Thursday, March 29, 2007

Random Candy Memory: Chuckles

My parents have taken me to Barkers, the nasty discounty five-and-dime pre-WalMart store. I hate going here because my neighbor told me a story about a woman who tried on a coat and she felt some pinching. It turned out that the coat was made in some far-off land and had snakes sewn into the lining. Of course I now know this is an urband legend, but it scared the bejezus out of me at the time. Anyhow, there are candy machines in the entrance. I see a package of Chuckles—the rectangular pillow-shaped gum drop candies. Each package has a red (cherry), orange (orange), yellow (lemon), green (lime) and black (licorice). I wonder to myself why anyone would pick Chuckles over another candy, because I really don't like them. I only like the black ones. Why would anyone pick Chuckles when they could have M&Ms or even those dry peanut butter crackers?
Thirty years later, when I get stressed or cold, the Chuckles jingle goes through my mind. “Chuckles, chuckles, C-H-U-C-K-L-E-S. Chuckles. All kinds of Chuckles would you like some? Yes!” I haven’t actually seen a package of Chuckles in years, or maybe it's just that I subconsciously block it from my vision.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Caramel catch-up

It's been a few days since I've posted. Life is getting crazy around here with a pending move and Henri's first birthday fast approaching. Not to mention the fact that I'm having my annual White Elephant party on Sunday. Woo hoo! I found a great recipe for the party at Candy Addict for Leftover Easter Candy Cake. How awesome does that sound? And why didn't I think of that? A cake with all sorts of candy chopped up and baked into it. I'm going to have to make it.
My candy samplings have taken me down the caramel road, and I can't say I've been too impressed. First up, I bought a package of Hershey's 'n' More Caramel Cookie Bars. I thought they'd be like Twix, but they weren't at all. The caramel was really sweet and the chocolate was very plastic-y, which was a disappointment, since you can usually count on Hershey for some palatable chocolate. The cookie lacked the grainy grittiness of a Twix. There were four in the package, so I tried to pawn them off on my niece, but she wasn't impressed either.
My second new item this week was an Easter item, a Snickers Creme Sports Egg. First of all, let me just say that it bothers me that suddenly sports have entered the realm of Easter candy. Why is this? Can boys not have bunnies and chicks? Now their eggs have to be shaped like soccer balls and footballs? I find that annoying. But I bought this because I was intrigued by the "creme" reference. What could that possibly mean? As it turns out, this isn't just a Snickers in an egg shape. There's no nougat, which was disappointing. Instead the filling is a soft, not quite liquid caramel with peanuts. It was fine but nothing I'd buy again.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I cleaned out my candy cupboard!

Well there, I did it. I cleaned out my cupboard. I ditched the candy canes, the half-eaten candy bars and the empty wrappers, although I'm holding onto the candy corn for future still lifes. So let me take this moment to tie up some loose ends.

First, the Seattle Chocolate Extreme Dark Chocolate Truffle Bar with Chocolate Nibs that sat on my desk for a few weeks was really, really good. The nibs were crunchy without being too dry like espresso beans. The chocolate was smooth and yummy. Definitely a winner.

I tried the Big Green Triangle from the UK Gourmet and it was pretty disappointing. I only had a bite. It tasted kind of stale and crumbly, and the hazelnut taste was a little too pronounced. But I'd still eat it over the horrid Seeds of Change Bayano bar (see previous post.) Brian has been slowly eating that foul thing. I was changing Henri's diaper the other day when Brian came up behind me eating a piece of it and I caught a whiff of it. Believe it or not, the chocolate overpowered the diaper. I can smell it a room away and it still makes me gag.

I had a Reese's Fast Break a few weeks ago and it was strangely addicting. I didn't think I liked it at first. The combination of the peanut butter and chewy nougat was weird, but I got used to it. I don't think I'd choose one over a regular Reese's, but it was worth a try.

So now my candy cupboard is bare. What should I fill it with?

Monday, March 12, 2007

I promised you something fantabulous ...

... so here it is. It's not a candy bar, it's a book called "Krazy Kids' Food! Vintage Food Graphics" by Steve Roden and Dan Goodsell.
I have to preface this by saying that something weird happens when you have a baby. Suddenly you start talking and singing and saying all sorts of stuff that a normal sane person would not. For example, lately we've started singing an old Nestle's jingle, substituting "Henri" for "Nestle's." It originally went like this: "Nestle's makes the very best ... chocolate." It was sung by a hideously scary dachsund with sharp teeth like a dolphin. So I was at Barnes & Noble the other day, and I saw this book on the discount rack. I picked it up and opened to a random page and there was an ad for Nestle's Chocolate Soda with the freaky dog who, as it turns out, is named Farfel. I had to get it, but it wasn't until later when I realized what a treasure this was.
The book is simply pictures of products from the 1950s-1970s, but holy cow! What memories they bring back! A few delicious examples:

  • Mr. Wiggle, the Candy Flavor Gelatin Dessert From Jell-O: these little boxes have a wiggly dude on them and came in flavors like Candycorn Orange, Gumdrop Grape, Rockcandy Raspberry, Candyball Cherry, Lollypop Lime and Jellybean Strawberry.
  • Life Savers Candy & Gum Fun House: I totally forgot that there used to be Life Savers gum! The box, decorated with kooky alien-like characters, had five rolls of Life Savers and five rolls of gum.
  • Nabisco Chocolate Snaps: These cookies came in little individual boxes. My mom used to buy them all the time. There was a photo of a cookie on the front with drawn-on eyes, ears and nose to make it look like a bear. There were also the Zuzu Ginger Snaps and Lemon Snaps, but I only remember having the chocolate.
  • Willy Wonka's Peanut Butter Oompas: These were like big M&Ms, only with peanut butter inside. They were pretty gross.
  • Big Banana Bubble Gum: Yes! I remember this! I can almost taste the incredibly artificial banana flavor now!
  • Quicksand Bubblegum: The package says, "The world's fastest flavor chew. It pours." I remember this powdery goo you'd chomp on until it turned into a semi-solid wad of gum.
  • Little Monster Cookies: "A fright in every bite ... Flavor that will haunt you." If I remember correctly, the flavor was haunting.
  • Pillsbury's Funny Face Soft Drink Mix: I don't think I ever had this-- my mom wasn't into giving us fancy drinks-- but I do remember going to Rugby Park down the street from my house and there was a teenage boy wearing a T-shirt with one of the Funny Face characters on it and I thought that was so cool. The flavors were: Freckle Face Strawberry, Lefty Lemon, Rootin'-Tootin' Raspberry, Jolly Olly Orange, Choo Choo Cherry and Goofy Grape. I'm pretty sure it was the Goofy Grape on his shirt.
  • Wrapples: "6 neat sheets of caramel with sticks for making 6 caramel apples." These didn't really wrap around the apples very well. It was like eating an apple with a piece of plastic squished onto it.

    I could go on and on. What a find! For only four bucks, this little book has offered me endless nostalgia.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A bleak candy report

It pains me to write this entry, but alas, life is painful and we must face adversity head-on.
I've had my share of bad chocolate. I've eaten cheap, fake chocolate that tasted more like wax. I've had expensive truffles that weren't worth half the price. But never, in my 36 years, have I ever had a piece of chocolate that I truly couldn't stomach. Until now.
My usual grocery store has gone on strike, so rather than deal with long lines and clueless cashiers, I went to the other store in town. It was kind of cool because there were all sorts of new products there (hence my $150 grocery bill!). In the natural foods section, I was pleased to see several new candy bars and I took my time selecting just the right one. Even though it was the most expensive-- $3.50 on sale-- I picked the Seeds of Change organic Bayano dark chocolate with cacao nibs and cinnamon oil. It seemed as if this bar had everything going for it: I love dark chocolate, I dig cacao nibs and cinnamon is my favorite spice. The wrapper is funky; it has a ship on it and when you unwrap it the inside has a story on chocolate and sustainability. And the ingredients are simple: chocolate, sugar, cacao nibs, cocoa butter, milk fat, soy lecithin, vanilla and cinnamon oil. I broke off a square and popped it in my mouth. That's when things went terribly wrong. It was just a baaaad combination. Between the nibs and the cinnamon oil, the bar was just way too herbaceous/woodsy. Maybe it would've been better with plain cinnamon rather than the oil. In any case, I managed to swallow the bite I took, but I found myself frantically looking through the cabinet for something to take away the evil taste in my mouth. I shoved a bunch of yogurt pretzels into my maw and hid the rest of the bar on the back of the candy shelf. I hate reporting about bad candy, but I feel like it's my duty. This was a truly sorrowful experience in the Candy Yum Yum world. But never fear: I have something on the horizon that is so fantabulous I just can't stand it. It's brought me tons of joy, and I'm sure it will do the same for you. Stay tuned!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen, What You've All Been Waiting For!

This, dear readers, is a Sherbet Fountain. It took me a while to open it because I was afraid of it, and I couldn't figure out how to eat it. Perhaps there's a reader from the UK who can tell me if I did it right or wrong, because I still have no idea.
First, the presentation is a little strange because the licorice "straw" actually hangs outside the cardboard tube package. That seems mighty unsanitary to me.
When you open it, there's a bunch of white powder inside. So there's the question: do you lick the licorice and dip it into the sherbet? Are you supposed to add water? (I eventually did and it turned into a fizzy, soggy mess, so I can't imagine that was the right thing to do.) The powder itself is pretty good-- fruity/creamy like sherbet with an acidy fizz, like the center of a Zotz. Surprisingly, the licorice taste goes well with it.
Has anyone else ever tried one of these? Please share your thoughts!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Hello Dolly!

This, my friends, is why we should all have access to British candy. Dolly Mix is the quintessential "candy" candy: fun colors, different shapes, unusual flavors. When I think about Willy Wonka, this is the kind of stuff I imagine.
The first piece I ate was one of the little black bears. I had assumed it would be licorice, so boy, was I surprised at the flavor. It took me forever to place it. Violet? Nope. Something tropical like mango? Nope. Finally it came to me. Black currant. So unexpected yet a wonderful surprise. Next up was one of the round yellow pieces. It was lemon, but not in a typical too-sweet lemon way. It was funky. I liked it. The little square pieces are strange. I think the brown one is chocolate with coconut. This is the candy I've been looking for for my next series of paintings. I can't wait to do some huge canvases of Dolly Mix!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Random stuff

A big Hershey's Hug to Sera for pointing out an interesting fact about 3 Musketeers: the bar is called that because originally it was three pieces with three different fillings, vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. Now that sounds intriguing. Why don't they bring that back?
Some other miscellaneous stuff:
I tried the Dolly Mix from my big stash o' British candy. I can't wait to tell you about it. Exciting stuff!
Last night we watched a DVD of Mitch Hedberg, the comedian who died way too young. Anyhow, he had a couple of good candy comments, like:
"I can't wait for this set to be over because I have a roll of LifeSavers in my pocket and pineapple is the next flavor."
"I like Kit Kats, as long as I'm not with four or more people."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Who hearts 3 Musketeers?

Yesterday was my friend Katie's birthday, so I'm dedicating today's post to her, a true candy lover. She has the unique distinction of being the only person I've ever known who will willingly choose a 3 Musketeers over other candy bars.
We became friends in high school. I was a sophomore, she was a freshman and we both worked at the library. She invited me to her house one day and we decided to walk to 7-11 and get some snacks. Now you have to understand, Katie is Barbie-doll beautiful, tall and blonde. So when she bought three candy bars and ate them one after the other, I was mighty impressed. Here was someone who loved candy as much as I did! But I'll never forget that her first choice was a 3 Musketeers. When I questioned her about this, she said, "I don't know. I guess I just figure that they have the most chocolate." Hmm. I wouldn't call that stuff in the middle "chocolate," but I appreciate her sentiment. Happy Birthday Beastie!