The Almond Roca Chocolate Fudge box doesn't just feed your body, it feeds your mind. There's a great puzzle on the front cover. On the left: a shiny banner proclaiming, "Ready to EAT!" To the right: a big picture showing you how to assemble the fudge.

That's right: not only do you have to put the fudge together yourself, but you have to crack your brains on this weird juxtaposition first. How, I want to know, is this ready to eat when I have to cover it myself with the "Almond Roca Buttercrunch Toffee Topping"? Why can't they just be refreshingly honest and yell "NOT READY TO EAT!" on the cover? They could market it as an easy edible craft project to do with children. But no, they have to lie to me.

Inside, there is a gold-colored plastic bag enclosing a black plastic tray with two compartments. The first one holds the smaller gold-colored bag of "toffee topping." The second, slightly larger compartment holds the "chocolate fudge."

Deception abounds in this product. When I bought it I imagined that the fudge filled the whole box. Instead, what with the tray of topping, it fills less than half. I also didn't realize that it contained sodium lauryl sulfate, an ingredient usually limited to shampoo bottles and considered dangerous enough when just rubbed on your hair.

The fudge looks old, but not inedible. The sulfate, potassium sorbate, and "gum karaya" have not lent it any sort of sheen: it is flecked with lighter brown and the surface is marred with bubbles and wrinkles. It is, at least, appealingly heavy and dense. It is also cold from sitting on a shelf in my kitchen during a cold snap the likes of which we haven't seen in the last century. The cold, heavy texture makes me feel a little more kindly to it; it reminds me of the fudge I used to make in high school from chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk. I remember sneaking bits of it whenever I could, all afternoon and evening, and the admiration of all the friends who had never made fudge or didn't know I only used two ingredients.

And I may just keep it around to touch and look at fondly, because this stuff is crap. Not only do I have to sprinkle on the "topping" (which is just crushed Almond Roca, probably from factory seconds) all by myself, but it doesn't stick at all. Not even pressing it into the fudge helps. I have now doomed myself to being covered in a thin dust of Almond Roca crumbs whenever I cut or bite into the fudge. Which is sort of ironic, given that the fudge itself is left without any evidence of the topping at all.

The fudge didn't need the topping. It doesn't really add anything. It might be good if it were mixed into the fudge itself, but clearly they were too lazy for that. The basic impression I get here is that Almond Roca and Co. struck some deal to get the factory seconds from a fudge company, and packaged it with the leftover crumbs from their own manufacturing process. Marketing genius! Or, as my roommate Sessa exclaimed when I shared this theory: "We're eating garbage?!"

The garbage element of the whole package becomes apparent when you taste it. Besides the industrial-accident topping, the fudge itself is oddly rubbery and tastes a little off. Maybe it's the shampoo. Sessa, who is allergic to sodium lauryl sulfate when it's rubbed on her head, explained that it's there to make the shampoo foamy, and also appears "in dishwashing liquid and other things of that nature." (The Almond Roca folks may rest easy in the knowledge that tasting the fudge did not kill her, or even make her throat itch.)

A good dense chocolatey fudge should be fairly solid when you cut it into cubes. This one sticks to the knife, stretches out, and generally refuses to be cut down in a reasonable manner. It behaves the same way when chewed: more like a caramel than fudge. It tastes more like caramel too, suggesting that they got the ratio of sugar and milk to chocolate all wrong. Do they make Andes Mocha too? Maybe that's who sent them the failed fudge. I'll tell you: when you come up with a block of solid chocolate that I won't eat, that's when you know you've really failed.

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