Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Russell Stover Heart

imageLast year I was pleasantly surprised by Russell Stovers Cream Eggs. I still haven’t been eating their mixed boxes of chocolates, but the fact that they were making good quality product at a rather low price really captured my attention.

Now, I’m still not a boxed chocolates fan. See’s is probably the exception because I like just about everything they make, but I’ve been hesitant to try Russell Stover, especially after the middle of the road experience with the Whitman’s Sampler (RS & Whitman’s are now the same company). But this is All Valentines Week and it wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t have at least a little bit. So I picked up the smallest Russell Stover Assorted Chocolates I could find.


I figured the little cup here was a coconut and milk chocolate mix, similar to the Coconut Wreath I had last year for the Christmas season. The coconut is crisp and the milk chocolate is creamy and not-too-sweet. I rather like things that come in little cups like this, they’re more appealing that some plop shaped items and easy to bite off a bit and leave the rest in the cup.

The square chocolate is a firm caramel covered in milk chocolate. It’s nice, it could use more salt, but the texture is just perfect. Smooth, chewy and with a good buttery flavor.

The dark oval is a fudge center. It had a good caramel tone to it, but very little chocolatey taste.

Overall the assortment was fresh and looked very appealing. They were a little too ordinary to capture my tastebuds and compel me to pick up the next one (isn’t it the anticipation in a box of chocolates that’s supposed to be appealing?). If you’re looking for a little something to give as a gift or thank you (like coworkers or classmates, etc.), I don’t think people would be insulted by these. If you catch them on sale (as I did), they’re probably cheaper than a greeting card (and have a little “to & from” label on the bottom). These are definitely preferable to the Elmer’s I had yesterday (so splurge for the Russell Stover if you must buy these little boxes) and the label lists no trans fats.

Russell Stover also has an organic line. I picked up some pecan turtles (not wrapped for any particular holiday) that I’ll get to reviewing soon.

Name: Assorted Chocolates (Heart Box)
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Russell Stover
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park)
Price: $.99
Size: 1.75 ounces
Calories per ounce: 137
Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, Coconut, United States, Russell Stover

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:30 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. these do look and sound nicer that yesterdays :o)

    Comment by A on 2/07/07 at 7:14 am #
  2. That sucks that Russell Stover and Whitman’s are the same - I’ve always hated Whitman’s and loved Russell Stover. I’m a big fan of their collections (especially when there isn’t a See’s around) and mostly their vanilla cream egg. I can’t wait until Easter!

    Comment by Elspeth on 2/07/07 at 10:03 am #
  3. Russell Stover and Whitman’s have been the same for years.  If you ever liked one and not the other, it must’ve been psychological.  I’m pretty sure that the factory here made both, and that was no difference.

    Comment by Dave on 2/07/07 at 3:47 pm #
  4. Cybele's avatar

    A - I actually didn’t finish the Elmer’s box (the two fruit ones) because I was worried about the trans fats ... I ate all of this box!

    Elspeth - well, they’re not exactly the same thing, they’re just made by the same company. Similar things happened with Harry London and Fanny May.

    Dave - I think the big difference is the variety of the chocolates. I think Whitmans and RS have slightly different assortments ... so any allegiance should probably be for those items that are unique.

    The biggest key though is, as I’m finding, the freshness. An old box of ANY chocolates is just disappointing and I think it’s very easy to get these candies after their prime or store improperly.

    Comment by Cybele on 2/12/07 at 8:29 am #
  5. Whitman’s already make an assorted box of chocolate, which is great.  I wish Russell Stover’s would make a box of their mixed creams sugar free. I think Russell Stover’s is missing the boat for a lot of us diabetics. I suggest the creams since Whitman’s already has an assortment already why compete, the creams are great and would be good for seniors or anyone else that is diabetic.

    Comment by Laurel R. Zapolski on 8/07/07 at 8:58 am #
  6. The Russell Stover boxed chocolates are excellent!  Check the box (I always do), and you will find that they are made in the U.S. 

    I refuse to buy the Hershey’s Pot of Gold boxed chocolates because they are bland and Made in Mexico.  Boo on Hershey’s. 

    Elmer’s chocolates just plain suck.  No burst of chocolate flavor and the centers are no good.  The packaging always looks too embarrassingly cheap to give as a gift. 

    Have you tried the Russell Stover bags that stand up on the shelf?  They have at least three flavors that they call Internationale.  Those are the best chocolates I have ever had, bar none!  My favorite is called German Black Forest something or other.  You can get them for $2.99 at Walgreen’s. Please review those items and see if you agree with me.

    Comment by Elmer Stinko on 10/13/07 at 5:41 pm #
  7. I’ve no idea how ANYONE can say Russel Stover still tastes good! Several years ago they changed the formulation of the chocolate, and now with it’s decidedly, and quite honestly “chemical” liquor aftertaste, I sadly threw away the huge 2 pound heart rather than subject myself to the misery that is now Russel Stover.

    Market forces being what they are (and we are ALL to blame for it), I still find it a shame that a company must reduce quality rather than raise their prices and continue to produce a good product. I’ve been eating Russel Stover since I was a child back in the late 60’s early 70’s and still enjoyed them, well enough, until this rather blatant change.  Chalk down another victim of the “race to the bottom” in the manufactured foods industry.

    I am now reduced to eating only the chocolate from the one local made chocolate shop that has still survived against the ever growing preference of consumers for volume over quality (the last one of four “self-made” Candy shops we used to patronize).

    Comment by Wilmington on 9/25/08 at 5:04 am #
  8. my wife is a diabetic. I allways bought her candy from you on special days.All went well   till Vallentine day. Why dont you put diabetic candy { sugar free] in the big hearts? We have been together for 42 years. Thank you
                          Rick Frieszell

    Comment by rick frieszell on 1/19/09 at 3:02 pm #
  9. My issue with Russell Stover (and with other mass produced chocolates that come in heart shaped boxes) is the lack of actual chocolate in them. Every year the price goes up, the quality of the chocolate and fillings go down and the number of chocolates in the boxes falls. I can remember when the boxes contained chocolates in paper cups and the box had at least twenty chocolates in it. Now that number is less than ten chocolates in a plastic inner bin, for twice the price. I understand the need to recoup the cost of the raw materials to make said chocolates, and I understand the concept of cutting costs per unit either by giving us fewer units or degrading the unit by substituting cheaper ingredients, but enough is enough. I feel ripped off buying these.

    Comment by CJ on 2/15/11 at 7:31 pm #
  10. Cybele's avatar

    CJ - I agree with you.

    I understand inflation and rising costs as well, I’m a realist and understand that I can’t pay the same price in 2011 for a box of chocolates that I did in 1991. But I agree with your point that they have compromised in all ways - the box is cheap, the product is inferior, the price went up and you get less. If they just kept the quality the same, at least then I’d know that I could still buy what I like.

    I prefer the Russell Stover small seasonal items to their boxed chocolates. And if I’m going to buy a box of chocolates, I’m going to go with See’s, at least I’ll be confident about the quality.

    Comment by Cybele on 2/15/11 at 7:35 pm #
  11. As a former R.S.C. employee I can tell you that the chocolate used in Whitman’s,and Russell Stovers are identical. However the filling recipes do carry from brand to brand. I can also say that the difference between R.S.C. and R.S.C. Private reserve chocolate is purely cosmetic. Again the fillings differ but it is due to the tempering and molding process that the chocolate is more shiny. I will also say having worked there I no longer eat there candy and all who know me well know its an insult if I give it.

    Comment by stacy on 11/03/13 at 12:27 am #
  12. I just tasted a piece in Whitman’s chocolate samplers. Very chemically taste to it, like frieken windex! I looked it up to complain and found that Russell Stover owns them, figures. Disgusting taste, the whole box is a waste. We got it for Christmas too. This sucks. I will never buy Russell Stover’s or their brands.

    Comment by Joe on 12/29/13 at 5:47 pm #
  13. I live in Australia and we bought several boxes of these Russell Stover big red boxed chocolates for family but never again! To start with they are Whitman’s Sampler chocolates yet no mention of that on the box. Secondly, like Whitman’s, the chocolates just about all taste the same. YUCK! I was fooled by the box and the new name - well new to us. Thank goodness we have better choc selections downunder that have strawberry, lemon, pineapple, Turkish Delight, fruit nougat fills and not 90% stodgy caramel butter.

    Comment by Wes Smith on 2/16/14 at 1:51 pm #
  14. As a former RSC employee, I can tell you exactly why you are tasting a chemical taste.  There can be several reasons.  Number 1 is the chemicals they use to clean the lines down with, that the candy are placed on.  The second reason is there have been numerous leaks of highly toxic anhydrous ammonia in their plants. They turn off the alarms, so that employees can’t leave, because it would stop production.  They also use a pesticide in their nut fumigation that has no odor.  These nuts are sorted, taken immediately into the hopper room & then onto the floor into candies.  Pesticides are also sprayed routinely in the plant, with little thought to product or employee safety.  Thus, the anhydrous ammonia, methyl bromide & pesticides leak into the production areas.  Both the Corsicana, Tx. plant & Iola, Ks. plant were cited & fined by OSHA for serious violations involving chemicals in their plants.  Take the time to research what products you’re eating - even candy like RSC.  Just because they portray themselves as a family owned candy business, they are nothing more than the average greedy corporation that will make a bug, no matter who pays the ultimate price.  Even if it affects your health.

    RSC used to be a good candy company, when the parents owned & ran the business.  But, once Scott & Tom Ward took over, it was no longer about quality, but quantity.  They pretend to be charitable - especially to KU, but treat their employees like modern day slaves.  If they become ill, due to a work place injury or illness, they fire them, since they only build plants in states where they don’t have to have a reason to fire an employee.  I saw many good employees leave the plant after RSC practices injured them or made them sick.  I saw many employees that ended up with cancer, after being exposed to toxins.  But, employee health didn’t matter to RSC, because there would always be another unsuspecting person, that needed a job to fill that slot.

    Once RSC was hit by the big fines, from OSHA, the Ward family sold their corporation (this year) to Lindt.  Just a little more info you might find interesting is that RSC just didn’t make RSC & Whitman’s candy, they also made Pangburn’s.

    Comment by DJ on 12/19/14 at 12:26 am #
  15. Whitman’s Marshmallow Star seasonal milk chocolate individually packaged piece of candy tasted so vile that I couldn’t spit it out fast enough. It tasted just like harsh chemical products smell. I’m so glad I didn’t swallow a whole bite but the tiny amount that got into my throat burned severely and my throat is still sore 24 hours later. I’m not blaming Whitman’s but something awful was wrong with that candy.

    Comment by Sandy 1/27/15 on 1/27/15 at 10:45 am #
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