Like most every American kid, I grew up on Hershey’s chocolate. It was the chocolate bar to have with its iconic wrapper and powerful sweetness. It was the only chocolate acceptable to make S’mores with. Despite how my tastes have changed since the days of my youth, Hershey’s chocolate is still ingrained deeply into my sweets psyche. It plays an important role as a basis for all the chocolate I’ll experience for the rest of my life, whether I like it or not.
Chocolate is a thriving business and there’s always a demand to somehow re-invent it to increase sales. That is essentially what Hershey’s is doing here with their new line of Bliss chocolates. Not only are they trying to grab attention with a new brand and re-packaged look but they’re also trying to compete with the Dove Chocolate line. This move of Hershey’s to try and make a “premium” chocolate line is interesting to me, especially after their stance on changing the definition of chocolate.
The new Bliss chocolate come in large bags with the little individually foil-wrapped squares inside, very similar to how the Kisses are packaged. Depending on where you shop, you can find other flavors in the line. I recall seeing a Raspberry flavor in Target last week. I was lucky and stumbled across these mini packets in my grocery store so I could sample just a few without much risk.
Milk Chocolate: Immediately very soft and sweet. It’s creamy, light milky and caramel notes to it. Thankfully it doesn’t come across as waxy to me at all.
Milk Chocolate Meltaway: The texture is noticeable “fudgier” than the other milk chocolate; it feels thicker and more slippery in the mouth. There isn’t a “center” per se, like in a Lindt Lindor. I got no shell/creamy center separation as the chocolate just overall seemed softer. There’s more caramel notes here and a salty touch, but other than that there’s not much else that appears different to me from the regular milk chocolate.
Dark Chocolate: Pretty flavorless and waxy. There’s light chocolately notes, but they have an odd muskiness about them that’s very off-putting. That problem was all fixed when I paired it with a cup of coffee.
Considering what is trying to be accomplished, it’s a decent attempt on Hershey’s behalf. It’s still far from good enough to get me to buy it over something much better, such as Droste, Chocolove or Michel Cluizel (just to name a few!). The funny thing with chocolate is it’s really such an individual thing, so even though it’s not my chocolate Bliss, it might be yours.
Rating: Not Worth It
These gummis were introduced by Hershey’s sometime in the early 1990s. This is yet another example of a candy whose mesmerizing commercial caught me every time. I guess Hershey’s had a real cracker jack marketing team back then during my childhood.
I had practicaly forgotten about these until I saw them in the candy kiosk in my local mall. I seriously thought they were discontinued or something. But how could I deny the fact that I saw them there staring back at me from amongst the Haribo and Trolli gummi bear packs? I figured they were probably ancient, but curiously got the best of me and I was paying for a few packs next thing I knew. No matter how bad they may taste, I couldn’t help resisting the nostalgia.
The packing is certainly eye catching with it’s simplistic 90’s styled graphic design and bold colors. The little bears are only a little over an inch long with not much detail. They have little nubbins for legs and arms and slightly protruding dots for ears, eyes and a nose. The texture is very chewy and they are very hard to chew at first. Only after a bit do they slowly become softer. The colors are ghastly to me, very pale and washed out and not appetizing at all.
Green Apple (green): Light, floral and juicy apple flavor. It’s very natural, not sour or fake tasting when I think of jolly ranchers. More of a fuji/gold delicious flavor
Grape (odd purple): This tasted floral and slightly juicy and has a very slight concord grape flavor.
Orange (orange): Almost impossibly hard to decipher from the strawberry and I only did so by holding them up to a light bulb. This is very bright and citrusy, and the orange tootsie pop immediately comes to mind.
Cherry (red): The most intense of the colors. The flavor is mild with a deep floral note to it. It does read as cherry, but not medicinal.
Strawberry (also orangish): Light with a good authentic berry flavor. My second favorite of them all.
Pineapple (light yellow): My favorite! It has a bright, sweet pineapple flavor with a hint of tartness.
So they weren’t impressive to me in the least. I don’t know if it was that my pack was old or if the “natural” flavor that Hershey marketed with these is just no competition for what’s available today. I’m happy to just remember them as memory serves me best: not as candy, but as really awesome commercials.
Rating: Not Worth It
Amazin’ Fruit Gummis Commercial on YouTube
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
Hershey’s Kisses have been busy this year with their 100th anniversary, as they’ve been releasing various limited edition flavors to celebrate the occasion. The Cookies ‘n’ Creme flavor is one of the newest Kiss offerings that I stumbled across on a recent trip to Wal-Mart. Despite the fact that the bag of these is huge, I happily tossed it into my cart without a second thought.
These new Kisses are described as white chocolate with “cookie bits”. The wrapper is a pleasing bright sky blue with designs of cookies printed in silver on them and I find it very attractive. I turned over the bag to read the ingredients list to find that these are sadly not real white chocolate. Tropical oils are present towards the top, which cheapens the product as well as manufacturing costs. It’s discouraging to see these aren’t all cocoa butter like they should be. To add to the frustration, PGPR shows up as well so you know Hershey’s isn’t making a top notch Kiss here. I’m already disappointed without even tasting them yet.
The Kisses look pretty with their milky appearance and brown spots peeking though, which look suspiciously like brown non pariels. The taste is very strong on the vanilla flavor and are quite creamy, yet they still carry that “white chocolate” essence to it. I was correct, the “cookie bits” are indeed chocolate non pariels. They provide an interesting textural crunch but no actual cookie flavor. These are also pretty sweet as far as Kisses go and as a result are very cloying. The flavor is very compelling though, since the overall effect does taste like cookies to me.
As far as the limited edition Kisses go, I liked these more than most of the varieties that’ve been released. My only wish is that they’d used real cocoa butter and the non pariels were actually cookie bits. Otherwise I feel a bit cheated by the false promise of cookies and creme.
Rating: Might Eat Again
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