Friday, November 11, 2016

Theo: Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

I'm not sure whether or not this is a new product. It is, however, new to me. I like Theo's products and their general approach and I like when chocolate candy is well done, with better ingredients that are also organic and fair trade. So all of those factors were enough that I had to investigate Theo's take on Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter cups.

Some other notes about the ingredients before we move on. The front of the wrapper advertises no palm oil and no soy. In addition to the regular cane sugar, there is also powdered sugar in here, which I don't usually see; I'm guessing it went into the peanut butter filling. There is also peanut flour, besides the roasted peanuts. I'm not sure why there is rosemary extract as I don't taste the rosemary (and wouldn't want to taste it, either)--I'm curious to know its role.

The look of the wrapper, with its off-white color accented by brighter shades, fits in with the usual Theo look. Inside the wrapper is the familiar white tray we associate with Reese's Cups, but the cups are a little different from Reese's. They don't sit in paper liners, presumably because Theo has no need of liners and instead uses a mold to get this shape in the same way that they would mold a chocolate bar. In place of the simple round shape, these cups are heart-shaped; the Theo name decorates the bottom of each one, which I find pretty cute. It's still all nice and casual as a candy should be but with nice little details.

When I cut open one of the peanut butter cups, I found what appear to be chips of peanuts inside the filling, which I wasn't overly thrilled about. I'm not, after all, that fond of peanuts: to me, it's the creaminess that makes them nice. If I'm eating them whole, I'd rather have almonds or pecans or walnuts, as those seem to have much more flavor (which makes sense since they're all nuts and peanuts aren't--but this is a tangent).

The first taste that you get with these is of peanuts, strong enough that it is the flavor of eating straight peanuts. Then a sort of buttery taste comes in, accompanied by some salt. More peanut flavor moves back in with a little chocolate. The texture is certainly much drier than that of a Reese's Cup--not that this texture is dry. It just doesn't have all that greasiness. And after all my concern about the pieces of peanuts, they don't add much crunch; I almost forget that they're even there. They seem to be there more for flavor--and perhaps also to keep the texture from being too smooth (Reese's Cups also have a distinctive crumbly texture).

Interestingly, my second bite had more of that distinctive salty, peanut taste that we associate with Reese's Cups. I don't know why I didn't get it as much at first. The main difference in the flavor is that it comes, unsurprisingly, with more actual peanut taste here. I think you might also taste the chocolate less in here than with Reese's, but perhaps that's because the peanut butter filling here has more flavor and because the chocolate is not greasy.

Now, I don't want to be losing anyone's interest by saying that there is no greasiness and the flavor tastes like actual peanuts. These are still satisfactory as a candy. They're still sweet. Those of us who have gotten used to smaller amounts of sugar sweets can be content with just one, and they are more satisfying than Reese's Cups in the sense that you don't feel that you absolutely have to eat the second one because you're still tasting and enjoying the first one even after it's all melted away.

It is hard to come up with a final statement. Obviously this is going to be a very different experience given that they're not made in the same junky way as Reese's Cups (and while it isn't always appropriate to draw direct comparisons between separate products, it's obvious that Theo designed these as an alternative to Reese's Cups, therefore it's part of my role to compare the two). I do find that Theo did a pretty good job of replicating what we enjoy about the experience of Reese's Cups while at the same time, without frightening us away, elevating the experience through more flavorful and honorable ingredients. So these can pretty much replace Reese's Cups. And I'll go so far as to say that if a child is raised with these instead of Reese's Cups, they'll be satisfied and probably find Reese's Cups a bit gross when they finally do try them.

And let me not forget to emphasize how much I appreciate products like this. While most of us enjoy a good gourmet chocolate bar, for a regular day sometimes you just want a chocolate candy. Or children want chocolate candy. There is certainly the time and place for it. But more and more, I and many others, don't want to support brands like Hershey's. We need better quality ingredients and we need our sweets to simply be sweets and not motor oil. And in a country as privileged as ours, why can't we curb out sweet tooths a little in order to only buy fairly traded cocoa products even if that means we eat less chocolate? So thank you, Theo, for having a product like this on the market.

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