Allen's is a brand of confectionery that is unique to our little island. Despite its extensive history (the company was established in 1891), the Nestle-owned brand has little information on its website about its history. Allen's jelly, chocolate and sugar lollies are ubiquitous in the childhood memories of most adults (I remember being at a young age and trying to 'drink' the milk out of the milk bottles - go on, laugh!), and their large range most definitely has something for everyone.
In 2010 Allen's released a 'Retro Party Mix', a play on its popular 'Party Mix' bag. The new introduction included milk bottles, pineapples, racing cars, teeth, honey bears, strawberries and cream, and ripe raspberries and was quite popular, particularly with older generation Australians who liked to enjoy lollies from their youth.
The first of Allen's three new releases for 2010 is a limited edition-branded bag, carrying a range called 'Mad About Teeth n Stuff'. I was immediately suspicious upon seeing the promo pictures earlier this week. Why would they release a product so incredibly similar to an already-existing product? The promotional material (which I posted here earlier) indicated the Mad About Teeth n Stuff bag would carry only 'foam' lollies, so I suppose this must be a repackaged Retro Mix with the honey bears, coke bottles and lips removed.
I wasn't far off the mark. Inside the bag we find just five varieties of the so-called foam lollies: teeth, milk bottles, strawberries and cream, racing cars and pineapples. For a 180g bag there was a decent mix of products, though I did receive about ten teeth sections in my one bag.
For comparison's sake, I picked up a Retro Party Mix bag as well (that's them on the right). It's pretty clear that the Teeth n Stuff bag is using the same products , just with a limited edition sticker slapped on. (Pineapples are included in the Retro Party Mix, I just forgot to put one in the photo. Oops.)
The teeth small faintly vanilla and milk, and there's a little bit of a strawberry note in there too. Lacking is the bright, bold pink of the gum section I remember from my childhood - these are a bland and uninspiring baby pink. There's a bit of stretch to the lolly, and it's firm to the touch and the chew. A very mild strawberry flavour is present, but it's pretty unremarkable. More noteworthy is that the piece is straight - they usually arrived curved. The piece is a hair under 6cm long, a perfect length for slipping under your top lip (short side in if you're more of a walrus type).
Pineapples are one of my favourite retro lollies, even if the flavour is usually far from the tarty sweetness of the real fruit. They smell of nothing, but I'm relieved to find the flavour is far from absent. The rich, juicy tang isn't quite realistic, but there's a definite note of sweet pineapple, even if it isn't a realistic flavour. These ones are also quite small, just about 2.5cm tall.
Milk bottles are pretty simple. They're firm but pliable, a fat 1cm thick and an average 3cm tall. There's nothing to the flavour bar a simple, vague vanilla milk taste. They're kind of like foamy Milkos (also an Allen's product) but weaker in taste.
Disappointingly, all of the racing cars in my bag were green. They were originally in four colours: red, green, blue and yellow. The top, coloured layer is almost opaque, but the colour is bright and vivid emerald green. The flavour without the white bottom is a brash apple flavour that quickly disappears. When eaten whole, with the foam layer, the flavour is much more mellow.
The least Allen's could have done when making these strawberries and cream was use the ones that already come in a bag by themselves. The shape of those ones, a rounded nub of strawberry in a larger pool of 'cream' is much more familiar than the lame strawberry-half-with-cream-backing they put in this bag. (For the record, the strawberries and cream in the Retro Party Mix are the half-strawberry, too.) Though the larger jelly section does mean the actual piece has more of the jammy, blandish strawberry flavour than the other shape. The flavour isn't enough to make me like it, though I won't actively pick it out of my bag when eating these later.
All in all, I'm still not sure why they bothered with this product. The Retro Party Mix is more than adequate for anyone wishing to revisit parts of their childhood through their tastebuds.
The packaging notes that the products contain wheat starch, and are made on equipment that also processes products containing milk powder.