Now serving: our signature taste test. Unsponsored. Unbiased. Unapologetic. We scour supermarket shelves to bring sanity to shopping and separate tasty triumphs from the tragically tasteless. On today’s menu: candy unjunked.
CONFESSIONS OF A CANDYHOLIC
When I was a kid, bleach-white bread, fried bologna and refined sugar ruled the kitchen. Money from a paper route funded my Star Wars figure fixes and weekly trips to the local candy store. Actually, it was just a re-purposed bakery counter on a neighbor’s front porch, but I didn’t care. I’d buy baseball cards, Bazooka gum, Marathon bars and M&Ms. Life was sweet…literally.
I eventually grew up. My favorite sweets didn’t. Most are still a ghoulish gumbo of artificial flavors, fake food dyes, corn syrup and preservatives. Sure, there are high-end retail brands like Justin’s and Ocho, but it 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.
THE PROMISE: CRUD-FREE CANDY FAVORITES
This scrappy homegrown confectioner was built on the belief that less is more. Their premise is simple: take a couple of classic candies and completely un-junk them. It’s sort of like stripping M&Ms and Reese’s peanut butter cups of every questionable ingredient and re-building them without anything artificial, genetically modified or sourced from a chemistry lab.
THE PRODUCT: CHOCOLATE AND PEANUT BUTTER TREATS
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 subs in for crisped rice.
THE PRICE: LESS THAN A LINCOLN
A single bag of Unreal candy contains roughly 4 to 6 ounces of product. It will set you back less than $5. Click here or on the image below for more information on where you can buy the line.
In most cases, the price will be in the $3 to $4 range at the supermarket and closer to $5 online or at Whole Foods. To fellow residents of northeastern New England, Market Basket is on the list. They recently picked up the Unreal line and, at last check, it was $3.49 a bag.
THE TASTE TEST
The two brothers who started Unreal Brands eschewed trendy embellishments. They burned through countless recipes before arriving at the ones that worked. It was time well spent. The candy looks just like the sweets you know and love but it tastes much better. No more grainy chocolate, mossy tasting peanuts or that odd film on the roof of your mouth after eating a few too many M&Ms.
Each of the main ingredients makes a statement. Chocolate is rich, complex and velvety. Peanuts stand tall, with fresh-roasted flavor and spot-on consistency. Unreal even came up with tasty coatings that give good crunch without smothering the candy underneath. Mouthfeel is a bit different, so give your palate some extra time to savor the experience.
Unreal Brands fully delivers on a promise to create snacks from real ingredients that taste great. To be clear, no one is claiming any of this stuff is health food. It’s still candy, so indulge responsibly.
TEST GRADE: A-