People familiar with the matter said the two companies are not in talks now. But Hershey executives Monday were examining potential next steps, and the two could resume talks after Cadbury makes a previously planned move of separating its drinks business from its candy business on Friday, according to one of these people.
Two icons of the U.S. candy business may become one. Chewing gum legend Wrigley and Mars (makers of Snickers and M&M's, in case you live under a rock). The deal is rumored to be at the $22 billion mark, financed by none other than Bershire Hathaway, Warren Buffet's team.
Mars Inc. and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. were close to a pact to acquire Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. for more than $22 billion, according to people familiar with the matter, in a deal that would remake the global confectionery landscape.
According to the WSJ, "a deal could spark further consolidation in the global candy business. Hershey Co. and Cadbury Schweppes PLC, for example, could be forced to merge."
In 2005, Wrigley bought Kraft's Altoids and LifeSavers, for about $1.5 billion, and has also recently purchased a Russian chocolate company.
More than just the impact this merger could have on the global confectionery landscape, this could mean the end to one of two notoriously private and independent companies.
Some new studies have now shown that dark chocolatecan improve vascular health - because the cocoa flavenols in the chocolate help to make blood vessels more elastic, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce blood pressure.
One of the studies was published recently by Mars in the Journal of Nutrition. Their study shows that CocoaViabars (fortified brand of dark chocolate) not only reduce blood pressure, but also lowers total and LDL cholesterol levels. Not that Mars would promote a study that said their candy was bad for you...we understand this is marketing after all...but if we can eat some tasty chocolate and have it even marginally improve our health, we're all for it.
I thought about simply writing "mmm....mmm...mmm...." for my review of Ethel's Honey Truffle chocolate, but I thought better of it, although that's a completely accurate review. Imagine a churro wrapped inside creamy dark chocolate...add in the flavor of high-end honey...and give it a smidge of cinnamon flavor...and you have the Honey Truffle. This chocolate is really delicious and stands out as one of our favorites from Ethel's.
Candy Snob's week-long celebration of Earth Day is nearing the end of the road. Our next to last pick is a super cool chocolate maker, Taza. Taza is based near Boston, and is a true bean-to-bar chocolate maker. In addition, its the only maker of 100% stone ground chocolate in the United States.
Taza sources organically grown cacao beans directly from small farmer cooperatives ensuring those farmers receive more than fair trade prices for their high quality cacao. Taza is uniquely positioned as one of the only independently owned, socially and environmentally responsible chocolate makers in the country. Taza's chocolate making process is designed to capture the true flavor of the cacao bean by minimally processing the chocolate every step of the way.
The folks at Taza have recently been kind enough to send us some samples, so be on the lookout for our reviews coming soon. The stuff they sent looks amazing!
To quote a friend of mine when she particularly enjoys a meal or beverage, "This chocolate bar is a good time."
First things first, this is an aesthetically beautiful bar. It comes in one piece (which is a little annoying to break pieces off) of smooth, dark chocolate - etched with a fairly intricate flower design.
At first taste, you get the chocolate primarily. It melts nicely, they obviously used pretty good stuff. When you add in the coffee, you get the added citrus and cocoa notes. But it is the texture is what puts this over the top. There are little (I mean almost sand-like) nibs of Guatemala Casi Cielo coffee throughout the piece, so whether you're a "melt" or a "chew" kind of person, you can't escape the coffee-licious goodness.
The wrapper says, "When coffee dreams, it dreams of chocolate." The Starbucks Mocha Dark Chocolate Bar is dreamy for sure.
Does your mom like truffles? French chocolate truffles dusted with cocoa powder? French truffles, dusted with cocoa powder, with no trans fats? Then do we have a pick for you. This box is full of 2.2 pounds of truffles, which will either send you into sugar shock or give you a nice treat for weeks. It has been the #1 seller in the "Gourmet Products" of Amazon during the Holidays for the last three years.
This week we have lots of retro candy and a couple interesting treats from Leonidas. Lots of great Mother's Day gift idea in this list, but if you need more check out Candy Snob's Mother's Day Gift Guide.
And I would be remiss if I did not make mention of the #16 product on the bestseller list (#13 if you don't count the breath mints, chocolate fondue fountain and cake mix which shouldn't be on the list anyway)...Boyer Mallo Cups!
Ever had Marcona almonds? If not, you're missing out. They are not your every day almonds, these are thinner, usually a little oilier, and with an amazing, distinct flavor. But we digress...we're here to talk about candy that incorporates Marcona almonds. These delectable, cruchy nuggets of goodness make up 65% of the '1880' Gourmet Guirlache Turron gourmet bar. The almonds are bound together with delicious dark caramel and sandwiched with thin wafers. Its hand-made in Alicante, Spain.
The 'suprema' quality of this bar is similar to traditional turrón except that it is made from caramelized sugar and whole fresh (unroasted) almonds, rather than honey and egg white of the traditional turrón.
But what the heck is turrón candy??
"Over a thousand years ago the tradition of turrón began in Spain. By combining almonds and honey, the Moorish conquerors of Spain created a new version of their traditional halva candy. This natural sweet became a Christmas tradition over the centuries, and is now only made in the Mediterranean town of Jijona." - La Tienda
Marketing Daily reports that the maker of Kit Kat chocolate bars and the world's largest food company, Nestle, increased prices by the most in a decade. But it didn't seem to adversely impact demand - Nestle revenue climbed to $25 billion in the three months ended March 31, up from $23.8 billion in the year-ago period.
Ironically, Nestle also makes Jenny Craig diet meals.
While a little more bitter than normal (well, a lot more bitter), this is one of the healthiest ways to eat chocolate - "because raw cacao is the top antioxidant bearing food, it has double the amount of antioxidants of red wine and triple the amount of green tea leaves. it reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer and it contains theobromine - a natural mood stimulant and Phenylethylamine - the feeling of being in love!"
Ethel's Dark Chocolate Truffle is what one might consider a more "traditional" truffle - dark chocolate with super-creamy truffle filling. But let us not mistake "traditional" for "average," for that is surely not the case. Beyond the high quality we expect from Ethel's, this truffle has quite a bit of depth of flavor. As you are enjoying the creaminess of the truffle, you'll notice the dark berry notes. From there, you will pick up on a coffee finish and aftertaste. This is a solid truffle for nearly any palette.
Russell Stover Internationale is doing an interesting thing to compete in the "gourmet" chocolate market. It strives to take consumers to different areas around the world to sample the different chocolate tastes. So we tried the German Black Forest Truffle.
To be honest, it was surprisingly good. We hadn't set the bar too terribly high - nothing against Russell Stover. The bar is thin, divided into eight smaller pieces, which makes for easy eating. The dark truffle inside has a hint of cherry, and a very nice texture. Apparently, there is both dark and milk chocolate enrobing the truffle, which I didn't know until I read the package because I didn't taste the milk chocolate. Nice idea, but the subtlety was missed.
I think this bar would make more of an overall impact if it were a little thicker. Because it is so thin, there is naturally less truffle. This left me wanting more, and didn't give the texture contrast its just due. Also, if you're going to put a chocolate cake with white frosting on the package, wouldn't it make more sense to use white chocolate on the candy bar?
"On a Caribbean Island, organic farming has stimulated the cocoa trees to produce cocoa beans that are full of character. The big fruity flavor, acidity, and bitterness of the beans are artfully crafted into a balanced full-bodied premium chocolate as only the Belgians know how to do. Upon eating, the extra cocoa butter softly gives way to tangy, bittersweet cocoa flavor."
Askinosie Chocolate is another one of the many artisan chocolate makers that have been cropping up around this country. This time, the company comes from Missouri. All of Askinosie Chocolate bars are made in small batches, pressed from their own cocoa butter, and only utilize traceable single origin cocoa beans.
The founder, Shawn Askinosie, was "a criminal defense lawyer for nearly twenty years, who started making chocolate in his law office kitchen less than three years ago. After studying cocoa post harvest techniques in the Amazon and apprenticing under a master chocolate maker in Ecuador, Askinosie became committed to working directly with farmers in order to ensure the highest quality chocolate possible."
If you want to learn more about the back story, check it out here. As for the chocolate and how it tastes? We've heard that the Soconusco and San Jose Del Tambo are well balanced, smooth, buttery, but not super sweet.
What could be better than a chewing gum with a name like Glee? That's right, not much. Which is why we're kicking off our week's worth of organic candy with them, to celebrate Earth Day. Glee Gum is an all natural chewing gum made with sustainably harvested rainforest chicle. There are five flavors: cinnamon, peppermint and tangerine, spearmint, and bubblegum.
BTW, the folks at Glee were kind enough to send Candy Snob all sorts of samples, so check back very soon for our reviews and comments.
Still looking for a sweet but unique Mother's Day gift? How about some Spanish chocolate truffles or bon bons by Delaviuda, the celebrated candy makers of ancient Toledo, Spain?
First is the Gourmet Chocolate Bon Bon Gift Box. It comes in a beautiful black candy box, topped with a nice red bow - so you don't even have to wrap it! Each piece is a hand-made dark chocolate shell, with almond, hazelnut, coffee bean or truffle on a praline filling. Wow.
Or if your mom would like something a little less bad for her, there's always the Sugar Free Milk Chocolate Trufas. These individually wrapped, gourmet milk chocolate truffles are rich enough that you'll forget they are 100% sugar-free.
The WSJ reports that Nestlé SA plans to enter the premium-chocolate market to increase sales in its confectionery division, but it will need time and money, analysts say.
Citing annual growth rates of as much as 8% for high-end chocolate products -- twice the rate of the general chocolate market -- the Swiss food-and-beverage company says it wants to lift the share of sales from dark and other luxury chocolate products from the current 4% of its total of 108 billion Swiss francs ($108.2 billion).
This year, Nestlé inaugurated a luxury-chocolate research center in western Switzerland and entered a pact with Belgian specialty chocolatier Pierre Marcolini. Nestlé will receive creative input from Marcolini while helping its partner to expand.
"Dark chocolate is a still-accelerating trend. Even countries which have no dark-chocolate tradition are successfully introducing such products," Nestlé's head of chocolate operations, Petraea Heynike, said in an interview. She declined to give a sales target for Nestlé's effort.
We really looked forward to this tasting, chocolate pudding seemed decadent yet jovial. The Pudding Pie is a dark chocolate piece found in Ethel's American Pop Collection. Flavor-wise, the filling tasted like really good chocolate Jello-o pudding, which hit a nostalgic nerve was not quite as noteworthy as I'd hoped. In addition, the filling was thicker that I would have thought - I would have expected pudding to be much thinner. Overall, there is really nothing wrong with the Pudding Pie, it is a completely enjoyable, delicious candy. But I had raised the bar pretty high in my own mind, which I think caused it to fall a bit short.
Cool Hunting posted about these eco-friendly, guilt-free treats. The ingredients are sustainable, and they are choc (no pun intended) full of health stuff because of the raw preparation. The post says they have a "creamy soft consistency on par with the normal stuff."
Here are the vitals:
Made using artisan low heat techniques to preserve raw vitality.
Made from sustainably-produced shade grown raw cacao harvested from the Ecuadorian rainforest
No sugar, dairy or additives
Loaded with anti-oxidants, magnesium and other nutrients
Made with the finest Blue Agave Nectar (a low gylcemic sweetener with fewer calories than sugar), coconut oil and lots of electrolytes.
They contain Himalayan Sea Salt contains all the minerals and trace elements that comprise the human body.
It appears these are only available in the greater NYC area (hey, send us some samples Fine and Raw!), and cost about $7.
We waded into the Starbucks chocolate waters recently, with one of their new grocery items - Vanilla Bean Truffles. Let's start with the packaging. As to be expected with Starbucks, the packaging is a well-designed triangular box with really attractive pics of the truffle on the outside. But like many grocery store items, the package never holds as much as you'd like - I believe it had 9 truffles.
The truffles are pretty small, but beautiful. Each comes wrapped in gold foil, twisted at the top. Inside is a conical truffle that's 1/2 perfectly smooth dark chocolate and 1/2 pinstriped. Its a really nice looking piece of candy.
The package says "Sweet and dreamy vanilla from Madagascar meets exquisite dark chocolate in a lovely pairing." My mouth started to water just thinking about it. But here's the deal, the chocolate is quite good and flavorful. The problem is with the pairing - the chocolate overwhelms the vanilla, rendering it nearly indistinguishable. Don't get me wrong, its a tasty treat for sure, but it is does not have the vanilla pop I hoped for, leaving me a little disappointed.
Overall, if I were giving this a rating, I might rate it a solid 6 or 7, because it is beautiful and the texture is solid. If they can figure out the right balance between the dark chocolate and vanilla bean, this would be a killer piece of candy.
For the dark chocolate connoisseur. This bar is made of 80% premium dark Ghanain cacao, and is then mixed with real cane sugar and authentic vanilla for a deep, rich, mellow flavor. Why Ghanain chocolate? Because after conducting a survey of all of their chocolate sources, the chocolate makers at Blanxart concluded that the chocolate from Ghana was superior.
Today's Ethel's installment comes to us from their Fruit Collection, straight from the Florida Keys - the Key Lime Limbo. Visually, this is a stunning chocolate. It is spray painted in green, but its on a gradient, so it get gradually lighter as it moves up the chocolate. Like many of Ethel's chocolates, this is a piece of art.
The Key Lime Limbo is a dark chocolate piece, which frankly intrigued me at first, I wasn't sure how dark chocolate would work with key lime. But as you taste it, it is the key lime pie flavor that is dominant. There is a hint of chocolate - which adds a touch of creaminess and depth. But its this flavor ratio that I think makes it work, and work well. If it were equally key lime and chocolate, I'm not sure it would have tasted as good.
If you want to give your mom a really special chocolate gift Chocolove Nine Great Chocolate Bars - No question, Chocolove is one of our favorite chocolate makers. So this 9 bar gift box gets a big thumbs up from us. It contains all Chocolove brand flavors except the 77% Extra Strong Dark and Toffee & Almonds in Milk Chocolate. Not to mention, look how cool the book-like package is!
If your mom likes minty candy Kshocolât Peppermint Creams Gift Box- besides the great taste and high end ingredients, these peppermint creams come in a pretty unique box - unique because it is so plain and basic. Very cool design and would make a great gift.
If your mom loves licorice (like mine does)
My mom loves all types of licorice - doesn't matter if its black, red or polka-dot. But here is one black and one red option that are more than just your plain old Twizzlers. Haribo Wheels - Sweet yet a little salty, chewy but not too chewy. They come in spiral ropes which you can uncoil for all sorts of eating fun. RJ's Natural Raspberry Licorice Logs - we reviewed these back in February. What stood out to us then, and why we're recommending them now, is the true, natural raspberry flavor.
Not sure if all of these qualify as "gourmet," but they're all tasty treats nonetheless. Interesting point, this week we find three Japanese candies on the list, no doubt reflecting the trends toward international candies.
I risk hyperbole with this review. My tasting notes say things like "OMG" and "Good S#$%" so that gives you an idea about what we thought. The Pecan Toffee Crisp is the perfect salty-sweet combo - which we all know makes one's taste buds stand up and take notice. The combo is extremely well-balanced. It is quite salty to start, but then the creamy, milky chocolate kicks in, leading into the crumbly and sugary nuts inside. The crumbly nature of the nuts, and the piece in general, is what really puts this over the top. With many toffees, brittles and similar confections, they are more crunchy than crumbly, they are harder overall. Plus, you often get pieces stuck in your teeth. Ethel's Pecan Toffee Crisp is not like that at all, it soesn't stick to your teeth, it has the perfect texture, and a great balance of flavors.
You may remember a little bit ago we covered the Blanxart's Dark Chocolates (Blanxart Dark Chocolate Duet from Spain). They have expanded past traditional Spanish dark chocolate with this milk chocolate "duet." One is just creamy milk chocolate, one takes that chocolate and mixes it with hazelnuts, giving it a distinctive Continental flavor.
A little Blanxart history: "A chocolate maestro in Barcelona, after working for all the best cake and chocolate shops in the city, decided to leave his prestigious job and open his own business joining four partners. They started what is now, one of the most celebrated artisan chocolate factories in Europe."
Ever get all excited to buy your favorite candy bar at the check out counter, you can't wait to rip it open and dig in, you finally do and all you find is a stale, crumbly, sometimes dry mass of chocolate, nougat or whatever? Have no fear, The Consumerist has filled us in with the magic codes to avoid stale candy from Hershey's and M&M/Mars:
For M&Ms and Mars candy, there's usually a 10 digit code of numbers and letters, but you only need to worry about the first three. The first number is the last number in the year (8 means 2008, 7 means 2007, etc) and the next two numbers stand for the week of the year (so, a number like 804 would be the fourth week of 2008: February 2008)
For Hershey's candy, there's a 2 character code for the month and year. The year is like the other code, with the number being the last number in the year, the second character is a letter that represents the month. A = January, B = February, and so on. So a code like 9A would mean that the candy expires January of 2009.
Hard to say whether this chocolate from Ethel's will be available much longer, its in their "Seasonal Collection," but we've not seen that change too often. The Creme Brulee is a milk chocolate piece, that will make anyone with a strong sweet tooth quite happy. It might be too much for those who like their chocolates a little less sweet and more complex. There are nutty undertones, which were appreciated and added a little depth. However, you don't really get the creme brulee flavor. If you didn't know that was the flavor of the chocolate by the beautiful painted shell, you might not know. Regardless of whether it lives up to its name, the vanilla and nuttiness come through, which make this quite an enjoyable chocolate if you like your chocolates super sweet.
As if good chocolates weren't enough fun, Hotel Chocolat has some and downright light-hearted offerings this Spring. The first is called "Exuberantly Fruity". All fillings are real fruit, which provides a natural tanginess when you bite through the shell. 30 chocolates in all, the flavors include some really fascinating combinations, something we've come to expect from Hotel Chocolat: blueberry & blackcurrant bombes, ganaches with peach, raspberry, cognac & orange, cherry pannacotta, mandarins and raspberries soaked in alcohol on a bed of vanilla ganache and strawberries & black pepper.
Accurately named "Goody Bag for Every Season" this package has all you need for a perfect chocolate gift-giving experience: a Raspberry Creme mini slab, 6 truffles, a Milk Rocky Road Slab, a bag of caramel canapes and a milk chocolate dipper to stir into a hot drink. C'mon...what more do you need!
Well, I suppose the answer to my last question could be the
Discovery Bag - which is actually more of a chocolate-tasting adventure, not for the faint of chocolate heart: Rabot Estate 72% dark chocolate, chocolate gemstones, single origin 200g log and our Macho Milk Chocolate mini iconic slab.
Rick (complete with a Jacques Torres pedigree) and Michael Mast, always dreamed of interestingflavor combinations (dark chocolate with pecans roasted in maple sourced from Canada, dark milk chocolate and hazelnut, dark chocolate and pistachio), so one day they took the plunge into artisan chocolate.
They source their ingredients with care, primarily using single-origin Venezuelan and Ecuadorian cacao, or you can get plain single-origin bars as well.
Wrap all that goodness up in patterned wrappers, imported from Italy, and you have a really unique treat. Unfortunately for many of us, being the good artisans that they are, they're only selling in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
The Houston Chronicle seems to have finally picked up on what Candy Snob figured out a long time ago, that candy companies are vying for a piece of the "personal energy" market by infusing caffeine into candy.
In an apparent effort to compete with the multibillion-dollar energy drink industry, candy makers are packing caffeine and other ingredients to keep us buzzing. For example, Mars is making Snickers Charged, with the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee...Others include Hershey's Ice Breakers Energy Mints, Vroom Foods' Foosh Mints and Buzz Bites.
This dark chocolate bar is a really special treat, and would make a great gift for the chocolate lover in your life. It has a deep, intense flavor and is literally hand made. The chocolatiers hand wrap each bar as and secure the package with sealing wax.
As with most great chocolate, its the simple ingredients that make all the difference - cocoa, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin. The chocolate is made from Arriba - an exceptional grade of Guaranda cocoa from Ecuador. The cocoa comes from the upper area of the river Guayas.
Today's Ethel's installment comes from their (or is it "her") Truffle Collection - the Chocolate Espresso Truffle. It is a dark chocolate truffle, with a dusting of espresso powder on the outside. We found this powder to be a little bitter, which is the point I suppose. It certainly struck a stark contrast to the pudding-like truffle inside. For those reasons, we suggest you not bite the piece. Instead, pop the whole thing in your mouth, it will be an overall more enjoyable experience. You won't be overwhelmed by the bitterness, and you'll get the full effect of the contrast.
We're not sure if there was a problem with this batch, a problem with heat in transport, or just an unlucky piece for Candy Snob, but we found the truffle to be a little too too runny. This absolutely didn't effect the flavor, it stood up to the quality we've found with all the Ethel's chocolates. But it didn't quite have the fluffy truffle-ness one might expect.
Spring is in the air, and Candy Snob has started to set its sites on Mother's Day. Whether you're getting this for your mom or you just want a great sampler of chocolates, you can't go wrong with either of these from Hotel Chocolat's "Catwalk" collection.
The Large Catwalk Collection of the Season includes 36 hand-finished chocolates with a variety of interesting and seasonal flavors, including: mint & strawberry, white rum, fruit & nut, red currant, melon martini and salted caramel. We can't wait to try the salted caramel.
Customized M&Ms aren't a new thing, but this is a fun way to show your team spirit this opening week for the professional baseball season. MyM&Ms is offering customized M&Ms with the logo and colors of your favorite Major League Baseball team.
We've been looking forward to reviewing some chews and taffies, so here we go with a long time favorite of many people - Doscher's Famous French Chew Taffy. The wrapper sticks pretty badly to the candy, and being thin cellophane, it can get a little tricky getting it all off. But I suppose that's to be expected with taffy bars. The bar itself is a creamy yellow, the natural color you'd expect for French vanilla, not some funky yellow.
What started out as a tough bite turned into a very nice chew. The taffy is sweet, but not too sweet. And it has a very nice, very natural French vanilla flavor. Creamy, sweet and chewy without ripping your fillings out. And with only one gram of fat per bar, I guess one shouldn't feel quite as guilty about eating the whole thing (which I did).
We like this taffy a lot and will definitely pick it up next time we see it.