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Candy Review: El Rey Chocolates

Categories: Candy,Candy Reviews,Chocolate Candy,Foreign (non-US) Candy,Gourmet Candy

El Ray Chocolates

Let’s say you return home from the market with a big Yukon Gold potato to go with your steak. You’re ready to bake the potato when you notice some fine print on a small sticker. It reads: “Contains salt, milk substitutes, artificial sour cream, onion, bacon and cheddar cheese flavor; 7% real potato.” Although you might like the sound of those add-ons, you certainly wouldn’t think you were holding a potato in your hand, would you? Of course not. A potato is 100% potato. Those other things might go great on your spud, but you want to start with an actual potato, don’t you? Of course.

And yet, this potato scenario exactly mirrors what happens when you buy any mass produced chocolate bar. All of them have around 7% cocoa and cocoa butter, and fill in the other 93% with sugar, milk substitutes, vegetable oils, soy lecithin and fake vanilla (called “vanillan”). Yes, you read correctly. Ninety percent or more of your supposed chocolate bar has nothing to do with chocolate, and yet it’s called chocolate!

Why is that, you ask? You won’t be surprised to learn that it’s due to history, greed and a disregard for quality. The cocoa in a nominal chocolate bar is by far the costliest ingredient, so makers want as little of it as possible. And we’ve called this food chocolate for so long that we associate the name with something very far from the cocoa bean.

Enter good chocolate, which has only been around since 1987, when chocolatiers figured out a way to bring out the distinct flavors of the cocoa bean in high percentage formulas without the high acidity and bitterness overwhelming the taste. (Why you don’t want any more than 70-75% cocoa; sugar, cocoa butter and vanilla round out the cocoa bean flavor best.) These artisan chocolates have a concern for quality and flavor. You’ve seen all those dark chocolate bars with percentages on the front, right? That comes from wishing to trumpet the fact that these bars have more cocoa credibility, and it’s a great trend. Except for one thing.

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Candy Review: Valor Taza to Go Drinking Chocolate

Categories: Candy,Candy Reviews,Chocolate Candy,Foreign (non-US) Candy,Gourmet Candy

Valor Taza to Go

Taza to Go is a ready-to-drink chocolate extravagance from Valor, the renowned Spanish chocolatier founded in 1881. The name comes from getting chocolate “a la taza” in Spain, which means in a small white ceramic cup. It’s an amazing, thick, rich dark chocolate drink served hot. I would call it hot chocolate, but that’s like calling the Casa Milà in Barcelona an apartment. It’s only hot chocolate in the sense that it’s chocolate, which is hot. It’s more like a melted dark chocolate bar with just enough milk added to make it into a thick, drinkable liquid. It’s especially popular at breakfast, but also as a dessert treat.

Okay, great, but what will it taste like when it comes, not from a freshly melted chocolate bar and milk from your master chocolate barista, but from a premixed, imported pouch? Extremely delicious, if properly prepared.

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Candy Review: Nestle Milkybar

Categories: Candy,Candy Reviews,Chocolate Candy,Foreign (non-US) Candy

Nestle Milkybar Logo

You’ll see Swiss conglomerate Nestle’s Milkybars in England just about everywhere. In the U.S., they’re much harder to find – even the Nestle USA website doesn’t list them anywhere. So when I saw one in World Market the other day, I snagged it. Even though I’m not a huge white chocolate fan, I’m curious to try this candy that’s so popular across the pond.

In keeping with recent trends to make foods with fewer suspect ingredients, Nestle makes a big fuss about the “all natural ingredients” in this candy, even explaining the ingredients in little parenthetical remarks. “Whole cow’s milk (that’s been dried).” Okay… thanks. Skeptics will reply that “milk” and “sugar” don’t reveal the whole story, since cows injected with antibiotics or sugar cane plants sprayed with pesticides lead to measurably unnatural byproducts (this is why organic foods can be safer and better tasting), but at least the artificial flavorings and colors are absent from the Milkybar, right?

Yeah, fine, but how about the taste?

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Candy Review: Big Bite Gummy Bear

Categories: Candy,Candy Reviews,Gummi/Gummy Candy,Novelty Candy,Soft Candy

Big Bite Gummy Bear

Remember when Godzilla first stomps his way into Tokyo? Picking up buses, throwing them down, weaving through the buildings toward the center of town? Well, that’s what we have today: the giant monster of the gummy bear forest. Your average gummy bear would be stunned in wide wonder to behold this thing, then run far, far away. The Big Bite Gummy Bear is 12 oz (most entire bags with dozens of gummy bears don’t weigh that much), and stands a mammoth three inches high.

And doesn’t this huge gummy bear kinda look monstrous? Glowing orange from some molten undersea origin, perhaps? Well… time to bite its face off.

After removing a band of plastic wrap, you need to pry away the two halves of a form-fitting, hard plastic mold that encase the beast. (Oddly, the mold has a lanyard loop; you could actually wear this thing as a necklace, I guess. Wow, that would hurt.)

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Candy Review: Chews Better Candy

Categories: Candy,Candy Reviews,New Candy,Soft Candy

Chews Better Chews

Chews Better has the following motto appearing on its packages and website: “The candy healthy people chews!” What? Aside from the hopeful claim about which candy healthy people chew, it sure looks like a grammatical boner. But have I misread the motto? Perhaps the motto’s last word isn’t a mis-conjugated verb, but a plural noun? If that’s so, then we’d have to read “candy healthy people” as an adjectival phrase to modify those “chews.” Does that work? What kind of chews would “candy healthy people” chews be? Beats the hell out of me. Thus I return to grammar police hypothesis number one: Chews Better has a screwed up motto. If they can’t edit, can they make candy?

Chews Better sent me two flavors: Pomegranate Blueberry Acai, and Strawberry Lemonade. And as the motto tried to communicate, these candies are meant to be healthy for you. They’re described as “All-Natural Chewy Candies with Vitamins and Fiber.” Surely this is making you nervous about the taste, right? Well, keep your beanie on straight.

Chews Better Pomegranate Blueberry Acai is a small, 26g (.9 oz) package. Each has five individually wrapped candies, and this flavor has 100% Vitamin C, 50% Vitamins B3, B5, B6, and B12, 3g of Fiber, and only 100 calories. Each chew is wrapped in silver and looks from the outside like a beef bullion cube. But it smells like a strong fruit medley upon unwrapping, and my nose finds this promising. Time for a bite.

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