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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Dangerous English Toffee Test

          Yesterday afternoon I embarked upon a difficult mission as I risked life, limb, stomach, and blood sugar levels to test major brands of English toffee candy to see how they compared.  You may be thinking that I have way too much time on my hands, but I came up with this blog topic a few weeks ago and decided that this really needed to be done.  After all, if I didn't do it who would?

          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.

        Before beginning my test, I researched the origins of the candies. The 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.

         Almond Roca was invented in 1923 by the 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?

18 comments:

  1. I believe the almond roca is sans chocolate, so I'd have to pick that one.

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  2. Ut oh, what if I don't like any of those? My very favorite candy bar is a Cherry Mash - made in MO.

    I like that when you open the can it looks the same. Wish my wallet did that.

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  3. Lee for someone who is try hard to shed the pounds this was"torture" to read.lol!!!!!!!
    Seriously I applaud your tenacity in the experiment, someone less able than you would have given up.
    Hope you enjoyed all the toffee and almmonds. Enjoyed the read.

    Have a good day.
    Yvonne.

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  4. I like Heath best out of that bunch. And it's great to mix into a Dairy Queen blizzard shake (along with Butterfinger and Reese's cups.) :)

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  5. And actually, my FAVORITE candy is those Halloween mellocreme pumpkins!

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  6. Thanks, Lee.

    I was just in L.A. in November.

    I am always looking for new reciprocal blogs links.

    Russ:)

    Blogs

    satire and theology

    and

    thekingpin68

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  7. I'm not a toffee fan. Candy=chocolate for me. My favorite is Nestles Crunch.

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  8. My favorite of the three is the Heath Bar, but if you live near a Trader Joe's you should look for some of their almond toffee crunch. It's home-made and delicious!!

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  9. LOL -- my teeth literally began to hurt as I read through your post! I love toffee when its in ice cream, these days I'm too afraid the crunch will leave me a chipped-tooth lady!

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  10. Arlee, you had me laughing by the end of your post. I have never heard of anyone doing such an extensive taste testing of candy bars. You made me want a Butterfinger, which I haven't had in years.

    Helen
    Straight From Hel

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  11. I was going to ask how much time you allowed between the consumption of such snacks.

    I've been told that the more one eats, the less appetizing food becomes. Although I'm not sure if that applies where chocolate and toffee are concerned.

    I've never been able to tell the difference between Skor and Heath. But now that I know that Skor means shoe in another language, I have to say I like the Heath bar better.

    I just don't understand why a company would choose to name a product that could potentially have a negative connotation in another country.

    Then again, I still don't get why my former neighbors -- a wonderful Latino family -- would choose to drive a Chevy. I mean, the company named two of its cars the El Camino (the walk) and the Nova (No va, no go).

    Great post.:-)

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  12. Skor. Skor! SKOR! My favorite, so rich!

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  13. That was a great post. Skor bars remind me of Tennesse the summer before 5th grade and walking from Grandma's to Buddys super market. I loved the skor bars, but I don't even think I've had more than one since that summer. I enjoyed that post very funny.

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  14. L.Diane -- actually the Almond Roca I have here has chocolate, but not much. Sometimes I'm in a chocolate mood, but sometime not. And the mellocream candies are good!

    Teresa --I think I've had the Cherry Mash. Right now,yes, it might be a nice change from the butter toffee. And yes, I'd rather have multiplying money than multiplying candy.

    Yvonne-- believe me, I have no business eating this candy-- I need to be shedding pounds as well.

    Elizabeth -- yes, Blizzards! Summers coming soon-- time for Blizzards.

    Russ -- hope you'll visit again.

    Carol -- I love it all! Sometimes the mood changes, but the Nestles Bars are good.

    B. Miller -- I am close to Trader Joes on occasion. I'll have to check out that toffee. Might be a while though cause right now I've had enough.

    AJ -- thanks for visiting. I worry about the teeth thing too. My worst problems have been with red vines-- those things can suck my caps right out so if I do eat them now I'm very careful.

    Helen -- I'm glad you were laughing because that what I was shooting for. I mean the whole candy testing concept is pretty weird. Now treat yourself to a Butterfinger.

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  15. Kat -- Believe me, the more of that candy one eats the less apetizing it becomes and that's a fact. Don't try this at home -- at least not when you're my age. 30 or 40 years ago I'm sure I could have handled it.
    And my techique was kind of like wine tasting except I didn't spit it out (that would have been gross). And I just ate one after another (but in small savored bites).
    My theory on the name is that maybe to avoid a lawsuit from Heath they tried to make it seem like their competing candy would be Swedish Toffee and "Skor" was easy to say and Americans won't know what it means. Probably Chevy's thought as well.

    Tamika -- Hey there young lady how've you been? Score one for Skor.

    Emilee -- Score another for Skor. Emilee I love it when you leave a comment, but of course I always like to hear from my daughters.

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  16. Skor = shoes?? Why would anyone name a candy after shoes???

    I'm not a fan of any of these actually. I don't really like candy. Chocolate though? Anytime. My fave would be a Caramilk bar :)

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  17. Is that photo of you juggling clubs? I used to be in a Clown Ministry, and I used to juggle. I could only juggle 3 clubs, or 3 lit torches, or 3 balls in many various ways. I could do 4 balls for a brief time, but I mainly concentrated on doing different things with 3, and sometimes doing fancy things with 2. I would also juggle 2 balls and 1 apple, and take bites out of the apple. We would do mime skits about the stories in the Bible, etc. We would go to old folks homes, schools, churches, hospitals, etc.

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  18. Jeff-- Yes indeed I am juggling three clubs. I too did many of the same juggling tricks of which you speak. I worked as a professional juggler for many years, but I was never a spectacular juggler. I've written a number of posts where I mention juggling and there are some other photos as well -- search juggle on my site and you should find them.
    Good to hear from a fellow juggler!

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Lee