Saturday, 27 July 2013

Allen's Funfair Thrills Jelly Beans

The new range of Allen's jelly beans includes two new packs: Funfair Thrills and Sour Rush. The Funfair Thrills pack, with the bright orange jelly bean on the front is the one under review today.

Personally I find the characters on the front of the Allen's jelly lollies a bit creepy (the original or normal flavour range packet has a jelly bean with one eye and one tooth). But, the Allen's designers have done a good job with ensuring continuity between the packets; the jelly bean on this bag is wearing a top hat, presumably to tie in with the whole funfair/circus theme.

The rear of the packet shows nine new flavours, inspired by the theme: fairy floss, zesty lemonade, fizzy cola, bubblegum bang, tutti fruitti, buttered popcorn, chocolate milkshake, toffee apple and cool candy banana. Some of the flavours are a tenuous connection to the theme (zesty lemonade) while others fit right in (tutti fruitti).

The colours used in this range are not exactly inspiring, although they do mostly relate to the flavours. The dyes used are artificial as well. (I don't have an issue with artificial dyes, but I know some people can be sensitive.) They are not as bright or colourful as the standard range, and I had trouble telling a few of the colours apart as the guide on the back of the pack is a bit off on a couple. I took initial photos of this range and then had to redo them as I realised I had managed to miss one of the colours because it was so similar to another. This can make it difficult to identify them - especially if you aren't in bright light.

I recruited my housemate into the tasting process, so the views below are combined. The flavours run in clockwise order from purple at the centre top.

12 o'clock position: Bubblegum (purple)
This had definite notes of grape, not the generic bubblegum flavour I was expecting. It's a fairly strong flavour too.

Cool Candy Banana (yellow)
I was surprised to find that this flavour got much of the flavour right. It is really similar to a lolly banana, minus that fabulous chalky texture. It's strong and bold and not as sweet as a lolly banana, but still very nice.

Toffee Apple (red)
This was quite a strong flavour, with strong apple juice notes and a very tart flavour. It was very accurate to the flavour of a red apple. I really enjoyed these and would eat a whole bag of them.

Buttered Popcorn (white)
Another accurate flavour.  This is an inspired version of cinema popcorn; the beginning is a surprise and a little salty but then strongly notes of burnt sugar kick in. The scent was quite buttery though, and was strong enough to contaminate some of the other beans in the bag.

Fizzy Cola (grey)
The colour on this bean was quite strange. It definitely wasn't the dark brown, almost black colour of most colour drinks. It's more of a weird brown--tinged grey. The flavour is sweet, along the lines of a cola-flavoured Chupa Chup. The tartness at the start is quite close to resembling that sharp fizz of a fresh can of coke, but it quickly subsides into flat soft drink territory. Nice but nothing special.

Fairy Floss (pink)
This was the easiest of the bunch to identify the flavour. It's quite sugary as expected, and has a true fairy floss flavour of generic mild 'pink'.

Tutti Fruiti (orange)
 While this isn't the tutti fruitti I think of when someone mentions the flavour, it's nice all the same. It's more artificial and citrus-inspired, and is quite a bold flavour. It's also got a little 'fruit tingles' flavour behind it too.

Chocolate Milkshake (dark brown)
Ugh. This was quite an unappetizing flavour. In all honestly, it tastes like extremely watered down hot chocolate. It's similar to the chocolate flavour of the Milk Bottle Mania range, and if I remember correctly, I didn't really like that one either.

Lemonade (pale yellow)
This was quite nice. It's lemonade inspired by the water+sugar+lemon juice formula, not the carbonated soft drink. It's along the lines of sweet lemon tea - there's sugar but there's also a little bit of tartness as well. I found this pleasing and refreshing.

The bag is great as a novelty, but due to the wide range of flavours, I don't know that it would work as a product that could be eaten without looking (for example, at the movies) and certainly not in a handful. Some flavours really crash when eaten together (buttered popcorn and anything ), while some compliment each other nicely (lemonade and tutti fruitti).

Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The Allen's Funfair Thrills Jelly Beans are made in Australia. They contain wheat,  malt and barley, and are made on equipment that processes products containing milk powder. A serving size is 20g.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Gossip: Cadbury Dairy Milk with Oreo Block, Choc Full of Pretzals and Choc Full of Popcorn

Spotted in the most recent Woolworths catalogue is a new import from the UK: Cadbury Fairy Milk with Oreo block.

At 120g it's similar in size to the small 100g blocks that Cadbury sells, but this image (stolen from a UK site) shows that the block is in foil packaging, rather than our current cardboard boxes.

Alongside the block above will be two other UK imports - Choc Full of Pretzels and Choc Full of Popcorn. They are just as they sound - chocolate-covered pretzels and chocolate-covered popcorn. The bags weigh in at 110g and 180g.

Although both of these might be somewhat outside the scope of this blog, I'll be trying them just for curiosity's sake. We certainly don't have anything like this here in Australia, and I've been wanting to try chocolate-covered pretzels for a while now.

 What do you think? Will you give any of these a try?

Friday, 19 July 2013

The National Confectionery Company Sour Chews

Last month I reviewed the other new release from TNCC, their Smoothie Chews, which you can check out here. The sister release is Sour Chews, small tangy fruit-flavoured pieces designed to compliment the existing Fruit Chews product as well.

The pieces are described as 'sour fruity with a tasty tang' and come in four flavours: grape (purple), lemon-lime (light green), raspberry (dark pink) and apple (dark green). Like the Smoothie Chews, the Sour Chews have the flavour name printed on the wrapper, as well as Fantale-esque questions for you to 'ponder while you chew'.

Three of the wrapper colours are the same as those used in the Smoothie Chews bag, so if you were to combine both ranges in a bowl, well - be sure to read the labels because you may get a surprise. It was quite cold when I reviewed these, so the chew was a little stiffer than usual to start with, but then softened.

Raspberry is a solid musk pink piece. It smells a little of artificial colour (odd as TNCC products don't use artificial colours or flavours). On the tongue, it's nowhere near as sour as I expected - and I'm not a fan of sour products as all. It's a little in the realm of raspberry cordial, which a half-hearted tang thrown in at the end. Neither the flavour nor the tang is strong - no eye-watering here - but it was enough for me. There's also a really weird taste in that that reminds me of something unpleasant, though I can't for the life of me describe it. I didn't like the taste of this one at all.

In the light green is lemon-lime flavour, and it's a pale yellow piece that smells faintly of lolly bananas and a mild citrus flavour. Thankfully this one comes with a good sour burst, right from the start. It starts with lemon but then lime quickly joins the party. It's a little like Solo with a tang of lime trailing behind. This one is lovely, and refreshing to boot.

Grape is the purple piece, and it's a muted magenta colour that smells like grape Hubba Bubba (it looks a bit like it, too!). Like the other pieces it is not very sour, but has a mild tang that makes the mouth water. The flavour is warm and leans in the direction of grapes but doesn't really get there. I'm actually really surprised to find that this is a dead-set replica of the Hubba Bubba flavour, just more sour. Considering these are from a different company, it's a little bit mind-blowing!

Finally, apple is a light lime-green coloured piece that sadly doesn't smell like anything at all. It does get the green apple flavour spot on though - a little grass, a lot of sharp tang and a fair bit of apple juice makes this a surprisingly realistic flavour. Like the lemon-lime flavour, apple is refreshing.

Given the mild sourness from each piece, I found four pieces plenty for the afternoon. My tastebuds have had enough of the flavour rollercoaster! When I finished the bag, I avoided raspberry and went straight for the lemon-lime every time.

Score: 3 out of 5 stars.

Like the Smoothie Chews, The National Confectionery Company Sour Chews are made in Thailand. They are a sugar confectionery, contain wheat, glucose syrup and may contain traces of soy. A serve is 3.3 pieces.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Mentos Green Apple

Yet another limited edition Mentos flavour has hit the shelves in recent weeks. As I mentioned in my last Mentos LE review, the limited edition flavours are Mentos' dstributer, Stuart Alexander, testing the market - usually Woolies - for initial sales figures, before releasing it elsewhere.

Like the Strawberry roll from earlier this year, the Green Apple roll features one flavour from the Rainbow roll. Interestingly, the Rainbow roll in Europe differs from the one released in the US; the Euro version includes green apple, whereas the US version doesn't have green apple but instead has cherry.

The package is bright green and covered with images of, you guessed it: green apples. The foil is also lime green as well, a nice touch to make the package quite distinctive. The dragees themselves are a pale mottled green in colour (some were missing patches of colour), and standard Mentos size. They don't smell like anything, but biting the candy shells reveals a refreshing apple juice flavour: tart and sweet at the same time. They are very nice and juicy, and aren't that far in taste from a real green apple. I don't get any artificial flavour notes either. They are quite realistic, so you had better like apples!

I really enjoyed these as something different from my usual sweet-tooth cravings, and will probably pick up a roll to keep beside my desk.

5 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Cadbury Marvellous Creations Banana Candy, Peanut Drops and Choc Biscuit

It hasn't been so long since the release of Cadbury's Marvellous Creations Clinkers, Gummi Bear and Choc Biscuit, and Clinkers, Raspberry Chips and Marshmallows, yet Cadbury is keeping the intrigue up with yet another new flavour to add to the line: Marvellous Creations Banana Candy, Peanut Drops and Choc Biscuit. For those playing at home, that's now six flavours in the range from Cadbury's 'Joyville'. Although, this new flavour is a Woolworths exclusive, according to the site.

Interestingly, the package of this flavour includes a request for participation: 'Do you love me as much as Joyville does? Vote to keep me at' Considering this flavour has only been on the markets for a couple of days, I thought this was an interesting tactic. When I first spotted the block at my local Woolies, I thought at first that the voting competition was for the Peanut, Toffee Crisp and Biscuit variation, since I haven't seen it move as fast as the others. I didn't even realise that this was a new flavour until I looked closer - so observant am I! In my defense, the colour scheme for the new flavour is a dark sky blue, which isn't so different to the teal of the Peanut, Toffee Crisp and Biscuit variation. Anyway, on to the review!

As usual, the front of the package shows images of the flavours blended with the Dairy Milk chocolate. Banana Candy (cue cringe at the name) just looks like random chunks of something yellow. I'll hazard a guess that these will probably taste like lolly bananas - artifical smoothie taste and super sweet. The peanut drops are a curiousity - are these going to be peanut butter flavoured (and if so, have Cadbury been listening to the public who pine for American confectionery?). They are shaped like chocolate chips, and the ingredients list shows that the peanut drops do have peanut butter in them, so horray for Cadbury for trying something new! The choc biscuit inclusion isn't new - it's been included in the other MC variety Clinkers, Gummi Bears and Choc Biscuit. And I can't forget that the choc biscuit is also the same as in the standard Dairy Milk Black Forest block, and it was in the Coles limited edition Dairy Milk Cookies block from a few years back.

Inside the pack, the block looks much like the other blocks in the MC range. The chocolate is a smooth creamy brown and slightly glossy, and smells creamy and sweet. There is very little to be seen on the top to hint at what is included. Flipping the block over gives us some large, rounded protrustions from the choc biscuit, but there isn't a whole lot to be seen from our friends the Peanut Drops and Banana Candy.

Once we break open the block, it's easier to identify the banana candy - bright yellow, but small - and the peanut drops - tan-coloured pieces - from the choc biscuit. There seems to be a fair distribution of the smaller inclusions as well. On biting in, I don't even need to begin the chew to taste the artifical banana flavour. It's there as soon as the chocolate hits my tongue. It's definitely muted by the chocolate and not as sweet as eating a lolly banana on its own, but it's there!  Once I begin to bite, the peanut drops kick in with a boost of peanut butter to make things a little bit more savoury. The choc biscuit pieces add texture to the chew - it would have been quite gluggy without them - but it takes a few moments for the taste of chocolate to struggle up, and even then, it is weak and overwhelmed by the banana. I tried a little piece of chocolate without anything else in it, and I could still taste the banana. There doesn't seem to be any banana flavour in the chocolate in the ingredients list, which leads me to believe it's just flavour leaking from the banana candy.

This is definitely a banana-and-peanut bar where the chocolate is an afterthought. If you don't like bananas, stay far, far away. I am one of those people, so my review may be slightly bias, but my star score has also lost a point for the complete lack of chocolate taste - a disappointment from Cadbury. The texture-adding choc biscuit, but it isn't enough to save this block.

2.5 out of 5 stars.

The Marvellous Creations Banana Candy, Peanut Drops and Choc Biscuit block contains 26% cocoa solids and 28% milk solids. It contains milk, wheat, peanuts and soy. It may also contain traces of egg and tree nuts.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Allen's Cheekies Zesty Citrus and Luscious Raspberry

(Apologies for the radio silence, folks! But back to your regularly scheduled reviews.)

News about Allen's new Cheekies broke a few weeks ago. Nestle have had a very strong media push - magazines, social media, in-store displays and posters to name a few outlets - to launch this new range. They are described as a flavoured jelly with a soft centre - similar to The Natural Confectionery Company's Bliss range. However, the Cheekies come in two flavours, Luscious Berry and Zesty Citrus, compared to the TNCC's four (five if you count the seasonal release).

The packaging is pale yellow with a large red and white 'Cheekies' logo, and girly floral print (which is very slightly different between the two flavours). There is also a little transparent window in the front so you can see the lollies. I found the method of packing these quite strange. The Cheekies are available in two ways: a single 72g pack (which contains two servings of six pieces each), or a joined twin pack of two 60g packs (which contains four servings of five pieces each). Both flavours are available in both ways - I picked up both to illustrate the differences. Cheekies are targeted at women, so I suppose that might have something to do with the twin pack (one for now, one for later), but the different sizes between the two options are interesting!

Unlike the TNCC Bliss range, Allen's Cheekies don't have an aerated white base, and they do have different moulds for the different flavours. The Luscious Berry flavour has two moulds: a little generic berry shape, and a peach-inspired shape. Both measure about 2cm wide by about 1.6cm tall. The peach is a soft rose pink colour and slightly translucent, , allowing you to see the deposit of deep purple 'soft centre' (it's more like ooze or goo) inside. The berry shape is a darker red in colour, and although it has the purple goo centre, it's a little more difficult to see. The pieces smell sweet and of generic berry flavour. I think the peach piece might be a little bit different but I couldn't really tell.

The peach piece does taste a little bit like artificial peach (think iced tea), but it takes a while to get there. The purple centre doesn't taste like anything that I could tell. There's also less of the goo than there is in the TNCC Bliss range. The berry piece is similarly bland and uninspired with a flavourless centre. It was really just like eating a standard raspberry jelly and  having it be a bit softer than usual. Colour me unimpressed.


The Zesty Citrus pack contains two flavours, orange and blackcurrant (not sure how that is citrus), and it also has two moulds: one is an orange, that is also orange in colour, and has a greenish centre. The second mould is a new one I've never seen before, of round berries with a point on a branch, which must be blackcurrant.  It's a dusty dark pink colour, and also has a greenish goo centre.

The orange piece is quite nice; although it is slightly artificial in flavour, it is still definitely a citrus fruit and slightly tart as well. The green centre was tangy and lent towards lime a little. There was far less of this goo than in the Berry pieces. The blackcurrant piece is fairly tasteless until you hit the ooze centre. The tangy lime flavour didn't quite rescue the piece, but at least gave it a flavour.

I found these very disappointing in flavour. The best part of the product is squeezing the ooze out of the jelly - but then again, I can do that with the TNCC Bliss range, and then enjoy eating them too.

2 out of 5 stars.

Allen's Cheekies are made in the Czech Republic. They are a glucose syrup product , and may contain milk traces.