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5th Avenue was a name I associated with chocolate even before I discovered this bar. That was thanks to a rather lovely trip to a Lindt shop there on a trip to NYC some 9 years ago, during which I devoured their free samples as a perfect dessert after lunch. I don't know about you, but to me 5th Avenue conjures up images of posh shops, out of reach for more than window shopping for most people. That's a connotation that couldn't be further from the truth with this straight up, no nonsense chocolate bar.
This is described as a crunchy peanut butter bar. That almost put me off, for a while. I love peanut butter, but it has to be smooth. The crunchy stuff, with its horrible bits and grainy lumps, just can't compare. Still, in the name of chocolate I decided I could try this, and the fact it was one of the cheaper bars in the shop didn't hurt.
This is a long, flat, 1-piece bar, a bit longer than a Mars bar, the same width but a little thinner. It feels quite hard and heavy when you pick it up, as if it's a lump of toffee rather than a nice chewy chocolate bar. The packaging is retro, plain but distinctive - a brown wrapper with yellow lettering that for some reason reminds me of Meccano or another construction toy.
This is not a bar for people with precarious teeth, and is takes some real umpf to bite into it. The inside is crisp and very chewy, a bit like toffee but with a strong and delicious peanut flavour that is creamy in taste if not in texture. Whatever you do, don't stick this one in the fridge if you value having your own teeth...
There's a great quote in a Judy Blume book with regard to PB, which goes
"Doesn't it stick to the roof of your mouth?"
"If it does I just work it off with my tongue"
I'm reminded of it every time I eat one of these as with each bite my tongue is going into overdrive, back and forth over the roof of my mouth working this stuff off it. It also sticks quickly and with great determination to your teeth, which means my mouth always feels like it needs a good brushing afterwards. This is the only thing I don't really like about these bars - it's the reason I don't suck sugary sweets, too. I have survived 28 years without any dental intervention, and I don't want to start now.
This is not crunchy in the way that crunchy peanut butter is crunchy. It's not bitty or grainy or full of identifiable peanuts. Instead, it's more like a peanut brittle, or hard peanut toffee, albeit with a buttery kick. It breaks into shards as you eat it, though not in a messy way. Still, a splintering chocolate bar takes a while to get you head around.
The chocolatey coating is rather thin. Whether or not you think this is a good thing depends on how much you like Hershey Milk Chocolate (cue comments saying 'Hershey's? Eugggghhh') and, oh yes, did you notice the 'y' on the end? Because this is a chocolate FLAVOUR rather than proper chocolate. It is milky and cocoa-y but still, it's fake. That said, I like most chocolate, however sparse or artificial, and this would be a totally different snack without it. Plus I didn't even realise originally that it wasn't usual Hershey's - it certainly tastes more like that than a chocolate candy. Normally of course chocolate is sweet and peanut butter is savoury, so the two go well together. This is an American attempt on both, meaning semi-sweet chocolate but contrastingly sweet PB, so again, it works.
I think maybe the core is a bit 'slippy' - the chocolate doesn't stick to it that well and often melts into the plastic wrapper instead, though I am eating it in extreme environmental conditions. I have, on occasion, resorted to licking the wrapper to get every last, melted drop. This does nothing for maintaining my image as a classy bird.
This is a bar you eat for the texture as much as for the flavour. It's quite simple as there are only two parts to it - the chocolate bit and the peanut bit - but every bite requires the serious chewing normally reserved for bars with many ingredients in the filling. It's not a lazy bar to enjoy in front of the TV, or on the sofa while reading a book: it requires proper concentration and jaw action, but I think it's worth it, and it does have a place in a balanced chocolate diet.
Despite having the delicious familiar peanutty smell of Reece's products, this bar is the antithesis of their Peanut Butter Cups. It is not creamy, smooth, melt in the mouth. It is hard core peanut butter chocolate, that I think will divide chocoholics. I can see why some people would hate it due to the texture, but equally I know there are people out there who like tough-on-the-teeth sweets, like Rock or chewy toffee bars. I don't actually like the latter, but I do like this one, perhaps because of the flavour combinations.
Scary long list of ingredients and nutritional info can be found here:
5th Avenue bars have been on the market since 1936. Not seen one near you? Check out Cybercandy, Americandy or HomesickAmerican online.