Monday, 17 June 2013

Gossip: New 'Mentos Mystery II' Release

Following on from the success of the first Mystery flavour last year, there will be a 'Mystery II' released shortly in both the piece and gum range. There will also be a competition like last time as well.

Have you seen this one around? Let me know!

Image courtesy Mentos Australia Facebook page.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Nestle Aero Bubbles Mint

Netle's new Aero Bubbles might be new to Australia, but they have been available in the UK for many years. I first heard about them through a few years ago, where they were imported stock, and even better, in orange flavour (a favourite!) Unfortunately I never ended up placing an order, something I've regretted for ages, but at least now Australia has their own stock!

Well, not quite. These are UK-imported stock, recently confirmed by Nestle on their Aero Australian Facebook page.

The Bubbles are small, spherical bites of the classic Aero aerated confectionery, surrounded by a layer of thick milk chocolate. The centre on Aero Mint products is a 'confectionery' (it's not technically chocolate). I can't say why they don't use white chocolate instead, but I would hazard a guess that cost has a lot to do with it.

The green matte-finish foil package is bright and easy to spot on the shelf as it looks very similar to the standard Aero bars.  The bag weighs 35g, while a bar comes in at 40g, but the 5g difference is a lot more noticeable with the different product size (balls versus a bar). I received 12 balls in my bag.

The balls are very similar in size to a Mars Malteser, at about 2cm wide (shown with a Mentos for size below). Although the chocolate layer is a nice colour to it, it looks a bit dinged from its travels. Some balls had a small hole or crater where the chocolate had broken. All of the balls have a noticeable seam in the chocolate as well. They smell very sweet with a sugared-up mint scent, and they are quite strong.

I was surprised to find that the glazing layer over the chocolate was a touch sticky if my fingers were even slightly warm. I would not want to touch these on a warm day! When I bit one open, I found that the chocolate layer was quite thin - less than 2mm - which is very different to the product image on the bag. The light green confectionery filling also didn't fill the entire ball; instead there are fairly even big air bubbles inside. I bit open a few different balls and found most had the big air bubbles.

Luckily the taste is nice. I found these milder than an Aero Mint bar in terms of both sweetness and mint flavour - perhaps it is the proportion of more chocolate to less confectionery centre. The bubbly confectionery centre is quite light - as to be expected from an air-filled product. The chew is not very milky or melty, and the mild mint flavour doesn't hang around afterwards either. I rather enjoyed them as something mild, but I did find that the more I ate, the stronger the sweetness became. I think I can understand why the serving is six pieces, and not the whole bag.

I liked the flavour, but the stickiness is offputting. 3 out of 5 stars.

Made in the UK. Contains milk and wheat. Nestle has said on their Facebook page that the Aero Bubbles Mint "do not contain peanut and tree-nut ingredients" and there is no nut statement on the bag.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Gossip: New Allen's Minties, Jelly Beans and More

Allen's Lollies, owned by powerhouse Nestle, has been busy with all sorts of new creations!

First up, the brand as a whole is slowly moving through and changing all of their lollies over to natural colours - which means bye-bye to artificial food dyes. That also means no more blue snakes in the Snakes Alive packs, or blue racing cars in the Party Mix bags. But it's all for the greater good, right? Curiously, I haven't seen a whole lot of advertising about this.

Allen's have just released their own take on The Natural Confectionery Company Bliss lollies under the name of 'Cheekies'. I will be reviewing both flavours shortly.

The Jelly Beans are getting a shake-up with two new flavours: 'Sour Rush' and 'Funfair Thrills'. Coles seem to be stocking them already (and IGA as well according to Allen's Facebook page), but Woolworths doesn't have them yet. Have you seen them around?

Finally, there's an update to the 90-year-old favourite Minties, in the form of 'Choc and Vanilla Smooth Mint' flavour. What do you think; do they sound good?

Monday, 10 June 2013

The Natural Confectionery Company Smoothie Chews

It's been a while since The Natural Confectionery Company added something new to their massive range of lollies. (The last was Strawberries & Cream Bliss, back in October of last year.) TNCC have already produced a range of chews, a lolly type which isn't hugely common here in Australia. They are available in a bag, and years ago were also available in a bar format. The current 'Fruit Chews' bag contains the following flavours: raspberry, strawberry, blackcurrant, orange and lemon.

 The first of TNCC's two new Chews bags is 'Smoothie Chews', a bag containing lollies that are a 'smooth combo of fruitiness and creaminess'. (The other flavour is 'Sour Chews' which I will be reviewing at a later date.)

The four flavours included are apple & raspberry (green), mixed berry (purple), mango & passionfruit (orange) and strawberry & banana (pink). These definitely sound like smoothie-inspired flavours that I'm excited to try. Unfortunately when I tipped the bag contents out, the selection was definitely lopsided, with only three Mango & Passionfruit chews included, but lots of Mixed Berry.

Each of the chews are wrapped in a colour-coded label, also marked with the name of the flavour, so they are good to toss a couple in your bag. The pieces are about 2.2cm long by 1.5cm wide and high, so they are not too small but also not too big. The chews are also each made up of two colours representing the flavours.

Apple & Raspberry is up first. Apple and raspberry flavour mixes remind me of a childhood favourite, the apple and raspberry-flavoured Prima (which is a flavoured fruit drink for non-Australians). This chew has a green outer and pink centre. It feels quite stiff and has a mild berry scent. In the mouth, the apple is the first obvious flavour but is quickly balanced out by the raspberry, leading me to believe the colours are purely decorational and not individully flavoured. The chew softens quickly, and tastes a bit like a toffee apple (an actual toffee-covered apple) - it's sweet but delightfully tart and very juicy. I don't get any 'smoothie' notes from this as the flavours are bright and bold. I really enjoyed this flavour and wish I had a bag of them all by themselves.

Next is Mixed Berry, in the purple wrapper. This chew has a pink outer with a dark magenta centre. It has a mild sweet scent of nothing in particular. The first flavour I get is a tart raspberry, followed by notes of mellow blackberry. Like the Apple & Raspberry, the flavours are quite strong - they make me think more of smoothie syrup rather than a smoothie itself. I found this chew a little bit tart as well, but not as much as the Apple & Raspberry, and a little less sweet.

Mango & Passionfruit is in the orange wrapper, and has an orange outer and yellow centre. It has a vague citrus scent that is nothing interesting. The mango flavour is very strong and bold. It's actually quite a close representation of real mangoes in flavour. I did get a touch of creaminess in the flavour, but not enough to balance out the flavour. I couldn't taste the passionfruit at all. I am not a fan of mangoes so didn't not really enjoy this chew.

The final flavour is Strawberry & Banana in the pink wrapper. It has a yellow outer, and pink centre. This is he most smoothie-like of the flavours. The banana is first present, but quickly sweetened by the presence of the strawberry. It's nice and much less mild than the other flavours, and is also more creamy.

If you feel contemplative while eating these, check out the wrappers - they contain questions. I wonder if they are supposed to rival Nestle's Allen's Fantales (which have movie star trivia questions). The questions are rather boring: "Who is your favourite relative?", "What song do you secretly love to listen to?", "What is the most embarrassing thing you have done?" but I suppose they have to keep them family friendly.

Interestingly, these are made in Thailand! The Natural Confectionery Company Smoothie Chews are a sugar confectionery, and contains wheat, glucose syrup and may contain traces of soy. A serve is 3.3 pieces.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Gossip: Mars M&M's Orange

It was only back in December that I reviewed the M&M's Orange release, and now they are back on the shelves! That's quite a short period of time between releases. I don't think that this is the Crispy version (but I could be mistaken) so perhaps they could be the dark chocolate version, or maybe they have been added to the regular lineup (unlikely). Why do you think we are seeing this flavour again?

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Mars Bounty Cherry

As with most of their products, Mars likes to cycle through a seasonal variation alongside the regular or original flavours. Both Mars Bar and Snickers are good examples of this. Bounty, on the other hand, tends to be left out of this cycle (or at least doesn't rotate through it as quickly as the other bars). In the past it has been available in dark chocolate, which is no longer available, and cherry first became available in 2009, and disappeared shortly afterwards. Now it's back!

The red and silver packaging is immediately obvious compared to the blue and silver of the standard plain coconut-flavoured Bounty. On the side of the pack, the bar claims to contain 'moist tender coconut and cherries in dark chocolate' and happily the pack contains graphics of both cherries and coconut.

Inside we have the two small bars with rounded ends, and three triangles/flows of chocolate on top. (Wikipedia tells me Mars attempted to trademark the bar shape and the three triangles back in 2003, which ultimately fell through.) The chocolate is nice and rich in colour, a nice dark brown with faint gloss. Even through the chocolate is thick and solid, I can smell the coconut and a faint cherry scent as well. Thankfully, neither are overbearing as some bars tend to be.

The chocolate layer is quite solid and thick (almost 2mm in places), and holds in place the bright red coconut inside. I was surprised to discover that the coconut didn't really resemble the long thin pieces you would find in a bag of dessicated coconut, but instead looks like wet sand that has dried. It has a faint faux-cherry scent to it too, though the chocolate keeps it from becoming too medicinal. There are also no signs of cherry pieces (like one would find in a Cadbury Cherry Ripe), so the bar seems to be just cherry-flavoured coconut. The ingredients list states that the bar contains the equivilant of 4.6% fresh cherries, and 'red cherry puree' is sitting down in sixth position on the list. So that line of 'moist tender cherries and coconut' is bull!

The solid chocolate coating provides a lovely crunch, and the flavour is surprisingly nice. The coconut provides mostly texture rather than flavour, and the cherry and chocolate balance each other out to provide a bit that is mild but presents both flavours equally. If you're looking for a very mild version of a Cadbury Cherry Ripe, then this is your bar, but otherwise it provides no competition. The coconut is pleasingly moist and chewy.

I'm not a fan of coconut and the way it sticks in your teeth so this is not a bar I would personally purchase again, and this may colour my rating somewhat.

2.5 out of 5 stars.

One piece is one serve (22.5g). The chocolate contains a minimum of 38% cocoa solids. It may contain treenuts, egg, barley and peanuts.