Jellies with oozy centres aren't new. Way back in 2003, Starburst introduced the " first ever jelly lolly filled with liquid on the Australian market" with their Squirts Crazy Babies. (Although they're not available in Australia, Google indicates Squirts Crazy Babies are available in New Zealand.) And of course there is TNCC's current 'Bliss' range, which centres around berry-shaped jellies with an aerated base and an oozy centre. But the idea otherwise tends to come and go on the market.
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The Natural Confectionery Company Squishy Bugs are brand new, and contain six different bugs in different flavours. The package features a bold purple swath across the top , loudly proclaiming the product as new. I wonder if we'll see any sort of media campaign with these. The pack also features cute drawn pictures of the different featured bugs.
There are six different flavours in the bag, each with a dedicated mould: lemon bees, appley snails, strawberry butterflies, raspberry ladybugs, blackcurrant spiders, orangey beetles. There's only a small pea-sized amount of jelly centre, and there seems to be two different centres: pale green or pale pink. As with most TNCC jellies, the texture is delightfully soft, bouncy and smooth, with a light non-greasy glaze (vegetable oil and carnauba wax) to prevent the pieces sticking together.
The yellow pieces are lemon bees. I really like the detail on the mould; the bee has a smiley face, and texture on his wings, plus a little stinger as well. He's large, at just under 4cm wide at the wingtips, 3cm for the body length, and about 1.5cm tall. The jelly doesn't smell of much, but the flavour is quite evident on tasting. It's surprisingly tart, with more citrus rather than lemon notes. It's a little bit cleaning-product, which I didn't really enjoy. I couldn't gauge a flavour of the light green oozy centre - just that it was sweet - and it did have an effect of sweetening the whole piece slightly. But even so I avoided the last bee in my bag rather than eating it.
Blackcurrant spiders are a soft mauve colour, and the mould is detailed, including little fangs. He's quite big too, a bit larger than the lemon bees. The jelly smells softly sweet but has no discernible notes. The flavour is very soft and somewhat floral, but I didn't get anything vaguely berry. The soft centre is stored in the rounded body, and is a pale, transparent sea green colour. It's a little bit lime in flavour, tart and nice. Together it creates a sweet chew, but I still couldn't get any discernible flavour from it. The piece is just 'nice'.
Ladybugs are a soft rose-pink colour, with a pale green aerated opaque base. Although there's no detailing to the base, I suppose it's meant to resemble a leaf. Unsurprisingly, raspberry ladybugs smell like raspberry TNCC snakes. They're sweet but nothing special. The centre is the same soft rose colour, transparent and glossy. It's sweet but the section is so small it was impossible to determine a flavour. The aerated base added a creamy flavour, making the piece more like the raspberry piece from the Berry Bliss TNCC bag.
The soft peachy-pink butterflies are strawberry in flavour. There's no discernible scent, but the flavour is lovely and soft and floral, and gently sweet. The light green centre appears to be the same sweet-but-mostly-flavourless one used in most of the other pieces. For me the centre reduced the sweetness of the jelly. Without the squishy centre I could have eaten a whole bag.
Appley snails are a lime green colour, and also have the pale green aerated base. Their shell is filled with a soft pink centre. The apple flavour is rather strong, very green apple and crisp. The pink centre is sweet with mild berry tones. The mix is interesting, and not really pleasant. Both the apple and the berry notes fight for attention and don't harmonise nicely.
Lastly is the orangey beetles, and it also sits on an aerated light green base. It has a faint citrus scent, and sweet fruit drink flavour that doesn't lean in any particular direction. The centre is soft pink, and doesn't seem to do much to enhance the flavour beyond 'nice'. I only got one of these in my bag.
Score: 3 out of 5 jelly beans.
The Natural Confectionery Company Squishy Bugs are made in Australia and contain wheat. A serving size is 25g, which is approximately three pieces.