Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

13 Jan

Fit for Mr. Ed 0

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Twix has been giving people in the good old US of A a moment to chew things over for over 30 years now which, according to the laws of decision dynamics, means more than enough time for all parties venerable and candy-conscious to have come down firmly on one side of the “I likes it” fence or the other. It’s younger sibling, Peanut Butter Twix popped out of Mars inc. in 1983, and while it never seemed to see the same massive exposure as its caramel-coated forbear, it’s graced enough mouths to safely assume that the collective jury’s long since been called back. The verdict? Apparently Twix Peanut Butter didn’t quite cut the mustard since the bar was retired in 1997. Three long years of dimly lit basements, high priced e-bay lots, and neighbors against brothers may or may not have ensued before Peanut Butter Twix enthusiasts were overjoyed to learn that Mars hadn’t forsaken them. 2000 saw the release of a tricked out, generation NOW! Peanut Butter Twix redux known as “Twix PB.” Fans rejoiced, returned to the light and thanked whatever is in charge that one thing, at least, seemed right in the world.

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But was it?

If you’ve bitten into a Twix PB lately, perhaps looking for an opportunity to temporarily obfuscate some or other of your many wrong doings with a hastily concocted ploy, you’ve probably noticed that the wafer’s changed. Specifically, the wafer’s no longer plain, but rather chocolate. Sound good? To many it may– but while I don’t entirely disagree with the premise, I take issue with the execution.

MrEd

First, the chocolate wafer can’t hold a candle to the original. This has less to do with the wafer’s flavor and more to do with the wafer’s consistency, which is distinctly crumblier and lacks the crisp bite that makes the original Twix such an appealing blend of textures. This could perhaps be forgiven if the chocolate wafer had any real merit beyond filling up space– space, I might add, which crumbles away too fast for even glib Mars executives to think of a way to distract us.  While the milk chocolate coating and creamy subcutaneous peanut butter are without fault, they’re powerless against the forces of mediocrity that seem to have taken a particularly strong interest in this bar. Eating Twix PB is not unpleasant, but fans of the original will thank Mars (totally sarcastically) that, at least in this country, they’ve got a constitutionally protected right to horde Peanut Butter Twix in cool, dark places.

“Be[twixt] thought and expression, there lies a lifetime.”

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in Candy, Candy Tips, Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Reviews

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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