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Toffee Throwdown: Heath v. Skor


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#1 Fat Guy

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Posted 10 November 2009 - 07:57 AM

We were discussing the question of best mass-produced treats, and the venerable Heath bar got a few mentions. This led to me going out to try to find a Heath bar at a newsstand or bodega, but I found that Heath had surprisingly limited availability. Chris Amirault then inquired about Skor bars, which until then I had never tasted. More widely available -- though still not a Tier 1 candy like Snickers or M&Ms where you can get one pretty much anywhere candy is sold in the US -- would the Skor bar be the answer to my dreams?

I bought one and, to me, it tasted great and seemed to be an earnest Heath-bar facsimile. I then decided I should get one of each and do a taste test. This proved challenging. I finally found a Heath bar at a Duane-Reade pharmacy (probably the dominant chain here in New York City), but once I found it I couldn't find a Skor bar anywhere. By the time I found a Skor bar, I'd eaten the Heath bar. This went on for days.

Finally, I managed to get both at the same time.

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I'll cut to the chase: Skor is better. I went into this experiment thinking Heath would be better, but in the end the superiority of Skor was inescapable.

I'm not the first person to conduct a Heath-Skor challenge, or even the first person to post online about it. A blogger who goes by "Flax" did a particularly nice job comparing the two bars (and by the way also ruled for Skor). But I thought I could add a little.

Here's the essential information from the "Flax" effort:

Skor was introduced by Hershey's in 1983 to compete with the much older Heath - but Hershey's actually acquired Heath in 1996


From other Googling, I found indications that Heath and Skor are now made in the very same factory. Also I remember Heath used to come as two small bars in a package, but it has now been converted to a single-bar format. I'm wondering if they're even made with the same machinery. They look quite similar, though the ripple pattern is not identical.

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Heath's toffee is light in color and bits of almonds can be seen on the inside. The taste is primarily that of almonds, with the chocolate coating providing additional flavor. The toffee snaps fairly easily under the teeth upon biting into the bar. Heath contains palm oil (the only ingredient it contains which does not also appear in Skor), which might help explain its slightly softer texture.


"Flax" is correct about the difference in appearance. Inside, Heath is lighter in color and the bits of almond are visible.

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As for ingredients (which can be found listed under the fold of the wrapper -- it took me a minute to discover that), here they are:

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"Flax" is also correct that the main difference in taste is Skor's buttery richness:

Skor's toffee has a rich, buttery taste which dominates the product. The outer layer of chocolate is barely even noticeable from a flavor standpoint. The toffee is also much darker in color and while it does contain bits of almonds, their flavor does not predominate as they do in Heath. The dark, buttery toffee flavor is the driving force. Also, while the two bars are about the same thickness, Skor's toffee is slightly stickier and more resistant to the tooth.


"Flax" concludes, as I did, that Skor is the tastier candy bar:

put everything together - Skor's richer taste and its entertaining packaging (as far as I can think of, it's the only mainstream US candy bar that actually shows a picture of the bar on its wrapper, which I've always enjoyed) - and you come up with a clear winner.


But I'm not one to rely fully on single-observer tests. So I also set up a blind tasting. My friend Sean and my wife Ellen were served samples A and B and asked to comment. The decision was instant and unanimous: they liked Skor better.

Not only is Skor better than Heath, it's also simply a great candy bar. As luck would have it, I was able to acquire some of the professional high-end pastry-chef version of Skor/Heath from my friend Nicole, who is in my opinion one of the best pastry chefs going. This is what you get when you make a chocolate-toffee confection with high-quality chocolate and all the other top-shelf ingredients:

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Needless to say, the chocolate in this version tasted superior. The chocolate used in Heath and Skor is mediocre Hershey's chocolate. Luckily this doesn't matter all that much because it's such a small component of the candy. But I will say that, even though the pastry-chef version was based on superior ingredients that could be easily tasted and preferred, there were things to be learned from Skor's food scientists. The Skor bar was saltier and more buttery, and I think having compared them side-by-side my pastry-chef friend will increase the salt and butter components next time she makes this item.

So, to Skor, I say bravo not only for being better than Heath but also for having a thing or two to teach even a top pastry chef.

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#2 baroness

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Posted 10 November 2009 - 08:17 AM

I'm also firmly in the Skor camp for the buttery flavor and the thinner format.
They are very dangerous when throughly chilled, then smacked (still wrapped) to shatter into bits. :rolleyes:

#3 Lisa Shock

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Posted 10 November 2009 - 09:48 AM

I have always preferred Skor. I recall purchasing one when it was a new bar. At that time, Skor was made with real butter and Heath was made with margarine. -This was my original reason for trying Skor in the first place; it appeared to have better quality ingredients.

#4 Jaymes

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Posted 10 November 2009 - 10:45 AM

By the time I found a Skor bar, I'd eaten the Heath bar. This went on for days.


:laugh:

Boy, have I ever been there.

As to which I prefer, it's Skor. I still remember the first time I had one, years ago. Only bought it because at that particular store, no Heath.

Figured it probably wouldn't be as good, but of course it was.

Although if I can't find it, I'm fine with Heath. Like that old song advises....love the one you're with.

#5 Pierogi

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 12:22 AM

THOROUGHLY agree that Skor is exponentially better than Heath, even though I listed Heath as my #1 favy-fav in that other thread.

It's just that Skor is sooooooooooo much harder to find here in suburban LaLaLand than Heath. So for the buttery (sort of) toffee, chocolate-coated nummie bar, Heath wins simply on availability. When I want the buttery, toffee, chocolate coated fix, Heath is usually my only option.

But a Skor is well, a SCORE.

When I finds 'em, I buys 'em. In quantity.

OK. Massive quantity.
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#6 weinoo

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 05:11 AM

I like the SKOR more, but can you really do a throwdown without including See's (admittedly next-to-impossible to find in New York)? And let's not forget the DAIM, avaialble only at your local IKEA. These are tiny, individually wrapped toffee candies, and they're really good.
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#7 Tri2Cook

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 06:44 AM

Definitely Skor over Heath.
It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#8 Jaymes

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 07:08 AM

I like the SKOR more, but can you really do a throwdown without including See's (admittedly next-to-impossible to find in New York)? And let's not forget the DAIM, avaialble only at your local IKEA. These are tiny, individually wrapped toffee candies, and they're really good.


And Almond Roca, too, if it comes to that.

However, See's is pretty regional, except for mall kiosks during the holiday season. Not sure it would qualify for the throwdown if one of the requirements is mass availability.


___________

Edited by Jaymes, 11 November 2009 - 07:55 AM.


#9 baroness

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 08:13 AM


I like the SKOR more, but can you really do a throwdown without including See's (admittedly next-to-impossible to find in New York)? And let's not forget the DAIM, avaialble only at your local IKEA. These are tiny, individually wrapped toffee candies, and they're really good.


And Almond Roca, too, if it comes to that.
However, See's is pretty regional, except for mall kiosks during the holiday season. Not sure it would qualify for the throwdown if one of the requirements is mass availability.
___________


Almond Roca and See's are in a different price point as well.

#10 Pierogi

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Posted 12 November 2009 - 12:18 AM


I like the SKOR more, but can you really do a throwdown without including See's (admittedly next-to-impossible to find in New York)? And let's not forget the DAIM, avaialble only at your local IKEA. These are tiny, individually wrapped toffee candies, and they're really good.


And Almond Roca, too, if it comes to that.
___________

OH GOD.......Do NOT get me started on Almond Roca or anything, literally ANYTHING, See's. See's candies are ambrosial. They are manna from the Heavens. They are the epitome of candy-dom.

There is absolutely no comparison between the MegaMart Heaths and Skors and See's chocolate covered toffee bits. None. It's like comparing Dom Periginon to Andre.

Almond Roca is pretty damn good, and I can eat one of those tins, by myself, in the blink of an eye. And they are head and shoulders above Heath and Skor.

But they are not See's. See's is the Holy Grail of confections.
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#11 Moopheus

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Posted 12 November 2009 - 08:34 AM

I like the SKOR more, but can you really do a throwdown without including See's (admittedly next-to-impossible to find in New York)?


I think FG's original question was valid--two very similar products, made by the same company in likely the same facility. How much of a difference is there? Now I am intrigued to go out and try some. I'm pretty sure I can easily get both here, and it's been a while since I've had a Heath bar that didn't come in a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream (I wonder if the relative softness makes it better for freezing?).
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#12 abooja

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Posted 12 November 2009 - 08:54 AM

I had my first ever Heath bar a couple of days ago. Hated it. It offered nothing but crunchy sweetness. I could barely discern the flavor of almonds. I almost didn't finish it, not wishing to ingest all those calories and not enjoy them, but I'm not insane. Throw away candy? Ha.

Never tried a Skor bar, but I'm trying. I guess it'll be better than the Heath bar, but nothing compared to my homemade toffee. Perhaps that's the problem.

#13 Jaymes

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Posted 12 November 2009 - 10:22 AM

I had my first ever Heath bar a couple of days ago. Hated it. It offered nothing but crunchy sweetness. I could barely discern the flavor of almonds. I almost didn't finish it, not wishing to ingest all those calories and not enjoy them, but I'm not insane. Throw away candy? Ha.

Never tried a Skor bar, but I'm trying. I guess it'll be better than the Heath bar, but nothing compared to my homemade toffee. Perhaps that's the problem.


I doubt that the Skor bar will compare well to your homemade either. And if you make toffee often enough that it's on hand when you want it, if I were you, I wouldn't bother "trying" to learn to like those commercial bars. The thing for me is that I usually only make toffee once a year, at Christmastime, and the commercial bars are easily and readily available for a quick fix.

#14 emilyr

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 10:19 AM

This thread popping up is one of those weird serendipitous internet phenomena. I bought a Skor yesterday because my mom and I didn't have time to make our traditional Thanksgiving toffee and was really craving it. Skor tastes more like my mom's buttery toffee recipe (which is, needless to say, far, far superior to even the great Skor). Heath bars are kind of bland for my taste, and I think the chocolate is more oily.
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#15 Katie Meadow

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 10:50 AM

I'm not a huge fan of commercial toffee bars; my SIL makes some drop dead dark chocolate toffee bars every holiday. If anyone is interested--and you are sitting around wondering what to do with that leftover Heath or Skor bar after a tasting--Fine Cooking Oct/Nov has a very tempting recipe for a coffee-toffee pecan pie that includes a 1/2 cup of crushed toffee candy. They are very diplomatic, and suggest either Heath or Skor. Other ingredients include Lyle's Golden Syrup, espresso powder, bourbon and of course, lots of pecans. How can you go wrong?

#16 CaliPoutine

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 02:33 PM

I think Skor is sold mostly in Canada. I see them all over, but I can't find a Heath to save my life.

Almond Rocca used to be great, but I think their now using Mockolate instead of real chocolate.

The skor toffee bits that are sold here( in bags for baking) are made up of mostly palm kernal oil.

#17 Hest88

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 10:37 AM

Thanks for the detailed review. I was also intrigued by Flax's review on his blog. Prior to reading that I'd never realized there was much of a difference between the two. Luckily, here in the Bay Area I can find both bars pretty easily but I've never thought to do a side by side taste test. Now I'll just have to opt for Skor from now on.

#18 Moopheus

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 11:24 AM

I did the side-by-side comparison. Both bars are easily available here--they're often right next to each other at the counter.

I have to go with the general run of the comments here--the Skor had a noticeably more salty and buttery taste than the Heath. I didn't notice much difference in crunchiness. In fact, I'd say the overall difference was not that dramatic. The Skor was a little bit tastier but still obviously a mass-market candy.
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