A few years ago my Dad mailed be a copy of Steve Almond's book, Candyfreak, a quick, fun read that takes a closer look at regional and specialty candy bars of the United States. My interest was piqued, and in probably one of the most indulgent months of my life, I ate my way through eighteen US regional candy bars and lived to tell the tale.
It's been a while since I've wanted to eat multiple candy bars, but here I am taste-testing ZZang candy bars from Zingerman's, the Ann Arbor, Michigan, gourmet and specialty foods purveyor, which most of us living elsewhere know from their catalogs and online site.
The tag line on ZZang candy bars reads, "taking candy bars back 100 years," and is a nod to the old-timey regional candy bars that used to be so prolific. And, to make you feel at least a little bit better about eating candy bars, the ingredient list on the ZZang bars are populated only with items you'd find in your kitchen.Ca$hew Cow is milk chocolate cashew butter gianduja, cashew brittle, and roasted cashews dipped in dark chocolate. There's an interesting play of crunchy textures from the cashews, cashew brittle, and crisped rice amongst the softer texture of the gianduja. There is also a noticeable saltiness that makes the bar irresistible.
What The Fudge? is milk chocolate fudge, Muscovado caramel, and malted milk cream dipped in dark chocolate, and was my least favorite of the three bars. The milk chocolate fudge was a touch grainy and not as dark and luscious as I like my fudge. And, while I tolerate malt in candy and shakes, it is not my favorite flavor, so the malted milk cream did not help win me over.
The Original is butter-roasted peanuts, caramel, and peanut butter honey nougat dipped in dark chocolate, and is like Snickers' slightly peanut-buttery (thanks to the peanut butter honey nougat), sophisticated (that's the dark chocolate) cousin. Snickers is a near perfect candy bar, but this bar is more intriguing...and my favorite of the bunch.
At $6 each before shipping costs, these bars are stupidly expensive to order from Zingerman's, and can only be justified as splurge. Be on the lookout for ZZang bars at finer grocery stores (I spied some at Di Bruno Bros. on Chestnut St.) and you can save yourself the shipping costs.