Thursday, September 27, 2007

Horn o' Plenty

Here's that groovy cone o' mixed goodies I got at the Dutch candy store. Isn't it cool? It's filled with gumdrops, little compressed sugar smiley faces, sugary jelly cubes and chocolate nonpareils. I plucked out a few of the gumdrops and started my "G is for Gumdrops" painting yesterday.
In other news, I had to go back to the dreaded Christmas Tree Shoppe today. Now, here's the thing: I have a phobia against buying candy (or anything edible for that matter) from non-food stores. So while I sometimes spy interesting things at say, Marshalls or TJ Maxx or the dollar store, I just can't bring myself to buy them. I envision the edible stuff stored in a big warehouse next to boxes of Made-in-China-lead-paint knick knacks and I freak out. But I actually bought a bag of "Smarties Parties" today. They had lots and lots of candy for Halloween, so I hedged my bets and figured that this stuff must be A) somewhat fresh and B) insulated from the lead paint by all the other candy. I've never seen anything beside regular Smarties before, so it was pretty exciting. In addition to the regular, there are:
Candy Money
Bubble Gum Smarties
X-Treme Sour Smarties
Tropical Flavor Smarties
I'll have to find some kids to taste test these and naturally, I'll use these for my "S is for Smarties" painting.
(Editor's Note: After writing the above entry, I decided to check out the Smarties website. Now, I tend to think of Smarties as pretty high up there in the lexicon of candy. I mean, it's not Hershey's or Nestles, but still, Smarties have been around forever and everyone knows them. So why, I'm curious to know, is their website so bizarre? It's some the strangest copy writing I've ever seen. It reads like a non-English speaking foreigner wrote it. "Candy it's sweet man!" "How will you know when you're eating gross candy?" Wow. I'm speechless.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Overheard at the playground:

"He used to work for M&M/Mars. He worked there for 16 years and he said he'd never go back, that they treated him like crap."

Doesn't that just sound wrong? I mean, it seems like everyone who works at a candy company should be happy-go-lucky and fun. I have this image in my mind that all the workers at candy factories are giddy and love their jobs. But I guess not, huh?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Stop what you're doing!

I just learned about something so exciting, so delicious, I can hardly stand it: CANDY BUFFETS. I love this white one. Holy cannoli.
I'm the first person to rail against the whole wedding industry-- you know, that "it's the most important day of your life, therefore you must have the best of everything and put yourself (or your parents) into debt for the rest of eternity" kind of crapola. But apparently, the "hot" new thing is to have candy buffets as your dessert or favors. Instead of little net bags filled with ancient, stale Jordan almonds, you have a big, glorious table with jars and buckets and trays full of candies. Each guest gets a box or bag (maybe a Chinese take-out container or fancy tin) and they get to fill it with whatever treats they want. HOW COOL IS THAT?! I don't know what I'm going to do with this information, but it's so exciting. Maybe I could be the Candy Buffet Princess and run my own business. Ooooh! Or, more likely, I'll just have to have a Candy Buffet Party.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Notes from the Field: Ghost Dots

While I was busy carting a kicking and screaming Henri out of the library today, Alexandra was out in the field doing some research. She went to Target in search of Candy Corn Kisses and came back with the following info on Ghost Dots:

1) Apparently they look glow-in-the-dark but don't really glow
2) There are three flavors and you have to guess which is which
3) They're supposedly shaped like ghosts (which I guess is just a longer Dot)

She didn't buy any, but now of course, I'm intrigued. I don't really dig the idea of eating something that glows or even just looks like it does, but I suppose I can just try one and give the rest out at Halloween. Guess I'll be going to Target this week.

Update on Candy Corn Kisses

I was flipping through the Target flyer this weekend when I saw an ad for the Candy Corn Hershey Kisses, and it said "Exclusive to Target!" So if you're looking for them, apparently there's only one place to go. In the same circular, there was an ad for "Ghost Dots." It was hard to tell from the picture, but these look like little boxes of Dots that glow in the dark-- the Dots themselves, not the box. Weird. I don't know how I feel about glow in the dark candy. Seems kind of like Homer Simpson swallowing nuclear waste.

Help me out folks!

There's this really funky town nearby where there are cute little stores, upscale restaurants and groovy coffee shops all along the main road. For as long as I can remember, there's been a store there called "A Taste of Holland" or something like that, and they always had wooden shoes and knick knacks in the window. I never went in and never would've thought to if Alexandra and Sue (MKAFGGF) hadn't alerted me to their candy selection. A few weeks ago, I finally went in and whoa! What a Dutch candy paradise! All along the wall were wooden bins filled with different candies. Of course, there were tons of that gnarly Dutch licorice, but there were also gummies and hard candies and chocolates. I bought a cellophane cone filled with a colorful gum drop and nonpareil mixture that I thought would be great to do paintings of. (A picture is forthcoming; please stand by as I'm having camera difficulties.) They also had Stroop Waffels! I bought a package of mini ones called Stroopies. I have yet to inform the von Schokolats that I have these in my possession.
I also got a roll of Rang! candy. These are hard, circular candies in assorted fruit flavors. They're very tasty but what I really love about them is that each is individually wrapped in wax paper. This instantly brought back memories of some kind of hard candy I ate as a kid that had the same kind of wax wrapping, but I just can't place it. I'm thinking it might be Tootsie Pop Drops, but I'm not sure? Can you help me out?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Halloween Safety

This month's Parenting magazine has an article on Halloween choking hazards. So, just a reminder, kids 3 and under shouldn't have:

  • hard candies

  • jelly beans

  • candy corn

  • gummy bears

  • caramels

  • chocolate kisses

  • licorice

  • gum and gumballs

  • sourballs

So, being an ever vigilant parent, it's up to you to consume the above treats, if merely for the sake of your children's safety.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Snack Shack

Once upon a time my friend Marcie and I worked in the inner circle of hell, otherwise known as the local newspaper. I was the editor of the Good Living section; she was a graphic designer and worked on the real estate ads. The people we worked with were great; it was the big-wig management that sucked. Apparently they thought we worked there for the love of it and paid us menial wages while we had to use equipment that was barely newer than an Underwood typewriter and cut-and-paste design.

Although we worked in a fairly dense suburban area, our office wasn't really near too many stores of interest. Couple that with the fact that we were on the second floor and seemed to always be on deadline, and we didn't get the chance to get out much. You had to bring your lunch and snacks or basically you'd be screwed. One day, while enjoying our usual Lean Cuisine lunches, we came up with a brilliant idea: what if we started a snack stand in the office? We could go to B.J.'s and load up on candy and chips and sell it out of my office. Brilliant! We could provide tasty treats for our colleagues while at the same time supplementing our meager incomes. And thus, the Snack Shack was born.

I had a window in my office that looked out on the newsroom, so we set up shop there: a big box filled with Reese's, Snickers, Milky Ways, chocolate chip cookies, potato chips and other goodies. We charged a flat rate: 50 cents for any item. Some items (such as the cookies) offered a bigger profit margin, but we figured it would all work out in the end.

The Snack Shack was a huge success. We could count on the editor to buy a bag of chips for his lunch every day. The sports editor saw what a great value we offered and bought in quantity to take home treats to his kids. We even had frequent buyer cards. It was fantastic.

Oh, it wasn't without its problems. One day I caught Marcie's arch enemy, a saleswoman named Gail, snaking her manicured talons around the window to steal a bag of peanut M&Ms. The next day we put up signs saying the Snack Shack was being monitored by close-circuit cameras and that violators would be prosecuted. Another time, the General Manager was jonesing for a snack after hours and went into my desk to look for the Snack Shack key. And then there were always the dregs that nobody wanted: some random tortilla chips, plain Hershey bars and the like. These were sold in the occasional buy-one-get-one-free sale.

But overall, it was a huge success and we spent our occasional earnings on vodka tonics and nachos. Several months later, when I'd finally had it with the cheap-ass antics of the company, I got motivated enough to look for another job. It broke my heart to tell Marcie I'd be leaving the Shack. She decided that she didn't want to continue it alone, so we sold the business the sports editor. I visited the office a year later and the Shack was still going strong. In fact, he had expanded his offerings to include soda. Above the Snack Shack box o' goodies there was a picture of his twin daughters and a word balloon that said, "Please donate to our college fund."

Those were some good times. I hadn't thought about the Shack in a long, long time until I got an e-mail the other day from a guy named Logan. He runs a vending machine company that's been in business for 20 years. I asked him what the most popular candies are and he said definitely traditional faves like Reese's and Butterfingers, but the new hot items are energy balls. I've never even heard of these, so be on the lookout for a future entry about these. But it got me to thinking about owning a vending machine business. How cool would that be? That's up there with having an ice cream truck in the summer. Check out his website:

I'll have to give Marcie a call to reminisce about the Snack Shack. And maybe I can persuade her to start up her own vending machine business.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Old Timey Candy

This is so cool. It's a website of nostalgic ads with lots of candy-related stuff. This picture is from a sales book from the 1940s. There are also ads for Chuckles (assorted and all-licorice), Nickel Nacks (little boxes of candy corn, lemon drops and other yummies), 3 Musketeers (the original with three flavors!), Stark "The World's Longest Candy Roll" (looks similar to Necco Wafers), and-- you've gotta love this-- "Mason Cocoanut Queens: A luscious, tasty chocolate flavored coating, impervious to temperature extremes covers a moist, flavorful cocoanut center."
There's lots more, too. You'll have tons of fun looking at these. Which reminds me, I have an old Life Savers ad that I need to get framed to hang in the H-man's room.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

NASCAR Nibbles

I'm not much for NASCAR. Too loud and hot for me, but that's just my opinion and obviously lots and lots of other people disagree. So all you race car fans, get excited: not only can you indulge in chocolate, but now you can also show your devotion to the Earnhardts. Yesterday Hershey announced that it will be releasing a Limited Edition candy bar in memory of Dale Earnhardt Sr. In a freaky twist, today Palmer announced they will be releasing the "Big Mo" bar, chocolate-covered peanut butter and caramel, in honor of the junior Earnhardt.
Given the usual quality of Palmer chocolates (and I use the word "chocolate" very loosely), it would seem that the younger Dale got the short end of the stick.

What's new

It sounds like everyone is having a grand ol' time at the Candy Expo. Good for them! You can read about Cybele's and Sera's coverage on their websites. I'm particularly interested in the Reese's Whipps (doesn't that just sound good?!) and the gigantic Junior Mints. Mmm, giant mints!
In the meantime, I just sampled the Nestle Crunch Stixx for the first time and wowee, those things are good. They're almost like chocolate-covered Pirouettes (or Yohays, depending on what you call them); crispy, crunchy, chocolatey and addicting. I can't have these in the house.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Catching up, corrections, etc.

I've got a huge pile of random bits-n-pieces of candy stuff, so here we go:

  • The Baron claims that I've gotten the Mr. Goodbar jingle wrong. He says it's, "Mr. Goodbar, Hershey's chocolate wherever you bite." This is still unconfirmed though. Can anyone help?

  • Speaking of help, thanks so much to everyone who answered my S.O.S. for my friend's son who is searching for a way to make sour candy without artificial colors. As of the last update, his mom had ordered some ingredients and found a recipe for conversation hearts that they hope to modify. I'll definitely keep you posted.
  • Another opinion on the Hershey's Candy Corn Kisses: Meemaw loved them. She said, and I quote, "They're so sweet and creamy, I could eat a whole bag." There you have it. She's hoping she'll be able to find some in Mississippi where she lives. Keep your fingers crossed.
  • Yesterday I went to the God-forsaken Christmas Tree Shoppe where I had hoped to find some cool Halloween stuff for the lawn. No such luck, although I did get a child-proof latch for the toilet for $1. Woo hoo! Anyhow, while I was standing in the check out line, I saw they had bags of Limited Edition Caramel Tootsie Pops. I seem to remember these from when I was a kid. Am I imagining this? Anyone else remember these?
  • Lastly, I hope all my fellow candy bloggers are having a blast at the All Candy Expo. I promised myself I wouldn't be sad that I wasn't able to go this year, so I'm anxiously awaiting to hear what's new and exciting. Have fun everyone, and eat an extra piece for me.

Announcing my new baby

It's a long story, but after a lot of soul-searching, there's once again a Mini Cooper in my life. She doesn't have a name yet, but I'm fairly certain it's a "she" this time. She's hyper blue with a silver roof and bonnet swoop. Anyhow, check out this sweet gift the dealer gave us: it's a Mini mug with a packet of coffee, blue rock candy swizzle stick and a Mini cookie. Now if only I hadn't gotten rid of the Tootsie Pop owl antenna doohickey I had on the old Mini!

Monday, September 17, 2007

J is for Jujyfruits!

Here's the latest in my series of Candy ABC mini paintings. (Once again, the photo is crappy; these actually have more detail in real life.) I thought Jujy Fruits would be relatively easy to sketch out because they're such defined shapes, but they were actually really tricky. There's lots of stuff going on in them thar candies. If you check out the website for Heide (the company that makes them), you'll find this awesome little bit of candy trivia that you can use to impress your friends and family:

"The shapes of the Jujyfruits® include Pineapple, Tomato, Raspberry, Banana, Grape Bundle, Asparagus, and Pea Pod. The banana shape is stamped with 'HEIDE.'"

So apparently what you're looking at are two tomatoes (which I always thought looked like green peppers) and a peapod. Strange, isn't it, to have candy shaped like veggies? (This is where, if you're an obnoxious kid, you say, 'Look, Mom! I'm eating my veggies!' as you scarf a box of Jujyfruits.) (Here's a question: why are they Jujy FRUITS and not JujyVeggies?)

Anyhow, I had great fun doing these and in the process I developed a new love for Jujyfruits. They actually seemed smaller than I remembered (perhaps they are?) and softer, too. But I dig the flavors, especially the black licorice ones. After all that horrid European licorice, it was nice to chew on some good ol' American licorice.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Meemaw in da house!

Yesterday Henri's Meemaw and Grandpa (aka The Baron's in-laws) arrived from Mississippi and they came bearing chocolate. Hooray! Here they are with a bag of Russell Stover Private Reserve Vanilla Bean Brulee and a bag of Russell Stover Internationale Swiss Lodge Mocha Cream-- ooh la la!
I always underestimate my feelings for vanilla. I tend to think of it as boring, but a good vanilla can be very sexy. Such was the case with the Vanilla Bean Brulee. The dark chocolate is nicely balanced between sweet and bitter and the vanilla is fragrant. Yum!
The Mocha Creams are good, too, but they're really sweet. The bag describes them as "smooth mocha cream center enhanced by silky milk chocolate and finished with crisp white chocolate." I wouldn't say crisp, though. More like firm.
Anyhow, it promises to be a delicious weekend.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Let them eat cake!

This weekend we went to a block party and fortunately I was part of the group that was assigned to bring dessert. I've had this recipe for "Peanut Butter and Chocolate Candy Cake" sitting around forever, so I thought I'd

finally try it. The recipe said it was like a Tasty Cake, and I have to agree. Basically it's a layer of vanilla cake with a layer of peanut butter and a layer of chocolate. I overmixed the cake batter so it was a bit chewy and I used all-natural peanut butter which, let's be honest, just isn't as good as they chemical-loaded kind. Still, they were good and worth a second try.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Candy Corn Kisses!

Like I said in a previous post, I was running dangerously low on candy supplies, so this weekend when I had to make a dreaded Target stop, I decided to see what they had. They were just starting to put the Halloween candy aisles together, so there were only a few things stocked. Nothing exciting. But as I was walking to the checkout, there was a display of Hershey Kisses on sale, including these: Candy Corn Flavored Hershey Kisses. I thought for sure these would be beyond gross, but I had to try them.

The wrapping is really cute: silver, orange and yellow swirly stripes. When you open the bag, you definitely get a very distinct aroma. Maybe some people will think "candy corn," but I instantly thought "Butter Rum Life Savers." Interesting, because I really like BR Life Savers. The kisses themselves are really cute: a layer of yellow, then orange, then white. How do they taste? Very sweet, very buttery. Unlike a regular Hershey Kiss, you wouldn't want to eat a whole handful of these. But I liked them more than I thought I would. These would be fabulous as the decoration on cupcakes or chocolate cookies, which is what I plan on doing with them!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Okay, I'm coming in late on this one ...

...but I've finally tried Pocky! And oh, what a fantabulous find!

My grocery store just started carrying milk chocolate and hazelnut Pocky, so I splurged and bought the milk chocolate. What are Pocky? They're these thin little sticks (the nutritional info refers to them as biscuits; 13 in a serving!) that are dipped on one end in chocolate. Doesn't sound too exciting, right? But let me tell you, they are YUMMY!

Sue, my kick-ass-firefighter-garden-guru friend (SMKAFGGF) came over last night to introduce me to the world of Belgian beers. We had dinner and for dessert, Ben & Jerry's Vermonty Python (coffee liqueur ice cream with chocolate crunchies and chocolate cows) with Pocky. I know, I know. How am I supposed to kick the Baron's butt in our weight-loss contest when I'm eating like this? Well I just did a long aerobic workout in this sweltering, nasty, humid weather. That's gotta count for something.

ANYHOW! Pocky is a Japanese treat and it comes in all sorts of flavors. You can check it out at different websites, including I particularly love this "Men's" Pocky. Apparently women are too genteel to appreciate bitter chocolate. HA! If you can find some Pocky, I'd definitely suggest trying it.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Looking for Mr. Goodbar

Brian (Mr. "I-don't-like-Pay Days-Oh-wait-I-love-them") decided to catch up on my blog last night.

"Why does Mark get a cool nickname but I don't?" he said. Sigh.

"Fine," I said. "You want a nickname? I shall call you Mr. Goodbar."

There's no particular reason for that, but it did get me thinking about the very underrated candy bar. Think about it: when was the last time you went into the drug store or supermarket and actually bought a Mr. Goodbar? And no, the bag of Hershey Miniatures doesn't count.

(Let me digress here for a moment and talk about the Miniatures. The mix contains Hershey's milk chocolate, Special Dark, Krackel and Mr. Goodbar. I believe that each person has his or her own hierarchy of how they eat these. Here's mine: Special Dark, Krackel tied with Mr. Goodbar and then the milk chocolate. Here's how I eat them: I quarantine the Special Darks, because they're just in a category of their own. Then I eat the rest on a rotation: Krackel, then milk, then Mr. Goodbar, then milk, and so on. If there are milk ones left, and there usually are, I save them for eating with peanut butter. I wonder, is there any such person that actually DOESN'T sort out the Miniatures? A person that simply puts his or her hand into the bag and eats whatever they get? I don't think I'd like that person.)

So back to Mr. Goodbar. It's so simple: peanuts and chocolate. But it's so delicious. According to the Hershey site, Mr. Goodbar was developed in 1925 and in 1992, the formula was changed to include more peanuts.

Like the Chuckles jingle, I often have the Mr. Goodbar song going through my head. I don't really know the words, but in my mind, it goes like this: "Mr. Goodbar, peanuts and chocolate wherever you bite, peanuts and chocolate wherever you bite ..." I'll have to Google that and see if it's real or if it's just another candy delusion.

Anyhow, I fear for Mr. Goodbar. It's not as mainstream as a Snickers, or as sexy as a Whatchamacallit. Will it stand the test of time? I hope so, because it really is a Good Bar.

I'm sad ... send me chocolate!

Hello, candy friends. Today, a few miscellaneous items.

First of all, I won't be attending this year's Candy Expo. :(

I couldn't get coverage for the little man, so I had to pass. I'm sad because I really would've liked to meet my fellow candy bloggers. What a hoot that would be! Well, there's always next year. To everyone who's going: have a sweet time!

Second, check out this cutie-pie Tootsie Pops Miniatures "lunchbox" I bought at Target. I had to laugh because it comes shrink-wrapped, so you think there's going to be a whole bunch of Tootsie Pops in there. Wrong. There were three! Oh well, whaddya want for a buck? There were a couple of other types, too: Dots and Tootsie Rolls, if I remember correctly. I was trying to think of what I could use the tin for, and then it dawned on me: my ATCs! My little paintings fit in it perfectly.

Lastly, my candy reserves are dangerously low. I didn't think that was possible with all the bits and pieces leftover from the Great Euro Candy Extravaganza, but it's true. I'll need to do some candy shopping over the next few days.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Could you make that a Milky Way to go?

You've gotta love this: there's a new Milky Way out called the "2 to Go" bar. It's a king-sized bar that's been pre-broken in half-- yes, PRE-BROKEN!-- so you can take it to go. Whaaaat? There's an article on it in today's Washington Post. I particularly love the comments about needing a knife and fork to eat a candy bar. We're turning into a nation of candy pansies!

Candy S.O.S.

A friend of mine has discovered that her son is allergic to artificial colors. Not a big deal overall, but the thing is, he loves sour candy, particularly stuff like SweeTarts. She wanted to know if there's some way her little budding chef could make his own sour candy. Intriguing, isn't it? It seems like it should be possible with the help of some citric acid, which apparently is readily available at beer- and wine-making stores (as well as the Internet, of course). I'd love to experiment with this but the very-mobile H-man has been cramping my style lately, so if anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The ABCs of Candy

In an effort to make more "me" time, I've been spending a little time each weekend working on paintings-- of candy! I just finished one of caramel bullseyes, and I'm now working on one of those little pastel colored licorice squares. It's so much fun and it's a subject I (obviously) never get tired of. When I don't have a large-ish chunk of time (like when Henri is napping), I've been making these art trading cards (ATCs) as sketches for the paintings. I want to do a whole series of "ABC" cards in a candy theme. Of course, some letters are easier than others. Any suggestions for U or X?

Yes, I know it's sideways ...

... I forgot to rotate it when I saved it. But it's not a great picture anyway, so we'll just call it artistic license.
I'm back from the big trip to Cape Cod where I learned a very important lesson: it's not fun to travel with a one-year-old. We had a good time, but travel just isn't the same when you have to work around nap schedules, temper tantrums and stroller-friendly locales. Anyhow, I did get in a little bit of candy hunting while I was there. I found a cranberry and almond bar that I was very excited about, but the pieces of cranberry were so minute that you could barely taste them. I'd post a picture of it, but someone ate the rest of it before I had a chance to save the wrapper.

Then, at a little candy shop, I found this bar of Castelain Chocolat Noir. I wouldn't have chosen it over the other goodies, but it was displayed next to an article from Gourmet that said it was one of the best new chocolates. It was good, to be sure, but enough to produce raves? I don't know.

I managed to avoid the fudge and salt water taffy, and I found a great new beer: Cape Cod Red. Now it's back to life as usual, and I'm looking forward to entering fall with all its orange, brown and gold-wrapped candies.