I Went Out for a Candy Bar… And Came Back with 14


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I’ve done candy bar tastings before in the past year, but there’s always more to learn about taste, texture, and production processes… and the selection at Cost Plus is quite nice.

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Thanks to Catherine, I discovered Munchies, which is sort of like a Twix hiding out in a Rolo. The packaging also has cute, pithy declarations, like the one above, and I like that it’s square. They look and feel nice that way.

From a production standpoint, it’s pretty involved. It’s one of the few molded mass-market chocolates — especially bold b/c sharp edges and fine patterns are more prone to cause air bubbles in the chocolate. So, they probably make it by: baking pellets of cookie and coating them with a certain protective layer to prevent moisture from softening the cookie (you can see that white sort of substance around the cookie; Twix does the same with a darker substance; I’ll have to do the same for my cookie bars, like the Malt bar, by hand), lining their molds with chocolate, making and injecting enough caramel to leave room for the displacement caused by the cookie, pushing the cookie down into the caramel, and then backing it with more chocolate. Many cookies protruded out through the back a little, but I guess it’s okay as long as it doesn’t prevent other squares from stacking next to it in the package. And they have to make a lot of these to fill a packet, and packaging them is a little more work than packing a single bar.

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Drifter was also a new one to me, and I admire its eerily edgy name. It’s also similar to a Twix, but it has wafers as its cookie and is enrobed in caramel and then chocolate.One of the things that I want to do with my bars is give them each a unique and appropriate look. It’s a slightly challenging, because the easiest way to make a candy bar is as a boring rectangular shape with a flat chocolate coating.

So, I was surprised and impressed by the subtle charms of the Bounty Bar.

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First off, I like the packaging, especially in contrast to the garish, abstract packaging of many other bars. It has vibrant but soothing colors held within a tropical theme; a fitting font; realistic depictions of palm trees and coconuts; and the mottled edges that further suggest water… and adventure. The name even has a double meaning to me; the bounty of the coconuts inside, but it also evokes Mutiny on the Bounty. Evocations of plenitude and history… not bad for a candy bar.

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And even the bar itself fits within the color scheme. And those “2’s” hint at the arrangement of two bars inside.

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Even the bottom has attention to detail. After the bar is enrobed under a curtain of chocolate, it slides onto a belt that has this pattern embossed on it. La Maison du Chocolat also does this for their enrobed pieces.

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And to finish it off, my favorite, the simple marks on top that manage to look like waves crashing on a chocolatey surf. I also like the rounded edges of the bars.

I found Bounty to be delicious… much to my surprise. Frankly, I tend to like the idea of existing candy bars more than their reailty of monolithically sweet and boring tastes. This one tasted, dare I say it, fresh. And I wasn’t just seduced by the packaging.

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I was amused by the Lion bar’s packaging, with this message on the front and back. Glad they feel like they figured it out, but this one tasted a lot less like peanut than I recalled.

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I was able to perform a telling dissection of it.

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The Double Decker had a groovy top, even if the nougat cracked through a bit.

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The bottom was rather less successful. Btw, I was surprised by a striking coconuty/fruity flavor in the nougat.

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I liked these Yoghurt Gums. Chewy and moist, and decent flavor.

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And a lemon sherbet, stuffed with its sour acid.

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And the poor Abba Zabba stands alone… the only one I immediately spit out (…and swore at). Hard taffy and really sweet peanut butter. Gives me shivers.

Edit: To clear my conscience, I add the Curly Wurly.

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I may as well mention that I measured every bar, too. This was was the longest, at 7-1/2 inches. It was also the chewiest.

10 Responses to “I Went Out for a Candy Bar… And Came Back with 14”

  1. cybele Says:

    What, no photos of the Curly Wurly?

    Like the Twix, I find the idea of the Munchies to be good, but it never quite came together for me as a taste experience.

  2. Nina Says:

    Haha I actually debated back and forth about it… so I just added it.

  3. Lida Says:

    The Curly Wurly sort of reminds me of Marathon Bars from my childhood.

  4. Nina Says:

    Yeah, I see references to the Marathon bar a bit in candy history… especially since there was a British version (whose name was changed to Snickers) and an American version (braided caramel, like the Curly Wurly). Apparently, the American version also had ruler markings on the packaging to show off its length!

  5. Cynthia Says:

    Hi Nina! I enjoyed the Candy Bar survey. I hope you gets lots of response. I actually listed the Double Decker as my all-time favorite, which I discovered while living in England. I’m sure you realized that most of these bars you got from Cost Plus probably suffered a good deal in transit from the UK, and are far from fresh. I was always impressed by the greater variety of candy bars over there. They seem much more creative with their recipes. I also fondly remember Crunchie bars, with a honeycombed center, and Wispa bars, with aerated chocolate. They were tasty, and they seemed to me like feats of culinary engineering! Good luck with the business, and let me know when I can sample some!

  6. brian Says:

    Hi Nina, I remember the bounty candy bars from my trip to New Zealand years ago. When I saw your intro photo I thought you had traveled overseas–apart from the casher rocha I didn’t recognize many! I’m so excited to hear you are thinking about going into business. I ponder what it would really be like to take the plunge. It would be a pretty serious leap from my job as a web developer. Really looking forward to posts about your experiences testing the waters. Cheers!

  7. fattypr Says:

    Can I be a candy bar taster when i grow up?

  8. Nina Says:

    Thanks, Cynthia. 🙂 You’re right — I ate candy and candy bars most regularly when I lived in London (looking back, curries and candies were most of my diet); I got hooked on the Turkish Bar… and fruit pastilles, and wispa, and eclairs, and percy pigs… And the ones sold here definitely suffer in transit and from lack of freshness. In a fine book called Candy Freak, the author visits small-scale candy bar makers in the US, and they all insist that he try bars straight off the conveyor belt. So, yeah, even though their shelf lives are long, they do deteriotate after every day.
    I always think of you when I read about or buy English candy products. I wonder if you liked Horlick’s malt powder? I bought a jar to see how it compares to the Carnation that I havefor my Malt bar.

    brian – Thanks! Yeah, the selection at Cost Plus was huge — even just their licorice selection was more than I’d seen in any one place at one time.

    fattypr – It’s been my experince that a little bit of eccentricity and a lot of dental care products are the only real requirements.

  9. catherine Says:

    glad you tasted munchies! I think you could produce a much more decadent version. the problem with most candy bars is they’re good, but artificial tasting, and don’t really hit the spot (curly wurlys are the same). A really fab, high-quality twix/munchie type bar would be divine! Sherbert Lemons are wonderful, but I think of you as a super-decadent chocolate bar gal (and they’ll always be a high-end market for these).

    I spend quite a bit at cost plus! Toffee Crisps are wonderful, as are the Cadbury cookies (the choc. fingers and choc-orange bickies). And then there’s the chocolate flakes that you stick into soft-serve ice-cream! Is my inner child showing?

  10. Nina Says:

    Yeah… the candies are something of a side curiosity for me…. If I can get them to work with fruit juices and interesting flavors and some kind of redeemable health value, then I’ll go for it… otherwise, I feel like I’m just shaping sugar! I did buy a gum making kit that I want to play with, but same goes for that.

    I liked the Toffee Crisp –how it manages to be light. I was a little confused by the “soft toffee” in it, though… I’m inclined to call that caramel. 🙂

    And hehe inner child coming out at Cost Plus is almost inevitable… I really had to hold back from buying even more!

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