M&Ms Contest Winners and a new Tootsie Roll Giveaway

Via a random number generator, commenters 36, 28, and 19 have been selected as the winners of my M&Ms giveaway! Congrats to Nancy, Chelsea, and Jennifer B., who will be receiving Easter themed M&Ms courtesy of Mars.

And if you didn’t win this time, I will host more giveaways…

Like right now! Leave a comment about your favorite Tootsie Roll treat (here’s a list of their products), and one randomly selected U.S. winner will receive an Easter or Child’s Play pack courtesy of Tootsie Roll, who are trying to make amends for their Junior Fruit Cremes. Contest closes at midnight on Friday, April 3rd. Good luck!

Japanese Kit Kats, part II

I’m sure I left y’all on the edge of your computer chairs last Friday when I promised weird Japanese Kit Kat reviews. Here are the remaining three in order of escalating weirdness.

Apple and chocolate aren’t an unheard of combination, but I’ve not enjoyed it in the past. In the Kit Kat iteration, it’s less bad, but it’s still not good.

Visually, it seems just like a normal Kit Kat. Though it smells strongly of Fuji apples, it initially tastes mostly of chocolate. Then the apple comes in. It’s weird and unpleasant and kind of earthy, more like an apple core than an apple. A .

Next up, Muscat grape. Or, more specifically, Muscat of Alexandria. I don’t really know if a Muscat grape is any more special than the white seedless grapes you’d pick up at your local supermarket, and I also don’t know what makes Muscat of Alexandria special enough to warrant its own wikipedia entry. Or its own Kit Kat flavor.

I also don’t know why people thought grape flavored chocolate would be worth making. This bar is white chocolate with a pale green tinge, at once pretty and alien. I think it smells more like lychee than grape, but the taste is white grape all the way through. Would you want to eat grapes and white chocolate in the same bite? I wouldn’t, but I did try this bar, and I didn’t like it. Another .

Finally, the mystery flavored Kit Kat. I don’t know Japanese, but I know some Chinese, and there’s a lot of character overlap. I could make out the characters for “university” on here, which didn’t help at all. I guessed that it was candied sweet potato with black sesame seeds. Cassie had no clue, and my boyfriend thought it may be tofu. We consulted my friend Michael, who lives in Kobe. Turns out I was sort of right; it is sweet potato and sesame.

The “university” part was to signal that it was a limited edition bar, released for exam session when Japanese students test to get into universities. Just goes to show you how candy can teach you about other cultures. Can you imagine an SAT Kit Kat being sold in the U.S.?

This was another white chocolate bar, tinged pale yellow. It was slightly nutty with toastiness that may have come from the wafers. I don’t really get sweet potato, exactly. The white chocolate is the most prominent flavor. Another .

Thanks for the flavor adventure, Cassie! I enjoyed tasting them, even if the flavors weren’t that enjoyable. Guess there’s a reason they’re not widely available outside of Japan. Now, if only I could find a soy sauce flavored Kit Kat

Japanese Kit Kats, part I

When my friend Cassie went to Japan for a fun trip with her boyfriend (so jealous, by the way), she offered to bring me back candy. I eagerly requested Kit Kats. Why Kit Kats, a run-of-the-mill candy that’s all over the U.S.? Because the Japanese make about a zillion Kit Kats in strange flavors, and I wanted in. Cassie obliged, for which I am grateful. I’ll review the two normal ones today and make y’all wait until Monday for the weird ones.

Based on the packaging, this bar was either strawberry or strawberries and cream flavored, both pretty standard flavor combinations that go well with chocolate. I’m guessing that it’s strawberries and cream, based on the bar’s lovely, creamy shade of pink. All the boxed Kit Kats Cassie bought came in packs of four fingers separated into two individually sealed packs of pairs. Good for freshness; bad for the environment.

Like all Kit Kats, this was chocolate over crisp wafers. The strawberry was white chocolate that smelled lovely and floral. The strawberry flavor was sweet and genuine, which I appreciated, even though I found it overly sweet. An O from me, but I think others would like it more.

The Kit Kat Cookies that Cassie brought me was just one long, slightly larger finger. After I tasted it, I wished that I had a four pack of them. It was my favorite of the bunch, basically a normal Kit Kat with an extra layer of chocolate cookie.

The milk chocolate was nice and dusky, making me think that Nestle treats the Japanese better by selling them nicer chocolate. While the cookie layer doesn’t add much to the texture, it really deepens the cocoa flavor of the bar. Highly enjoyable and OMG-worthy.

Have a nice weekend, and come back on Monday for the weird flavors!

Human Kit Kat Vending Machines

More creative advertising from Kit Kat, this time via humans dressed as Kit Kat vending machines. I think I’d personally be incredibly creeped out if I caught one of those on my way to work, but hey, free chocolate!

P.S.: To the reader who sent me a Contact Me email about Chewy Nerds – I have a reply for you (nothing terribly exciting) but can’t get through to the email address you provided. Write back with one that works, and know that I’m not ignoring you!

Filled Licorice Bars from Fini

Fini is a Spain-based candy company that offered to send me free candy samples to review. So I went to their website and drooled over their gorgeous candy photos, all the while wishing that I spoke Spanish. Fortunately, their contact pointed me to clicking the little British flag in their navigation bar, and voila, everything was in English. I specifically requested filled licorice bars, which I fell in love with while in England, and I now have more than I could/should ever eat.

Filled licorice bars are pretty ubiquitous in the UK, where they’re also referred to as licorice pencils or, in their chopped up state (below photo), as mini cables. They’re basically hollow tubes of fruit licorice filled with fondant. I’m not  fan of Twizzlers or Red Vines, but there’s something about the licorice and fondant combination that makes these addictively yummy. Fini has a large assortment that varies in size and licorice flavors.

The red ones were strawberry, the green was green apple, the white matte was strawberry, the orange matte was peach, and the fat pink one just tasted of sweet, as it was fondant on fondant.

The smallest (in terms of diameter) ones were my favorite. The larger/fatter bars have a too high fondant to licorice ratio, making them overly sweet and messing with the fun textural play on slightly rubbery, chewy licorice against soft fondant. The matte ones (white and orange) were a fondant-type coating around a rubbery center; those were manageable.

These aren’t fancy hoity-toity candies, but they’re tasty and addictive and get an OM. Unfortunately, Fini is still in the processing of rolling out their U.S. entry, so it’ll be a few months before you U.S. readers can order their products. If they update me, I’ll update you.

Leftover Chocolate Tasting Notes – Part II

The long-awaited continuation of my chocolate tasting quick hits from last week:

Frey’s Noir Authentique was the third of the three Frey bars I bought on sale at Target (the other two being their Tiramisu and Hot Chili Pepper). It had a nice nuttiness but a slightly bitter aftertaste, and its creamy melt gave way to an astringent finish. Altogether not bad, but there are better dark bars out there that are more interesting. Just an O.

Ghirardelli‘s dark and raspberry is another one of their new products, a molded and filled bar. The paperboard wrapper promises “delectably delicious raspberry filling made with real fruit surrounded by intense dark chocolate.” It’s actually kind of terrible. The filling is a horrifically unnatural shade of pink…

and it tastes as bright and artificial as it looks. It’s overly sweet and cloying, with a fake raspberry flavor that completely covers the dark chocolate flavor of the shell. A .

I always like to end my tastings with a 100% bar to show that percentage isn’t everything. This time, I ended on a 99%, figuring what’s 1% between friends? The Lindt 99% bar was impressively packaged and heat sealed inside a gold tray. Despite the care, my bar was still somewhat bloomed.

As expected, the high percentage made it dry and chalky and bitter. It was so astringent that it sucked the moisture right out of my mouth. Underneath all that, there was an earthiness to the flavor. Still, I’ll never see extreme percentage bars as more than a fun tasting adventure; they’re just too intense for snacking. A .

Leftover Chocolate Tasting Notes, Part I

I threw a chocolate tasting party ages ago and have been sitting on these tasting notes since then. Today, some quick hits for the last Friday (alas!) of my spring break. Part II will come Monday, when I’m back (boo!) in class.

Ghirardelli Duet, from their new line of Luxe Milk chocolates, pairs “creamy milk chocolate” with “rich dark chocolate”. It’s divided along it’s heighth axis so that it looks like a milk chocolate bar with a thin dark chocolate backing.

It had a woodsy smell with some tobacco notes to it. I found it surprisingly smoky. Its thick and creamy melt combined with its complex flavor earned it high praise at my party and from me. An OMG.

Lindt Madagascar is a single-origin 65% dark chocolate bar from their Excellence line. It has a cool melt with a fatty feel to it. The finish was quite enjoyably fruity. Another party favorite; another OMG.

The Cafe Tasse 77% was a holiday gift from my friend Steve. It’s a higher cacao percentage than the 60% noir bar I previously reviewed. It had a sharp snap and was unusually thick – in this case, a reference to its physical dimensions, not its melt – with an arid finish. An O.

More quick hits to come on Monday. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to eke out one last weekend of fun in Albany as our men’s hockey team takes on the ECAC championship playoffs.

Easter M&Ms giveaway

Isn’t it frightening how soon holiday themed candy goes out on the shelves? The Easter stuff started trickling out before Valentine’s Day before they fully burst onto the shelves on February 15, two full months before Easter. M&Ms has special pastel colored M&Ms, some of which are egg shaped, which I appreciate. Unlike some candy bars that just change the packaging on their minis, M&Ms went above and beyond to make their holiday goods special.


Now’s your chance to get some of those holiday goods for free! Three randomly selected readers can each win a giant bag of pastel M&Ms, courtesy of Mars and via me. To enter, just leave a comment about your favorite Easter candy with a valid email address (only I can see them, and I’ll only use them to notify the winners) on this post by midnight EST on Tuesday. Sorry – U.S. readers only, please.

Good luck!

Jelly Belly Citrus Mix

I can’t recall ever having worked with Jelly Belly before, so I was quite surprised to find a free sample tin of their new Sunkist Citrus Mix in my PO Box. I’m not exactly sure how they found me (probably via a PR company that I’ve worked with on another candy), or my address, but there are more frightening invasions of privacy than Jelly Belly knowing my PO Box address, especially if it means surprise deliveries of free Jelly Bellies.

I was immediately taken in by the beautiful tin that these beans came in. I’m used to eating my Jelly Bellies out of plastic branded bags since I buy them from bulk bins. The tin is slightly smaller than that of Altoid’s Sours. Its made of burnished metal, and its clear plastic lid is adorned with a Japanese-y drawing of a blossoming branch. It’s absolutely lovely and a total keeper. My only issue is that the script and font are a significant departure from the Jelly Belly logo and font, which confuses their brand image.

The flavors are Sunkist Lime, Sunkist Pink Grapefruit, Sunkist Orange, Sunkist Lemon, and Sunkist Tangerine. I wish I had easy access to a candy store that sells Jelly Bellies (being a carless out of state college student, I don’t) so that I could compare these to Jelly Belly’s usual Lime, Pink Grapefruit, Orange, Lemon, and Tangerine flavors. Even though the press release claims that they’re new, my guess is that they’re the same; Jelly Belly is just using the Sunkist name to push these beans, which are “made with real juices, purees, and citrus oils.”

The press release claims that the flavors are “so authentic that even the aroma of citrus peel comes through each bite.” As expected from Jelly Belly, the flavors are indeed authentic. Lime has that zesty astringency that makes caparinhas so tasty, while lemon has a sweeter, brighter tartness. Like Cybele did in her review, I didn’t realize that the mix contained both tangerine and orange. They look the same to me, so only one made it into the shot. While I can tell the tangerine and the orange apart by taste, I don’t know which is which. One is sweet and round while the other has more of an orange zest kick to it.

The pink grapefruit was my favorite, not because grapefruit is such a wondrous citrus flavor, though it is, but because Jelly Belly did such a great job of capturing the unique taste of grapefruit. The bean not only tasted like grapefruit but also tasted like grapefruit smells, if that makes any sense at all.

I thought this was a great mix. Then again, I expected to love it, as citrus flavors are my favorite fruit flavors. I polished off most of the tin in one go as I typed this review, and now my tongue has taken on a light tingle, from all the acidity, I guess. An OMG.