Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Must There Be All These Colors Without Names: Hawaiian Punch Jelly Beans

Jelly beans are a year round thing now (thank you Jelly Belly). Bags of beans start to fill the shelves like candy canes at Christmas when Easter candy comes out on Valentine's Day.
And like candy canes, there are brand name hits and misses to tempt the overwhelmed basket stuffer.
Life Savers Jellybeans are a miss—made in Mexico, distributed by Wrigley, the Cubs still suck—but I've sampled more brand name hits. Sour Patch and Hawaiian Punch Jelly Beans are a hit.
I'm not surprised that Sour Patch Jelly Beans spin a charming blend of sugary coated tang. They're sparkly and hold up well if hidden away for later. The candy shell is a little thick, but I love the coating and overall look. They compliment their gummi namesake well.
As enamored as I am with the Sour Patch beans, Hawaiian Punch Jelly Beans are a sprightly rival.
The Fruit Juicy Reds tasted like both a tall cup of Hawaiian Punch then something less juicy, so I went through the bag to make sure I had the colors right. I'd confused Fruit Juicy Red with Lemon Berry Squeeze (see Color Key). These beans would benefit from a more distinctive color palette and a little more zip in a few of their flavors. Brach's needs a better color key than the blurry one on the back of the package.


Red - Fruit Juicy Red
Lime Green with Dark Green & Yellow Speckles - Green Berry Rush
Blue with Darker Blue Speckles - Berry Blue Typhoon
Red with Yellow-Orange Speckles - Lemon Berry Squeeze 
Yellow-Orange with Red Speckles - Mango Passionfruit Squeeze
Orange with Lighter Orange Speckles - Orange Ocean

I found myself looking for the pleasant bite of the Green Berry Rush and the Lemon Berry Squeeze most often. The Lemon Berry especially gives you the classic Hawaiian Punch taste of childhood while suggesting flavored lemonade.The fresh citrus overtones of the Orange Ocean reminds me of a tangerine more than an orange—it has everything but seeds and pulp.
The Berry Blue Typhoon smacks of sweet sour bubble gum without being overwhelming, not my favorite, but the color stands out. The Mango Passionfruit Squeeze tastes a little odd. You can tell it's mango, but it stops short of the refreshing Orange Ocean, tipping over into the land of bland.
There's 100% vitamin C (36g carbs) per serving in Hawaiian Punch Jelly Beans. They're in a two way tie with Sour Patch Jelly Beans in the Dish Easter Bean ranking right now. However, the threat of Coconut, Orange, and Very Cherry Jelly Belly Chocolate Dips loom.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Just A Spoonful of Chocolate

The NCA's Chocolate Council sent photos and a link to The Story of Chocolate in honor of American Chocolate Week, March 20-March 26.
Shouldn't every week be chocolate week? How about every other week alternating with Gummi Week. There's a National Chocolate Council? Do they sip chocolate drinks out of edible tea cups?

The National Confectioner's Association offers information such as how many minutes of biking it takes to work off a 1.5 oz candy bar (30), and The Story of Chocolate tells you it takes two to four days to make a chocolate bar. After a few minutes on the Council's website you will no longer be interested in how long it takes to work off a 1.5 oz candy bar.
It will also tell you that the cacao tree is "delicate" and needs taller trees to shade it in order to survive. The cacao leaves themselves can move 90 degrees to protect more tender leaves from sunlight.

Cacao trees produce these pods which can be more than a foot long, growing directly from the trunk or branches sans stem. They take up to six months to ripen, The Story of Chocolate goes on to tell you. The outside of the pod varies in texture and the inside contains juice, pulp, and many seeds.
I could spoon feed you chocolate facts all day, but will leave you with the reason the pods, trees, and tree yield varieties are so Spocking fascinating.

Photos courtesy of the National Confectioners Association

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Time Out With Magic Milk Straws

I love milk, I love the product, the promotional campaign, and that Annie Leibovitz photo of Whoopi Goldberg (who did a got milk? ad as well as the tub shot). I don't need a straw full of cocoa powder or vanilla flavor to enjoy my favorite drink, but it was time to stick a straw in a glass of milk and see what happened.
The got milk? product has toy overtones—watching the flavor beads zip up and down the clear straw giggles, "Happy Fun Snack Time." And you can see the flavor get stronger toward the end of the glass when the straw finally colors the milk and drips its last drop.
Not only are Magic Milk Straws a break from massive amounts of sugar in bright and pastel colors, they're suck-ready.
I had to cut the plastic open after a short battle with the five and six packs of straws, but once in, you just stick the straw in a frosty glass of the white stuff and decide if using the straw upside down works better than right side up (it does).

I found the mellow Vanilla a good opportunity to float in bananas to boost the mild flavor with a fresh fruit taste. The bananas were even better at the end of the drink and gave the already healthy snack an even healthier kick. I'm snacking on a frozen four straw Vanilla with banana slushy right now.
The Chocolate straw was oddly sweet in the way many products aimed at kids are, yet aromatic and enjoyable in a guilty pleasure kind of way. I went nuts and used two straws in a pint glass fresh from the freezer for the Chocolate Magic Straw and loved every playful sip.
Magic Milk Straws come in Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, and Cookies & Cream. The nutritional value comes from the milk, though the Magic Milk Straw website lists the straws as all natural, gluten free, low in sugar with no fat or cholesterol.
It also says "Lactose Free." I guess it's not as funny if you drink Lactaid or soy milk.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ice Cream Flavored Eggs

Knowing that PAAS Splashed Assorted Malted Milk Eggs are ice cream flavored makes them more palatable.They're attractive enough and look good nestled in Easter grass or a candy dish. But aside from sprinkling in a few of the less offensive flavors in an Easter basket, I'd avoid them completely.
Taste better Splashed Assorted Malted Milk Eggs.
 Although the lively eggs contain cocoa powder, only the white outer, chocolate inner, tastes of the bean. Their waxy outer shell dooms even the least offensive egg (white shell, chocolate malted inside).
The malt eggs are different colors and flavors, purple with orange malted being the strongest and most unpleasant because of the overpowering orange taste. The yellow outside, cookie dough malted inside is a little milder, but not much, and the pink with strawberry inside might do for artificial strawberry lovers.
If I got stuck with these as the only candy in the house—not likely—I'd try to scrape off or strategically bite around the white egg to enjoy the crunchy chocolate malt.
Worst malted milk balls ever.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Reese's Peanut Butter Egg Hot Chocolate

The weeks leading up to Easter can be unseasonably warm or smack you upside the head with the kind of cold it's hard to ignore and not for lack of trying.
Some of us jump the gun after a few nice days in February and pack away our winter things making us think twice about leaving the car within blocks of a lake—and some of us are always within blocks of a lake. This city is really an island that gave up and opened a few falafel stands.
so I came down with what my father calls "the crud" for lack of a better and more off putting word. This particular crud was due in no small part to two flat tires in a day that ended up a lot colder and more populated with frozen puddles than it started.
I spent a good deal of it waiting around for the insurance company's roadside assistance (i.e. college kid in beater with tools) because I didn't renew my AAA and the portion of the Beltline you'd take to get to me was shut down due to flying ice. I was taking old people to UW Health between trips to Firestone Tires and it turned into the scene in Goodfellas where the doctor wanted to admit Ray Liotta even though he was there to pick up his brother.

I had the kind of day which makes the underrated Scorsese classic After Hours look like a spa weekend with free booze and Oompa Loompas. All this two days after I went a little nuts and turned a 6 oz Reese's Peanut Butter Egg into hot chocolate.
When my fever got down to a level less than that of an exploding cartoon thermometer I found these photos in the camera and it all came back to me.

I like peanut butter. I like it on an apple, a spoon, or hilariously placed on a dog's nose. I've eaten peanut butter kisses long past decency. I know Reese's Peanut Butter Cup fanatics. A healthy dollop of peanut butter all but bursts through a teasing top layer of chocolate surrounded by accordion shaped Hershey's milk chocolate in a 1.5 oz cup.
The thickness and shape of the chocolate do matter.
This beast was so overpowering on both the pedestrian Hershey's chocolate and peanut butter fluff front that my only choice was to scrape out some of the peanut butter, break the egg (not so easy), and toss the whole thing into a pan with milk.
And it was delicious. Make it like any other candy bar hot chocolate. Here's a video that uses Dove, it's similar to that.
So no to the ponderous and insanely difficult to break 6 oz peanut butter egg and yes to the sweet, smooth, and slightly salty Reese's Peanut Butter Egg Hot Chocolate.