Monday, June 25, 2012

UNREAL #41 & #54 Candy Coated Chocolates

Unreal 41 Candy Coated Chocolates UnjunkedCandy coated chocolates are so simple, yet so many folks find many of the commercial ingredients objectionable. It seems like it would be easy to make a good chocolate lentil with all natural, wholesome ingredient. Yet, here we are in 2012, and I can’t say that I like any of the alternatives to M&Ms very much.

You can imagine that I greeted the new UNREAL candy line with a bit of trepidation and suspicion. After all, if it could be done, why isn’t it done? (Try Sundrops.)

The UNREAL line uses all natural ingredients, specifically no artificial colors, no preservatives, no GMOs and no hydrogenated oils. The two elements that are interest in the instance of M&Ms would be artificial colors (which can make some colors taste bad to some consumers and have been linked with hyperactivity and other sensitivities with some kids) and genetically modified organism.

M&Ms Milk Chocolate Ingredients: Milk Chocolate (sugar, chocolate, skim milk, cocoa butter, lactose, milkfat, soy lecithin, salt, artificial flavors), sugar, cornstarch, less than 1% corn syrup, gum acacia, coloring (includes Red 40 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6, Red 40, Blue 2 Lake, Yellow 5, Yellow 6 Lake, Blue 1, Blue 1 Lake, Blue 2), Dextrin.

Unreal 41 Candy Coated Chocolates

Part of what irritates me is their positioning of this candy on their website. They compare the candy to M&Ms and to a fresh peach. The listing of qualities below the specs for #41 Candy Coated Chocolates is:
No Corn Syrup
No Partially Hydrogenated Oil
No Artificial Ingredients
No GMOs
No Preservatives

Okay, that’s great. But to be fair, M&Ms do not have any partially hydrogenated oils and no preservatives. And a peach also has none of those (though I’d say that somewhere out there, there are GMO peaches, I don’t think they’re commercial at this time.) The comparisons are also a little skewed by the portion sizes. M&Ms are sold in bags of 1.69 ounces (47.9 grams) and UNREAL #41 are 1.5 ounces (42 grams). So the grid is not converted to a one to one comparison.

The little candies are pretty, and I appreciate that they don’t look as unnatural as I ofter regard M&Ms to be (the blue and red ones, especially). However, the colors are a little on the dark and morose side. Honestly, I don’t know why they have to be so dark, why couldn’t it just be a touch of color, instead of some sort of thick slathering of turmeric extract?

The lentils are slightly smaller than M&Ms but consistent for the most part and well made. The package protects them, they weren’t crushed or cracked.

Unreal 41 Candy Coated Chocolates

The flavor is interesting and far different from the wide appeal of M&Ms. They’re creamy and smooth, the melt is great and only slightly sticky. The crunchy shell is crisp and has a great dissolve, depending on your eating style. But the chocolate is where these little lentils are completely different from M&Ms or any other chocolate candy lentils.

The chocolate is smoky, rather dark and has a toffee and charcoal note from both the cocoa and milk. I get a lot of bitterness from it, something I noticed in the peanut butter cups, but it was well moderated by the peanut butter center. Here, it’s just the chocolate and the candy shell. I didn’t care for the intensity, however, I recognize that not all people detect bitterness in the same way. So some folks may find these delightful, I found they required a little more effort on my part to appreciate.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Unreal 54 Candy Coated Chocolates with Peanuts UnjunkedThe UNREAL #54 Candy Coated Chocolates with Peanuts have a consistent package with the rest of the UNREAL line, this one with a neon or highlighter green and yellow logo and little candies scattered across the front of the package.

This packet also holds 1.5 ounces with the same sticker price as the non-natural M&Ms which are 1.74 ounces.

Unreal 54 Candy Coated Chocolates with Peanuts

I’ve often found that Peanut M&Ms, though good, are not my favorite when given a choice. In this case, I preferred the UNREAL #54 to the UNREAL #41. The nuts were fresh, big and not roasted too dark. The bitterness of the chocolate was still there, but moderated by the savory characteristics of the peanuts.

Unreal 54 Candy Coated Chocolates with Peanuts

A curious item on the nutrition panel says that the Peanut variety has 45% of your daily value of Calcium and the Milk Chocolate one has 50% of your daily value. The full ingredients list shows that it’s not the milk that’s contributing that (M&Ms have about 4% of your DV), it’s Calcium Carbonate. (No source is given for that, is it oyster shell? Egg shells? Bone meal?) Full ingredients:

Ingredients: Milk Chocolate (chocolate, skim milk, cane sugar, cocoa butter, milk powder, organic blue agave inulin, soy lecithin, vanilla extract), Peanuts, Cane Sugar, Calcium Carbonate, Peanut Oil, Colored with (beetroot juice, turmeric root extract, purple cabbage juice), Gum Arabic, Vanilla Extract, Carnauba Wax & Beeswax

So, it still has that inulin stuff in it that I remarked about in the #77 Peanut Butter Cup review. It’s basically a nice, clean candy that has some nutritional fortification. Personally, I’d prefer just clean candy and let me get my nutrition elsewhere.

Rating: 8 out of 10

I like the line. I’m annoyed at the marketing and lack of true information (but they’re new and I’m still waiting for a response to my email on Saturday). But the candy is good, they’re on the right track and I’m excited about it. It would be fun to see where they go with it, if they create a few candies that are vegan as well, or at least dairy free.

UPDATE 9/17/2012: After many months and more than a half a dozen attempts to get answers from UNREAL, I did get a reply. Here is what I can tell you:
UNREAL works closely with a broker to secure cacao from co-ops in Ecuador and Ghana. They said, “Our Brokers on the ground work with them daily to ensure the best quality of product and that people and planet are not being damaged in the process.” There is no third party certification for any of this, so it is not certified fair trade or sustainable but they did say that there is an auditing process by the buyers.
UNREAL sources their milk from California (using no hormones or antibiotics) and the dried milk products from New Zealand.
UNREAL’s chocolate is made in the United States by “a family owned and operated chocolate company.” They declined to give an actual source.
UNREAL defended its use of inulin (which can cause digestive upset in some people and is considered a filler and may actually disqualify their chocolate coating from being called chocolate by FDA standards) saying that it lowers the glycemic load of the product.

Related Candies

  1. UNREAL #77 Peanut Butter Cups
  2. Nestle Skinny Cow Heavenly Crisp
  3. NewTree Dark Milk
  4. Hershey’s Drops: Milk Chocolate & Cookies n Creme
  5. Hershey-ets
  6. Sunspire Coconut Bars
  7. UK Smarties (no artificial colors)
  8. Best Intentions: Sun Drops
  9. Chocolate Sunflower Seed Drops


Name: #41 Candy Coated Chocolates
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: UNREAL
Place Purchased: CVS (Silver Lake)
Price: $1.19
Size: 1.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 133
Categories: All Natural, UNREAL, Chocolate, Kosher, 7-Worth It, United States, Sav-On/CVS


Name: #54 Candy Coated Chocolates with Peanuts
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: UNREAL
Place Purchased: CVS (Silver Lake)
Price: $1.19
Size: 1.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 127
Categories: All Natural, Candy, UNREAL, Chocolate, Kosher, Peanuts, 8-Tasty, United States, Sav-On/CVS

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:42 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry     All NaturalCandyReviewUNREALChocolateKosherPeanuts7-Worth It8-TastyUnited StatesSav-On/CVS

Comments
  1. Tried my local CVS, didn’t find. Has anyone tried this yet?

    Comment by Makai on 6/29/12 at 1:11 pm #
  2. I bought all of the UNREAL products a few weeks ago at Michael’s. I also noticed the bitterness of the #54 candies. However, they were so bitter that I was only able to eat two (hoping the first was just a fluke…) and then decided not to try the #41 candies. Not nearly as important, but almost all of the #54 candies had cracked shells and a few had part of the shell broken off.

    Comment by Lauren on 6/29/12 at 1:58 pm #
  3. Coated peanuts had a medicinal after taste.Peanut cups were not very chocolate.The packaging needs to appeal more to children. They look like high tech sports candies

    Comment by Ellen on 6/29/12 at 2:21 pm #
  4. Finally tried the Unreal chocolate candies (the milk chocolate “M&Ms; like” candy), and I LOVED it! I LOVE M&Ms; and I love these too! The shell is crisp and sweet, the chocolate is a tad different, less sweet, but simply delicious and satisfying! The chocolate reminds me of other all natural, health food brand chocolates (this is a good thing!). It’s worth a try! I’ll buy this again!

    Comment by Makai on 7/24/12 at 8:56 pm #
  5. Oh, and one more thing. . .I love the colors! Pretty, modern, cool! While the colors of M&Ms; always make me happy, the Unreal colors were pretty cool. And love that they’re colored naturally.

    Comment by Makai on 7/24/12 at 8:58 pm #
  6. Ok, one more comment. . .because the chocolate is less sweet, I feel I can taste the cocoa/cacao better.  Yes, the chocolate is different than my much-loved M&Ms;, but it is not bitter, in my opinion, it just think I can taste the truer cocoa flavor. I hope this brand does well, it’s great candy!

    Comment by Makai on 7/24/12 at 9:07 pm #
  7. I don’t buy much candy for my children due to all the crap they put in them. My youngest actually grabbed a bag of the Unreal 41 m&m looking ones. I have seen the display many times never thought anything of it because it was by the vitamins and stuff. I thought is was another energy health bar or something like that. She kept asking for Unreal 41 m&m’s. I thought why not since they have no dyes in them, which my youngest can’t have due to the reactions she gets. I opened them, she seemed to like them, so I tried one too.. They are great, we even tried the one like snickers and it was great too. I am so glad to find these and wish I would have a long time ago..

    Comment by Joanna on 8/15/12 at 1:02 pm #
  8. My local Kroger just got several displays of all of the varieties of Unreal candies. Didn’t know a thing about them beforehand and bought one of each kind.

    I’ve only tried the Unreal 54 (Peanut M&M type) and was truly impressed. They tasted pretty damn good and I even like them regular than regular M&Ms; which is a tough feat as I’ve tried many clones and nothing ever came close to them in my 32 years of enjoying them.

    I would buy these again.

    I’ll be trying the Snickers clone (Unreal 8) tomorrow.

    Comment by Gybano on 9/15/12 at 9:08 pm #
  9. Actually got hungry and tried the Snickers clone and it tasted decent but the texture and feeling of the candy in my mouth is vastly inferior to an actual Snickers bar.

    Would not buy again!

    Comment by Gybano on 9/15/12 at 11:14 pm #
  10. My kids (under age 9) and I love Unreal 54 (the only kind we’ve tried so far).
    The peanuts and the dark chocolate and the fruity taste from the natural coloring, are all nice. 
    I buy this product at Target and/or CVS and it’s usually reasonably priced.  Alas, officially certified sustainable cocoa tends to cost a lot more.  Would that M&M and Cadbury and Hershey used certified cocoa.
    I agree entirely that calcium carbonate is unnecessary, and that if it is added then they should indicate its source.  As a supplement, I buy calcium that’s not from bone meal.  The idea of eating bone meal feels gross.

    Thanks so much for reviewing this product. I’d rate it a 10 were it not for the mystery calcium carbonate.  If you ever find out the Ca origin, please let us know!

    Comment by momof2 on 4/12/13 at 11:37 am #
  11. Okay, the inulin may explain why my gi tract is doing somersaults 2 hours post eating. I agree the flavor is a bit bitter. There’s also a sense of maltiness. Can’t say I love them. Miss MMs but the artificial crap makes me edgy.

    Comment by Karyn on 11/08/13 at 5:17 pm #

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