Jocalat by Larabar

According to Larabar’s website, these bars used to be called Maya bars. They’ve replaced the cocoa nibs in Maya bars with ground cocoa beans for a smoother texture and renamed the result. The Jocalat name sounds swankier (because we’re not sure how to pronounce it), and it lets Larabar use an accent breve (it’s amazing what I still remember from my high school French classes) to create a fancier looking logo.

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Jocalat bars (BUY) are made with organic and fair trade certified ingredients, usually some combination of organic dates, organic nuts, organic cocoa mass, organic cocoa powder, and organic flavoring. They’re gluten free, dairy free, soy free, kosher, vegan, and with no added sugar. Unlike regular Larabars, these are made from only 90% raw ingredients because the cocoa beans must be roasted, but that’s still impressive.

The bars come in chocolate, chocolate mint, chocolate orange, and chocolate coffee. As an energy bar or meal replacement bar, they’re pretty good. I personaly prefer the texture of Clif Bars to Jocalat, but I do find the Jocalat bars much more palatable than Powerbars and Odwalla bars.

food-blog-pictures-021.jpgAll four bars are softy, chewy, and studded with nuts. The texture sort of resembles that of fudge, like a stiff puree with an extremely fine grain.

Chocolate – This bar is nuttier than the others, containing walnuts, almonds, and cashews in addition to dates. That’s according to the label, as I couldn’t distinguish between the different nuts as I was eating the bar. It smells deliciously of rich chocolate with a sweet and sour fruity overtone. While the Larabar website claims it to be as indulgent as a fudge brownie, I find that claim a stretch. Real fudge brownies are much better, but real fudge brownies are also full of sugar and butter and bad for you things. The Jocalat bars are fairly chocolate-y but not cloyingly sweet. Unfortunately, the Jocalat bar also has a bit of a sour aftertaste, possibly due to the dates. It’s not terribly unpleasant, but I could do without it.

Chocolate orange – The bar contains only dates and almonds and smells of a freshly peeled orange, and the taste of orange is definitely there. The sour aftertaste is less objectionable here, I think because orange is supposed to be sour.

Chocolate mint – This date and almond filled bar has a strong smell of peppermint, but it doesn’t taste as minty as it smells. The mint taste lingers a bit after the bar is swallowed, and it serves to completely hide the sour taste I found in the chocolate.

Chocolate coffee – According to the website, this bar has significantly more caffeine than the others. It smells sweetly of chocolate covered espresso beans. Tastewise, however, the coffee flavor is only barely detectable as a light aftertaste. In fact, if not for the coffee smell, it find it nearly indistinguishable from the regular chocolate bar. The chocolate coffee is also sweeter than the other bars, and that slight sour taste is pretty obvious.

Overall, I’m impressed that Larabar made something this tasty out of wholesome, mostly raw ingredients. I would recommend these if you’re on a vegan, raw food, gluten-free, or casein-free diet, and I know several parents of children with autism that may find these to be a valuable addition to the pantry and well worth the cost. As for me, I try to eat healthily, but I’m not health conscious to the point of spurning all processed foods. I’ll probably spend my money on deliciously bad for you candy bars instead.

Jones Soda Co. Candy – Green Apple

jones-candy-big.jpgJones Soda Co. is probably most infamous for their Thanksgiving sodas that come in flavors like Turkey & Gravy, Cranberry, and Brussels Sprouts. I don’t know if I’m adventurous enough to try those, but when I saw Jones Soda Co. Carbonated Candy (BUY) while standing in line at the checkout aisle, I picked up a tin. It helped that the candy was Green Apple, not turkey, flavored.

photo courtesy of Jones Soda Co. website

First of all, I love the tin that these candies come in. It’s about the size of a big pack of gum (the 30-stick size), which makes it quite grip-able, and it can be opened by a flick of the thumb. When I finish off the candy, I plan on keeping the tin and stashing M&Ms or Jelly Bellies or something in there. Opening the lid reveals a customer-submitted fortune on the underside, just like the ones on the Jones Soda bottle caps. Mine reads, “‘jeans, the human napkin.’ -Merrilee, from Boise.” Utterly useless, but kind of cute, I guess. At least the sayings serve to drive customer participation, which promotes loyalty to the brand.

The candies themselves are about the size of an aspirin and have a J imprinted on both sides. My green apple ones were the same speckled green of a Sweet Tart. Also like Sweet Tarts, Jones candies are made of compressed sugar and share the same crunchy texture. The Jones candies have the added bonus of tingling the tongue as they dissolve. The slight fizziness is pretty neat, and the extreme fizziness that comes from chewing up the candies creates an addictively bizarre sensation.

Taste-wise, these candies are only so-so. The apple taste is very mild, and if you eat too many of them like I did, they leave a sugary aftertaste behind that’s rather unpleasant. I would’ve preferred a much stronger apple taste.

I probably won’t buy these again. At $1.50 per 50-count tin, they’re a little on the pricey side for a snack I only enjoy for the fizzy taste. On the other hand, they also come in Fufu Berry and Berry Lemonade flavors, and Orange & Cream, Cream Soda, and M.F. Grape are supposed to come out this year. Perhaps one of those flavors would tempt my palate more.

Limited Edition Starburst Retro

I found these in a display case along with the Limited Edition Carnival Skittles (BUY) at the Dollar Tree. They were tucked away in a corner, so I nearly walked out without seeing them. The cashier probably wondered why I got went through the line twice, both times to buy just candy.

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The packaging on the Retro Starbursts (BUY) is a nice tie-dye motif, and the individual wrappers are white with colored print instead of the other way around. The flavor names are cute and clever, if rather corny:

Hey Mango-rena! – The exclamation mark is key, of course. These didn’t taste like mango at all. I got more of a sweet cantaloupe/punch taste or something.

Optimus Lime – This was my favorite flavor. Unsurprising, since I love citrus flavored candies, and the Green Slushy was my favorite Carnival Skittle flavor. Not quite as complex as the Green Slushy Carnival Skittle, but still quite enjoyable. With a bright and tart lime taste, it reminded me of a lime Skittle, but better, maybe because it’s a bigger candy. And while we’re on the subject, check out this cool Optimus Prime cake.

Psychideli-melon – Quite faithful artificial watermelon candy flavor, like a watermelon Jolly Rancher.

Disco Berry : I guess they ran out of clever names when it came to this one. It tastes like a super intense version of a red berry candy, which makes sense, as this chew is a deep red that’s nearly maroon. I think the berry is cherry, since I think that’s what’s pictured on the wrapper.

Overall, I enjoyed these flavors, though I felt cheated by the Hey Mango-rena! Hey Mars, just making it mango-colored isn’t enough. You’re supposed to make it taste like mango too.

Original Snaps – A snap decision with tragic consequences

food-blog-pictures-053.jpgI spotted this bag on a candy display in Michael’s. I’d never seen them before, so I thought Original Snaps (BUY) would be a great review candidate, even though I couldn’t tell exactly what they were. Since the store was closing and the cashiers were shutting down their stations, I was in a hurry to get out, and I didn’t look closely at the package. When I got to the car, I turned the bag over and saw this:

Continue reading “Original Snaps – A snap decision with tragic consequences”

Cinnabon Cinnamon Pecan Roll

I’m not a big fan of nuts. Their texture is all weird, and they get stuck in your teeth. I’ll eat them in candy bars or brownies or covered in chocolate or even honey roasted, but I won’t actively enjoy them. I am also not a fan of super sweet things. For example, I like my chocolate dark and my coffee with a little bite to it.

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The Cinnabon Cinnamon Pecan Roll is covered in pecans (duh) and is almost disgustingly sweet. I loved it. I hate that I loved it, but I loved it all the same. These guys are made by the company that makes GooGoo Clusters , which I read about in Candy Freak by Steve Almond (a must-read for any candy lover). Steve Almond called the GooGoos sugar bombs, which would make the cinnamon pecan roll a cinnamon sugar bomb.

The pecan roll is a cinnamon nougat center covered in caramel and heavily studded with seriously sugared-crusted pecans (you could barely taste the pecans underneath their sugar shells). It was hard to distinguish the individual components of the cinnamon sugar bomb, so the caramel and the sugar crust on the pecans may have also been cinnamon flavored. I wouldn’t be surprised, as the cinnamon smell was super strong and mouthwateringly incredible.

food-blog-pictures-030.jpgI took a bite of this and blanched at the super sweetness of it. The texture was pretty nice, if a tad on the stiff side. I don’t know if was supposed to be that stiff or if my pecan roll had been sitting on the store shelf for too long or something.The caramel covering was also hard, and it imparted a nice burnt sugar taste but no stickiness. At most, it made the pecan roll slightly chewy.

I felt a little gross after eating that first sugary bite, but I found myself taking another, and another. Then I hit upon the brilliant idea of popping the rest of the roll in the microwave. If I remember correctly, Steve Almond rhapsodized about eating a GooGoo hot off the line, so perhaps that somehow gave me a subconscious prod.

Here are my notes from my pecan roll tasting: “Microwave – OH MY HEAVENS – released the cinnamon scent, made it soft, nougat fluffy.” I had discovered cinnamon nirvana. The texture of the softened roll was much improved, the nougat almost pillowy. The heat made everything taste and smell even stronger of cinnamon and sugar. The cinnamon sugar bomb went atomic.

Usually, I don’t eat candy bars in one sitting, but I found the pecan roll irresistible and quickly polished it off. I immediately felt ill afterwards; drinking a glass of milk helped, but it still took a while for the cloying effect to wear off. I think it was the cinnamon that got me me. There must something about the smell of cinnamon sugar that triggers something in the taste buds. Hence the overwhelming success of Cinnabon.

As far as candy bars go, these bars aren’t that bad for you, though the 30 grams of sugar is excessive. Each bar has 250 calories and 11 grams of fat, but only 1.5 grams of that is saturated. Most of the fat is probably good for you unsaturated fat from the pecans. I think that’s better than most energy bars.

I would love to buy these again, but I shouldn’t. I’m a little frightened by their effect on me – death by sugar overdose following a cinnamon pecan roll binge would be a bad way to go. I think it’s best that I quit cold turkey lest I become truly addicted. It’s probably safe, however, for me to give the GooGoo clusters a taste. I’ve seen them at the grocery store before, and now I really want to try those too.

Swedish cookies from Ikea

A week or so ago, I went to Ikea (BUY) with my friend Cassie, who needed cheap furniture for her new apartment. I love poking around Ikea and checking out all the cute, clever, and weird things they sell.

I got a soft-serve frozen yogurt at the cafe near the exit (well, Cassie bought it for me because she had a mini-meltdown and took a break to buy a soda. Ikea can be overwhelmingly large sometimes.) that turned out to be a weirdly translucent cream color. It tasted funny to me, but I usually don’t eat frozen yogurt (the Commons soft serve is ice cream), so maybe fro-yo is supposed to taste…off.

I also picked up two kinds of Swedish cookies: Ballerinas and Gilles. Yes, I realize that cookies are not candy, but they feature chocolate, and that’s good enough for me. After all, Cybele at Candy Blog writes about Pocky (BUY) all the time, and that’s technically not candy too.

food-blog-pictures-022.jpgThe Ballerinas, as you can see from the wrapper, are “cookies with a chocolate hazelnut cream filling.” The cream filling is sandwiched between a solid round chocolate cookie and a O-shaped vanilla cookie, making the Ballerina quite aesthetically pleasing. I had high hopes for these because I’ve loved Nutella ever since my middle school French teacher introduced me to its deliciousness. And by love Nutella I mean I often stand before the giant jars of Nutella at Costco and daydream about how awesome it would be to eat it out of those ginormous jars by the pawful, like Winnie the Pooh going at a pot of hunny.

Back to the Ballerinas. The filling is fluffier than Nutella, with a consistency more like whipped frosting than peanut butter, but it still retains a strong hazelnut flavor, which was wonderful. I wish the cookies were similarly delicious; they turned out to be rather dull and bland in comparison. Think about the difference between an Oreo cookie and a generic store brand cookie. While it’s possible that too-strong cookies could overpower the Ballerina cream filling, I think there was still plenty of room for more flavor. If there weren’t starving children in the world, I’d go through the roll and just lick the filling off all the cookies. That, however, is wasteful and unladylike, so I will instead wonder if Nabisco will ever make an Oreo with a hazelnut filling.

food-blog-pictures-024.jpgThe Gille Double Chocolate Crisps were a decadent delight. They’re also horribly unhealthy because the world is unfair, but you should buy them and eat them anyway. You deserve it. Two thin, crisp cookies sandwich a generous portion of rich, yet sweet dark chocolate. The cookies were just sweet enough to compliment the chocolate without overwhelming it, like an extremely mild oatmeal cookie, and the cookie-to-chocolate ratio was excellent. Clotide on Chocolate and Zucchini posted a plea for a recipe to reproduce these, and it looks like her commenters responded, so you can try to bake these at home and save yourself a trip through Ikea.

If I have a chance to go back to Ikea, I’d like to buy some of the marshmallow petit four-looking things they keep in freezers in the food section. Have any of y’all tried those treats before?

Edit, 09/25/2007 – an O for the Ballerinas and an OMG for the Gilles.

Kid Didits Chocolate-Vanilla Sundae Bars

Kristen on one of Sugar Savvy‘s sister sites in the Well-Fed Network, Kids Cuisine, got to these Didits before I did, but I thought I’d share my take on the Chocolate-Vanilla Sundae Bars. Her review gives a great description of exactly what the Didits brand is about. Each serving of the sundae bars (two small bars) contains just 90 calories, 1 gram of saturated fat, and 30% of the recommended daily dose of calcium.

food-blog-pictures-025.jpgI can understand why Kristen and her kids didn’t like this. From the picture on the wrapper, I expected a chocolate cookie topped with vanilla marshmallow and enrobed in milk chocolate. What’s inside is decidedly different and therefore disappointing. However, I still found it pretty tasty.

The chocolate cookie is chocolatey, chewy, and cookie-esque. Those who have had energy bars/meal replacement bars like those made by Slimfast or Atkins Advantage will recognize the cookie-meets-taffy texture. The “vanilla marshmallow” top is marshmallow-esque – it’s kind of foamy like marshmallows look, but it’s gooey and oozy instead of fluffy. I’d liken it to a corn-syrupy, inferior imitation of a melted marshmallow. The milk chocolate coating tastes like the coating you’d find on a candy bar, which makes sense, as Kid Didits are manufactured by a division of Mars.

At 90 calories per serving, I think these make a good portion-controlled snack. I sometimes eat energy bars in two sittings because their caloric content can get pretty high, so these Didits would be great as a mini energy bar. To compare the Didit sundae bars to sundaes or candy bars, however, is to set them up to disappoint.

Limited Edition Carnival Skittles

carnival-skittles.jpgLimited edition candies may be a marketing ploy to snare the impulsive shopper, but they’re also a great way for candy makers and consumers to try out a new spin on familiar favorites. Also, candy consumers are more willing to buy unfamiliar candies if they’re associated with a familiar brand. Limited Edition Carnival Skittles are an interesting departure from regular Skittles, but I won’t be sad to see them go.

The Carnival flavors are:

Bubble Gum (pink) – Tastes just like sweet, sugary bubble gum. For lack of a better word, this Skittle tastes like pink.

Cotton Candy (turquoise) – This tastes initially like sugar, followed by a hint of artificial blue raspberry (not to be confused with fresh raspberry).

Candy Apple (pale yellow) – This one also tastes initially like sugar but, quite logically, followed by a hint of apple flavor rather than blue raspberry. The apple flavor is actually quite nice and reminds me of apple flavored Fanta.

Red Licorice (red) – I am not a fan of red licorice candy because I think it tastes like wax. Somehow, Skittles managed to encapsulate that waxy essence. I’m impressed, assuming that the waxy taste is not just my imagination.

Green Slushy (light green) – I saved the best for last! On first bite, there’s a sharp lime taste. The lime flavor then mellows out into a sweet lemon-lime. It’s more complex than a regular lime Skittle, and more enjoyable. My favorite normal Skittles are the citrus ones, so it’s no surprise that I liked Green Slushy the best. Candy Apple is okay, but I found the initial sugar taste off-putting and too sweet.

That was my issue with this bunch of Skittles overall – three of the five flavors tasted of mostly sugar, which got bland and cloying. I polished off the Green Slushy ones (OM) and left the rest (O) for my family to finish.

Welcome!

Welcome to my candy blog! I’ve been writing for Sugar Savvy on a biweekly basis for a couple of months now, and I’ve decided that I like writing about candy enough to start my own blog. For now, everything here will be double posted on Sugar Savvy, but I may edit some posts for this site so that they’re a little more personal.

ZOMG, Candy!