Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Reese’s Select Clusters
It sounds great. Reese’s Select Clusters feature Peanuts, Pecans, Peanut Butter and Caramel wrapped in Milk Chocolate. It’s like a peanut butter turtle.
Reese’s Signatures line is supposed to fancy up the standard Hershey’s fare, like the Bliss line is doing for their regular chocolate pieces. They were announced last fall at All Candy Expo and last I heard were supposed to come out late this summer. Imagine my delight seeing them at CVS over the weekend. Imagine my shock seeing myself pay $4.29 for a half a pound of Hershey’s!
The clusters are individually wrapped in a pleasant orange, maroon & mango colored wrapper. Each chocolate is a bit different in shape, but they’re mostly a half ounce each and mostly 1.5” in diameter. The little zig zags in the chocolate shell give them a rather handcrafted artisan look. The lumpy exterior teases that there may be real pecans in there. Each piece contains approximately 75 calories.
Biting into it, it’s rather soft. Unlike a turtle that has nuts and caramel to work through, these “nuts” are not quite abundant and certainly not whole - think chunky peanut butter. The caramel reservoir is centered under the little dome, a peanut butter layer with some nuts mixed in. The peanut butter is a bit salty, which balances the sweetness of the milk chocolate and caramel. The caramel is far too gooey and without any actual flavor of its own ... no buttery component, not burnt sugar flavors.
I thought maybe I was just not keen on the texture, so I froze a few. Instead of making a chewy caramel, I just made some sort of similarly tasteless toffee. The peanut butter remained soft and salty, but the caramel bit just never developed a chew, it was like hard candy.
They’re simply not a cluster. I consider a cluster to be something that has distinct items clumped together. In the case of a confection, I expect to be able to discern each of those items. I never really got any sense of pecan in this whole thing ... and come to think of it, I didn’t get much caramel.
It’s appealing, but not something that I’ve found myself reaching for. (I have, however, been reaching for the dark chocolate Bats.) Rebecca at Sugar Hog also found them early and has a review (and paid far less then I did, grrr.).
The list of ingredients is exhaustingly long. The chocolate is real but contains both corn syrup solids & PGPR, the caramel contains high fructose corn sweetener and the whole thing is noted to have less than 2% of pecans. It also lists that it contains macadamia nuts & almonds (though much farther down on that less than 2% less). They call it Select but I don’t think it means selective. (Also, unlike most other Reese’s products, these are not Kosher.)
The final thing to note from the package: Reese’s Select Clusters were made in Mexico. These must be the first items coming off the lines for the American market. While it’s not a replacement for a product that we’re accustomed to from the US factories (so I can’t do a one-for-one comparison like so many folks do with American Coca-Cola & Mexican Coca-Cola).
Many folks have expressed dismay (and outrage) about the closing of the Oakdale, CA Hershey’s plant and have said that you’ll never buy another Hershey’s product because they’ve opened factories in Mexico. Contrary to some rumors, Hershey’s is not moving all production out of the United States (in fact, one of the greatest losses of jobs was not in the US but was in Canada at the Smith Falls, Ontario factory which employed 400 people directly.)
Here’s a statement from Hershey’s:
So if anyone wants to send a message to Hershey’s about their restructuring, an idea to consider is to continuing buying the candies made in the USA (it’s very clearly marked on the package) and eschew the Mexican produced ones. A complete boycott abandons the remaining American workers.
If this is an important issue for you, then I also encourage folks to look at the origin of all of your candy. Many “American” products are not made here. A few examples: Wrigley’s LifeSavers (Canada); Nestle Chunky (Brazil) & Wonka Gobstoppers (Mexico) and Starburst Jelly Beans (Mexico).
The reason I probably won’t be buying the Reese’s Select Clusters is purely because they weren’t good enough to warrant that price. Perhaps the name Select and Signatures set the bar too high (oh, and the tease that there were actually pecans in there). If this was just promoted as a new version of Reese’s cups, I would probably be more amenable. But for $7 to $9 a pound I’m more likely to splurge on some See’s Pecan Buds (okay, those are $15 a pound). And for an everyday treat, a simple Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup or for a more textured treat: Take 5 (really, this is just a Take 5 without the pretzel!).
POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:29 am
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.