Call it nerdy or Seinfeldian or what have you, but somehow a friend and I conversed one day last year on the subject of Hershey bars. I think the discussion began with me admitting with some guilt that I had that day eaten a half pound Hershey almond bar in one sitting. He conversely admitted to having on occasion eaten several of the small 1.45 ounce bars in one sitting. I informed him that Kroger had the large bars on sale at considerable savings over buying the small bars at the regular price, but he scoffed: “I never buy the large bars—only the small ones; they taste better.”
To that, I scoffed back: “They don’t taste any different!”
But he held his ground.
Six months later, I have to concede: I believe he is right.
In the intervening months I have bought and put conscious effort into tasting the various sizes and configurations of Hershey almond bars, from the 1.45 ounce regular candy bar size (usually 59 cents at Kroger; sometimes on sale for 4/$1.00 or 3/$1.00 at same) up through the 8- ounce monster which generally costs from $1.79 to $1.99, depending on venue.
Some things I discovered:
+ A few bars contain whole, uncut almonds (the regular 1.45-ounce regular bars and, if I recall correctly, the harder-to-find, 4-ounce bars). The rest of the sizes contain chopped up nuts. Repeated tasting leads me to conclude that, hands down, the bars with whole almonds taste much better. It may be more expensive for Hershey to produce these and more difficult for them to produce bars with uniform nut distribution throughout the bar. Nonetheless, despite the occasional distribution flaws, these whole-nut bars taste fresher and “nuttier.”
The bar shown here has excellent whole-almond nut distribution.
+ Some bars list a new emulsifier (PGPR) as an ingredient (apparently a cheap replacement for the superior cocoa butter). By now it is possible that all the Hershey bars contain this.
+ Taste variations in Hershey bars may be due to the ingredients that are required to shape the various sizes and configurations. The larger bars are molded into detachable rectangles while the regular bar is more uniform in shape. This observation is only speculation and how it specifically may affect taste I cannot say.
+ In addition to the adding of PGPR, another cost-saving move for some bars appears to be replacement of the paper/foil inner sleeve with an all-encompassing plastic package. Walmart carries these newer variations at the checkout lanes. So far I have refused to buy these while the paper/foil bars remain in stock.
+ The 1.45 ounce bar is the easiest and most common bar to find. Contains whole nuts.
+ The 2.1-ounce “Large Size” or “King Size” bar is the one most likely to be found in vending machines and at convenient stores and ranges in cost from $1 to $1.29, typically. They contain chopped nuts.
+ The 4-ounce bars are the hardest to find and can contain whole almonds. The last place I found these was Dollar Tree, though evidently this size is also sold at theater concessions.
+ The 5-ounce size is typically found at groceries such as Kroger or at Walgreen’s. For awhile these were issued in bonus-sized 7-ounce editions that touted “2 ounces free.” They cost upwards of $1.50 or so and contain chopped nuts.
+ The 8 0z. “half pound” size bars contain, I believe, whole almonds, though I haven’t had one of these in awhile to verify. These are sold generally in the same places as the 5-ounce size. Cost is upwards of $2.
The winner for taste is the 1.45 ounce regular sized bar. There seems to be a silkiness and less chalky aspect in the texture than in the larger bars and the whole almonds are markedly better tasting than the chopped ones found in most of the other bars.
An advantage of the larger bars is the satisfaction derived from biting into the thicker chunk. The satisfaction is lessened, though, by the inferior taste of the more “stale” chopped almonds. There can be little question that wholly self contained almonds better retain their flavor.