Monday, February 28, 2011

Tirol Mini Variety Pack

Tirol Mini Variety Pack Tirol Variety

Diving right into my new Tirol selection, I'll start with this mini variety pack. Of the 3 flavors, 2 are new to me: Mango and Pachi-Can (popping candy) Soda. Milk is a classic Tirol flavor that I've had many times before but never reviewed.

I'm not sure why the bag says Thank You, but I guess it's Tirol's way of thanking anyone who purchases their products. Well, Tirol is most certainly welcome (though I can't really accept their thanks, since this was a gift), and the brand has such a good track record that I'd like to thank Tirol, too.

Tirol Mango

Tirol flavors with gummy centers rarely disappoint, and Mango was no exception. The white chocolate had a mild mango flavor, and it wasn't too sweet. The center was tart and authentically mango. The texture reminded me of the actual fruit, and Mango was definitely my favorite flavor in the bag. A

Tirol Pachi Can Soda

Pachi-Can Soda smelled and tasted like the Japanese soda Ramune, but the white chocolate was slightly soapy and floral. Despite that, this one was packed with tart, citrusy popping candy. It was really original and fun! The pops weren't too intense, and the tartness of the candy helped the chocolate taste better. B

Tirol Milk

Milk is not my favorite Tirol flavor. The best thing about it is probably this little cow on the wrapper. Milk didn't really seem to go with the set, since the other chocolates were fruity (and Milk unfortunately seemed to pick up some of the soda flavor during storage). The milk chocolate was very creamy, enhanced by the milk-flavored center, but it has a very mild and slightly soured flavor that I don't enjoy. C+

Tirol Website

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Stride Spark Kinetic Fruit

Stride Spark Kinetic Fruit

Stride hopped on the vitamin bandwagon with their new line, Stride Spark. Although I tend to disregard the vitamin aspect, I am a sucker for new products and citrus gum, so I picked up Stride Spark Kinetic Fruit for $1.29 at the grocery store.

B6 and B12 vitamins aside, the swirly, metallic packaging caught my eye. I only assumed it was a citrus gum because of the orange on the packaging - Kinectic Fruit isn't terribly descriptive.

Stride Spark Kinetic Fruit

Initially, the gum had a great sour orange flavor, and the best comparison I can think of is orange Tic Tacs (a childhood favorite of mine). There were small crystals in the gum that gave it a slightly crackly texture as I chewed - probably the Spark.

The tart flavor lasted around 10 minutes, if I remember correctly, though the leftover weakened orange flavor wasn't bad. The gum didn't get too soft or too hard, so there were no issues with texture. I found myself chewing until the flavor faded, then getting a new piece to enjoy the orange flavor again.


Check out another review at The Impulsive Buy.

Stride Gum Website

Friday, February 25, 2011

Lake Champlain Five Star Chocolate Bar Caramel

Lake Champain Five Star Chocolate Bar Caramel

Before I get on with this review, let's have a quick chat about social media. It's getting harder to avoid these days (not that I ever avoided it - I'm a Facebook addict). If you are so inclined, please follow Snack Love on Twitter and/or Facebook.

I purchased Lake Champlain Five Star Chocolate Bars at 3 for $5 at the local fancy grocery store. These bars are shaped unlike any other chocolate bar I've tried. They are small, but very thick.

Lake Champain Five Star Chocolate Bar Caramel

I cut the bar open first, and was amazed to see that it was almost entirely solid caramel. I was expecting a layer of caramel (like a Snickers bar), but instead, the majority of the bar was caramel with some nuts spaced throughout. I think the best way to describe this bar is to say that it's a mouthful.

The caramel was very sweet and buttery, but it was very mild. Along with the almonds, I think there were chocolate chips in the caramel as well. While the bar was good and had a nice vanilla flavor, it was very rich and more caramel than I could handle (and I only had half of the bar). I wished I could taste the chocolate better, but this might be better suited for a die hard caramel fan.


Lake Champlain website

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tiramisu Tirol

Tirol Tiramisu

Thanks to a friend of mine, I have 10 different flavors of Tirol chocolates to review soon! It's a favorite brand of ours, and she often sends me new flavors when she finds them. In preparation, I thought I should post the Tirol review I've been stewing on for a while before I dig into the various new flavors.

I don't really go nuts for tiramisu, but since I enjoyed the Tiramisu KitKat that came out a few years ago, I thought I'd take a chance on Tirol's offering.

Tirol Tiramisu

The chocolate smelled a bit like cheese (though I was reminded more of cheddar than mascarpone), and the layers were quite pretty. The cocoa powder layer was a nice touch, especially once the piece was broken. The chocolate seemed very soft, and you can see in the picture that it didn't have a clean snap.

The rich chocolate had a slightly bitter coffee flavor with a tempered sweetness and not much in the way of cheese. All of the flavors seemed muted, and while it wasn't bad, it was a bit disappointing. To be honest, I think I would have liked it more if I hadn't just tried the Tiramisu piece in the LOOK Italian Dolce set. Teaser: it was so good that it may have affected my opinion.

Orchid64 also reviewed this flavor on Japanese Snack Reviews.


Tirol website

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fujiya LOOK Buche de Noel

LOOK Buche de Noel

Before college, I studied the French language for 5 years, but at the end of high school, I started studying Japanese. At university, I focused on Japanese and forgot nearly all of my French. Recently, I started taking a French class at a local club, and I am enjoying the challenge.

My stepmother-in-law is also taking French with the same club, and for Christmas dinner last year, she and my father-in-law were inspired to make Buche de Noel for dessert. It was delicious (especially since they carved a little knot in the frosting to make it look extra log-like), so when I placed my last napaJapan order, I had to try Buche de Noel chocolate.

LOOK Buche de Noel

I was once wary of LOOK chocolates (I had some matcha LOOK a few years ago and was not impressed), but after reading a review at Sweets Blog, I decided to give them another chance, and I'm so glad I did! The Buche de Noel pieces were coated in sweet, milky, and slightly cool chocolate, and they had truffle-like centers.

Rather than cake, there were tiny bits of wafer in that truffle-ish filling, and the wafers added both a subtle almond flavor and a light crunchy texture. I could taste vanilla as well, and though sweeter than the Buche de Noel my in-laws made, the chocolates were delicious. I wish I had given this brand another look sooner!


Fujiya LOOK website

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Nestle Daigaku Imo KitKat

Dauigaku imo KitKat

Nestle has been recycling KitKat flavors in Japan again, but in this case, it worked out to my advantage. I didn't get to try the candied sweet potato (daigaku imo in Japanese) KitKat the first time around.

I've never had daigaku imo before, but the idea reminds me of the canned candied yams often served in American Thanksgiving dinners - even though I know that's way off (no soy sauce in candied yams, for instance). I looked at this recipe to get an idea of how daigaku imo would taste, but I'll have to try making it soon.

Dauigaku imo KitKat

This white chocolate-based KitKat had an odd, buttery smell that reminded me of the Roasted Corn KitKat from 2 years ago. Thankfully, this buttery scent didn't carry over into the flavor. The white chocolate tasted almost lemony with maybe just a hint of sweet potato.

It was very sweet, as white chocolate KitKats often are, but the flavor was pretty good. I couldn't really pin the flavor down, and I would never have guessed that it was supposed to be candied sweet potato. Maybe that's because I've never had the real thing, but all I tasted was a mildly lemony white chocolate KitKat.


KitKat website

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tirol Castella

Tirol Castella

The current limited edition flavor in the Tirol "Mix 8" pack is Castella. Castella (sometimes called kasutera) is a sponge cake adapted from cakes brought to Japan by Portugese in the 16th century. It's especially famous in Nagasaki, which was the only port open to foreign merchants during that time.

To my American palate, castella always tasted a bit bland. According to most of the recipes I saw online, honey is typically added for flavor and moderate sweetness. For extra credit, I made green tea castella according to this recipe. It didn't come out great, but I think it was because I overmixed the eggs and batter, which led to a very tough, dense cake. The ingredients are quite simple, though, so I'd love to try again soon with a different recipe.

Tirol Castella

Anyhow, this Tirol was based on plain castella, and the look of the chocolate reminded me of purin or flan. It smelled buttery, but didn't give me a sense of sponge cake. The white chocolate had a sweet, buttery flavor with just a touch of honey.

Inside, there was a barely-flavored biscuit to add some crunchiness (like in Tirol's standard BIS chocolate), but there were also large sugar crystals inside. The sugar added a new dimension of texture that I hadn't seen from Tirol before, and it added a nice flavor without adding too much sweetness.

Despite not really tasting like castella, this Tirol was quite pleasant, and I wouldn't mind having it again.


Tirol website

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Haribo Porsche Gummies

Porsche Gummies

My brother-in-law works in the racing industry for Porsche (a seriously cool occupation), and just when I thought it couldn't get any cooler, Haribo was a Porsche sponsor last year. My brother-in-law kindly sent me some of the special Porsche gummies so that I could blog about them! I can't write much about racing, since I am woefully ignorant, but I do know gummies.

Haribo gummy bears were one of my favorite supermarket checkout treats as a child. Compared to most fruit snacks, Haribo was leagues ahead. The little bears looked like shiny gems, and I have fond memories of biting off the heads of different colored bears to make hybrids while watching Eureeka's Castle. To this day, eating Haribo gummies reminds me of that show.

Vroom! Porsche Gummies

Some of the gummies didn't survive the summer mail, but the ones that did were in the form of cute little shiny cars fancy Porsche racing cars. This was definitely a promotion I could get behind!

Of course, the gummies gad that nostalgic (and delicious) Haribo gummy bear taste. Haribo gummies like this fall on the firmer side of the gummy spectrum, and most of the flavors are pretty ambiguous. The apple stuck out in particular, but for example, clear just tasted like clear gummy bear (I think it's supposed to be pineapple). I was always partial to the orange, which was more sweet than tart. In short, Haribo gummies are just as good as they ever were, and the Porsche racing promotion certainly impressed me!

Haribo website

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lake Champlain Rum Caramel Chocolate Bar

Lake Champlain Rum Caramel

Rum is often paired with confections, making for some very boozy treats. As a goody-goody child, I was wary of rum balls that smelled too strongly of alcohol - they were for grown-ups. These days, I love boozy chocolates, though I am partial to bourbon balls. It's been way too long, Rebecca Ruth.

I bought this Lake Champlain chocolate bar at a local fancy grocer around Christmas time (while making a gift basket for my in-laws) since I had heard good things about the brand. It was between $3 and $4 US, but I don't remember the exact price.

Lake Champlain Rum Caramel

The bar had hints of a liquor scent that reminded me of rum. The gorgeous, almost too perfect-looking dark chocolate had such a strong snap that it was hard to break the bar cleanly. However, the chocolate was decadent and slow-melting.

The sticky rum caramel oozed out from the pods and had a wonderful burnt sugar flavor (though I couldn't taste rum). It was very rich and had a great consistency - not too runny but not firm. The chocolate had a clean, slightly bitter finish, which was a delicious match for the decadent caramel. This bar certainly piqued my curiosity about the brand, so I have since picked up three of Lake Champlain's 5 Star Chocolate Bars (reviews coming soon).


Lake Champlain Chocolates website

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Frito-Lay Sukiyaki Cheetos

Sukiyaki Cheetos

Sukiyaki is one of my favorite Japanese dishes. The sweet, earthy sauce goes perfectly with all the ingredients that simmer in it. I love the tofu, the enoki mushrooms, and, though I'm not a big beef eater, the delicate, paper-thin slices of marbled beef. It's not too tricky to make, either!

I also love Cheetos. They were my late Grandpa's favorite snack, so I always remember him when I eat them. So, if sukiyaki is good, and Cheetos are good, then Sukiyaki Cheetos must be good, right? When I saw them on napaJapan, I knew I had to get them. After reading reviews of things like Smoked Fresh Ham and Mascarpone Cheese Pizza Doritos on Food Junk, how could I resist a Japanese take on an American snack classic?

Sukiyaki Cheetos

If I didn't see the word Cheetos in the corner of the bag, I never would have guessed what these were. The open bag smelled like sukiyaki - toasty soy sauce with a subtle sweetness. The Cheetos had a tart and savory flavor, mostly soy sauce with a hint of fruitiness, a subtle fishiness, and sweet beef.

The crunch was just like regular cheese Cheetos, but cheese powder was not among the ingredients (however, various meats and fish powders were). Although I wasn't a huge fan of the initial punch or the aftertaste, the middle range was good and they were certainly edible. My husband liked them more than I did, but I don't think I'll be buying them again.

As a savory snack accompaniment to beer, they'd probably do all right, but later today when I'm using the Superbowl as an excuse to eat unhealthy snacks, I think I'll leave the rest for my husband.


Frito-Lay Japan website

Meiji Royal Milk Tea Meltykiss

Meiji Meltykiss Royal Milk Tea Chocolate

My love affair with Meltykiss goes back years. I can't remember exactly when I first tried them, but I've tried so many varieties that I've come to consider them a sure thing. New flavors therefore must be sampled.

This winter, Meiji brought out Royal Milk Tea Meltykiss, which doesn't seem to be a re-release. I purchased my box from napaJapan for $4.99, which is 50 to 70 cents more than other flavors, suggesting this could be rare (or popular) even among limited edition flavors.


The cubes were wrapped in a lovely bold metallic blue, and had the signature Meltykiss dusting of cocoa powder. They smelled bitter and a bit floral (much like milk tea). Initially, the cocoa powder seemed extra bitter, but it's been a while since I've had Meltykiss, so my memory could be failing me.

The chocolate reminded me of Earl Grey tea, and though it tasted like bottled royal milk tea mixed with hot cocoa, it was missing that rich heavy cream note. Of course, the chocoalte had that signature Meltykiss meltaway texture. Despite the lack of heavy cream, this was a very tasty flavor, and if it was available locally, I'd certainly buy them again.


Meiji Website (Japanese)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Juicy Fruit Groovy Fruity

p365 d26

In keeping with that gum theme, I bought myself this cute little cup of Juicy Fruit Groovy Fruity because I was attracted to the funky, colorful packaging. Despite nostalgic jingles about the moving taste of Juicy Fruit, I was never a big fan, simply because I couldn't really tell exactly which fruit it was supposed to taste like.

Well, neither of the two flavors in Groovy Fruity were well identified, either. They didn't taste like the original, vaguely tropical Juicy Fruit. Since I'm not sure what the two flavors were, I'll go by color: white and red. In my cup, there seemed to be more white than red.

Juicy Fruit Groovy Fruity

The red pieces had an artificial cherry-like flavor, so what I'm really saying is that they tasted red. The tabs were firm at first, but they softened as the crunchy shell dissolved. Red was sweet, juicy, and just a tiny bit tart. It wasn't minty but did have a slight cooling effect. The flavor lasted five minutes or so before becoming a dull hint of fruity sweetness. At this point, the gum had a firmer, denser chew than I prefer.

The white tabs were a little more like the original Juicy Fruit, only with a very strong minty flavor and intense cooling effect. These chewed softer than the red gum, but didn't taste as fruity. The flavor was longer lasting, but neither flavor was all that good. I still like the container, but I wouldn't buy this again.


Juicy Fruit website

Friday, February 4, 2011

Vitamingum Fresh Cinnamon

Vitamingum Cinnamon
Press Sample

Cinnamon is the last of the three flavors of Vitamingum Fresh samples that the kind people at Vitaball, Inc. sent for me to try. I definitely enjoyed Spearmint and Peppermint.

Most of my cinnamon gum memories are associated with classic Dentyne, since it was my mom's favorite for most of my childhood. My dad liked Doublemint, and I used to wrap a piece of Doublemint around a stick of Dentyne for a cinnamint flavor.

Vitamingum Cinnamon

Vitamingum Cinnamon was a straight cinnamon flavor with a strong, spicy punch (hotter than classic Dentyne). It was a nice, caffiene-free jolt in the morning! It lost its intial intense flavor faster than the two mint gums, but the remaining flavor wasn't bad.

Like the other two flavors of Vitamingum, Cinnamon had a good texture that chewed neither too hard nor too soft. Simply because of personal flavor preference, I didn't like this one as much as the Spearmint, but it was still a very good gum, and not just for a niche market.


Check out another review at Gum Alert!
Vitamingum website

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Vitamingum Fresh Peppermint

Vitamingum Peppermint
Press Sample

Like many other residents of the Midwest, USA, I was snowed in yesterday. This would have been the perfect time to catch up on some blogging, right? Although I had the motivation to work from home (I kind of have to, since I'm salaried), I never got around to blogging. Did anyone else get snowed in?

In case you didn't catch my recent review of Vitamingum Fresh Spearmint, Vitaball, Inc. kindly sent me samples of three flavors of Vitamingum Fresh. Today, let's look at Peppermint.

Vitamingum Peppermint

The packaging was nearly identical to the Spearmint flavor, only with oddly bright blue mint leaves for color consistency. Like the Spearmint, Peppermint had a strong minty burst, and a thoroughly chilled, fresh flavor. Again, it was an excellent breath freshener, though I prefer spearmint to plain mint.

The texture was bouncy and not too hard or too soft, and the minty flavor, somewhat subdued after the initial intensity, lasted well over 20 minutes. I'm still not a vitamin taker, and I don't know if this gum will change that, but I was pleasantly surprised that Peppermint (and Spearmint) Vitamingum is a good gum and not just a multivitamin.


Vitamingum website