Monday, July 25, 2005
I’m as big a fan of novelty items as the next person, but what always disappoints me is that the actual product rarely matches the packaging. Here’s an exception. CandyWarehouse gifted me with these incredibly cute poker themed chocolates. There are playing card mint truffles and milk chocolate poker chips. Poker, as we know, is all the rage, with tourneys going on all over the country and of course those crazy celebrities getting in on it. If you’re like me, you’ve probably played for pretzel sticks at some point in your life. While playing with real food is dangerous (because you’re likely to eat your winnings), it’s also a bit more fun (at least to me) than playing for money.
These chocolate poker chips come in a clear plastic tray that you could actually use for racking real chips. Like chocolate coins, the disk of milk chocolate is held inside a foil top and bottom. The chocolates themselves have no embossing, so their value is lost once you unwrap them (or is it?). The milk chocolate is creamy and smooth, very sweet and would be a great complement for other card playing snacks like pretzels.
For folks who are seriously interested in using these as real chips, you’d better pick up the 5 lb version. The high-stakes chips are like the mint chocolate cards below.
These were seriously good and I’ve had to restrain myself. Think of a giant Andes Mints. Because of the dastardly heat wave here in SoCal, I’ve been keeping these in the fridge and they’re wonderful served that way (I don’t usually like chilled chocolate). The mint is very strong and the chocolate combo (two layers of semi-sweet chocolate with a minted white chocolate in the middle) is just right. It melts easily on the tongue and refreshes.
The face card theme is fun (but entirely unnecessary in my opinion). Forget poker with these, I’d prefer to play blackjack with them and keep having the dealer hit me.
If I were going with a Vegas themed party, I’d absolutely order some of these up because the chocolate was of good quality and the packaging was very well done.
Ratings - Poker Chips - 7 out of 10 (I think the mint chocolate chips would be 8s)
Saturday, July 23, 2005
Here it is, the neatest thing to hit candy since citric acid. That’s right, the ultra-cheap LED technology is now being applied to candy. Malibu Toys has created a whole line of light up candies, with the Finger Lites as the center of the line. They have other products, like clip ons and necklaces, but they’re based around the same center of a battery hooked up to an LED. Personally, of all the formats I prefer the ring, since I really don’t want a slobbery piece of hard candy hanging around my neck and getting lint stuck to it.
The ring comes sealed in a little plastic pouch. To activate the light, you pull out a little paper tab that allows the battery to make contact with the wiring for the LED. Then it starts flashing. And flashing. The package says it will stay lit for at least two hours. Mine is still flashing and it’s been a week since I pulled the tab and ate the lolly.
I picked an orange one, though they come in a large variety of colors/flavors and have themed shapes for different holidays (Easter means bunnies and duckies, Halloween means vampires and pumpkins). The orange one was a little bland, not terribly tart or flavorful, but then again, it’s a novelty.
Would I buy this again? Hell yes, I’m planning my next party around them. I think the cool thing to do is probably figure a way to hang up the eaten ones on a string or something (maybe I’ll do it for a Christmas party and hang them on the tree). Some convenience stores are refusing to carry Finger Lites because they think that kids will chew up the LED/Battery. I’m one of those people who can’t help but chew up my hard candy and had no trouble telling the difference between the candy and the hard plastic housing for the light. In fact, I don’t think I could break it with my teeth if I tried. I’m wondering if those convenience store people tried them.
I know, I know, it’s not a terribly eco-friendly product either. Forgive me, I usually make good choices when it comes to that stuff, but I couldn’t help myself.
This candy gets points mostly for novelty, not taste, but it’s still a winner in my book.
Rating - 8 out of 10
Friday, July 22, 2005
It’s a like a dream come true. Someone’s combined one of my favorite candies with one of my favorite flavors.
Well, it’s the thought that counts.
Ginger Bears are gummi bears with real ginger in them. That’s why they’re kind of cloudy looking. I’m not sure if that expains why they smell like photoprocessing chemicals. Not the bears themselves, just when you smell them in the bag. I know that ginger in and of itself doesn’t have a great scent, kind of like wet earth. But this was more of a chemical smell and might be from the bag itself. I took a few out and let them air out on the desk, they seemed fine after that.
These bears are a bit larger than the ones we’re used to from Trolli or Haribo. They’re also not quite a gummi, think Swedish fish, really. But, they’re very spicy, not too sweet and are decently priced.
What I like about them is that they’re not sticky. While I like the Ginger People’s and Chimes’ Ginger Chews, they are very sticky and might one day yet pull out some of my fillings. These are soft, chewy but with a good consistency and not the slightest bit sticky. They could use a little work on the appearance but other than that, they’re a solid recommend as long as you keep your nose out of the bag.
Rating - 7 out of 10
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Name: Mike and Ike Orange ‘n Cream
Mike and Ikes are made by the Just Born candy company. They make such love-‘em-or-hate-‘em products as Marshmallow Peeps, Hot Tamales and now Goldenberg Peanut Chews.
Now, this review probably comes a little late as I’ve found no mention of these on their website (that’s what I get for shopping at the 99 Cent Only Store). They’re a special edition of Mike and Ikes in Orange ‘n Cream.
Think of a chilly orange creamsicle.
Then think of orange aspergum.
It’s somewhere in between.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Mike and Ikes are great. Well, I’ve loved Hot Tamales for years. They were like the original Jelly Bellys because they actually put lots of flavor into the candies instead of those bland jelly beans that were on the market before. In fact, Just Born makes a line of Teenee Beanees.
Mike and Ike also put out a limited flavor last year called Root Beer which I liked in principle but not in practice. However, Just Born did the right thing by making the hotter version of Hot Tamales.
So, to sum up, don’t buy really old candy that’s been discontinued. They probably stopped making it for a reason.
Rating - 4 out of 10
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Name: Chocolates made with Icewine
Name: Maple Chocolate Truffles
My husband recently went to Vancouver and picked up these Canadian themed candies. The truffles are maple flavored and the Icewine chocolates are in the shape of maple leaves.
First, as far as I’m concerned a chocolate truffle is defined as the following: a soft chocolate made by combining good quality chocolate with cream and butter. It melts at a lower temperature than chocolate and is therefore extremely fatty and tasty. Chocolate truffles are usually covered in chocolate, so as to contain the melty insides (some places will just roll them in cocoa, but then they’re prone to melting and sticking together).
It’s hot right now in Los Angeles and at eighty degrees inside the house, the innards of these truffles should have been more yielding. As it was, they were more the solid consistency of say, a frango. Basically just another flavored and rather solid chocolate inside a chocolate shell.
That said, I think maple is a great flavor. It’s woodsy and sweet and reminds me of, well, maple. There’s not much else like maple. These were very mapley and extremely sweet. I think if I were inventing these I’d keep the center throat-searingly sweet but coat them in dark chocolate as a little respite. The chocolate was good quality but not excellent. As a gift from Canada, I think they were great, but it’s not something I’ll seek out next time I go up north.
Next up was a long box of chocolates with a tray of little maple leaf-shaped molded chocoaltes with a filling flavored with Icewine. I didn’t know what icewine was so out to the internet I go (and by the way, the website listed on the box is um, bad). Turns out icewine is made from grapes left on the vine through the winter (so maybe it’s really raisin wine?).
The idea of a cream center flavored with this sweet white wine is great. The chocolate shell was nice, a crisp milky chocolate. The center was not too large (sometimes a large center that’s really sweet kind of ruins the ratio of chocolate to filling) and smelled vaguely of fruit. However, there was something a little off. I tasted the fruity wine notes distinctly, but I also tasted plastic. I’m not sure if it was the tray that they were packaged in or what, but they were a little off. I ate them anyway, but didn’t find it a good combo.
Ratings - Chocolates made with Icewine - 5 out of 10
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Name: Nestle Toll House Candy Bars
If you’ve got a jones for sugar and something a little more satisfying than a candy bar, this might be the thing. Inside is a dense, crumbly cookie bar topped with caramel then a few chocolate chips and all enrobed in sweet milk chocolate.
The cookie part of the treat was least impressive. Because it was so thick it lacked that cookie feel and tasted more like a blondie and had no strong flavor of its own besides sweet. The caramel was non-existent, as it’d been absorbed by the cookie part and had no distinct chewy-ness to it. The occassional chocolate chip was a nice addition as it provided some actual flavor. The milk chocolate coating is all sweet and milky, but no real chocolate taste. What makes a Toll House cookie is the balance of the sweet and bland cookie to the complex pop of the dark chips.
There’s none of that here.
However, I still enjoyed the bar and found it rather satisfying. If I had anything to say about it, I think I’d suggest leaving the caramel out and maybe making the cookie just a smidge saltier. I’ll give the brownie bar a try to see if the flavor balance on that one is bit better. I’ve also seen that Hershey started selling cookies a while back (I’ve had the York ones and enjoyed them quite a bit) so I’ll have to check those out.
Rating - 6 out of 10
Name: Mikakuto Osushi Gummy
This has got to be one of the cutest candies I have ever seen. It’s gummi sushi. The fish is little fruit-flavored gummies, the rice is marshmallow and there’s a little chocolate goo inside the marshmallow (I’m not sure what that’s supposed to be).
Inside the box are eight individually sealed pieces. There’s a huge variety. As far as I can tell: a grape octopus, a pineapple roe, a raspberry tuna, a green apple something (looked kinda like edamame, but you don’t usually have that on rice), a berry shrimp ... I think that’s about it. I’m guessing the variety differs depending on random chance. There’s a little guide on the inside of the lid ... in Japanese, but at least it shows you all the varieties.
The gummi part is very fragrant, soft and fresh. The marshmallow is a really nice complement to the tart gummi, but the chocolate center just kind of ruins it for me.
As a gift or stocking stuffer, this is great. It’s novel and well packaged (easy to wrap) and the images on it are really cute. It’s a little expensive, but I’d be willing to buy something like this for the right person. For just eating, I’ll probably stick to regular gummi bears.
Interesting fact from wrapper: no MSG!
Rating - 7 out of 10 (because of the price and funky chocolate filling)
Monday, July 18, 2005
Now, when I was a kid there was a candy called Oompa-Loompas and they were nothing like this. Well, they were something like this - they came in a bag and were about the same size as these but they were like a mash-up of M&Ms and Reese’s Pieces (this is all a vague recollection, correct me if I’m wrong). When you bit into the little disks (like fat, large, plain M&Ms) the top layer was peanut butter cream and the bottom was milk chocolate and it was all covered in a bright candy shell.
Wonka discontinued those pretty quickly.
Now we’ve got the new Oompas which are pretty much jumbo Skittles.
Oompas are brightly colored and about the size of garbanzo beans (about two or three times the size of Skittles). Where most of us eat two or three Skittles at a time, I’d probably only eat one of these at a time. Thus losing out on one of the great things of Skittles which is flavor combos - you put a lemon and lime in your mouth at the same time. Generally with Skittles consumption I spill the bag out on my desk and separate them and eat pairs of comparable flavors - citrus with citrus, although lemon can be combined with grape or strawberry, etc.
Okay, enough with the Skittles comparisons. Oompas come in six flavors: Green Apple, Cherry, Lemon, Orange, Grape and Strawberry. What’s especially interesting about eating these is that they’re very sweet when you start to chew and they get more sour and zesty as you go (which is the opposite in most chews). Though I don’t care for the intense sweet start, these have a nice finish and are less grainy that some other chews. Think of them more like Starbursts than Skittles.
My thing about these assorted flavor packages of stuff is that I invariably only like a few of the flavors. I don’t care for the cherry at all, though it does have a strong flavor. I didn’t like the strawberry or green apple either, and again, that’s personal preference, I’m not saying they were bad. What I did like was the orange and lemon and the grape was just okay. If I liked the majority of the flavors, I think I’d be able to give this a higher rating. As it is, they’re pretty good and I wouldn’t turn them down if you put a big bowl in front of me and I could discreetly pick out the flavors I like.
Interesting fact from the wrapper: made in New Zealand.
UPDATED UPDATE (4/17/07): For lovers of the original Peanut Butter Oompas, you might want to try the Easter M&M Peanut Butter Speck-Tacular Eggs for a more consistent ratio.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.