Monday, February 23, 2009

Taste the Rainbow...of Chocolate?

Yes! My first sugar challenge! One of my best friends, Holly, just sent me this email:

A challenge for you: the Chocolate Skittle! I am not making this up! Swear to God--I saw them in a gas station. So--Maura--the challenge has been set: how do you feel about Chocolate Skittles?!?! Happy tasting, H.

The gauntlet has officially been thrown. I have to say, I was excited. I am a fan of Skittles (surprise) and had been curious to try the new version since seeing a bag a few months ago. But yet I was also slightly apprehensive. Although the combination of fruit and chocolate can be quite delicious (chocolate-covered strawberries, for example), the idea of artificially flavored fruit and chocolate candies? But then I took a look at the flavors available in the bag: S'Mores, Vanilla (isn't that the opposite of chocolate?), Chocolate Caramel, Chocolate Pudding, and Brownie Batter. Sound yummy! No fruit involved, then?

My thoughts...
the smell upon opening the bag was, well, stinky. Not necessarily bad but not exactly appetizing. A definite waft of something not naturally chocolate. And I don't know if I bought an expired bag, but the candies were extremely hard and brittle--very difficult to chew. The original Skittle has a nice, thin, crunchy shell that gives way to a soft chewy inside. Not the case with the Chocolate Mix. I had to sort of suck on each one for a few seconds before being able to bite into it.

S'Mores: I could taste the marshmallow and a hint of graham cracker (I think) but, oddly enough, it wasn't overly chocolatey. Despite this, still yummy.
Vanilla: Pretty good. Tasted like vanilla (well, maybe not natural vanilla) and the aftertaste was strong (in an enjoyable way).
Chocolate Caramel: There was a slight caramel aftertaste, but it tasted mostly like faux-chocolate.
Chocolate Pudding: I found it unsettling that it had a mildly fruity quality to it, at least at first. I don't eat pudding all that much, so I'm not sure I could make a fair comparison. It didn't remind me of a spoonful of pudding, though. But it was fairly good, nonetheless.
Brownie Batter: It might be the power of suggestion, but this flavor did seem to have a thicker, fudgey element to it. If you like darker chocolate, you'd probably enjoy it. I did.

In conclusion: it was difficult to distinguish significant differences between flavors (with the exception of the vanilla, which I guess is to be expected). I think I'd opt for Jelly Belly beans if I was in the mood to have dessert-flavored candies. The Chocolate Skittles are still tasty, though in end, I think I'd have to give them a: C+ (Thanks for introducing me to a new candy, Hol!)

(Suggestion to the folks at Mars: consider selling these as a separate brand. Consumers will have a difficult time disassociating the powerful fruitiness of Skittles from their chocolate counterparts--and I think this has an overall negative impact. We don't quite know what to expect because Skittles have been synonmous with fruity fun--the rainbow--for so long.)

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