Chocolate Covered Raspberry Cremes

Chocolate Covered Raspberry Cremes

When I saw this candy on the shelf at my local Walgreen's, I thought Junior Mints had finally come out with a new flavor. I like the Junior Mints original, I also like the Junior Mints "inside out" version. I haven't tried the Junior Mints caramels, but I've been secretly hoping for an orange, lemon, or some other flavor. I picked up this box during the 50% off after Valentine's Day sale. I assume these are seasonal, but the box doesn't specifically say these are a Valentine's Day candy.

Other than the missing Valentine's Day hearts, this box has plenty of pink and red on it to make you think Valentine's Day. It looks like an upscale Junior Mints box with fancy font and catchy "Delight in each bite!" slogan. If you are not aware, Junior Mints are produced by Tootsie Roll Industries.  It's odd that they didn't use the Junior Mints name, which is WAY more identifiable than the Raspberry Creme name with small Tootsie Roll logo in the upper left corner.

I keep comparing this candy to Junior Mints because it is the same company producing both candies and this candy is identical to a Junior Mint in every way. These are the same size as a Junior Mint, they have the same shell. Even the fondant in the middle seems the same, but this one is artificially flavored raspberry instead of soothing mint. The shell was exactly like a Junior Mint. Crunchy, chocolatey with a nice cocoa taste. I didn't find a single crushed candy in my box, so both the shell and box held up well. The fondant inside was pleasant. It has just a hint of Raspberry flavor which was okay with me since the flavor was ultra-sweet and tasted artificial. The fondant had a nice easy melt and the two flavors would be great together if the Raspberry didn't seem so fake. If Jelly Belly can use real flavorings in every little bean they make, I don't see why Tootsie can't use some fantastic tasting raspberry juice for a raspberry taste that was overpowering and knocked your socks off. Even from the 50% off bin, I was still unimpressed; however I'd try any other flavor they came out with. I'm hoping they try a citrus flavor next time, *hint* *hint*.  I think lots of people would buy that and there's nothing like that on the market, *hint* *hint*.

Cybele at Candyblog has also reviewed this candy.

Chocolate Covered Raspberry Cremes

Taste: 2/5 Did Not Like It
Calorie Counter: 16 pieces = 1 serving = 170 calories, 3g fat, 32g sugars
Price: $.49 purchased at Walgreen's
Tootsie Roll Industries Web Site

NECCO Dazzled Tarts Sweethearts Candies

NECCO Dazzled Tarts Sweethearts Candies

Happy Valentine's Day! Oh..I think I'm a few days late. Must be the sugar coma I was in after eating this 16oz bag of Sweethearts in one sitting. I don't do a lot of candy history and I certainly do not know as much about candy as Cybele over at Candyblog, so if you want to read about Sweethearts changing colors and flavors, please go read her excellent NECCO Conversation Hearts (Sweethearts) 2010 review.

What I do know is that I'm drawn to sugar and corn syrup and that I like compressed sugar candy. I picked up this bag of the new, I mean the "Sparkliest, Tart-Sweetest Candy Ever!" at Wal-Mart in this gigantic 16oz bag for $2.00. What I forgot was that I also had an 8oz bag that NECCO kindly gave me at the 2010 Sweets and Snacks EXPO and my lovely wife had picked up the tiny 1 oz. boxes for my son to give to kids at school. That explains why I'm just now waking up from my sugar coma.

NECCO Dazzled Tarts Sweethearts Candies

You can sort of see how sparkly these new dazzled sweethearts are in the picture above. The darker colors had the best sparkle showing, the lighter colors, not so much.  A few facts for water cooler conversations: They update the sayings and pictures on sweethearts every year, while recycling some classics. There are 80 total "conversations" found on this candy. They create 10 to 14 MILLION pounds of this little conversation hearts per year. To do that, they produce this candy 11 months out of the year, all for Valentine's Day.

This is the tart package so the flavors include pink lemonade, wild berry grape, sour apple, extreme tangerine, watermelon and blue raspberry. I thought all of the flavors were good except the watermelon. I didn't care for the taste of that one at all. The sour apple and extreme tangerine were my favorite and I quickly ate most of those. stomach. So much sugar all at one time. What I like about Sweethearts is finding those chewy soft ones mixed into the bag. You know the ones I'm talking about. The ones where you bite into them and they just fall apart and melt in your mouth. So good. I thought these had a great flavor, I like the tart flavor more than I thought I would and I think I might like it slightly better than the regular flavored Sweethearts. I just ate a few more handfuls of these while writing this, so I'm going to go take a nap now.

Taste: 4/5 Really Liked It
Calorie Counter: 40 pieces = 1 serving = 160 calories, 0g fat, 36g sugars
Price: $2.00 purchased at WalMart
NECCO Sweethearts Web Site

Kimmie Candy Company - Habanero Kettle Corn Nuggets


I was unhappy with the candy selection in stores this Valentine's Day so I started looking through my candy stash to find other candy to review that could "pass" as Valentine's Day candy. The Kimmie Candy Company recently sent me a few of their products and this Habanero Kettle Corn Nugget candy seemed a hot and spicy fit for Valentine's Day. What says I love you more than Hot and Spicy?! I couldn't decide if I should put these in the candy or snack category but in reality, they are not much different than peanut M&Ms or candy coated sunflower seeds, which are definitely considered candy.


These are candy and chocolate coated corn nuggets, like an M&M, only with toasted corn in the middle. I can't exactly explain what a corn nugget is, it's kind of like a small, crunchy piece of popcorn.  These have an unmistakeable "kick" to them that M&Ms lack, but I think a Habanero M&M would be great idea. As I live in the heart of corn country, I'm all in favor of substituting peanuts with kettle toasted corn! While I've seen candy made by Kimmie (most often the coated sunflower seeds), I've never tried any of their products. It's hard to miss their products in the store because of their great containers. I think this shape is perfect for gift giving. You could easily include this in a box with another gift, put it in a Christmas stocking etc...

This candy starts out sweet, then turns to warm and then you feel the Habanero hot. It is a crunchy candy, which I like, with a very nice chocolate taste. I love the beautiful red color that lets you know this isn't a plain old candy/chocolate coated toasted corn nugget, this is SPICY. The nice thing about this candy is that it isn't so spicy that you can't eat it. I like hot and spicy food, but I usually wash that down with a drink.  I liked the "kick" in this candy, but didn't find it so hot that I needed a glass of water after eating it. I also found that I wasn't addicted to these. I think the hot and spicy flavor made it so that I'd eat a few, then I'd be done with them. I think that is a nice quality, since you can't really go crazy and empty an entire tube of these in one sitting. Although, even if you ate an entire tube of this candy, the calories are not horrible (see calorie count below).  The pop top plastic container makes it easy to eat a few, then set this aside. Now, I'm not saying I didn't eat ten or so while watching TV. However, I would eat a few, then set the container down, eat a few, set the container down and so on. That is different than eating M&Ms for me, with those I can empty a bag in five minutes and wonder where my snack went.

I recommend you buy these and try them out.  If you can't find them locally, there are a lot of online retailers that carry this candy. They are a great change from plain old M&Ms and my 6 yr. old said it perfectly when he called these "sweet and crunch popcorn".

Kimmie Candy Company - Habanero Kettle Corn Nuggets

Taste: 3/5 Liked It
Calorie Counter: 1/2 of a tube = 1 serving = 150 calories, 7g fat, 16g sugars
Price: Free Sample from Kimmie Candy Company
Kimmie Candy Web Site

Mike and Ike Passion Mix

Mike and Ike Passion Mix

New for Valentine's Day 2011...Just Born gave Mike and Ikes and Hot Tamales some clever packaging with attractive graphics and now they have a great new Valentine's Day candy. Just Born has done this before with several different seasonal variations of their great candy. I think they now might have a different mix for every major U.S. holiday.

I was drawn to this package because of the flavors they included. I'm familiar with their Strawberry and Cherry, but Paradise Punch was a new one for me.  And what in the world?There's a Jolly Joe grape in a Mike and Ike mix! I doubt most people would notice this little difference, but the grape jelly rod (as Just Born calls this shape) belongs in the Jolly Joe package! Paradise Punch intrigued me because I have fond memories of drinking Hawaiian punch at my Grandmother's house (see the Hubba Bubba Island Punch review for details).

The strawberry flavor was pretty bland, but still enjoyable. The cherry flavor is good and easy to spot since it is the very dark red jelly rod in the mix. Paradise punch was pretty punchy and I hope to see this one in other Mike and Ike seasonal boxes. The grape Jolly Joe was the same great flavor as always, but it made me wonder why they decided to put a purple color in this all red/pink mix. I wonder if the grape flavor was a hint at wine or grapes which can be seen as something love-like? I'm guessing here, but it's not a big deal since there are very few grape in this mix. In fact, my two favorite flavors, grape and cherry, were so under-represented that I ended up tossing out much of the box. It's not that strawberry and paradise punch flavors were bad, they were quite good, but there were WAY too many of them.  Maybe I should have picked up the box behind this one, maybe it had a better ratio.

These are on sale now along with the new Hot Tamales Untamed Love Valentine's Day box. You can't go wrong giving someone either one of these boxes of candy, but I'd hope it was attached to something else, otherwise, you might be eating them alone!

Mike and Ike Passion Mix

Taste: 3/5 Liked It
Calorie Counter: 23 pieces = 1 serving = 140 calories, 0g fat, 26g sugars
Price: $.99 purchased at Walgreen's
Mike and Ike Web Site

Hot Tales Untamed Love Mix

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
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

Valentine's Day Chocolate

SugarMama and SugarKid had this wonderful box of chocolate wrapped up for me this morning for Valentine's Day. I don't want to review it since it's not something you can buy unless you live in our town. However, I did want to point out the difference between this candy and mass produced box chocolate people normally give on Valentine's day.

These are from a local store that still makes all of their candy by hand, and it is amazing. The store is called Indulgence which is a fantastic name for a chocolate and wine store in my opinion. I love to support local business and I've given away quite a few of these boxes to co-workers and employees over the years at work. I rarely stop and pick some up for myself though. I love the odd shapes and not quite perfect chocolate of these hand-made candies. It is quite the contrast between what you normally buy in the store. The taste is also much much better than anything store bought and mass-produced. This store loves to mix different flavors with chocolate and I love to see their new inventions when I get a chance to stop in.

I hope you enjoy your Valentine's Day today, I'm about to sit down with some tea and sample some fantastic chocolate!

Valentine's Day Chocolate from Indulgence