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
There’s been lots of artisenal chocolate makers popping up in the United States the past couple of years. There has, in my opinion, been a great deficit of them and it’s so rewarding for me to see that many have caught the chocolate making “bug”. These newcomers to the chocolate making scene have helped shape the future of chocolate by adopting progressive practices on how they source, make and sell their products. None of them have gone as far as Askinosie chocolate, who have literally taken chocolate making into their own hands.
Shawn Askinosie, the founder of Askinosie chocolate, was a criminal defense lawyer before he was called away to pursue a passion of chocolate. Learning everything he could about the process, he’s taken great steps to make sure his product is the best that it can be. Not only that, but his background has given him the gift of great social responsibility and has created a new way to work with the farmers whom he sources all his cocoa beans. Aside from traveling to the cocoa plantations to meet the workers and taste the beans himself, Shawn also pays above Fair Trade prices to his farmers so that they can focus on making better cocoa beans from more sustainable farming techniques and enjoy higher living standards.
Another amazing thing about Askinosie is that they are the only small batch chocolate maker in the United States to press their own cocoa butter. They use all natural cane sugar and also refuse to use additives in the chocolate as they feel it messed with the chocolate’s flavor and texture. This results in a very short shelf life of these bars which is about 6 months. Oh, and did I mention that the chocolate is also organic?
With all the fanfare in regard to the practices and processes of Askinosie, the big questions still remains: Does the chocolate taste good? I can give you a very enthusiastic “Yes”.
70% San Jose Del Tambo Dark Chocolate Bar: Very beautiful bar to look at. It has a great dark color with a gorgeous temper and gloss. The blocks are so cute, each sporting a letter of the “Askinoise” name. The aroma is intense: fresh, bright, red, fruity and very alive.
The flavor starts off mild with notes of cream, caramel, raisins and vanilla. The middle blossoms into a bright bouquet of fruits, berries, tart cherries and citrus which is pleasantly tart and pure tasting. That flavor lasts and has good staying power for a bit before fading into the finish like a brilliant sunset. The aftertaste has clean notes of cocoa and orange.
San Jose Del Tambo 34% white chocolate: There are many special things about this bar, but the main one is that it’s the first small batch white chocolate bar. Another special thin about this is that it’s a non deodorized white chocolate, which means the aromas in the cocoa butter aren’t removed. Other than El Rey’s Icoa white chocolate which is also non deodorized, this is the only type of white chocolate you can find on the market. It’s amazing to look at too, as the bar isn’t white at all; but a soft caramel, beige color. It doesn’t have much aroma, other than a slight fatty cocoa scent. the break is soft, the chocolate feels smooth and has a subtle gloss.
Right away it’s very sweet, and the flavor slowly comes out after a moment of melting on the tongue. It’s has a sweet, dairy-like musk to it (from the goat’s milk I’m guessing) that plays with the subtle notes of cocoa in the non deorodized butter. There’s light notes of caramel too and I’m reminded of dulche de la leche. The mouthfeel is very rich, with a thick texture that’s smooth but not slippery. The finish is light and sweet, and I admit I want more of it when it’s done.
75% Soconusco Dark Chocolate Nibble Bar: This bar uses the prized cocoa beans from the Soconusco valley in Mexico, where there are great pains are taken to collect these beans since it’s such a remote location. The bar is a deep rich brown and turing it over you can see the nibble bits are generously studded into the backside of the bar. It smells birght and roasted: notes of coffee, red berries, cinnamon, cutrus, and vanilla.
The flavor is beautiful and starts off with mild vanilla and nutty flavors that then bloom into citrus, cream and cocoa. Those flavor longer a moment, then fade when a slight acidic notes of berries and sweet red fruits leave a clean, fresh finish with no aftertaste. Along with all this you get a constant, light nuttieness from the nibs as they deliver a slight chewy texture which goes beautifully with the chocolate. The nibb’s texture is not too soft to get lost in the chocolate or too hard to compete with it. Lovely.
I cannot help but gush about the Askinosie chocolate. The chocolate is top-notch in terms of appearance, texture and flavor. Not only that, but the thoughtfulness of the practices of the company in regard how it processes the chocolate at the factory (they’re as green as possible) and the huge social commitment they make to the cocoa farmers where they course their beans makes this company one I want to support. With retail value $8-$10.50 per 85 g bar, this many not be an everyday indulgence, but it’s something I’ll happily pay for frequently. It’s something sweet for my taste buds and the planet.
Askinosie Chocolate Website
Tootsie Pops are one of the many overlooked classic candies in my opinion. They’re something that’s always available in my candy stash for many reasons: tasty, portable, long-lasting, satisfying, interactive…..oh, I could go on. For me, Toostie Pops are delicious the Swiss army knife of the candy world.
Imagine my delight when I was in my local Wawa convenience store pawing through the box of loose Tootsie Pop to satisfy a 4pm sugar craving, to find a Tootsie Pop in a wrapper that looked new. Puzzled, I picked out one and examined it to find “Pomegranate” written on the outside. I proceeded to grin like the Cheshire Cat as I grabbed a few and ran to the checkout. A tasty new treasure, I could hardly wait.
I admit, I am a little puzzled by this new flavor choice for a Tootsie Pop. Pomegranate has been getting lots of attention in the past few years because of its health benefits, and some candies tried to cash in on that craze. I don’t really understand the appeal of the actual flavor of a Pomegranate. Don’t get me wrong because they taste great, but I’m more often interested in the fun way to eat them by plucking them seed by seed, than for the actual taste. Considering that the past new flavors to the Tootsie line were strawberry, watermelon, blue raspberry and lime; I figured Pomegranate would be more of a trendy name to drop into the assortment.
The wrapper is the same design as the other traditional Tootsie Pop’s, expect the color scheme is a bit different. The white has been replaced with a dark maroon, so even though this newbie looks different in essence it’s the same as the classics.
The pop itself is bright red and looks like the Cherry flavor, but you can tell the difference one you pop it into your mouth. The flavor is different and much, much better. It’s fruity with berry flavors, notes of grape and a “tartness” that reminds me of pineapple. Overall it’s very “red” tasting, but it’s lacking that fake medicinal flavor that makes the cherry one so unappealing to some. Think of this as Cherry’s more awesome twin brother. As for the Tootsie center? Yeah, the flavors meshed well with that.
My skepticism aside, I really, really like this flavor. It covered all the flavors sensations I require in a good hard candy and resulted in some fun, saliva-inducing consumption for my mid afternoon break. Tomorrow I’m going back for more and buying every last one in that loose Tootise Pop box.
It seems fitting that for my inaugural post that I’d review a candy that is very dear to me: the Zero bar. As a candy enthusiast, the Zero bar epitomizes the idea of why we all love candy. Usually our preferences are based on what tastes good to us, by what memories we associate with it, what company makes it, etc. Sometimes though, we get a candy like the Zero bar that’s a favorite, well, just because. The love exists without logic.
The Zero bar, which is made up of almond nougat, peanuts, caramel and enrobed in white fudge; was originally made by Hollywood Brands candy company back in 1920. Zero’s name comes from the white covering along with its tendency to be eaten frozen (at “zero” degrees). Over the years it has jumped from company to company and in 1996 it became a member of the Hershey candy lineup. It still remains, as far as I know, the only candy bar to be covered in white chocolate.
I find it odd that despite my love for this candy bar, I cannot recall specifically how I discovered it or when I first tasted it. I only have a general sense of when it appeared in my life and how: I believe it was during middle school when my Mom brought it back to me from a shopping trip. She thought I’d like to try it simply because it was white chocolate. Sometimes the simplest of actions have very large impacts.
The bar once unwrapped is a beautiful pristine white. It smells sweet with a light, nutty, almond touch. Breaking it in half, the caramel ribbon makes a wonderful gooey thread: it’s not too thick nor too flowing. Perfect. The almond nougat is a nice chocolately brown color and you could easily mistake it as such if it wasn’t for the nutty almond smell.
The first bite is lovely: the chocolate feels smooth and cool, the caramel sweet and the nougat fluffy with a nice graininess as it melts in your mouth. The flavor is very sweet, but the nutty almond flavor of the nougat and the peanuts help cut it a little. Surprisingly, the nougat tastes more of real almonds and not amaretto, complimented with a slight touch of malt, that stands out as the main flavor of Zero. The sweet caramel and white chocolate coating providing a light base for the flavors of the nougat to build upon. The pieces of peanuts are small and not heavily distributed (thank goodness!) provide an extra nutty kick as well as a crunchy textural element. The balance of delicate and simple flavors with a good mix of textures of this bar makes it a total winner in my book. So tasty.
So there you have it, the candy bar for which I feel unconditional love for. Some will disagree with my opinion, but that’s what makes loving a certain candy so special: only you truly know how to appreciate it to the fullest.
Have you tried Zero bar before? Do let me know how you like it!
Zero Bar Webpage