Easter candy every bunny's hopping for

By Kathy Saunders
Published April 4, 2007

Malted milk balls are so popular that Hershey Foods Corp. provides the candy's evolutionary time line on its Web site.

The chocolate malt balls were developed in 1939 by the Overland Candy Co., according to Hershey, which purchased the brand from a Finnish company in 1996.

The original Whoppers, as they were named in 1949, were sold two for a penny. Egg-shaped malted milk candy was marketed for Easter in 1952 and later named Robin's Eggs, the Web site says.

Today, egg-shaped malted milk candy is a spring treat produced by several companies.

Taster's Choice sampled five brands to find the one most suitable for their Easter baskets.

None of the competitors could beat the original Whoppers Robin's Eggs $1.69 for an 11-ounce bag at Albertsons. Judges gave the Hershey's brand 67 out of 100 points. All four said they would buy the candy.

Judges liked the candy's bright, bold, colorful coating, as well as the pleasant crunch.

"They look like those little blue boxes from Tiffany's without the white ribbons," said one panelist.

"I hope the Easter Bunny brings these to my kids," said another.

None of the other brands came very close to the Whoppers in taste. But judges did like the version from Brach's ($2.29 for a 10-ounce bag at Publix). They gave the Brach's malt balls/eggs 48 points.

Two judges said they would buy the Brach's candy, but the other two said the eggs contained too much chocolate for them.

All of the judges liked the colors and said the candy offered a nice balance between crunchy and sweet.

"These have a peanuty flavor, and they taste like M&M's," said one panelist.

Sweetbay sold malted milk eggs from Necco that pleased the palates of two judges. The Necco candies ($1.99 for 12 ounces) were very shiny and a bit grainier than the others.

"These are like those malted milk balls that you get at the movies - not too sweet," said one judge. "They might be good for Halloween in a pumpkin color and a full-moon-rising yellow."

Judges also sampled malted milk eggs from Georgia's ($1 for 7 ounces from the Dollar Store) and Pooh eggs from Disney ($1.96 for 12 ounces from Wal-Mart).

Panelists were: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian with Pinellas County Cooperative Extension; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620 personal chef and mother of four, Julie Overton and Kim Thomson, fifth grade teacher at Pasadena Fundamental School. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product tasting to Taste section, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or e-mail them to jkeeler@sptimes.com Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to www.sptimes.com/food.

Judges' ranking

Malted milk candy

1. Whoppers

2. Brach's

3. Necco