Friday, April 12, 2013

Lee's Jaffa Bar

When I was growing up, my family was occasionally given a (usually 12 oz.) "Whitman's Sampler" as a Christmas gift. I realize now that these are the bottom feeders of the boxed mix chocolates out there, but poor folks like us found this to be a special treat. Of course, we only found parts of it to be good. That would be the candies with nuts or caramel. No one wanted the stuff with fruit fondant filling in it. More often than not, those pieces would have a bite taken out of them and then the remains would be left in the bottom of the box as testimonials to the disappointment of sweet, fruity poison hiding inside of perfectly serviceable chocolate. My dad found this habit particularly irritating and would yell at us when he'd open the box and find these rock bottom remains.

Things have changed since my impoverished youth. For one thing, I haven't touched a Whitman's Sampler in over 30 years so I don't know if they are better or worse than they once were. For all I know, they may even come with a little description of what's in the box so that children who want to avoid the fruit cream ones can do so without pissing off their fathers. 

My Whitman's Sampler experience comes to mind because this bar is like one enormous orange cream chocolate. Another change that has occurred since I grew up collecting old soda bottles for deposit so we could buy milk at the end of the month is that I like fruit fondant fillings now. Instead of approaching this as something to be reviled, I saw it with interest when I saw it for 30% off at an overpriced Palo Alto (California) market called "Miki's Farm Fresh Market" that was going out of business. My guess was that their high prices weren't what did them in so much as their horrible parking and the difficulty one had accessing the shop.

At any rate, I've reviewed a lot of food, most of it from Japan, but some of it from other places and this is my first option from Scotland. People like to say that America has super sweet candy, but, if this is any example of what the Scots are ingesting, they've got us beat. This is very, very sweet stuff with a nice vibrant hit of orange. The chocolate coating is little more than a brown wrapper for the almost fudge-like center. It's thick, cleaves, nicely without falling apart, and can be quite satisfying in very small portions. Oddly, the entire bar 2.1 oz./60 g. has only 230 calories. For something that seems like it's packing a bigger sugar wallop than your average Hershey bar, it weighs in on a similar level when it comes to calories.

I liked this a lot, but I ate it over a 5-day period in very small bites. I think that you would find it oppressive if you ate too much of it at once, and it isn't really the highest quality confection on the market. There's a reason it brought back my sad nostalgia for Whitman's Samplers, and that's because it has a similar quality going on with it. This doesn't have to be a bad thing, but it certainly could be depending on your tastes. I'd buy it again, but I'm not necessarily recommending that others try it unless you like your candy super sweet, nicely fruity, and low rent.


BradleyNASH said...

WHOA! JAFFA !? Mind is officially BLOWN! Glad you reviewed it...

Katie said...

I laughed so hard at your Whitman's story because that was my experience growing up. We were pretty poor ourselves and as new immigrants to the US, considered Whitman's and Russell Stover to be high quality treats. I'd take bites out of some and leave the rest---half bitten and all---for my poor family.