Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 4:01 p.m.
Ah, Jolly Ranchers. Every person of a certain age who grew up in Colorado has a bit of hometown pride attached to the brand. Started in Golden by two locals in 1949, the company was sold to Hershey in 1996, though the factory that made the glossy candies here stuck around until 2002. What has remained great about Jolly Ranchers is the intensity of flavor jammed into such a small package. Of course, the pointy corners of the candies have dulled into more of a barrel shape over the years, and the line has expanded beyond the simple hardtack candy and into the world of jellybeans and candy canes, so the question remains: How far can the brand stray and still maintain the integrity of the original Jolly Rancher?
Enter Jolly Rancher Fruit Chews.
Although we've seen these packaged in a Starburst-like wrapper in the past, the ones we picked up were in a hard blue cardboard box, slightly larger than a deck of cards. The package promised cherry, watermelon, green apple and blue raspberry, but our box contained an overabundance of apple and no raspberry at all. The pieces are a bit smaller than Starburst candies and more rectangular, though the consistency is very similar.
Flavor-wise, the green apple comes the closest to the original. The bite is there and the flavor stays with the chew until the end. You do have to ignore the florescent green going on, but we guess that comes with the green apple territory these days. Cherry gets props for avoiding the cough-syrup taste and maintaining a semblance of real cherry flavor, though the taste is more mellow overall than apple. Watermelon is a disappointment, missing the tangy kick you get from the hard candy. Like the original, it delivers that slight throw-up flavor to the back of your throat, which will either be a nostalgic plus or a reminder of why you don't eat Jolly Ranchers much anymore.
Would we finish the package? Probably, but not in one sitting.
Would we buy again? We prefer the original.
Rating: 3 out of 5