Country the Candy Comes From
Sometimes something sounds so strange, you just have to try it. That’s exactly what prompted me to try Sweet Vellies. My love of fruit jelly candy obviously far surpasses the name, as these are vegetable juices instead. Yes, you heard me, vegetables. So how else to test my love for a certain confection with a flavor assortment that’s totally out of the box?
I found these on a recent venture into New York City at The Sweet Life down in the lower east side. I couldn’t tell much from the very simplistic packaging they came in as they didn’t list anything other then the name and ingredients. There wasn’t even a flavor key! Still, I knew these would be something terribly unique and were worth a try. I even Googled them once I was back home and didn’t find much information. I got a suggestion of flavors (Mint, Tomato Basil, Red Pepper, Strawberry Rhubarb, Beet, Corn, Lemon Verbena, Blueberry Sage, Carrot Ginger, Passion Fruit) but not that it helped me very much.
When I went to taste them a few days later, I couldn’t even eat the one package as it molded right away. Phooey. A suggest shelf life would have been a nice addition to the packaging.
I noticed some differences right away. First, the texture is grainier than other pates that I’ve had, which I found very strange. I’m used to smooth, dense jelly but these felt as if some of the pulp of the vegetables were kept intact. It was strange at first, then I didn’t mind it so much after a few bites.
Dark red: Very sweet, immediately fresh, juicy and tart. I think it’s blueberries, raspberries and beets.
Green: Minty with sharp underlying tart notes that I can’t really place. Maybe cucumber?
Light yellow/green: This one is hard to describe, as it tastes slightly sweet and starchy. I think this is corn.
Opaque yellow: Whoa, ok, no, that last one wasn’t corn. This one is and it’s awful. I immediately spit it out. It tastes like hardened creamed corn soup.
Orange: This one is easy to peg: tomato basil. It tastes of slightly sweet spaghetti sauce.
An interesting idea with horrible execution. It felt like playing Russian Roulette with the flavors and none of them tasted interesting to me at all. Keep the vegetables at the dinner table, ok?
Rating:Not Worth It
Sweet Vellies at the Sweet Life Website
When I think of certain foreign countries, very specific candy come to mind. I think of Smarties and Mars bars for the United Kingdom, Michel Cluizel chocolate for France, Haribo Gummis for Germany, and Pocky for Japan. My point to all this is that the candy that comes to mind for Australia is Cherry Ripe.
I eyed Cherry Ripe for a long, long time. As silly as it may sound, the whole reason it interested me to begin with was its intensely bright red package. Once I read the description of the bar: “ripe juicy cherries and moist coconut smothered in rich ‘Old Gold’ Dark Chocolate” I was sold on the idea of it. It was a matter of time before I got my hands on it.
My patience was eventually rewarded and I tore open the wrapper with an intense purpose. I really didn’t know what to expect on the inside of the bar from the description. Was it coconut studded with maraschino cherries like a fruity version of Almond Joy? Were they mixed in and evenly dispersed throughout? Just a flavor? I couldn’t wait.
The bar looks like a standard enrobed candy bar on the outside, smooth and dark and smelling very coconutty and sweet. Breaking the bar in half revealed the moment of truth: the interior was an intensely bright red coconut center. No cherry bits to be seen.
As for the flavor? Well, take a Mounds bar and flavor the coconut center with maraschino cherry syrup and a little Red 40 and you got yourself a Cherry Ripe. Sweet, slight medicinal cherry flavor with a hint of bitterness. The coconut really saved it with its sweet, nutty and extremely moist texture. The combination works, but comes off as a little odd to me.
I’m happy I tried this so I could put my mind and taste buds to rest. It’s not really my thing, to be honest, but I certainly will give it another go if I find myself in the land down under.
Rating: Might Eat Again
Cherry Ripe Webpage
If that isn’t a gorgeous candy package, I don’t know what is! It was totally on impulse that I grabbed these at the Mitsuwa in Los Angeles. The bright colors called right out to me. Whatever was inside, no matter how potentially nasty, had to be mine.
Thankfully, just as the package’s design suggests, these are watermelon flavored gummis. It’s nice that I can read the Japanese to know this, but I also appreciate the package’s intuitive design to bridge the language barrier and let anyone know what to expect from this candy.
The gummis are so adorable. Really, I had to sit there and just coo at them because they’re so cute. The gummis come in two colors, red and yellow. Each have a wonderful wedge shape to them and a green rind. They smell fresh and fruity and the texture is nice and firm.
Red: Color aside, this one is watermelon flavored. It’s very juicy tasting with notes of melon and peach (where I think most of the “artificial” aspect of candy melon flavors come from). It’s pleasant, kinda perfumey and very, very tasty.
Yellow: This one is much more tart and apple-like in flavor as opposed to the red ones. These taste more authentic because of the strong apple presence, but conversely less like a melon. I prefer this one over the red.
I think watermelon works as a great flavor for gummi candy and I can’t help but wonder why there isn’t more non sour varieties like this available. Just goes to show that sometimes you can judge a candy by its packaging.
Rating: Will Eat Again
I was originally introduced to the work of Lake Champlain Chocolates by my Mom, and I wish I could remember where and when she originally discovered them. All I can recall is her gushing to me about how good their chocolate was and how I needed to try it. I finally caved and bought some when I saw it in Whole Foods some time later, and when I tasted it, I was hooked.
I saw these earlier this year as one of their seasonal spring releases, and it was too pretty and tasty looking to pass up. The chocolates are so beautiful. They’re shaped like dogwood flowers and are wrapped by flavor in colorful foil. The actual chocolates is very dark in color and has a nice “clean” chocolatey aroma. I can’t imagine how they could be any more enticing.
Dark Mint (green): The bite is surprisingly firm and breaks off with a good “klok” sound. The mint flavor shows immediately yet it’s light and not overpowering at all. The chocolate provides sweetness and a good richness to the palette. What I thought was really cool was that there’s slivers/chunks of peppermint in here, like crushed pieces of candy cane. It delivers an unexpected burst of mintiness in some bites and the slightly chewy texture is a lot of fun.
Milk Chocolate Caramel (pink): The milk chocolate is wonderful and is the “standard” chocolate base for Lake Champlain: very creamy with dairy flavors and strong sweetness. The overall effect is extremely chocolatey and very satisfying satisfying. I’m reminded of good Swiss chocolate. The center holds the caramel which is very free flowing and drippy. The flavor is quite sweet with really strong notes of cooked sugar resulting in a toasty flavor. I also taste a strong hit of cream that gives it a little tang. The caramel center and chocolate exterior make a very sweet and dedicant combination here.
Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Praline (blue): This uses the same delicious milk chocolate as above but the the taste of the hazelnuts is immediately apparent. It’s as if Nutella has come and crashed milk chocolate’s party. It’s a wonderful combination, and dare I say, the whole thing feels smoother and richer because of it. This is hard for me to believe since Lake Champlain’s chocolate is so smooth to begin with. A lovely chocolate morsel to say the least.
These are awesome, no question about it. Even if the flavor selection doesn’t appeal to you, I can safely say that these also make excellent gifts. My Mom relies on me to give them to her.
Rating: Will Buy Again
Lake Champlain’s Milk Chocolate Flowers Webpage
Sometimes I come across a candy and I don’t really know what to make of it. The Clif Shot Bloks are a good example of this. They’re sold as an energy option for endurance athletes to eat for their training and events. The thing that interests me about them is that they’re gummis. Technically that means they are an energy candy, but what exactly is that? Is it still candy if it’s meant for something else then eating for pleasure?
I am torn on the issue of candy as athletic fuel. Granted, it’s well known scientific fact that sugar is a fast way to get an energy fix, which is necessary for many of the athletes who use these sort of products. It’s also a given that you’d want these products to taste good, too. So it’s really logical to make these energy supplements to taste like candy. Here lies the problem though: can these energy products really taste like candy? Would you eat them if you didn’t need the energy fix? I was curious to find out.
Strawberry: The shape of these are very large, about 1oz apiece. They’re square and reminds me of the approximate space and size of a standard chocolate bonbon. They’re semi-opaque, with a deep berry like pink color. The flavor is wonderful, especially considering this is meant purely as a form of quick-energy and not as something to savor. It tastes intensely of strawberry with a very thick, jam-like flavor. I also get some tartness in there, and it comes through as tasting like fresh apple cider. it’s so good. The texture is nice too. Thick, your teeth slice though it in the nicest way. It’s a little sticky, but only in your hands. The chew is firm yet quick, since you don’t want to be spending time chewing when you’re trying to deliver glucose to your muscles. What can I say, I’m impressed!
Cran-Razz: These are much darker than the strawberry, a very deep opaque berry purple. The taste is very jammy, but very bland. I get light notes of raspberry, but no hint of cranberry, not even a tart edge, to be found. It reminds me of how watered down juice tastes.
Cola: A nice deep brown color and looks yellow ish toward the ends where the gummi is a little translucent. It has an odd smell like the other, oddly fruity and a little salty. The flavor is a very spicy cola flavor, which is sweet and earthy with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and a twist of lemon. These have a very strong bitter aftertaste to them which I’m not too fond of though, which is a killjoy for me. Kinda like drinking a soda that’s gotten flat. It just feels like something is off.
As a workout boost these are a great option. But as candy? Personally, I wouldn’t eat them as such.
Rating: Might Eat Again
Shot Bloks at the Clif Website