Ritter Sport – Raspberry and Cranberry Yogurt (Limited Edition)

Today is my first review of a product that I picked up at Sweets and Snacks. I’ve decided to start with the product I was most excited about trying: Ritter Sport‘s Raspberry and Cranberry Yogurt.

Why was I so excited about this particular bar? Let me refer you to my ode to the Ritter Sport Yogurt, which is my favorite Ritter and one of my favorite chocolate bars.

Raspberry and Cranberry in addition to yogurt sounded fun! Plus it was a Limited Edition bar, which dials up the specialness feeling, and it was a bar that I’ve never seen in the wild.

This was yet another visually pleasing bar from Ritter, with a speckled pink filling standing in bright contrast to the milk chocolate shell. My bar was quite pliable and bent quite a ways before it broke along its segments – probably due to a combination of the warm weather and softish-to-start milk chocolate.

The fruity filling was intensely flavored. Those speckles were actually crunchy little bits of freeze-dried berry, and biting into them yielded a flash of bright and tart berry flavor.

The fruit was real! After one square of the bar disappeared down my throat, a couple of raspberry seeds were left behind.

The chocolate here served as a sweet and dusky foil to the filling. It also provided a luxuriously thick melt that surrounded the creamy filling.

This bar was good. Not quite good enough to unseat the plain yogurt Ritter as my favorite, but still pretty darn good with its intense fruity tartness. An OMG.

Trolli Soda Poppers

I found these Trolli Soda Poppers while I was trolling (har har) the candy aisles of a local gas station. I’d never heard of them before, but they’ve apparently been around long enough to warrant a “New Look!”

The Soda Poppers came in Cherry Cola, Root Beer, Orange Soda, Lemon Lime, and Cola flavors. As a whole, the bag smelled of root beer, and a faint root beer tinge tainted all of the gummis’ flavors.

Each gummi was shaped like a little soda can and imprinted with text naming its flavor. They were soft with a pleasantly bouncy chew.

Orange soda (orange) was a mild floral orange with a faintly fizzy undertone. The flavor was neither bright nor tangy, so I only found it middling as far as gummi oranges go.

Lemon lime (yellow green) was sweet with a mild citrus undertone. I wanted it to be more tart and tangy.

Cola (reddish brown) tasted mildly of, well, cola. Cherry cola (red) tasted similar with a fizzy, generically red fruity flavor.

Finally, root beer (purplish brown) was the strongest of all the flavors, hence its ability to contaminate all the rest of the gummis. To be fair, its root beer flavor was pretty spot on; it just isn’t my favorite soda flavor.

While I loved the texture of these guys, I thought most of the flavors could’ve used a lot more punch. Only an because I wanted more flavor that these guys didn’t deliver.

Sweets and Snacks Expo 2013 – Day 2

Day 2 of Sweets and Snacks was our last day, though the conference went on for one more day. We had only about a third of the floor to cover, so we were able to take it easy and take our time.

I had a nice chat with Nestle about their Cocoa Plan. They’re working on bettering the lives of their cocoa farmers and making cocoa production more sustainable.

They announced at the Expo that all of their Crunch bars will use their Cocoa Plan beans, which is a nice start on their eventual goal to make all their products with the Cocoa Plan beans.

Jelina Chocolatier was back. I loved the two bars of theirs that I’d tried last year, and they gave me a few more to try. Alas, they’re still looking for a big U.S. distributor. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for them!

Emma and I sat in on a wine and chocolate pairing over at the Lindt booth. It was a fun exercise (we paired a Riesling with their Orange Intense and a red something with their dark chocolate), and it also allowed Lindt to show off their new individually wrapped squares from their Excellence line. We also got to keep our Lindt wine glasses as souvenirs. Hooray swag!

Speaking of swag, Emma, through much determination, managed to sweet talk her way into taking home a plush Peep. It was adorable, and she will not part with it.

Those were the highlights of our Expo! Like last year, I’m super grateful that Emma came out to share in the experience, and share it on Twitter and Instagram. Reviews to come!

Happy Memorial Day

I’ve gotten a bit behind on life, thanks to travel for Sweets and Snacks last week. I owe y’all a wrap-up of our second/final day at the Expo, and then it’s time to get to reviewing all the sweets that I picked up!

Today, however, is a U.S. holiday, so I’m putting everything off for one more day. If you just can’t wait, I’ve uploaded photos of all my Expo samples to my Flickr account under the tag SSE13. Leave a comment on anything that you think should be at the front of my reviewing queue!

I plan to kick off my Memorial Day getting my butt kicked by Murph, a CrossFit workout in honor of a fallen SEAL and posthumous Medal of Honor recipient. I will not be doing it with a 20 lb weight vest (meant to approximate body armor), but I will be thinking about our men and women in uniform who run around in body armor every day so that the rest of us can enjoy our barbecues and summer kickoffs.

Then I will probably eat some candy. Happy Memorial Day!

Sweets and Snacks Expo 2013 – Day 1

Day 1 of the Sweets and Snacks Expo is over, and I’m exhausted! I stayed up past my bedtime trying to get some science done, and then it was up again at 5AM to catch an early flight to Chicago, then straight from Midway to the Expo.

Our first stop was the Ritter Sport importer booth, as they can always be counted on for exciting new products. They’ve got a new Cocoa Mousse with 9 squares instead of 16 (GASP!), a coconut, and a limited edition raspberry-cranberry yogurt (not pictured here, though I have a sample. Jim reviewed on Chocolate Mission).

I love seeing all the different varieties of Ritter Sport in one place. I hate how it reminds me of what we don’t have access to here in the U.S.

Caffeinated chocolate was a trend at this year’s expo. The Energy version of Good Day chocolate above was one of several brands who told me that X of their candy equaled X cups of coffee or X ounces of Red Bull.

I’m going to be one jittery candy blogger once I get around to reviewing all those chocolates. The things I do for you, dear readers! Still, can’t be worse than that time I ate all that sugar free chocolate

Promotional licensing was rampant as usual (I saw Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, and Star Wars gummies; Jelly Belly’s got a new deal with Disney). Wild Ophelia, Vosges‘s little sister brand, has a line of Hunger Games bars that go beyond just slapping a logo and some characters on the packaging.

Instead, the flavors of the bars are supposed to line up with the different districts. The lumber district is a smoked chipotle chili bar, mining has mined salt, and transportation has runner peanuts. As a Hunger Games fan, I loved that they brought thought and wit to the tie-in.

T&H Organic Hard Candy was a new company in Innovation Alley that’s already been racking up awards. This year, like last, buzzwords like organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, nut-free, etc. are popular on the show floor.

I tried a T&H blood orange hard candy, which was delicious. They have a grapefruit flavor that I can’t wait to try later. Hooray grapefruit candies!

Another trend this year is miniaturized versions of well-known treats. There were mini Starbursts, mini Snickers, mini Kit Kats, mini Turtles… The list goes on and on. I think it’s an easy way for brands to capitalize on name recognition when introducing a new-ish product.

This is not about candy, but I just have to share: Perky Jerky is definitely the most delicious jerky. Like last year, I’m so thankful for the salty snacks of the Expo to break up my palate fatigue and provide some protein to keep me going! I can’t imagine what it was like when it was just the All Candy Expo.

I also asked Nelly a question during the Mike & Ike press conference (alas, it was neither “wanna go a take a ride wit me?” nor “how hot is it in herre?”), held a gold medal and had a fun chat with the very friendly U.S. women’s water polo team at Bare Fruit, and won a Tide pen from Airheads. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring!

If you missed it, Emma’s been holding down the live updates on Twitter and Instagram. Check out her great camera work!

Sweets and Snacks Social Media Gameplan

Emma here. A quick update on how you can keep up with us at Sweets & Snacks 2013!

  1. I will be live-tweeting all the deliciousness on Twitter @zomgcandy.
  2. We’ve created an Instagram account @zomgcandy, too.
  3. We think we can take real cameras into the exhibit hall, so hopefully we’ll be able to upload hi-res, wider-angle shots at the end of each day.
  4. Let us know if you have any requests via Twitter, Instagram, comments on this blog, or e-mail!

Sweets and Snacks is TOMORROW!

Emma and I are flying to Chicago for the Sweets and Snacks Expo at the crack of dawn tomorrow! The Sweets and Snacks Expo is the big annual candy and snacks convention/trade show, where hundreds of companies show up to show off what they’re making and selling.

Last year, I got a bazillion samples that provided much candy blogging fodder in the months following. Below is a video of what we got at Day 1 of the Expo last year:

No reviews this week. Instead, Emma will be live tweeting our conference experience @zomgcandy, and I will post short updates on the site whenever I get the chance.

If you’d like to get an idea of what’s in store, here’s my coverage from last year’s Expo: Media Preview (don’t think we’re getting one this year. Or I wasn’t invited…), Day 1, Days 2 and 3, House of Blues industry social, and my tips for bloggers (which I will be following!).

Get excited! So much sugar coma in my future!

Madécasse Chocolate – Sea Salt & Nibs

On Wednesday, I covered Madécasse Chocolate‘s Pink Pepper & Citrus bar. They make bean-to-bar chocolate in Madagascar, which, in addition to paying their cocoa farmers a fair price, generates 4 times the impact of Fair Trade.

Today, I’m writing up their Sea Salt & Nibs bar, which brags that it was Best in Show in the Paris Salon du Chocolat. As far as I’m concerned, it was a well-deserved award.

The Sea Salt & Nibs was “63% cocoa, crunchy, & a touch of salt”, with 2/4 dots on Madécasse Chocolate’s intensity scale. It was formed in the same mold as the Pink Pepper & Citrus bar, except its back was covered in tiny bits of cacao nib.

The chocolate had a softish bite with a light crunch from the nibs. They added a great cocoa depth without any of the bitter astringency that sometimes comes with cacao nibs.

The chocolate was intensely flavored. It started off mellow with a caramel cocoa depth, then took on powerfully bright citrus and cherry notes.

Every once in a while, I caught a crunchy crystal of sea salt. The salt brought a brief flash of saltiness while highlighting the fruity notes in the chocolate.

This was another tremendous bar from Madécasse. As corny as it sounds, every bite took me on a flavor adventure.

I am 100% sold on this brand and will be buying more bars the next time I’m at Whole Foods. A ZOMG!