Friday, May 30, 2008

Through the Eyes of Babies

What we see on this page from "Cars and Trucks and Things That Go" by Richard Scarry:(Drawings of cars and traffic cones)

What the Sugar Baby sees:

"Choka! Choka!"

Recent Sightings

I went to Target yesterday and believe it or not, only bought two packages of batteries. My self-control is improving. Anyhow, I saw the following in the candy aisle:
Dark Chocolate Reese's Miniatures
Raspberry Hershey Bliss
Life Saver Splosions (some sort of gummy things with liquid centers)
and a Limited Edition Reese's Pieces, but I can't remember now what they were

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Reminder: Always Read the Label

On the same road trip in which the Baron and I discovered T-Bone and Sallie's cinnamon lollipops, we also had to drive "across the river" (that's Southern-speak for the outer reaches of East Bumble) to pick up a corn dog for Gretl. (Only with the Baron would I ever be seen doing this.)

Being a good daddy, the Baron saw something at the checkout counter that he thought Gretl would like-- little 10 cent packets of sour stuff. So he picked up two and later, proudly presented them to her.

"What are these?" she wisely asked.

"It's a southern version of Pixie Sticks," he said.

She happily tore into them and poured some on her tongue.

"Gross!" she said. "This is salt! Daddy gave me salt!"

Hmmm. Upon closer investigation, yes, these were little packets of salt. Pickle flavored and lemon-lime. Nice going, Baron.

Memaw's Chocolate Vine

(Photo courtesy of some plant website. I owe you one!)
Day 4 in the South.
Lucky Sugar Baby-- he got to spend some time with his Memaw and Grandpa David. I'm not sure what they did with him when I wasn't there, but he was covered with lipstick kisses and had lots to say about David's "big big bike!" (a.k.a. the Harley).
We were sitting outside enjoying the lovely weather and commenting on the landscaping and the hummingbirds. Memaw has a pergola that's covered with a lush vine with funky pods shaped like mini-cucumbers.
"That's my chocolate vine," she said.
Whoa! Whoa! Did she just say chocolate vine?!
Yes, indeedy. Otherwise known as Akibia quinata, this is an invasive plant that produces purplish-brown flowers that SMELL LIKE CHOCOLATE!! How have I never heard of this before? Well, of course I plucked off a pod and stashed it in the suitcase so I can grow my own chocolate plant, but now I'm not so sure. Turns out it's also called "Japanese kudzu" and supposedly will take over the entire yard.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Great Jeff + Gummy Bears= Explosive Fun!

Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce--
Great Jeff!

A little background: Mr. Goodbar has a humungo extended family. I haven't met everyone, but I pretty much know who's who in the scheme of things. Or so I thought.

When the Baroness said that Uncle Jeff was coming, I thought, okay, cool, I know him. Except I didn't. See, apparently in my own slightly mixed up crazy mind, I assumed that Uncle John and Uncle Jeff were the same person. I don't know why they'd have two different names, or why one would live in Maine and the other in New York, but for some reason, I had merged them in my mind. Whatever, okay? It happens. You try keeping track of 8 aunts and uncles and their spouses and kids and cousins.
So in walks this guy that I've never seen before, but instantly I know: he's going to be a font of wisdom. Turns out he teaches chemistry and something else-- home ec? yoga? I don't remember-- but he's definitely the kind of teacher that the kids must love. How do I know this? Because one night, during dinner, amidst all the noise from a zillion different conversations, I heard him say this: "Oh, you can do an experiment with gummy bears!"
My ears perked up and I grabbed a Sharpie and the nearest piece of paper (a recipe for "The Once and Future Beans"; sorry Carl, didn't mean to steal your stuff). This is where it gets kind of fuzzy, because I had been enjoying one or two of K.C.'s famous Manhattans at the time and I don't quite remember all the details. So this is what my notes say:

Pyrex test tube +sodium or potassium chlorate
wax burner, melt to almost a boil
Dunk in ice water: Twizzler, one gummy bear
Flame 10 feet
KABOOM! (with rough sketch of an erupting volcano)

(At this point let me just say, Candy Yum Yum and its owners and affiliates, as well as Uncle Jeff and the myriad uncles, aunts and cousins, are not responsible for anything you may do with the above information. The utmost caution should always be used when handling gummy bears and potassium chlorate.)

Good fun, good fun. As for the name The Great Jeff, we were trying to teach the Sugar Baby to say "Uncle Jeff," when we realized that he would in fact be his great uncle. Jeff decided that the "uncle" part was unnecessary. Great would suffice.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"More" is Secret Code for "Cinnamon Lollipops"

Day Three in the South: I got it in my head to load the Sugar Baby and Gretl in the car and go in search of a playground. There was a state park nearby, so surely, I figured, there must be some sort of amusement to entertain them. Typically something like this would be well marked, but apparently they don't want strangers visiting their public spaces, so suffice it to say, we got a little lost. Oh sure, maybe I shouldn't have taken the dirt road versus the paved road, but the sweet Siren call of banjos seemed to be beckoning me. In any case, we eventually got back on the right track and found a wimpy playground that consisted of a slide and two swings. On the way, however, I saw this: T-Bone and Sallies BBQ Bologna Log. While I'm always on duty scouting for candy, I can also be found stringing for Hops & Chops. Let me just say this: when the wee ones and I walked in, we were apparently interrupting something important, because the people gathered around the poker table in the back stopped their drinkin' and smokin' and talkin' and stared us down. Yikes. There'd be no bologna log for us, apparently. I feared for our lives (particularly when the Sugar Baby decided to lay down on the floor and start howling), so we bought some Mello Yello and high-tailed it outta there. But I couldn't let it go. So the Baron and I ventured out the next day and I sent him into the store to do my dirty work. As I sat in the car, I noticed a poster that advertised pre-mixed Budweiser and Clamato juice. Can you think of a more heinous combination? This, too, seemed like a perfect fit for Ms. Chops' blog, so I gathered my courage and walked in. What did I find? The Baron and T-Bone having a lovely conversation about the bologna log. Unfortunately, there wasn't any to be had that day; he'd sold out early in the morning. But he explained how he takes a log of bologna, grills it, then smokes it for three to four hours. The Baron didn't quite get it. He thought it was some sort of barbecue (as in the pulled pork kind) that was somehow smashed into a bologna log. Anyhow, I couldn't find the beer/tomato juice concoction either, but at the counter there were homemade lollipops.
"One of these, please," I squeaked out.
"Go ahead, take it," said the tattooed-and-teethless but seriously nice T-Bone. Awwww, yeah, he made me feel mean and Yankeeish. I put the pop in my pocket where it got all soft and sticky in the midday heat, and later that night I unveiled it. We each took a lick (hey, we're family, what can I say?!) and decided that it was actually a darn good lollipop. It was hot cinnamon. As you can see from the picture, Mr. Goodbar was breaking the eleventh commandment: Thou shalt not covet thy spouse's candy.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Complain, complain

I've seen the Wildly Cherry M&Ms lots of times, but I never bought them because cherry usually isn't my thing. Oh sure, I like cherry Life Savers, and I loved cherry Bubble Yum, but in general, nah. But the Baroness found these and brought back a package for us all to try. Here's what I liked about them: the size. They're slightly bigger and rounder than regular old M&Ms, so you get a bigger bite out of them. Here's what I hated: the taste. It was like a Robitussin-flavored candy. Yeecch. I, however, was in the minority. Everyone else really liked them. So there you go. Don't pay attention to my opinion, because apparently, I don't know what I'm talking about. But I'm sticking to my guns anyway.

When I found the Chocolate Take 5 at the scary K-Mart, I also saw Skittles Carnival Bubble Gum. I thought this would be a fun surprise for the wee von Schokolats, so I picked up a box. The flavors are cotton candy, candy apple, pink lemonade, gumball and berry-go-round. (Note: I forgot what the flavors were, so I just looked it up on the Skittles website which has got to be one of the most annoying sites EVER. The different products "drive" by and you have to click on them if you want to learn more, but they're going so fast you can't even tell what's what. And there are mushrooms up in the corner-- what's up with that? Apparently they're trying to give Skittles a trippy image, but is that really what they should be marketing to kids?? Can someone from Skittles please get back to me on this. I really am curious.) Anyhow ...
Here's the thing with Skittles gum, as explained by Gretl von Schokolat:
"They look like regular candy Skittles and when you chew them, they have that same disappearing texture, so you feel like you're eating candy. But then all of a sudden, it turns into gum and that's really weird."
Very astute observation, little Gretl. You're so right. So taste-wise, these were pretty good, but the whole candy/gum conundrum was disturbing. A disappointing candy day, to be sure, but there would always be tomorrow ...
(Can't you just feel the suspense?!)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Song of the South

I live in New England. Let me explain what this means.

It means, when I go into a store, I don't expect anyone to offer to help me, let alone go out of their way to talk to me. And that's fine.

It also means, when I walk into some place I've never been, I can be assured that no one there cares and they'll ignore me. And I like it that way.

Which is why I find the South to be one scary-ass place.

No offense to those of you who live below the Mason-Dixon line, really. I just get a little antsy when strangers try to talk to me.

In any case, the chatty nature of the lady working at the K-Mart meant that I had lots of time to peruse the checkout aisle candy and I was totally psyched to discover a Limited Edition Take 5. Instead of pretzels, this one had a chocolate cookie base. Sounds good, right? Wrong. It totally sucked. After trying a bite, I tried to pawn it off on the Baron, but even he didn't like it. He didn't find it as offensive as say, Rainbow Twizzlers, but he wasn't exactly devouring the candy bar either. I was very sad, because it was looking like Dixie was going to be a total bust in the candy department.

But then suddenly ...


The tides turned. The candy gods smiled down upon me. I have so much to write about. Stay tuned to learn all about:

Memaw's Chocolate Plant!

Cherry M&Ms!

T-Bone and Sallie's Lollipops!

And the mother of all Dollar Stores! Trust me, you won't want to miss it.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I suppose I feel a little like the SNL writers must've felt like after 9/11.

There comes a time when, after a tragedy, you have to get back to the mundane aspects of life. That initial step always feels a little weird, a little icky, a little ... disrespectful, I guess. But things like work, laundry and bills all have to be taken care of. So, too, with Candy Yum Yum. There's blogging to be done. So deep breath, here I go.

Henri's Grandma Judy passed away last week. You may remember her from these posts:

Ever Heard of Snirkles?
Crazee For Cashews
A Very Special Candy Yum Yum

She was awesome in the true definition of the word. I don't think I've ever known anyone with such a positive, upbeat attitude. In the face of adversity, I never heard her complain once. There's lots I'll miss about her, but for the moment, I'll focus on the subject at hand: candy.
Grandma Judy and Grandpa K.C. visited us a lot, and there were more than a few times when Judy and I would bump into each other in the middle of the night, scouring the cabinets for chocolate. She introduced me to Snirkles (I'd never heard of them before, and I've never heard of them since!), and she let me in on a little secret: Grandpa K.C. loves candy corn. At Christmas, she made me a batch of cashew brittle that I had to hide from The Baron, it was so good.

When we arrived at their house last week, naturally things were sad and chaotic as plans were made and visitors arrived. During times like these, you find solace wherever you can; I found mine on the shelf. And in the pantry. And in the office. I had to smile. Judy had little stashes of candy throughout the house. There was the crystal candy dish full of Hershey's Miniatures. The bowl of Twix. The ceramic bird dish with Creme Savers. It almost felt as if she knew the von Schokolats and I would be coming and she had stocked up on the candy reserves.

There's lots I'm going to miss about Judy and our shared love of candy is just one of many things. So join me, dear readers, in a chocolate toast to Judy, who knew just how sweet life could be.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

We're Sorry We Missed You...

Hey there Candy Yum Yum readers. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I won't be posting for about a week. So here's your assignment: get out there and share some candy love with your friends and family. Catch ya later!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Don't Get Excited ...

I was slogging through some press releases yesterday (delete, delete, delete) when one caught my eye. It said, "Marathon bar to make a come back." I nearly wet my pants I was so excited! The Marathon bar?! The chocolate-covered caramel chain that is iconic of my youth? The candy bar that was the cause of the initial spark of this blog?* Hooray! Only, no, it's not that Marathon. It's the U.K. version of Snickers. How disappointing.

*At work one day, back in the early '90s, before we even had access to the Internet (in the newsroom, no less!), one of the reporters said to me, "Hey, remember that candy bar that was shaped like a chain?" Holy cow, yes I did! I hadn't thought about it in years. "What was the name of that?" he asked.

We thought and thought. Couldn't come up with it for days. (Again, this was pre-Internet, in my world, anyway.) Finally it came to him and it was like, "Huzzah! Coolest candy bar ever!"

Monday, May 12, 2008

Hate Mail for Amy Sedaris

Dear Amy Sedaris,

You'd better watch your back 'cuz I'm gonna kick your ass. You see, I was looking for a new cupcake recipe to try for the Sugar Baby's birthday. Last year I made Magnolia cupcakes and they were delicious, but a bit labor-intensive. So I scoured the Web and saw your recipe. My first thought was, "No way am I going to make a recipe from Amy Sedaris." But then I read some reviews that were generally positive (including one that said this was the ideal birthday cupcake), so I thought, what the hay!

If I had been looking to make vanilla-flavored cornbread, these would be ideal. A scone in a cupcake shape? These are them. But a true-blue, spongy light vanilla birthday cupcake this is not. So the night before the party, I was faced with the fact that I didn't have a single yummy cupcake for the Sugar Baby to enjoy on his second birthday. I obsessed all night and woke up at five a.m. This, Amy Sedaris, is what was wrought:
Yes indeedy, I whipped up a whole new batch of cupcakes-- chocolate, this time-- because I couldn't bear to subject my guests to the vanilla ones. (I did anyhow, because in the end, the chocolate ones weren't much better.)
But I learned my lesson. I'm now the laughingstock of the entire village. The legend of the rock cupcakes will travel far and wide, and I'll be the loser Mom who brings Munchkins to the first grade bake sale.
Have a great day!
Madame Yum Yum

(P.S. Fine. He liked them well enough. He ate three before any guests even got here. But still.)

Friday, May 09, 2008

(And a big "whew!" to me-- I made it two years without doing too much damage-- I think!)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

A Present?! For Me?!

Some men bring their wives flowers. Last night, Mr. Goodbar brought me home a piece of licorice. In his pocket. With nothing to protect it from the atmospheric gnarl that one tends to accumulate in his jacket pocket. Fortunately, his pockets are much cleaner than say, mine, which are littered with raisins, receipts, stickers, leaves and a domino.
The licorice in question was procured from his boss, who has a keen taste for Australian licorice. I had been warned that this wasn't the freshest piece (pocket gnarl not withstanding), so I was to judge it with that in mind.
Let me just say, it was a darn good piece o' licorice. Like a sophisticated Twizzler. Thankfully, very unlike Finnish licorice. It was sweet and chewy with just the right amount of bite to it. I haven't delved very deeply into the world of licorice, but this inspired me. Stay tuned for more!

Even More Pop Trivia!

I got an e-mail from my own private Slugworth, a dude named Thomas who works at the Spangler factory. He sent me this super-secret tidbit about Dum Dums:

There are actually two ways that the mystery pops are made. The first is just as you described. The second is that as the dum dums come down the chutes to be packed in bags, there is one last person that sorts through them. If there happened to be some that have come unwrapped, they save them to be re-wrapped. In an effort to save time rather than sort them all out, they are all rewrapped as mystery flavor.

Aha! So how about that! Very cool. Thanks for the info, Thomas! And speaking of Dum Dums, I realized that my local liquor store has a big basket of them at the exit. I snagged a Pineapple Coconut one, hoping to save it for posterity, since that flavor is being discontinued. Unfortunately, the Sugar Baby fished it out of my bag and popped it in his mouth before I could get to him.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I'm a Graceful Lady

Despite my on-going battle with the mailman, he kindly left me a fun package the other day from none other than Sue MKAFFGGF. Weee! A surprise! Inside were two packages of Japanese candy-- one with a big Hello Kitty on it (and no English description anywhere) and the other, a bag of Muscat Gummies with this fabulous description:

Its translucent color so alluring and taste and aroma so gentle and mellow offer admiring feelings of a graceful lady. Enjoy soft and juicy Kasugai Muscat Gummy.

Nice, right?! I cut open the package and reached in, expecting to feel a lump of gummy goodness. But oh no, these truly are special. Each gummy is individually wrapped in a little package that says, "Muscat Gummy. Super Juicy."

I wondered to myself, what would they be shaped like? Grapes? Or maybe just a simple shape like a circle or square? No, no! They're hearts, silly!

Now here's where I'd give my typical description of "Yummy!" (being the wordsmithy that I am) but let's go back to the description on the package.

Alluring translucent color? Check!

Gentle and mellow taste and aroma? Check!

Offering admiring feelings of a graceful lady? Hmmm. I'll get back to you on that one.

These are definitely juicy, though, and very grapey-- like real grape, not like artificial purple grape.

As for the Hello Kitty ones, these too were individually wrapped with fun little Kitty White illustrations and a picture of the fruit flavor that it is. These are hard candies, shaped like flowers. I just had a grapefruit one and it was fantastic. I must say, no one does fruit flavors like the Japanese.

U Needham Needhams!

While we were in Maine, we stopped at Kennebec Chocolates to take a looksee. They had some interesting things, including something I'd never seen before: Needhams. I asked the girl behind the counter, "What's a Needham?"
She said, "It's like a thick coconut paste."
"Hmm," I said. "That sounds good."
"You know," she continued, "it's that mashed potato candy."
(Here's where we get the needle-scratching-the-record sound.)
Mashed potato candy??
Apparently this is a Maine tradition, to make these candies out of butter, sugar, vanilla, coconut and mashed potatoes. Who the heck thought of that idea? Of course I had to get one. Back at the ranch, we dissected it. My thoughts were that it tasted like a Mounds, only a little pastier. Liesl thought it was pretty good, and she doesn't usually like coconut.
There are tons of recipes all over the Internet if you get the hankerin' to make some Needhams for yourself.
Oh yeah, I also got a lemon chip which was a chocolate-covered honeycomb that varied between tasting lemony (yum) and cardboard (not so yum).

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Pez Witch!

I know I'm coming to the game awfully late on this one, but I've recently discovered the pure ridiculous joy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I've been known to wait by the mailbox of ill-repute, anxiously looking forward to the next Buffy DVD from Netflix.
I'm on Season 3 and the past two episodes have had major candy references. The first, "Band Candy," dealt with the fact that the candy the kids were selling was making all the adults in town act like wacky teenagers. Fun!
The second episode, "Lovers Walk," (which, by the way, was one of the best so far) had the most touching scene of Oz giving Willow a Pez witch as a present. I had that exact Pez witch, but it got discarded in the Big Purge '07. (Because, you know, the move was made ever so much easier because we didn't have to pack and carry a Pez!)

Friday, May 02, 2008


The Candy Monsters know where you've hidden your stash!

When Life Gives You Twizzlers Rainbow Twists ...

... make candy mosaics!
In an ill-fated decision, both the Baroness and Memaw decided to purchase packages of Twizzler Rainbow Twists. They sure do look purty in all their prismatic beauty. But taste, well now, that's a whole 'nother story.

Even the Baron wouldn't eat them.

Yes indeed, these candies were so bad that, between a 10-year-old, a 13-year-old, the Baron and me, we couldn't get rid of these things. The texture was doughy, like paper mache, and the taste was just icky. We were clearly going to be stuck with ooodles of these things, so I wracked my brain trying to think of an art project and voila! Twizzler mosaics. Little Gretl and Liesel worked hard on these masterpieces. (Gotta love the "No Math" one!) If you decide to attempt a masterpiece of your own, just note that it's much easier to cut the Twizzlers with scissors rather than a knife.