Tuesday, February 23, 2010
The Dangerous English Toffee Test
It all began several weeks back on a shopping excursion to Costco, which I had described in a blog post in January. I told you some of the things we bought, but I neglected to mention the industrial size drum of Almond Roca. After Christmas I started craving Almond Roca and knowing that we were going to be going to Costco soon, I recalled how they had the large canisters of the confection. I was stoked in preparation for one of my favorite candies.
We bought the candy can and now I've been eating this stuff for weeks. Everytime I open the can it seems like there is the same amount as the last time I looked. I'm beginning to think the candy reproduces inside the can. It reminds me of a magic trick I've seen where you empty candy out of a can and then do some hocus-pocus and the can is full of candy again. I am beginning to get sick of Almond Roca.
So, anyway, I was sitting in front of the computer screen a few weeks back, munching on Almond Roca, and trying to figure out something to write about. I recalled how when I was a child, every year before Christmas my grandmother would send a package of homemade candies. Being an avid candy aficianado, I looked forward to these parcels. My favorite of all of her homemade delights was the chocolate covered English toffee. The stuff was heavenly, but always in such short supply that it just left me wanting more.
As my mind ruminated on my grandmother's English toffee and my mouth ruminated on the English toffee-like Almond Roca, my memory began to ruminate upon the Heath Bars that I had discovered in my youth that were very much like the English toffee that grandma used to make. Then it came to me: Why not do a taste test to compare Almond Roca, Heath Bars, and the knock-off Skor Bar? After all, the world needs to know.
Heath Bar was developed;between 1915 and 1928 by the Heath family of Robinson, Illinois and put on the national market in 1932. In the early days it was marketed as a healthy candy alternative with the slogan "Heath for health". It has remained a popular candy, as well as an additive for ice cream products and various other confections. The Heshey Candy Company bought out the Heath name in 1996 and now manufactures the candy.
Skor, which is Swedish for "shoes", was first introduced by Hershey's in 1981 according to most sources, although the Hershey's website says it was introduced in 1983. The other sources also claim that the Skor bar was introduced in Canada as the Rutnam Bar in 1983. After my post on accuracy yesterday, I'll offer this information as unverifiable according the research I've done, but it seems like the Hershey's company should know what they did. In any case, it's pretty obvious that the Skor Bar was Hershey's answer to the popular Heath Bar. Now Hershey's continues to manufacture and distribute both the Heath and the Skor bars.
Brown & Haley Candy Company in Tacoma, Washington. "Roca" is the Spanish word for "rock" and the candy was given this name because they are hard and kind of look like rocks, although some people might think they look like something else. In 1927, the company began packaging the gold-foil wrapped candies in a sealed can for freshness and they are sold that way to this day.
Out of the package, the Heath Bar and the Skor Bar look almost identical. The bars that I compared differed only in the pattern of the chocolate on top, otherwise I could see no discernible differences. The ingredients listed on the package are very similar. Each bar is approximately 5" by 1 1/8" and weighs 1.4 ounces. The Almond Roca are smaller log shaped candies about 2 inches long and about a half inch in diameter probably weighing about a half an ounce each.
The Almond Roca is a pleasantly mild butter toffee with a less pronounced chocolate flavor and a highly nutty flavor. The toffee contains almonds and the candy is coated with ground almonds. The candy has an airier crunch quality which gives it a ligthness as one chews the candy.
The Heath Bar seems to have the highest degree of milk chocolate flavor with a denser buttery flavored English Toffee. The Skor Bar seemed to be less chocolaty and more crunchy, but still with the buttery toffee flavor.
Of all the candies my preference would lean toward the Heath Bar, although in reality the Skor might be identical. If one prefers nuttiness then the Almond Roca might be the favorite. Then there are the many gourmet chocolate covered English toffees available. See's Candies is one that I can think of that is very fine. However, none of them can match the memories I have of that candy that my grandmother used to send us.
This test was really not done in the most scientific manner. It would have been much better to have had a panel tasting and comparing findings. I still have a lot of Almond Roca left and half each of a Skor Bar and a Heath Bar, and quite frankly I feel sick and don't care if I eat any more of this candy ever. But that's just how I feel today after the taste test. Anybody want to come over to help me finish and do your own taste test?
Which do you like best Almond Roca, Heath, or Skor (or Rutman)? What is your favorite candy?