Friday, July 07, 2017

Good & Delish

Snack Foods Fri: That time I won a box of products from Good & Delish.

One day, I won a Twitter contest for Good & Delish, the premium house brand from Walgreens.  Yes, really.

When I received a direct message asking for my (physical) address, I almost thought it was a scam.  But, the sender was @walgreens, it must be real, right?  So I gave my address, not really sure what to expect.

A few days layer, a box showed up at my door.  I still wasn't entirely convinced this was real.  And then I opened the box to discover a serious bounty.
My Loot!
The loot was legit.

6 containers of candied nuts, 5 boxes of assorted cookies, 3 boxes of chocolates, gummy candy, and a stocking full of chocolates.  Um, wow!  These are all things I like!

Good & Delish is the premium house brand at Walgreens.  I'm no stranger to Walgreens products, as you may recall from my reviews of their other, lower-end, house brand, Nice!, which has shockingly good glazed honey buns (once you warm them up that is) and mediocre chocolate.

Neither line carries any Walgreens branding on the packaging, so unless you knew this is made by Walgreens, you likely wouldn't even notice.

The Good & Delish brand has basically ... every snack food imaginable, but I lucked out, and they sent me basically only sweets.

Most of the bounty was fairly mediocre, but, there were some decent surprises.  Plus, um, I got a free box of stuff!

Chocolates

The Good & Delish product line has a ton of chocolate products.  I won't enumerate them all here, but they make all sorts of chocolate bars, chocolate covered nuts, fruits, cookies, clusters, etc. 
Boxed Chocolates.
 I received 3 different boxes of assorted chocolates.  These were not good items.
The Continental Collection.
Each box is plastic wrapped, and then has a sleeve surrounding the box.

I started with the "Continental Collection", a box containing 10 different types of "milk and dark European Chocolates", 4 of each, 14 ounces total.  It was a hefty box.
Continental Collection: Unboxed!
The chocolates were arranged attractively, alternating colors and shapes.  Someone clearly put thought into the layout.  Inside the box cover was a guide to the chocolates, but it was rather ambiguous, just hand drawn pencil style.  From the sketches, I wouldn't have realized that the milk chocolate hazelnut was actually the white topped one, but luckily, the back of the sleeve contained a second, full color guide.

I'll review each chocolate in similar pairs.

Ojan's overall review: "There are times when I'd be in the mood for this type of candy".  Note the word candy, not chocolate.  He also immediately declared that I certainly wouldn't like these.  He was right.
Gianduja Nougat. Nougat Duo.
Gianduja Nougat(L):  I thought nougat was white? And soft?  Anyway.  The filling wasn't soft at all, and I also didn't taste anything hazelnut flavored.  I really thought I had the wrong piece, but checked the guide several times, and, this was the right one ...

Nougat Duo(R): An attractive two-toned piece.  Again, nougat?  I have no idea what the "duo" of flavors were supposed to be here, I didn't taste anything notable.
Chocolate Roasted Hazelnut. Milk Chocolate Hazelnut.
Chocolate Roasted Hazelnut(L): I somewhat expected a whole hazelnut to live inside of this, I'm not sure why.  It didn't have one.  Instead there was a dark chocolate top layer, a milk chocolate layer, and a almost creamy center that had a slight hazelnut flavor.  I'm not a lover of hazelnut, and this didn't do anything for me.

Milk Chocolate Hazelnut(R):  I was confused why it had white chocolate on top.  Wasn't this the milk chocolate hazelnut?  The white chocolate was waxy and truly awful, the sort of chocolate that gives milk chocolate a very bad reputation.
Vanilla Stick. Toffee Crisp.
Vanilla Stick(L): I wasn't sure what to expect from this one, what is a vanilla stick?  It was ... another thick caramel on the inside.  It didn't taste any more vanilla flavored than the others.  The aftertaste was bad.

Toffee Crisp(R): This was certainly the one I was most looking forward to.  I like toffee, I like crunchy things.  I was surprised when I cut it open and found that the crispies were just on the outside, and, well, they were like rice crispies, not toffee.  I guess the toffee was the thick caramel inside?  Very disappointing.
Soft Caramel. Toffee Caramel.
Soft Caramel(L):  At least this had a cute heart shape.  It is the first one Ojan went for.  He took one bite and said he wasn't really interested in this box of chocolates, and that he didn't want another.  Uh-oh.

I actually thought this was the best of the box.  The caramel was gooey, slightly buttery.  The milk chocolate shell had a nice snap to it.  I didn't necessarily want another, but, it wasn't bad.

Toffee Caramel(R): Ojan did eventually try another, the toffee caramel.  He said that someday he might be in the right mood for another one of these, comparing it to the same quality level as eating a Twix.

The toffee had a decent chew to it, but the chocolate had a strange bitterness to it.  I could see how Ojan compared it to a Twix though.  Not really my thing.
Orange Cream, Strawberry Cream.
These were the worst of the box.

The "cream" component of each was a crumbly white filling, chalky and really off putting.  The orange flavor was identifiable as orange at least, but, in a cough syrup sort of way.  The strawberry was equally awful, it tasted remarkably fake.
The Other Continental Collection.
"Milk, dark, and white European Chocolates."

Next up, another box of assorted chocolates.  This assortment was ALSO called the Continental Collection.  It also contained 10 different types.  6 were the same 4 were swapped out from the other collection.  I'll only review the new additions this time, again in pairs.
Nougat Heart. Solid Milk Chocolate.
Nougat Heart(L):  Milk chocolate surrounding a slightly different style of center.  Not what I think of as nougat, but, it had a slight hazelnut flavor perhaps?  I guess that is a style of nougat, but not the soft, white style I'm used to.

Solid Milk Chocolate(R):  This was about what you'd expect, just basic mediocre milk chocolate.  It wasn't bad, but it certainly wasn't a quality item.
Vanilla Fudge. Whole Nut Soft Cream.
I just really don't understand the naming of these chocolates.

Vanilla Fudge(L): The "vanilla fudge" was a slightly chewy center, almost like a caramel.  Not what I think of as fudge.  Not vanilla flavored.  Mediocre quality all around.

Whole Nut Soft Cream(R): There was nothing soft, nor creamy, about it.  Inside was an almond, surrounded in a chalky white layer, with milk chocolate, and a white chocolate shell on top.  The "soft cream" was really quite gross.

Neither of these were good.
Premium European Chocolates.
"Milk chocolate assortment with creamy milk and hazelnut fillings."

My final box of chocolates was a holiday themed assortment, a mix of 6 Christmas themed items: Santas, snowmen, sleighs, shooting stars, Christmas trees, and reindeer.  They came sorta randomly grouped together.

 I didn't really know what to expect for the fillings on these.  Whole hazelnuts? Ganache?
Shooting Star: Inside.
I started with a shooting star.  It was a milk chocolate shell with milk chocolate inside.  The chocolate both inside and out wasn't very good, somewhat plastic and stale tasting, while also being bitter and boring sweet.  Yeah, not good.

The filling was at least smooth and soft?
Tree: Inside.
Next, I went for the tree.  It had white inside.

What was the white?  I have no idea.  Was it hazelnut?  It didn't taste anything specific.  The filling was a bit sweeter than the dark filling, but I certainly couldn't identify it.  Like the milk chocolate one, the soft, smooth texture was nice.

It also turned out that shape had nothing to do with filling.  The next 4 chocolates I tried all had the white filling.  Another shooting star had white filling.  I'm not really sure how they were broken down by flavor.

Cookies

The Good & Delish line of cookies is fairly extensive.  In addition to the 3 varieties I received, they also offer oat & cranberry, butter cookies, shortbreads, macaroons, bite size chocolate chip, and some very temping chocolate and caramel truffle cookies.
Packaged Cookies.
My box of goodies included a mixed assortment, and two types of "creme" cookies.

The creme cookies turned out to be really quite decent.
Raspberry Fruit Creme Cookies.
"These cookies are delectable combinations of buttery flavored cream and raspberry jelly sandwiched between our delicious cookies."

Since I don't really care for cookies, and clearly not packaged ones, I didn't even expect to take a second bite of one of these.  Yet, I did.

They weren't awful.  I mean, for what they were, they were perfectly acceptable.

The cookies were sweet, but not any real flavor in particular.  One side was solid and printed with a design, the other had a hole in the center.  Slightly crumbly.

Inside was the "buttery flavored cream", which was again just sweet.  Not buttery.  It was the exact same texture as the filling inside Oreos, although, less sweet than that filling actually, and a slightly different flavor.

These two components reminded me of Vienna Finger sandwich cookies.  I haven't had them in years, so I don't know how accurate this is, but, that is sorta what they reminded me of.

In the center was a dot of raspberry jelly.  It had a strong raspberry flavor, but was really sticky, tacky.  I didn't like it much.

So, overall, not awful.  If I liked packaged cookies, I'd get them again.  They also make a lemon flavor, but I only received raspberry.
4 Star Maple Leaf Creme.
"These cookies are filled with smooth maple creme, which complements its crispy, delicious, wafer base. Made with real maple syrup and natural ingredients, this unique cookie is a delicious snack."

Well, huh.  Again, I don't like cookies, particularly hard cookies, particularly packaged cookies.  I again thought I'd take a bite, review my review, and move on.

But these were really decent.  The cookies were softer than I expected, with a light maple flavor.  The filling was delicious, super maple-y.  Yes, it was generic package cookie cream filling, but ... it tasted good.

My only complaint is that there was a lot of cookie and not much cream.  I preferred having one open-faced, just half a cookie with all the cream.  Either they need "Double Stuffs", like Oreos, or, they need to reduce the cookie part somehow.

If you like maple and packaged cookies, I recommend these.
Exquisite Cookie Ensemble.
"An assortment of 10 different cookies, all made with pure Belgian chocolate."

The last box of cookies I received was the fancy sounding "Exquisite Cookie Ensemble".  The names of each also sounded quite classy.  The cookies looked a lot like Pepperidge Farm or what you'd find in an airline lounge.  Not my style of cookies, not that I really like any cookies, but, hard, packaged cookies are certainly at the bottom of the barrel for me.  Still, I tried them.  For you, dear readers.

They ranged from highly mediocre to quasi acceptable.

Clockwise, from top left:
Symphony
"Rich crispy cookie dipped in milk chocolate decorated with fine dark chocolate drizzle". 
The cookie was more like a graham cracker, a dark color, not shortbread like the others.  But crispy.  The chocolate coating was ok.
Jamaica
"Crispy thin pastry covered with chocolate and coconut flakes".
A very thin, boring shortbread style cookie.  Chocolate coating was ok,  I liked the crunch from coconut, but, quite boring.
Celebration
"Rich hazelnut cream cookie covered with fine chocolate and dark chocolate decoration."
I know I tried all the cookies, but, I seem to have lost my notes for this one.

Venice
"A crunchy indulgence, crispy shortbread covered in luscious dark chocolate and sprinkled with nut brittle" .
The cookie itself was again quite boring, the chocolate mediocre, but I did like the crunch from the nuts.  My second favorite.

Balena
"Rich shortbread cookie with both ends dipped in smooth dark chocolate".
Basic shortbread cookie, not very buttery, soft.  The ends and bottom were coated in chocolate, it seemed more like milk than dark to me, but they say it was dark chocolate.  Not interesting.
Madeleine
"Fine biscuit enrobed on both sides with milk chocolate and fine dark chocolate decoration"
This biscuit itself was a darker color than any others, almost looking like it should be a chocolate biscuit, but it didn't really taste chocolate.  It had some texture to it, that was interesting, but, no real flavor to this.
Duet
"Round sunny biscuit enrobed in super-fine dark chocolate". 
Surprisingly good.  I have no idea what a "sunny biscuit" is, but, it was better than the dark "crispy cookie" and shortbreads.  My favorite.
Casanova
"Crispy fingers dipped in dark chocolate and decorated with white chocolate drizzle". 
Just a crispy cookie, mediocre chocolate, nothing interesting here besides the shape.
Melody
"Rich crispy cookie dipped in dark chocolate decorated with fine milk chocolate drizzle".
Just like Symphony, a crispy dark cookie, just with dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate.  I liked this slightly more due to the dark chocolate.

Concorde
"Crispy wafer filled with milk chocolate cream".
This was the one I expected to love, since I like wafer cookies.  But, the wafers weren't particularly good, and chocolate cream wasn't creamy.

              Nuts

              The Good & Delish line has a slew of packaged nuts, ranging from basic roasted nuts (cashews, macadamias, pecans, almonds, pistachios, or mixed in several varieties), to chocolate covered nut "Gems", to coated nuts. 
              Assorted Nuts.
              I luckily received the candied nuts and the chocolate coated ones - yes!  Exactly what I would of picked, rather than just plain roasted ones.

              We had mixed success with these.
              Milk Chocolate Cashews.
              "Roasted cashews drenched in real chocolate"

              These were exactly what they claimed to be.  Whole cashews, fine cashews, but just cashews, smothered in milk chocolate.  The nuts were fine, although a bit bitter.  The chocolate was fine, but very basic milk chocolate.  The ratio of chocolate to nut seemed way off to me, as I mostly just tasted chocolate, but I think that is what they were aiming for?  There were some pieces that I actually questioned if they even had a nut in them, as all I tasted was the mediocre milk chocolate.

              I don't tend to really like cashews however, and just wanted them to be just about any other nut.  Nothing wrong with these, for sure, but to me, meh.  Other guests I offered these to slowly nibbled on them over time, but, no one raved about them.
              Praline Pecans.
              The praline pecans were the ones I was most excited for.  I love pecans.  I love praline ... butter and sugar?  Yes!  The bottle even proclaimed "made with real butter".

              The nuts were mostly halves, although there were some chunks.  All generously coated.  I eagerly bit into the first one.

              Eww.  I can't explain what was wrong with these.  I really, really didn't like them.  I tried several, just to make sure I wasn't going crazy.  They tasted more like walnuts than pecans, but, they were obviously pecans.  They had a strange bitterness to them.  They tasted ... not burnt exactly, and not stale exactly, but almost rotten?  I really don't know how to explain it.  The sugar coating, was generous, but didn't save them.

              My notes said very clearly: "Wow.  Do not want more of these."  Nor did anyone else I offered them to.  I even brought them to my office, where they went unconsumed.  That NEVER happens!
              Dark Chocolate Almonds Sea Salt & Turbinado Sugar.
              I saved the best for last, unknowingly.  These were the winner of the batch, and actually good.

              Almonds, coated in dark chocolate and a sugary, crunchy, candied coating.  I liked how crunchy they were, and the dark chocolate was more complex than the milk chocolate on the cashews.  The ratio of chocolate to nut was also better than with the cashews; the chocolate accented the nuts, but didn't overwhelm.

              I would have preferred more salt however, but for those who aren't used to salt with their chocolate, I could see this being a good intro.  For me, I had to eat a whole handful at a time to really taste the salt, a single nut didn't have enough.

              We easily finished off the jar of these.

              Candy

              And finally, some candy.  I received only a single candy item.  It was not good.
              Greek Style Yogurt Fruit Chews.
              Fruit chews.  These sounded promising, although I was a bit skeptical of the "Greek Style Yogurt" part.

              The chews came in 5 flavors: cherry, blueberry, green apple, banana, and pineapple, each individually wrapped in plastic.  Plastic is a theme here, as it is all they tasted like.  You could smell the flavors, particularly the blueberry, but in terms of taste, there was nothing besides plastic.  Perhaps sweet plastic, but plastic nonetheless.

              The chew quality was decent, like a soft taffy, but, I really didn't like these.  Others were intrigued by them, and went back for a second or third try, saying they almost liked them, but in the end, no one was thrilled with them.
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