Sunday, 29 July 2012

Accredited Trade Show 2012

On Friday I went to my very first trade show. If you're not in the know, a trade show is hosted by a vendor (in this case, our confectionery distributor), and different brands come along  to host stands, showcase new and existing products, and do deals with visitors. Trade shows aren't open to the public, so I was very excited to be able to go along with my work.

Photos and gossip under the break!

Pascall Mallow Bites Choc

You might be forgiven for thinking that Pascall is a standalone Aussie brand. It's only recently that they packaging has embraced its Cadbury ownership, even going so far as to place the famous Cadbury purple logo on the packaging of their newest product, Mallow Bites Choc.

Pascall is mostly known for their Pineapple Lumps, Clinkers, and regular Marshmallows (which used to come in a plain vanilla variety as well, but that's been recently discontinued). Their new product, Mallow Bites Choc, have been out for a month or two now, and they come in two flavour varieties: Vanilla and Honeycomb. Each bag holds 130g, but as with many marshmallow products, there's a lot of product for the weight.

Out of the matte-foil packaging, the bite-size pieces look rather sorry for themselves. They're scuffed and scratched, and some pieces even have small sections of chocolate missing. The bag has done a good job of keeping the bites nice and fresh through. Next to each other on the table, it's impossible to tell the flavours apart, although if you don't mind having a good ol' sniff before biting, the Crunchie-like scent of the honeycomb bite is strong.

Each bite is a hair under 3cm wide, and about 2.5cm tall. They are a good size to nibble on; one is a comfortable amount, though you could take two at once if you felt so inclined. The outer chocolate layer is fairly thin, but doesn't crack easily to pressure. The real surprise is the pull of the marshmallow inside. I don't eat a whole lot of marshmallow, but the texture on these seems different to what I have experienced in the past. If you don't bite all the way through (if not eating a whole one at once), there's a definite resistance there. It's a little hard to explain. It doesn't effect the chewing experience though. The chocolate layer provides a nice soft crunch to complement the fluffy marshmallow centre.

The vanilla bite is lovely and not overwhelming. The chocolate layer does provide most of the flavour though, which if you like Cadbury's sweet chocolate will work in your favour. The vanilla centre is fairly tasteless on its own, although sweet, but that's not necessarily a negative. The bite is not a sugar hit, and would probably work nicely if added to a cup of unsweetened hot chocolate. These make it easy to eat more than a couple at a time.

Honeycomb, on the other hand, is a flavour punch. It's very bold and sweet, and lingers long after you've finished the bite. It's like a soft version of a Crunchie bar. I do notice that the marshmallow is a little grainy too. It's not present in all the pieces, but it is in quite a few. They are fulfilling, and a couple of pieces is plenty for me.

Five bites are one serve (25g), the product contains milk and soy, and they may contain traces of peanuts and tree nuts. These are also made in NZ.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Natural Confectionery Company Jelly Joiners

There are six flavours in the packet, indicated on the back as: crispy apple, delectable smooth banana, juicy orange, tangy lime, sweet cinnamon and ripe raspberry. Keen-eyed visitors might recognise the lime and raspberry flavours - they were used in the TNCC Christmas 2011 release 'Merry Blissmas'.

As with most of TNCC's gummy products, they aren't oiled (like the type of oil you find on products like gummy bears), but have a muted, somewhat dusty appearance. The colours aren't as bright as the illustrations of the front of the package, but that's what you get when you use all-natural colours. I actually had a bit of trouble telling cinnamon from banana and from apple when they were all mixed together in the bag, but spread out on the table, the colours are more recognisable.

The shape of the lolly is like a mutated version of a Lego piece, meant to facilitate and encourage buyers to play with their food and 'join' the pieces together before eating. The pieces are about 3cm long and 1cm high. Unfortunately, many of my pieces were horribly squashed and/or bent. The ones used in the photo seemed to be more of an exception rather than the rule.

Ripe raspberry is a common TNCC flavour. Earlier this year, they released a whole bag of snakes in this flavour. It's a very jammy flavour, sweet and a bit like red cordial. As expected there is no tartiness.

The orange-flavour piece is rather poor compared to other orange-flavoured pieces on the market. There's no tartness or juiciness, not even a juice flavour. It's more like mild orange cordial - nice but uninteresting.

Dark green lime is average. No bitterness, just a vague green flavour that doesn't really lend itself to anything.

Apple is pale green and is a surprisingly sharp representation of apple. Compared to the other sweet pieces, apple is refreshing and bold.

Banana is recognisable as bright yellow. It is a relatively good approximation of its fruit, unlike the other pieces in this pack. It's a very mild flavour though, quickly disappearing off the tongue. 

Cinnamon is, I believe, TNCC's first item in their range with this flavour. The cream-coloured piece doesn't actually taste at all like cinnamon, but carries a vague, half-hearted warmth and sweetness. It's like coke syrup divded by ten. There's none of the full-frontal warmth or kick that I associate with cinnamon. By itself, the piece is bland, but not one I would avoid if eating these separately.

The pack recommends five flavour mixes.

Lime (dark green) and cinnamon (cream) is supposed to produce cola. I was surprised to find that the combination makes a pretty good cola flavour. It's a bit dollar-store in terms of depth, but still a good party trick.

Pear is made by combining apple (light green) and banana. After tasting apple earlier, I can definitely see how this flavour could be achieved as I already could tell there were pear notes present. Adding banana intensifies the sharpness of the apple, if only briefly. It's not quite pear but gets pretty close.

Mixing orange and banana will apparently get you bubblegum. I couldn't taste it - it just tasted like banana and orange to me.

Mandarin is made by combining apple and orange. I got a few whiffs of mandarin but it was more like the flavour found in flavoured water - a vague idea but not enough to really call it mandarin.

Raspberry and lime together creates raspberry lemonade. I've never actually tried raspberry lemonade so I can't comment on the realism of the flavour, but the pieces together complement each other well. Lime suddenly has a bit of depth when added to the raspberry. The flavour is still sweet but the lime does actually taste a little closer to the bitterness it's supposed to represent than it did before.

A few weeks ago, there was an ad spread in That's Life magazine, over three consecutive pages. (Excuse the terrible iPod photos.) At first I thought the ad showed additional flavours to the ones listed on the packet, (which would be really cool) but no, it's just the packet flavours advertised again.

I should point out that the packet says a serving is about 6 pieces and there are approximately 7.2 servings per pack. It's really easy to go over that serving size when playing with the different flavour mixings.

TNCC Jelly Joiners are a wheat glucose product.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Capricorn Choc Bites Raspberry

Capricorn is an Australian brand, specialising in licorice products. Their most common products are the 'soft eating' licorice pieces, which come in traditional black as well as raspberry and green apple.

This particular product is the Raspberry Choc Bites, described as 'delicious raspberry flavoured soft eating licorice smothered in creaming milk chocolate'. The image on the front shows small but thick rods of licorice, brightly red in colour, aand coated in smooth, unblemished and light milk chocolate. The bag is made from sturdy, thick foil that keeps the product lovely and fresh.

The licorice rods inside are more like logs, over 1cm thick, about 4.5cm long, and each weighs about 13g. While each log could be one bite, it would be just as satisfying if bitten in two.

Unfortunately the packaging doesn't seem to have protected the logs from the shipping process. Although the chocolate coating isn't broken, each log is heavily scuffed and scratched, and there are cracks around the ends as well. They do smell lovely though, of warm raspberry jam with a touch of cocoa.

As with most Australian soft eating licorice, the bite isn't terribly dense, but neither is it as soft as a gummi nor as tough as some other licorices. It's full of flavour - again,. lots of soft jammy notes, but the sweetness is not cloying or overwhelming. The chocolate complements rather than overwhelms, providing a nice background and a bit of texture to the chew.

The bag holds 250g, and there are ten servings in the back, so a serve is one and a bit logs.  The product contains wheat, sulphites, milk and soy.