Friday, January 18, 2019

Pop-Smile Popcorn from Taiwan

Yes, I love snacks, I love popcorn, I love trying unique things from around the world.  Like, Pop-Smile popcorn, from Taiwan.  Have I been to Taiwan?  Nope.  But our monthly snack box subscription featured exactly one item from Pop-Smile, and I was thrilled to try it.
"Established in 2006, Taiwan Smile Food has became one of leading manufacturer in Asia.  By using premium raw materials and non-GMO corn, we have already developed nearby 100 irresistible flavors and export to worldwide customers."
Taiwan Smile Foods carries products under their own brand, Pop-Smile, but they also produce for private labels, including even 7-11 and Costco in Taiwan.
Bagged Popcorn.
Our item was a signature item from Pop-Smile: pocorn!

Pop-Smile produces popcorn in a variety of formats, such as big buckets, boxes, stand up bags, standard bags, and even individual cups.  They make oil popped and air popped varieties.    They carry common flavors like salted, butter, caramel, cheddar, and kettle.  Slight interesting sweet options like chocolate, strawberry, or hazelnut chocolate.  Savory such as seaweed, chili cheese, sour cream & onion, hot & spicy.  Premium options like Peanut Butter Chocolate, White Chocolate with Strawberry Sprinkle, Caramel Pretzel, Rocky Road, and Salted Caramel.  And then ... unique flavors such as cafe latte or caramel macchiato, banana, grape, or mango, coconut milk, sesame milk, or bubble tea, and ... um kimchi, wasabi, tomato, tom yam, curry, corn soup, garlic shrimp .... I think you get my point.

Um, yeah.  Milk tea popcorn?  Tom yam popcorn?  I was fascinated.  Our box had a pretty fascinating flavor picked out for us: Sweet Egg Yolk, provided in a little bag.

I couldn't wait to try it.
Sweet Egg Yolk Flavored Popcorn.
Egg yolk, as a sweet item, is mostly known to us in the US only as a base for custards and rich pudding or ice cream, not as the featured core flavor.  But in Asian countries, egg yolk shows up in  many more forms, such as the places I've seen it before, inside moon cakes.  But on popcorn?  This was a first for me.

It was really, really unique.  Certainly not "eggy", but it did taste strongly of egg yolk, like shaved, cured egg yolk I've had on top of dishes at higher end restaurants trying to innovate.  It was fascinating.  

The kernels were really well coated, sooo much flavor to them.  They were savory, but also quite sweet, as sugar is the third ingredient, after the corn itself, and oil is is popped in.  They also had a cheese power and soy sauce in the coating, adding to the savory element, and MSG to keep me going back for more.

I think I really liked this.  We needed a bigger bag!
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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Castronovo Chocolate

Castronovo is a luxury, small batch, chocolatier based in Florida.  The product range includes a few other chocolate based items, such as caramel pralines, or chocolate honey, but for the most part, they keep it simple: bars only, no mix-ins, single origin.  They make a number of award winning chocolates.  

I tried a bar when a friend brought it to our office.  It wasn't the variety I'd select on my own (100%) but it was fun to try, and I can see the quality behind it.  I'd gladly try another of their dark (but 100%!) chocolates, or even their white chocolate, as they seem to take that seriously too.
Honduras Lost City 100%.
I couldn't find out much about this bar, as it is not listed anywhere on their website, clearly a small batch item (although the Honduras 72% is available).

So I just dug in.

I was shocked by how smooth it was, particularly for a dark chocolate.  No grit to it, just incredibly, incredibly smooth.  The mouthfeel was lovely.

And the flavor?  Well, intense.  It is a 100% bar after all.  Bitter, bold, deep flavor.  I detected notes that almost reminded me of something a bit burnt, but not entirely unpleasant.

I enjoy trying 100% bars, and this one was certainly one of the most smooth I've ever tried, but 100% is not my goto chocolate ...
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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

QF 74, SFO-SYD

Flight Details:
  • Flight QF74, SFO-SYD
  • Aircraft: 747-400
  • Departure: 8:35pm (scheduled)
  • Arrival: 6:10am (scheduled)
  • Seat: 5J

Cabin & Seat

I like the Qantas seat, for sitting, more than most.  Lots of adjustments you can make, to recline, leg rests, etc. I found it pretty easy to find a comfortable seated position.

For dining too, it isn't bad.  The tray table slides in reasonably close.

That said, the seats have very, very little storage or usable space, besides a water bottle holder.  Or, at least, most of them have very little.

For sleeping though, it was fairly awful.  The style that slides flat, but doesn't have structural support at the foot, and, being an older aircraft, it wasn't capable of staying straight any longer.  Flat, but very sloped.  It was also rock solid, with a very very thin pad provided for sleeping, no real mattress.  And it was fairly narrow.  So for sleep, one of my least favorites.

So, great seat for awake time, horrible for sleep.
Main Business Cabin.
The main business cabin is quite large, a 2-3-2 layout, fairly old school in that it doesn't have direct aisle access for all guests.  The smaller mini cabin in front where first class used to be looked more intimate, but still, seats all in pairs.

There is also an upper deck cabin, with better storage space at window seats, but again, all pairs of seats.

Besides the window seats on the upper deck, the seats have essentially no in-seat storage, besides a well under the seat in front of them where you can put your shoes, and a small magazine rack.
5J: Exit Row.
But there are two special seats on this aircraft, the window seats in row 5.  This is the area where the old first class and business class meet, and also, where the emergency exits are.

The seats are unique in many ways. For one, well, they have all the legroom in the world, due to the emergency exit.  The crew member jumpseat is in this area during takeoff and landing, but otherwise, its just wide open.

Note that the bathrooms are all to the rear of the cabin, as is the galley, so there is no foot traffic nor people congregating in this area either, in front of it is just the smaller mini cabin.
5J: Storage!
But more importantly, these seats are ... singles.  Yes, there are exactly two single seats on the entire aircraft.  And instead of a neighbor, you get storage space, a huge compartment that latches, and a large second compartment that is open.

While these seats do not have a foot well to store your shoes, and they would be even better if the seat was adjacent to the window instead of the aisle, they really are fantastic if you are traveling alone and do not wish to be sleeping next to a stranger, and, if like me, you want to keep stuff at your seat.  I really appreciated the space (and privacy).

 Amenities & Service

A pillow and blanket were waiting at our seats, with a very thin cover already on as a "mattress".  Definitely the thinnest mattress pad I've seen in years.  The blanket was a decent size, but thin and scratchy.  And the single pillow was a surprise, I thought most airlines gave two these days.  The bedding was highly lackluster.  Minus some points here.

Welcome drink of champagne, orange juice, or still water only.  I asked for sparkling water and was denied.
Women's Amenity Kit.
Amenity kits and pajamas handed out as we settled in, featuring a colorful design of fairy bread, which I'm sure was lost on many travelers unfamiliar with this classic Australian treat.

Pajamas the same for all, amenity kits specialized for men and women.  Size Medium and Large only were offered for pajamas, with a basic long sleeve t-shirt and lightweight cotton pants.  The pajamas were comfortable enough, soft, but the pants lack pockets so are never worth keeping for me.
Amenity Kit Contents.
Amenity kits had the basics, ear plugs, an eye mask to match the case, toothbrush, Aspar lotion and lip balm.  Nothing special.

Cuisine

Since this was a later evening departure, the meal served was super, not a full dinner, with real appetizer course.  Breakfast was served prior to landing.
Dinner Menu.
Dinner menus were waiting at the seats, although I had already pre-ordered my selection a week in advance.  I didn't want to miss out on my first choice!  Orders were confirmed, and taken for those who hadn't pre-ordered, about 20 minutes into the flight.

The first two options (cheese or soup) are listed as the "Sleep Sooner" items, served as soon as possible, so you can go to bed right away.

Main
  • Selection of cheese served with accompaniments.
  • Tomato and basil soup with crème fraîche. 'A robust soup made from ripe tomatoes which have been roasted to deepen the flavour of the soup, garnished with basil and crème fraîche. This dish is best enjoyed with a glass of light bodied white ie Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc."
  • Warm salad of mushrooms with sweet potato noodles, fried eschalots and ground roast rice. "Assorted mushroom varieties are stir fried with sweet potato noodles, carrot, baby spinach, capsicum and SESAME then presented on Romaine lettuce leaves that are dressed in a lime and coriander vinaigrette. Garnished with crispy eschalots, roasted rice and fresh herbs. This dish is best enjoyed with a glass of light bodied red ie Pinot Noir."
  • Toasted Reuben sandwich on rye with sauerkraut. "A classic New York recipe of rye bread layered with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Dijon mustard. Toasted and served warm. This dish is best enjoyed with a glass of medium bodied red ie GSM."
  • Seared salmon with potato purée, broccolini, leek, broad beans and romesco sauce. "Pan seared steelhead salmon is served with a creamy mashed potato, leeks braised in butter and bay leaves with broad beans and asparagus spears. Topped with a Catalan inspired romesco sauce made from roasted capsicum, tomato, chilli, HAZELNUTS, ALMONDS and extra virgin olive oil. This dish is best enjoyed with a glass of full bodied white ie Chardonnay."
  • Malay style chicken and green bean sambal with steamed rice, coriander, and crispy eschalots.
Green leaf salad with Neil's vinaigrette.

To Finish:
  • Selection of cheese served with accompaniments
  • Baked chocolate, almond, and coffee tart with date cream
  • Ice cream
  • Seasonal fruit
  • Chocolates
Mid-Flight
  • Smoked leg ham, swiss cheese, tomato and rocket sandwich
  • Bacon and egg tart with slow roasted tomato and caramelized onion relish
  • Whole seasonal fruit
  • Oat cookie with chocolate ganache
  • Boulder Canyon kettle chips
  • Chocolate bars
Nothing particularly exciting, although the bacon and egg tart, available anytime, did sound interesting, or, at least, the slow roasted tomato and caramelized onion relish did!

The dessert line up made me particularly said, since I didn't want caffeine before trying to sleep on the flight, and the one real dessert item had not only chocolate, but coffee too.  Darn, because the date cream sounded good!  Ice cream on flights is always enjoyable, but I knew Qantas serves only vanilla, no toppings, and just Häagen-Dazs.  Luckily, I came prepared ... more on that soon.

The back of the menu listed the drink lineup, basic spirits, beer, "Australian wine" with no details given, "soft drinks" (again, no details, not even what brand), "juice" (yup, no details).  I was a bit annoyed that they didn't even list the brand of soft drinks?

The wine and food were mediocre.
Chardonnay, Shiraz, Sparkling Water.
Wine was served from a cart 45 minutes into the flight, along with an offer of the salad with vinaigrette and two types of bread. Two whites (chardonnay, sauvignon blanc) and two reds (Shiraz, something else). My FA was very clear that the shiraz was the winning wine of the night.

I skipped the salad and bread since I had eaten a fair amount in the lounges, but did ask to try both a white and red wine, opting for the chardonnay at her suggestion since it was less acidic, and of course, that shiraz).

The chardonnay was ... fine?  It was a little bit apple cider tasting, and not particularly buttery as I hoped.  But, it wasn't acidic, and that is what I asked for.  It made me miss Air New Zealand wines.

The shiraz was served really, really cold.  As cold as the white wine.  I was glad to have the white to sip on while I waited for it to warm up a bit and open up.  Once it did, it actually was big and bold, and not really my style.  Again, I missed the Air New Zealand wines.
Warm salad of mushrooms with sweet potato noodles, fried eschalots and ground roast rice. 
"Assorted mushroom varieties are stir fried with sweet potato noodles, carrot, baby spinach, capsicum and SESAME then presented on Romaine lettuce leaves that are dressed in a lime and coriander vinaigrette. Garnished with crispy eschalots, roasted rice and fresh herbs. This dish is best enjoyed with a glass of light bodied red ie Pinot Noir."

I had no idea really what to expect with this dish.  But, I love interesting mushrooms, and the crispy eschalots and roasted rice did sound interesting.  The sweet potato noodles and lettuce though, I wasn't particularly sure about.  Since I ate in the lounges and just wanted something light, I figured this would be fine, if I hated it, I'd at least eat a few vegetables.

It was somewhat what I expected, although, I was sad that the mushroom certainly did not play a staring roll.  There were mushrooms, sure, but they were not the focus of the dish.

The romaine lettuce base was decently crispy, but it was very irregularly dressed, some pieces were coated in the viniagrette, others were fairly bare.  There was also fresh herbs in the mix, mint which I liked, but then also tons of parsley.  Too much parsley.  So, fairly sloppy construction.

Above the lettuce was the sweet potato noodles and stir fried vegetables.  I didn't really care for the noodles, soft, slimy things.  The baby spinach and capsicum were negligible but added good flavor.  I didn't detect the carrots nor sesame.  The mushrooms though ... while more dominant than the other veggies, were certainly lost among all the noodles and lettuce.  I did like what I found, slices of meaty mushrooms, and some slimy enoki.  But, there wasn't nearly as much as I wanted.

On top was delicious crispy eshalots, that I gladly would have taken more of.  In fact, I added some wasabi peas from the lounge on top to give it more crunch.  I have no idea where the roasted rice was, I certainly didn't find that.

Overall, this was fine, but not great.  I didn't really care for the noodles, I wished for more mushrooms, and I wanted a different dressing, perhaps something soy based, or sweet chili, or even creamy.

Eh.
Vanilla Ice Cream.
As I mentioned, the dessert lineup was particularly sad for dessert loving me, just a caffeinated tart, or plain ice cream.
Always Prepared!
But I knew this, and I came prepared.  With toppings for the ice cream.  Yes, I carry them in pill bags.  My drug of choice.

I brought lots of toppings: candied walnuts, sprinkles, white chocolate chips, crunchies.
Sundae!
This was much better, but it was still just mediocre plain vanilla ice cream.
Baked chocolate, almond, and coffee tart with date cream.
I also accidentally ordered the tart.  I was asking for a chocolate "bar", to keep for morning to have alongside my coffee (such a good pairing! I do this every day!), and got the tart instead.  Oops?

I thought the date cream would be great to add to my sundae though, but, alas, it was awful.  The texture was really odd, it was strangely grainy, and I didn't like the flavor.

The tart shell was super sweet and a hard style.  Not buttery really, not shortbread, just, hard sweet tart shell. Eh.

I stashed the tart away to have alongside coffee in the morning, which, I gleefully did.  The chocolate layer was basically a thick, smooth ganache,  I did not taste almond nor coffee, and the actual packaging said "Chocolate wattleseed tart", not "Chocolate, almond, coffee tart", so I'm wondering if it indeed wasn't the almond coffee one.

Either way, the ganache was good, thick, rich, chocolately, but this wasn't a particularly remarkable item.
Breakfast Order Card.
Breakfast order cards collected while still on the ground.  I appreciate the increased sleep time by pre-ordering, but I always struggle with deciding what I'll want that far in advance.  Maybe I *would* be in the mood for cereal or yogurt?

The menu was the same as my previous Qantas flights, with continental selections of muesli, fruit, yogurt, toast, croissants, and a breakfast pastry (apple crumble danish this time), and three hot items, two egg based, one hot carbs.  You can also choose to not be woken at all, no express option offered this time.

Drinks
  • Orange juice
  • Apple juice
  • Pressed juicery cold pressed green juice with celery, cucumber, kale, parsley, and ginger
  • Coffee and decaffeinated coffee
  • Hot chocolate
  • Dilmah Tea (Jasmine green, peppermint, oolong, chamomile, earl gray, ceylon ginger, english breakfast)
Continental Breakfast
  • Fruit salad
  • Yoghurt
  • Brookfarm macadamia toasted muesli with cranberries (with low fat or full cream milk)
  • Toast
  • Croissant
  • Apple crumble danish
  • Berry jam, marmalade, honey, vegemite.
Full Breakfast
  • Free range scrambled eggs with Applewood bacon, pork sausage, and roast tomatoes.
  • English muffin with smoked salmon, poached eggs, baby spinach, and chive sour cream.
  • Ricotta pancakes with caramelised berries and maple syrup cream.
Breakfast Tray: Pancakes, Danish, Coffee.
Since the flight was schedule to land at 6:10am, and I hadn't been really into any Qantas breakfast items before, I opted for just a danish and pancakes, to try them out of curiosity, but planned to have real breakfast on the ground.

Breakfast was served just over 2 hours away from Sydney, starting at the back of the cabin, so I had plenty of time from when the lights went on to when I was served to go put in contacts and stretch a bit.

Coffee:
The regular coffee was very watery.  It wasn't bitter at least, but it also just tasted like nothing.  In the bottom of my cup was sludge.

I moved on to decaf, and it was clearly instant, tasted stale, and not really like coffee.

Note to self: bring my own coffee in the future, or just wait until I land.
Apple Crumble Danish.
I knew not to expect a quality baked good on the flight.  The danish was decent enough.  Served warm, which I appreciated.

The pastry wasn't fresh, flaky, buttery, amazing croissant dough or anything, but it was sweet, not stale, not dried out.  On top was a bit of cream, and thin sliced apples, with plenty of cinnamon.  I didn't find the "crumble", and I didn't actually want apples, but the pastry and cream, plus the toppings from the pancakes, made an excellent treat alongside my tart.
Ricotta pancakes with caramelised berries and maple syrup cream.
The pancakes themselves were not very hot, hard around the edges, not fluffy, and basically, what you'd expect from thin reheated pancakes.  They did have a decent base flavor, but, eh.

The berries were tasty though, sweet stewed little blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries.  Warm, sweet fruit.

And then, the cream.  It wasn't whipped cream as I was expecting, it was a thicker, clotted style cream, a bit of a strange consistency, and not really "maple" as advertised, although it was sweet.  I didn't love it, but I did like it, particularly with the fruit and pastry and ganache.

So, in the end, I had pastry + warm stewed fruit + cream + ganache tart, and enjoyed it enough.  Nothing was great, but it got me through the morning.
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Monday, January 14, 2019

Harry & David

Update Review: Holiday Season 2018-2019

Another year, more gift boxes from Harry & David (previous reviews here).

This year, along with more and more Moose Munch (yes!), I got to try a few chocolate items, and finally, the signature, famous pears.

The Moose Munch remains my favorite.
Milk Chocolate / Coffee / Cherry Truffles (front row)
Raspberry (back row). 
"There's nothing quite like biting into the creamy center of a premium quality gourmet chocolate truffle. We've been using our signature truffle recipe for over 30 years, and it hasn't changed for a reason. Made in our candy kitchen in Southern Oregon using a proprietary blend of chocolate, these exquisite treats come in an array of flavors, like milk chocolate, white coffee, and dark chocolate cherry. Timeless and delicious, these silky truffles are a chocolate lover's dream."

I tried the "Cherry", hoping it was going to have a juicy cherry inside, but alas, it was just a dark chocolate shell, drizzled with red white chocolate, with a mildly cherry flavored dark chocolate ganache inside.

The ganache was smooth, the entire thing was fine, but the cherry flavor wasn't that pronounced, and the dark chocolate shell didn't seem particularly high quality.
Peppermint Bark: Top View.
"Dark chocolate, white chocolate, and candy canes collide in this legendary peppermint treat."

The peppermint in the peppermint bark comes solely in the form of crushed candy canes, covering the entire top of the confection.  I did not detect any peppermint flavor in either of the chocolate layers, only the topping.

The mint was intense though, but the flavor not any more interesting than your standard candy cane.
Peppermint Bark: Side View.
"Creamy white chocolate layered over rich dark chocolate and topped with crushed peppermint candy is a delightful old-fashioned sweet indulgence. This will quickly become a favorite among candy gifts."

From the side you can see the other components, the dark and white chocolate.  Both were fine, smooth, creamy.  I wanted to taste more dark chocolate however, I found the amount at the base fairly minimal, and not as ... chocolatey as I wished.

So overall, a fairly boring peppermint bark for me really, the mint just candy canes, the chocolate didn't quite deliver either.  But non-offensive.
Royal Riviera™ Pears.
"The pears that started it all. Our founders, Harry and David, called these pears "so big and juicy, you eat them with a spoon®." That was 80 years ago, when the brothers started selling Southern Oregon-grown Royal Riviera® Pears as gourmet gifts. Royal Riviera® Pears are delicate and require warm days and cool nights to grow, making Southern Oregon ideal for cultivating this famous fruit. The sweet flavor, buttery texture, and extreme juiciness of these pears are what make them so delicious. Every one is handpicked and packed to arrive at your door in perfect condition.

It's a time-honored tradition for families to decide who gets to enjoy the gold-wrapped pear when they receive a box of our famous fruit."

I finally got a chance to try the very famous pears, even though, um, pears were not exciting to me in any way.

Every box of Harry & David pears comes with a single pear wrapped in gold foil.  It is their signature thing.  It creates an element of uniqueness of that one pear.  Who gets it?  Of course I did.
Magical Gold Pear?
"Expertly grown and handpicked, these premium pears have a soft, buttery flesh that's so sweet, you might want to save them for dessert."

I unwrapped my gold fruit.  It ... looked like a pear.  It looked just like any other pear.

It tasted ... like a pear.  Like any old pear.  It was a bit beat up, which certainly didn't help make it seem special.  It was a bit mushy.

Sorry, this pear was not magical to me in any way.  I'll stick with the Moose Munch.
Moose Munch® Premium Popcorn - Milk Chocolate (January 2019).
A year later, it was time for another gift basket from Harry & David, and this time, I knew I wanted to snatch up the Moose Munch.  Again we had the same milk chocolate variety as the year before.

I'll just warn you now.  This stuff is dangerous.  While the caramel bits are just *too* sweet to eat by more than one handful at a time, I found it way too easy (as in, oops, it happened) to eat every single piece of chocolate coated popcorn and every single candied nut in a single sitting.  Note that this bag was listed as 7 servings, each fairly indulgent.  Ooops.

But I really love the milk chocolate coated pieces.  The milk chocolate is creamy and smooth, a really good quality chocolate.  And the nuts, while not many in the bag, just kept me hunting for more.  I appreciated that there were almonds and cashews in here, not just standard peanuts.  Some of the nuts were caramelized, some chocolate coated, some on their own, others attached in clusters.  I sought them all out, just like when eating a bag of Chex mix, when you decide you want all of one particular item.  That was me and these nuts, and, the chocolate coated pieces.

The caramel pieces were good to sneak a few of in alongside my coveted items, but, once the other things were gone, I was left with a bag of seriously rich, seriously sweet, seriously indulgent popcorn that was just a bit too much to handle. 

Original Review, Holidays 2017-2018

Harry & David is a "gourmet gift" producer, whose products are generally sold via mail order or online, although they also have a handful of retail stores.  They mostly sell gift baskets, fruits, and chocolates.  Not exactly things I'm generally in the market for, yet sometime show up on my doorstep.

Their signature item is "Moose Munch" popcorn.  
"Moose Munch® Popcorn is not your average caramel popcorn. We pay attention to every single detail of our secret recipe. Right down to the way the popcorn looks and sticks together. We make over five million pounds a year. "
Now, 5 million pounds of anything is a lot, but particularly of a lightweight item!  Moose Munch® comes in a zillion flavors, like simple milk or dark chocolate, exotic banana coconut and apricot mango, and even some sugar free versions.  A flavor for everyone.

Harry & David leads the gift basket industry, so every year, I get to try various products when others bring in their gift basket discards to the office (one man's trash is ... my treasure!).  I often fail to write them up usually, as the products are usually already open, or I just grab a snack as I run between meetings.

But I finally got to try the coveted "Mouse Munch", thus, a proper review is in order.

Moose Munch

"Inspired by the Pacific Northwest, Moose Munch® Premium Popcorn is the anytime snack that’s almost too good to share. Carefully made in small batches in our own candy kitchen using real butter, creamy caramel, and crunchy nuts, it took over 160 tries to perfect our special recipe. Add our proprietary blend of chocolate to the mix and you have a snack made in heaven. Enjoy handful after handful during an evening in, or take along for an on-the-go boost of energy when you’re out on your next adventure. 
While you’ll want to keep it all for yourself, Moose Munch® Premium Popcorn is a great snack to share with a buddy, and it makes a delicious gift for fans of chocolate-covered popcorn and caramel popcorn alike. And with a wide array of flavors to choose from, there’s plenty to go around. Chocolate-lovers will rejoice over the many milk, dark, and white chocolate-covered varieties, while other snackers will love inventive flavors like peanut butter, orange crème, cherry vanilla, and more. There are even a fat-free and sugar-free versions."
Moose Munch is not just a popcorn.  Harry & David have build an entire product range around it.  Yes, you can get the popcorn in a variety of flavors, you can get it as part of many different gift packs, etc, but they have also turned it into cheesecake, and even flavored coffee, along with assorted Moose Munch branded gear, featuring the signature moose head (his name is Jasper, apparently). 

Interesting ...
Moose Munch® Premium Popcorn - Milk Chocolate. (December 2017)
"Our milk chocolate Moose Munch® Gourmet Popcorn is the perfect mix of sweet milk chocolate, buttery caramel, and crunchy nuts."

"Popcorn, almonds, and cashews covered in caramel and milk chocolate."

Given my love for popcorn, and caramel corn in particular, it is no surprise that I was excited to try Harry & David's signature "Moose Munch".  The standard Moose Munch is just caramel corn with candied nuts, but I tried the milk chocolate version, with milk chocolate covered pieces in the mix as well.

It was certainly decadent caramel corn.  No piece was left uncoated, no piece even moderately coated, each and every piece was intensely sweet.  I can't imagine eating just a bag of this caramel corn actually, it was just too much.  Good, but, wow, it needed some less coated pieces in order to temper it.

The milk chocolate pieces were great though.  Good quality chocolate, and again, really well coated.  The chocolate did help counter the sweet caramel pieces.

I found myself seeking out more and more of the chocolate pieces, but there were substantially fewer of them than the caramel ones.

The candied nuts were good for a bit of crunch now and then, but, again, there weren't many of them.

Overall, I enjoyed it along side a cup of bitter coffee, but, I think it would be better with some more plain pieces in the mix.
Moose Munch® Milk Chocolate Bar (August 2014).
"Moose Munch bars are crafted from a rich, smooth fudgy center, plus their signature snake - fluffy white popcorn, buttery caramel and crisp nuts all dipped in decadent milk chocolate."

"Signature snake"?  I do not know this term, but it is on all of their marketing, so I don't think it is a typo.
Cross section.
This one deserves a peak inside.

Every bite was loaded up with goodies: popcorn, nuts, caramel.  The caramel was sweet and very creamy, it almost tasted like really smooth peanut butter at times.  The nuts added a great crunch, and the popcorn ... was, well, popcorn inside my chocolate, a bit strange, but, it worked better than I expected.  It was much better than popcorn inside of other items, like inside the Circus Cookie from Goody Goodie, although it was still a bit strange to have a soft bite inside the bar.  The milk chocolate was smooth and creamy.

Overall, pretty tasty, a bunch of ingredients you don't necessarily expect together, but, I liked it.  The tasting club didn't get to try this one!

Other Treats

While Moose Munch is Harry & David's signature item, they carry a vast array of products, ranging from fresh fruit, to cheesecakes, and everything in-between.
Peppermint Tree Shaped Yogurt Pretzels  (January 2019).
"The festive meter instantly rises when this pretzel-packed bounty shows up. Premium, yogurt-covered pretzels in the shapes of Christmas trees abound. Crushed peppermint pieces have been sprinkled on the trees for added effect—and amazing flavor."

I tried these at a time when I was really on a yogurt (or white chocolate) pretzel kick.  I was randomly really loving nearly every coated pretzel I put in my mouth.  Crunchy, salty, creamy, sweet ... just loving them.  I'll admit they were often a morning indulgence alongside a cup of coffee.

So I was eager to try these minty trees when a co-worker gave up their Harry & David bounty.  First thing I grabbed.

However they were ... boring?

The coating was flavorless, slightly sweet, but mostly just waxy.  The pretzels themselves not particularly compelling either - slightly stale tasting, even though this was a fresh bag of snacks, opened right then, not old in any way.  The crushed peppermint was basically the only interesting part.

Sad, I thought I was not discriminating in my coated pretzel love at the time, but, it turns out, these were just too mediocre to be excited about.
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