Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hubba Bubba Max Mystery Flavor

Hubba Bubba Max Mystery Flavor

Back in elementary school, when I got an allowance of 2 dollars a week, much of that money was spent on bubble gum from the grocery store a couple blocks from my house. There's just something so fun and frivolous about bubble gum, and I still blow bubbles to this day, no matter what kind of gum I'm chewing.

These days, I tend to stick to sugarfree gum, but every now and then, something like Hubba Bubba will jump out at me. When I bought this gum at the supermarket last week, my exact words to my husband were, "This girl I can't resist a mystery flavor." I love a good gimmick, and I think I have a pretty good guess at this flavor.

Mystery Flavor

The two-toned gum smelled like almond extract. Right away, it tasted like lemonade, and as I chewed, cherry flavor emerged. My guess is Cherry Lemonade. It was juicy and sour, and not too sweet. When I blew bubbles, the woodsy cherry flavors really emerged, reminding me of amaretto and cherry Starbursts. The lemon wasn't at all like a cleaning product, just sour and tangy.

The gum itself was large and very soft, making it easy to chew and blow bubbles. I had to be careful of my glasses, because the bubbles I could blow could have easily overtaken my nose. As expected, the flavor started to wear thin after just a couple minutes, but the delicious initial favor won me over.

Check out another review at Gum Alert, and from reading the comments, it seems like this "mystery flavor" is a simple re-release. Well, it worked on me.

Hubba Bubba website

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wizarding World of Harry Potter Chocolate Frog

Chocolate Frogs

Is anyone else anxiously awaiting access to Pottermore? Is anyone already exploring the site? I was accepted for early access, but with barely over 2 weeks until it's open to everyone in October, I've just about lost hope of getting that sneak peek. At least the wait is almost over for all of us! Just because I needed a Harry Potter fix, it seemed like a good time to sample the Chocolate Frog I purchased during my trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Chocolate FrogsIn the books and movies, Chocolate Frogs are presented as lithe, enchanted chocolate creatures that could slip through your fingers with ease, or, if you're quick and lucky, wiggle all the way down to your stomach. Of course, there's no way to reproduce that experience for a mass market, but I was surprised by how the Chocolate Frog was brought to life for Universal Studios. There's no way the Chocolate Frogs sold at the actual Honeydukes inside the park could slip out a window. They're solid, huge, and surprisingly hefty! At an equally hefty theme park price price of $9.95 US, maybe Universal Studios was going for the value angle, but they didn't really hit that mark, either.

IMG_4994 The solid chocolate frog filled the entire box, but unfortunately it smelled a bit dusty, like a cheap Easter bunny. The easiest way to serve the frog seemed to be cutting into it with a knife, which was fun for my husband. Much to my dismay, the chocolate tasted like it smelled: dry, grainy, and a little chalky. The cocoa flavor was mild and very sweet, and even though it was a one-note chocolate flavor, I did appreciate that there were no sour or otherwise unpleasant aftertastes. The chocolate wasn't very milky, and although I dislike the overly sticky quality that milk chocolate often has, this frog could have used some creaminess. Now, I must disclose that I did wait a couple of months to eat this, but the package was sealed and far from the sell-by date, so it was a bit of a letdown.

I'll admit that this blog has spoiled cheap chocolate for me, but for this price, I'd rather have less chocolate of a higher quality than this giant brick of disappointment. But, as Ron Weasley pointed out to Harry, It's the card you want, and in that respect, the Chocolate Frog was pretty cool. The package was gorgeous and well-constructed, and finding the holographic trading card inside really made me feel immersed in the Harry Potter universe. I got Rowena Ravenclaw (and I think I'd be a Ravenclaw), but I can't see myself trying to collect them all at $10 a frog.


The packaging is absolutely an A+, but overall, this is a C. It's still a good souvenir because of the card and box, but the chocolate left a lot to be desired. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter blog reviewed Chocolate Frogs and really liked them. Please remember, this is just my opinion. If you've got your heart set on a Chocolate Frog, I think the box and card alone will make you happy, and if you enjoy the chocolate, even better.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Monday, September 19, 2011

Green & Black’s Classic Collection

Press Sample

It’s about time I continued working on my backlog of reviews. First, a PR representative for Green & Black’s kindly sent the lovely Classic Collection of miniature chocolate bars. The first thing that popped into my head when I saw the tiny bars was that they would be a great size for an American Girl doll (my favorite childhood toy). Maybe that's why I still think miniatures are so fun!

The cutest thing about the bars was that they were perforated, just like a full size bar! Adorable. The perforations worked, too, which is always a plus! The collection includes six varieties: Milk, 70% Cocoa, Ginger, Cherry, Almond, and Toffee. There were two bars of each kind, so I recruited my husband as a guest taster and have included some of his comments below. I should also mention that, to quote the press email, Green & Black's sources high-quality organic and fair trade certified ingredients for all of its bars, and that this collection will be available for $9.99 in US major retailers starting in September.

IMG_4743 Tiny Ginger Bar
look how cute these are!

Even though it's a standard flavor, Milk was not my favorite of the set. It's really just my personal preference (which is typically > 60% cocoa or bust). It was very sweet and milky with a sticky melt (which is what my husband likes about milk chocolate). I detected a hint of what almost seemed like mintiness, but it could have been my imagination.

However, when the milk chocolate was combined with Toffee, I loved it. The bar had a nutty, caramelized flavor that went very well with the sweet milk chocolate. The chewy, slight crunch of the toffee was just right (Heath bars are too hard for me). The finish was very sweet, but it went well with the subtly salty toffee.

The Almond bar smelled milky, and the chocolate was soft and sticky. the almond pieces had a tender texture with a slightly crunch coating. The flavors mixed well, and it had a well balanced sweetness.


But you know I was waiting for those dark bars. The Dark 70% bar had a satisfying snap and a nice, sweet start. The middle was fruity and slightly bitter, with the bitterness in the forefront on the finish. It had a lovely smooth melt and hints of toasty marshmallow flavor. It was never too bitter or too sweet, making it a fine specimen of dark chocolate. I'd be tempted to buy this bar alone in full size if I had a dark chocolate craving.

Cherry consisted of dried cherries in dark chocolate, and I was immediately stuck by just how sour the cherries were. My husband and I both love sour cherries, but neither of us were crazy about them here. The cherries struck me as especially tangy against the dark chocolate, and I might have liked it better with a sweeter chocolate to counteract the sour. It might have been because of the small size, because I noticed bites that had more chocolate than cherry were much better.

Green & Black's Ginger Bar Green & Black's Ginger Bar

Finally, the Ginger bar was a standout for both myself and my husband. It totally hit the spot. The 60% cocoa went very well with the sharp and noticeable (but not too strong) ginger pieces. The bar was clean, refreshing, and unique. The ginger added a tasty crunch and spicy flavor without a sinus-clearing burn. I could definitely see this as a great dessert after a pungent meal.

Green & Black's Classic Collection has a lot to offer, with the Toffee, 70% Cocoa, and Ginger bars standing out in particular. While I wasn't crazy about the Cherry, I did appreciate its boldness, and it was really only the Milk that didn't excite me. The Classic Collection felt fresh, and tasting the set was a very enjoyable experience.


Green & Black's website

Product was submitted for review by a PR representative. No compensation was received and the product was reviewed just like any other.

Isala Amaretti

Isala Amaretti

This summer, a scientist from the Italian branch of my company came to work at our lab for a couple weeks. Before she left, she shared some treats from Italy. Our lab interns warned me that they tasted weird, but I was undeterred; I thought the Amaretti macaroons looked delicious!

Almond can be an intense flavor, and I think that might have been what scared off some of my coworkers. My dad (who works in the same office) sampled the cookies before me and described them as fragrant. For the record, he enjoyed them.


The Amaretti smelled strongly of almond extract, heavy with woodsy, cherry-like notes. I was surprised that the cookie was very soft and had a sugar-like crunch. It chewed from a light and fragrant fluffy nut paste to a slightly bitter but very sweet finish. I got a strong sensation of amaretto, but there was no alcohol taste.

The Amaretti was moist with a gritty, soft crunch - not at all doughy. The delicate texture reminded me of French macarons, although the Italian Amaretti were much denser and had a much stronger flavor. I enjoyed the heavy aromatic almond sensation, but those less keen on almonds or amaretto would do well to avoid these.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mentos UP2U

Mentos UP2U

Sometimes, I'm all for gimmicks. The idea of the Mentos UP2U gum struck me as quite cute: two different types of gum in one pack, so the chewer can choose between fruity and minty. Since I'm physically incapable of resisting new gum when I see it, I bought this gum during a recent grocery store run.

While a slogan like a choice for every moment of the day seems like a major overstatement, I did like the packaging. With its bold colors and metallic accents, it was stylish and eye catching. Very current, right down to the strong social media tie-ins.

Mentos UP2U

Being a fruity gum fan, I went for the Mandarin Strawberry first. It smelled like strawberry Mentos, and the flavor was mostly fake strawberry with hints of orange sherbet. It was tart and juicy with soft flavor crystals, and the overall chew seemed a bit on the firm side. I did find the initial fruitiness to be short-lived, only a couple minutes, leaving behind a vaguely tart but not unpleasant hint of citrus. There was no mint, but it did leave my mouth feeling cool and fresh without any staleness.

Mentos Mandarin Strawberry Mentos UP2U Spearmint
though not as beautiful as Trident Layers, the two-tone gum was quite pretty

Spearmint didn't push any flavor boundaries, but as far as an after-meal breath freshener, it did a fine job. As expected, the mint flavor hung around for a while, with the stronger stuff wearing off after about 5 minutes. I chewed for about 20 minutes, and could still detect a slight flavor when I threw it away. The crunchy flavor crystals were a welcome textural addition. Again, the chew was firm, but this one seemed to soften over time.

Both gums fall solidly in B+ territory.

UP2U on Facebook (feels more relevant than a website)