Friday, January 15, 2010

Norfolk Manor Wine Gums

I had some reservations about including this box of wine gums in Brit Week.

Wine gums are, as best I can tell, loved in the U.K. pretty much on the same level we in the U.S. love our Gummi worms. The most popular brand is Maynards (made by Cadbury), but I don't think I have ever seen them in a store here. I saw conflicting bits online saying that they either were or weren't (depending on the story) imported to the U.S. because they contain food dyes that the FDA does not permit. This box is made by Norfolk Manor and while they are made in the U.K., the box states that they are made for export to the U.S. -- so I am admittedly playing a little fast and loose with this one.

Norfolk Manor's version features five different flavors.

The texture is the same on all of the flavors, and reminds me most of a stale "Fruit Snack"-- you know, those things mostly aimed at parents who want to feel like they are giving their kids a healthy snack rather than candy. (And it's pretty much a bad attempt at both, in the case of those products). If you aren't familiar with "Fruit Snacks," to sum it up, they are not as gummy as a Gummi bear or worm, but not as firm as a Jujube or a Dot.

Each wine gum has an attempt at a word of some sort being molded into the top of the candy. But in almost all of the pieces, the molding was so smooshed that it was impossible to make anything out. On the few that were readable, there were names of wines...none of which seem to have any bearing on the flavors. For example, I found three candies marked PORT -- all three were different colors. And none of them tasted remotely like port. (Ditto with the candies marked BURGUNDY, CHAMPAGNE, and SHERRY. There may be more names, but I couldn't make them out.) So with that in mind, we are going to just ignore whatever is stamped on the top, and I will just describe them by color.


I was expecting cherry because most "red" candies are cherry. I think in this case the flavor might be raspberry. Not a "real" raspberry, mind you. More like a kids' juice mix version; but it was actually more or less decent. Sweet, a little bitter (though that might be the dye). Not at all complex. Not special in the least, but at least edible.


Wanna guess what orange is flavored like? Yes, it is in fact flavored like every fake orange flavored candy you have ever had. It's not horrible, but it's flat and forgettable. There's no zest to it, yet it's also not too sweet.


It's rare that I don't like something lemon flavored, even if it's fake lemon. But somehow this managed to do it. It's like someone found the world's oldest stash of doctor's office sugar-free lollipops, dipped them in ammonia, and then rolled said old, ammonia soaked lollipops in stale raw carrot shavings. Actually, that would probably still taste better.


If orange is always orange-flavored, then we know green always either means lime (on more classic products) or, more frequently on newer products, green apple. I think this was supposed to be lime. I say "supposed to be," because it tastes exactly the way industrial floor cleaner smells. Epic fail.


I think it was supposed to be currant, maybe grape. Maybe I just don't want to talk about it. It's faintly musty. I am just not sure what it's supposed to be, and frankly it was too vile to torture myself with a second one just to find out.

As a whole, I liked the texture. I liked the red ones most -- or maybe I should say I disliked them the least. But beyond that, I am perfectly OK with not finishing the box...because the truth is, they were by and large utterly disgusting. I am wondering if maybe I just had expectations that were too high. Or maybe this brand simply is not in the same league as Maynards. I hope that Cybele chimes in, as she recently listed wine gums on her list of the 110 Essential Candies for Candivores, and many moons ago she reviewed the Maynards Wine Gums here. So I would be interested to hear her opinion on this brand.


Gift from my mother

1 comment:

Mr Routledge said...

Wine gums are a tricky beast - a lot of them can be disappointing. This isn't a brand seen widely in the UK - did your Mum get them from Albertson's? I'm sure I've seen them in there. My Dad lives in Southern California, and they've been increasing their 'British products' for a while now, and most of them don't originate from the same recipes or companies that you would expect if you're british.

One little thing - UK sweets tend to try to be a little more naturalistic in their fruit flavour, and generally red = strawberry and purple = blackcurrant.

Wine gums should really have 6 colours... the clear ones are generally best! You need to at least try maynards, but there are better ones! Good luck!