January 16, 2009 | 7:18am
There are the candies that grab our attention because their bright packaging promises a new take on an old favorite, or the advertised ingredients signal a flavor combination we haven't experienced before. Then there are the familiar candies that we routinely pass over because our eyes are trained to ignore them. We know they exist, but aren't sure why. Crows, Jujubes, Necco Wafers. Is it because mildly flavored chewy or chalky candies can't hold their own against chocolate blasted with caramel and peanut butter, or is it just that we've stopped appreciating the subtlety of a good candy? We decided to find out by trying one of these forgotten "favorites," the Charleston Chew. Well, not just any Charleston Chew, but the strawberry one. Did we mention it's another Big Lots find? Promising!
Having never eaten a Charleston Chew of any flavor before, we are both surprised that the long, narrow packaging holds a chocolate-covered treat. This is what happens when you don't do your research--you go in expecting a tube of something Laffy Taffy-esque and you get a chocolate rod. The ingredient list doesn't help, since the "chocolate" (and the filling) is somehow created with corn syrup, sugar, partially hydrogenated oil, nonfat dry milk, cocoa, salt and egg albumen. Well, we DO like a good egg albumen in our candies! The packaging recommends you try chilling it and then breaking it into pieces, but we are REBELS and decide to just dive right in.
Aubrey (trying to pull off a chunk): Wow, this is rather...stretchy.
Liz: It looks like chocolate-covered bubble gum. That's already been chewed.
Liz: I'm imagining it more taffy-like. Like an Airhead.
The consistency is lighter than we're expecting, less dense. The chocolate breaks down and leaves a silky, easily chewed taffy behind.
Aubrey: Definitely Strawberry Quick.
Liz: Yes. But what I'm really getting is children's aspirin.
Aubrey: Oh yeah!
Liz: The slight bitterness of the chocolate is combining with the artificial fruit flavoring and is coming up chewable medicine.
Aubrey: Hmmm...I think I'm done.
Does this candy deserve to be ignored by the masses? Well, yes. Kind of. It's not disgusting, but it's not particularly appealing, either. It tastes like it was created in 1922 by some old timey candy dude and then retooled in the '70s to rejuvenate the brand by throwing strawberry flavoring in there. Yum yum
Would we finish it?
It's awfully big. And egg albumeny. Let's just say if, at the same time we were testing this Charleston Chew, a bakery dropped off a box of cookies and a delicious cake, we'd have trouble concentrating on eating this candy. Hypothetically
Would we buy it again?
We might try the vanilla, just to see if the original holds up better.
Rating: 2 out of 5
-- Liz and Aubrey