Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Five years ago Mars introduced White Chocolate Candy Corn M&Ms for Halloween. It was probably one of their most successful seasonal flavors to date, with my evidence amounting to the fact that it’s been five years and they keep returning. Other flavors come and go, but these just keep coming back, like candy corn itself.
This year there’s a new Halloween flavor at Target called M&Ms Boo-tterscotch which are rather similar. They’re also a white chocolate center, but instead of bland note of candy corn these have a strong flavor of butterscotch. These are a Target exclusive, but like other flavors, if they go well, we might see them released to other stores in future seasons.
While Candy Corn is absolutely a fall flavor, this Boo-ttercotch, aside from the pun, doesn’t really have much in common with Halloween.
The pieces come in three creamy butterscotchy colors: an eggshell white, a burnt yellow and a creamy brown.
The smell when opening the bag is overwhelmingly buttery sweet, but not the buttered popcorn smell that I got from the Candy Corn Peeps. It’s pleasant and comforting, if you’re the type of person who likes butterscotch pudding. I’m one of those people.
The smell is a bit woodsy, a bit like pecan pie but also a little more fake like Brach’s Butterscotch Buttons. They’re absolutely just flavored, not a sublime scorched sugar flavor like Valrhona created for their dark white chocolate called Blond Dulcey. The authentic toffee notes and deep creaminess of a good Budino are thin here ... but they’re M&Ms.
I bought some Candy Corn M&Ms to compare, just to be sure that they weren’t the same thing, but after I opened the Boo-tterscotch I realized that really wasn’t necessary. The Candy Corn M&Ms are unflavored compared to these.
I liked them, but I’m a white chocolate lover. They’re sweet and sticky and fake. They’re pretty to look at, a bit expensive (the special flavors are in 8 ounce packages while the regular are mostly 9.9 ounces) and of course in limited supply and sold only at Target.
They’re probably good to mix in with other snack items, especially things like salty peanuts, pretzels or popcorn. I could also see them going with regular M&Ms, just as a little bolt of extra sweet.
Monday, September 12, 2016
The newest brand extension for Hot Tamales, made by Just Born (the company that also makes Peeps and Mike and Ike) are Hot Tamales Licorice Bites. The concept of cinnamon flavored licorice is not new, Twizzlers has had them on and off over the years, and smaller companies like Kenny’s Licorice have also sold cinnamon licorice twists. However, as far as I know, Hot Tamales Licorice Bites are the only cinnamon licorice in stores now.
Since they came out, I’ve picked up three bags. So, consider this your review spoiler that I like these.
The format is very simple, they’re little licorice nibs, like stubby slices of thick licorice twists. There’s a little hole in the center.
The texture is very similar to Twizzlers. It’s’ rubbery and crumbly and not really like anything considered food.
The cinnamon flavor is pleasantly warm with a little sizzle to it at times, like a zap from a static charge. They do tend to stick my teeth ... and the smell of them will contaminate any other food stuffs nearby. But I found them rather addictive. They’re not terribly sweet (in fact there’s 100 mg of sodium in each serving) and since they’re made from wheat flour, they’re also a bit more satisfying than straight sugar candy like the regular Hot Tamales.
These are a nice addition to the Hot Tamales line, similarly easy to eat and share. I hope they stick around.
Wednesday, September 7, 2016
HiCHEW have become popular around the world since their introduction in 1975, they’re produced in several countries, including a new factory in the United States. Morinaga introduced HiCHEW Sours earlier this year. I had a hard time finding them in stores, though plenty of the shops near me carry the regular mixes (tropical, fruits and all strawberry) including Target and 7-11. Eventually I tracked them down in Little Tokyo at a store called Daiso, which is kind of like a dollar store, except most things are a dollar fifty.
Currently HiCHEW Sours come in the format of individually sealed pieces in bags (not wrapped bars). The packages include random ratios of Lemon, Grapefruit and Lime. (I assume they’re random because I bought two bags and got far more lime in one bag than another.)
Usually when I get a flavor mix, I find that I don’t like a fair fraction of the flavors. There are only three in this mix, but they’re all citrus flavors, so that’s an exceptionally promising start. It’s also refreshing to see the flavor lime being introduced in this day and age when apple is so usually favored.
I’ll start with the star: Grapefruit. This citrus flavor is no stranger to Japanese candies, as it appears quite commonly in candies. These are packaged in pink, and like the regular HiCHEW these are two colors. This is inverted though for the sours. The outside is colored and the inside is white. The immediate scent is zesty and the flavor is both tangy and bitter. The texture of the Grapefruit starts our similar to the traditional HiCHEW, rather smooth. But it quickly becomes grainy though still very chewy with a flavor that lasts until it dissolves.
The Lime is a rather strange green, light and minty looking. The flavor itself is a weird throwback. It tastes like the seventies to me, though I can’t put my finger on why. The limeade flavor is similar to the Lemon, but there’s more zest to it, though not the same type of bitterness that the Grapefruit had.
I enjoyed all three flavors and really didn’t care by the time I got to the second bag what flavor I picked out. They were all tart enough to get my taste buds tingly, but not so acidic to blister my tongue after eating ten or so.
It might be my imagination, but I feel like the chew doesn’t last as long for the sours. It could be that the sourness makes more saliva, so they dissolve quicker. But one of the great features of HiCHEW is that it’s almost like gum, the bouncy, latexy chew lasts a long time and the flavor never declines. These hold their flavor to the very end, but the texture is just not the same. Not a bad thing, just not the same thing.
Friday, September 2, 2016
Since Labor Day is here, it’s the last opportunity to review a few summer candies. Mars introduced a new version of their revived Crispy M&Ms with their Crispy M&Ms S’mores.
This version comes, as far as I can tell, only in the larger bags, no single servings. The bag itself is green, just like the regular Crispy M&Ms, though a large part of the front is shaded in a toasty marshmallow brown.
The object of the flavor, as far as I can tell from the illustration, is to add the flavors and maybe textures of S’mores to the M&Ms. The chocolate is already there in a regular M&M,and of course Crispy M&Ms already have a cookie center, so this is all a good start conceptually.
The pieces come in three colors, a nice choice to evoke the marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers that go into a S’more. Upon opening the bag though, I found that they smelled ... a lot. The scent definitely has elements of graham crackers - a sort of maple and fake butter note. Then there’s a more buttery toffee note that I think is supposed to be the toasted marshmallow. But it all comes off overwhelmingly like a seasonal Yankee Candle.
The pieces are lumpy and inconsistently formed ... not like the smooth and regular Milk Chocolate M&Ms I’ve come to rely upon. Even though some are moderately spherical, they are still too lumpy to roll around on a flat surface ... so that’s a plus.
The flavor seems much sweeter than the regular Crispy M&Ms, though it could just be that there’s far more vanilla flavoring in there, which always makes me think things are sweet. It’s a soft sweetness, not too throat searing. The graham flavor is pleasant ... they’re not terrible, but I was really turned off my the smell. Once I let the package sit open over a weekend, it wasn’t too bad.
The odd thing was that I expected the crispy center to actually have something “graham” to it, but it looks the same and when I pulled some pieces apart, the center really tasted no different from the airy, ricey and slightly malty version in the regular Crispy M&Ms.
S’more are really about a whole immersion into the process of making them and then eating them hot. Reducing them to the neat and tidy candy coated morsels takes most of the risk away (no one gets burned, no one messes up any clothes) and also all the challenge. I have the ability to make S’mores in my home at any time, but I don’t, because they’re really about the environment that you create them in.
I’ll stick to the standard Peanut M&Ms for now ... or Almond M&Ms if I’m lucky enough to find them in stores.
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
How about something tangy? In this episode from last month, Maria and I talk about the never-duplicated LemonHeads and their companion candies.
You can check out the full show notes here.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.