Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

8 Jan

Investigating Mr. Goodbar 0

Exhibit A: The Way We Are

Exhibit A: The Way We Are

To me, it tasted good. I didn’t know about the lack of cocoa butter, the cheap oil substitutes, the novel inspired by Ms. Roseanne Quinn, or the subsequent film adaptation. What I did know was that Mr. Goodbar has been a revered member of HERSHEY’S (yes, they like their name capitalized, take it up with them) elite team of Bar-Like Chocolates since well before I was born, and as such, deserved my respectful attention.

When I review products for this blog, I tend to eat first and ask questions later. While this isn’t an advisable strategy in many other of life’s near-infinite contexts, in the case of this column, I believe it elicits the most honesty by ensuring none of my research comes between me and the important (albeit fallible) first-impressions. When it came to Mr. Goodbar, these were almost entirely positive.  Solid, sweet-but-not-brain-scrambling milk chocolate, peanuts chopped to a unique, ingratiatingly fine size creating a blend of flavors and textures that felt satisfyingly complete, but not overdone.

Then I started reading.

Exhibit B: The Way We Were

Exhibit B: The Way We Were

Apparently, while still technically a kind of chocolate, Mr. Goodbar hasn’t been made with cocoa butter (or at least not enough for the FDA to consider the stuff milk chocolate) since the early 1990’s. Instead, a cheaper oil-based stand-in is used, prompting HERSHEY to print the subtly ambiguous slogan “Made with Chocolate and Peanuts” on every Mr. Goodbar. Sounds kind of icky, and seems a bit disingenuous of HERSHEY to obscure the fact that its milk-chocolate tasting confection isn’t quite what it seems, but such are the vicissitudes of marketing. They’re not lying per se, since Mr. Goodbar undeniably contains chocolate, just sugar-coating a bit.

None of this news, of course, diminishes the fact that Mr. Goodbar ranks as a definite Good Bar on my list of Good Bars, but I do see it as part of my duty as a reviewer to bring these matters to the attention of readers, for whatever it might be worth. And I can’t help but wonder, since I really do enjoy the “compromised second draft,” what the original Mr. Goodbar was like. How about an anniversary classic recipe, back to basics revival, HERSHEY, for all those of us who never got to try the first generation or are still pining for the good old days? Or what about a concomitant increase in cocoa powder for that edgier taste so in vogue these days? Is there perhaps a Mrs. GoodBar? Just sayin…

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in Candy, Candy Tips, Chocolate, Reviews

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Ineffective as ambulatory aids, but delicious to the mouth, Candy Canes are certainly the most flibbertygibbetery Winter candy. Whether you hang them on your tree or cram them down your throat, there’s a little history you ought to know.

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It’s a well established rumor that Candy “Canes” were invented by a German Choirmaster in the city of Cologne in 1670. His restive younger singers, no doubt harangued by dreams of Sugar-Plums and Weihnachts-Wurst so prevalent amongst the teutonic youth of the day, had trouble sitting still through long rehearsals, so the ingenious Choirmaster bent a few sticks of boiled sugar he had lying around into delicious symbols of the Lord’s piety with the aim of keeping his young charges mouths shut, their throats moist and their minds on shepherdry.

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Records indicate that these canes (and boiled sugar sticks in general) became popular in the 17th Century, but the peppermint and stripes weren’t added until the early 20th Century. Depending on who you talk to, the stripes are either supposed to represent the blood of the scourged of Christ, or recall a barber’s pole– maybe both. Whatever the case may be, the real thing that matters with candy is the taste.

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For this review, I’ve chosen Spangler Canes. Now, you may think that any brand of candy cane will do. Not so. The best candy canes (Spangler among them) are made with real peppermint oil (though admittedly, in a pinch, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference), since it provides a cleaner and more intense flavor. A good, fresh Candy Cane will be smooth, non-brittle and difficult to bite into without first being worried into a point for a good few minutes. Spangler provide a nice balance of sweetness and mint flavor, and don’t leave behind as thick a film, even after a few, where many lesser canes might.

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Just remember, if you bludgeon yourself in your Christmas revelry this season, don’t expect to rely on these so called “canes” for any support, in fact, even trying to walk with one without prior ailment could prove injurious. You’ve been warned.

Happy Holidays from Candy.com!

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18 Dec

Candy or Not, Here I Come 0

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If you’re like most Americans, it’s hard for you to resist pork and molasses, which is why America loves Boston Baked Beans. It doesn’t take a master confectioner to see that  FDA approved, grade “A” pork belly, dark, sweet molasses and  tender haricot beans are a recipe for success, breakfast, lunch or dinner! Slow cooked with plenty savory seasoning , Boston Baked Beans–

Apologies ladies and gentleman. The blogger who had been writing this post had Boston Baked Beans the candy confused with Boston Baked Beans the side dish. He or she has been removed from the blogosphere. We now return to the review already in progress.

– needless to say, that’s not traditionally well thought of in most kitchens. The peanuts are then placed on a tray, rotated and sugared in a lengthy process known as “panning,” which layers the candy shell until the beans reach typical bean size. The result is an angry looking, red confection that’s incredibly crunchy, quite delicious and highly addictive, despite the fact that there isn’t the merest hint of pork-flavor.  Not that a little wouldn’t go amiss…

In the immortal words of Beans Hambone, “Beans, Beans, Beans!

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18 Dec

NECCO au Naturale 0

necco

We might have seen it coming what with the greenwashin’ and the health watchin,’ the 400 calorie menu and the ban on hydrogenated pork shortnin.’ Folks, Candy.com would like to announce that the rumors are, in fact, fact—NECCO Wafers have shed their artificial ingredients and have returned to earth, the humble naked sugar, starch and everything nice discs they always were deep inside.

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What does this mean for wafer lovers the world round? Apart from the obvious point that the toxicity threshold of the new wafers is undoubtedly greater than the old (you can now eat a robust 14,000 in a single afternoon compared to the modest 12,000 of yore), it means no lime. Yes, sadly the new NECCOs number only seven due to issues replicating the original lime flavored discs under the more stringent “all natural” standards (read, it’s probably prohibitively expensive). How about a replacement flavor contest, NECCO? My vote; “Revere” a patriotic nod to the birthplace of NECCO and the gallant Massachusetts Silversmith, with the fishy flavors of the North Shore he loved so well. Until that happens, seven (while maybe not heaven) is just fine by me, as most of the remainder seem to have benefited from the haute cuisine treatment. The chocolate is chocolate-ier, the wintergreen mint-ier, clove clove-ier (and wow it packs a punch, be careful if you tend to crunch), licorice anise-ier, orange citrus-ier. I was never a big fan of the lemon to begin with and still don’t care for it, so the only real dud to my palette is the cinnamon, which somehow seems to have lost a lot of its kick in translation.

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Overall, the update seems to have improved NECCO Wafers, though I can’t see it converting any heretofore unbelievers. The good is better, but the bad (mainly the fact that after about five it gets tough to tell the difference between the flavors) remains the same. Still, I say whatever your opinion, give ‘em another spin. They may not be all beer and skittles, but you should remove your hat to any candy that saw the Civil War and lived to tell the tale.

Try one “It’s only wafer thin…”

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