Wednesday, May 04, 2005

They've ruined it

Philly is all about food—working-class cuisine like water ices, pretzels, cheesesteaks, hoagies, Yuengling beer, TastyKakes and candy bars. When I moved here a year ago I fell in love with Goldenberg's Peanut Chews. I'm a chocolate addict and these things were just about perfect. They only cost 99 cents and you can get them at any Wawa, 24 hours a day. (Wawa is a regional convenience store that has a wildly popular concept I'll write about at another time.) I was a regular consumer of Peanut Chews, guiltily gobbling up two or three a week.

Imagine my skepticism when I read in the Inquirer that the venerable Philadelphia candy bar manufacturer had been purchased by Just Born, Inc. and some "changes" were planned for Peanut Chews to make them appeal to a national audience. I should've followed my instincts and bought up all the stock on hand at my local Wawa. That's because yesterday I bought my first "new and improved" Peanut Chew. The package had been redesigned and was much less effective from a branding standpoint. That should've been my first clue that I'd be disappointed. The new Peanut Chews are blander, sweeter, less authentic. I won't be buying them again.

Just Born is the company that makes those sickeningly sweet candies called Peeps—the fluorescent colored marshmallow baby chickens you get in Easter baskets and usually throw away. The new Peanut Chews taste like they mixed a couple of Peeps into the peanuts. Yecch.

I just wish people would leave well enough alone, and that national and international brands didn't always lead us towards the lowest common denominator.


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At 3:03 PM, Blogger Lorin said...

You are SO right about Justborn ruining Peanut Chews. It's very rare that we would find them at all in Northern California, occasionally a limited shipment would come in to Rite Aid Pharmacy. When my husband and I traveled back to NY (where we are from) we will pick up Goldenberg's peanut chews to bring home. So, imagine our surprise when we saw the repackaged Chews in our local California Rite Aid with a weird new label and manufacturer, with the assurance on the label that it would be "the same candy we remember". Having had some left over from our last trip to NY, we were able to make a blind comparison. Even before comparing, as soon as we tasted the new candy, we knew it was not as we remembered! Once we tasted both together, we made the same exact observations in the difference in taste. NOT THE SAME AT ALL! A comparison in the ingredients was telling, too: the chocolate had been extended with glycerin-not the same rich, dark, smoky chocolate with great texture that we loved. Blander, sweeter-the peanuts even tasted stale! We were tempted to write to the company and ask them to go back to the original recipe--for REAL--and not have the nerve to claim integrity. We won't be buying them anymore. Unless we find a cache of old Chews somewhere...


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