As many of you might be aware of by now, I have a real soft spot in my candy loving heart for classic/retro candies. You know, the ones that often have that dated, garish packaging and are only found in limited and difficult to find areas and stores around the United States. I cannot place my finger on all the reasons why I love these candies so much, but one reason is that I am really drawn to the history of them. Another reason is I’m very curious to taste something that has survived the test of time.
Annabelle’s Candy Company is what I’d consider one of these classic/retro candy manufacturers. Located in Northern California, they’ve an impressive history and have been around making sweets since the 1950s. They have a solid lineup of sweet treats and I admit they they make some of my favorites.
Living on the East Coast makes it hard for me to find Annabelle’s candy in stores, but when I do I am certain to stock up. I was excited to find this Abba-Zaba Sour Apple in a remote gas station and snatched it up as if my life depended on it. Especially since it was alone on a shelf, not even sitting in a box. It needed a home.
I’ve had regular Abba-Zabas before, which are basically a sweet taffy with a peanut butter center, and I liked them despite being a plainer sibling to my favorite the Big Hunk. This was a sour apple version though, and I wasn’t sure what to expect from it. The idea of the flavored taffy with the peanut butter sounded interesting.
First thing I was surprised to find the taffy a bright, bright green. I expected sour apple flavor, yes, but sour apple color? No, so this was a surprise. It smelled salty and lightly of peanut butter. The texture of the taffy is hard and it’s crunchy in the parts on the ends that are thin enough to dry out. Once warmed in the mouth and worked with the teeth, it softens and has a lovely chew.
The flavor is spot on with a standard sour apple flavor. It’s not as powerful as the Jolly Rancher thankfully, but it has it’s moments of sour and sweet both mixing together wonderfully and playfully transitioning between the two. Even thought I’m not much of a sour person, this had a mildness to it where I didn’t feel it crossed the line.
In fact, I’d call it tart as opposed to sour as it felt more natural like the sweet sourness that real apples have. The peanut butter is what you’d expect: creamy, sweet-salty and nutty. I was reminded of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at certain moments.
So yes, Abba-Zaba Sour Apple is a quite tasty and very satisfying dense and chewy taffy. Though I had a hard time biting off chunks to chew, it was still entertaining to eat. It especially made things interesting when trying to type my tasting notes during consumption; one hand recording the data and the other busy supplying my sugar addiction for the day.
Rating: Might Eat Again
Annabelle’s Candy Co. Website
Reese’s Pieces are a candy that took me a long time to learn to appreciate, as strange as that may sound. As a child I’d watch my parents and sister enjoy them and I could never bring myself to like them. The obviously lack of chocolate made Reese’s Pieces unappealing in my mind. To add to this, the odd color scheme of the candies (brown, orange and yellow) reminded me too much of the nasty 1970’s styled furniture that was prevalent in my house. It made me feel ill to just look at them.
As I got older I did give Reese’s Pieces several chances to redeem themselves, but they never became something I’d specifically crave. Still, they’re such a popular candy still, I figured it’d be good fodder for the blog.
I found a packet to try just in time to catch the special promo packaging for the new Batman “Dark Knight” film. The only difference is that the standard orange/yellow/brown colors have been replaced with black and blue. Very odd I must say, yet I like it better than the normal colors. Don’t ask why, I can’t logically explain it. The shape of the pieces are a little smaller than a plain M&M and a little flatter.
The flavor is very, very peanut buttery. You get the light sweet hit from the candy shell, then almost immediatly after you get the flavor of the iconic Reese’s smooth peanut butter. The texture is different from the cups we all know and love, as the pieces’ center is very creamy and buttery as opposed to dry and crumbly. The pieces have a very satisfying sweet/salty balance that is hard to beat.
I have to admit these aren’t as offensive as I remember as a kid and I quickly polished off my packet. Just goes to show your tastes always change.
Rating: Will Buy Again
Reese’s Pieces Website
I’ve heard of these Cream Nut Clusters long before I ever found them to try. Like yesterday’s Tronky bar, they were something I discovered in the DiBruno Bros. store and as soon as I saw them, I snatched them us as if there were the last bit of food on earth. Yes, I was that excited to try them.
The Cream Nut Peanut Butter Clusters are made by Koeze Company, who specializes in making the infamous Cream Nut Peanut Butter. I’ve heard it’s the best peanut butter out there, but I haven’t tried it myself. As if my opinions on peanut butter on a candy blog would matter, anyways. These clusters use that peanut butter, blend it with white chocolate to make a creamy center, then layer it on fresh pecans before covering it all in dark chocolate. I’m drooling already.
They look similar to caramel turtles: a ploop with edges that curl under into a little mound. It’s large too, about 2 inches in diameter and 1/2 in tall. It smells chocolatey with a hint of coconut to it.
The first bite is terribly creamy. The chocolate is a good thickness and cleanly snaps when you bite into it. The peanut butter white chocolate center is terribly smooth and very sweet. The peanut butter flavor is not very strong as it’s been diluted by the white chocolate, but it still is the start of the whole candy. The pecan bits are a perfect size; not too big or small. They deliver a wonderful light nutty flavor with an incredibly fresh, meaty texture that’s crunchy at first then buttery smooth for the rest of the time.
The entire symphony of flavors works beautifully: the chocolate provides a deep, characteristic flavor which balances out the sweet creamy center and ends with the crunchy pecans. Think of this as a extreme quality Russell Stover creme bonbon or maybe what the Reeses’ Select Clusters should be like.
Rating: Will Buy Again
As a child of the 80s, I remember commercials for the Whatchamacallit very vividly. They were always one of the coolest candy commercials on the TV. Chances were, though, if you asked me exactly what it was, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you as it was something I never begged my parents for at the checkout line in the grocery store.
So what exactly is a Whatchamacallit? The wrapper describes it as: “peanut flavor crisps, caramel, rich chocolatey coating”. As an adult I’ve avoided this bar for the longest time simply because I know it’s covered in mockolate, which I feel is the scourge of the candy world. I know it’s a question of production costs and shelf stability, but really, chocolate is perfect the way it is, why mess with it? I digress.
The bar is long and wide; imagine if two Kitkat fingers were laid out and flatted with a rolling pin. I have a hard time trying to think of another candy that’s more short and wide than it is tall and thick, but I am drawing a blank. So the shape immediately feels unique to me. The top is pretty with subtle textural ripples from the enrobing. The bottom is even better, with that lovely diamond criss cross pattern from the conveyor belt. Does anyone else admire this along with me? I may be alone in my appreciation.
I’m surprised that Whatchamacallit smells quite chocolatey considering the questionable ingredients. There’s aromas of caramel and a lack of any suggestion of peanut butter. I find myself again reminded of Kitkat. My first bite was really nice: you get some thick, chewy textures from the caramel and a nice crispy crunch from the peanut butter crisp. The first flavor is the chocolatey coating mixed with the caramel giving it a sweet kick. Then comes the peanut butter crisp which is very nutty and perfectly salty. The crisp’s flavor is also well balanced: not as intense as a Reeses’, yet it’s not subtle enough to let the other flavors shove it to the sidelines. Even so, I do think it’s the star taste in this bar.
Ok, so color me surprised. I liked this bar despite the mockolate. The flavors of the caramel and peanut butter crisp deliver solid flavors that are strong enough to mask the lack of real chocolate. I also find that the textural contrast of the the caramel and peanut butter crisp overshadow the unusual greasiness that mockloate always has. This is an excellent example how the combination of ingredients can make or break a candy bar. I probably won’t buy this again because of the mockolate, since I don’t like to willingly eat the trans fats, but I will eye Whatchamacallit with subtle affection every time I see it at the checkout counter from now on.
Rating: Not Worth It
Whatchamacallit commercial on YouTube.com