One thing I love about writing these reviews is that it totally justifies my dubious candy choices. For example, this bright red box of Peanut Chews. Which I bought at the dollar store. That's right! Mystery dollar store candy! C'mon, where's your sense of adventure?
The box is generously sized, and notes that these are "original dark" Peanut Chews. Although given the box's use of the word "choclatey" (a terrible euphemism is never a good sign) I had my doubts about "dark."
The box describes them as "chewy chocolatey bites loaded with crunchy peanuts," which made it sound almost like a Baby Ruth. You may not realize this, but the Baby Ruth is one of my all-time favorite candy bars. I know it's a strange choice, but I love the ratio of peanuts (high) to chocolate and caramel (just a dash of each).
Peanut Chews turned out to be not at all like a Baby Ruth, but more edible than you might expect from a random dollar store candy purchase.
My first impression, as I bit into my first ever Peanut Chew, was of something indescribably old-timey. What specifically came to mind were three other products: Malt 'O Meal, Chick 'O Sticks, and Ovaltine.
I have no idea where that association came from, but there you have it. The only even slightly unusual ingredient in Peanut Chews is molasses, which I use frequently in various recipes. Molasses doesn't have an old-timey flavor, nor is it present in those other three items. Both Ovaltine and Malt 'O Meal have malted ingredients, and there is something malt-y about the taste of Peanut Chews, but only vaguely.
As for the Chick 'O Stick association, I am wholly unable to explain it. But every time I took a sniff, I thought of Chick 'O Sticks. In fact, I have the empty box sitting beside me at my desk. I just sniffed it and thought about Chick 'O Sticks.
This is frustrating and bizarre, and it's getting us nowhere. Let's move on.
The texture of Peanut Chews is, as you might expect, a little bit chewy. Not as chewy as a Tootsie Roll, but it's a similar kind of vibe. What with the "chocolatey" and all. If you imagine a Tootsie Roll wrapped around a handful of peanuts, you're pretty close to the Peanut Chews experience.
Peanut Chews are made by Just Born, which is one of America's few remaining independent candy manufacturers. You probably know Just Born from their three most popular products: Peeps, Hot Tamales, and Mike & Ikes.
Just Born acquired the Goldenberg Candy Company in 2003. Founded by Romanian immigrant David Goldberg in 1890, Peanut Chews were originally marketed as a kind of proto-energy bar to the troops of WWI in 1917. Peanut Chews are an iconic candy of Philadelphia, where the Goldberg Candy Company did a brisk business in Peanut Chews from the 1920s to today.
One unusual aspect of Peanut Chews is that they are vegan friendly and gluten free. Pretty rare for a chocolate candy!