Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sweet, Spicy, & Sticky - A Good Combo?

Sweet & Fiery Fruit Gushers - Walmart
After falling in love with the recent influx of spicy sweet snacks, like the Sweet Heat Skittles and Starbursts I reviewed last year, I couldn't resist trying the trend in Gusher form. 
Design-wise, this product is sticking to the same guidelines as the "Sweet Heat" treats. We have a basic, black, backdrop with some hot rod style flames. It's simple, bold, and to the point. The black box definitely stands out among the cartoon-covered fruit snack boxes on the shelves, so even though I feel like it's a little "Blah" looking as far as packaging is concerned, it more than serves it purpose.    
Apparently Gushers, as a brand, do not vary their individual packet designs? If you look at the back panel there is some black stamped text claiming these are "Sweet Heat," but it's very easily ignored. (Interesting that the text says "Sweet Heat" and not Sweet & Fiery" like the box.) Keeping the pouches the same is a cost effective choice, for sure, but it also lends itself well to pranks. Think you're getting sweet, normal, Gushers? Think again! 
Inside the pouch are three different flavors:  
Hot Mango (Green) - I am not sure if it was the color throwing me off, or what, but this didn't taste like mango at all and it definitely had the lowest spice-level of the three. I felt like this flavoring leaned more strawberry than anything else. The green fruity candy is sweet, non-distinct, with a mild pepper-like heat towards the end. Since it is green, maybe this was jalapeno based? This flavor was a flop for spice seekers, but flavor-wise, I wouldn't kick it out of the pouch. (Even though it tastes nothing like mango.) 
Fiery Peach (Orange) -  The peach flavoring is syrupy sweet and a little cloying, like canned peach halves, or fruit cocktail. It's recognizable, and fairly authentic as far as canned peaches go, and there is definitely some spiciness to it as well. The spice levels are on a low-to-medium-low level, about the same as the spicy Skittles and Starbursts that came out not too long ago but the heat here is more buildable than the others. If you eat several of them in a row, you get a candied peach-salsa experience with a built up heat level that lands in the definite medium category, which is easy to do since there were more of these in this box than any other flavor. This the most refreshing of all the spicy fruit candies I've reviewed, and I like it a lot. 
Spicy Watermelon (red-pink) -  This one tastes like watermelon flavored Dum-Dums and other childhood sweets. It's a bold, tangy, artificial watermelon. (Although the box claims there are not artificial flavors.) This flavor is bold and tangy, at times echoing Jolly Rancher watermelon candies, but with a dry spicy finish. Maybe there is some cayenne in this one? The tangy flavoring pairs nicely with the dry spiciness and makes it really snackable. I enjoyed this flavor but the spice level didn't seem to build up or really go anywhere beyond a mild dry heat.  
Like the spicy Skittles and Starbursts, these were not a huge hit in my household. I was the only one really interested in eating them, but that just meant more for me! I really enjoyed these and I am sad that my box is now empty. The gummy-like candy allowed the fruity flavoring to be brighter and bolder than other candy incarnations, even though the heat level was a bit lacking.  
Before now, the Skittles were my go-to spicy sweet of choice, but thanks to the bright and refreshing boldness of these fruity flavors, these might actually surpass them as far as flavor and enjoy-ability, but when it comes to the most bang for your buck, I think the Skittles are still the way to go. Almost every pack of gushers I opened were covered in sticky syrupy filling due to a popped candy here or there. That doesn't make for very easy snacking. If you enjoy this trend of sweet and spicy fruity candies, I definitely feel like these are worth a try. 
  © Maria Smith

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