Valentine Dots

I am the queen of buying things on sale, hence this post on Valentine candy over a month after Valentine’s Day. I bought the Dots in a post-holiday sale, of course!

The box calls them “cherry, vanilla, and passion fruit flavored gumdrops”. They had translucent pink or red tops with white bases. All of them smelled just like red Jello: sweet, artificial, and red!

I like Dots when they’re soft, as these were. Their center was like that of a jelly bean but even softer. I could bite through them quite cleanly, with just a tiny amount of stickiness.

Red tasted slightly of dark red fruit with a medicinal cherry tinge. It was pretty classic artificial cherry flavor. I’m not big on red candies, but these were at least reliable.

Pink had a mild, sugary fruit flavor, with no sourness or passion fruit brightness. While cherry was as expected, passion fruit was a barely-flavored let-down.

The vanilla flavor was in the creamy white bases. It added a creamy undertone to the fruit flavors while also somewhat muting them.

They weren’t bad by any means, but these Valentine Dots were rather boring. At least they got the seasonal coloring correct! An O.

Caramel Apple Sugar Babies

I received several fun-sized bags of Caramel Apple Sugar Babies last Halloween in my NCA goodie bag. I thought they were a new product, but apparently they’ve been around for a while, as Candy Blog and Candy Addict both reviewed them back in 2007.

The wrapper called them “milk caramels with apple candy coating.” To me, they were like a chewy version of caramel apple lollipops (which I love).

They had a shiny panned shell in a cheerful shade of bright green. The shell was slightly crumbly, like that of jelly beans. It tasted of sweetly tart green apples, with a lovely brightness.

The caramel centers tasted of burnt brown sugar. They developed a grainy chewiness at the end as they melted away. At first, the caramel melded nicely with the apple coating, but as soon as the apple coating disappeared, the sweetness of the caramel became totally dominant.

They’re far from gourmet treats, and after a hand/fun pack-ful, the sweetness becomes overpowering, but I found them tastily addictive. An OM.

Bat Dots

Bats!! I have an affinity for bats. They’re a special tourist attraction in my hometown of Austin, for starters. And last year, a bat once somehow made its way into my New Haven apartment on the last day of Thanksgiving break. My now boyfriend (then just a friend) made fun of me for completely freaking out about it giving me rabies.

Later that night, he got a call from home – his mother had found a dead bat in his bed, and he may or may not have been sleeping with it all Thanksgiving break. He ended up needing rabies shots, just in case. How’s that for karma?

Anywho, on to the candy! These Bat Dots are a Halloween special. They’re blood orange flavored (vampire bats!). I LOVE the little orange smiled, juice-dripping, winged Dot on the box.

Sadly, the actual candy isn’t nearly as adorable. But it is delicious! And it is as black as it looks on the box. I love the color. I can see parents totally taking advantage of this to not have to share with their kids by pretending that they’re licorice.

They’re soft and slightly sticky. Though they give instantly when bitten into, they have a nagging tendency to sometimes stick to the crannies of my teeth. But I should expect that; normal Dots do that too.

It’s sweet with a round citrus flavor. It’s wonderful, spot-on orange. There’s no citrus tang or tartness, but it’s still clear that it’s citrus. I found these super addictive and kept popping them. I wish these were available year-round, and I’ve got to buy these up before Halloween is over! The dilemma – to buy them now or hope they’re not sold out and go on sale after the holiday?

An OMG. You can check out Cybele and Sera‘s take on these and the rest of Dots’ Halloween line.

Tootsie Pop Drops

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).

Junior Mints Deluxe

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.

Junior Fruit Cremes

Normally, candy blogging has lots of perks. My friends give me candy, PR companies mail me free samples, people love me for feeding them my extra candy, and I get to eat lots of candy! But eating lots of candy isn’t always fun and games. Candy doesn’t always taste good, and sometimes, it can be downright nasty. Take, for example, Junior Fruit Cremes, one of the most misguided limited edition candies I have ever had the misfortune to come across and actually spend money on.

Granted, it was just a dollar at the Dollar Tree, but still. Junior Mint, why did you even go there? You make a perfectly lovely chocolate mint confection. Why branch out into these horrible things that you call fruit cremes, which are dull and ugly while your Junior Mints are bright and shiny, which erroneously claim “creamy coated fruit centers!” and which taste of unfortunate approximations of black cherry, orange, and raspberry?

Seriously, these guys were gnarly nasty. I’ll give Junior Mints the benefit of the doubt – maybe my box was a bit old, and that’s why the fruit centers had solidified into greasy messes. But that doesn’t excuse the greasy crumbly coatings or the strangely artificial, can’t-find-anything-close-to-it-in-nature waxy “fruit” flavors. I took a nibble of each and just couldn’t bring myself to taste more. These guys went straight into the trash, earning them a null . I want my dollar back. Actually, I want Tootsie Roll to pay me for eating these horrible things. I don’t understand how they ever made it onto the shelves.

Tootsie Roll Contest

Remember that line drawing commercial with the boy and the owl and how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? One… two-hoo… a-three… crunch!

Tootsie Roll is running a “How Many Licks” Sweepstakes for a chance to win lots of prizes. The contest doesn’t end until July 2009, but winners are drawn every month.

Also, from watching the scroll at the bottom of the website, I learned that the Tootsie Roll Industries makes lots of candies that I didn’t know it made, like Razzles and Andes mints. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go about updating my categories now.

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.

Charleston Chew – Chocolatey

I’ve already reviewed the vanilla version of the Charleston Chew once with tepid results. So why do they warrant a re-review? Because I’ve tried them in chocolate (not much of a difference and certainly not worth mentioning), and I’ve tried them frozen. Frozen Charleston Chews are a candy revelation if you’ve only had the non-frozen version.

The Chocolatey Charleston Chew features a thin chocolate (probably mockolate) shell around a light chocolate nougat-y filling. Like its vanilla brethen, the nougat is soft, yielding, and just slightly sticky. I wish the “Chocolatey”-ness of the bar came through better. It could definitely use amping up in the chocolate flavor realm. An OM.

But wait! There’s more! Pop the Chew in the freezer, forget it’s there for a while, and rediscover it later. Now frozen, the Chew cleaves like toffee when you bite or break it, but once in your mouth, it melts into that pleasant chew. It’s an awesome textural change, and suddenly this mediocre bar becomes something quite addictive, deserving of an OMG.

A few more notes – the Charleston Chew is relatively low cal and low fat and lasts a long time if you eat it frozen, making it a pretty diet-friendly indulgence. And Yale Med School’s dining hall sells them at room temperature and out of the freezer. I had a nice chat with the guy running the register when I complimented them on their thoughtfulness. Clearly, Yale Med knows their stuff.

And finally, happy Independence Day! Won’t be much celebrating of that here in England, I’m sure, so you readers in the states will have to have a veggie burger for me.

Cry Baby Tears Minis

These days, candy that only costs 25 cents a box is definitely a rarity. I’m guessing that Cry Baby Tears are a retro/nostalgia candy that have been around for a while. From the looks of the packaging, Cry Baby Tears are supposed to be so sour that they make you cry. They certainly were tart and puckery, even if they didn’t actually bring me to tears.

cry baby candy minis sour

How are they different than Cry Baby candy?

Cry Baby Tears are little tear-shaped compressed sugar candies with Cry Baby stamped on them. You can’t tell from the pictures because the New Haven humidity wreaked havoc on them, but it’s there. They’re also not supposed to be all yicky and mottled looking. Again, the humidity. Grr!

cry baby candy tears minisCry Baby Tears come in grape (purple), watermelon (green), cherry (red), lemon (yellow), and orange (orange). The cherry flavor is the weakest and overpowered by the sour, while the lemon packs a puckery kick, and the orange has a nice finish. The candies themselves are sour, and they also have a sour coating for a little extra wallop.

I’d give Cry Baby Tears an OM. They’re good and sour – so sour that I can’t eat too many before my mouth and throat start hurting – and that’s exactly what you want in a sour candy.