It's true what they say, you know...you don't know what you got 'til it's gone. I don't think any American expat expects to be missing the Russell Stover display in their local CVS when they come to the UK, but here I am, wishing I could walk into a drugstore and see Russell Stover, of all brands.
I'm not sure there is an equivelant sort of brand here in the UK, as the chocolates available in grocery stores basically go from 'pretty good' to 'quite nice'. You can get crummy, cheap chocolate in America just as easily as you can get Hershey's or Ghiradelli, but I feel like you've got to seek out the cheaper stuff here in the UK.
Russell Stover is considered to be lesser-quality chocolate than Hershey's, Lindt, or any of the other American grocery store mainstays - on the same level as Palmer's - cheap novelty chocolates more or less just sold at holiday time.
Now I'm beginning to think reputation is a bit unfair to old Mr. Stover.
I mean, when is the last time Hershey's stuck their neck out and tried a caramel apple chocolate? A few years ago with Hershey's Kisses, yes...but uh, this is now! And this is Russell Stover, formerly known to me as purveyors of cheap assorted chocolate boxes for guilt-stricken spouses, and children's holiday confectionery. Clearly, times have changed since I last bought a Marshmallow Easter Bunny.
This isn't even the weirdest product they're selling! Expect a review of this Red Velvet Santa soon.
So, kudos to Russell Stover for trying something new, but is it just a valiant effort with some chocolate that's too far gone to be good?
Keep in mind that this is 2 oz worth of caramel, and it cost just a little more than one American dollar. Zowie. The shape is very good, it looks like an apple and it could easily become a skull with a tiny hat at Halloween - smart move, Stover. The streaks of dark chocolate are a nice touch, really reminds me of caramel apples that have chocolate stripes as decoration. Makes even more sense that the other Caramel Apple chocolate in the line is coated in peanuts, an even more classic combo.
It's quite a heavy bar, and it smelled like chocolate and apple. I was pleasantly surprised by the subtly of the smell, considering apple stuff can sometimes be dreadfully strong - although my most recent experience with apple chocolate was very good, so I suppose leaps and bounds have been made in the apple flavoring market since I tried years ago.
It's funny, but I was really expecting this to be runny caramel. Instead, it was that sticky, chewy stuff - a bad sign for me. I'm not so into caramel one way or another, I think it's a nice way to deliver sugar and a much better way to deliver salt & sugar, but if I'm going to eat caramel I always prefer it to be runny & dribbly. The more I have to chew, the less I like a food. I'm kind of a giant baby like that.
So, I split this one in half with my husband as neither of us have the stomach for 2 ounces of pure caramel...at least not tonight.
It tasted very good, like a big version of the Caramel Apple Milky Way I had earlier this season, maybe a bit more subtly apple - but boy, that caramel was sticky. If you like chewy caramel, than this would be a real treat, it would last a long time and taste very nice. I was torn, because it was quite a bit smoother than chewy caramel usually is, meaning it sort of slid down instead of sticking to my mouth and didn't necessitate that much chewing, but it was still more than I could handle - even just eating half of it.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the caramel, the apple flavoring, and even the chocolate - especially for the price these sell at in America. The chocolate was in keeping with the American chocolate I grew up on, sweet but without much 'milkiness', and the caramel was smooth and sweet with a delicate apple flavor, not a blaring twang of fruit. My personal taste in caramel means I wouldn't buy this one again necessarily, but I'm glad I tried it and I'll eat the peanut one in due time. Probably not my next candy bar, but it will get eaten. Or I'll give it to somebody who likes chewy caramel...but who does? ;)