Chewy Atomic Fireballs

When you’re 8 years old, Atomic Fireballs are a mystical candy. They’re intriguing, yet terrifying. At that age, being able to polish off a whole fireball is an impressive task. I was not that impressive as a kid.

Now they come in smaller, chewy form, which makes them much more manageable, size-wise, at least. My 8 year-old self could have used these to train myself up to the full jawbreaker version. I got this fun-sized bag as a free sample from the NCA.

The chewies were about the size of a Lemonhead. No surprise there, as they’re made by the same company (Ferrara Pan).

They had a hard candy shell that cracked when I bit into it. Inside was dense, grainy, and chewy. It was kind of like a grainy jelly bean (the cheap store brand kind), only spherical.

They tasted like chewy Red Hots (also made by Ferrara Pan), all sweet and spicy candy cinnamon. They left a tingly burn on the tongue that was strong and just a tad painful.

They had a vaguely plasticky finish, but it wasn’t too noticeable, as the burn took center stage. I think these may have been even hotter than the original because all that chewing released more spiciness, but I’m not sure…

It’s been a while since I’ve had a real Fireball, so maybe the original’s burn has dissipated in my memory. An O from me, but if you love the original, these are definitely worth a try.

Sour Power Sortz

These Sour Power Sortz were included in my NCA shipment full of free candy samples. Yes, that shipment was over a year agoCandy keeps pretty well, especially in chilly Rochester, and I have a Sisyphean supply of it.

It was billed as “candy straws in 4 different flavors. Strawberry, Apple/Peach, Raspberry/Grape, & Tutti Frutti.”

The straws were stiff, plasticky tubes with long grooves down the sides. All were sprinkled with sugar granules that were brightly sweet and lightly sour.

Red was maybe strawberry? It sorted of tasted like red fruit.

Purple was the Raspberry/Grape. It had a strong seediness with the plastic tinge of red Twizzlers.

Yellow was sweet with just a hint of pear, followed by a plasticky bite. Orange just tastes sweet and plasticky. I have no clue which of these two is supposed to be Tutti Frutti and which is Apple/Peach.

All were too wheaty and plastic-tasting to be palatable. A definite . I’d rather have Sour Punch Straws, which at least have some discernible flavors.

Mentos Fuji Apple

I have a soft spot in my heart for Mentos – I grew up on their corny “Freshmaker” commercials.

I got these Fuji Apple Mentos in a box of free samples from It’s a flavor that I’ve never seen in the U.S. I guess they’re only available in Asia.

Like all Mentos, it had a hard shell that cracks and splinters when bitten into. Inside, the Mentos (Mento?) was extremely chewy, with a slight grain to the chew.

The flavor was that of super sweet apple juice. While the flavor was pretty spot-on, it was too sweet for my taste, with nothing else to temper the pure sugary-ness.

I think it needed a bit of sourness or some other note to bring some complexity and to counteract that sweetness. That’s my beef with Fuji apples too, so I guess you can’t blame Mentos for being accurate. An O.

If you want another take or two, Cybele from Candy Blog and Debby from Snack Love have reviewed these as well.

Jolly Rancher Awesome Twosome Chews

Could it be? Could Jolly Rancher have made an American version of the European filled licorice that I love so much with their Awesome Twosome Chews (received as free samples via the National Confectioners Association)?

Not exactly. But they were still pretty good!

They came in two flavor combinations: watermelon/green apple and cherry/orange. All of them had a fine granulated sugar on the surface, a chewy, soft licorice-textured shell, and a soft, smooth paste filling.

Watermelon /green apple had a pink watermelon shell with a green apple filling.

It tasted mostly of watermelon, with a bit of a plasticky finish. The watermelon shell was sweet and floral, while the green apple was like a mild green apple Jolly Rancher.

Cherry/orange had a red cherry shell with an orange filling. Here, the filling was the overwhelming flavor. The cherry part tasted like a red popsicle, while the orange tasted like my ideal candy citrus flavor – sweet and slightly tart.

These aren’t perfect, but I’ll still give them an OM. They’re a little too sweet, but they’re a nice change of pace and reminiscent of my beloved filled licorice.

Jolly Rancher Fruit Chews

These Jolly Rancher Fruit Chews were free samples, courtesy of the folks at Candy Central.

I’m super familiar with their hard candies and lollipops, and I’ve even had their fruit chew-filled lollipops, but this was the first time that I’ve had just the fruit chews.

They came in four flavors: cherry, watermelon, green apple, and blue raspberry. All were individually wrapped in colored paper. Not all of them unwrapped cleanly – sometimes bits of paper clung to the candies.

They were soft and extremely chewy, almost taffy-like. And they were extremely prone to sticking in the nooks and crannies of my teeth as they neared the end of their chew.

Cherry was red. It initially tasted of plasticky and papery overtones before yielding to a bright, fruity sweetness. It didn’t make me think cherry, and the plastic overtones were really off-putting.

Watermelon was pink. It tasted quite true to watermelon flavored Jolly Rancher hard candies. It was bright and sour, with a tinge of almost-citrus.

Green apple was a neon lime-green. It too, tasted just like its hard candy counterpart. There was a faint petrol hint to the flavor, but it mostly tasted of a nice candied green apple favor with a tinge of sourness.

Finally, blue raspberry was a bright, not-found-in-nature blue. For no conceivable reason other than that candymakers decided that candy raspberries should be blue.

It had a strong seedy olfactory bite that I hate in the hard candy version of raspberry Jolly Ranches. There was a solid, nearly bitter bite to the finish that rendered me unable to finish the chew.

I enjoyed the green apple and watermelon but didn’t care for cherry or blue raspberry. I much prefer Starburst, which have a stiffer chew and better flavors. A for the blue raspberry and cherry. O for the other two.

Hi-Chew – soda flavors

These soda flavored Morinaga Hi-Chews came as free samples from Look at the lovely effervescence on those wrappers!

They came in three flavors: lemon soda, cola, and white soda. If you’ve never had them before, Hi-Chews are individually wrapped, rectangularly shaped chews that are usually fruit flavored.

Their chew is bouncy and mostly not sticky, except when you get to the end. Then they can get really sticky and worm their way into the nooks and crannies of your teeth.

The three flavors were easy to visually distinguish. Cola was an unappetizing shade of brown with just a tinge of booger-green.

Fortunately, its flavor was spot on. It tasted genuinely of cola, with notes of lemon and caramel.

Lemon soda was the pale but vaguely psychedelic color of lemon meringue. It had a supremely zesty bite with a hint of pithiness.

That light bitterness was nicely ameliorated by the taste of brightly sour lemonade. I really appreciated its complexity and the fact that it didn’t coddle your tastebuds.

White soda was the one that was most foreign to my tastebuds. When I tasted it (not consulting my helpful translation notes from, I was expecting ramune flavor, which is citrusy.

Instead, it initially tasted neutrally sweet with a faint strawberry fruitiness. Then, it transitioned to carrying a hint of liquid sour yogurt, which is a yogurt-flavored drink that you can buy in Asian grocery stores (the name’s literal translation from Chinese is “sour milk”). It was nothing like ramune!

Turns out white soda is yogurt flavored. Who woulda thunk it?

Cola and lemon soda get OMs for their tasty flavor complexity. White soda gets an O for being sort of weird but at least interesting!

These guys made me wish that American mass produced candy could be as adventurous as Japan’s sweets.

Goetze Double Chocolate Caramel Creams

These Goetze Double Chocolate Caramel Creams arrived in my Sweets and Snacks Expo press pack/goodie bag full of samples. The DCCC is a fairly recent addition to their line-up (along with a refresh of the licorice caramel cream), which also includes caramel creams, chocolate creams, and cow tales.

Like the other caramel creams, the DCCC is comprised of a wheaty chew around a circle of cream – hence the Bullseye nickname. In the DCCC, both the chew and the cream are chocolate.

The outer ring was somewhat reminiscent of a Tootsie Roll, but with a slightly different texture and flavor. The DCCC’s texture while chewy, was less sticky, with a thicker flour paste feel.

It had deeper cocoa flavor and less sweetness than a Tootsie Roll. I didn’t notice any prominent caramel flavors. I’m guessing that the caramel component of the name is more for texture than taste.

The bullseye center was a chocolate cream that tasted exactly like store-bought chocolate frosting. It was grainy yet airy and instantly melted on the tongue.

I appreciated the solid, not too sweet flavors of the DCCC. I don’t think I would go out of my way to buy them, (well, maybe I’d throw a couple in my bag if I were bulk bin shopping) but I’d eat them if they were laying around in an office candy bowl or something. A commendable O.

Sour Punch Bits – Tangerine Lemonade

These tangerine-lemonade flavored Sour Punch Bits came in my free goodie bag from the National Confectioners’ Association. Looks like the American Licorice Company is expanding from just making Sour Punch Straws.

They turned out to be little sour sugar covered cylinders divided into yellow and orange quadrants. Mine got a little sadly damp in this wonderfully hot and humid summer that Rochester’s been having.

Their texture was similar to that of regular Sour Punch Straws, if Sour Punch Straws were solid. That is, they had the texture of a stiff licorice wheat chew.

Citrus fruits are my favorite candy flavors, and these Bits satisfied my love of bright, sweet and tart. They tasted very orange-y with a decently powerful sour finish.

I loved the Bits’ flavor, but I didn’t like that they got all stuck in the nooks and crannies of my teeth. If the slightly softer Straws came in this Tangerine Lemonade flavor, I’d be a happy candy blogger. An O.

Skittles Fizzl’d Fruits

These Skittles Fizzl’d Fruits came in my free candy goodie bag from the NCA. They’re a new type of Skittle that “fizzes in your mouth to deliver a tongue-tingling sensation.”

For some reason, Skittles chose to debut these in berry flavors: strawberry, berry punch, melon berry, wild cherry, and raspberry.

Each Fizzl’d Fruits Skittle came with an uneven coating of white fizz that created a bubbly, carbonated sensation on the tongue and in the back of the throat. The severity of the coating varied significantly from Skittle to Skittle, so each Skittle’s fizzy factor varied as well.

Wild cherry (red) had a deep red cherry flavor. Strawberry (pink) started off sour, then mellowed out to sweeter floral fruity flavors.

Raspberry (blue) tasted lightly seedy but was overall rather light on flavor. Berry punch (purple) tasted deeply of dark tanin flavors, and melon berry (green) tasted vaguely of kiwi.

I enjoyed the fun effect of the fizzy coating, but I wasn’t particularly attached to any of the Skittles flavors themselves. I’m not sure why they chose to Fizzl berry flavors rather than their original line-up, but I’d really like to try Fizzl’d citrus Skittles.

An O for this flavor assortment, but the idea definitely holds promise!

Haribo Pico-Balla

I got really excited when I saw this bag of Haribo Pico-Balla at the dollar store. They looked like my beloved European licorice pencils that have yet to catch on in the U.S. Could it be that they were hiding in the dollar store of the mall all along?

They certainly looked the part – colored fruit licorice wrapped around fondant fillings. The fillings were even extra fancy, with two colors!

Alas, while they were similar to my licorice pencils, they weren’t quite right.

For starters, the texture of the Pico-Balla was a bit too stiff and plasticy. Licorice pencils should have some bite to them, but these guys involved too much gnawing.

As for the flavors, they were weird and just didn’t mesh for me. Turquoise stuck out because its fondant filling was yellow and purple, while the other three had blue and orange.

The turquoise fruit licorice portion tasted like fruit punch, while the sweet fondant had a light anise and minty finish. It was simultaneously sweet and creamy and herbal.

The yellow coating tasted sweet with a light citrus tinge. Green tasted like the yellow, sans the citrus tinge, and maybe had a light apple finish, but maybe I was imagining it? And red just tasted like generic artificial red candy.

The orange and blue fondant fillings tasted of sherbet. I couldn’t pick out a particular flavor; they were just sweet and creamy and fruity.

I’m not sure why, but to me, the fruit licorice texture and flavors were just completely incompatible with the sherbet-y fondant fillings.

In the end, I found the Pico-Balla flavors and textures to be off-putting. They’re not awful, but they are rather blech, so a .