Barrels of Yum hard candies – Dilly Dally (Dill Pickle) and Classic Collection

 Barrels of Yum are barrel-shaped hard candies that extend the trite root beer barrel concept to a wider variety of flavors. They were developed with Candyman David Klein, who worked on the original Jelly Bellies, so I had high hopes for their flavors…

And they certainly delivered! I got free samples of the Dilly Dally pickle-flavored barrels as well as their Classic Collection to review. I’ll start with the Dilly Dallies because Pickle Candy?

The individually wrapped Dilly Dallies were bright green with a smooth melt on my tongue. They tasted eerily like a sweetened dill pickle. I got a little tartness, as well as garlicky notes.

It was weird to have something sweet and savory and so unnervingly accurate. I can’t see myself wanting to snack on these, but they’re a fun and spot-on novelty treat. An O for the fun taste experience.

The Classic Collection had more snackable flavors. Like the Dilly Dallies, they were individually wrapped, which makes them easily shareable.

Orange was Orange Cream. It tasted like orange soda, smooth and sweet. There were some nearly herbal undertones that made me think of that lingering sassafrassiness that you get from root bear.

Peach Cobbler was a red orange that was hard to distinguish from the orange cream. It tasted generically fruit and bright with occasional tart notes. I didn’t get any peach flavors, but still enjoyed its pleasant flavor.

Sour Watermelon was pink. It tasted like artificial watermelon candies with a subtle tartness. Not my favorite, as watermelon candies taste nothing like real watermelons to me.

Light brown was Apple Pie, which started off tasted of canned apple pie filling before it took on brighter, fruitier notes of fresh apple with hints of bright tartness peeking through.

Dark brown was Chai Tea, an unusual hard candy flavor. It had strong floral notes of tea with herbal undertones. Not my favorite, but I’m also generally not a tea person.

Green was Granny Smith Apple. It mostly tart and tangy, like most green apple candies, but with added complexity from apple peel notes.

Hot Cinnamon was red, and it tasted fairly standard for a cinnamon candy, with a flavor reminiscent of Red Hots. It had a nice heat to it that was present without being overwhelming.

Finally Blueberry Crumble was a deep blue that was tart with plummy blueberry notes. It didn’t taste like real blueberries, but it had a nice intensity of flavor.

Overall, I found the Classic Collection from Barrel of Yum to be a tasty assortment with many snackable flavors (though I’d give you all my Chai Teas and save the Hot Cinnamons for after-meal mints). An OM.

Oishi Hard Candies

I bought these Oishi Hard Candies while I was in China (I did more than just hug pandas there!). I don’t know the package says – I’m functionally illiterate in Chinese, so only recognize the character for fruit in the description – but I did manage to find them listed on the Oishi website, where they were just called Hard Candy .

The individually wrapped hard candies came in five flavors: cool lychee, orange, lemon mint, mint, and grape. From the Oishi website, it seems like they sell those flavors individually as well.

Cool Lychee (red wrapper; white candy) was a strange flavor. It was sweet to start, then took on a very genuine lychee flavor. I could even taste the slight edge of bitterness that lychees get near the pit.

Unfortunately, the wonderful lychee flavor was soon marred by a methol minty finish. I guess that was the cool part. For me, the coolness ruined the candy.

Orange (orange wrapper and candy) was brightly sweet with a zesty citrus flavor. It was a good, if standard, orange candy flavor, and thankfully no mintiness.

Lemon Mint (yellow and yellow) started off sugar sweet. The slight lemon flavor was mild and slow to appear. Instead, it mostly tasted of menthol and made me think of cough drops. Blech.

Mint (blue wrapper and white candy) was a mentholy peppermint. Not my thing.

Finally grape (purple and purple) was sweet and slightly tart with a tannic, red grape edge and no mintiness. It was quite unlike American grape candies, which taste super artificial. Oishi’s take tasted like an actual grape.

I liked the grape, and the orange was fine, if standard. They get Os. The minty fruity hard candies, on the other hand, were too medicinal and/or weird for me and get a .

Chocolate Limes

These Chocolate Limes were the other candy treat that Ariel and Logan brought me from Bermuda (the other was the excellent Cadbury Time Out that I covered on Wednesday). It turns out that I’ve actually covered a version of this treat in my British Boiled Sweets round-up, only this time I got a fresh bag rather than a few candies that had been sitting in a bulk bin for who knows how long.

The bag of Chocolate Limes (with Milk Chocolate Centres), depicted the candies in their unwrapped state, which made me think that they’d be chewy candies of some sort. Instead, they turned out to be individually wrapped hard candies, each about the size of my first thumb joint.

The candies were a vibrant light green with a smidge of chocolate brown that ran through the center. They were a smooth hard candy with a brightly tart and tangy lime flavor with lots of lime zestiness. I thought they tasted just like a hard candy version of lime Skittles (RIP).

The chocolate stripe down the center was a scant amount, so its flavor wasn’t super noticeable. It tasted a little fake, with the same chocolatesque-flavor that Tootsie Rolls have. I think the closest thing that we have to this in the U.S. is the lemon-lime Tootsie Roll Pop.

Honestly, I could have done without the chocolate component. The lime hard candy was delicious in its own right, and while the chocolate didn’t detract for me, some of my lab mates weren’t a fan of it. I give this an OM because I love citrus candies, and this was a great lime hard candy, but I’ll warn you that your mileage may vary.

Farts – Sour and Fruiti

These candy Farts made a big splash at the Expo, with tons of people milling around the Leaf booth saying things like, “Hey, can I get some Farts?” and “Oh I’d love to try the green Farts.”

Let’s face it: it’s fun to talk about Farts. Of course I had to ask for some free samples.

The Sour Farts were coated with a stridently tart outer layer that made me wince (in a good way!). That sourness took on moisture quickly, making the Sour Farts clump together a bit after I left the package open through some humid days.

The Sour Farts were basically little bits of multicolored rock sugar candy, like Nerds but with an easy, almost soft crunch that was easier on the teeth. As you can see from the photos, they were far from uniformly sized.

Each color corresponded to a different flavor, but those flavors dissipated quickly. Plus the candies were so tiny that it was hard to isolate specific colors. The overall effect was that of sourness followed by sweetness.

The Fruiti Farts of my sample were all one uniform army/watermelon green color. They lacked any sour coating, and their matte shells were enough to protect them from the humidity effects that the Sour Farts felt.

These, too, were basically just little bits of rock candy coated in a sugar shell (again, like Nerds but softer). There was a flash of red underneath that green, so I’m pretty sure they were supposed to be watermelon flavored.

To me, they just tasted generically of artificial red candy flavor and lots of sugary sweetness with a little flash of brightness. I think if I had some other flavors of Fruiti farts for contrast, I could’ve detected some subtle differences, but really, these Farts are less about the flavor integrity and more about a tasty, sweet treat with a silly name.

I liked these better than Nerds because their softer texture was more pleasant to chew on. I never buy Nerds (though I’ll make an exception for a post-holiday Nerds Rope that’s on sale), but I’ll eat the occasional fun-sized Nerds box out of a Kiddie Mix.

I feel similarly about these Farts, but they have the added bonus of a nicer chomp and a funnier name. I think I know some little boys and girls who’ll love these and find them hilarious. An O.

Warheads Sour Chewy Cubes

Original Warheads hard candies made their splash on the U.S. market when I was a kid. My friends and I used to compete to see how many we could stand to hold in our mouths at once and – more importantly – how long we could keep them there as their sour coating burned holes into our mouths. Oh the joys of childhood!

These Warheads Sour Chewy Cubes were a new-to-me product that were being handed out as free samples at Sweets and Snacks. The sour meter on the back of the wrapper placed these at “sour”, a step above “tart” but below “super sour” and “extreme”.

They turned out to be little centimeter cubes in psychedelic, not-found-in-nature colors. Their texture was a cross between Starbursts and gummi/jelly candies – they had a long-lasting chew that sometimes got stuck in my teeth but had the softer, slightly grainy squish of gummi/jelly candies.

The sour sugar that coated the cube was mild, definitely far below what I’d expect from the Warheads brand. I’d call it tart, maybe, but it was really mostly just sweet. It added a little bit of sandy grit to the chew.

The package that I unwrapped had pink, orange, purple, and blue cubes. It looks like I missed out on green and red, which were depicted on the wrapper.

Pink was maybe watermelon, maybe strawberry? Lightly sweet and generically red-fruity tasting. Purple was grape, I suppose. Really it just tasted like a purple SweeTart.

Orange was orange and packed a surprisingly zesty punch with a spot-on orange soda flavor. And blue was who knows? Some mysterious artificial fruit flavor, maybe fruit punch or something.

Most of the cubes had a slightly bitter finish that was stronger in some colors than others. I’ll chalk that up to the artificial colors and flavors that these contained. Yummy!

These weren’t great, but they weren’t awful. Innocuous and not something that I’d spend money on. An O.

Okinawa Brown Sugar Candy

My expat friends, Nana and Justin, sent me a bag of Okinawa Brown Sugar Candy in their last generous shipment of foreign candies. At first I thought that making sugar-flavored candy was strange, but then I realized it’s not that different from honey candies or straight up shooting honey sticks.

The prettily matte bag was mostly covered in Japanese. I was able to recognize the character for bamboo on the top right corner, but otherwise I had to rely on the English letters to know what it contained.

The back of the bag described them as “Nature’s blessed ‘Okinawa Kokuto (brown sugar)’ made from sugar cane grown in Okinawa”. I think that makes them a regional specialty.

The candies were individually wrapped in plastic that echoed the bamboo motif of the larger bag. They were smooth flat cylinders, like butterscotch hard candies.

The candies and their melt was perfectly smooth on the tongue, with nary an air bubble to break its glossy surface. The flavor was simple – that of dark brown sugar, sweet with a burnt molasses edge to keep it from being cloying.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed such a simple treat. They didn’t taste revolutionary, but if you’ve ever sneaked a pinch of brown sugar while baking or making oatmeal, you’d enjoy these. An OM.


Luden’s Throat Drops

In my first year of college, I dropped hints to my parents about how my roommates were getting great care packages from home, with things like homemade cookies and knitted hats and other fun treats.

Eventually, my hints worked – sort of. I got a package from my parents that was full of cough drops and a note: “Rosa, Do not have too much fun. Dad.”

Recently, I received a similar package, but this time, I was expecting it: a box full of Luden’s throat drops that were free samples from the manufacturer.

They’re throat drops, not cough drops, which means they have no medication in them. Their new orange flavor, however, is also a Vitamin C supplement.

I got four flavors: wild cherry, orange, honey lemon, and honey licorice. They came in single-flavored bags of individually wrapped drops. All were oval hard candies stamped with “Luden’s”, and all had perfectly smooth melts.

Wild cherry had a deep red sweetness. There was no tartness or brightness to the flavor, but there was also no medicinal tinge, which sometimes plagues cherry-flavored candies. Red candy flavors have never been my thing, but these were nice enough.

Orange is the new addition to their lineup and boasts real orange juice and your daily dose of Vitamin C. It started with a light undertone of orange zest with just an edge of pithy bitterness.

It did get a bit tarter as I held it in my mouth, but I prefer my orange candies brighter and tangier.

Honey lemon was the most familiar cough-droppy tasting one. Its initial quick lemon citrus hit became immediately displaced by a strong menthol sensation.

The menthol was not too intense – it didn’t reach my sinuses, but it did cool my mouth every time I inhaled. The acid lemon flavor was light, as was the sweetness of the honey, though the lemon did get a bit tarter as time went on.

Honey licorice had bitey, herbal, grassy notes of classic licorice. I really hate licorice, so these were definitely not my thing, and I had to spit them out. I am a terrible licorice reviewer.

I wouldn’t buy these as a candy replacement, but they’re good for their candy-as-medicine class. I’ll happily keep the rest of my samples handy for my next cough or sore throat. Actually, based on how people have been sounding around campus, I should bring them to lab with me and hand them out.

I give Os to the wild cherry, orange, and honey lemon. In the honey licorice case, I abstain.

Public Displays of Confection – 1890’s Sweets/Drop Candy Berry Mix

These 1890’s Sweets/Drop Candy Berry Mix from Public Displays of Confection were a free sample, along with the Thanksgiving Mix I reviewed a week ago and a couple of fat candy canes.

The website describes them as “blueberry, blackberry and raspberry pressed into shape on our 150 year old drop roller press. These are called fruit drops, because the machine produces sheets of candy that are “dropped” onto a hard surface to break them into pieces.”

The candies were cute and distinctively shaped. All had a perfectly smooth melt that felt glossy against the tongue.

Raspberry was a red circle dappled with little round bumps. It was sweet with a concentrated fruitiness and a hint of tartness. I wouldn’t have placed it as raspberry based on its flavor, as it lacked the artificial seediness raspberry candies usually have.

Blueberry was a knobbly, artificially bright blue sphere. It tasted darker than the raspberry, with a purple, grapey flavor.

Blackberry had the same shape as the raspberry but was a deep purple in color. It had the deep darkness of the blueberry but with bright, fruity overtones that made it taste positively juicy.

This was a fun, tasty assortment. I liked how amped up all the flavors were, and the polished mouthfeel was great. An OM.

Public Displays of Confection – Thanksgiving Mix

Public Displays of Confection sent me an assortment of samples of their artisanal, handmade hard candies. They use old school techniques on machines that are over a century old; you can check out a video here.

The Thanksgiving Mix contains a seasonally appropriate mix of flavors: pumpkin pie, peach cobler, cranberry sauce, apple cider, and sweet potato casserole. They’re image candies, made from folding and pulling candy into a long tube and slicing it into pieces to reveal the center picture.

The centers of the candies left little air tubules as they melted, like starlight peppermints do. The outer shells melted smoothly and felt like perfectly smooth plastic under my tongue.

The pumpkin pie was the easiest to pick out, as it had a pretty pumpkin in the center. It really captured the savory aroma of cooked pumpkin with a pumpkin pie’s notes of nutmeg.

Peach cobbler had a bright orange shell and a layered square of peachy-striped colors. It was sweet and lightly fruity with a hint of cinnamon. The overtones were bright, and the candy tasted positively juicy.

Cranberry sauce had a pinkish red center with the image of a trio of red cranberries and something blue and white (any guesses on what it’s supposed to be?). It captured the tannic essence of cranberry juice, with the perfect touch of tartness to take the edge off the candy’s sweetness.

Apple cider had a little red apple in the center and a green and red shell. It tasted sweet and brightly full of apple juice flavor. I found it lightly tart with maybe just a hint of cinnamon to the finish. I appreciated that this tasted of genuine apple rather than the candied version that Jolly Rancher has codified.

Finally, sweet potato casserole had an orange and blue shell with a little stamp of a yam in the center. It had the spot on taste of sweet potato with a butterscotchy finish. While there was no denying what it was emulating, I found the savory and sweet combination in a hard candy to be strange.

I was impressed by how spot-on the flavors were. The sweet ones – peach cobbler, cranberry sauce, and apple cider – get OMs. The savory ones – pumpkin pie and sweet potato casserole – were a bit strange to consume as hard candies, so they get Os.