Types of Candy
“Cioccolato extra fondente 74% all-assenzio” reads the box of this chocolate bar. I don’t speak Italian, yet I knew immediately what this was when I saw it: absinthe dark chocolate. I’ve had liqueur flavors in chocolate before and I’ve had anise flavored chocolate before, but together? This is something I had to taste for myself.
This is made by Leone, a very well know Italian confectionery company. This bar is actually part of an absinthe line that they offer; including absinthe chocolate bonbons, pastilles and a bottle of the green stuff itself. As for this chocolate bar version, the packaging theme is very dark and mysterious with deep brown tones with copper accents and green detailing. It really delivers the odd mystique of absinthe, in a dark turn of the century like feel.
The back shows a very suggestive image of molten chocolate and some history on the chocolate (all in Italian). The ingredients list is simple: cocoa beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, absinthe infusion, extracts and essences of aromatic herbs and plants, natural vanilla. There’s no funny business here.
You immediately you smell the anise when the opaque foil protecting the bar is opened. It’s pretty strong smell. The chocolate is very dark and smooth, with no gloss at all. It feels glassy smooth to the touch. The break is very hard and clean, save for a few random air bubbles.
The flavor is quite complex. There’s a very bright sweetness that rests at the base of the whole flavor. The strong, herbal anise flavor of the absinthe shows up almost immediately. It’s varies between intense and mild, allowing hints of mint, grassiness and fennel to appear. There’s no burn at all, just a mix of very strong herbal notes. The chocolate lends a great deep roasted richness to it all, staying grounded and strong and keeping the whole bar from tasting too medicinal. There’s a coolness to this bar too, and overall, I think this is like a very intense mint chocolate, with those extra anise flavors included.
I enjoyed this. I wish I bought more of them.
Rating: Will Buy Again
The Hershey’s Symphony line of chocolate bars was released back in 1989, just in time for me to catch the commercials during my after school cartoons. These bars are meant to be more “premium” than the regular Hershey bar with creamier, richer chocolate that, well, feels like a symphony in your mouth.
There are only two bars in the line; a Milk Chocolate and a Milk Chocolate with Almonds and Toffee. There’s been rumors that with he release of Hershey’s Bliss, the Symphony bars are going to gradually be phased out. I saw this as an opportunity to try these bars in case they do disappear, so I did some hunting to track these babies down.
Symphony Almonds and Toffee: The wrapper has a blue color scheme and the expiration date reads 2009, so I know it’s at least fresh. Looking at the ingredients I’m immediately annoyed to see PGPR listed. Hershey’s has a nasty habit of using this stuff in their chocolate in recent years. It allows them to use less cocoa butter, but still keep that slippery mouth feel. I digress….
The bar smells lovely once unwrapped: milky, a little nutty and very sweet. The back of the bar is bumpy showing the almond and toffee bits while the front is very traditional looking with the standard rectangles with the Hershey’s name printed in them. The break is very,very soft; almost fudgy. The chunks of almonds and toffee are a reasonable size from looking at the pieces.
The flavor is is very punchy: the sweetness of the chocolate is cloying and has a creamy milkiness. This is cut by the nuttiness of the almonds and then the final kick of the toffee: extra sweet, with a good caramelized flavor and a super crispy crunch. Aside from the chocolate lacking “chocolate” flavor, I have little to complain about. It’s very tasty, also a little “moreish”.
Symphony Milk Chocolate: This is the single serving bar and once opened you immediately notice a difference in presentation. Where the other was more the form of a normal Hershey’s bar, this is thicker with the bar split into two rows of slightly raised squares with “Symphony” written on them. The color also seems much lighter to me. The aroma is also very sweet with a solid creamy scent with notes of vanilla and caramel.
The flavor is bland at first. The chocolate doesn’t really feel creamy, but instead it’s smooth with a subtle grain. The flavor appears more as it melts giving notes of milk and sweetness, but not much else. There are moments where I’d get an strange note of fruit or bubblegum but it soon vanishes as another wave of sweet rushed over me. I’m not impressed buy the super sweetness (what are they hiding?) and lack of complexity. Not too impressed with this, give me the almond toffee one any day.
I wish Hershey’s would drop the Bliss chocolate and just stick with the Symphony Almond Toffee. It’s the best of the Hershey’s chocolate bars I’ve had to date.
Rating: Might Eat Again
Hershey’s Symphony Webpage
I saw this bar on the shelf of a overlooked convenience store and knew it was something that was long and forgotten. Despite my better judgment, I picked it up anyways. Once I was home I checked the code on the back; it read 87F2Z 61 2 . Ahh, it was considered peak freshness in Jan 2006. No wonder I haven’t seen this bar anywhere else!
As I opened the bar (yes, I did plan on eating it!) a strong smell of coffee came through. The smell, mixed with the caramel and chocolate, makes a very malty cappuccino effect. Impressive, for once, since candy often claiming to be coffee of cappuccino flavored tend to fall short on their promises. So far this one smells spot on.
Overall, it looks pretty good. There was a little blooming in the chocolate on the bottom side of the bar where the chocolate had cracked near the caramel cavity. There was also a little on top where the chocolate has been bumped from storage and rough handling during shipment. Still, it looked nice for something so old!
The bar itself is split into four square cavities, with all of them sitting on a nicely molded rectangular base. There’s nice decorative cross hatching on the top, surrounding the Hershey’s logo. The ingredients list is pretty clean, no trans fats listed, unlike Hershey’s products today, but PGPR is shown on there.
I break off a piece to try….
Ugh. Not good. The chocolate is dry and the caramel is thick and sticky. Not in a good way either; but an old, tacky sort of way. The cappuccino flavor, which I’m sure was good a long time ago, now just tastes like two week old coffee: bland, odious and oddly artificial. I bet this tasted great two years ago, but now not so much.
I don’t know why I feel so surprised about this. Let this be a lesson to you: don’t eat candy that’s expired over two years ago.
Rating: Inedible (but it’s my fault!)
I found this gem in a very neglected dollar store in the middle of upstate New York. Sometimes, the places you find the candy is as interesting as the candy itself. These Haviland Wintergreen Patties sat on the shelf next to several candies that shouldn’t technically be sold anymore. We’re talking the likes of Marshmallow Take 5 and other candies from 2006. I was relieved to find a date, and a fresh one, on the back of this mysterious Wintergreen Patty. I decided to give it a home.
Another tidbit about my personal tastes: I’ve never been big on mint, peppermint, and spearmint. Especially when it’s mixed with other things, like chocolate. But wintergreen? I’m all over that stuff, I can’t get enough of it. So all the rules from my taste buds about minty things are out the window when wintergreen shows up. I love it that much!
I was perplexed why I hadn’t heard of this candy before, considering that I do make an effort to seek out wintergreen flavored things. Part of the answer is that Haviland is a subcategory of NECCO, which have a very interesting niche of products for the candy market. It immediately made sense in my mind; why it was so rare to find and of course in a place where people who’d remember it from childhood would possibly shop. I’d almost liken it to a regional candy in that respect.
When you open the package, you immediately you smell the wintergreen. The patty is large, 2 inches in diameter and about 1/3 inch thick. The chocolate is glossy and a nice rippled effect on top, like patterns on windblown sand. Breaking it in half, you can tell it’s dense as it has that thick “give” to it like a Mounds or Almond Joy. The center is an incredibly bright pink and it looks very striking against the dark chocolate.
Surprisingly the wintergreen smell doesn’t overpower the aroma of the chocolate, which is nice and sweet with notes of caramel. They blend beautifully together.
The wintetrgreen hits you right off in the first bite. It’s strong yet it’s not too much, and delivers that great minty, fresh, slightly spicy flavor. The taste does mellow and allows the chocolate to show the tastebuds some attention, and it comes across as nicely sweet and smooth with good notes of cocoa and a hint of coconut. I didn’t find this as off putting in terms of minty “fresh” intensity like a York Peppermint Patty, but this has a good level of freshness, sweetness, and then the chocolate to balance it all out. The texture is awesome as it’s thick and smooth with a slight graininess to it. It lasts a good time in the mouth if you just savor it slowly, which really adds to the satisfaction level.
So in conclusion: wintergreen+chocolate=YUM! Why isn’t there more of this out there?
Haviland Wintergreen Patties on the NECCO Website
This is one candy that I fail to understand why it has so many fans. I remember seeing childhood friends opt for Jolly Ranchers over a KitKat or a Milkyway (gasp!) and feeling totally nonplussed by it. Perhaps the fact that the they were just a “cool” candy because the colors were bright, the flavors fake, and the fact that every business had them in a candy basket for us to grab when the parents weren’t looking.
I wasn’t so desperate for sugar, as my parents rationed it to me well, so I found I didn’t eat Jolly Ranchers at all. Oddly enough something about the flavors always stuck with me, partly because they are so iconic in how artificial they taste. I find myself referencing the Jolly Rancher flavors often, so I decided it was time I tried them again and give them a full review.
Opening the bag up it smells sickeningly sweet and of chemicals. The smell is so mixed up that I can’t identify a single specific flavor. Once unwrapped the candies are cylindrical and pretty to look at with their semi opaque colors. The surface is mostly smooth except in spots where it gets tacky from moisture.
Blue Raspberry: I really don’t get what’s up with this flavor, really, blue raspberries? It’s tart with strong floral flavors mixed with melon and berries. It turned my tongue blue.
Watermelon: Intensely tart and powerful flavors right away. It’s artificial with sharp perfume-y notes and a juicy fruitiness. There’s also hints of bitterness lurking in there that I don’t find very pleasing.
Green Apple: Sweet, with strong juicy apple nuances. It reminds me of a very strong cider. There’s a tartness to them which makes me think of granny smiths. There’s a slight perfume-y aftertaste, yet I really like this one.
Cherry: This one is intense right away. The flavor is very deep, woodsy, and with a strong fruitiness. It reminds me of tart cherries and it really gets my saliva going. I was frightened that this would be very medicinal tasting, but it’s not.
Grape: Tastes of Dimetapp Elixir. It’s mainly sour and metallic with the grape flavor only showing briefly from time to time. It’s very syrupy sweet and artificial. Like the others, there’s an odd floral note and it just launched this flavor into the “nasty” zone. I spit this one out.
These are not any better from what I remember. In fact, they’re worse. Little about Jolly Ranchers appeal to me and I am once again stumped by them. Especially since my roommate was so happy to take the rest of the bag and then proceeded to polish them all off in one evening.
Rating: Not Worth It
Jolly Rancher Website