Lowbrow Gummy Bears Get Fancied Up

Bissinger’s Gummy Pandas

Bissinger’s Gummy Pandas

I Paid: $4.95 for a 4-ounce bag (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 4 stars

Marketing: 4 stars

It’s come to this, then: We as a society now have artisanal gummy bears.

The boutique-made Bissinger’s Gummy Pandas (note that these snacks are too fancy to even take on the generic “bear” name, or something down-market like a grizzly or black bear) are available online and in specialty stores, beckoning to customers with their tasteful white packaging and fancy-pants cursive script announcing the flavor of the candy in question: Goji Guava with Camu Camu, or Pomegranate White Tea, or Blueberry Acai, for example.

I tried two varieties: Pink Grapefruit with Grapeseed, and Apricot Green Tea. The texture on both types was excellent—like the German-born originals, there’s some real chewy fight to these things. Apricot Green Tea has a bit of an aggressive potpourri odor but a pleasant, subtle flavor, opening up with a strong note of apricot and closing with the taste of tea. It’s a harmonious (if somewhat counterintuitive) marriage of flavors.

The Pink Grapefruit variety tastes neutral at first but blooms into a moderately assertive citric bite of grapefruit flavor. It’s a simple, natural taste, and a pleasant compromise between “too sweet” and “grapefruit flamethrower.”

Whatever it may say about us as people that even our lowbrow fruit snacks come in an “all natural, gluten free, wheat free, no artificial colors or sweeteners” format that boasts flavors as obscure as the dessert menu at any upscale urban restaurant, it’s nice that the things fulfill the flavor promise made on the front of their bag.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow Chowhound on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.

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