June 2009
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Milky Pineapple Bag

Milky is one of the few Japanese candies I remember discovering when I was in Japan. Most of my Japanese candy experiences come from visits to Asian markets here in the States, so it’s novel for me to find one on native soil. I remember stopping into a Family Mart, which is a popular chain convenience store there, and found a bag of strawberry flavored Milky. I was there in January, so I didn’t realize that I was experiencing the annual explosion of strawberry flavored candy exclusive to that time of year. My friend and I decided those looked the most delicious out of everything we saw in the aisle and promptly bought them to snack on later that day.

Needless to say, we were floored by the intensely creamy, flavorful and chewy caramels known as Milky. We kept buying more whenever we came across them, and even stashed a few bags in our suitcases when it was time to return home. I only ever saw the standard vanilla and chocolate Milky for a few years after my return, and it’s only in recent months I’ve seen the fruit flavored limited editions in stores here. I was so happy when I saw the pineapple one in my local Asian market, and snatched the bag so fast I’m sure it broke the sound barrier (ok, I exaggerate, but it was fast!).

Another fun fact to note is that the six year old girl on the bags, Peko-chan, is the mascot for the Fujiya company that makes Milky, since 1950. That’s a pretty old!

So what makes up these little balls of delicious addiction? Milky are simple little creamy caramels, as they’re made ingredients are condensed milk and pineapple juice. So appealing!

There’s about 40 caramels in this bag, which is a nice amount. The caramels are the the size of hazelnuts, wrapped in wax paper with images of pineapple and Peko-chan on it. The candy itself is hard, but has a little give to it when you squeeze it. It’s a creamy yellow color. The chew is thick and creamy, like a nice soft caramel. The flavor is very authentically pineapple with wonderful sweet notes and a hint of that apple tartness. It’s creamy from the milk base, so it tastes like a refreshing pineapple milkshake.

I love these candies as much as the first day I tried them. They’re simple, sweet, and satisfying. I hope I can continue to find them more easily, as they’re something I really like having in my stash on a regular basis.

Rating: Will Eat Again


Will Eat Again

Links Fujiya Website


Peanut Roca Package

After my pleasant experience with the Moca Roca I reviewed a few weeks ago, I was open to give the other varieties in the line a try. My problem is that I only ever see them sold in giant tins, and I really can’t justify buying so much just so I can taste a few for the blog. So when I was in my local dollar store and spied this singe serving size package of the Peanut Roca, I jumped on it like a starved lion. This is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for.

I’ve explained the Roca format before, but it bears repeating. They’re thick little logs of toffee that are covered with chocolate and nuts. They’re very dense and very tasty. I was curious as to how this one would be different. Is it rolled in peanuts instead of almonds? Is it peanut flavored toffee? Perhaps there’s peanut butter in there? My imagination ran wild.

As I unwrapped my first piece, the smell is of nicely roasted, salty peanuts.

The taste is of the fresh, salty peanuts and the rich, buttery toffee interior. I hardly taste the chocolate, much less want to pay attention to it as the peanuts are the real stars here. This Roca is a really nice mix as it has a great salty and buttery essence that I really enjoy, and I feel that the Moca one was lacking. I don’t get much of a “honey roasted” flavor, but it does have a sweeter peanut taste than most. Unfortunately, it still gets stuck all over and in my teeth which makes me sad since I find it so annoying. I was hoping that was a trait exclusive to the Moca flavor.

I’d was very pleased with this Roca variety and I feel comfortable now buying a big tin of it next time I see it in stores. I hope I come across smaller packages again, as I still haven’t tried the traditional Almond Roca or the Cashew Roca yet. Maybe it’s time for another trip to the dollar store!

Rating: Will Eat Again


Will Eat Again

Links Brown & Haley Website


Life Savers Island Fruits Gummis Bag Package

I often have a love/hate relationship with gummis. It really boils down to the fact that I’m really picky about them. My main complains come down to the fact that the texture often isn’t chewy enough to my liking and the flavors are too similar and bland for me to really enjoy them. There’s some that I do return to as they’re better than most, but often I find I am disappointed with gummi candy.

That being said, I’m a big fan of Lifesavers and I remember vividly the commercials in the early 1990’s when the first Lifesavers gummis were released on the market. I begged my parents to let me try them, and when they finally caved in and let me have them, I felt underwhelmed by the flavors. I was big into eating the rolls of the hard candy versions back then, and the flavor in the gummis were no where near a strong. I finished my package and never asked my parents for them again. 

Lifesavers recently came out with a new flavor package for their gummis: Island Fruits. I’ve seen them around in two forms: one is a big bag like theo ne pictures above, and another in a single serving roll. The package is very fun and eye-catching, so it’s not a hard one to miss. Not being one to let past experiences to dictate my opinions, I knew it was time to give these another go.

The gummis themselves are adorable. They look like pneumatic Lifesavers, and in the roll they stand upright in a section tray. They’re bouncy and squishy to the touch and I couldn’t help but play with them in my hands before taking my first bite. 


Lifesavers Gummis Island Fruits Roll

The texture is a very nice gummi: chewy, with a good structure so it doesn’t immediately dissolve in my mouth. They come off as very fresh and satisfying.


Life Savers Island Fruits Gummis

Strawberry Kiwi: red/pink: Light and sweet and immediately tastes of sweet, fake strawberry. Just like those fruit snacks you ate as a kid. The kiwi flavor shows up as a tart note towards the finish of the flavor.

Mango Melon: orange: Beautifully fruity, floral and of cantaloupe right away. I’m not sure of the mango part, but I’d say this is the best of the bunch. It’s punchy, yet not overpowering and the flavor is refreshing and real.

Fruit Punch: dark red: Starts off very fruity, then gets that slightly bitter and floral taste of Hawaiian Punch. It’s like your mom tried to hide your cough syrup in your morning orange juice. It’s tasty, yet strange as artificial punch flavors always are.

Pineapple: Yellow: Light and sweet, this flavor is very muted and mildly juicy. It doesn’t have that flavor explosion I expect with Lifesavers flavors, but it’s very authentic with nice sweet/tart notes.

I was impressed with these and my early childhood experiences with these are now replaced with this tasty experience. I shared these with my boyfriend who raved about them. He especially loved the Fruit Punch one.

Rating: Will Eat Again


Will Eat Again

Links Lifesaver’s Website (Candystand)



The Chocolate Traveler 70% Tin Open

This is a chocolate that I’ve seen around many places, and it always caught my eye because of the interesting packaging. The chocolate comes in an adorable round tin with a couple on it and a plane, obviously ready to explore the world together. The tin is slim and light and makes this a great keepsake once the chocolate is gone. 

The chocolate inside is split into separated individual pie wedges, so it’s easy to take a piece and store it for later. Or if you feel like it, share it. I like how convenient and accessible this package makes the chocolate discs. What can I say, I’m a sucker for design.

Chocolate Traveler 70%:

The chocolate here is the standard Belgian chocolate processed with alkali (meaning it had chemicals added to make it less acidic) and just has sugar and soya lecithin added to it. No vanilla or milk, which is nice since this is meant to be a dark chocolate. The chocolate has strong notes of cocoa, coffee, vanilla, caramel and cream. The break of the chocolate seems unusually soft to me, especially considering it’s 70% chocolate. The mouth feel is very smooth and creamy.

The flavor is very mild right off and I’m immediately reminded of Belgian chocolates of my childhood: very sweet and not much chocolate flavor at all. I get no stages of flavor, no nuances of anything, just straight sweetness. The finish and aftertaste, however, are very odd. I taste trees, muck and mold. Ew.

After trying and being terribly disappointed with the 70%, I ran into two other flavors a few weeks later. Once again I was lured by the cool tins and decided to see if the flavored varities improved on the chocolate. Once purchased and opened for tasting, I was immediately diappointed. Both tins are bloomed! Ashen in color and sugary in places. Is this a bad batch or a packaging problem? I won’t to buy more to find out.


The Chocolate Traveler: Raspberry

Raspberry: The chocolate has a hard snap. Upon my first bite I’m immediately hit with this odd, fake raspberry flavor. It tastes odious, with notes of fake perfume which could be “raspberry” in another universe. Only at the end do you get flavor from the chocolate, and it’s sweet and reminds me of the flat flavor of cocoa powder. Blech.


The Chocolate Traveler: Tiramisu

Tiramisu: This one smells warm and of vanilla. I get no hints of coffee, which is a major ingredient in Tiramisu. I cautiously take a my first bite and find that this one is somewhat edible. It has strong, creamy vanilla flavors, but no real depth. It’s a very superficial chocolate flavor and I feel like I’m eating a sold hot cocoa mix. I was feeling a bit relieved at this point, but then I got this odd, chemically aftertaste in the chocolate which just made me spit it out.

This is a classic example of don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Visually these hold such promise, but I am not in any hurry to torture my taste buds with bland sub-par chocolate again anytime soon. No matter how cute the packaging is.

Rating: Inedible



Links The Chocolate Traveler Website


Taza 70% Chocolate Bar

Taza Chocolate is one of the newer chocolate makers here in the United States, and they have a really impressive idea and method behind their chocolate. Taza obviously takes great pride and care in their work, so the chocolate is not only organic, but it’s also made bean to bar using traditional methods from Mesopotamia America, where chocolate originated. How cool is that? Each bar is handmade in Somerville, MA where the factory headquarters are located. They even have a virtual tour on the website so you can see exactly how your chocolate is made. If that’s not interesting I don’t know what is, as I’m fascinated with everything chocolate and I love how they allow a peek into their processes.

I found these three bars, er, one bar and three discs in Chelsea Market on a recent trip to New York City. I was pretty excited to have found them, as I’ve heard so much about Taza chocolate and I meant to talk with them during last year’s Fancy Food Show, but missed the opportunity. Now at least I have some experience with their chocolate, so I don’t feel so out of the loop anymore.

I want to mention that the process of Taza chocolate that makes this chocolate taste like how our ancestors probably ate it for centuries before the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800s. It was at that time machines were made to create enough pressure in the making of chocolate to fully pulverize the sugar crystals in the chocolate to give it that silky, extremely smooth texture we’re used to today. Taza grinds it by stone, so that the chocolate has a more gritty texture than what we’re used to. It didn’t matter much, as chocolate was still consumed as a drink before the advent of machines.

Taza Stone Ground 70% Dark Chocolate:

The bar comes in a simple, yet smart bright red wrapper. On the back there’s a batch # number and location of the cacao beans’ source, in this case it’s Dominican Republic. The ingredients read as: beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, whole vanilla beans. So simple, I love it.

The chocolate is wrapped beautifully in sturdy silver foil and wax paper. The bar is very dark with a gorgeous red undertones and a very, very subtle gloss. It smells extremely fruity of red berries, citrus with hints of coffee and vanilla.

The break is hard, but not clean, which is expected due to the unique conching process. The chocolate looks very gravelly and evenly textured.

The flavor is awesome. It starts off a little mild and dry, but very sweet with dominant notes of vanilla. Then the flavors creep out toward the middle with strong cherry and strawberry notes, none of which get too strong or powerful, but instead deliver a good tartness that balances with the sweetness. These flavors remain constant until the finish, where you get one last burst of tart from the berry and then a kiss from the sweetness to end it all. The aftertaste is fruity and lingers a little before disappearing.

The texture doesn’t seem too odd for me. Yes, it is a teeny bit sandy in my mouth, as I do get a little grain from the sugar. Overall, I didn’t pay much attention to it since it feels really natural, smooth and creamy to me. Nothing at all like Ibarr or Don Puglisi, which are two other chocolates that have this traditional texture. It’s very nice, but again, not terribly noticeable.


Taza Chocolate Disc

Taza True Cinnamon Chocolate Mexicano Disc:

This disci is just like the Mexican classic Ibarra chocolate. Chocolate mixed with cinnamon and sugar that’s formed into tablets for hot chocolate or eating. Even the style of the tablets are similar, as they’re split into pie wedges with the letters of the Taza name falling onto each.

It smells deep and roasted with notes of cocoa and coffee and a little earthiness. Then comes the spice, with the cinnamon smelling fresh and strong. The color of the chocolate is very deep with beautiful red tones and a attractive gloss.

The break is not as hard as most, and the texture is quite sandy, but not anywhere near as textured as Ibarra, where the sugar granules were as big a the ones in your mom’s sugar jar.

The flavor is very complex: it starts of sweet with notes of caramel and cream, then blossoms into extremely fruity flavors of red fruits and citrus. The finish is very tart from the fruit notes, yet mellows a little with some sweetness. All along this ride, the cinnamon delivers a constant sweet spiciness that compliments, rather than overpowers, the chocolate.

Oh, and as a drink, it’s lovely too.


Taza Chocolate Disc Vanilla

Taza Vanilla Bean Chocolate Mexicano Disc:

Same signature texture here as the other two bars. The flavor is lovely, as it’s very earthy with a strong cocoa flavor with notes of caramel, strawberries, cream. Surprisingly, I don’t get much vanilla flavor in here at all. It’s horribly addictive, so much so that I ate it all as is, and didn’t get to test it as a drink. Oh well, guess I have to buy another!

I loved these bars and the textural differene the stone ground method really keeps this chocolate fresh and exciting. It was like eating a piece of history for me. I am really eager to try the rest of their product line, but I’ll have to be patient as I can’t find them in stores around me. Let the hunt begin!

Rating: Will Buy Again


Will Buy Again

Links Taza Chocolate

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