Sunday, 25 August 2013

Allen's Sour Rush Jelly Beans

The partner to Nestle's new release from their subbrand Allen's is their Sour Rush Jelly Beans. A complete 180 from the other flavour Funfair Thrills, Sour Rush is, predictably, based on sour fruit flavours, and has nine varieties included just to make sure they hit all their bases.

While some of the flavours are more common, such as Lemon Lime, and Green Apple, there are some interesting flavours that have sneaked in for the sour party: Blackberry and Strawberry. They're the two I didn't really pick as top candidates for sour, but I guess we will see if Nestle have hit a home run.

Like with the Funfair Thrills release, the colours of the Sour Rush jelly beans are difficult to tell apart, both on the little guide on the back of the pack, and in the hand. The colours aren't especially inspired; you'd think for a product that uses artificial colours they would be a little more accurate.

The flavours are listed in the order of the beans in the picture: left to right, from the top row. However, I had to use process of elimination to identify each flavour, so I could very well be wrong.

Grapefruit (mauve)
Wow, this flavour is right on the ball! There is a bit of tang here that hits as soon as you bite into the bean. It's bold and juicy and tangy. I've never had a grapefruit before (only juice) but I would say this flavour is quite realistic. Alas, no sour tang.

Lemon lime (pale yellow)
Very tenuous connection to lemon or lime. There's definitely no sourness; the flavour is more like a syrup made with lemon juice and lots of sugar. Disappointing.

Blood Orange (dark pink)
I mistook this one for strawberry at first. This bean is quite warm and has some mild berry notes, but is missing any tang of depth that would make it really sing. It's a little bit like strawberry jam but with a quarter of the sugar. Only the end notes give away a mild tangy citrus flavour.

Blackberry (dark red)
There were a lot of these in my bag. These are very warm and jammy in flavour, mild in the sweetness factor but nice nonetheless.

Mandarin (orange)
It's quite floral in flavour, and I'm not sure if that's the bean itself or if it has picked that up from the other flavours in the packet. The citrus is hiding and barely noticeable, so the flavour heads more in an orange direction rather than mandarin.

Pineapple (medium yellow)
The flavour on these is rather interesting. It too is absolutely not sour, but the sweet flavour is almost like passionfruit. There is the tiniest hint of a tangy kick. It's quite nice, actually.

Peach (bright yellow)
I'm sensing a pattern here of these flavours being not at all connected to their namesake! This was sweet and sugary, with a bit of warmth that leaned in no particular direction to any sort of fruit.

Green Apple (green)
Very accurate in flavour, this bean is probably the closest to sour. It's very tart, almost more like a pear. The end notes are a little celery-like. I'm not a fan of green apples or pears so this flavour didn't do a lot for me personally.

Strawberry (light pink)
These were the hardest to pick and I only identified them through process of elimination. Not to mention the colour in-hand is about two shades different to Blood Orange! The flavour is rather tangy and a bit warm, and that's about all it's got going for it. There's no strawberry notes, not jam or anything else I'd expect from a strawberry-flavoured product.

Unfortunately the whole bag was a fail in the sour category. I tend to leave a period of time between taking photos and doing the actual review, so it's possible that somehow the sourness evaporated (or something), but that's no real excuse. The flavours were way off the mark too. They were nice, just not what was expected, given the flavour list on the back.

Score: 2 out of 5 stars

The Allen's Sour Rush 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.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Allen's Minties Smooth Mints Choc Vanilla

Minties are a classic Australian lolly. Having been invented in 1922, they have a long and definite standing here, and I'm sure every Aussie born here has at least one Mintie memory. The firm, squarish white chew was a regular accompniment to many road trips and plane flights - they are great for keeping young mouths distracted, stomachs settled and ears popped, and leaving a clean fresh taste in your mouth. They're also something I've never seen be released in a different flavour or version before. This could be history in the making! (Edit: kind reader Nick has let me know that Minties were released in a Spearmint variation in the early 1990s, so I guess that these aren't so historical after all!)

The Smooth Mints bag contains two flavours, cream choc-mint and velvety vanilla-mint. I admit when I first picked up the bag without really looking, I assumed the flavours wouldn't have mint (yeah, I need to learn to read!) so I was quite curious when I read the back of the pack. Choc-mint I can understand, but vanilla mint? That's not something I've tried before so I'm curious to see how it works.

Minties of course aren't Minties without the fabulous 'It's moments like these you need Minties' catchphrase and cartoon on the wrapper. According to the Wikipedia page, the cartoons were introduced in 1927, and there have been many artists over the years. The sketch depicts mishaps or accidents when Minties would have been acceptable. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me; I just enjoy the cartoon for its amusement factor. But better than the sketch is the Mintie tear race, a game best played on long roadtrips. The goal is to tear the Mintie wrapper into the longest continuous strip without breaking it, as fast as you can.

The wrappers are both labelled with the flavour as well and subtly colour-coded, but the brown of the choc-mint flavour is easily visible through the wax paper wrapper. Each piece is individually wrapped, and about 2.5cm long by 1cm high, and 1.5cm wide. They are imperfect, and often have small air bubbles or spiky ends from where they came out of the machine.

Choc-mint is a weird pinky-brown colour (a lot lighter than the picture), and smells faintly of mint. There's little chocolate scent there. In true Mintie style, the chew is hard and hurts my teeth until it softens after some dedicated chewing for a few moments. It has a mild mint flavour, much like an original Mintie, but there's very little in the way of chocolate flavouring. It sits in the back, easily overwhelmed by the mint, and contributes nothing but a vague not-mint flavour. I bet that if I tried it blindfolded I wouldn't be able to pick between it and the original Mintie.

Vanilla-mint is a slightly off-white colour, with a weird milky scent. It's not quite vanilla, and not quite mint. The taste is exactly what it says on the wrapper - mint with a mild vanilla aftertaste. The vanilla does a good job of tapering off the mint so it's not as intense, and gives it a bit of warmth as well. They're different enough to original Minties to be interesting, but close enough to still make the connection. A whole bag of these would do well at my desk.

Allen's Minties Smooth Mints Choc Vanilla loses points for the failure that is choc-mint, but gains some for the vanilla-mint pieces. Can I just have a bag of the vanilla ones, please?

Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Allen's Minties Smooth Mints Choc Vanilla are a glucose product. They are made in New Zealand, and made on equipment that processes products containing egg. A serving size is 20g (approximately three pieces).

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Starburst Limited Edition Dessert

Starburst have released their next seasonal limited edition variety of jelly. It doesn't actually have a name as such - rather, the seasonal bags are listed as 'Limited Edition' and the flavour underneath. This year's variety is based on dessert flavours. What I found interesting about this bag is that is quite a bit larger than usual - 280g vs the usual 180g. The price is the same, however, as the usual bags. Last year's Limited Edition was at 170g. (Edit: I've since found 170g bags of the Starburst Dessert lollies, so I think my 280g was just a fluke.)

The brand is well known for its fruit-inspired flavours, so dessert flavours (even if they contain fruit) are a slight deviation from the usual. The bag contains four different flavours: strawberry shortcake, lemon cheesecake, raspberry slice and apple pie.

Each flavour is moulded and coloured to look a little like its flavour as well. The pieces are quite small - about the size of my thumb - so it takes quite a few to have a mouthful. Their designs are quite cute.

Strawberry Shortcake has a red translucent, matte top on a more opaque yellowish base with cute fluted edges. The top of it features a detailed little strawberry. As with all Starburst jellies, it's quite squishy and bouncy. I was surprised to note that each section of the piece had a different scent; the base had a bit of a buttery biscuit smell, while the topping had a faint, sweet berry note. The taste is nowhere near as "full on" as most other Starburst products; it's very half-hearted and mild and doesn't taste like much of anything. I couldn't even get a decisive handle on what the flavour was supposed to be.

Lemon Cheesecake is shaped like a triangular piece of cake, with a slice of lemon sculpted on the top., The top layer is translucent yellow on a base of aerated white. I get very little scent out of this. Unlike the Strawberry Shortcake piece, I do get some flavour notes, namely a lightly tart lemon note. The aerated white base is supposed to add creaminess but it doesn't get that far. The piece does a passable job of adding some sweetness to the lemon flavour, however.

The square Raspberry Slice also has a white based, topped with a layer of red and a berry-like blob on top (it actually looks a lot like the generic 'berry' mould used for many jellies). I suspect that this is supposed to resemble raspberry jelly cheesecake slice, which is jelly (Jell-O to Americans) on a layer of cheesecake with a biscuit base. My pieces smelled strongly of the biscuit base from the Strawberry Shortcake, but a little playing brought a mild berry scent to the surface. This piece is actually pretty tasty, although mild; it's a little sweet and berry-inspired but again doesn't quite make it all the way.

Apple Pie was the flavour I least expected to see here. I thought that this might have been Key Lime Pie at first (a popular dessert in the States, but relatively unknown in Australia). The piece is also slice-shaped like the lemon cheesecake, but with the yellow base of the Strawberry Shortcake. It also features a little moulding on the mid-green translucent top - this time predictably of an apple. That biscuit base scent is very strong, and it's all I could get off these pieces. The taste of these is, like the other pieces, bland and half-hearted. I couldn't tell what flavour this was supposed to be. It had a mild sweetness and that was it.

I was quite disappointed with all of these. Although they are edible, I feel that they are easily heading into 'epic fail' territory, which in my house means they would end up in the bin.

Score: 2 out of 5 stars.

A serving size is 25g (approximately six pieces), the product is glucose-based, and contains wheat.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Gossip: Wonka Bars

Wonka is a brand that has existing in Australia for many years, but mainly in the form of lollies - Nerds, Nerd Ropes, Gobstoppers and Raspberry Twists. Internationally, Wonka is more well-known for its chocolate range. Previously, the only way to get Wonka chocolate in Australia was to purchase it from import stores, or import it yourself. Until now:

 (Image stolen from Woolworths Facebook page.)

These are being distributed by Nestle. Woolworths and Coles have been confirmed to be stocking the Wonka chocolate block range in stores. (If you see it at other chains - let me know!) The 170g blocks come in four flavours: Chocolate Tales, Triple Chocolate Whipple, Nutty Crunchilicious and Caramel Hat Trick, and come in a cardboard envelope wrapper. The blocks themselves are uniquely shaped into an open book, and are moulded with a story in the top of the block.

Even better, these are made in Australia - they are not imported stock. Good one, Nestle!

I spotted three of the four flavours in Coles a couple of days ago.

Do any of these new flavours take your fancy? What will you be trying first?

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Cadbury Cherry Ripe Burst

One of Cadbury's newest releases is their seasonal variation on the old Australian favourite, the Cherry Ripe. In previous years, the variations have included Cherry Ripe Roll, Cherry Ripe Dark Cherry, and last year's version, Cherry Ripe Double Dipped. This year's version is the inspired 'Cherry Ripe Burst'.

If you're unfamiliar with the Cherry Ripe product, it's a long, rectangular bar that contains moist, cherry-flavoured coconut and coconut pieces, and enrobed in dark Old Gold chocolate. It's a product that tends to be a favourite with the older generation of Australians; after all, it has been around since 1924 (albeit under a different brand)!

Encased in a silver foil wrapper and emblazoned with the bright red Cherry Ripe logo, the new 50g bar is easily recognisable. The sale line describes the bar as 'ripe juicy cherries and coconut with an extra luscious fruity layer in Old Gold dark chocolate'. Interesting! My first thoughts went to the Cadbury Raspberry Coulis Mousse block and I wondered if it was going to be similar.

The bar itself is a bit smaller in physical size than an original Cherry Ripe, despite weighing only 2g less than its big brother. It's a good 1cm shorter in length, and a couple of millimeters in width and height. The solid feel of the Burst bar makes up for it, though. The other immediately noticeable different is in the chocolate enrobing. On an original Cherry Ripe, the chocolate layer is quite thin, and has distinctive ripples running across the top. The chocolate on the Burst, however, is very thick and smooth in comparison.

Snapping the bar open reveals the 'extra luscious fruity layer' as promised on the wrapper. It's a jam like layer on the top of the coconut, and a warm, slightly dark red in colour. By itself, the layer is possible only 1-2mm thick, but it has a very strong Cherry Ripe flavour to it. Directly beneath the fruity layer is the red coconut typical of the range. Interestingly I spotted very few cherry pieces, but I could have just missed them.

The thick chocolate layer does a very good job of keeping the bar intact and uncrushed, but it snaps easily enough on breaking the bar in two. It also adds a good texture to the bite, making the chocolate more than just a background flavour. The three textures (chocolate, soft fruity layer and crunchy coconut) work well together. The fruity layer provides some extra moisture to the bite, and balances out the otherwise strong dark chocolate. It is a rather sweet chew, though, moreso than an original Cherry Ripe. Fans of the original may not like the Burst bar if they don't have a sweet tooth, but newbies to the Cherry Ripe product range should enjoy it.

Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

As someone who isn't a big fan of Cherry Ripe, I found this bar quite enjoyable

Disclaimer: This was a furnished sample, but all opinions are my own. See my Disclaimer policy for more.