Bumpy Nerds Jelly Beans - by Wonka

I've never hidden the fact that I love all things Wonka. Nerds are one of my favorite candies of all time. I also love Chewy Nerds and these Bumpy Jelly Beans are just Chewy Nerds re-packaged (in a much much larger bag) and marketed for Easter.

I love the crazy Wonka packaging. The floral motif and bright colors are absolutely perfect for Spring and Easter. Of course you can see the familiar Wonka name and font with their trademark purple color. I really like how they've simply renamed Chewy Nerds to a fun Easter Bumpy Jelly Beans. If another company did this, it might seem out of place, in fact, I might be critical. But somehow, when Wonka does it, it seems natural, like we are all in on the joke. As my other jelly bean posts have pointed out, jelly beans are one of the most popular candies at Easter, so this renaming makes perfect sense for Wonka/Nestle.

When I first opened the bag, the smell of powdered Kool-Aid mix was all I could think of. I'm assuming that is the malic acid, but I'm not for sure on that. The fantastic bumpy shell has always been a favorite of mine. It tastes exactly like a sugary sweet Nerd. I love the bitey flavor you get from Nerds and this is the same recipe, but on a large bumpy jelly bean. The jelly inside is also flavored lightly, but I found it best to crunch the entire thing all at once, so you mix the shell and jelly. You do get a slightly grainy texture when you do this, but I loved that about this Chewy Nerd, er... Bumpy Jelly Bean. These are super sugary sweet, so if you do not enjoy a mouthful of Nerds sugar, you probably will not enjoy these.

Bumpy Nerds Jelly Beans

There are 5 great flavors in this package:

Grape - great Kool-Aid/Nerd grape flavor, YUM!

Pink - kind of a strawberry and berry flavor, it was okay

Yellow - oh my, this was a fantastic lemon, it was as close to a perfect lemon flavor as you can get, my favorite of the flavors

Green - this is a sweet and also sour apple flavor, it was very good

Orange - nice light orange flavor, also YUM & Amazing!

If you've eaten as many boxes of Nerds as I have, all of these flavors will be familiar to you. My wife teases me that I eat so many, one day I'll turn into a great big nerd...fine with me, bring on the pocket-protector!

Taste: 5/5 Loved It
Calorie Counter: 23 pieces = 1 serving= 130 calories, 0g fat
Price: $1.99 at Target

Starburst Jelly Beans

Starburst Jelly Beans
Originally uploaded by SugarPressure.com

I have only been able to find Starburst brand jelly beans around Easter in our area. I wish they sold these year round because they really are a great jelly bean. This is one product where I think Mars has definitely improved upon a classic. I'm not a big fan of Starburst candies, there's something about the texture I dislike, but I really like these jelly beans.

What makes them so good? They are simple flavors that taste great. That's it. Attention, candy company executives, all it takes to make people happy is to create a product that's simple and has great flavor! While I love Jelly Belly beans and their complex flavors, sometimes a simple grape flavor tastes great to me. How do they do it? Well, the ingredient list says both artificial and natural flavors, but they do not break them out any more than that.

The size of this jelly bean is slightly larger than a Jelly Belly, but smaller than a traditional jelly bean. Mars has added the Starburst name to each bean in white lettering, which is a nice touch, even if it was started by Jelly Belly and is a signature of theirs. Also similar to a Jelly Belly is a flavoring that goes throughout the entire bean. These jelly beans are flavored at the shell and on the inside. That's a very good reason to buy these beans. Fantastic flavors, all the way through, at a great price.

I like the packaging because Mars has carried over the Starburst brand very well. This package makes me think of one of those long cubed Starburst packages and gives this product instant identity among the boxes and boxes and boxes of Easter candy being sold in stores. From the name to the colors, this packaging screams STARBURST to the consumer.

Starburst Jelly Beans

There are 6 simple flavors in this bag, here's my review of each:

Strawberry - Kool-Aid like flavor, not great, but no one can do strawberry well it seems

Orange - Tastes exactly like an orange slice with a bit of tang to it, this was a FANTASTIC flavor

Lemon - Nice sweet lemon flavor, reminds me of a Lemonhead, I LOVED this flavor too

Green Apple - Tasted very similar to a green apple Jolly Rancher, very heavy apple juice taste, not a bad flavor, just not my favorite

Cherry - Slightly cough syrupy, but still good, did not make me hate it, but I didn't love it either. I want a cherry flavored ICEE when I eat something cherry flavored, I wish someone could bottle up that flavor and sell it to candy makers

Grape - I could have sworn I had a Jolly Joe in my mouth, great grape flavor, really liked it.

While this is a simple jelly bean flavored package, I really liked it. The texture of the bean is a bit grainy, but it melts very well and does not stick to your teeth. Candyblog.net said the same thing in their review of these beans. Buy these while you can, Easter won't last forever and you should not pass these up.

Taste: 5/5 Loved It
Calorie Counter: 1/4 cup = 1 serving= 150 calories, 0g fat
Price: $2.00 Wal-Mart

Milk Chocolate M&M's Spring Selection in Green

Happy St. Patrick's Day! In honor of the day, I am going green!

The Mars company has figured out a clever way to squeeze money out of the M&M's line (without reformulating the recipe at all) with the Milk Chocolate M&M's Spring Collection. Unlike the M&M's Premium line that I'm not a big fan of, this line takes the original M&M, adds in a great Spring color, makes some great changes to the packaging and charges over $7 a pound. This product is a very similar idea to the M&M's Personalized product, and is a great way to increase revenue for Mars.

As you can see in the photos, this isn't a plain brown M&M's bag with only one color in it. Like the Wildly Cherry and Coconut M&M's, Mars has spent some time designing this packaging and overall product to make it feel different and special. The bag is a great light green color that makes you think of Spring, as are the M&M's. The plastic bag has some wonderful flower and swirls in the background to give this bag a "special" look. The silver color on the bag matches the silver M on every M&M inside the bag, which is a nice touch. I especially like the little bow they added. Who would have thought that $.02 in ribbon and a rubber band could make a bag look so much nicer?

The M&M's inside this bag are the normal M&M's you'd buy in any $.50 bag of Plain M&M's at the grocery store. However, the overall packaging makes these worth the price. These are great item to use for decoration, Easter Basket, Wedding Shower, Baby Shower or a gift to someone. They also come in Yellow and Pink colors. You do not want to eat an entire bag like this while watching TV or driving in the car because at $3.50 per package, it's basically very expensive gift wrap. Mars has figured out that there's an entire untapped revenue stream for people that want Spring colors and this product perfectly fits that segment of buyers.

Milk Chocolate M&M's Spring Selection in Green

We've tried so much candy lately that I often forget how good a plain milk chocolate M&M can be. The simple, but fantastic, candy coated shell and melt in your mouth milk chocolate are still good after all the bags of M&M's I've eaten in my life and I'm still not tired of them. However, unless it's a special occasion, I'll stick to the $.50 bag in the check-out line.

Milk Chocolate M&M's Spring Selection in Green

Taste: 4/5 Really Liked It
Calorie Counter: 7.0oz bag = 1.5oz or 1/4 cup = 1 serving= 210 calories, 9g fat
Price: $3.49 purchased at Wal-Mart

Hershey Kisses Pumpkin Spice

I completely missed these Hershey Kisses during Halloween, so my wonderful wife ordered these from a seller on Ebay and put them in my Christmas stocking. As they are out of season, I thought about not posting this review, but...Why not?

In general, I'm not really sure I like all of the many variations Hershey has done with the Kisses line of late. I still think a Hershey Kiss should be plain chocolate or a simple variation, like mint or an almond inside. All of these new flavors seem like a gimmick to me. (I will say though that Hugs, although gimmick-y, are easily one of the best candy spin-offs marketing-wise.) I think with these new products, you get the very distinctive Hershey Kiss shape, foil wrap and patented Kiss tail....but not always the great taste. Now, I love pumpkin pie, so I was hoping this would taste like pumpkin pie in a Hershey Kiss form. The first thing I noticed is that the candy smells a little like pumpkin pie, but with an overwhelming spice smell. It is a nice smooth texture that tasted of faint pumpkin flavor, but was then all spice on your tongue. It was like a piece of pumpkin pie that Mom didn't stir the filling well enough for and the allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg ended up in one piece...and LUCKY YOU...you got it...all kinds of spice, not enough pumpkin. In this candy, it seems like the pumpkin was an afterthought or it didn't test well or there was some problem to making these more pumpkin flavored. I would consider renaming these "spiced pumpkin" because it would better fit how these Kisses taste.

I should mention that I LOVED the zebra striped foil wrap. That was a nice detail that added to this product. I love marketing, colors, packaging etc... so I spend more time studying and wondering about packaging than I should.

I ate a few of these and did not think they were too bad. My wife ate one and was done with them. My 5yr. old ate two and he was done with them too. However, I took the bag to work with 95% of its original Kisses still in it and my co-workers really liked the flavor. That only reinforces what I try to say when I'm not excited about a product. I might not like it, but you should go out and try it yourself. Unfortunately, with this product, you'll have to wait until the Fall or order them from Ebay like we did.

Taste: 2/5 Did Not Like It
Calorie Counter: 9 pieces = 1 serving= 210 calories, 12g fat
Price: $4.00 from Ebay

Hershey Kisses Pumpkin Spice

Jelly Belly Sours

Jelly Belly Sours
Originally uploaded by SugarPressure.com
Aahhh...Easter candy is finally here. As I have mentioned in previous posts, Easter candy is my absolute favorite. It isn't because of the Cadbury Mini Eggs alone...it may also have to do with a lifetime of waking to up a big basket of Easter candy, but not being able to eat it until after church...those hours of anticipation likely made the candy taste that much sweeter to me. The first Easter candy I'll review this year is the "original gourmet jelly bean" Jelly Belly Sours from Wal-Mart. This is a pretty good purchase at $2.00 a bag. It is smaller than the other jelly bean offerings at the same price, but the Jelly Belly brand wins on flavor every time for me.

There's some argument on whether selling more Jelly Bellies at places like Wal-Mart will dilute the "gourmet" jelly bean status this brand enjoys. My vote is that this will not hurt the brand at all. While I thought the Sours were a fantastic flavor, I'm guessing the average candy buyer will not purchase a smaller bag of gourmet jelly beans when a larger bag of Brach's tastes "good enough". I say that based on what candy makes the top 10 lists I see every year and from watching the Hershey/Nestle conglomerates get even larger. So, merely due to price, Jelly Belly stays more of a gourmet, buy-it-occasionally, niche candy even though it's sold almost everywhere now.

I love that every single Jelly Belly I've ever eaten (and that is a lot of them) is the perfect shape, with a beautiful gloss on it and the Jelly Belly name is stamped on every single one. Of course if it wasn't, it would be in a bag of "belly flops" (which I happen to think is the greatest lemons-to-lemonade story I've ever heard). I also love how every Jelly Belly is flavored all the way through and how they use as many natural flavorings as possible for each flavor they create. This bag has 5 different flavors, sour apple, sour grape, sour lemon, sour cherry and sour orange. When you look at the ingredients list you see apple juice concentrate, grape juice concentrate, lemon puree, cherry juice concentrate, and orange puree. It is those natural ingredients that makes this jelly bean stand out above most of what you buy in stores.

Jelly Belly Sours

Here are my thoughts on each flavor:
Sour Apple: very nice sour apple flavor, tastes like a tart granny smith apple, loved it

Sour Cherry: takes a while for the flavor to register, there is a slight cherry flavor but it's slightly cough drop tasting

Sour Grape: this one was colored blue on the outside and purple on the inside, they didn't quite get the purple coloring on the outside right. Reminded me of a frozen Flavor-Ice crossed with a Jolly Joe, only slightly sour

Sour Lemon: great taste, one of our favorites. Tasted like a soft Lemonhead with a great lemon flavor that lasted for some time after I was done eating it, LOVED IT!

Sour Orange: amazing sour orange with a sherberty flavor, this one was not very sour, it was more like eating an orange or cutie tangerine, fantastic

Overall we really liked these Jelly Bellies. While the package said they were "sour" they really were only slightly sour, more like "tangy". This isn't a Warhead or Toxic Waste product that will make you pucker and leave your eyes watering. Overall, this was a great start to the Easter candy season and a great product that we really enjoyed sampling.

And, by the way, we make our son wait until after church to eat his Easter candy!

Taste: 4/5 Really Liked It
Calorie Counter: 35 pieces = 1 serving = 140 calories (4 calories per bean), 0g fat
Price: $2.00 at Wal-Mart
Jelly Belly Sours

Elmer's Quality Chocolate Love Birds

I passed up this candy once during the 50% off Valentine's Day candy sale at Walgreen's. But, when I went back and they were in the 70% off area, I couldn't resist buying them. I do realize it is almost 10 days after Valentine's Day, so I'll do two reviews today instead of one.

I have to admit I'm not a serious candy know-it-all and had never heard of Elmer's Quality Chocolate. I wasn't quite sure what I was getting when buying these...but at 70% off, who cares? However, from a little research on the web, I found that Elmer's has a very nice website and even a page that shows what chocolate was inside this heart.

In the picture below you can see the 3 different chocolates in this heart:

The rectangle with light strips was a VERY PLEASANT and surprising Orange Cream. Elmer's describes it as, "Sumptuous orange crème center enrobed by luxurious dark chocolate". I agree with that description because this one was fantastic. We thought it tasted like a tangy orange sherbet. YUM!

The round chocolate was a milk chocolate caramel. This is a soft caramel and it had a maple sort of buttery flavor to it. The milk chocolate had a lot of sugar because it gave a nice burn in the throat. It was very sweet. Elmer's describes it as, "Soft, buttery caramel coated by a rich milk chocolate shell". Not a bad caramel, but I'm not a fan of soft or runny caramel.

The last chocolate was a rectangle milk chocolate fudge. I thought this one reminded me of German Chocolate Cake for some reason. It seemed very cocoa-y in flavor but was definitely a fudge texture. Elmer's describes it as, "Rich chocolate fudge drenched in creamy milk chocolate".

Overall, this was a decent box of chocolate that I would have paid full price for had I know about Elmer's, the 150 year old candy company from Louisiana. And honestly, the graphic on the front of the box is so good, I could have bought it just for that.
Taste: 3/5 Liked It
Calorie Counter: 1 container, 3 pieces = 1 serving = 220 calories, 9g fat
Price: $.30 (70% off after V-Day) at Walgreen's

Elmer's Quality Chocolate Love Birds

Gimbal's Cherry Lovers Fruit Chews

I read the review for this candy on Candyblog and decided I did not want to buy or review this product from Gimbal's. However, Walgreens had a lot of leftover bags for 50% off and I'm not one to pass up half off candy, so I picked up a bag.

First off, I'll admit the gorgeous packaging drew me in to this candy. It has an old fashioned retro feel to it, much like other Gimbal's products. The fonts on the packaging are beautiful and go very well together. I think one of the things we often miss when buying candy is the packaging. I love looking at old wrappers from the past and comparing them to new wrappers of today. Gimbal's did an amazing job on this product's packaging. My favorite part is the giant picture of cherries on the front. They are large and beautiful and draw me into this candy so much more so than something like a plain brown Hershey wrapper. I love the Gimbal's logo and have always found it to be a work of art in itself. The pictures on the back (see photo below) do a very good job of laying out each flavor/color of cherry fruit chew so you can see exactly what you are getting.

Gimbals Cherry Lovers Fruit Chews

After you get past the pictures, the description of this candy also draws you in. "If you like cherries - only Real Cherry flavor will do." "Go ahead treat yourself! With 9 juicy flavors - life's a bowl of cherries!" There are also several other phrases that point out the "heathly" aspect of this candy, which both SugarMama and I chuckled about like..."High in Antioxidant Vitamin C" "Cherry Lovers fruit chews are made with Real Cherry Juice. And they are High in Antioxidant Vitamin C - so you can feel good about every delicious bite!" Oh my goodness, it's healthy for you, I should eat an entire bag! I love it when candy tries to sell itself as "healthy", it cracks me up. If I want Vitamin C, I'll eat an orange!

Okay, enough about the packaging, I'm sure you want to know how they taste. The first thing I noticed is that these are flavored all the way through like Jelly Belly beans or Gimbal's own Gourmet Jelly Beans. They obviously used flavoring in the sugar panned shell and the chewy inside of this candy. The shell is nice and thick which is something I love in jelly beans. They had a fantastic texture and nice sugary taste and yes, you definitely taste cherry in these hearts. Here's how each flavor tasted:

Chocolate Cherry: tasted like a tootsie roll with a light hint of cherry flavoring.

Black Cherry: definitely a black cherry taste, reminded me of of black cherry Kool-Aid or Jello.

Cherry Vanilla: this was a nice combination of cherry and vanilla. You taste the cherry first and the fake vanilla flavor slowly creeps in. I didn't mind the fake vanilla taste but I didn't like how long it lingered after you were done chewing the candy.

Wild Cherry: this was a very, very, very cherry flavor - tastes very good but at one point I thought it had a slight bubble gum flavor (??) I don't know, my tastes buds were messing with me on this one.

Cherry Daiquiri: this was a lime and vanilla mix that had a 7-up flavor to it and then cherry. I wasn't crazy about it, but my wife picked all of these out and ate them up.

Cherry Cheesecake: nice cherry flavor with a very light cheesecake flavor that reminded me of marshmallows, very odd.

Bing Cherry: this was a tangy flavor that did remind me of the cherries that grow in our orchard. It definitely reminded of us of eating one of those cherries off the tree.

Kiwi Cherry: very, very, very kiwi - overpowering in its flavor. Slight cherry flavor, but oh my, we couldn't eat more than one of these, it was just too much.

Cherry Cola: this was by far my favorite of the 9 flavors. It had a great cola flavor with a very light cherry taste, but was mostly cola, I LOVE,D IT!

Gimbal's Cherry Lovers Fruit Chews

Overall, I'd say these flavors were good, some were much much better than others, but overall I did like the whole bag. I love jelly beans and since I've liked every Gimbal's product I've tried so far. I am not surprised that I liked this bag too. The cherry flavor also reminds me of another Valentine's favorite of mine, the Brach's Sour Cherry Jels.

Other reviews of these Gimbal's Cherry Fruit Chews can be found here and here.

Taste: 3.5/5 Liked It/Really Liked It (overall score for all 9 flavors, loved several flavors, disliked others)
Calorie Counter: 10 pieces = 1 serving = 140 calories, 0g fat
Price: $1.50 (50% off after V-Day) at Walgreen's
Gimbal's Cherry Lovers Fruit Chews

Candy Hearts: Necco vs. Brach's vs. Wonka Sweetarts

Candy Hearts
Originally uploaded by SugarPressure.com
I still have several Valentine's Day reviews I need to write and type up. I might skip a few of them but this is one I definitely want to post. I bought the two most popular brands of conversation hearts (6 billion of these little hearts are made each year), threw in the Wonka Sweetarts for fun, and decided to compare them in a 3 way taste test.

I'll start with the Brach's brand because they were my favorite conversation hearts going into this review. I love the pasty texture of this candy once you push through and crunch these with your teeth. My favorite thing to do as a child was to put a bunch of these in my mouth and make one giant mush-ball of sugar out of these once I'd broken them up from their pressed heart shapes. While doing this review I found that the Brach's brand didn't have much flavor though. They have a hint of wintergreen, grape, orange, cherry, lime and I think bananna, flavor but it's much much lighter and not as pronounced as the Necco brand conversation hearts. I think this is why Brach's focuses on texture, the point is to munch, crunch and enjoy the fantastic texture of this candy.

Candy Hearts - Brach's

Next up is the all time classic Necco Sweethearts. (classic flavors, not the new flavors introduced this year) These taste exactly like Necco Wafers for the most part. There have already been a lot of posts about the new flavors (here, and here, but I'm more concerned with how these taste versus what else is on the market. In my opinion, Necco walks away with this comparison as the winner. The taste of Necco Sweethearts cannot be beat and the fact that they are all natural just makes the win that much better. Both SugarMamma and I agreed that if we could only buy one package, we'd pick Necco. We absolutely loved the flavoring of these heart candies. I also liked the brittle nature of the hearts and how easy they were to break apart with my teeth. I really wish I could combine the Necco flavor with the Brach's texture to make the greatest conversation heart known to mankind! muahahahaha (that was my evil candy genius laugh)

Candy Hearts - Necco

So, where does that leave the Wonka Sweetarts. Well, it leaves them in last place. We really love the Wonka Chicks and Ducks Sweetarts sold during Easter so we thought these hearts would taste very similar to them. We were really surprised at the horrible texture of these hearts. On first bite the hearts would break apart into a powder like Fun Dip and we found ourselves choking on sugar powder on more than one occasion. We were appalled that our favorite candy company, the makers of the amazing Chicks and Ducks Sweetarts, could create such a terrible product. The flavor was exactly like what you'd expect from a Sweetart but my goodness, please copy the recipe for pressing sugar into shapes from the people that make the Easter version. We only ate about 5 of these and gave up on them.

Candy Hearts - Wonka Sweetarts

Here is a picture of the difference in size of each candy. Starting with Necco on the left, then Wonka Sweetarts, and Brach's on the right.

Candy Hearts

Brach's Conversation Hearts: Taste: 3/5 Liked It
Calorie Counter: 1.125oz box = 1 serving = 120 calories, 0g fat
Price: $2.00 at Wal-Mart for 5 boxes

Necco Sweethearts: Taste: 4/5 Really Liked It
Calorie Counter: 1oz box = 1 serving = 110 calories, 0g fat
Price: $1.00 at The Dollar Store for 5 boxes

Wonka SweeTarts: Taste: 2/5 Did Not Like It
Calorie Counter: 11 pieces = 1 serving (26 servings per 14oz bag = 60 calories, 0g fat
Price: $2.00 at Target

Necco has a great factory tour with pictures on this page, it is the Sweethearts 2nd paragraph.

Brach's Sour Cherry Jels

Valentine's Day is probably best known for chocolate candy. However, there are some great candies made for sale during this holiday. Brach's Sour Cherry Jels are one of these candies and my absolute favorite. I have to remind myself to share the bag with my family because I *could* eat an entire bag in one night, they are that good.

This candy is almost exactly like a jelly bean in texture with a chewy jelly center surrounded by a panned exterior. The shape is round and not bean shaped and these are slightly larger than regular jelly beans.

I think every candy reviewer feels the same about cherry as I do. It is a flavor that's hard to do right. You often get a cough syrup flavor that tastes horrible. On this candy, Brach's has found a recipe that makes this candy taste fantastic. I love the crisp candy shell on the outside of this candy. On first bite you get a perfectly tart cherry flavor that continues through the entire candy. It is such a great cherry flavor. There's also a sweet sugar taste that comes from this candy, but it is secondary to the cherry flavor.

This candy is made by Farley's and Sathers Candy Company using the Brach's name. Their marketing for this candy includes the term "pucker power" but this candy is only slightly tart. It's not a true sour candy, it's just enough tart to make the candy interesting and very enjoyable.

Taste: 4/5 Really Liked It
Calorie Counter: 11 pieces = 1 serving = 140 calories, 0g fat
Price: $2.49 at local grocery store
Brach's Sour Cherry Jels

Heart Shaped Junior Mints

Happy Valentine's Day! I still have 2 more Valentine's candy reviews I need write. Today, I wanted to start with a family favorite. Our family loves Junior Mints. The minty taste, the hint of chocolate...they are a fantastic candy produced by Tootsie Roll Industries.

If my memory is correct, these heart-shaped Junior Mints came out around 2006 or so. I remember thinking at the time, and still believe today, that this is a holiday-edition candy done right. Usually I hate the standard-shaped candy transformed to holiday shapes that companies offer, but in this particular case, I might like the holiday version better!

What I like about this version is the size. It is roughly double the size of a normal Junior Mint. That means double the minty! Which is the entire reason you eat a Junior Mint, right? My rough estimate is that half of the Junior Mints have the red coloring in them. I didn't notice that they tasted any different, but I'm not a super taster by any means. Some people can taste the red dye and dislike this candy because of that, but not me. SugarKid and I pretended we were vampires trying to sniff out the red "blood" hearts "to suck their blood, muahahahahaha". (It was all in good fun.)

I would highly recommend these Junior Mints. They are a very pleasant spin on the original. I also appreciate the lower calories of Junior Mints compared to other candy I've reviewed.

Taste: 4/5 Really Liked It
Calorie Counter: 7 pieces = 1 serving = 160 calories, 3g fat
Price: $1.09 at Walgreen's
Heart Shaped Junior Mints