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Country the Candy Comes From

Aug
18



Wonka Bottlecaps Package

I recently read Hilary Liftin’s book “Candy and Me” which is an autobiographical story about her love affair with candy. Her favorite throughout the story is Wonka’s Bottle Caps, which I admit is a candy that I don’t have much experience with. Therefore, I decided it was worth checking out.

In essence Bottle Caps are soda flavored compressed dextrose tablets. The cute little discs that have the fluted edges so they look like the metal caps on glass soda bottles back in the good ‘ol days. The cover of the package shows these goofy looking Bottle Caps with googly eyes and it looks like one is even about to raspberry us (at least it looks like it to me). The colors are not very intense with a chalky appeareance. The colors are light purple, light brown, light orange and a surprisingly deep raspberry pink color.

 

Wonka Bottlecaps

Purple: My guess of grape soda was spot on (what else could it have been, really?). The flavor was pretty mild, but definitly of grape soda. I didn’t get that spicy soda kick from it which was disappointing. I chewed the tablet in hopes of releasing more flavor, but it didn’t deliver. It was just mildly sweet with a little tartness at the end, but overall disappointly bland.

Pink: I had no idea what to expect from this flavor. Pink soda? It was immediately clear once I popped one into my mouth. Cherry. It had a very artificial, slightly tart cherry flavor. It was more flavorful than the grape (which isn’t a feat really) yet it didn’t remind me of soda at all. I felt like I just chewed a cherry Tums or something.

Orange: This flavor was another no brainer. This was very much like orange soda, except for the “cool” flavor and texture coming from the dextrose. It was orangey, very Tang like with a good mix of tart and sweet.

Brown: I was expecting this to be a cola flavor, so imagine my surprise when it turned out to be root beer! Yay! It had an awesome old fashioned flavor with great spicy, woodsy notes with a good wintergreen kick. Easily the best of the bunch and hands down my favorite.

I don’t think I’ll ever pick pick these again unless they start making packets that are just the root beer flavor. Now there’s an idea, hrmmm…

Rating: Might Eat Again

 

Might Eat Again

Links:
Wonka Candy Webpage


Aug
15



Leone Absinthe Chocolate Bar

“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

 

Will Buy Again

Links:
Leone Website

 


Aug
14



Hershey's Symphony: Toffee Almond

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”.

 

Hershey's Symphony: Milk Chocolate

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

 

Might Eat Again

Links:
Hershey’s Symphony Webpage

 


Aug
13



Hershey's Bar Caramel Cappuccino

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!)

 

Inedible

 

 


Aug
12



Haviland Wintergreen Patty Package

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.

 

Haviland Wintergreen Patty

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?

Rating: Hoard

 

Hoard

Links:
Haviland Wintergreen Patties on the NECCO Website

 


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