Thursday, May 25, 2006

All Smiles

imageInstead of just the normal fundraising candy bars, Smiles by Joanie’s Smiles are are chocolate bars infused with tea and other natural flavors that stand on their own as tasty treats. The hook here with the fundraising aspect is that money from the sale of each bar goes to Operation Smile which sends volunteer medical teams all over the globe to repair facial deformities in kids and adults. I was approached to taste the bars a couple of months ago, so I’ve had a lot of time with them (I was waiting for their website to be up and for them to be more widely available).

The bars were very simply produced - two ounces each, wrapped in foil and then a paper overwrap. The bar is pre-scored into 12 little pieces with each embossed with the smiles script logo. No gimmicky packaging, just tried and true presentation. It’s the flavors that count here ... so let me count off the flavors to you:

White Chocolate

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Rosemary Hibiscus Tea - I was certain I wouldn’t like this one before I even tried it. I’m not a big fan of hibiscus, so how could combining it with rosemary (a rather savory and strong herb) and white chocolate be a good idea? Frankly, after the first bite I didn’t like it. The hibiscus gave the white chocolate a yogurt tang but without any satisfying fruit flavor to go with it. Then I took a few more bites and the rosemary flavor really grew on me and took center stage. It’s not terribly sweet and doesn’t give me a sore throat like bad white chocolate does ... it was smooth and creamy and had a little sass to it.

Pistachio-Green Tea - this tastes an awful lot like green tea ice cream. Soothing and leafy with a definite dairy and vanilla quality. It says pistachio, but I only got the slightest nutty feel to the bar. It’s a tad bit on the sweet side, but also a really nice combination of flavors.

Milk Chocolate

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Cranberry-Ginger Tea - mellow milk chocolate with a smooth and creamy consistency with a spicy, lowgrade burn of ginger. Later the tannin and cranberry notes come out in a lingering berry bite. The bar has the woodsy, rooty smell of ginger. There are the occasionally grainy bits from the tea, but this is a pretty smooth and zesty bar.

Wild Raspberry Tea - it smells like raspberry and has the floral flavor to it. The milk chocolate, which can often have a tart bite also helps to bring out the fruitiness and berry notes here. There are also the occasional fruit bits in there, giving it a chewy tart burst. The chocolate has not dairy milkiness that I usually associate with milk chocolate, instead it’s smooth and a little fudgy.

Dark Chocolate

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Coconut-Green Tea - this bar smells like summer. Profuse wafts of coconut emanate from this bar, just sitting next to it reminds me of those girls who would come to the pool but never swim. They’d sit together with their sunkissed hair and lanky bodies slathered with tanning oil ... something I could never use. (If there were a freckle oil, well, then we might have something.) That toasted, glossy association translates well to this dark bar. Smooth and buttery, the tea takes a backstage to the coconut, which brings only flavor here, there are no chewy bits.

Herbal Chai Tea - this bar smells like I’ve stepped into a spice shop. It’s all warm and woodsy: cinnamon, fennel, orange and a little rooty waft of ginger. A little bit grainy because of the real spices in there, it’s still quite smooth and bursting with different flavors. The cinnamon dominates, but the fennel and black pepper are still discernible. The tea here is the Amber Roobios, which brings its own floral/fruity notes. It’s quite a riot of flavors in there.

My favorites in order (as determined by which I finished first) were the Pistachio-Green Tea White Chocolate, Herbal Chai Dark Chocolate, Coconut-Green Tea Dark Chocolate, Rosemary Hibiscus White Chocolate and last the Wild Raspberry Milk Chocolate.

I have to congratulate Joanie for coming up with such interesting flavor combinations but I think if there’s one thing that I find a drawback to them, it’s the price ... however, unlike many high-end bars, there is nowhere else to get a Hibiscus Rosemary White Chocolate or Coconut Green Tea Dark Chocolate bar, so they’ve cornered that end of the market.

The bars are now on sale at Whole Foods and soon at Bristol Farms and Gelson’s (SoCal) markets as well as through Amazon (click through on their website). Amazon doesn’t seem to offer an assortment pack or sales by the box, which is too bad because I really didn’t know which I was going to like by the description. They were just introduced last week, so they may be adding more purchase variations.

Name: Joane's Smiles: White, Milk & Dark Chocolate Tea Infused Bars
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Joanie's Smiles
Place Purchased: samples from manufacturer
Price: $2.49 each
Size: 2 ounces
Calories per ounce: 154 (white)/147 (milk)/133 (dark)
Categories: Chocolate, Ginger, Nuts, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:35 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

Comments
  1. Hi Cybele,
    I learned about your candyblog.net from the owner of Bubble Chocolate, as I am the company’s publicist. Nice job! I like your blog and enjoyed seeing your digital photographs of the sea mammals. In a past life I was a 35 mm photographer but not savvy with digital. I’ll keep you on my favorites, and check in with you from time to time. If you have time to meet at the All Candy Expo, would love to set up a time.
    Also attending as a media outlet for my email newsletter for the trade - http://www.patmagee.com/newsletter/candygram.htm

    Comment by Pat Magee on 5/25/06 at 1:22 pm #
  2. hey there Cybele, I found your blog some odd weeks ago and have been checking it out regularly since then. A big lover of sweets and chocolates myself, I find your blog and reviews to be simply fascinating and a great read! Although I must say… Trying to stay faithful to my diet of only one or two small sweets a week becomes exceedingly difficult everytime I come onto this page lol!
    cheers!
    P.S. Have you tried any of the efrutti gummi candies? They usually come in the form of gummi hamburgers, hotdogs, and pizza’s. They are just so great, maybe you would like them too?

    Comment by Leanna on 5/25/06 at 2:55 pm #
  3. omg…. 2 of my favorite things combined…. must try these

    Comment by erin on 5/25/06 at 3:01 pm #
  4. These sound so good.  And for a great cause.  A must try. 

    An aside: When I was growing up, my next door neighbor, a children’s dentist, was one of the original people jetting around the world to do these surgeries. (Operation Smile was founded in my hometown). He took his son with him to the Philippines one year and now that son is a plastic surgeon in practice with the founder of Operation Smile.  Just a little useless trivia.

    Comment by Karen on 6/24/06 at 9:16 pm #
  5. I tried the ginger cranberry and the coconut green tea today.  I actually really liked the ginger bar—it tasted like a chocolate-coated ginger snap, and I happen to be very fond of ginger snaps.

    The coconut bar was fine, but a bit too sweet for me.  Next time I’ll try the chai and the white choc.

    Comment by Karen on 6/29/06 at 7:57 pm #

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