December 24th, 2015: Snack Review: Vimto Sweets
Posted by Gravecat at 10:08 am under Snack Reviews. Comment?

Vimto sweets In lieu of anything more important to say — and largely because I have a significant stash of snacks nearby, taunting me to consume them — it’s time for another snack review, this time a plethora of Vimto sweets. Before I begin, full disclosure: I’d describe myself as quite the fan of Vimto, so I may be a little biased here. However, if you know you don’t like Vimto, then why the hell would you be buying and willingly consuming Vimto sweets?

First of all, the Vimto hard candy pictured at the top-left. Almost exactly the size and shape of the top joint of my index finger, this remarkably unremarkable sweet is pretty much exactly what you’d expect of it — no more and no less. It’s Vimto in solid form, and has a satisfying if entirely predictable flavour. For what it’s trying to be, it couldn’t possibly do a better job. Three thumbs up.

Secondly, the Vimto lollipop pictured, a similar yet not exactly identical formula, one which largely matches the expected flavour but also carries with it a slightly metallic aftertaste that I can’t quite explain. It’s acceptable enough — if a little on the small side — and while the ingredients label insists it’s made of the same thing as the hard candy, I’d insist that at least the quantities used are slightly different — or perhaps it was just a different batch.

The fortress-like pack of chewy sweets is next on the list, requiring a surprising amount of effort and a small pair of scissors to gain access to. I can’t shake the feeling that both the packet and individual sweets are smaller than comparable offerings such as Starburst, and as I unwrap the sweets, I’m vexed as they cling aggressively to the paper wrappers. While the hard candy and lolly were fairly long-lasting and matched the Vimto flavour adequately, the chewy sweets — which I expected to enjoy immensely — turned out to be a little disappointing. The flavour is adequate yet a little overwhelming, but the sweets themselves seem to dissolve away into a pulpy nothing with only a few chews, and this paragraph alone took about half the entire packet just to get a decent enough review.

Finally, the candy spray brought with it the most trepidation and lurking dread. The bottle size and shape bears a striking resemblance to cleaning fluids I’ve sprayed on my glasses, and part of me has dreadful mental images of a mis-translation, causing me to spray Vimto-scented anti-antiperspirant into my throat. This could only end badly, but I suffer for my readers, and so I risked it. The result was best described as anticlimactic bullshit, with a few tiny sprays of very strongly-flavoured vapor finding its way to my tongue before the entire thing ceased to work, further presses on the lid resulting in nothing, despite the bottle clearly being mostly full with fluid. I would describe the sensation as similar to vaping — which is to say, smoking an electronic cigarette — only a dozen times more vile, and without the pleasant nicotine accompaniment. For the love of all that is holy, please do not ever try this. My tongue tastes of ozone and regret.

Overall, I’d say my total experience with these Vimto sweets was mildly poor, but largely biased towards the negative by the atrocious “candy spray”. What the fuck, Vimto?

D: Poor


December 21st, 2015: Snack Review: Brain Blasterz Brain Cellz
Posted by Gravecat at 12:26 pm under Snack Reviews. Comment?

Brain Blasterz Brain Cellz Well, shit. It’s about time I got some more content for this blog, and under the guise of spending far too much money on assorted snacks from Asda, I’ve decided to kick things off with a continuation of my snack reviews series! As you may or may not know, I’m a notorious snack fiend, and I’m going to apply some of my expertise with snacks to these short reviews, covering some weird and obscure crap I find going cheap on supermarket shelves.

It was hard to resist the call of these “Brain Cellz” from Brain Blasterz, especially given their warning signs and taunting nature, informing me that they are “MEGA SOUR” and “NOT FOR · BABIES”. I had to check to be sure, but I’m fairly certain I’m too old to be considered a baby, so with some apprehension, I dove right in.

The first thing to note is that the “cellz” pictured on the packet do not actually match the reality by any stretch of the imagination. What looks to be vividly-inked, somewhat porous lumps actually turn out to be pastel-coloured offerings which I’d describe loosely as fat, square Skittles, with an inoffensive and ever-so-vague fruity scent. The “assorted fruit flavour” turns out to be five distinct shades — baby blue (I counted six of these), washed-out pastel green (four), an uninteresting shade of pale maroon (three), an unremarkable tangerine orange hue (three) and a fairly typical banana yellow (five). The reality of likely disappointment already strong, I decided it was time to plough on and get these cheap-looking candies up in my chomper.

Starting with the purple-ish shade (because reasons), the first thing I noticed is that they’re not nearly as solid and crunchy as I’d expect, instead offering a thin, sugary shell around a remarkably soft and slightly chewy innard. The initial flavour is sweet, chemical candy fruit, followed by what I can only assume is the apparent “mega sour” burst a moment later, something that’s honestly no more or less mouth-puckering than Skittles Crazy Sours or similar. I couldn’t honestly tell you what fruit the purple was supposed to be, but I’d guess it was perhaps trying to be sour cherry. Disappointing yet not unpleasant. I moved onto the orange-hued offerings next.

The first thing I noticed about the orange variety is that the level of sourness is significantly higher — perhaps not necessitating the yellow-and-black hazard stripes, but enough to make me feel like I’ve gotten an adequate dose of sourness amidst the sweet, faux-orange fruit flavour. The second thing I noticed was the lingering taste of plastic that accompanied the orange.

On to the blue, and perhaps I’d chosen the correct order of progression, because the sourness is really kicking up a notch here. Still nothing that’d get the police coming around to your house at five in the morning, but it’s something. The flavour is again indeterminate, possibly blue raspberry, and largely overpowered by the sugary taste and heavy dose of sourness. There’s another strange aftertaste to the blue sweets that lingers at the sides of the tongue, something that tastes distinctly chemical and not particularly pleasant. Thus far, the blues are the only offering that I could consider worthy of the “MEGA SOUR” claim, though the word “mega” as an adjective is forever tainted in my mind.

Yellow next, and we’re back to the territory of inoffensive blandness, these ones bearing a striking resemblance in flavour and mouth-feel to green Skittles — so similar, in fact, that I won’t even describe them further.

Finally, the greens seem to complete a full circle, offering a fairly pleasant artificial apple flavour (not too dissimilar from actual green apples) and a sourness about as significant as that of the purples, which is to say, it might make a newborn baby grimace and demand to speak to the manager.

Overall, I’d say Brain Cellz are pretty middling, but largely saved by their inexpensive price tag. They won’t be winning awards any time soon, but you could certainly do worse as far as sour sweets go.

C: Average


December 1st, 2015: Snack Review: Mr Simms Iron Brew Fudge
Posted by Gravecat at 12:53 am under Snack Reviews. Comment?

Alrighty, we are branching out here. Since this blog is largely just a place where I write whatever the hell seems like a good idea at the time, peppered with my usual sarcasm and cynicism about the world at large, I’ve decided my latest addition will be something I’ve actually considered doing a long time ago — snack reviews. Nobody knows snacks like me, and I figure it’s about time I put my snack-devouring skills to good use and throw up some reviews of various good eatin’s that I’ve recently found.

Some of you who remember my earlier blogs may recall that I once did a review series for energy drinks (and the oft-dreadful, thankfully now largely unheard-of “energy shots”), and I’ll likely be bringing those back too, all encompassed by this snack reviews category. So sit back, relax, and get ready to hear some opinions you never asked to hear, but I’m going to give them to you anyway.

I’m kicking this off with something fairly obscure, and likely UK-specific: Mr Simms is one of about three stores in central Liverpool (and I’m lead to believe they have stores in other towns too) which stocks extremely overpriced imported American sweets, extremely overpriced “hand made” offerings, and moderately overpriced regular sweets that you can find in just about any newsagents. Having been deeply displeased with a meal at Pret earlier, I’d decided to pick up some snacks to appease my grumpy mood. Among these offerings, I’d perused the hand-made fudge shelf for far longer than is generally necessary before picking out a couple of interesting flavours, including the one pictured to the left, already opened and with half of its contents devoured. “Iron Brew Fudge.” Note the spelling, this is important.

I picked these out of curiosity, because Irn Bru (the popular British soft drink once claimed to be “made in Scotland from girders”) and fudge are not two flavours I would expect to see together. And I’ve rambled on enough, so allow me to spare you the suspense and get straight to the point: each piece consists of a bi-coloured block, the brown part of which is just bog-standard fudge, and the orange part is the titular “Iron Brew” flavour. This seems a bit cheeky in itself, but such could easily be guessed by looking through the transparent packaging, so I can’t complain too much.

The brown, standard fudge parts are exactly what you’d expect of fairly decent, yet largely average fudge. Imagine fudge. Imagine you’re eating some right now. It’s got a bit stuck in that crack in your teeth, but it’s okay, because it’s just fudge. That’s pretty much what it tastes like.

The orange part does not taste like Irn Bru. The orange part tastes exactly like an Iron Brew, however — which is to say, it tastes like someone boiled up a handful of iron nails with the fudge, then threw in a gallon of orange food colouring just to make it more obvious. The distinctly metallic tang and lingering aftertaste is comparable to the mouth-flavours shortly after having dental work done by a moderately trained professional, sans the antiseptic mouthwash. Imagine that fudge that you were imagining eating before; now pretend someone sprinkled a few iron filings in there, but they’re so tiny that they don’t really hurt, they just leave a dissatisfying and oddly long-lingering aftertaste of metal. An iron brew, if you will.

What I’m trying to say here is that they’re terrible and you should never buy them. I regret every moment that lead me to that fateful decision. Their one saving grace is that the ordinary-fudge part is fairly decent (though certainly not £2.99 decent), and the iron brew element is palatable, though not enjoyable. Mr Simms, you sadden me.

D: Poor