  6. The appeal is not in the quality, no doubt about that! Yeah, it was all about the candy map inside the lid (all boxed assortment should come with one!).

    I’m surprised you rated these as high as you did—RS and Whitman’s is cheap chocolate. Not as cheap/awful as, say, Palmer’s, but bad enough.

    What really appalls me is the packaging. I understand that you want the candies to stay in one piece, but isn’t there a way to cut down on that hideous, non-recyclable foil?

    Comment by Alix on 9/03/09 at 6:34 am #
  7. To me, Whitman’s assortments simply say, “I like you, but not enough to get you See’s.  Instead, please enjoy this grainy maple chalk covered in wax, if you can.”  Though now that I’m on the east coast, I guess See’s may be harder to get…

    Comment by JJR on 9/03/09 at 9:39 am #
  8. ruffy's avatar

    i sort of like RS as an ultra-sweet distraction when it’s 50% off, but the MSRP is ridiculous for chocolate that’s not very good and frequently bloomed.

    Comment by ruffy on 9/03/09 at 10:17 am #
  9. The nut one looks and sounds a lot to me like a cheap knockoff of the famous (at least in BC)Purdy’s Hedgehogs:
    Perhaps it is not a nut shape at all, but a trademark dodging decapitated hedgehog? 

    ...or, maybe not…

    Comment by mits on 9/03/09 at 1:32 pm #
  10. I think you were being kind!  Nasty, nasty stuff!  I almost broke up with a guy once for buying me Russell Stover chocolate for V-day ....but I relented as it was early in the relationship, and he was trainable….the following V-day it was See’s Candy all the way!

    If See’s would just put a candy map in their boxes, I believe they could drive RS and W out of business!!

    Comment by Michelle F on 9/04/09 at 6:47 am #
  11. Isn’t See made by Madeline Chocolates.

    Just buy Madelines

    all of it is awesome!

    Comment by K D on 9/08/09 at 3:06 am #
  12. Russell Stover’s has been a tradition in my family at least since my dad and my aunt were kids in the 1940s and 1950s, especially their Easter eggs. However, I’m sad to say their quality and variety has gone down over the years. I’d give anything to find the candy straws they used to make, or the box of home-fashioned favorites, both of which they have discontinued. The chocolates themselves are smaller and you get fewer of them in a box nowadays too. I agree with some of the other posts, it’s more of a tradition thing, but I think Russell Stover’s used to be more high-end than they are now. It used to be my family had to go to places like Hallmark to find them, and you’d never see them in the drug store.

    Comment by Emily on 9/09/09 at 3:42 pm #
  13. your not missing anything at all :/ nasty stuff >.> i’d cringe every time i got one for christmas… By the end of the week i’d have a full box of half bitten chocolates.  Though im not much of a chocotale person anyway.

    Comment by JediKitteh on 9/15/09 at 8:04 am #
  14. These always taste like box when I get them. The caramel is the only thing that’s kinda good. Especially after having Sees.

    Comment by Cookie on 12/20/11 at 1:46 pm #
  15. No, you’re not. They are both pretty gross. I think they can do caramel and nuts pretty well, though. The RS pecan clusters are pretty good but Pangburn’s Millionaire’s are a lot better.

    Comment by Katie on 2/04/12 at 3:47 am #
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