Twix vs Carmel Cookie Bars

I think it’s safe to say that Twix is one of the all-time greatest candy bars out there (to me anyway).  Much like Reece’s PB cups, it’s a simple, yet perfect, combination of ingredients. Cookie, caramel, chocolate. Done.
As Twix suggests, the two bars are good for sharing, or not and gives a mild feeling of getting a deal, like TWO candy bars for the price of one!
Ethan found these Little Debbie Caramel Cookie Bars at the CVS outlet in lovely Woonsocket, RI and although their format is a single bar the same basic idea of cookie, caramel and chocolate are replicated.

I’m not usually one for milk chocolate but I feel this is really the best choice for this bar, it’s nice and soft (although prone to melting quickly if left in the car or something) and biting into these is very satisfying.  There something about the gentle yield of the caramel and then crunching into the firm but not too hard cookie bar at the bottom.
We both felt the cookie-caramel-chocolate ratio was perfect and the caramel had a nice flavor.  Also, I will classify it as a “friendly” caramel that doesn’t want to rip your teeth out, which is always nice to not worry about.

Lil’ Deb:
These are similar but when we bit into these, we could tell that the ingredient ratio was a little off.  Although it doesn’t look like it, Ethan felt there was too much caramel in these and I agreed.  Also, the chocolate coating was too thin, as well as having a weaker flavor.  The cookie part is more crumbly than Twix and tastes like an animal cracker.  Ethan thought it tasted like a donut.  The caramel had a weird, papery non-flavor to it.  Also noted that this was much sweeter than Twix and actually too much for Ethan to finish.

Wrap up:
Twix.  They really know what their doing both in taste and ingredient balance.  The Little Deb’s were just too bland and I think they tried to make up for that by adding more corn syrup.  I would honestly say if you’re craving a Twix, this will not be a suitable replacement.

Twix or Little Deb's Caramel Cookie Bar?

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Smartfood vs Cape Cod

Smartfood was created in the mid-80’s and I believe in good ol’ Massachusetts.  Before it was bought by Frito-Lay, Ethan pointed out they used to have little facts or something interesting on the back of the bag that he liked reading.  Frito-Lay just talks about how awesome Smartfood is.
I think there are a few different versions of Smartfood but the one closest to it in the store was Cape Cod’s White Cheddar Popcorn, so we got that.

Even  though Frito-Lay has taken over, I think they’ve done a pretty good job at keeping the consistency of the quality in this product.  I didn’t think “This isn’t as good as I remember!” as is the case with some products that go through a buy out or even just some companies cheap-out on their ingredients.
The cheddar powder is thick and completely covers the fluffy kernels.  The taste of the cheese has a nice tang to it and conveys a creaminess too.  We noticed the kernels are good sized and almost always round and have a nice softness while still providing a satisfying crunch.

Cape Cod:
We notcied that Cape Cod’s kernels were a little smaller, not as soft and seemed flatter when bitten down on.  The cheese powder was cheesy but not as tangy as Smartfood. Also there was a slight toastiness to the popcorn, not sure if some kernels were overcooked or the cheese powder did not coat the kernels as much. Not bad though.

Wrap up:
We’d go with Smartfood because of the little bit of sharpness in the cheddar flavor and the more substantial kernels.  If Cape Cod is all that’s available though, you won’t be too disappointed as the subtle differences aren’t enough to rule it out as a good product.

Smartfood or Cape Cod White Cheddar Popcorn?

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Raisinets vs Haviland Chocolate Covered Raisins

Rasinets are a once-in-a-while thing that although I like, I just find myself not buying that much.  I think I used to mostly get these when I went to the movies.  I probably only go to the movies once a year and can’t even remember the last time I went (Rocky Balboa, I think) so it’s a been a while but after seeing the Haviland/Necco version figured it was time to revisit Rasinets.

These have more texture on them than the graphic depicts on the box but I like the little divits that are formed from the chocolate encompassing the raisins.  When biting into these, I noticed they’re a little gummy.  Slight raisin flavor but it could be chocolate covered spitballs and I might not notice right away.  The chocolate isn’t the worst but does have that “mockolate” lack of flavor and just corn syrupy sweetness.  Ethan and I also detected some sort of chemical-like after taste.  It’s weird I remember liking these but maybe they changed their formula .

We first noticed that these have a smoother, shinier coat of chocolate. These are also more firm when biting into, it made them seem more substantial.  The chocolate we noticed actually tasted like chocolate and there was detectable raisin flavor.  No chemical after taste either. Perhaps because as they claim, they cover their raisins with REAL chocolate. (Although I can’t tell from Raisinet’s inredients why it wouldn’t be real chocolate too)

Wrap up:
Haviland wins for taste.  I say that because taste is obviously important but it could be because they have partially hydrodentated  palm kernel oil and Rasinets doesn’t.  I think it’s safe to say neither of these are really healthy regardless of the “fruit” inside but if you care about PH oils you may want to stick with the Raisinets but suffer with the mockolate covered spitball taste.

Raisinets or Haviland Chocolate Covered Raisins?

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Candy Coated Eggs: Hershey’s vs Cadbury

I feel like Cadbury really has the market cornered on chocolate eggs they seemed creme eggs recently and today I found a Hershey version of the Cadbury candy coated, or “crisp sugar shell” milk chocolate eggs.
On the back of the Cadbury bag it actually states that they’re made by Hershey’s (which in case anyone is wondering is the only version of Cadbury handily available) but we wanted to see if there was a difference in product.

These have a smooth, thick candy shell that Ethan described as “airy”.
He also though the chocolate was kind of like a cross between milk and dark chocolate, but more like milk. I also thought it had a little dark flavor to it, not much but since I’m not usually a milk chocolate fan, there was something appealing about this.

These eggs have a thin, rougher textured shell that feels a little sharper when bitten into.
Ethan and I were consistent with our previous feelings about Cadbury chocolate. Ethan really likes the creaminess and says this chocolate has “charisma”. I feel the intense creaminess makes the chocolate thick and then makes me really thirsty. I do like that these are a little smaller than the Hershey’s eggs.

Wrap up:
Kind of a split decision. Ethan very much liked the Cadbury eggs, I liked the chocolate in the Hershey’s eggs but really am not a fan of this format but if the Cadbury shell could be filled with the chocolate from the Hershey’s egg then I’d pick that.

Candy Coated Eggs: Hershey's or Cadbury?

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Glad there’s only one of: Cel-Ray

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a week between posts. I like to try to update this more often but since I was laid-off it’s been crazy trying to get my life in order. So please bear with me.
Cel-Ray is one of those things that is a an occasional treat for me at the deli. I seem to have it in my mind this can only be consumed with a Ruben or a nice whitefish salad sandwich with homemade pickles and coleslaw.
That I know of, Dr. Brown’s is the only brand that makes a celery flavored soda. I have no idea why anyone would even think of creating this flavor for a drink but I think it’s one of those things that people either like or really don’t like.

I like that at soon as the can is opened it smells like opening a container of celery seed. This tastes like sweetened celery, yet almost like a cousin of gingerale.
There’s just something so oddly appealing about this to me. The only thing is that it is just a smidgen too sweet, and I wonder if it were sweetened with cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup, if that would make it perfect.
Ethan felt the taste of this seemed borderline alcoholic in some way. He also thought the celery flavor was too strong and he just didn’t like it. He ended the evaluation with the description of “gross”, so he’s just not a fan of the Cel-Ray.


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Cheez-It vs Cheese Nips

Cheez-Its are one of my all-time favorite snacks. For some reason they go really well with Tab.  I thought it was just me but I had some people try the Tab with Cheez-its once and they agreed.  I don’t know what it is but I don’t care.  Cheez-Its of course do mighty fine on their own too and that’s why I love them so much.  I’ve tried other brands but they’re just not the same.  For this evaluation, I got the arch enemy of Cheez-Its: Cheese Nips.  In this evaluation we had the help of pur friends Marc and Sara.

One comment was that these have a toasty cheese flavor.  We all felt the saltiness was just right and they have a good crunch to them.  I usually like to let these sit in my mouth for a little bit and suck off the salt and then let the “it” soften up and then that’s when I take a swig of Tab (so good!).  We all agreed these had a very satisfying cheese flavor and a nice crunchy (one person thought somewhat buttery as well) texture. 

Cheese Nips:
Cheese Nips were visually different in that they seemed to have less texture, like a saltine.  There isn’t the salt presence that Cheez-it has, although some did have a few smaller granules of salt on them.  We agreed these lacked the same full-bodied cheese flavor and almost resembled an oyster cracker with a little bit of cheese flavor.  Also, these were a little dryer than Cheez-Its and didn’t soften in my mouth the way Cheez-its do.

Wrap up:
Cheez-It all the way from all 4 of us.  Although Cheese Nips claim they have real Cheddar cheese in them and Cheez-It’s don’t, I guess whatever Cheez-It is doing is right (to us anyway) because we enjoyed these much more.   I know this is kind of touchy because people seem to get upset over these dueling cheese crackers.  I mentioned I was going to compare these to the intern at work (way back earlier this month when I had a job) and she felt very strongly about Cheese Nips and how disgusting Cheez-Its were, almost like she thought people who favored Cheez-Its also ate dog food.   It was very strange. I’ve seen other people feel the same way about Cheese Nips, so in case anything like that starts here kids, remember to keep it civil  ?

Cheez-It or Cheese Nips?

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Gingerale: Schweppes vs Canada Dry

I know there a lot of ginger ales out there, but this “British/Canadian” pair happened to be in the same convenience store so I got them and will most likely conduct a re-match with another product at some point. After all, I’m big fan of Worcester’s own Polar brand, but not sure if it’s available out side New England. Since I recently declared my love for Sky Bar, I’d post about something more available to everyone else (but I will come back to Polar!)


Schweppes has a nice golden color and although it doesn’t look bubbly in this picture, it was when we drank it. It had the expected gingery taste but we also found this to be particularly sweet. It seemed to be a little too syrupy. Other than that it was pretty good.

Canada Dry:

This looked pretty much the same, and actually tasted very similar too. We did notice that it was subtly different though. Ethan said it had a bit fuller body and I noticed that it was slightly less syrupy.

Wrap up:

We’d go with our Canadian friend because it wasn’t as sweet (just by a little bit) but we both agreed that we probably wouldn’t notice the difference enough to refuse Schweppes if that was all that was available. The nice thing about ginger ale is that I think it’s hard to screw up (but I could be wrong). I’ll have to bring in the Polar and do a re-match for sure.

Schweppes or Canada Dry?

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Glad there’s only one of: Sky Bar

Because of the popular demand (1 person) to post about Sky Bar, I just had to go ahead and do it. As mentioned in the candy hearts post, Sky Bar is made by Necco and will forever be my favorite candy bar. For those who are unfamiliar with Sky Bar, it’s a four-section milk chocolate bar and each “compartment” is filled with their caramel, vanilla, peanut or fudge.
As I’ve mentioned before, my sisters and I weren’t allowed too many treats growing up but Saturday nights were all about living it up. I have such fond memories of Saturday nights with my grandmother and sisters, eating Sky Bars while watching Love Boat…if we were awake long enough, Fantasy Island too. My sister likes them so much I’ll send them as a treat to her out in Oregon.

One thing I can never figure out is if they always package it opposite as the “map” on the front portrays but you can usually tell from looking at the bottom and seeing where the little bits of filling are showing where it was injected.

I’ve never cut a cross-section of a Sky Bar before so sorry it didn’t come out better and the photo really doesn’t do it justice, but from left to night is caramel, vanilla, peanut and fudge.
The caramel has a smooth and tooth-friendly texture, with a slight saltiness to it. Vanilla is like marshmallow and chocolate and marshmallow is one of my all-time favorite combinations (right up there with chocolate and peanut butter). The “peanut” in Sky Bar isn’t peanut butter, I’m not sure what it is but can only describe it as peanut caramel and has a very mild nutty flavor. Fudge is thick, smooth and chocolaty just like…fudge.
Unfortunately, Ethan doesn’t share my love for Sky bar – at all. He’s unimpressed with flavor and dared to describe vanilla as “gross”, peanut as “bland” and that in general they always taste stale to him. He rambled on but I just blocked him out.

Anyway, not sure about fellow Sky Bar lovers but I have an order I like to eat the sections in depending on my mood. If I’m going for instant gratification, I’ll go: Fudge, Marshmallow, Caramel and Peanut. If I’m feeling like going for a big finish, I’ll reverse the order. At certain times I may also switch Fudge and Marshmallow’s order.
You can check out Necco’s site here for more info on Sky Bar.

Are you a Sky Bar lover?

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Valentine’s challange: NECCO vs Brach’s

Happy Valentine’s day!  To be honest I never got these hearts, they’re hard, chalky and a waste of calories.  Being born and raised in Massachusetts, NECCO* (New England Confectionery Company)products are everywhere, including the wafers, which my parents love but I never could appreciate or understand how anyone liked them.  Sweethearts are just a heart version of the wafers but when Isaw Brach’s Heart’s I just had to compare and see if they did it better. (*NECCO will always have a place in my heart because of the most awesome candy ever: Skybar)

Almost all of the hearts were deformed in some way, either in shape or text.  It was like there was zero quality control on the line, at least the shift that produced this box.  Eating these was just as impressive as looking at them, they’re hard and chalky like I remembered.
Ethan and I did note that each color had a flavor and the saving grace was that the flavor for the most part was pretty strong, although keeping the chaulky undertone.
Purple was grape, Orange was orange, Pink was cherry (maybe), Yellow was banana, Green was lime and White was mint.

We noticed Brach’s were thicker and the text was stamped on.  There were much less deformations in this box too.
Unlike NECCO, all of the colors taste the same, which is a bland and faintly licorice flavor.  The thickness of these hearts make them even harder to break and the experience is a disappointment.

Wrap up:
I guess it depends what you want to use these for.  For presentation purposes, like maybe gluing these to a card,  I’d go with Brach’s for their better formation and more consistanly readable text.  For flavor, say in a dimly lit room and your valentine for to wear thier contacts, you’d want at least the flavors found in the NECCO hearts.

NECCO or Brach's?

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Honey Mustard Battle: Lighthouse vs Marie’s

One night for dinner my sister made panko-crusted chicken fingers and we had to get some honey mustard for it. I know it sounds lame but just mixing honey and mustard together never tastes the same as bottled stuff and we felt that trying two jarred honey m’s that are in the refrigerated section would be a good pair to evaluate.

This is a lighter colored honey mustard and has a creamy texture and taste. In fact it’s so creamy you might not recognize it as honey mustard but there was something about this that was addictive. Elaine described this as a perfect balance of honey, mustard and creaminess. She also really liked this because it reminds her of the honey mustard they used to serve at Houlihan’s, who had their problems with food but did have a good honey mustard.
Zac, my brother-in-law also thought this was good and I couldn’t get any more adjectives out of him.

Clearly, Marie’s was much more mustardy looking with it’s deep yellow color. This was not as creamy, yet had a slight creaminess and richness that is not found in most honey mustards. Elaine describes this as slightly creamy mustard.
Zac agreed this had a stronger mustard flavor and as he was eating this he said the taste was winning him over.

Wrap up:
While Elaine and I appreciated Marie’s we preferred the Lighthouse version. This is something just SO good about it, a great balance of ingredients and it’s creamy taste. Marie’s ended up claiming Zac’s tastebuds and he would choose it over Lighthouse because of the stronger mustard taste. We did find it interesting that mustard came before honey on the Lighthouse ingredient list and honey came before mustard on Marie’s even though the opposite had a stronger taste. So basically if you like a little more mustardy taste, go with Marie’s but I really think there is something about lighthouse that make it a little more special.

Lighthouse or Marie's

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