REVIEW: Limited Edition Haribo Gold-Bears Mystery Flavors

Limited Edition Haribo Gold Bears Mystery Flavors

Wait.

Gummi bears have flavors?

Despite eating Olympic swimming pools of them over the decades, that’s news to me. I thought they were all one – “fruitish.” Perhaps because I shove them in my mouth by the handful, they meld into the same taste?

Hence I walked into Haribo’s Mystery Flavor Gold-Bears thinking, “Oh, they have specific flavors now – that’s new!”

My first impression of this product was: Where’s the beef?

This is a large bag but the bears only come up to the top of the clear window. Two-thirds of the bag is empty – not even filled with air, fercryinoutloud! It’s like the CD longbox of candy!

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Second impression: Have the gummi bear species reverse-evolved into smaller versions of themselves? I love miniatures, but I like to look a bear in the eye before I bite his head off, thank you very much.

Inside the bag, that familiar plasticy sweet smell and the greasy film that leaves bear trails on every surface.

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Spoiler alert: if you want to solve the mystery flavors mystery yourself, stop reading here and come back later!

Let’s start with the ones I’m sure about.

Blue = Blueberry. This was a no-brainer.

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The orange-yellow was definitely peach. No doubt about it.

These were also my two favorite flavors. They tasted like bright, punchy candy renditions of their namesake fruits.

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The remaining three I’m a bit tentative on.

The maroon I’m 70 percent sure is raspberry. 30 percent chance it’s pomegranate. While they had a pleasant berry-ish taste, I wasn’t excited about them. Perhaps the ease of identification boosted the enjoyment in the others?

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I originally thought the pink and bright yellow were strawberry and pineapple, but then discovered these are flavors are in the usual Haribo gummi bear mix, so they wouldn’t put them in this, would they?

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I scanned the package for hints. That fruit-filled question mark probably holds the answers to this profound conundrum.

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After consulting the cartoon bear oracle, and a second round of tasting, I’m leaning toward pink = watermelon and yellow = banana. These are pure guesses, however. I’m curious to hear what you all think since I couldn’t check my work on their website. The URL advertised on the package is currently password protected. Annoying.

The yellow bears were the most confounding flavor-wise and my least favorite of the group. If they really were banana, it’s a loose interpretation. Assuming my guess on the pink bear is correct, I prefer a heavier-handed take on watermelon. These were far weaker than my watermelon touchstone – Jolly Ranchers.

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Overall, the gummi bears retained their historic chewy fruity appeal and the mystery flavors added a new twist (especially for those of us who never knew there were intentional tastes involved in the first place). If you’re a gummi bear fan, these are worth a try!

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(Nutrition Facts – 13 bears – 100 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.89
Size: 4 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walgreens
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: I love a good mystery! Who killed the blue bear in the library with a rope?
Cons: 4 ounces of micro-bears in a 9 ounce bag. Least banana-y banana – if that is banana. Non-working website.

REVIEW: Brach’s Cookie Candy Corn

Brach s Cookie Candy Corn

I really enjoy candy corn, despite it being a major sugar bomb. (Seriously – have you checked out those nutrition facts below? Basically, ONLY sugar. I think in this case ignorance is bliss… Don’t even get me started on calorie counts on certain restaurant menus. IHOP is NOT the place I want to know how many calories I’m ingesting. Let me eat my stack of pancakes in peace.) But I do love me some candy corn when fall/Halloween comes around.

I had two thoughts when I saw the Brach’s Cookie Candy Corn in the store.

  1. What could this possibly taste like?
  2. Why are the Fall items out when schools haven’t even started yet? I’m a firm believer in Fall/Halloween AFTER back-to-school, Christmas music the day AFTER Thanksgiving and Easter goods AFTER Valentine’s Day.

The flavors intrigued me: The bag contained four different flavors of the candy corn, all beloved cookies. You’ll find Chocolate Chip (top left in the photo below), Oatmeal (top right), Butter Cookie (bottom right), and Cookies n’ Cream (bottom left).

Brach s Cookie Candy Corn 3

I was excited to try, but I couldn’t help but wonder: Would someone pick these over Aunt Alice’s cookie tray at Thanksgiving? Read on, my friends…

I started out by determining which flavor was which – surprisingly easy based on the color combinations – and compiled notes on each. Let’s start with Chocolate Chip. Definitely one of the more basic flavors. It had a strong chocolate taste up front with a subtle finish. Tasted more like a chocolate cookie with chocolate chips than just a chocolate chip cookie.

Next up was Oatmeal, which was by far my favorite of the group. It’s a warm-up for the taste of fall and the candy corn to come. There was a hint of cinnamon aftertaste, and it was the one that tasted the least like candy corn.

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For Cookies n’ Cream, vanilla is definitely the dominant flavor. It was good, leaving a sweet aftertaste. Alas, I’d still rather have an Oreo. And finally, Butter Cookie. Although the most even-flavored, it was the sweetest by far and the flavor that tasted the most artificial. There was no aftertaste with this one.

My expert analysis is this: The Brach’s Candy Corn is good, not great. Take my advice – if you want candy corn, eat candy corn. If you want a cookie, eat an actual cookie. The mixing of the two isn’t quite up to par. But if they do decide to bag up just the Oatmeal flavor, I may be OK with that.

(Nutrition Facts – 15 pieces – 110 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 22 grams of sugar; includes 22 grams added sugars, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 9 oz. bag
Purchased at: Giant Eagle
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Fun flavors, unique spin on candy corn. Good, not great.
Cons: Just not as good as a cookie. Stick to Aunt Alice’s Thanksgiving cookie tray.

REVIEW: Reese’s Stuffed with Crunchy Cookie Cups

Reese s Cookie Crunch Cups

I want a chocolate chip cookie stuffed in a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

But, sadly, while the insides of a Reese’s Crunchy Cookie Cup look like a chocolate chip cookie, it’s the same peanut butter studded with bits of chocolate cookies (think Oreo).

Announced back in March as part of Reese’s CUPfusion rebrand to CUPspiracy, this cookie iteration follows the Reese’s Pieces Stuffed Peanut Butter Cups. Like the Pieces version, these look exactly like the regular cups on the outside. The ones I had looked like they had a rough going with the summer heat and the sun won, so they weren’t the typical smooth and round cups.

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?The Reese’s food scientists must have heard my fellow TIB food reviewer’s gripes about the Pieces’ lack of texture in its stuffed peanut butter cups, because they turned it all the way up this time. But, that’s all it offers.

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I was disappointed to find that it mostly tasted like a regular cup. I found the lingering chocolate peanut butter aftertaste to be a tad bit saltier than usual, which is the cookie bits doing. As a habitual ice chewer, I enjoy crunchy textures but I expected so much more than JUST texture and an ever so slight taste difference.

Like a looping slow-motion replay on a contentious referee call, I ate cup after cup for a total of four cups just to be sure I wasn’t missing something. I had little bites and big bites with swishes of water in between to cleanse my palate. Unfortunately, I came to the same conclusion…four times. Cue the sad trombone because we’ve all been played by the Reese’s marketing team.

While the chocolate cookie bits don’t provide much flavor, if you’re a Reese’s diehard like I am, you’ll still get to enjoy the classic peanut butter and chocolate combination. And that’s better than nothing.

But for now, I shall continue to wait for my something — a chocolate chip cookie stuffed in a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cups – 200 calories, 90 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 125 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $1.59
Size: 1.4 oz/2 cups
Purchased at: 76 Gas Station
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Texture! It still tastes like a good ol’ Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
Cons: The only difference is the texture. I want a whole chocolate chip cookie stuffed in a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

REVIEW: Reese’s Popped Snack Mix

Reese s Popped Snack Mix

3 hours.

2 Netflix marathons.

1 snack mix to rule them all.

And as one who has come to understand her entire cinematic history through the haze of popcorn, pretzels, and candy-coated pieces, this newfangled Reese’s snack mix, with its images of poofs, pops, and peanut-infused delights, holds deep hope…and with that hope, the inherent danger of disappoint. But let us not be swayed by fear of defeat! If you, like me, have ever wondered what it would be like to have the concession stand throw your Reese’s in your popcorn bucket and drizzle it in chocolate, now is your time! Rise up! Get thee to the Target! Destiny awaits…

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And destiny does not disappoint.

Crunchy, poofy, crispity, fudgy, melty, snappy, and all around chompity, this mix has enough textures to push Snap, Crackle, and Pop into retirement. The popcorn serves as the snacky backdrop and is voluminous, distinctly crisp, and drizzled in fudgy chocolate goo. The pretzels (which tend to be throwaways for me) are refreshingly crunchy and have solid speckles of salt.

On the sweeter side of things, the plentiful mini Reese’s cups dot the snack landscape like so many Super Mario coins, providing at least one or two bursts of chocolate and peanut butter in each handful, while the giant, mildly mutated candy-coated peanuts are more like Dragon Coins: a bit rarer, but, when you find them, they bring a wallop of flavor as they’re doused in sweet, sweet peanut butter. Basically, they’re a Peanut M&M, but in Reese’s Pieces form.

The peanut butter used throughout has that wonderfully distinct Reese’s grit that strikes a common ground between creamy and crunchy peanut butters. Taken as a whole, the experience will delight to the extent that you may find yourself asking: How can I better integrate this mad science into my daily life?

A great question! Let’s see what we can do. Let me just take a look at the ingredients…

Reese s Popped Snack Mix 3

Do you see that? Wheat! Milk! Nuts! This stuff is basically a confused granola bar, that great king of go-to snacks, making it perfect for absolutely any occasion that strikes your fancy. Plus, it’s totally good for you. Trust me. I’ve dated a doctor.

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Let us not hesitate to celebrate the simple genius that is the combination of crunchity peanut butter and creamy, sweet chocolate. While not revolutionary, this mix is delicious enough to make even the most despised movie sequel moderately enjoyable. It’s chocolatey, salty, crunchy, sweet, peanut buttery goodness, all freshly sealed and ready to roll. If you’re frustrated with current snack mix varieties, don’t punch a hole in the wall! Go out and get you some therapy, then celebrate your newfound sense of self-worth with some Reese’s Popped Snack Mix. You will have no regrets.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 130 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of dietary fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 8 oz. bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Good amount of Reese’s Cups. GIANT, charmingly mutated, peanut-filled Reese’s Pieces. Not too many pretzels. May inspire newfound sense of self-worth. Super Mario.
Cons: Lots of popcorn…maybe too much? Would love more giant Reese’s Pieces. Makes you think of 18,000 other Reese’s-themed things that could go in a snack mix. Disappointing movie sequels. Thinking about Snap, Crackle, and Pop’s retirement home.

REVIEW: Twix Dark

Twix Dark

Chocolate is a funny thing. Almost everyone loves it, few despise it, and most people, when you start chattin’ it up about the candy aisle, have strong feelings about types of chocolate – most notably dark and white.

While standard milk chocolate is agreeable to most palates, some find white too sweet or boring, and others find dark too strong or bitter. Seemingly running out of ideas, or, being struck with the idea of brilliance in simplicity, it’s more common these days that candy companies put an alternate choco-spin on an already existing product than come out with an entirely new one to see how their classic bars stand up to the light or the dark.

The latest of this hot trend is Twix Dark, which takes the signature cookie and caramel mashup of the original and dunks it in a dark coating.

Twix Dark 2

The first thing that jumps out at me when opening the package is that the bar seems smaller, and upon comparing it to the original I can confirm that it is shorter in both width and height than the milk version.

After further investigation, it turns out that Twix actually has different sized bars in their regular and king sized versions, with slightly smaller ones in their king sized, clocking in at 110 calories instead of 125 for both varieties – interesting.

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Flavor-wise, the dark chocolate is thin, smooth, sweet, and reminds me a lot of the chocolate coating on a Milky Way Midnight with a touch more creaminess. It isn’t super dark, more semisweet, and while it’s definitely different from the milk chocolate Twix, it’s only slightly bitter and melds with the caramel well in a cohesive and not too dominant way.

The chocolate is almost too thin for my taste and seems thinner than on the original version, but the balance between the components is on point and the flavors feel focused and refined.

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The cookie, as expected, is crunchy, crumbly, and dry, with a slight butteriness that steers far away from shortbread but isn’t bland either. The caramel is soft and sweet with the perfect ratio of dense and chewy providing most of the sugar burst I want from a candy bar. The dark chocolate really comes into play here, as the overall flavor is less sweet and buttery than on the milk chocolate version.

Through and through, it’s a Twix, covered in dark chocolate, and done really well. Unlike the White Twix, which suffered greatly from a low quality, bland white coating, and the Peanut Butter Twix, which I find falls flat, the chocolate here is executed well and is just as enjoyable as a regular Twix. It’s a more complex, less sweet and buttery experience with a more chocolate-focused profile than the original, and while I can’t say it’s better than the O.G., I like it, and will definitely buy it again.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bar – 110 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 1 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $1.49
Size: 3.02 oz (4 To Go)
Purchased at: Vallero
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Smooth and creamy dark chocolate. Classic Twix taste. Not too sweet. Great shiny purple wrapper.
Cons: Chocolate coating a little thin. Less buttery than the original.

REVIEW: Flavor of Texas BBQ PayDay Bar

Flavor of Texas BBQ PayDay Bar

This bar I bite fills me with fright!

*clap clap clap clap*

Deep in the heart of Texas!

I guess it’s more like right on the coast of Jersey, where I was finally able to track one of these Frankenstein monsters down.

What in the holy hell is this thing? BBQ peanuts and caramel? Not since Lay’s Cappuccino Potato Chips have I been so fearfully intrigued by a new snack concoction.

The Flavor of Texas BBQ PayDay is one of Hershey’s new Flavors of America candy bars. Calling this “candy” is definitely a bit of a stretch. Then again, PayDay was probably never at the top of your “candy” crave list anyway, now was it?

When was the last time you bought one? It’s been a while for me. I feel like I haven’t bought one since the limited honey roasted version was on shelves. Regular PayDays are fine, but what’s the point of getting one when you can just get a Snickers or something? Very rarely will I NOT want chocolate.

Honey roasted peanuts will get me to buy anything though. They are criminally underutilized. Will I feel the same about BBQ peanuts? That’s the question of the day.

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Aesthetically, PayDay is one of the least appetizing candy bars to look at. I won’t go into detail why, but you can use your imagination. This one looks just like a normal one caked in Doritos dust.

The bar smelled like a sweet BBQ sauce, but that was expected. BBQ based products usually hit the mark in the olfactory department.

To start I plucked a few peanuts off and ate them solo. They ticked all the BBQ sauce boxes you’d want them to – nice smoky flavor, not too spicy, not too salty, and a bit tang. I’d eat a bag of these.

So, the BBQ element was on point, now was time to bite the proverbial bullet.

It was weird, but I already knew it would be. “Weird” is not always a bad thing.

Flavor of Texas BBQ PayDay Bar 4

The caramel bar isn’t overly sweet, so there wasn’t the Civil War battle of opposing flavors in my mouth that I anticipated. The BBQ flavor was more prominent on the peanuts alone. When mixed with the sweet caramel element this tasted a little like molasses I guess? I had trouble pinpointing it exactly. I guess this was like a sweet BBQ sauce with a molasses or maple syrup mixed in for sweetness. I think that was what they were going for, and they definitely succeeded.

While the overall flavor was solid, this was a textural treat more than anything. The peanuts were as fresh as I could’ve hoped for, and had a good overall bite to them. I’ve always appreciated the center of a PayDay being closer to nougat than regular caramel, so it’s never too sticky. They married perfectly.

Texas BBQ PayDay is a weird and ambitious effort from Hershey’s. I won’t pretend I’m aching to try it again, but I’d recommend giving it a shot. Maybe there’s a brave soul out there who might want to melt chocolate over this bad boy and really go for broke. I imagine that’d be a major test for the taste buds, but hey if this ain’t bad, that may be great.

So yeah, if you want to try a funky unorthodox snack, this is probably for you. If not, there are five other Flavors of America available from Hershey’s. Hit the road.

(Nutrition Facts – 230 calories, 100 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 24 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: 83 cents
Size: 1.85 oz. bar
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Texture was perfection. Not too salty, spicy, or sweet. Ambitious. The price was right. I dig the Flavors of America line.
Cons: Maybe a little too ambitious? Chocolate or Honey Roasted PayDays not being a year round candy options. No famous BBQ sauce brand tie-in as far as I can tell.