UNDER FIVE: GREAT STUFF FOR LESS THAN FIVE BUCKS!
My name is Ron and I’m a candyholic.
I came of age when bleach-white bread, fried bologna and refined sugar ruled the kitchen. I would parlay my paper route money into funds for a weekly trip to the local candy store. It was actually a re-purposed bakery counter on the front porch of a neighbor’s house. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a licensed retail establishment, but I didn’t care. I’d buy baseball cards, Bazooka gum, Marathon bars and M&Ms. Life was sweet…literally.
Though I eventually grew up, my favorite sweet treats didn’t. Most are still a ghoulish gumbo of artificial flavors, fake food dyes, corn syrup and preservatives. That includes those “lite” and sugar-free alternatives. They’re just as junky and they taste like a chemical spill. Sure, there are high-end retail brands like Justin’s and Ocho, but it still bugs me to fork over almost three bucks for a pair of peanut butter cups or a tiny candy bar.
Enter Boston-based Unreal Brands.
This scrappy homegrown confectioner is all about less is more. Their premise is simple: take a couple of classic candies and completely un-junk them. It’s sort of like M&Ms and Reese’s peanut butter cups have been stripped of every questionable ingredient and re-born without anything artificial, genetically modified or sourced from a chemical lab.
The two brothers who started Unreal Brands eschewed trendy embellishments while burning through countless recipes before arriving at the ones that worked. It was time well spent. Their candy looks just like the sweets you know and love but they taste so much better. No more grainy chocolate, mossy tasting peanuts or that odd film on the roof of your mouth after eating a fist full of M&Ms.
In fact, I love that you can actually taste each of the main ingredients. Unreal chocolate is rich, complex and velvety. Peanuts stand tall, with fresh-roasted flavor and spot-on consistency. They even came up with tasty coatings that give good crunch without overpowering the candy within. Now, no one is claiming any of this stuff is a health food. It’s still candy…and that’s a good thing. Unreal delivers on a simple brand promise: making snacks from real ingredients that taste great.
The current line consists of six products: peanut butter cups, almond butter cups, crispy peanut butter cups, peanut gems, plain gems and crispy gems. All use dark chocolate, except for the plain milk chocolate gems. The only nod to a food trend is quinoa in the two crispy candies. It does a remarkable job subbing in for crisp rice.
These are some of the retailers that carry the Unreal line. My advice: start with any of the the super markets that might be in your area if you want to keep this an “under five” purchase. To any fellow residents of northeastern New England out there, that is our beloved Market Basket on the list. They just picked up the Unreal line and, at last check, it was $3.49 a bag.