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Taste-test, Aisle 1.

Supermarket Sweets: New Warheads Sour Coolers

[Photograph: Max Falkowitz]

Warheads were really big when I was a kid, and I loved them. I used to eat so many in quick succession that I'd get that singular, too-much-sour-candy-on-your-tongue injury that is strangely equivalent to rug burn. But that was part of the experience—there's more to enjoying Warheads than flavor, there's a great sense of achievement.

Once you put one in your mouth, you had to soldier through the initial sour shock, endure it until you were rewarded with the sweet hard candy underneath, and then, after sucking through that, there was the final treasure, an extra sweet inside that crackled slightly with carbonation on your tongue, like tiny pop rocks. When you popped a Warhead, you felt pride in understanding that good things come to those who wait. When you popped a Warhead, you assumed the people around you were impressed.

So I was excited to try the latest offering from Warheads, a special summer release called Warheads Sour Coolers. Marketed as having a special cooling effect for summer, I figured they might follow that earlier Warheads trajectory—power through the sour, and get a reward of cool instead of sweet.

But these are a whole different game, and they're really strange. First of all, they're a chalky disc rather than a crunchy, crystallized sugar sucker like the original Warhead. What great candy is in chalky disc form? I can't think of one. Smarties certainly don't qualify.

Second of all, they're not that sour. Not in a way that befits the Warheads man on the package, with his lips pursed and steam coming out of his forehead. As for the cooling effect, it's immediate. This isn't a layered candy like the classic Warhead. The cooling sensation took over my mouth immediately, and while it was pretty cool in the sense of cold, it was not very cool in the sense of neat. This seemed more like a lozenge than a candy—indeed, the feeling these things give is somewhere between the strange mouth numbing of a serious business sore throat lozenge and the menthol kick of a candy-section cough drop, minus the minty-ness. The whole business doesn't say "candy" to me, and they left my mouth feeling sort of dry and chalky. On top of all that, even the flavor was majorly lacking, tasting of just the barest hint of faux-fruit.

Impressive? Not quite, but they did make me want to go find some original Warheads.

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