Tampa Bay Food Monster

…eating food since 1985.

Archive for the ‘Candy Reviews’ Category

White Chocolate Candy Corn M&Ms

Posted by Tampa Bay Food Monster on October 31, 2012

white chocolate candy corn m&ms bag

okay, so if you’re anything like me, you’re just now realizing through a storm of facebook posts that TODAY is, in fact, the hallowed eve. that is to say, halloween. and that means one of two things: 1.) a bunch of disgusting children are going to be trespassing on your property this evening, dressed like FOOLS, or 2.) you’re ready to join them on the streets, “just passing” as young enough to be out there (nobody believes this, they give you nothing). either way, you’re going to end up buying a whole bunch of candy and eating it yourself. and what better time to do that than the day after halloween, when all that sweet sweet candy goes on sale??

so allow me to tell you about one candy you might want to avoid.

white chocolate candy corn m&ms*note: candy corn added for comparison; not actually included in bag of m&ms.

those jerks at m&ms think they can just crap out anything, and we’ll buy it from them. well… they’re right. this season’s disgusting new variant on an original that does not need to be improved upon is the white chocolate candy corn m&m. alright, so we’ve got a lot going on here. first of all, they are yellow, orange, and white, just like real candy corn! they’re a bit larger than normal m&ms, around the size of the peanut variety, but retaining that signature m&m spheroid shape. i also noticed my bag’s m&ms were a bit slimy, but i cannot say whether that was just my bag, or if they all suffer from this gross affliction. eh. regardless, visually, they did it. i get it – candy corn. mission accomplished.

taste… taste is another story.

inside the white chocolate candy corn m&m

what you have here is a densely packed, super-sweet white chocolate interior. the “artificial and natural flavors” they’ve chosen provide absolutely no hint of candy corn flavor (which should be simple – just add honey!!). so essentially we have just white chocolate m&ms, which would be fine if they just weren’t so damn sweet!! bleh. combine with a shell that seems a little thicker than a typical m&m shell, and a greasy slime coating (again, could be just my bag), and we have ourselves a worthless product that becomes inedible after half a handful.

as a sweet bonus, some of the m&ms tasted vaguely of alcohol?? an odd fermented flavor. maybe it was just the rotten caramel apple i ate for lunch, but, if not, this was hugely unpleasant.

so, in the informed opinion of a self-admitted lover of real candy corn (i’m sorry if you can no longer trust my tastes), this candy sucks. it’s not the worst thing i’ve put in my mouth this halloween, but it ranks up there. if you made the mistake of picking these up, do your damnedest to unload them on unsuspecting children – those kids will eat anything.

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Sour Patch Kids Berries

Posted by Tampa Bay Food Monster on July 13, 2012

when i was young, we would go on vacation to my grandmother’s house in chautauqua, which means “place of easy death” (it seriously does… which answers a lot of childhood questions). in the nearby town of BUSTI, there was a small little candy shoppe with gigantic candy canes as columns. that place was called peterson’s corn crib candies.

IT WAS A MAGICAL PLACE. it was a magical time. nothing is better than a candy shop when you’re a kid (except toys r us), especially one that you had to drive out of your way to get to. we would all get in the van and truck on over there, then spend hours trying to figure out what it was that we were all going to get in our individual little boxes. they sold all sorts of candy, the majority of which they actually made themselves. a lot of chocolate, in various different forms. they had incredible little blocks of chocolate sandwiched peanut butter, and their chocolate covered jellies were the best. but somehow, my idiot child brain couldn’t get past the widely available sour patch kids.

the original sour patch kids, despite depriving me of precious box space, were and still are one of my favorite candies. they have seen countless variations, including watermelon, blue raspberry, peach, cherry, and about a million X-TREME versions, but nothing matched up to the original four flavors (lime, lemon, orange, and something they apparently call redberry). nothing, until NOW:

sour patch baggie

oh fuck. it’s berry flavored sour patch kids. alright, so apparently they’ve been around for like a year or so, but i only just found them recently. and when i did, i literally achieved sexual orgasm. and by literally, i mean figuratively, but i think they’re like synonyms now or something. FOUR NEW SOUR PATCH FLAVORS! amazing. and they’re not in stupid shapes, like the watermelons or sour patch extremes… they’re regular kid shapes. it’s as if the power rangers encountered a whole new group of rangers, with DIFFERENT COOL COLORS. and DIFFERENT COOL DINOSAURS. the dinosaurs equate to the flavors, and the colors equate to the colors.

sour patch berry kids

so what have we got here? a nice, dark red, pink, purple, and… my god. blue. blue fucking sour patch kid. it’s the holy grail of the sour patch!!! my child self would have killed himself with excitement (and mild childhood depression). the blue is blue raspberry, red is cherry, purple is grape, and pink is pink lemonade. the pink lemonade, i think, is the only flavor that hasn’t appeared elsewhere in sour patch history before. they are all quite good! the grape is a little more reserved, warmer than a lot of grape candies. pink lemonade is lightly citric, a bit fruity and sweet. the cherry is a nice, powerful candy cherry flavor. and the blue raspberry is bright and tart, kind of dying out into sweet in the end. they are just as sour as the regular kids, and retain the same chewiness as well.

it will not (cannot) replace the original four flavors. they will always stand tall as the first and the best. but these kids are a perfect accompaniment to the originals. i could see switching off and alternating between original and berry with every purchase. they are totally solid, and hopefully here to stay. try them out, and let your inner child rejoice.

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Angry Birds Fruit Gummies

Posted by Tampa Bay Food Monster on June 25, 2012

i think it goes without saying, but angry birds is, without a doubt, the single greatest video game ever developed. i mean, come on! the characters! the story! the diversity in gameplay! and they’re just so darn cute! yes, angry birds is truly the gamer’s game. and in response to the public’s ravenous consumption of all things angry and bird-like, a phenomenon known as birdmania or bird-man fever, angry birds creator Healthy Food Brands has given an unholy birth to angry bird fruit gummies.

angry birds gummies

all your favorite angry birds are there! blinky, pinky, inky, clyde, and even the ‘angry bird’ himself, geoffrey! now i can nurse my hopeless addiction to a cell phone video game AND eat shitty gummy candies at the same time! not to mention help fund rovio, creators of such fantastic games as angry birds, angry birds seasons, and angry birds rio!! AWESOME! but how do they taste??

they suck. yeah, these gummies are pretty awful. the first thing you’ll notice, and the only thing you’ll find yourself thinking about, is that they are tough. tough like old bubble gum. as tough as i’d imagine those rubber cement pancakes were that donald duck made in that one cartoon from my childhood. tough gummies. you can eat them, but you are going to hurt your jaw, and you are not going to enjoy yourself. the flavors are bland. more than one of them reminded me of jell-o or kool-aid, maybe fun-dip. something hyphenated. these are nothing special. in fact, they are something to avoid. they are overpriced because of their association with some shitty phone game, and they are manufactured by a company more concerned with keeping their food healthy and gluten free than making it delicious. stupid.

forget the gummies. spend your time and money on the dumb games. or just play it for free here. (that’s much better than doing whatever shitty work you’re supposed to be doing for your job.)

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Aunt Marie’s Gourmet Kettle Baked Popcorn

Posted by Tampa Bay Food Monster on May 10, 2012

yeahhhhh okay! okay bloggin’. I BE BLOGGIN’! seriously.

POPCORN.

yeah. that stuff. and no, i’m not talking that freshly-churned butter-fucked popcorn doled out in buckets by movie pushers all across this angry america of ours, no sir (or ma’am, depending on genitalia); i’m talking that off-the-shelf, ready-made, popped-at-some-distant-location-packed-in-a-container-and-shipped-to-you shit. oh yeah. like you get at k-mart for the holidays. but this ain’t yo grandad’s popped corn!!

…it’s your aunt’s.

aunt marie

aww yeah. this is your aunt. aunt marie? remember? she was from that one side of the family? you never see her anymore because of certain irreconcilable… issues? well, here she is. and she brought some of her famous popcorn!! remember? the popcorn with flavors. and by brought, i mean shipped to me, free of charge, for review.

praline popcorn

there it is! thanks, auntie! [she even printed out her own label and everything!] well, let’s take a look at what we’ve got here… praline popcorn. this is heralded as the world’s only baked popcorn. interesting! right? interesting. probably. perusing the website reveals… well, a bit about it. maybe. it’s all a bit confusing. it says that some guy with four fingers said popcorn would be less chewy if they tossed it in the oven. so that’s what’s going on here. BUT. they say it’s not popped in the oven. so i guess they pop it using traditional methods, then shove it in the oven for “good measure”. okay. also, it is revealed that the lady on the bag is the grandmother, not the aunt. wtf.

directly underneath the fine old lady, you will find the words “the taste you’ve been missing” (OH, we’ll see about that), and then some nutritional bullshit. GET TO THE POPCORN!!

them praline corns

here are them poppin’ corns. so what kind of effect does the baking have? and how does that shit taste?? WELL LET ME TELL YOU! you know the taste that those giant christmastime tubs o’ popcorn have? you know, kinda… stale? well, that stale taste is definitely present here. i guess it’s just impossible to avoid it unless you popped that corn right before eating it.

the popcorn does achieve crunchiness through its baked-on topping (caramelized sugary stuff), but the topping is a bit crumbly and becomes rather dusty. it has a nice homemade feeling to it. and it is sweet but not insanely so, so you can eat a lot. it’s almost addictive? but that ‘stale’ quality keeps you from wanting more, even when the flavor might bring you back to it. oh, and a lot of the pieces are burnt, which is… unpleasant. if you’ve had burnt popcorn, you know what i’m talking about.

them choco corns

there is also the chocolate variety. this one isn’t sweet like the praline. i mean, it’s a bit sweet, but the chocolate used is definitely a bittersweet, dark chocolate. the website reports they use ghirardelli’s dark chocolate chips! excellent. the bag, however, listed the same ingredients as the other popcorn. eh? D:

if you were to eat a full bag of this one, you’re probably less likely to get sick than with the praline flavor, as this one isn’t boasting that same sweetness. but the chocolate seemed to have a greater tendency towards burnt piece, which was upsetting. and the these were a bit too bitter for me.

overall, this wasn’t the amazing popcorn experience i had hoped for. the bags i got were 4 oz of popcorn each, and the website offers 13 oz buckets for 15 bucks each. i’d say that’s pretty fair, because what i was provided with was waaay more than enough popcorn, and it totaled at 20 oz. the only thing that would hold me back from ordering this is that i didn’t like it. which, i guess, is kind of a big deal. it was interesting, different, but not something i especially cared for.

for comparison purposes, if i ever bought a christmas tin of popcorn, it would be for nostalgia. i regularly buy normal buttered popcorn for microwaving. and i used to work at a movie theater and make fresh popcorn myself, which is always just lovely. i’m generally okay with popcorn. i couldn’t finish this stuff. oh! and i got it like two months ago, had it then, and recently had it again and noticed no degradation in quality. i don’t know whether that speaks to its longevity, or just poorly of its initial state, but it is what it is.

sorry, auntie marie. if it makes you feel any better, i still have a quasi-incestuous crush on you! ;D / D:

popcorn available at: kettlebake.net

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Trader Joe’s Goods

Posted by Tampa Bay Food Monster on January 6, 2011

the always awesome foodette was kind enough to deliver me a package full of trader joe’s goodies, after seeing my enjoyment of trader joe’s mint chocolate creams and s’mashing s’mores. when i received the package, i was delighted to find an assortment of different snacks and condiments.

group shot

holy schnikes!! that’s a lot of stuff. joe seemingly has his fingers in all sorts of things. dirty, dirty things. but mostly food-related things. so what have we got here? three types of chocolate covered items (pomegranate seeds, almonds, and “powerberries”), some type of fun seasoning, a spicy mustard, and… roasted seaweed snack. D:

dark chocolate almonds

let’s begin with trader joe’s sea salt & turbinado sugar dark chocolate almonds. so first of all, wtf is turbinado sugar? words i don’t understand… scare and confuse me. well, dr. wikipedia informs me that turbinado sugar is just natural brown sugar, after being spun through a turbine to remove impurities. i guess that’s pretty straightforward… but i’m a bit disappointed it’s not from a place or people referred to as turbinado.

okay, so it’s basically salty/sweet dark chocolate covered almonds. and it really whips the llama’s ass. this is quite possibly the most addictive snack ever. i already knew that trader joe’s did chocolate really well, with the two chocolate treats i’d had before, so i was expecting much the same here. i was not disappointed. there is a nice, thick layer of chocolate surrounding the almond. but the key here is the sea salt. it turns it from what could well be just another candy into a multi-layered snack experience. the saltiness plays well against the dark chocolate, allowing its sweetness to come out. and it keeps you wanting more, to start with the salty, and finish with the sweet. oh and the almond is somewhere in there too. it’s… it’s perfect.

powerberries

next up are the so-called “powerberries”, some sort of ungodly amalgamation of açaí berries, cranberries, blueberries, and pomegranates. then they use the power of DARK CHOCOLATE COATING to seal in this berry juice cocktail, solidifying into something that resembles a chocolate covered berry. a “powerberry”. now, they claim that they’ve brought these different fruits together in order to deliver unto you ‘flavanol antioxidants’, ‘vitamin c’, and ‘nutrients’, but i see through their ruse. all they want to deliver unto you is a fucking awesome snack. once again, their delicious dark chocolate works well with the chewy faux-berry center, which brings its own tartness and gentle sweet to the table. it’s a sugary sweet snack that, if not carefully watched, is likely to disappear completely moments after purchase. i’ve limited myself to one powerberry per day, in order to make this sweet bliss last.

dark chocolate covered pomegranate seeds

then there are the dark chocolate covered pomegranate seeds. also quite delicious, and another dangerously addictive snack. perfect dark chocolate mixed with super-tart pomegranate, with a crunchy seed center. a wonderful snack for any mood, from depression to melancholy to the blues.

roasted seaweed snack

so here’s an interesting little… thing. what’s up with this… stuff? it’s roasted seaweed snack, which is not something that i would ever consider snacking on. ever. but this is not that same seaweed that grabbed at my feet so many years ago, in that icy lake, helplessly left alone to ‘learn to swim’. OH GOD. instead, this is a crispy seaweed, resembling badly crumpled lighting gels (rosco 91??). and it’s uh… it’s a bit slimy. it’s crispy, and as you eat it, it turns chewy, like you’d imagine a seaweed would be. the taste is a bit salty, but largely fishy. i do believe i hate this.

21 seasoning salute

let’s now turn to the 21 seasoning salute! this is trader joe’s love letter to the world of spices, using spices… from… all over the world. the spices involved range from the size of pepper flakes to a fine salt. it’s not salt based, which is a good start for a spice. instead, the main ingredient is onions, and it’s immediately noticeable in the flavor. it does have a nice little burn to it, but it’s not immensely spicy. i will have to wait to get a full sense for it after using it on a burger or on eggs, but from what i’ve tasted, it’s quite nice.

hot & sweet mustard

and finally, we come to the most amazing item in the package, trader joe’s hot & sweet mustard. it. is. incredible. it’s got a good mustardy bite to it, enough to give your sinuses something to deal with. a light burn; just the right amount so that it’s not distracting. but there is an incredible sweetness up front, in every bite. it’s practically a honey mustard (it does, in fact, have honey in it). the sweetness is largely due to the fact that the number one ingredient is sugar. oh god yes. it’s a perfect accent to basically anything that comes near it, including human flesh (…try not to get any on you).

and that’s it! a group of awesome shit, none of which is available to you! TAKE THAT, TAMPA. perhaps i will pay a visit to the closest fresh market and see what sorts of goods they feature there. one thing is for sure though – trader joe’s kicks ass, and tampa sucks because it doesn’t have one.

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