I haven’t reviewed a U.S import bar for quite some time, so I swung by at CyberCandy last time I was in London to pick up something exciting. On top of a few gifts for others (my little brother is hooked on energy drinks at the moment and loves their section of ‘heart attack in a can’ caffeine drinks!) I found myself being up sold to. Now, that’s pretty rare. Because I’ve worked in sales before, I’m normally very alert to being sold stuff that I didn’t intend to buy originally. However after a brief interchange with the two ladies in the Covent Garden based shop and I was leaving with a new chocolate bar. Namely Hershey’s Take 5 bar.
The two girls didn’t even have to work hard to sell it to me. They just quoted the tagline from the side of the packet- ‘Sweet. Salty. Chewy. Crunchy. Delicious!’ It was their opinion, having seen some of the other sweet and salty flavoured stuff in my basket, that I’d dig this. So, £1.15 later (if I remember correctly) this little bar was heading home with me on a tube, then a bus, then a train and finally in my car. (I live quite far away from London…as proven by the need for FOUR different forms of transport.)
Take 5’s basically a list of my favourite flavours, all packed together and laid one on top of the other. From the description, ‘Made with chocolate, pretzels, peanut butter, caramel and peanuts’ you’ll no doubt be able to figure out exactly why this had interested me so much. The thing is though, normally chocolate bars tend to stick to using only two or three of those flavours rather than all 5 listed. Hershey have tried to be different here though, by using all of them. I had high hopes, but wondered if it was a mistake to do so- they are all fairly powerful flavours and I reckoned that the Take 5 might simply have too much going on in one 42g package.
The ‘bar’ actually came in two bars to be precise. I’m not sure if all Take 5 bars are like this, or (more likely) I just thought an odd variety. Either way, these two little Rocky look-alikes (that’s Rocky the chocolate bar…not Sylvester Stallone) fell out at me looking rather seductive. That was despite the fact that it was covered in Hershey’s milk chocolate…which nearly always tastes lame. I don’t know if Americans dislike British chocolate (I’d be very interested to hear from any U.S readers on that front) but by and large, all transatlantic imports flop on the chocolate front in my (English) opinion.
Speaking of America, this product looked every inch the Yank bar. The packaging design is loud, blatant and in your face- everything that we’re told the USA stands for! Crude stereotypes apart, the Take 5 really did display a lack of airs and graces about it. It is basically styled to replicate a man running up to you in the street and yelling “TAKE 5” in your face from point blank range. And I actually enjoy the lack of nuance here. Much like the Lion products I’ve reviewed before, it’s a simple, straight forwardly presented product.
After removing the bar from its cardboard sheath and flipping it, I saw the above- a chocolate coating revealing just a glimpse of golden peanut. And it looked rather good in my humble opinion.
It actually looked like it was supposed to as well. You know when you buy a McDonald’s burger and instead of looking immaculate and ala the TV advert you originally saw it on, it looks like the employee has just got all of the ingredients, put them randomly in the burger box and shaken the box around like a maraca? Well I was promised 5 very clear layers from Hershey, and that was exactly what I found when I cut the bar in half to look at the cross-section.
The smell was, as Tony the Tiger says, ‘Grrrrrrrrreeeeeaaaaaaat’. The peanut butter was creamy and along with the peanuts, the whole thing was so nutty. The peanut butter and caramel combine to give it some real butteriness and they even throw in a bit of the sweet chocolate, which smelt surprisingly attractive, to create a fantastic overall smell. I loved it.
Above is a decent close up on the layers for you guys. The pretzel layer is easily the biggest, followed by a brown coloured peanut butter, a very thin golden caramel strata, some peanuts and topped with chocolate. It turned out to be a mouthful both literally and descriptively!
I even performed a bit of chocolate surgery. Above is the excavated pretzel layer on its own. I’m not really sure why it has the holes in it- Twix biscuits are the same (as anybody who eats their Twix like me will know- nibble the chocolate and caramel topping to unveil the biscuit bottom.) Why the devil is this? Anybody?!
My knife skills also meant that we can see the rest of the layers. This didn’t look so good and I kind of regretted seeing it to be honest! Peanut butter is, simply put, not supposed to be grey in colour. Ever. It looked a bit like the surface of the moon.
The Take 5 had a superb mix of tastes and textures. There was a very mean portion of caramel, but the flavour came through more than enough with an enjoyable buttery flavour. The texture on the caramel was very firm, and much more chewy than I had expected. The peanut butter added to the butter notes as well as contributing an outstandingly smoky flavour with a hint (no more than that) of saltiness too.
I found the pretzel a little disappointing- it was easily the biggest layer of the five, but was bland and lacking in flavour. It still crunched fantastically which was lovely for the bar as a whole, but as a standalone flavour is left me wanting a baked flavour which never arrived. The chocolate wasn’t at all disappointing. But before you get your hopes up, that’s only because my expectations were already rock bottom! Slightly sweet which gave the bar another dimension, it still lacked any kind of chocolatey flavour at all. The bar’s other 4 layers probably could have been dusted in sugar and it would have tasted the same.
Hershey’s Take 5 is a rather delicious multi-layered bar of chocolate…with not many flaws. It’s probably my favourite Hershey’s product that I’ve tasted to date as well. The predominantly salty flavours are nice, and coupled with the sweetness from the chocolate and caramel, this bar becomes greater than the sum of its parts. No individual layer is outstanding, but as a team they hit the spot.
I would love to see exactly the same bar but with Cadbury’s chocolate. That milky flavour would improve the Take 5 in the one area in which it has a serious deficiency- the chocolate layer.
Make no mistake though- as a blend of varied textures and tastes, the Take 5 bar is right up there with the finest mainstream products I’ve tasted. It’s a rarity I say it…but well done Hershey. Good job guys.