Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mars Candy

Continuing my trend of reviewing chocolates that I'd classify more as "candy" rather than "chocolate", I present another American classic: Mars.  They basically make all the Halloween candy that isn't made by Hershey or NestlĂ©.  Of the bunch, I think they are my favorite, just because I do kinda like the sweet nougat filling in a number of their products.  But "chocolate"?  Not really ...

Milky Way

Milky Way is the first chocolate bar produced by Mars, way back in 1923.  Amusingly, a Milky Way bar in other countries is quite different, as it lacks the caramel layer that makes it different from a 3 Musketeers.  Bars that are most like the Milky Way are actually called Mars Bars elsewhere.  So confusing!

Anyway, apparently it is named after the fact that it is supposed to remind you of a milkshake ... which makes no sense to me, as milkshakes don't have caramel.  Milky Ways are now available in a variety of flavors.
Milky Way.
“Chocolate nougat layer, soft caramel layer, covered in milk chocolate”.

The original, basic Milky Way.

First, there is too much chocolate coating.  I think having mini/snack size makes this worse, as it throws off the ratios.  When the milk chocolate isn't good, even a fairly thin layer overrules.
Milky Way: Inside.

Breaking in, it was just too sweet.  I'd like it better with less caramel.  The caramel layer was the thickest layer, but it was a nice soft, smooth caramel.  But I'd like less chocolate, and less caramel.

So what do I like?  The chocolate nougat.  Funny because I used to hate these when I was younger, as I never, ever liked nougat.  This is basically just a 3 Musketeers, with the caramel layer added.  I prefer the plain 3 Musketeers.

Subsequent tasting notes:
  • Crappy "chocolate" coating, way too much flavorless caramel.  I do like the chocolate nougat though.
  • Creamy nougat, lots of stringy caramel, fair crappy “chocolate”.  Enjoyable enough as a sweet alongside some coffee. 
  • I don't taste chocolate, and the caramel is way too sweet.  Just, sweet, sweet, sweet.
Milk Way: Midnight.
“Vanilla nougat, soft caramel layer, covered in dark chocolate.”

This sounded tastier than the original Milky Way to me.  Dark chocolate is always better than milk, and I actually prefer vanilla nougat.  I learned that Milky Ways used to come as two pieces, one chocolate, and one vanilla.  They separated them, and re-branded the vanilla one "Forever Yours".  Then they discontinued it, and it came back as the Milky Way Midnight.

This one got a bit heat exposed, so the surface looked funny, but I knew that wouldn't impact the taste.
Milky Way Midnight: Inside.
Biting in, it was exactly what I expected; the same as the regular Milky Way, just with vanilla nougat and dark chocolate.  No surprises here.

The dark chocolate lacked any complexity, but it wasn't offensive, better than the milk chocolate.  The caramel was again smooth and soft, very sweet, and I thought there was too much of it.  I almost think it would be better with no caramel at all.  The nougat layer didn't taste like vanilla, more like fluffy marshmallow, but that is good too.  Not earth shattering, but, again, enjoyable enough with a cup of coffee.

Subsequent Tasting Notes:
  • Overall pretty decent - the nougat is like a fluffy marshmallow, the caramel is soft and creamy. Super sweet and obviously not high quality stuff, but tasty.
  • Dark chocolate is fairly flavorless, but better than Mars' generic milk chocolate. I like the fluffy marshmallow-like nougat. The caramel is kinda crappy, just sweet, and too much of it. I’d like just the dark chocolate covered nougat more!
  •  The dark chocolate looked great, but didn't have any flavor. Vanilla nougat was basically just fluffy marshmallow. Caramel was ok, but I'd prefer without. Not bad, but not very good. 
  • Basically just a sweet treat, fluffy sweet marshmallow, a bit of soft caramel, dark chocolate that you can't taste. Good enough with a cup of coffee, but not otherwise remarkable
Caramel Apple Milky Way.
"With all the flavor of a red delicious apple dipped in a melted caramel-and-chocolate concoction, this miniature milky way spinoff is a delicious festive treat. Each bite-size bar encases a ribbon of apple-infused caramel laying delicately over a hunk of chocolate-malt nougat in a soft milk chocolate shell."

And finally, a seasonal offering: Caramel Apple!

This was shockingly good!  The nougat is soft and fluffy, the caramel deliciously "apple spice" flavored, soft, and stringy.  The milk chocolate is standard Mars low quality chocolate, but that didn't detract from the sweet goodness of this treat.  One of the best seasonal products I've tried, and very nice alongside a cup of black coffee.

Reception to these was mixed from my co-workers.  One came running out of his office in disgust after he tried on.  But another raved about them.  And Ojan said they were decent.  These clearly are a personal preference sort of item.

Snickers

The second line of candy bars produced by Mars was Snickers, in 1930.  Because they seem to like mixing up product names in each country, these bars were known as "Marathon" bars in the UK (which, was not the same as the "Marathon" bar sold here in the US).  Seriously, I guess they just didn't think information would flow so freely between countries?

Milky Way bars I only ever encountered around Halloween as a child, but for some reason, I have far more memories of Snickers bars.  I'm going to guess my mom had something to do with that.  To me, a Snickers is the ultimate classic candy bar.  I know I used to love them.

They now come in a slew of varieties.
Snickers Original.
"Milk chocolate coating, nougat layer, peanuts & caramel layer."

I'm sure you have had one of these before ...
Snickers: Inside.
Let me just say, I used to love these!  I really did.  But now they seem just sweet, and made with crappy milk chocolate.

Subsequent tasting notes:
  • Bad milk chocolate, just sweet nougat, tiny bit of flavorless peanuts, meh
  • I really don't know why I used to love these!  Crappy milk chocolate, just sweet filling, peanuts.  Not really interested in ever having another one!
  • The chocolate was crappy, but the sweet filling and crunchy nuts were kinda nice
  • This is very sweet.  The nougat is sweet, the chocolate is sweet an uninteresting, the caramel is sweet ... meh.  Peanuts were good crunch, but, not particularly interesting nor flavorful.
Snickers Almond.
"Almonds, Milk Chocolate, Caramel and Nougat".

The Snickers Almond is exactly like a regular snickers, except with whole almonds instead of peanuts. So, milk chocolate shell, nougat layer, caramel layer with nuts in it.
Snickers Almond: Inside.
My first impression: so sweet! Nougat + caramel = so sweet! 

Normally I prefer almonds to peanuts, but in this case, I think the classic Snickers is probably the winner.  The chocolate layer was thicker than I'd like, but mostly because it is just crappy chocolate, and in mini size, the chocolate to filling ratio was just too high due to the surface size.

Update: The next time I had one of these, I really enjoyed it.  I absolutely loved the crunch from the large almonds.  The caramel and nougat were sweet, but I paired it with a cup of black coffee, and that seemed like a perfect match.  The nuts also somewhat tricked me into thinking there was something somewhat healthy about it, and made me really want one as a post-workout snack.
Snickers Rockin' Nut Road.
"Almonds, caramel, and marshmallow-flavored nougat wrapped in dark chocolate".

I thought this was going to be awesome.  I like sweet marshmallow flavored things!  But, the primary component, that marshmallow nougat, didn't taste like anything.  And it wasn't fluffy.  And it wasn't even really sweet.  It was just ... there.  I did like the caramel and the nuts, but besides that, there was nothing going on here.  The dark chocolate didn't have any deep chocolate flavor and was pretty boring.  It looked much better than it was!
Snickers Peanut Butter SQUARED.
"Caramel, nougat, milk chocolate, roasted peanuts and peanut butter squished into square-shaped nuggets."
Snickers Peanut Butter SQUARED: Inside.
Ok, so you take a regular Snickers.  You greatly reduce the caramel layer to a very thin layer across the top.  You greatly reduce the nougat to a thin strip on the bottom.  And then you stuff it full of peanut butter and peanuts.  Keep the same milk chocolate shell.  And uh, make it a square.  And you get ... Snickers Peanut Butter SQUARED.

Why change the shape?  I have no idea.

It was the same as a classic Snickers in all the ways you'd expect: same crappy milk chocolate, slightly stale tasting nougat, etc.  I guess it did have a bit of additional peanut butter, but this was not very good at all.
Update: I enjoyed it more another time.  I still did not care for the low end chocolate.  The nougat was just meh.  The caramel a bit too chewy.  And since I never like those components much, I appreciated that they were slimed down.  The peanut butter was fairly creamy, and I liked the crunch from the nuts.  Better than many other lower end chocolate products, mostly just because chocolate and peanut butter are great together, not because there was anything particularly good about this.

3 Musketeers

3 Musketeers was the 3rd product ever offered by Mars.  They originally came in 3 flavors, chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, all in once package (hence the name?), but only the chocolate flavor is offered today.  They have experimented with other flavors over the years (orange, raspberry, cherry, etc), but there is a reason you haven't heard of any of these.  None but the basic chocolate have stuck.
3 Musketeers.
"Delicate, light and fluffy nougat center wrapped in delectable 3 MUSKETEERS® chocolate".

Standard fairly crappy Mars milk chocolate coating on the outside.
3 Musketeers: Inside.
Inside, fluffy chocolate nougat.  Very sweet filling, not balanced out by the sweet chocolate coating.  But I did like the fluffiness of the nougat.

Subsequent Tasting Notes:
  • Nice fluffy chocolate nougat.  I liked the nougat quite a bit.  The chocolate coating was very meh, plasticy and not very good, I wish I could just have the nougat!  It reminded me a bit of a marshmallow.
  • Love the slightly chocolately, sweet, fluffy inside, like a chocolate marshmallow.  Great with coffee.  But who wants their chocolate coating?
  • Meh, just sweet.
  • I almost like the chocolate nougat, but, meh.  If only it had decent chocolate on the outside.

Other

Twix.
"Milk chocolate coated caramel and biscuit".

Tasting notes: The flavors in this go together well, but they are just too low quality ingredients.  Flavorless biscuit, crappy caramel, crappy milk chocolate.  Do not like.

Ojan however loves these.  As do most of my co-workers.  To each his own ...
Pretzel M&M's.
Ok, M&Ms may be the most classic chocolate candy that there is.  Who didn't grow up with a candy bowl full of them?  I don't think I ever really thought M&Ms were special, but I know I was partial to the peanut ones.

But now?  Those magical ones are just low quality chocolate with low quality peanuts.  I see how I used to like these, since chocolate and peanuts are so tasty together, but meh.

I also tried out "pretzel" M&M's, which sounded fascinating, and looked a bit like peanut M&M's, except more perfectly round.  They were also completely uninteresting, I expected some pleasant saltiness from the pretzel to mix with the chocolate, but there was none.  Again, dominated by low quality chocolate.  Meh.

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