Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Reese’s Select Clusters

imageIt 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.

imageIt’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:

The Hershey Company is making changes to our global manufacturing network to ensure that our company remains competitive in the global marketplace for the long term. When these changes are completed, 90 percent of the items that Hershey sells in the United States and Canada will continue to be made in these countries.

And we will continue to make HERSHEY’S milk chocolate bars, HERSHEY’S KISSES milk chocolates and REESE’S Peanut Butter Cups as well as a wide range of other products in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

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!).

Related Candies

  1. The Oh Henry!s
  2. Factory Fresh Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  3. Nestle Turtles
  4. Russell Stover Organic Pecan Delight
  5. GooGoo Cluster
  6. Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews
Name: Reese's Select Clusters
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Hershey
Place Purchased: CVS (Silverlake)
Price: $4.29
Size: 8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 145
Categories: Chocolate, Peanut, Nuts, Caramel, Mexico, Hershey, Reese's

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:29 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. I got these at the same time as the bats, and those certainly are better! I like these a bit more than you do, but probably won’t purchase again.

    However, the best example of a peanut butter/pecan combo is Koeze’s cream-nut clusters. They are sublime! I was hoping that these would be a decent substitute, but they aren’t even close.

    Comment by KateC on 6/10/08 at 1:14 pm #
  2. I was pleased to see that you watch out for products made outside of the U.S.  We must protect the quality of our products as well as American and Canadian jobs. 

    We are an organic family and have found one company called Pure Fun; they manufacture their organic candy exclusively in the U.S. and Canada.  They also scrutinize every ingredient for potentially toxic chemicals!  Compared to other organic candies in the marketplace, they win hands down for variety, and deleicious taste.  The primary ingredient is brown rice syrup which takes longer to dissolve.  Our 4 year old is quite satisfied with one lollipop, true to the name, Pure Pops; contains only 1g of sugar and taste absolutely delicious. 

    You might want to do a review about these candies that are the Rolls Royce of the candy industry.

    They’re entertaining website tells it all… http://www.organiccandy.com

    Comment by Organic_Dad on 6/12/08 at 12:58 am #
  3. “The Rolls Royce of the candy industry”? I love it! Marketing speak is hilarious.

    Comment by Terry on 6/12/08 at 4:17 am #
  4. Cybele's avatar

    KateC - I tried Koeze once at a trade show, but haven’t found them in stores. They use white chocolate in the peanut butter center ... I’m always up for extra cocoa butter in my candy!

    Organic_Dad - since I began Candy Blog I have tagged the country of origin when available for every candy I’ve reviewed.

    I have reviewed Pure Fun, several times, several different products. There’s a search box there to the upper left if you’re ever curious about the 800+ items I’ve covered and a country category there to the lower left.

    Just a note, Organic_Dad - Pure Fun is a Canadian company.

    Also, brown rice syrup has a large amount of maltose in it, which may be worse for diabetics than sucrose because it is a disaccharide made up of two glucose molecules.

    Terry - I’ve had them, they’re just hard candies. There is no Rolls Royce of hard candy as hard candy is the Volkswagen of candy in the first place.

    Comment by Cybele on 6/12/08 at 5:17 am #
  5. I was worried the white choco would make the center too sweet on the Koeze, but the flavors are well balanced - nice and nutty. I stumbled on a box of these in a candy shop in Cambria, and they were expensive. So, they will never really replace regular Reese’s for me. But, they are now the standard for me.

    Comment by KateC on 6/12/08 at 10:26 am #
  6. Those sound simply delicious

    Comment by Candy Lover on 7/11/08 at 3:05 am #
  7. I only paid 2.59 at a Target in MI.

    Comment by Randi on 8/22/08 at 4:50 am #

    Comment by jim mason on 9/02/08 at 11:46 pm #
  9. This is the best peanut butter candy you ever made. The Reese’s select clusters are the best. If you have any coupon or free offers let me know.

    Thank You, Cathy

    Comment by Cathy Hocherl on 9/10/08 at 5:26 am #
  10. Reese’s select cluster, is this part o the peanut butter recall???

    Comment by J Tanner on 2/02/09 at 10:41 am #
  11. Cybele's avatar

    J Tanner - Hershey’s has made several public statements that they do not source their peanuts or peanut butter products from any of the affected sources.


    Comment by Cybele on 2/02/09 at 10:48 am #
  12. Reese’s Clusters are like crack, man.  I love them completely and wholly and i curse, daily, the co-worker who introduced me to them. Yes, the price is high but, DANG…they do soothe the savage beast in me during a crummy day at work. To top it off, I’m not a big chocolate fan nor a big fan of regular Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups!

    Comment by M on 1/02/10 at 3:02 pm #
  13. I just had one of these from my co-worker’s candy dish and they are really good. Thanks

    Comment by me on 1/13/11 at 11:58 am #
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