April 16th, 2009 by Rosa
Archive for April, 2009
April 15th, 2009 by Rosa
In addition to Monday’s Junior Mints Deluxe, Tootsie Roll also sent me a case of their Tootsie Pop Drops. I have a special fondness for Tootsie Pops – I once got a bad case of the flu when I was a kid, and my mom bought me a whole bag of Tootsie Pops to entice me to get better. These days, I’m less into Tootsie Pops, but I still enjoy them.
Tootsie Pop Drops are billed as Tootsie Pops without the stick, and that’s pretty much what they are, only they’re smaller than Tootsie Pops without sticks would actually be. They’re little hard candies, about cough drop sized, with a “chewy Tootsie Roll center.” The come in standard Tootsie Pop flavors: chocolate, cherry, blue raspberry, orange, and grape. The first bag I opened had no cherry ones, which is why there are no red drops in the photo below. Incidentally, I’m a big fan of the semi-recent addition of lemon-lime Tootsie Pops and a bit sad that lemon-lime didn’t make it into the Tootsie Pop Drops.
I feel like I’m too inured to Tootsie Pops to really discuss their flavors. Chocolate is a weird pseudo-chocolate, kind of like Tootsie Rolls taste like a weird-pseudo chocolate, but I’m so used to it that I’ll eat it anyway. Orange is sweet and citrusy and my favorite of the bunch, and grape and blue raspberry are just there. I’ll eat them in the Pop Drop form, mostly because they’re in the bag, but I skip them when I pick out Tootsie Pops.
The drops are so small that they’re easy to crunch up, mixing the hard candy shell with the chewy Tootsie Roll innards. I’m an impatient hard candy cruncher, so I liked the Tootsie Pops specifically because they forced you to let the candy melt. While the Pop Drops lose that feature, they are nicely portable and portioned.
These get an O from me, but a nice one. I’m the type who won’t turn down a Tootsie Pop if I come across one in a Kiddie Mix or something, but I won’t seek them out to buy (though that’s mostly because I have so much candy that I only buy candy I’ve never before had).
April 14th, 2009 by Rosa
When I was a kid, I didn’t play with Barbies much. It wasn’t because my parents were afraid that she’d give me body image issues or anything like that (though if I had a daughter of my own, I probably wouldn’t give her Barbies for that reason) – it’s because we were too po’. My parents immigrated from China just before I was born. When I was young, we lived off my father’s tiny grad student stipend, which left little room in the family budget for Barbies. Now that we’re financially comfortable (though that financial comfort will disappear once I graduate from college and attempt to be financially independent), I’m too old for Barbies.
Or so I thought. When Mattel approached me about doing a giveaway of their new limited/collectors’ edition Hershey’s Barbie Doll, my first thought was, “I want one!” And because Mattel is so nice, I got one!
She’s “adorned with a fun and flirtatious cocktail dress in a rich milk chocolate brown, accented with twinkles of silver,” just as the press release promised. And killer shoes, which weren’t touted in the fact sheet that I got. Yes, I’ll never be able to walk en point in heels, and I’ll never have Barbie’s impossible figure, but I’m old enough to accept that and enjoy my Hershey’s Barbie for what she is – a neat collaboration between two old and beloved American institutions.
And, thanks to Mattel, I’m running a giveaway for a second doll, so that one of you can have one to enjoy as well! One randomly selected reader (U.S. only, please, unless you’re willing to pay your own shipping) will win a Hershey’s Barbie. To enter, leave a Barbie or Hershey’s related comment on this post with a valid email address by midnight on Friday, April 17th.
Good luck! And if you don’t win, you can still buy your own at Toys R Us, Hershey’s stores, select U.S. retailers, and at BarbieCollector.com .
NOTE: This contest has now closed. Winners posted here!
April 13th, 2009 by Rosa
In addition to sponsoring a giveaway, the folks at Tootsie Roll sent me free samples of two of their newer products for a review. Today, we’ll cover the Junior Mints Deluxe or, as I liked to oxymoronically refer to them, giant Junior Mints. A friend joked that they could be called Senior Mints, but those have actually already been made (they were just like Junior Mints but bigger).
The composition of Junior Mints Deluxe is similar to that of Junior Mints, “creamy mints coated in pure dark chocolate.” The Deluxe version, however, was like Junior Mints on steroids: much larger and differently shaped. Junior Mints are ellipsoid shaped (think M&Ms) while Junior Mints Deluxe are dome-shaped molded truffles (think cherry cordials). I appreciate the extra touch of the JM stamp on the top.
Each Junior Mints Deluxe was individually foil-wrapped, so they look like a fancier treat than their more poppable, theater candy counterparts. They’re nice enough for setting out in a candy dish or for casual company. I’m not exactly sure, as I don’t have regular Junior Mints handy for comparison purposes, but I’m pretty sure the dark chocolate shell of the Junior Mints Deluxe is a higher quality chocolate than that of Junior Mints. It’s glossy, well-tempered, and carries a nice snap.
That dark chocolate, however, is pretty overwhelmed by the mint filling. The mint to chocolate ratio of the Junior Mints Deluxe is completely different from regular Junior Mints. In the Deluxe version it’s more of a MINT!!!! to chocolate ratio. I didn’t mind the extra minty flavor because I enjoyed the refreshment, but it may not be for everyone.
The texture of the filling is interesting, as it’s stiff, yet slightly flowy. It held its peaks, but if I left it sitting around for an hour, it would’ve probably oozed everywhere. The texture was also overwhelming in contrast to the snap of the dark chocolate shell, and that was the ratio imbalance that I took issue with. I didn’t mind the extra mintiness, but the extra gooey I could’ve done without.
Overall, a pretty good product that was quickly snapped up by my friends. I’d give it an OM. I won’t go out and buy more for myself anytime soon, but I’ll happily finish the few that I have left. You can check out Cybele’s Candy Blog take on them here.
April 12th, 2009 by Rosa
Happy Easter! As a bonus news treat, here’s a slideshow documenting how Peeps are made.
And a cute review of Peeps lip balm from Serious Eats.
And a huge collection of Peeps-related internet links. Whew!
Are you going to hit up the post-Easter sales tomorrow? I certainly am!
April 10th, 2009 by Rosa
Over spring break, the Yale Concert Band went on tour to Mexico. I, unfortunately, was not able to join them. On the plus side, kind friends brought me back Mexican candy, and their trip reminded me of all the Mexican candy in my stash (bought back home in Austin, TX and in a little candy shop in Pilsen, Chicago, IL) that I’ve yet to review. Today’s review is a Bubu Lubu, which I’m pretty sure is from an H.E.B. in Austin.
I bought the Bubu Lubu because it promised chocolate-covered marshmallow. Specifically, it’s “strawberry flavor jelly and marshmallow with chocolate flavored coating.” Chocolate flavored? Ooh boy – that’s a mockolate alert right there.
For the Bubu Lubu, however, the mockolate wasn’t that bad, perhaps because it was presented as a super thin layer of mockolate coating. It tasted pretty sweet but was otherwise unremarkable but also inoffensive. The texture may have been a bit off, but again, it was so thin that it was hard to tell.
The strawberry jelly was texturally surprising. I expected goo or jam. Instead, it was more gelatinous, like the texture of a fruit gem center. I thought the flavor was more raspberry than strawberry. Finally, the marshmallow that made up the bulk of the treat was foamy, springy, and unremarkable.
The Bubu Lubu isn’t bad, but it’s also not good, so it gets the dubious distiction of an indifferent –. On the plus side, the nutrition facts are pretty good because the treat is mostly marshmallow: 126 calories, 2 grams of fat, and 2 grams of saturated fat. Still, I’d rather expend my discretionary calories on something that tastes good and is a bit more interesting and satisfying.
April 9th, 2009 by Rosa
Two candy pieces from the NY Times. First, reports of an upswing in candy sales during these tough economic times, in keeping with historical trends.
Two things immediately struck me after reading the article:
1. Raymond Schneider of the opening paragraph could save a lot of money buying his candy someplace other than Dylan’s Candy Bar. That place is overpriced!
2. The rapid inventory turnover at Economy Candy (a good place for well-priced bulked goods) means fresher wares! I may reward the completion of my senior thesis (due on the 20th. Wish me luck!) with a trip there.
And via the NY Times Dining section, news of Armani Dolci, a chocolate shop within Armani’s new 5th Avenue store.
Selling pricey chocolates in a luxury store – a good way to hedge your bottom line or a risky proposition in our current economic situation?
April 8th, 2009 by Rosa
After Monday’s review, a Heath vs Skor showdown, I thought I’d continue the theme of chocolate + toffee with a review of Hershey’s Symphony of the Almonds and Toffee Chips persuasion. I think Hershey’s Symphony is a funny line – it doesn’t get much recognition or advertising, so it’s not especially distinctive, yet it’s been around for nearly as long as I’ve been alive (since 1989) and is pretty easy to find. There must be something redeeming about it to keep it around. Meanwhile, Joseph Schmidt’s line of truffles gets the axe. Sigh…
I think the Symphony line is supposed to be notable for the creaminess of the milk chocolate. I don’t quite get the name, especially since they make a plain milk chocolate Symphony, and the word Symphony conjures up images of complexity, but I do appreciate the effort of the packaging, with horizontal lines are probably meant to evoke the lines of a music staff. I wonder if the word Symphony could have been rejiggered to have a treble cleff as the S.
Underneath the wrapper, the bar has the big, traditional HERSHEY’S block logo on it, with what I consider to be the classic Hershey’s Almond bar shape – the rectangle with the arched curve to it. You can see the bits of almond and toffee in the cross section.
The bar was extremely nutty smelling thanks to the almonds. Unlike the Skor and Heath bars, which are toffee with chocolate, this was chocolate with toffee. And nice chocolate, too! The chocolate was creamy with a thick melt and a fruity finish, definitely different and superior to regular Hershey’s milk chocolate.
The almonds were in pretty big chunks and few and far between, so I didn’t come across them too often. The toffee added a bit of flavor but contributed more in texture, with a nice, cleaving crunch. Overall, it was a pleasant combination of tastes and textures. I’d give the bar an OM, and I wonder why the Symphony line doesn’t get more cred.
April 7th, 2009 by Rosa
I don’t especially like beer – probably because my beer drinking experience started with college kegger-type deals with bad, cheap beer – but I do love chocolate. I wonder if I could enjoy chocolate beer, as covered by Serious Eats.
I’ll probably stick with just eating my chocolate.
April 6th, 2009 by Rosa
Back when I reviewed the Daim bar, I wondered what the difference was (or if there was a difference) between Skor bars and Heath bars. Ostensibly, they seem identical: both are chocolate covered crunchy toffee bars, and both are made by Hershey’s. But since it doesn’t make sense for Hershey to make two identical products, there must be something that sets them apart. Let’s find out, shall we?
They’re somewhat differently described on their wrappers: Skor is “delicious milk chocolate/crisp butter toffee” while Heath is a “milk chocolate English toffee bar.” I already kind of take issue with the Heath description, as English toffee is chewy like caramel, but whatever.
Cross sectionally, the bars look somewhat different. I’m 95% sure that the Heath is on the left and the Skor is on the right (this review backs me up), but I took the picture so long ago that I’m no longer positive. As you can see, both have the same rippled chocolate coating, but one’s toffee is more yellow/gold (left; Heath?), while the other’s is more dark brown.
Tastewise, they differ as well. Skor’s darker colored toffee also tasted darker. It was sweet with a touch of duskiness. The Heath bar had a brighter sweetness that was unpleasantly cloying, and its toffee tasted more buttery, with a super sweet finish.
I’d give the Skor the edge in the match-up, so it gets an OM while Heath gets an O. Skor may benefit from reference effects, however. Who knows; I could’ve given it an O if I’d just tasted it alone.