Nestle Munchies and After Eight

Nestle Munchies and After 8’s are UK treats that are similar to more well-known and more widely available candies. The ones I bought are unique because they’re cube shaped and come in a roll/log, making them more portable and convenient. They’re great for sharing, for portion control, for stretching out your snacking by forcing you to slow down, and for saving for later.

Munchies are pretty much just like Twix; they’re cookie (biscuit) and caramel all covered in milk chocolate, though in the Munchies the division between the two is vertical rather than horizontal. I thought the Munchies actually surpassed Twix because the Munchies are easily poppable. There’s nothing exceptionally special about any of the ingredients in the Munchies, but then again, there’s nothing that special about the quality of what goes in a Twix either. It’s the perfect combination of salty/sweet/textures that makes Twix so great. I give Munchies an OM. They’re cheap, inelegant, and tasty, and I wish they were available in the U.S.

After Eight mints come in many sizes; the cubes, on the outside, are extremely similar in appearance to the Munchies. See for yourself:

Basically identical on the surface (same ridges, same grain/bloom showing the poor quality of the chocolate), except that After Eights are dark chocolate instead of milk. They’re filled with a creamy, minty fondant thing. Basically, they’re like conveniently sized York Peppermint Patties, only not as refreshingly minty, so I only give them an O. Also like the Munchies, nothing special, but still pretty good.

Nestle Nuts

Here’s a candy that’ll have the 12 year-old boy in you giggling and elbowing your neighbor in the ribs: I found Nestle Nuts in Lidl, this weird discount/grocery store in Southport that had extremely cheap fruits and veg. How cheap? The day I went, they were in the midst of an “All fruits and veg are half off sale.” I had gone into Lidl on a hunt for miniature bags of Haribo, and I left with strawberries and cherries and beets and grapes and carrots. And a five-pack of Nestle Nuts.

I had high hope for the Nuts, which billed itself as milk chocolate (31%) with filling with caramel (22%) and hazelnuts (11%), which is why I chose to buy it even though it only came in a five pack. Well, that and the whole five pack was only a pound. Hooray for cheap presents for friends! As Ferrero’s bottom line has shown, chocolate + hazelnut = deliciousness. Usually, that is. The Nestle Nuts managed to screw up the winning recipe.

The chocolate coating was boring, blah milk chocolate. I’ve found that Nestle’s chocolate, as opposed to Cadbury with its nice dairy milkness, tends to be mediocre at best, and the Nuts was no exception. The not very thoroughly described “filling” was boring, blah nougat that tasted like nothing more than generic sweetness. And the caramel was, you guessed it, boring blah caramel with no notes of anything. It was pretty insipid and wasn’t even sticky.

Every once in a while, I came across a whole hazelnut hidden inside the Nuts. They were nice enough, crunchy and vaguely nutty, but the Nuts in no way, shape, or form took advantage of the full, roasty, nutty goodness that hazelnuts can bring. The sweetness of everything else in the bar overwhelmed any flavor the hazelnut had the potential to add.

For a boring, blah bar, a boring blah O. I’ve managed to get lucky with dollar (pound) store candy finds in the past, but in this case, you get what you pay for.

Nerds Song Contest

From the folks at Nestle and Wonka, a Loss for Lyrics contest:

Wonka’s new candy, Giant Chewy Nerds, has the Oompa Loompas so excited they are at a complete loss for words! Willy Wonka has launched a nationwide contest in the search for a new song to describe Giant Chewy Nerds. The Oompa Loompas and Raven Symone have teamed up in Wonka’s Loss for Lyrics contest to help the Oompas regain their rhymes.

Teens can log on to starting July 21st through September 21st and upload videos of themselves and their friends singing witty, whimsical songs about the new Giant Chewy Nerds. The lucky winner of the Loss for Lyrics contest will be flown to Los Angeles to record his or her song with the assistance of Raven Symone!

Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles

I bought this roll of Fruit Pastilles at the same time I bought a roll of Maynard’s Wine Gums. I wish I could report that these were better than the wine gums in roll form, but alas, I found them similarly uninspiring.

The Fruit Pastilles boasted 25% fruit juice. Now. I wonder what they used to use. Then again, probably best to not think about that. Fruit Pastilles area soft gummi covered in granulated sugar. They were softer than a springy Haribo and less rubbery but were still pretty stiff.

I had three flavors in my roll. Purple was blackcurrant, I think. Blackcurrant is a lovely flavor that I’m quite fond of. The British are fond of it too, but it hasn’t caught on here in the states. It’s sort of like raspberry and grape and blueberry all mixed together, but, in candy form, it doesn’t carry that nasty olfactory seedy aftertaste of raspberry that I can’t stand. Here it was okay, but other candies have done blackcurrant better.

I sometimes have a hard time tasting the difference between strawberry and cherry candies. They just meld into “red” in my mind. I’m pretty sure the red Fruit Pastille wasn’t cherry, so I guess it was strawberry, especially since there’s a strawberry on the wrapper. Clearly it wasn’t a very genuine fruit flavor. Meh.

Here’s where my tasting notes confuse me. I write about the yellow one – definitely lemon, a way too sweetly artificial lemon that had a weird aftertaste – but it looks orange in the picture. I guess that must have been a by-product of my amateur attempt to color correct the photos I took in unideal lighting in England. The purple almost looks black, and the red is nearly purple, so I’m going to trust my notes over the photo.

At any rate, these bored me. A O.

More candy quickhits – another gifted edition

In continuing with Wednesday’s spirit of cleaning notes out of my candy tasting notebook, more quick reviews of candies that I didn’t have much to say about. These, like Wednesday’s, were all gifts, but they are not all international.

South African Nestle Chocolates from former suitemate, future roommate Catherine (who doesn’t like chocolate!), who got them from a YDN friend

Tex – milk chocolate coating around two wafers sandwiching an aerated chocolate middle. Meh chocolate quality, but coolness and novelty points. I’ll definitely seek this out if Concert Band tour is in South Africa next summer. OM.

Bar-one – nougat and chocolate. Reminds me of a Tootsie Roll‘s flavor. O.

Quality Street – the name confused me, because Quality Street is a whole line-up of assorted and individually wrapped chocolate miniatures in the UK. In this case, the treat labeled “chocolate nut toffee creme” had caramel and was vaguely hazelnutty. Another O.

Hershey’s Limited Edition Hot Cocoa Kisses from a YPMB scavenger hunt group, submitted as “Candy Rosa’s never tried before”

I think these kisses had melted a bit, then reformed, hence the kind of lumpy look on the wrapped one. I wonder if they have a lower melting point because truffling the filling means adding vegetable fat or something.

Like many of the overabundant Kiss varieties (seriously thorough round-up from Cybele here; awesome photographic round-up here) that Hershey’s rolled out recently, these are molded truffles rather than “kissed” out like traditional kisses. The hot cocoa kiss had a milk chocolate shell surrounding a soft truffle center with a cocoa powder finish. It was soft and sweet and so-so. An O for something that was awfully similar to the plain old truffle kisses.

Long Grove Confectionary Chocolates from Mrs. Cobb that didn’t make it to Chicago Week

Clockwise from the top: Kahlua, raspberry, vanilla buttercream, and dark chocolate.

Kahlua – nice whole coffee bean on top. A thick and creamy ganache with a slightly sweet finish. Not much chocolate or coffee flavor.

Raspberry – nicely sweet raspberry flavored filling without the bitter seeds

Vanilla buttercream – strong maple notes with a super sweet maple finish. Slight grain to the ganache.

Dark chocolate – doesn’t taste very chocolatey or very dark, but the ganache is lovely, as it’s thick and creamy and smooth.

A good assortment that’s better than most grocery-store bought boxed chocolates, but nothing that really sets it apart from other not mass-distributed chocolates. An O.

Baci Perugina

Remember Sixpence None the Richer? No? Remember “Kiss me beneath the milky twilight/lead me out on the moonlit floor/lift your open hand/strike up the band and make the fireflies dance/silver moon sparkling” (weird grammar there)? Still no? Maybe this will jog your memory. It’s frightening how quickly those useless lyrics come back instantly, yet I can’t remember the definitions of all the fancy and never used SAT vocab words I memorized four years ago now that I’m starting to prep for GREs.


That’s a long enough mental detour, I think. Back to the  candy! Baci Perugina, an Italian confection, are a Duty Free staple. In fact, I can’t remember seeing them anywhere but in Duty Free shops and at Economy Candy, where I got my box. Loyal readers and vigilent will remember that the one time I’ve been to Economy Candy was back in September of last year (while caring readers can take heart, for halvah is easy to find in Cambridge!). That means my Baci sat around in the bottom of my candy drawer for months before I finally got around to eating them.

The box claims that Baci Perugina are “An Italian Tradition of Passion and Style” and lets the consumer know that they are “dark chocolate with whole & chopped hazelnuts.”  My favorite message from the candy came from the slip of paper that came with it. Mine, in several languages, said “Given the right chance women are capable of anything.” Resisting urge to make explicit political comment and…

As you can see from the photo, there is indeed at least one whole hazelnut in the Baci Perugina that comprises a neat little tumor hat for the chocolate. You can also see that I wasn’t paying attention and photographed the wrapped Baci upside down. My little box contained two Baci, which was the perfect amount for a taste, unlike the giant pallets of Duty Free Baci sold in international terminals.

It was also just enough for me to realize that I don’t really like Baci enough to ever buy a giant Duty Free pallet of Baci. It’s chock full of those chopped and whole hazelnuts, so much so that the confection becomes too dry. And I found the chocolate filling that mixed with the hazelnuts to be too dry as well, though that may have been due to how old my Baci were.

All in all, I’d rather have a Rocher than a Baci to satisfy my cravings for walnut-sized chocolate and hazelnut confections, as Rocher are far creamier and have a bit more going on. Still, the Baci wasn’t bad, and I loved the feminist affirmation so much that I carried it around with me in my wallet until I lost it. Plus I’d probably buy another pair of Baci again just to see if they’re any better fresh, and Baci is really fun to say, so they get an OM. Baci baci baci baci. Kiss me, beneath the milky twilight…

This just in: Baci means “Kiss” in Italian. Suddenly it all sort of makes sense. And, as this has been one of my sillier, more nonsensical reviews (I blame the Baci website and song for completely throwing me out of my proper candy reviewing mindset), I shall point you to Cybele’s review of the Baci Bar, with the warning before you read it that you may never be able to try a Baci Bar because they seem to no longer exist, and that is quite saddening.

Giant Chewy Nerds

This Easter, Nestle/Wonka introduced a new jelly bean: Nerds Bumpy Jelly Beans. The candy blog world pretty much raved about them (Candy Blog and Candy Addict were just two who gave them high marks). When I picked up a couple of bags in post-Easter sale season, I loved them too, but because they had already been so written about, I saw no need to add my voice to the chorus.

Until now, that is. Easter is all about rebirth – resurrection from a religious standpoint, spring and green things and baby animals from a non-religious perspective – and, fortunately for candy lovers, Nerds Bumpy Jelly Beans have been reborn as Giant Chewy Nerds (for the record, the Nerds Bumpy Jelly Beans I bought; the Giant Chewy Nerds were sent to me from Nestle). The Giant Chewy Nerds packaging may not be as cute without the bunny eared Nerds characters, but the candy itself is the same and just as addictive.

As Candy Addict Blog noted, these are ridiculously addictive. They have a soft jellybean inside covered with a thin, hard, bumpy, crumbly flavored Nerds shell. I really think it’s the textural contrast between the crunchy shell and the chewy inside that make these so darn hard to stop popping in your mouth.

Pink is strawberry, a sweet and fruity/floral flavor with a lightly sour tinge. Grape is artificial, grape-soda niceness. Green I thought was green apple (Candy Addict says its watermelon), which I found to be the weakest of the bunch. Too much sugary sweetness, not enough tart, fruity flavor. Orange was tart and tangy and orangey and delightful. The yellow lemon is my favorite of the bunch, a strong and bright lemon juice flavor that’s not at all floor-cleaner artificial.

These get an OMG from me. I personally think they could go even more sour or a little less sweet, but they’re deliciously addictive as is. While I’m glad that they’re back, I don’t think I would buy them again for purely selfish, lack of self-control issues, as it frightens me how quickly I can chomp through a bag of these. And then I feel ill and guilty. Incidentally, the sales rep who sent me these also included a bunch of SweeTarts in the package because she’d read about how I loved them. I have the same issue with SweeTarts in that I’ll eat too many at once and then will feel sick.

Russian Candies I

My friend Leslie was kind enough to mail me a giant box full of Russian candy back in December, and I’ve since been slowly tasting my way through everything. Candy blogging, at least the way I do it, is a Sisyphean task, only I get to eat lots of sweets instead of pushing a boulder around. I know, I know. My life is so hard. Here’s the first of my long overdue, many-part series on Russian candies.

First up, a series of what Leslie calls “the heart and soul of Russian candy, with its fake chocolate glaze and weirdly-folded, artistic wrappers. There are several other varieties… Bizarrely, all of them come from different candy factories all over Russia. The wrappers are always the same color… and the artwork is always similar. Apparently there’s no trademarking going on.”

Red October’s Mishka Kosolapy/Pigeon-toed Mikey (the affectionate name for bear cub) – Dark “chocolate” covered crisp innards topped and bottomed with a stale wafer. I don’t know if they’re usually stale, as they’d been sitting around for a long time before I got to tasting them. The innards were made of a sugary, slightly chocolatey solidified paste of some sort that gave it a sweet finish.

Babaevskii’s Belochka/Squirrel – The same dark “chocolate” shell around a crumbly filling composed of chocolate and hazelnut (I think; it could have been pistachio) bits. Also a sweet finish.

Mikey in the North – The same dark “chocolate” shell and paste of Pigeon-toed Mikey. In this version, the wafers completely box in the filling, so the overall candy is both thicker (in crunch) and airier (in texture).

Overall, I ate one of each all at once, which was a bad idea. They’re super sweet, and the fillings don’t exactly melt away, so I felt ill afterwards. An O, but on the high side because they get bonus points for novelty.

Sunflower Kozinak

Excuse me a second as I try not to drool into my keyboard just reliving what it was like eating this stuff. It’s like peanut brittle but made with sunflower seeds. Lots and lots of sunflower seeds jammed in very little brittle made the thick bars hard to crunch through, but I still powered right through half the package. I wish it came in thin slabs like peanut brittle, if only to slow down my consumption of it. Simple, delicious, and ZOMG! worthy. I wish I had more and miss it so…

Nestle Nesquick Bar

Leslie calls this “a ubiquitous European candy bar marketed towards children.” It’s a sweet milk chocolate coating over a top layer of white, crunchy… something and sweet chocolate nougat. The mysterious top layer tastes like a wafer but doesn’t have the mouthfeel of one, while the nougat layer is like a more dense 3 Musketeers filling. It’s a little sweet for my taste, so I give it an OM.

Kit Kat – Hazelnut Cream

Here in the U.S., the Kit Kat is manufactured under Hershey’s. Elsewhere in the world, Kit Kat is made by Nestle. My Kit Kat Hazelnut Cream was given to me by my friend Katie, who bought it for me while in Egypt last Christmas, so it’s made by Nestle. And because it’s probably manufactured in the U.K., I’ve filed is as European rather than African.

The Hazelnut Cream is a Kit Kat of the Big Kat (in the U.S.) or Chunky (everywhere else) variety. That is, rather than being four small “fingers,” it’s one giant stick. The chocolate around the wafers is extremely thick. In fact, there’s about as much chocolate as there is wafer. I found the milk chocolate to be creamy and sweet without being cloying, unlike the Hershey’s Kit Kats you can buy here. For mass-produced candy bar chocolate, it was pretty nice.

Despite it’s name, there was little hazelnut or cream to this bar. It had a sweet nutty tinge that’s far from the in-your-face hazelnut approach taken by Ferrerro. The light nuttiness served the bar well, but there was still room for more hazelnut taste to come through.

I personally don’t like the Chunky/Big Kat bars because I think they’re too big and hard to chomp down on. This would be wonderful in the smaller, standard Kit Kat form, I think. The hazelnut flavor could stand up better with less chocolate to overshadow it. An OM from me.

Nestle Toffee Crisp

I bought the Toffee Crisp at the same time that I bought the Coffee Crisp, but I tasted them several weeks apart. When I dug the Toffee Crisp out of my drawer and unwrapped it, I misread it as Coffee and wondered why it didn’t taste at all like coffee. Funnily enough, that what I thought about the actual Coffee Crisp.

Thankfully, the Toffee Crisp was much better than its coffee counterpart. It’s very sweet milk chocolate with rice crisps and a ribbon of caramel. The chocolate is what I would call the standard British candy bar chocolate that’s sweet and lacking the sour tinge that Hershey’s has. The rice crisps are soft and are lighter and less dense than those of a Crunch bar – they reminded me of actual Rice Krispies in terms of their airiness – and they’re all mixed in with a chocolate cream so that the bar is soft and almost crumbly in a really nice way. This stands in contrast to the 100 Grand and the Nestle Lion, which both just cover their rice crisps in chocolate.

When I think toffee, I first think of the crunchy kind that you’d find in a 5th Avenue or Skor bar. I can accept that English toffee can refer to a soft type of caramel, but then I expect a darker caramel, maybe more molasses-flavored than sugary. The toffee of the Toffee Crisp was pretty standardly unremarkable. It’s nicely sweet but otherwise has no personality.

Overall, I give this bar an OM. It’s good, and I love the soft texture, but I liked the Lion better.