I’m a candy aficionado. One of my favorite things about taking a lengthy road trip is that I can stop in convenience stores and see what candy is available there that can’t be found at home. Things like Mint M&Ms. Goo Goo Clusters. Abba Zabba. Strawberry Charleston Chew. Skybar. The legendary Valomilk.
The candy industry is loath to experiment. Years have gone by in which I have not spotted a single new candy bar. Instead, they produce things like Butterfinger Crisp. ReeseSticks. Milky Way Dark. The Snickers Almond replacement of the vaunted Mars Bar. This ridiculous “Bites” line. There are hundreds of perfectly good flavors in this world that could legitimately be used in a candy bar, but the increasingly-monolithic candy industry hasn’t had the balls to try something new.
But then Hershey went out on a limb late this summer. They turned Kit Kat into an entire (limited edition) line, adding varieties including White Chocolate, Coffee, Extra Creamy, Mint and — get this — Orange Creme. There have been a lot of Kit Kat varieties around the world — strawberry, lemon cheesecake, blood orange, apple, passion fruit, azuki bean, green tea, red wine — but we Americans haven’t been so fortunate. I greatly regret that I have not yet encountered Mint or Orange Creme, but I did snap up a coffee Kit Kat last month.
As author Steve Almond lamented in “Candyfreak : A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America,” it is coffee that is the great underused flavor in candy bars. I wasn’t entirely convinced when I read that a few months ago, but then I tried Kit Kat Coffee.
Damn. All I had to do was open up the package and I was immediately enveloped in the thick smell of fresh-ground coffee beans. It was nearly overwhelming. It tasted just as good. I became an immediate convert to coffee candy bars. And I don’t even like coffee.
I was in Kroger yestoday, and saw Kit Kat Coffee in their clearance aisle. Three for a dollar. Why? “Discontinued.”
Hopefully this marks a new phase of experimentation in the American candy industry. It’ll never be like it once was — you’ve got to read “Candyfreak” if you’re interested in the topic — but perhaps they’re finally coming out of their thick candy shell.