Saturday, February 11, 2012

Old Time Candy Part 1

This is the first of a four part featured review for our friends at Old Time Candy.  An online store that specializes in keeping candy favorites from the past century plus around for us all to enjoy.  Let's face it, healthy or not, a good habit or not, many of us associate a more carefree attitude about candy with our childhoods.  We got these at holidays, for rewards, at parties, sometimes just because our parents wanted to quiet us down in the store. For some of us this was a daily or weekly treat; for others candy was really limited to special occasions.  The folks from Old Time Candy sent us a 4.5 pound box of their "Chocolate Lovers Box"  and inside were 38 different chocolate candy bar treats. That is way to much to cover in one, two, or even three features so we're spreading them out to four.  What I want to see from you, Sisters and Brothers, are comments about the candy we look at each time -- your memories of it, whether you hated that brand or not, as well as any helpful advice you might have for the Old Time Candy business, any bars or treats you notice missing from their inventory when you check out their website.  Since this is retailer we won't be so focused on the full sensory experience of the bars as as much as the background of them and if they are truly deserve to be in the "Chocolate Lovers Box."

So let's dig into this huge box and look our first set of treats.  How to choose what to reveal today?  First, I went through the entire box and determined I would need the help of at least two Acolytes -- Coconut and Fruit specialists.  Three of the treats had fruit and three have coconut so that left me with 32 candy bars to choose today's 10 from.  I could choose the top ten that I didn't separate out for our volunteers, I could randomly pull ten from the box, I could even use Old Time Candy's website to organize them chronologically.  In general I try to be very well organized and my background is in history so instead of going with what is comfortable for me, researching and planning I decided to take a risk that I hope will turn out well, Sisters and Brothers.  I'm going to dump them out and then ask one of our Acolytes pull out ten randomly, put those in a bag and pull them out randomly as well.  This is over a week's work of writing for today's review -- Moderation and Purposefulness after all -- but that's the magic of the Internet, I can add to today's post as the days go on.   To the left you see the ten we picked all together so now let's look at them one at a time.

We start with a candy bar from the 1920s, 1925 to be exact, mr. Goodbar that has a bright yellow wrapper.  This Hershey's candy bar peanuts so that might be an allergy concern for many of you out there.  Today this has chocolate and cocoa butter in though very little cocoa butter compared to all of the other fats and oils that were a few years ago as cocoa prices rose.  As you can see, the peanuts are large pieces and quite visible, their fragrance is very strong; the number of peanuts was increased in the mid-90s.  The chocolate is a milk chocolate but there is not enough of it compared to the amount of peanuts to be labeled a milk chocolate candy bar, only a bar with chocolate and peanuts.  The flavor is very much peanuts but there is a creamy chocolate flavor as well though I think it's a touch waxy probably from the added oils and fats.

A rival of Hershey's is MARS and they introduced our next candy bar in 1932 labeling it the 3 Musketeers.  Originally this came in three pieces with three flavors thus the name; cocoa powder is much farther down on the ingredients' list but at least it is there.  Today the name of the bar makes little sense but it has become so popular over the decades that it would be difficult to change it.  The very first ingredient is milk chocolate with sugar, chocolate, and cocoa butter as the first three ingredients that make it up.  Today the big selling point of this candy bar is that is has less fat than other bars of the same size but let's think about how much air is in here that makes it light and fluffy.  Are we getting the same amount of chocolate or less or is the difference in how this is made?  The outer shell of milk chocolate is a bit waxy but I've always enjoyed the fluffy inside a lot; actually the fluff is a bit chewy when I stop and think about it for this review.  If you choose this over another candy bar and save some calories in the process, you know you aren't getting fake chocolate or only cocoa powder so I think you may be making a good choice for a treat.  Be aware that 2 Musketeer bars tend to go stale quickly, even when wrapped securely and stored properly so eat them as soon as possible so don't buy a bunch at once unless you are going to share.

Pearson's Candy Company started in 1909 but they didn't originally make the BUN bar; that was a Clark Bar America product from the 1950s that Pearson's acquired in 1998.  This is the Maple and Roasted Peanuts variety in a 1.75oz bar.  This is a circular bar, not square or rectangular like most chocolate bars are.  This is indeed a chocolate bar because of the amount of chocolate that is made from cocoa butter and chocolate liquor along with sugar and milk to make it milk chocolate.  It is approximately 3.5 inches across.  It looks like something you or I could make by melting chocolate and mixing peanut in with it then laying out scoop or spoonfuls to solidify.  This also has soy protein in case you have allergies to soy.  Inside the chocolate and peanuts is actually a nougat like center that has the maple flavor.  I'm not sure how to make that so what looks to be a simple make at home treat is actually more complicated.  Overall I found it to be very sweet but I'm sure some of you have had this, Sisters and Brothers, so what do you think of the Maple & Roasted Peanuts BUN bar?

If you recall, our January 5, 2012, post compared two candy bars and our next for for the Chocolate Lovers Collection is one of these.  Instead of repeating our comments from a post just a little over a month back, let's look more at the chocolate contents and the history of the candy bar.  The Heath bar is now made by Hershey but they didn't acquire it until 1996.  Originally it was made by L.S. Heath in 1914 then by Leaf, Inc. in 1989.  This changing of hands is fairly common in the candy industry I'm learning.  Making a product is one thing, selling it and making a profit is another matter all together.  While one product may sell well others in a company's portfolio many fail and drag the entire operation down over time.  At other times companies may split up when the creator dies and leaves an inheritance to several children.  Companies can also just decide to sell off specific brands to make capital for other products.  Of course, as in the case of Leaf, Inc, a bigger company and simply swallow up another way through stock trades and other maneuvers.  The result is that Hershey now has two very similar products.  The Heath bar's first ingredient is milk chocolate and it does use cocoa butter though I also see palm oil though not under the chocolate listing.

Have you heard of Annabelle's before?  I hadn't before I saw that this Rocky Road bar was the next to be revealed for today's Sacrament.  Annabelle Candy Company was founded in 1950 and this particular bar was the first one they created and successfully marketed right from the start.  The first ingredient listed is milk chocolate but looking at it the bulk seems to be marshmallows.  There are also cashews and malted milk crunch both of which do not seem to number much and are all on the top of the chocolate layer.  The marshmallow is really the primary flavor here though surprisingly not as sweet as I imagined it would be.  The chocolate does come back after the marshmallow and the cashew flavor is there even if the crunch is disappointing.  A very unique bar that I'm glad I got to try out though I wish the nuts, crunch, and chocolate was more intense compared to the marshmallow.

Hershey's was America's first big chocolate company and their first big product was the simple milk chocolate bar in 1900.  Even today it is pretty simple: milk chocolate made of sugar, milk, chocolate, cocoa butter, with some other ingredients to preserve it and make it more creamy.  This is the bar I grew up with and for many of our American readers I'm sure this is the case as well.  Today after almost three years of trying a wider variety of chocolate from three continents, I can say that the Milk Chocolate Hershey's bar disappoints.  It has a bit of a waxy flavor, I can tell they used vanillin not vanila, and the cocoa content just isn't as great as other milk chocolate bars I've had.  Eating one today means it pales when compare to others but this certainly not the worst chocolate bar on the market by a long shot.  Still great for smore's if you want to make them on the cheaper side but make sure you are using chocolate, still a simple product that most folks can enjoy.

Instead of being completely random for the next bar because it three Hershey's bars were in this 10 bar group, I've purposely picked the Hershey's Special Dark bar which came out in 1980 long before the dark chocolate health volley of studies we've seen in the past few years.  But while it is darker than the previous bar, it is only 45% cacao well below what the studies show as healthy and well below what most of us would consider a dark chocolate bar.  It still has milk in it though it is the last ingredient on the label.   Look at our photo. The Milk Chocolate bar is on the right hand side in the last column where you can see the Special Dark is mostly definitely darker in color.  This makes a crisp sound when you bite, it has more of a cocoa taste, is less creamy but still fairly sweet.  Nutritionally it is slightly better but overall not as good as if you cranked up the cacao content to at least 60%.

For the heck of it, let's lay out the three Hershey's bars we've looked at today so you can see the difference in color below.  mr. Goodbar on the left, the milk chocolate in the middle then on the right the dark bar.  See the difference, Sisters and Brothers?

mr Goodbar, Milk Chocolate, Special Dark

That leaves us with the three final bars for this month's look at Old Time Candy's Chocolate Lovers Collection.  One of these is probably very familiar to many of you: The Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.  These have an interesting history.  H. B. Reese worked for Hershey but left that company to establish his own candy business with cup in 1928.  These were his best sellers and eventually the Reese company made nothing else.  After his death, the Hershey company acquired the Reese company in 1963.  So Reese is actually part of the Hershey corporation but is maintained separately perhaps because of labor differences (non-union versus union) several sites I researched suggested.  The very first ingredient on the label is milk chocolate made with both cocoa butter and chocolate. While there are preservatives there are no artificial flavors listed so when you take a bite you get the milk chocolate and peanut butter plus all their sugars, milk, soy lecithin, and salt.  I loved these growing up and I still do today though I think my homemade version of these is a bit healthier and even taster since I make it with dark chocolate which brings out the chocolate strongly while this candy bar's chocolate fades in comparison to the peanut butter.

Who out there among you, Sisters and Brothers, remember the Clark Bar?   I don't think I've ever had one though I have heard of them.  The story of the Clark Bar is the story of candy companies created, bought out, recreated and purchased by others again as the economics of candy sells varied over the 20th century until it is owned by New England Confectionery Company (NECCO) today.  A decent history of them would be a post in and of itself.   Let me just say that the Clark Bar appears to have been created in 1916 and was included in WWI rations according to several sources.  What I hope our photo will show is that this is a milk chocolate covered crispy layered treat which is very sweet because it not only has sugar and corn syrup but also molasses and other sugars as well as peanuts. There is also soy lecithin, corn flour, and coconut oil in case any one has allergies to these ingredients.  It has a very unique flavor because of the molasses but the milk chocolate is very weak.

We'll end with another candy bar I've never had before but also one that I've never heard of before this huge box arrived at my house: The Mountain Bar from Brown & Haley in 1915.  Brown & Haley is probably best known now for their ROCA toffee candy but they still make all three varieties of Mountain Bar; we have the vanilla or original version here.  This looks a bit like a mountain at 2 inches diameter and rising 1 inch high for 1.6 oz of candy.  Sadly the only cacao product in the bar is cocoa powder which appears as the fourth ingredient on the wrapper.  It has soy lecithin, egg albumen, peanuts, and milk for those of you with allergy concerns.  The inside is solid mixture of cocoa and peanuts over a white vanilla flavored solid yet sticky center.  It tastes more cocoay than I expected it to and the various flavors blended very well together.  It is a real mouthful however no matter how big of a bite I took.

So there you have it, the first 10 treats inside this Chocolate Lovers Collection from Old Time Candy.  Some we can find fairly readily today but others are difficult to track down unless you live in specific regions.  Some were heavily chocolate while others were lacking in terms of our Sacred Substanced.  What would you do for those that bring back a few sweet memories to you?


Kim Bee said...

I am now fully craving chocolate. Great assortment.

TheChocolatePriestess said...

Hi, Kim, thanks for commenting. We're going to go back to the huge box three more times so keep watching.

katherinemartinelli said...

Wow, this is so cool! Like Kim I'm definitely craving chocolate now...!

TheChocolatePriestess said...

Thanks for reading, Katherine. You should go back and check out other Saturday Sacraments; we've had a lot of really good ones since November with all the holidays.

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