Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Mod Post

Hi folks,

A somewhat somber post for you today.

This year I am pursuing further study, which involves a move to Perth (from my current residence in Victoria). As I've left my job, I will no longer have handy insights into future releases, but I will continue to photograph and review new releases as I spot them. The blog is not closing! The frequency of posts, however, may slow  somewhat as I get back into the swing of studying.

If you spot new releases around, feel free to reply to any blog post if you want to let me know about them. Perth should hopefully get the same releases as the east coast so I don't think I will miss any, but your patience is appreciated!

Please enjoy the blog, and keep rockin' that sweet tooth!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Mars Honeycomb

Mars Australia has started off 2013 with a bang, introducing their next seasonal Mars bar release: Mars Honeycomb. When my lovely Mars rep described this to me as a Mars bar but with honeycomb-flavoured nougat, I was both intrigued and concerned, both for the same reason: who puts honeycomb and caramel together?

Honeycomb in general is a hard, aerated product. Technically it's a toffee, made with sugar, golden syrup (here in Australia, anyway), and baking soda. The main players in the honeycomb game in Australia are Nestle Violet Crumble, and Cadbury Crunchie. More Aussies usually side with one or the other, due to their different textures. But both are hard, chocolate-covered products. A honeycomb-flavoured Mars bar takes the standard chocolate-covered honeycomb idea and turns it on its head by making the honeycomb part soft instead of sticking-to-your-teeth hard.

Weighing in at 53g, the Mars Honeycomb bar is the same size as your regular bar. The wrapper describes the product as 'whipped honeycomb flavoured nougat, topped with caramel covered in thick Mars chocolate'. Nothing earth shatteringly interesting there. The label does carry the note that Mars now uses 'Rainforest Alliance Ceritified' chocolate in all of their products, including this one. Good move, Mars!

Inside, the bar looks no different to your average Mars bar. It has the now-standard ripples across the top, and is enrobed in light brown milk chocolate. As soon as I opened the packet, I did notice a strong scent that smelt vaguely of honey, but that may have been because my bar was a little crushed on one end. On closer inspection, the scent is quite sweet, and definitely in the right realm for honeycomb. It reminds me a lot of times when I have made honeycomb by hand. There's a lot of golden syrup notes (possibly strengthened by the prescence of the caramel) and it does smell quite tasty.

I was surprised when breaking the bar in half to find to the nougat is YELLOW. It is bright, lolly-banana yellow. The ingredients do note that natural colour 100 is used. The caramel is lovely and a medium to dark tan colour, with that stretchy viscosity that I personally enjoy but some people hate.

On biting in, the honeycomb flavour is very much at the forefront. It definitely dominates the outer chocolate layer (which I find is usually dominate in regular Mars bars), and stomps over the caamel too. Having said that, once the products start to mix more during the chew, the caramel pops in to gently complement the honeycomb-flavoured nougat. I don't know how it does this, but it's a pleasant effect. The bar is not overly sweet at all and is actually rather mild after the first bite. Despite my misgivings about the combination of the honeycomb flavour and caramel, they work quite well together. The product doesn't stick to my teeth (always a bonus), but I do feel the need to finish with a glass of water afterwards.

The chocolate in a Mars Honeycomb bar contains a minimum of 25% cocoa solids and 22% milk solids. It contains wheat, milk, barely and egg. It may contain traces of peanuts and treenuts.

(Semi-related: today I learned that honeycomb is a term used only in Australia, Britan and South Africa. Other countries have different names - including 'sea foam' in parts of the USA.)

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Mentos Raspberry, and Limited Edition Strawberry

(I'm putting both of these in the same post because I'm lazy. Also, similar.)

Mentos needs no introduction (but I wrote one anyway when I reviewed the Mystery flavour). Recently, I've spotted two new flavours of Mentos dragees in supermarkets (mostly Woolworths), Raspberry, and the Limited Edition Strawberry.

For those not in the know, the limited edition Mentos are basically a test product. That's usually while you'll only see them in one store/chain - the distributors, Stuart Alexander, are testing the market. If it sells well, the flavour is usually rolled out to other chains and stores. If it flops, well, you won't ever see it again. (Recent examples include Watermelon (spotted at Woolworths a few years ago) and Cola.)

Only the Strawberry roll here is Limited Edition; it's possible that the Raspberry went through as LE and I missed it on the shelves. I've been informed by my Stuart Alexander rep that the Strawberry flavour is the same as that found in the Fruit and Rainbow rolls. It's just a solid roll of one flavour, as is the Raspberry (also a flavour from the Rainbow roll, and probably Berry Blast as well).

Despite the bold red packaging, the strawberry dragees are a soft baby pink colour, very lightly speckled with white. The interior is also white. The pack and the lollies are scentless, and the flavour is sweet and mild. It's quite a soft, artificial flavour, and pleasant to the taste. It doesn't taste anywhere near real strawberries, though - it's more of a strawberry ice cream kind of flavour. There is 2.5% reconstriuted strawberry juice in here.

The raspberry Mentos are packaged in a bright, dark pink packaging, complete with pictures of (pink) raspberries. Unlike the strawberry flavour, these dragees are also bright pink, enough that they clearly match the packaging. There's a faint white speckle to the hard outer shell, and they have no scent. The centre is also white. Surprisingly, the flavour on these is quite strong. I don't know that I would peg it as specifically raspberry over generic berry flavour, but there are some warm, jammy notes in there that are tasty and fresh. There's none of the tang that I would have expected from something that was more natural tasting, despite this roll also containing 2.5% raspberry juice. As it's more stronger, I enjoy this one more as a lolly than the strawberry roll, which felt more like a mint with his gentle flavour.

For the curious, the raspberry roll contains colour 120 while the strawberry roll does not (it contains colour 162). I only mention this as colour 120 has been in the news lately, with regards to the Starbucks Strawberries and Cream Frappe.