Mike and Ike can hardly be classified as some kind of gourmet food, even by the standards of impulse section store candy. Hell, they're basically nothing more than streamlined jellybeans. Throw a shitload of sugar into a furnace somewhere, remove it in gooey bite-sized chunks, mold them into tube shapes, and inject them full of fruit juice and there we are! Mike and Ike, everybody! And to set the record straight, when they say "made with real fruit juice," the emphasis is on the juice part rather than the fruit part. Looking over the ingredient list, I saw a bold letting "fruit juice FROM CONCENTRATE." The emphasis is mine.
I do like the things, though, because they at least make the effort to taste like the fruits they say they're going to taste like, although by "like," what I really mean is "have no real objections to." So when I received a box of their Red Rageous variety, I didn't have any complaints.
Now, Red Rageous isn't what you probably think it is. Whenever there's a candy company coming out with a "red" product, the first instinct is to think about cinnamon or hot tomales or some other flavor which, in the real world, doesn't come anywhere close to burning your tongue off but is somehow made into a mouthful of inferno in the Big Rock Candy Mountain. So when I looked at Red Rageous, I was pleased to see that Mike and Ike had the good sense to avoid this mistake. By red, they meant the color, and so there are five different red flavors in Red Rageous: Strawberry, raspberry, watermelon, fruit punch, and, of course, cherry, which I would have failed this whole product if it had not been in there. There's even a helpful little guide on the back of the box to help you decipher which is which.
And a fat lot of good that guide is, too! The pictures on the package hold much more definition than what's actually in it, and trying to sort out the flavors gave me an idea of what bats must feel like when they look for food. The colors are way too far off each other for the guide to be effective, and watermelon will taste like strawberry, fruit punch will give a distinct raspberry flavor, and so on. It's best to just pop them in your mouth at random without worrying about it, because it's not like it does any good.
Sometimes, the flavors lack definition as well. Cherry is the most obvious because real cherries have such a tang to them, but the rest? Strawberry had the most subdued flavor while watermelon and fruit punch were interchangeable. They both had kind of a hollow taste, as if Mike and Ike were going for what they thought the flavors should taste like instead of what they really taste like.
The furnace sugar doesn't come off like it was cooled down enough. Mike and Ike really gets stuck to your teeth and it doesn't want to go anywhere, and that kind of subtracts from the flavor and ruins the texture. It's sugar, which means it will melt away from its cling spot all on its own, but when it's there, you KNOW it's there.
Furthermore, it's a push to even call these real food. Everything on the ingredient list besides the sugar is artificial flavoring, acid, or confection products. What you're looking at is basically a glorified ice cream topping, and with 25 grams of sugar per serving, is really what you're probably best off using Mike and Ike Red Rageous as. Hey, though, at least they don't try to burn your mouth out.