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Review: Pop Rocks Mega Bar – Part II

I previously reviewed the Pop Rocks Mega Bar and concluded that it was the worst candy bar I had ever had, partly because the chocolate was crap. Well, some anonymous person contacted me with a profanity laced tirade about that review. They must have been a huge fan of the Pop Rocks Mega Bar because they said my review was crap and my blog sucked. Who knew people would get so upset about a candy blog? Anyway, I figured I’d give the bar a second chance because the first one I tried was admittedly not very fresh and maybe with better, fresher chocolate, the product would be decent. I had serious doubts, but I tried to keep an open mind.

Pop Rocks Mega Bar wrapper

Structure
A 6-segment, molded bar of milk chocolate with Pop Rocks mixed throughout.

Pop Rocks Mega Bar cross-section

Texture
The consistency of the chocolate is okay, but I don’t really like how thick the bar is though. It makes it rather hard to bite through. It would be better if this bar were about half as thick as it currently is. But the chocolate is of course, not the interesting part of this candy bar. The Pop Rocks are. At first, they feel just like regular crisp rice pieces. After a couple of seconds though, their carbonated properties become noticeable. Maybe others enjoy the fizzy, popping sensation, but it’s too much for me. If it only lasted a few seconds, I’d be okay with it. Instead, the popping lasts for a while though and moves down your throat as you swallow. It’s just a really odd sensation.

Taste
The Pop Rocks are completely flavorless, so the Mega Bar tastes like a plain milk chocolate bar.

Verdict
The second time tasting the Pop Rocks Mega Bar was a little better than the first, but only because I knew what to expect this time. That didn’t really help me like it any better though. I think the biggest problem is that the Pop Rocks themselves don’t have any flavor. I actually like strawberry flavored Pop Rocks and think those might work well with chocolate. I came across a review of the Chuao Firecracker Chocolate Bar, which also uses popping candy, but has better chocolate and some other flavors. I’m interested to try Chuao’s version out and see if popping candy belongs with chocolate after all.

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Review: Hershey’s Take 5

Flavors that work for ice cream generally work for candy bars too. Cookies and Creme, Peanut Butter Cup, and Mint Chocolate Chip are all delicious as ice cream and candy bars. Hershey’s Take 5 reminds me of Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby, which is one of my all-time favorite ice cream flavors.

Structure
From the bottom up, Take 5 is two segments of hard waffle pretzels, peanut butter, caramel and chopped peanuts.  Each segment is enrobed in milk chocolate.

Texture
You’ll first notice the crunchiness of the pretzels, then the crumbly peanut butter and finally, the creamy caramel that sticks in your teeth and outlasts the rest of the components. The chocolate coating is very soft, but smooth. Overall, the Take 5 is a bit on the dry side, but that’s to be expected from a product consisting of peanut butter and pretzels – I don’t really fault them for that. Just keep in mind that this is a product that goes well with something to drink.

Taste
This is a salty candy bar and really tastes a lot like a plain old chocolate covered pretzel. However, the caramel, peanuts and peanut butter all add further deliciousness that elevate the Take 5 beyond it’s classic candy cousin.

Verdict
There’s so much going on with this candy bar. It’s crunchy, salty, sweet, chewy and just plain good. Though Hershey’s is using fake chocolate with this product, that wasn’t a deal breaker. The pretzel, peanut butter, and caramel do most of the heavy lifting, while the chocolate seals everything in and plays a supporting role. Don’t get me wrong though, this candy bar would be even better if it had real chocolate.

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Review: Atkinson’s Rainbow Coconut Bar

I’ve formed a habit of looking for candy bars wherever I go. The other day, I was in a costume store looking for a Halloween getup and found myself scanning the candy stacked up at the checkout counter. Amongst the Gummy Flesh Fries and Sour Mud Worms, I spotted an odd looking candy bar – the Rainbow Coconut Bar. The bright colored packaging includes the tagline “Pure Coconut for Pure enjoyment!” and a quick scan of the ingredients shows that it’s almost entirely made of coconut.

Structure
A solid slab of coconut, sugar, salt and corn syrup pressed together. It’s not quite a rainbow, but it is striped on either side with red food coloring.

Texture
It’s tough to bite through, as the coconut has been pretty tightly compressed. Once you get a bite in your mouth, you’ll notice it’s chewy and a bit dry.

Taste
I was expecting the Rainbow Coconut Bar to be really sweet. It’s actually not at all. The sugar content is relatively low and this allows real coconut flavor to poke through. Some bites are a little salty which I would normally like, but didn’t quite work here.

Verdict
I admit, when I purchased this candy bar, I was already expecting a dud. I bought it because it was different and I thought it would be fun to blog about. Even though I’m giving it a thumbs down, it surpassed my expectations. Ultimately though, this candy bar is too one-dimensional (only coconut) to get a positive review. I’ll still reach for an Almond Joy next time I want a coconut fix.

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Review: Annabelle’s Rocky Road

Rocky Road has always been one of my favorite ice cream flavor combinations. Traditionally, it’s a mix of chocolate, marshmallow, and walnuts (or sometimes almonds). This candy bar has the chocolate and marshmallow, but interestingly, the manufacturer elected to use cashews as the nut. Cashews are more expensive and softer than walnuts or almonds, so I was a little surprised they’re used in this product. On the other hand, I absolutely love cashews, so maybe they were in fact a brilliant choice. We’ll see.

Structure
A rectangular slab of marshmallow topped with chopped cashews and covered in milk chocolate.

Texture
95% of the Rocky Road is made of the marshmallow interior, which is light and fluffy. It has the texture of a homemade marshmallow, not like the Jet-Puffed marshmallows you buy at the supermarket, which tend to be drier. The chocolate, on the other hand, was disappointing. It had an unpleasant, waxy consistency. The chopped cashews were almost completely lost in the mix – as I would have predicted. Again, walnuts or almonds would have been a more logical choice.

Taste
The marshmallow is sweet and has that distinctive “marshmallow” flavor. I guess it comes from the combination of vanilla and egg whites. However it happens, marshmallow just tastes distinct and this product tastes mostly like that because the chocolate and the cashews bring no flavor of their own.

Verdict
A “rocky road” candy bar makes sense. It’s a classic combination that goes together as well as peanut butter and chocolate. Annabelle’s is the only company I am aware of that makes a candy bar like this, but I was less than impressed with their offering. All it needs to be great is better chocolate and, in my opinion, almonds instead of cashews. They would then have a huge winner.

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Review: Choxie Dark Chocolate Key Lime Truffle Bar

In the candy aisle of my local Target, on a shelf full of $3 Choxie candy bars, I spotted this one marked down to $2.50. That’s not exactly a good sign, but I thought maybe people were scared away by the thought of lime and chocolate. I thought to myself however, that this bar conceptually worked. I’ve had frozen key lime pie covered in dark chocolate down in Key West and it was delicious. I’ve also made lime flavored white chocolate candies with graham pieces and they were delicious. So despite the suspicious sale price, I had high hopes for this candy bar.

Structure
The label has the following detailed description: “Dark chocolate with a truffled filling of white chocolate balanced with tart key lime and crunchy graham biscotti cookies.” The bar is constructed by lining an 8-segment mold with dark chocolate, filling the cavity with white chocolate lime ganache and sealing the bottom with another layer of dark chocolate.

Texture
The dark chocolate coating is a bit waxy, but still smooth with a firm snap. The truffle filling feels pretty much like regular white chocolate. The difference between the hardness of the dark chocolate and the inside is slight. It’s almost like biting into a solid, thick chocolate bar. The graham biscotti cookie bits are small and sparsely sprinkled throughout. This was disappointing because I was hoping they’d provide some crunch and contrast to the texture of the chocolates. Overall, the texture of this product is very one-dimensional.

Taste
The lime flavor is very subtle. I had an expectation of a sweet and sour citrus burst countered with the bitterness of dark chocolate. Instead, both the lime and the chocolate were underwhelming. You do get a little bit of the sour lime flavor on the finish, but it’s not nearly as pronounced as I would have liked. The flavor of tiny graham bits is imperceptible. Without the aid of the product label, I wouldn’t have been able to tell that they were graham biscotti versus any other type of cookie bit.

Verdict
I give Choxie credit for trying to create a unique candy bar, but I think they fell short on the execution. It’s almost like they were scared to make it taste TOO much like lime. This is unfortunate because if you’re the kind of person who would pluck this product off the store shelf, that’s exactly what you would be looking for. I wasn’t completely turned off by the Choxie brand though and I’m sure I’ll be trying out some of their other products in the future.

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Review: Hershey’s Mr. Goodbar

Mr. Goodbar is a classic. First sold in 1925, it’s in the same iconic league as Snickers and Baby Ruth. It was also one of my favorites growing up. Whenever I came across a bag of Hershey’s miniatures, I quickly combed through and picked out all the little Mr. Goodbars; especially leaving the Special Darks behind. Well it’s been a few years since I’ve had one of these and I was pretty devastated to learn that Mr. Goodbars no longer contain real chocolate. Apparently, in an effort to cut costs, Hershey’s has decided to downgrade one of their greatest brands. But how noticeable is it? I figured it was worth a shot to see if maybe one of my childhood favorites was still as awesomely tasty as I remembered.

Structure
A 12 segment, molded milk chocolate bar with roasted peanuts.

Texture
The bar is thin and really soft – not at all like tempered chocolate should be. Worse, the chocolate is grainy. This is characteristic of real Hershey’s milk chocolate anyway, but this is worse. The peanuts are at least crunchy, but in a molded chocolate product like this, the consistency of the chocolate is the most important part and Mr. Goodbar fails in that department.

Taste
Sugary sweet with a lot of vanilla and little real chocolate flavor. The peanuts are fine enough, but it’s interesting to me that there’s no salt in this bar. Peanuts, salt, and chocolate go so well together. I can understand not wanting to go overboard with the salt, but just a little bit would go a long way. Especially if Hershey’s is going to make such a sweet fake chocolate product, it needs something to balance it.

Verdict
It’s really sad to see a classic like this suffer in the interest of reducing production costs. Some day, I hope Hershey’s regains their senses and refocuses on quality with this product. Until then, I’m going to try to get my hands on a Ritter Sport Voll Erdnuss, which I’m confident will be of a much higher quality than Mr. Goodbar.

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Review: Hershey’s Whatchamacallit

Whatchamacallit brings back memories of my 80’s childhood. Not because I actually ate many of them, but because I can remember those cheesy ads I used to see on TV. Back then, Hershey’s actually used real chocolate to cover this product. Sadly, today they use vegetables oils instead of cocoa butter because it’s cheaper and therefore, print “chocolately coating” on the packaging.

Structure
A peanut flavored crispy interior topped with a layer of caramel and enrobed in a milk chocolate coating.

Texture
The crispy center reminds me of Cheetos. Ok, that sounds weird, but imagine a Cheeto without any cheese on it. That’s what I thought of when biting into the center. Sadly, but expectantly, the chocolate coating is gritty. I wish I could go back and sample this Hershey’s product with real chocolate. The chewy caramel layer works nicely to provide some balance and depth to the texture of the bar.

Taste
The Whatchamacallit flavor experience is packed with sugary sweetness and vanilla. There’s really no chocolate flavor to be found, which is sad considering that I carefully taste candy bars looking for flavors. The caramel has a bit of saltiness, which cuts the sweetness a little, but it also has an artificial caramel taste that isn’t very pleasant.

Verdict
After I was done, I figured out what this candy bar reminded me of; these big tins of chocolate drizzled caramel popcorn my dad used to get for Christmas. I used to love that stuff. However, these days I’m not a fan of Whatchamacallits.

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