Sunday, August 27, 2006

Stick out your tongue and say "Yum!"

So, I'm one of those lucky people who, when asked what they do for a living, actually has something fun to talk about. My official career is a freelance writer for magazines and newspapers. I write about health, food and travel, and I just love doing it. I'm very fortunate. But I've also got my cool side job as a taste tester for Cadbury Schweppes, maker of such fine products as Dr Pepper, 7 Up, Snapple and all sorts of other labels. When I first saw the ad in the paper, I thought, "Oh my God! Cadbury Creme Eggs!" Alas, the chocolate tasting is done in England and the gum division is in New Jersey. We work on beverages and apple sauce. But the training we went through was really rigorous but fun and it's given new dimension to my personal candy tasting hobby. We did some fun tasting experiments with candy. Like what, you ask? (I'm not giving away any trade secrets here, I assure you.) Well, take a peppermint TicTac. That initial flavor you taste is not mint but in fact a marshmallowy vanillan flavor. It's that first moment of flavor that I love the most in Tic Tacs.
Then there's the test to demonstrate how much a part your sense of smell plays in the whole taste game. Plug your nose and have someone put a Lifesaver on your tongue. Bet you can't tell the flavor. Now release your nose. You'll be able to tell right away if it's peppermint or spear-o-mint, lime or orange. Fun!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Pure fluff

Let's talk marshmallow. I like marshmallow. Summer just isn't summer without at least one perfectly golden, crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside toasted marshmallow. S'mores? Yum. Mallo Cups? Most definitely. Peeps? Well...not so much, but still. Can't celebrate Easter without them. So why, why, why does the Special Edition Reese's with Marshmallow suck so bad? I'll tell you why. Because it's nasty super-artificial flavor marshmallow. Of course this isn't gourmet candy, but c'mon...the thin layer of marshmallow on top of the peanut butter is just too sickly sweet "marshmallow flavor." Very disappointing. Next on the docket is the special edition Reese's with caramel. I'm holding out hope for that one.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Dark chocolate salvation

You knew it had to happen. The Virgin Mary has appeared in a lump of dark chocolate at a candy factory: She's no fool-- moving onto chocolate after the e-Bay grilled cheese. I predict she'll make her next appearance in a creme brulee.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The best chocolate ever. Really.

Great things happen when you least expect them.
While traveling up to Vermont about a year and a half ago, we stopped in the little town of Kent, Connecticut for lunch. While looking for a restaurant, I spied a teeny tiny little shop called Belgique Chocolates. Of course I had to stop.
There were a couple of glass cases, one with desserts, one with ice cream and one with hand-made chocolates for $50 a pound. As I'm not (yet) filthy rich, I bought two pieces for each of us and we went on our merry way. About a mile down the road, I bit into a dark chocolate vanilla cream. Holy. Cow. I was audibly oohing and aaahing over this chocolate. Brian tried his-- dark chocolate raspberry cream. I expected him to say it was good, but he joined me in my animalistic groans of ecstasy over this incredible chocolate. Yes, it was that good. Yes, it is the best chocolate I have ever, ever had. No, they don't have a website. No, they don't ship. The chocolates are all fresh, hand-made, no preservatives, so they won't stand up to shipping. Which means that these are an extra-special treat.
So it was with great sadness that I opened my birthday gift from Brian last October. He had bought me a mega-box of these chocolates, but I couldn't even look at them. I was in the deep throes of morning sickness and, try as I might (and I did try, I really did!) I just couldn't eat them. I got totally gypped. (gipped?) I plan on making the trek up to Kent soon to recoup my loss.

Candy Corn

After spending many years trying to find my niche in the art world, after my series of feminist-inspired paintings followed by a wine series, I've finally found something I'm truly passionate about. It was right there all the time. Of course, now when people say, "Oh, you paint? What do you paint pictures of?" I have to reply, "Candy corn." Doesn't have quite the same drama as "Genderless angels swirling in a sea of misogynistic chaos intermingled with text from the feminist canon." But it's more fun, don't you think?

I'm back!

Yes, it's been a while. Since my last posting, my life has taken all sorts of strange twists and turns, including a nine-month stint of extreme morning sickness. Of course, the payoff was worth it-- my little alligator boy, Henri. And it's because of him that I have a new-found sense of responsibility--nay-- duty, to keep up this blog. I must stay on top of all the yummy goodness that is candy so I can properly introduce him to the world of sugar madness.
As I mentioned before, I was struck with one of life's not-so-funny moments. When I found out I was pregnant, I thought, "Bring on the chocolate!" But it wasn't meant to be. Nine months of stomach-churning nausea kept me off the stuff. The only things I wanted to eat were grapefruit, Big Red gum and wood. (Don't ask.)
This horrendous time, of course, coincided with Halloween. I managed to get to the store to buy candy, so I bought a few bags of Take 5 candy bars. I haven't even been able to look at them since then. So of course, what did I find at the store the other day? Special Edition Take 5s-- a peanut one and a marshmallow one. I did buy them, but have yet to taste them, but for the good of the people, I'll do it.
I want to give credit, too, to Cybele May, the creator of Candy Blog, She has a beautiful website where you can read all about her ratings of candy. I learned about her website in the recent New York Times Magazine article on special edition candy: