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I had a craving for pretzel M and M's, but when I went to my local American candy stockist, there were none. However, this bar caught my eye, as it contained peanuts, caramel and pretzels amongst its ingredients.
These bars are made by the Hershey Company, best known for their peanut butter cups and Hershey's kisses. Hershey's have been in existence since the late 1800's and are one of the best known chocolate brands in the world. This bar was first produced in December 2004.
The bar is foil wrapped, and I can also feel a cardboard tray, which stops the bar from getting bashed around. Each packet contains two small bars, each around 4cm x 5cm, with a rough texture due to the peanuts. As soon as I tear open the bar, you can detect the scent of the peanut butter. The bar smells sweet, but not overly so.
The milk chocolate is quite thin, and it's easy to bite a chunk off this bar. Again, probably due to being able to detect the scent, the first thing I tasted was the peanut butter, and it mixes with the caramel and nuts to form something soft yet crunchy. The pretzel was the more unusual texture. As pretzel is slightly harder and denser than the soft biscuit that my mind had been expecting, I was slightly confused for a few seconds, but I son got over the initial weirdness of the texture and I did really like the combination of the sweet caramel, the nuttiness and the salty crunch of the pretzel. I do think that having two small bars in a pack is a great idea as one bar is enough for me. While I do like peanut butter, there is only so much of it that I can eat before I start to feel slightly ill.
Ingredients: Milk Chocolate (Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Chocolate, Nonfat Milk, Milk Fat, Lactose, Soy Lecithin, Salt, and Vanillin, Artificial Flavour)Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, E375 (colour retention agent), Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, E101 (food colouring), Folic Acid)Peanuts, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Partially Defatted Peanuts, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Coconut, Palm Kernel, and Soybean Oil)Nonfat Milk, contains 2% or Less of: Dextrose, Reduced Minerals Whey (Milk)Dairy Butter, Salt, Corn Syrup, E471 (emulsifier), E319 (antioxident), E503 E500 (acidity regulator), Artificial Flavours, Carrageenan, Yeast, and E339 (antioxident).
Nutrition information per pack
Mine cost me £1.50, which is slightly expensive for a bar of chocolate, but I think it's an okay price for an occasional treat. I would recommend this bar to anyone who is bored with the more normal chocolate bars on the market and wants to try something different.
There are five components to a Take 5 chocolate bar which sounds like a lot, even when you note one is chocolate, so doesn't really count. Think about it and you'll realise that most established brands prefer limiting their filling ingredients. A Bounty just takes coconut, a Dairy Milk Caramel or Turkish Delight only need the sweet, sticky stuff, KitKats just a perfectly placed wafer. Mars (nougat and caramel) or Twix (biscuit and caramel) show the perfection of two added ingredients. But 4 in addition to chocolate? Surely that's overkill?
Take 5 is American, though, and as we all know they like things bigger, if not always better. Made by Hershey, it is a frantic combination of pretzel, caramel, peanuts and peanut butter, which makes the name a little odd - this is hardly a relaxing break of any sort. The bar comes in two pieces, a bit like a Bounty, except these are flatter and wider, and they're encased in a cardboard tube within the plastic wrapping. They don't look like they'll be that filling as they're not massive, but looks can be deceiving.
The picture on the front shows you what to expect: a chocolate base, layers of pretzel rods, then a layer of caramel, on top of that a layer of peanut butter with some actual peanuts place on top for good measure, and finally another layer of chocolate on top. In the picture it all looks neat, defined, really rather attractive. I wasn't expecting the product to look much like the illustration, so was surprised by how neat the layers are most of the time. Transport (they're made in Pennsylvania before being exported here) and storage conditions do seem to affect them at times, but I've had more perfect bars than I have messed up ones.
I like all the ingredients in this bar individually, but wasn't sure how they would work together. Pretzels and caramel? Sounds odd and sickly. Caramel and peanut butter? Ditto. All together? Hmmm. I suspected that the whole might be significantly less than the sum of the parts, but again I was wrong, as - bizarre as the whole thing sounds -it does work and is really quite addictive.
The pretzels they use add a great salty aspect to the thing, and increase the crunch to make it a more substantial snack than a simple chocolate bar, or one with a smooth filling. You really have to chew because of them, rather than just let the whole thing melt in your mouth, and I like the fact they've used a decent amount of them, not just a token stick or two. The whole of the base is covered with them, and they taste just like the pretzels or salty sticks you'll often snack on at this time of year.
The peanuts also add crunch but it's the peanut butter that contributes most of the nutty taste. This is American style - sweeter and smoother than European varieties, so a good fit with chocolate. The caramel is layered between the pretzels and peanut butter, and as a result the texture is mostly hidden, but it does of course adds sweetness to the (comparatively bitter) American milk chocolate.
The chocolate layer is nice - you definitely need something to hold it all together, and the fact that it's thicker on the top than the bottom means the texture of every bite is mixed up a bit too. Often chocolate-covered items scrimp on this, but here the chocolate is a generous amount and you can't eat one of these and the not feel like you've just had the good stuff.
If I could change anything it would be to lose the peanuts as they don't add much, and maybe up the caramel to make it a bit sweeter (or make it with European milk chocolate, which would also achieve the same result). But, on the whole, there's little to complain about.
Despite not containing biscuit, this is much more like a chocolate biscuit than a chocolate bar. You can't break off a piece and let it melt on your tongue, or enjoy it square by square. Instead, you have to bite and chew and generally put some effort into it, but the result, a mix of crunchy and smooth and salty and sweet is worth it. It's an unusual combo that might not be for everyone, but it's grown on me rather quickly and if you like all or most of the bits individually, it's definitely worth a try.
Two of the five local supermarkets on my road stock them. That's more than sell regular Hershey's, but fewer than there are Smarties stockists. In the UK, try Cyber Candy or another online retailer.