I was surprised to see Caramello mourned repeatedly in the pages and cover of Candyfreak when I re-read it lately. I forgot that it was his big favorite discontinued piece. And I had just bought one at the drugstore, right next to all the normal Snickers and whathaveyou.
Someone had dropped a Russell Stover Caramel Bar right near it, so of course I assumed that it was related. And I bought them both, for a little caramel duelling action.
ROUND ONE - THE STURDINESS: RUSSELL STOVER
I carried both of them around in my bag for a while, and only realized the problems with that when I opened the Caramello and found its runny caramel filling had leaked out and glued the bar to the wrapper. Mm, caramel cement! The dense, thick caramel filling of the Caramel Bar delivered a killer punch to this Caramello's glass jaw, and the Caramello is DOWN! <> ROUND TWO - THE FILLING: CADBURY
The Caramel Bar's filling is thicker than the Caramello, but both fillings have a stretch-and-drip action. The Caramel Bar's won't drizzle out if you take a bite and put it down; it holds its structure when at rest, and only stretches and runs when you're biting it, at least in winter.
The Caramello is a messy fighter. It's a bleeder. You bite into this thing, caramel is going to start breaking out all over the place. But while I like the chewier texture of the Caramel Bar, the runny Caramello is growing on me. It's fun to watch strands of it break off, the way pizza cheese is supposed to but rarely does. It's a blast to let the ribbons of caramel drip into my mouth. I even enjoy wiping the leaked caramel off the wrapper with my finger and nibbling it clean, and then chewing on the wrapper. Plus, all that caramel bleeding out intimidates the opposition!
ROUND THREE - THE FLAVOR: RUSSELL STOVER
Its caramel has a buttery, toasty flavor, and the slightly darker chocolate gives the flavor a nice edge. When you bite into it, the chocolate releases a burst of chocolatey scent which perfumes the air while you munch through it on the caramel.
The Caramello's caramel is thinner, with an oddly citrusy note and less intense flavor - the ingredients report that it's been watered down with milk, milkfat, milk solids, and of course our healthy friends corn syrup and PGPR!
Its chocolate is actually tough to chew, a little chalky, and it has that weird sour-milk aftertaste that is normally associated with Hershey's, which ends up permeating the whole bar. It's also much thicker than the chocolate on the Caramel Bar, which should give it an edge in this bout. Instead, it distracts from the caramel and makes the whole thing harder to eat. Foul! This is a clear infringement of candy rules!
ROUND FOUR - THE STRUCTURE: A TIE
The Caramello is a bar with four square segments which in theory can be broken apart, and in practice are little candy boobytraps full of exploding caramel. Pros: Great April Fool's candy, and it helps contain the caramel a little - three of mine broke and leaked but the fourth stayed intact! (And the Caramello delivers a powerful left hook!)
Cons: The segmented structure makes for more weak spots where the caramel can leak through. But when you bite into one spot the whole segment crumbles into a messy affair of chocolate shards and runny caramel - there's no way that would have worked as a whole bar. All right, the structure allows for that delightfully messy biting and leaking and stringing and bobbing and weaving that the Caramello does so well.
The Caramel Bar is just a long strip of thick caramel, thin enough to be stretchy instead of painfully chewy. The chocolate is a thickish, crisp, rippled layer that totally encases it, lending the bar integrity instead of an air of danger. A dedicated candy-lover could even pick the chocolate off with their teeth, playing tug-of-war with the strong caramel center. Its games are just as fulfilling as the Caramello's - they're just more solitary and hidden than its prank-filled fun.
THE WINNER: RUSSELL STOVER
The Caramel Bar is just a journeyman fighter. A ham-and-egger. A palooka from Kansas City, Missouri. It's no international prizefighter. But it carries a powerful uppercut and delivered one hell of a knock-out to longtime champion Caramello here today.
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