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TASTE TEST CHOCOLATE COINS

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Know your gold foil-covered chocolate coins! Our three testers are chocolate experts in their own right: Marilyn Mueller, owner of Terracocoa, a Chantilly supplier of chocolate novelties, cakes and artisan chocolates who prefers that such coins melt fairly quickly on the tongue; Max Cutler, 13, of Bethesda, an experienced gelt consumer and discriminating chocolate fan who thinks "there ought to be a law" against the dark chocolate coins because "they're just too bitter"; and Food section staff writer Candy Sagon, whose name alone earns a berth at any confectionary taste test we hold. The panel rated the coins in three categories: whether they were better for eating or playing, how they tasted and an overall score of 1 to 5 (tops).

On this page is a wrap-up of the 13 brands* tested, listed in order of the panel's preference. You might want to call ahead for availability; over the weekend, we noticed the gelt was going fast.

BEST

SEE'S CANDIES , four-ounce bag, $3.05, available at See's Candies kiosks in major area shopping malls till Saturday (check locations online at http://www.seescandies.com/ ); or call 800-347-7337 to order

Sweet and milky, good chocolate flavor, melts quickly; the foil coin design gives it a slight edge over Godiva

GODIVA , about $8 for a 1.75-ounce mesh bag; available at Godiva stores, kiosks and at http://www.godiva.com/ ; also at Eatzi's, 11503-B Rockville Pike, Rockville (301-816-2020)

Fancy, mild, creamy

GOOD

MADELAINE (of Rockaway Beach, N.Y.) COINS , $12.99 per pound, at Chocolate Chocolate, 1050 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202-466-2190; MADELAINE BAG OF 100 COINS , $12, also at Fran's Cake and Candy, 10396 Willard Way, Fairfax, 703-352-1471

Mild, good break, nice but not very chocolaty

TRADER JOE'S COINS OF THE WORLD , five-ounce bag, $1.99, at Trader Joe's stores

Rich but not overly sweet, doesn't melt

BISSINGER'S (of St. Louis), one-pound box, $23; order online at http://www.bissingers.com/ Nice flavor, sweet but tough to peel open

FAIR

PREMIUM, one-ounce mesh bag, $1.29, at some Marvelous Market stores.

Has coconut taste, grainy, good-looking

ASTOR BELGIAN , pictured below, 5.1-ounce pack, about $5.99, at Rodman's stores and some Whole Foods Markets

Hard and rich, sweet but odd aftertaste, very mild

BETTER YOU SHOULD PLAY THAN EAT

ELITE GELT (milk and dark chocolate, kosher for Passover), 5/8 -ounce bag, 50 cents, at Adas Israel Sisterhood Gift Shop, 2850 Quebec St. NW (202-364-2888) ; too sweet, dark chocolate's too hard

CHANUKAH GELT , 1/2 -ounce bag, $1.25, at Kae Robin & Co., 6910 Arlington Rd., Bethesda (301-654-2618) ; bland, no chocolate taste until the end

BALMER COINS OF ALL NATIONS , 1.9-ounce bag, $1.19, at some Safeway stores;

rough on the tongue, bitter aftertaste

FRANKFORD BELGIAN , two-ounce bag, 99 cents, at A.C. Moore, 9650 Main St., Fairfax City (703-764-2004) ; grainy, weird flavor

SHERWOOD PREMIUM (made in Turkey for Sherwood Brands LLC of Rockville), five-ounce bag, 50 cents, also at Rodman's stores ; not much flavor, breaks apart

PIRATE'S GOLD COINS , 5/8 -ounce bag, 89 cents, at the Paper Store, 1803 Wisconsin Ave. NW (202-333-3200) ; strange aftertaste, doesn't melt

*NOTE: Almost all of the brands except for Bissinger's were labeled U-D or KSA (Kosher Supervision of America), which is supposed to designate the product as certified kosher (but not necessarily kosher for Passover), and either contains a dairy or dairy-derivative product or might not contain dairy products but was manufactured with equipment used to make dairy products.

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