Am I just not used to eating candy anymore? Why is it all so stinky? These round little mini-bars smell funky when I bite into them, like artificial nut flavoring. Why would they put almond or walnut extract in here? They're trying to convince me they toasted it, not that they... nutted it... right?

This is actually good.... This is the problem with recapping more than one candy at once, actually. What I should say is "This is better than Andes Mocha Mint Thingies." But my relief at not having the aftertaste of those in my mouth anymore is so extreme that my first reaction to these is "This is really good!"

Let's not give them such a quick... um... escape here. There's a lot going on in the Almond Joy Milk Chocolate Miniatures Toasted Coconut With Almonds Naturally And Artificially Flavored. I know that's a shock, after such a simple and clear name, but trust me here.

They are round. The coconut is brown and smells oddly walnutty. It reminds me of something. You know what? It reminds me of the kind of candy you'd get from a small local candy company, like our own Annabelle's, like the kind of thing that Candyfreak guy would have flown all the way to Pittsburgh for, where everyone has grown up with Walnutty Buddies or Coco-Riffics or Chocolate Ball Sacks and never gave it a second thought.

And then the unsuspecting newcomer takes a bite and for a moment, all is coconut and sweet goodness. Until this weird, bitter artificial flavor comes in. And this wakes me up. I love the Almond Joy, by which I mean I love the Mounds and I eat around the almonds when they're there. I like this variation at first, and I like it fine when there's chocolate mixed up in it from Properly Balanced Candy Biting. But damn, that weird taste.

This is making me bitter. These giant candy companies (if Peter Paul is one. I bet they're owned by Nestle now. And the sack says... Hershey's! Damnit. This explains everything) use unfair marketing practices to crush the local candymakers, (I'm looking at you, Snodgrass!) and then they think they get to come out with something that totally rips off the people they crush? And they make it have an aftertaste like artificial burned crap? That's not fair. Plus, it's a limited edition! So even if I like it, even if it replaces some lost local specialty that I have yearned for for years, it will only be around for a little while, getting the major candy giant all kinds of "’buzz" and then boom! No more Walnutty Buddy for me! They're just toying with us, I tell you! Toying with us!

The crazy thing - besides that - is that I can't see anything in the ingredients that explains the weird taste. They list toasted coconut, for gods' sakes. Apparently they aren't lying when they call it toasted coconut on the label - as opposed to all the times they use "creme" in a name, for example. They list chocolate twice, and coconut (untoasted) separately. The only thing on here that I haven't tasted before, at least not in a candy I liked, is that PGPR stuff that Hershey's and only Hershey's seems to stick in almost everything.

Okay, here's my new theory. On Star Trek, all those foods that come materializing out of the... food... materializer... thingy? Those are all made out of pure PGPR. It's a new super-wonder-non-food that can be made to taste almost like anything. And Hershey's is at the forefront of PGPR Fake Food Technology. They've just barely gotten to the stage where they're using it to fill out their candies or to replace ingredients in there. Maybe it's like Ever-So-Much-More-So, in the Henry Reed stories, where some faker comes through town selling something that is invisible and unsmellable and is supposed to be shaken onto food to make it taste "ever so much more so" than it did. PGPR (they croon to their candymakers and their investors) will enhance any candy! It will make their products irresistible to the world! And best of all, it costs only pennies per ton to make! Soon everyone will be beating down their doors for more - and Hershey's is the only one who knows how to make it! My friends, when we eat their candies, we are tasting the future. The multiple-chemical-sensitivies-inducing, brain-killing, corporate-branded, weird-aftertastey future.

Anyway, where was I? So, it tastes kind of like walnuts. Bitter. The miniature bars are round instead of the usual oval. Didn't they used to just sell one of those oval half-bars as their miniature form? I don't know why this is a circle, but it is. It retains the usual slightly tough, slightly squishy coconut filling, maybe a little tougher with its new toasty nature.

There is a very mainstream, normal, milk chocolate coating over the whole thing, including the small almond settled on top. I sucked everything off of one: it's an actual almond, whole and complete with skin (which does provide its own slight bitterness, but nothing like the candy's), but somehow seeming smaller than almonds usually do.

I really like it when the bitterness isn't there. It's a great chewing candy! Because if you stop: tastebud pain! The walnuttiness isn't bad, even, and hey, toasting things is supposed to give them a nutty flavor. It's the bitter whack that comes in afterward that has no business being there. Maybe toasting the coconut didn't have the desired flavorful effect and they used the candy equivalent of liquid smoke in it. Actually, that sounds pretty good, compared to this. On the bright side, unlike the Andes Coffee flavor, this candy's aftertaste actually dissipates within a minute or so. And the toasted flavor does something to balance out Almond Mounds' normal sickly-sweet base flavor. Besides, I know I'm not the only one who spent their childhood fantasizing about getting to eat candy that materialized out of nowhere. For the moment, Toasted Almond Coconut Artificial Natural Flavor Joy Milk Chocolate Miniatures is as close as we can get.

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