Political Chocolate and Candy

L.A. Burdick (reviewed on ZOMG here) is selling two different boxes of “Election Chocolates” until November. Obama’s box contains Hawaiian-Pineapple, Kenyan Coffee, Kansas Corn Crunch, and Tennessee Sour Mash. McCain’s box has Arizona Citrus, Hot Pepper Tequila, Peanut Butter, and Kentucky Rye.

A few personal complains about this promotion. For Obama, Hawaiian-Pineapple and Kenyan Coffee make immediate sense, but I don’t get the Kansas Corn Crunch and Tennessee Sour Mash. The only connection I can come up with is that corn is associated with Illinois. And for McCain, what does citrus have to do with Arizona?And Peanut Butter? Because McCain is seen as more all-American or less exotic? And finally, there’s no direct link from the page that explains the chocolates to the page where you can buy them, which is just bad planning that’s annoying for potential customers.


Obama photo courtesy of my friend Chris Young.

Anyone else think the picture of Obama eating the chocolate mouse on L.A. Burdick’s website is kind of hot? Maybe that’s why he’s is in the lead by loads. Actually, I would imagine it’s more because his liberal granola constituency would be far more likely to splurge on artisan chocolates made in the U.S. I can see rich Republicans with the discretionary income for expensive chocolates to tend to reach for more recognizable brands (hello, sweeping generalizations!).

Finally, check out these sugar-paste minatures of all of the announced presidential nominees of this crazy election cycle.

Haribo Starmix

Haribo is all over the U.K. in a big way. I brought back a couple of big bags of Haribo mini bags to give out to friends as little “I thought of you while abroad!” gifts. In addition to standard Haribo gummis (twin cherries, happy cola, etc.), Haribo also comes in a variety of mixes. I saw Tangfantastics, Spooky Mix, Football Mix, and Starmix, just to name a few. I’ve chosen to review Starmix mostly because it was the first bag I bought and the only bag I ate slowly enough to take tasting notes.

Quite frankly, I have no idea why this is called Starmix. It contains foam and gummi hearts, foam and gummi fried eggs, gummi cola bottles, gummi bears, and gummi rings (the jewelry type, not the planetary type). Nothing in that bunch seems especially astral to me. Oh well. It’s still tasty.

The hearts are a strawberry gummi with a white foam backing. The yolk of the fried eggs are a yellow gummi that tastes faintly of lemon, with the same white foam of the strawberry serving as the albumen. If you’ve never had gummi foam before, it’s a strange textural sensation. Really, the only way I can describe is by saying it’s foamy.

The cola bottles are (duh) cola flavored, with a tinge of “brown” soda flavor accented with citrus. The gummi bears come in orange, yellow (lemon), and green (apple), and the ring colors include red (cherry), white (pineapple), orange (I swear, it’s tangier in ring form than in bear form), and lemon.

In hindsight, maybe the star in Starmix refers to favorites/best-sellers rather than to astronomy. A solidly standard, if not especially exciting, mix of Haribo gummis that get an OM. I liked the Tangfantastics better, mostly because those are covered in sour sugar.

A World Without Chocolate?

I haven’t had the chance to see Wall-E yet (I’m writing this post on July 10; it doesn’t open in the UK until July 14), but I have been reading rave reviews from critics and facebook friends. From what I understand Wall-E the robot lives on a desolate future earth. Thanks to global warming and environmental degredation, everything on earth is dead, save for a cockroach and a single sprout.

I’m assuming the world Wall-E inhabits also has no cacao trees. According to this CNN article, a world without cacao may be closer than you think.

Zotter Mango-Brazil Nuts

I discovered Zotter bars in The Candy Store in San Francisco. They carried several varieties, including one with blood orange, one with cheese, and one with mango and Brazil nuts. I thought long and hard about buying the one with cheese, just because a cheese-filled chocolate bar isn’t something you come across every day, but it was $8 a bar, so I decided to play it safe and opted for the mango-Brazil nuts bar instead of possibly wasting all that money on something too exotic to be enjoyed.

What are Zotter bars, and why are they so expensive? For starters, they’re fair trade and organic and made in Austria. And their creative fillings (of which there are a bazillion creative varieties) are hand-scooped. Hence the hefty price tag. Was it worth it?

According to the Zotter website, the mango-Brazil nuts variety is “Excitingly tropical. Mango and mango puree with Brazil nuts in dark alp milk chocolate.” Dark alp milk chocolate strikes me as oxymoronic. Zotter takes it to mean a 50% cacao content.

The bar carried a strong winey smell. The dark milk chocolate enrobing layer was thin, and I couldn’t get much sense of its flavor profile because the filling’s flavor was so strong. The mango paste filling was quite sweet but tasted to me more of apricot than mango. Little bits of dried mango and Brazil nuts can be found in the paste, which adds a nice chew when you come across them. The Brazil nuts weren’t very noticeable and were too bland to add much in terms of flavor.

My final verdict? $8 is a lot to spend on a single bar, and this particular variety wasn’t worth it to me. An OM. But that won’t stop me from pining after the other flavors. To name a few unusal ones: Lemon Polenta, Rowanberry or Mountain Ash, Spicy Chicken Ensemble – Chilli, Tofu and Sake, Sweet Potato Mocha Rosemary, Tomato Liquid Olive, Wine with Curd Drops, Yellow Chocolate with Brittle, and Beetroot with Galangal.

Cybele tried the Lemon Polenta (zitrone polenta) and Banana Curry.

Kinder Happy Hippos

Sometimes, candy can come awfully close to being too cute to eat. Fortunately for you lot, dear readers, I am willing to sacrifice my cuteness sensibilities and chomp down on adorable candy, even if it happens to endearingly resemble frightened hippos.

Kinder’s Happy Hippos, like nearly everything made by Kinder/Ferrero, is tinged with hazelnut deliciousness. The Hippos come in two varieties, cacao cream (left) and biscuit (right). Both varieties consist of hippo shaped wafers (complete with eyes, nostrils, and eyebrows) filled with flavored cream and half dipped in chocolate and sprinkles. They differ in that the cacao cream has, well, a cacao (cocoa) flavored cream, and while the Cacao Hippo can be found submerged in a lake of chocolate, the Biscuit Hippo’s prefers a lake of white chocolate.

The wrapper of the Biscuit Happy Hippo shows milk and hazelnuts, and that’s what you get in lovely combination in this chap. The light wafer crunch of the Hippo stands in sharp contrast to the thick hazelnut and milk cream that fills its three pods – bum, head, and nose. The fillings are so thick and creamy that they’re moisture-suckingly good, even if the finish is rather cloying.

The wrapper of the Cacao Hippo calls the filling fat-reduced. Clearly I should take that to mean that I can eat a bloat of Happy Hippos (yes, a group of hippos is called a bloat) and not have to worry about personally bloating from Hippo-related weight gain, right? There are two layers of cream inside, one brown that tasted of cocoa and one white that tasted of milk and vanilla. Online ingredients lists for the cacao cream Hippo lists hazelnuts in the ingredients, so the milk layer may have been the same as the filling of the Biscuit Hippo, but I didn’t taste any hazelnut in the filling of the one I got. The filling of the Cacao Hippo was thinner, which meant that it didn’t coat the mouth or cloy.

An ZOMG! for both because I am a sucker for chocolate and hazelnut things and cute things.

Goodbye, England!

When this post publishes, I will be on a plane on my way to Texas. Goodbye, England! I’ll miss you and your wide variety of candies (so many gummies!). I won’t miss the extra pounds I put on eating all that candy – hopefully those will fall off soon once my candy diet returns back to normal, normal being I take a taste and give the rest to friends; being on my own in England meant missing my usual hoard of willing candy receivers – but I will miss the candy. Which is why my suitcase is full of Haribo and English Toffee and other British sweets. Strictly for gift giving to friends, of course…

Oh, and no review today. Back on Friday, with a post written pre-flight and pre-jet lag.

Cadbury Double Decker

When I asked for UK candy recommendations, Justin suggested that I try the Cadbury Double Decker. I’m glad he did, as it was quite enjoyable. On my first day of “work” in lab, I popped into a post office to buy a notebook. Unlike in the US, UK post offices seem to be personal small businesses, and they’re usually attached to a larger shop. The one on the road where I’m staying was part of a mini-mart/convenience store, so I also grabbed a Double Decker, making it the first candy bar I bought in England.

I apologize for the deflated wrapper picture – I didn’t have any food to bring to my first day of lab since I’d just arrived in the country, and I got hungry and ate part of the bar before I could photograph it as a whole. I had intended to buy a second one, but England has yielded so many new candies and chocolates that I haven’t had a chance to yet.

The wrapper boasts of “milk chocolate with smooth, chewy nougatine and crisp, crunchy cereal filling,” a combination that, as far as I know, doesn’t have a US equivalent. The bar is called a Double Decker because it’s divided in half horizontally, like a double-decker bus. The top half is the nougat, while the bottom half is crisped rice and chocolate. And the whole bar is covered in Cadbury’s milk chocolate.

The nougat was pretty chewy, like the inside of a US Milky Way bar, only without any caramel. To put it another way, it was thicker and stickier than the nougat inside of a 3 Muskateers.  The crisped rice was basically what one would expect from crisped rice and chocolate (a pairing that’s hard to screw up), and with the nougat, it made for a great texture combination. Finally, the Cadbury chocolate made a positive contribution with its creamy dairy notes. So much better than Hershey’s! An OMG for the bar. If you want a British take on the Double Decker, check out Chocablog’s review.

Chocolate Mints Roundup

Chocolate and mint is a classically delicious combination. I bet the Girl Scouts owe their continued existence to the continued financial support of Thin Mint sales. I’ve already reviewed quite a few chocolate and mint candies on the site. Here are three more.

Hershey’s Mint Truffle Kisses

Yet another variety of Kiss from Hershey’s (excellent photos of the lineup here), this time a molded chocolate shell with a mint truffle filling. The mint filling was soft and only lightly minty. There’s not much of a mint finish, but it’s there. I’d prefer more mintiness, so an O.

Andes Mints

In my mind, Andes mints are the classic chocolate mint. As a kid, the shiny foil wrappers made them seem super fancy, and the mints within were such a treat. Now that I’ve revisited them as an older candy eater, I was surprised at how light the mintiness was. I guess it seemed stronger while I was a kid. They were duskier than the Mint Truffle Kisses and had a crisp snap. An O.

Zachary’s Thick Mints

I’d never heard of Zachary Thick Mints until I stole this one from my friend’s I-banking gift basket. The wrapper says it’s “real chocolate and cool, creamy peppermint.” It’s quite similar to a York Peppermint Patty, only smaller and thicker.

The mint paste inside was thick and only minty in the finish. I also found it rather salty. An O, as it’s too weak in mintiness for my sake.

Basically, all three of these chocolate/mint combinations were too tepid for my taste. Give me richer chocolate and more powerful mint flavors, and then we’ll talk.