Monday, August 31, 2009
I've been busy working on my ABC paintings of candy and for a while, I was just bopping around the entire alphabet, doing whichever letter suited me at the time. But now I'm getting down to the dregs ... the letters that are giving me somewhat of a challenge.
I've been contemplating "K" for the past few weeks and was trying to decide between Kit Kats or Kits-- those little wax-wrapped squares of taffy. (I've wanted to stay away from name brand candies if at all possible, but in this case, I've been coming up empty handed.) I realized that I didn't know who made Kits, so I set out to do some research.
To make a long story short, I found out that the original creator was Gilliam-- yep, the same company that makes the candy sticks that I just wrote about last week. Then today, Candy Blog had a post about the history of Kits (and the related BB Bats), and sadly, the news is that they're being discontinued.
How can this happen? Kits and BB Bats are iconic American candies. In fact, it was just last summer when I met someone at a party and we had a whole discussion over BB Bats and their pronounciation. She contacted me last week to say she had found some at Cracker Barrel.
It's been a long, long time since I've had Kits or BB Bats, and who knows if I'd even like them at this point in my life, but it's just wrong that they won't be around anymore. This makes me realize how the Kiwis felt when their beloved Snifters were rumored to have been discontinued. (Speaking of which, whatever happened with that?)
Well, now with this news, I definitely have to do "K is for Kits." Anyone have a suggestion for X?
The "theme," if you will, was based around this book: It's a very cute story about a girl who makes her own birthday cake using doughnuts, brownies, lollipops, berries and chocolate, but then realizes that it's a bit too much. In the end, she decides she likes the cake her mom's cake better, which has a delicate smattering of candy.
After reading the story, the kids got to decorate their own huge cupcakes (which, by the way, could have each easily fed four people) with M&M's, Mike & Ikes, gummy bears, gummy worms, jelly beans and Fruit Loops. Fun! The Sugar Baby loaded his up with gummy worms (he'd never seen them before) and M&Ms. Here's the creation of another little boy:
A good time was had by all and it only took the Sugar Baby two days to recover. This afternoon, as we were planting apple seeds, the Sugar Baby said, "Lilly had a great birthday." She certainly did. Hopefully she's recovered by now, too.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
I took No-Nuts back to school this week and helped her move into her dorm. The first thing she wanted to do was move her bed around to face the opposite direction, so she got one of the R.A.'s on duty to do the heavy lifting while she crawled under the bed to set up the risers. Unfortunately, the bed landed on her finger instead of the riser, thus "breaking" her finger (she claimed), which meant that I got to put all of her stuff away--including all 35 bathing suits-- while she nursed her wound with a bag of frozen peas (which, by the way, she ate half of, even though they were frozen). Then I spent the night in her dorm room (yes, I really did), which I think pretty much absolves me of all Auntly duties for the rest of the year, at the very least. In any case, it turns out that her school is located near the Munson's Chocolate factory. I worked at one of their retail stores during college (best job ever!), so I thought I'd stop in to see what the factory digs were like.
They're very secretive over there; no tours, although they do show a video of life behind the scenes. I got all nostalgic and regaled No-Nuts with my stories of working at the chocolate shop: how the toilet got plugged when the night shift flushed a pound of fudge down it and I had to deal with the mess the next day; the time I was working alone and a mouse ran across the floor and I jumped on the counter; how we used to dare each other to eat the grossest stuff in the store (and that's how I discovered my love for dark chocolate orange jellies which they no longer make), and how one woman flipped out on me because she didn't like the way I wrapped her chocolate poker chips and said her five-year-old daughter could've done a better job, at which point I said, "Fine. Here's some wrapping paper. Let her do it."
Anyhow, to make a long story short, they had these gummy candy corns which I thought were so cute. They have the same bite as Wonka Puckerooms (not as soft as a gumdrop, not as hard as Dots), but the flavor is actually candy corn. That's what it's supposed to be anyway, although it almost tastes like buttered popcorn jelly beans. No-Nuts said she thought she liked them at first, but then realized that if she wanted candy corn, she'd just eat candy corn. Good point.
These aren't made at the factory; the label says Made in Spain, so I'm guessing you can get them at lots of specialty candy stores. They'd be really cute on cupcakes. And speaking of cupcakes, stay tuned ... the Sugar Baby went to his girlfriend's birthday party today where he got to decorate his own cupcake with candy. You won't want to miss this one.
Monday, August 24, 2009
How long have you been doing candy buffets?
I’ve been hosting and designing candy buffets informally for friends and family for almost a year—professionally, for about 4 months.
My first candy buffet was for my son’s birthday party last summer. I was so tired of buying the same old favors that you get at every party—chalk, bubbles, cheapo candies and dollar store junk. I came up with the idea to design a candy buffet using the “splash bash” party theme. At the end of the party, the boys got to go crazy filling their treat bag. It was so much fun and really well-received.
The timing wasn’t quite right to launch my business then but I began gathering ideas and doing research. Even though it seems like a business you can start overnight, you need licenses, food permits, supplies, etc. Those take time but are necessary if you expect to have any credibility in event planning. While I pursued the legalities, I was also able to make a business and marketing plan to lead me in the right direction! It’s exciting to be up and running—and thinking about candy night and day!
Are there certain candies people always request (or don't want)?
Every candy buffet is unique! And of course the color scheme leads you in the direction of which candies to use. You have to consider both what looks good and what tastes good. People love rock candy because it’s nostalgic and it looks really cool and sparkly. Gummy candy and sour candy are always a hit, too. The secret is to have a variety to please all palates.
Twizzlers are my “go-to” candy when I need to get myself out of a bad mood—makes mouths happy, right? Peanut Butter M&Ms are genius but it’s hard to find the small bags and I can’t trust myself with the large bags! For more unique candies, I really love Chocolate Covered Cookie Dough Bites. They used to only be available at the movie theater for like $4 a box but now you can find them at the dollar store--yeah!
Share a childhood candy memory.
When I was growing up we had a 7-11 convenience store close to my house so basically my friends and I tried to scam our parents out of money all the time in order to get more candy. We’d do chores, watch siblings, swipe any change left on countertops. Then we’d make the pilgrimage to 7-11 and debate which candy we should buy. Most of the time we’d buy the Ferrara Pan candies because we could get more for our money.
Favorite fruit flavor in candy?
I definitely tend to gravitate to the pink or red candies so I’d have to say cherry/strawberry. But my absolute favorite fruit candy is the Pear Jelly Belly!
Which do you prefer: gummies or hard candies?
Gummy candy, for sure! But I’m willing to eat hard if that’s all that’s around;-)
What’s your favorite candy holiday?
I’d have to say Easter because I love the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Eggs (so much peanut butter!) and the speckled Whoppers!
What’s best: milk, dark or white?
White though it’s harder to find. Everyone loves white chocolate but for some reason it’s not as readily available on the candy aisle.
Circus Peanuts: yay or nay?
Gross—I’m never that desperate!
Thanks Kelly! Your buffets are beautiful!
Would you like to answer the "Sweet Treat of the Week" questions? You don't have to be famous-- just a candy lover! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
First of all, we spent a week with the von Schokolats and extended family, at which time we divided into two teams and had a huge scavenger hunt. One of the items on the list was a package of Coconut M&Ms. The Baroness was the only one who found them. First she went to Rite Aid, but no luck. Then she went to the dollar store, where she found a display for them, but it was empty. She somehow managed to find the last package in the store. So it was 2 points for the Evil Knievel team. Woo hoo!* Overall, they were a hit. I thought they had that fake suntan lotion kind of coconut taste, so I was a bit disappointed. I don't have a picture, because somewhere along the way, the package got used as a coaster.
During that same trip, "Uncle Subtle" found a candy store and bought me a present: a licorice pipe and Mary Janes. Um, trying to tell me something in code? Nice. (In fact, he had never had Mary Janes before which led to a discussion about them. As they're made by Necco, I suppose they might be a New England thing. I thought everyone knew what Mary Janes were.)
[*Unfortunately, our 2 points for the Coconut M&Ms were negated by the 10 points the Baron won in the drinking contest and the eating contest--Five lobsters in one sitting-- and the 2.5 points won by Uncle Subtle in the marshmallow-and-toothpick construction contest.]Not really candy, but sweet nonetheless: Bazooka Betsy gave No-Nuts a giant box of fortune cookies that she's been saving from all her Chinese take out. Unfortunately, due to the extreme humidity, the cookies became so soft we were able to unfold them into perfect circles. So No-Nuts decided to do a craft project with the fortunes. Strangely enough, there were no duplicates. Perhaps they really are one-of-a-kind fortunes! (Art project is not shown. Actually, art project was never really made.)
And lastly, my partner-in-crime put together a goodie bag for me to get me through the many long drives I've made this summer. Check out these British beauties: Smart Alecs, Aero, Bounty, Milky Bar, Lion, Lee's Chocolate Mint and Galaxy Caramel. I had the Aero on a night I was particularly craving chocolate and it was blissful. I don't understand why Aero bars don't have less calories than other candy bars, though. It seems like they should, considering they're filled with tiny air bubbles. The Galaxy Caramel was particularly exciting, because I've never had one and a friend recently recommended it. She said she had them all the time while she was serving overseas and hasn't had them since then. All I can say is: YUM. This was like the Caramello of yore, when they were actually good and not grainy. The chocolate was smooth and the caramel was all flowy. So good. So there you have it, a few sweet tidbits to start off your week. What about you? Do you have any candy news to share?
Saturday, August 22, 2009
King Leo and Gilliam Candy Company both fall under the Quality Candy umbrella, and they're branching out with some new products.
They sent me a fantastically huge box of products-- too much for me to try by myself-- so I'll be giving some away. (See the end of this post for details.)
Some of their new products include Soft Puffs and Soft Sticks, in flavors like Key Lime Pie, Lemon, Orange and Cream, Pomegranate, Strawberries and Cream, Peppermint and Watermelon. I was anxious to try these because A) they looked tasty; B) I liked the flavor assortments; and C) I had no idea what to expect. Each little Puff is individually wrapped in the box, which I really like because you can put them out in a candy dish and not worry about someone's germy mitts getting all over the candy and passing along the H1N1 flu. You could also carry a few in your purse to ward off a 3-year-old's pending meltdown because you've foolishly taken him to a clothing store right around his nap time. Anyhow...
The box says, "Soft Right Out of the Box," which made me think these would be chewy, almost like a taffy. But instead, they were "soft" in a buttermint kind of way. They're almost sort of hard, but then smooth and melty at the same time. I was trying to think how they could describe these more accurately, but I'm having a devil of a time coming up with the right words. "Tender" seems to fit, but I hate that word. "Smooth" suggests more of a glass-like hard candy. "Buttery" would be weird with the fruit flavors and "Crumbly" might be too harsh. "Airy" might be a good fit. I don't know; I'm not trying to change their marketing. Just suggesting that "soft" might be a little misleading. No-Nuts agreed.
Onto the taste. These are yummy. Because the pillows are very pastel and pretty, it almost seems like they'll have a delicate fruit flavor. But no, these pack a juicy, fruity punch that is almost surprising. The lemon was bright and fresh, kinda sour, kinda sweet. The watermelon made me think of Wacky Wafers and made my tongue pucker. Very tasty.
As for the Gilliam's Candy Sticks, well these are just a classic, no buts about it. (You may recall that the Sugar Baby had his first one recently.) These remind me of summer vacations through New England. They were always cheap, like 10 cents a stick, so you could buy a bunch of different flavors for less than a dollar.
Another new product line are their Chocolate Crunchy Patties in raspberry, lemon, peppermint and orange. It's difficult for me to describe these accurately, because it's been so hot here I've had to keep them in the fridge and I think that really affects the texture. The chocolate covering is laden with little hard-candy crunchy bits (very tasty), but it's the center I'm having difficulty with. Out of the fridge, they're like crumbly creams, almost like a thick York Peppermint Pattie kind of texture. They'd be better if the filling was softer, but maybe it is and they just got a little wonky from being in the cold.
Is your mouth watering yet? Good, because I'll be sending one lucky recipient an assortment of King Leo and Gilliam products. All you have to do is leave me a message answering this question: If you were to be a Soft Candy Puff, what flavor would you be and why?
I'll pick a lucky Yumster on August 30 at approximately 4:35 p.m. Fine print: Please live in the Continental U.S. and be sure to leave a way for me to contact you. You'll have 48 hours from the time I announce the winner to get me your mailing info. Thanks, and good luck!
Friday, August 21, 2009
Okay folks, you've got 48 hours to send me your mailing address or else the Reese's turn into pumpkins.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I present to you the evidence: The books he was reading over and over and over again: "A Baker's Field Guide to Holiday Candy & Confections," (which has since been tossed since he accidentally peed on it while reading in the bathroom) and "10 Trick-or-Treaters," a very cute book about counting backwards. (You might remember the Field Guide from this post; now the Sugar Baby loves shouting "World's Easiest Fudge!")
Of course, we played Candyland (he is always the red gingerbread man)And he re-discovered his awesome plastic chocolates from Valentine's Day. Are we a little obsessed here? Nah, I don't think so!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
"The patriotic individual-sized boxes containing red, white and blue peanut M&M's were handed out on the plane Saturday. On one side: the presidential seal and Obama's John Hancock scrawled in gold. On the other: a yellow M&M marching with an American flag."
Dear President Obama,
I just read in the New York Times that you hand out special Presidential Edition M&Ms to visitors aboard Air Force One. As far as I'm concerned, this absolutely confirms that you are the coolest president ever. The reason for this letter is because I have been writing a blog about candy for the past six years. (www.candyyumyum.net) I believe that everyone has some sort of happy memory connected to candy, and the confection business is a strong part of the American economy. (In fact, it would seem to be thriving in this dicey economy.)
Is there any way possible I could get one of these boxes of M&Ms? I promise I will not sell it on e-Bay or do anything else unethical with it. I would just love to have one, and it would make me the coolest candy blogger on the block.
Sincerely yours, Madame Yum Yum
P.S. Even if you don't send me one, I still think you're the hippest prez ever.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Hey all you Reese's lovers out there! Get a load of this: Reese's Dark! Guess what? I'm giving away three sets of these (four two-packs and two bags of Miniatures) to some lucky Yumsters! All you have to do is leave me a comment about your favorite type of Reese's and I'll pick three winners at random on August 2oth at high noon (or some time thereabouts).
Continental U.S. addresses only and please make sure that you are 18 years or older.
Well, suffice it to say, I won't be running to my local Asian grocer to try and find any of these. The long yellow one had a picture of a shrimp on it. No wait, I think it was more of a big, antennaed prawn. Wow! Couldn't wait to try that one. Fortunately, it tasted more like a Butterfinger and less like shellfish. The brown one and the rectangular green one also tasted similar. The stripey one on the bottom tasted kind of like those chocolate-filled straws you see at Christmas, and the two squares to the left were chocolate, possibly with a hazelnut filling. Given my fear of Chinese foodstuffs, I'm happy to say that it's been over a week and I'm still alive and kicking.
I'm back! I took a week off to visit the Von Schokolats and boy oh boy, do I have a lot to tell! But first, I have to get through my backlog of candy excitement. I found these Now and Later Soft taffies a couple of weeks ago. The flavors are banana, apple and cherry.
No-Nuts and I did a taste test and have decided we really like them. She says, "If I had to choose between those and Starburst, I think I'd choose those."
I was psyched to see the banana ones and they didn't disappoint. Good, fake banana flavor. No-Nuts didn't think she'd like the banana, but she did. The cherry was good, too. It reminded me of cherry Bubble Yum.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
But lately, he's been going through an independent stage. So, you know how when you're sitting around, finally having an adult conversation, when your radar goes off? The one that says, "It's too quiet in there. What's going on?"
Yeah, well, we had one of those moments last weekend.
We were staying in Grandpa's
Guess what? Starbursts are just the right size to fit in the hole for the door latch of a motorhome. Yes indeedy, he wedged that little square into a hole because that's what holes are for, right?
Grandpa got out the tool box, but to no avail. It's wedged in there forever. As for the Sugar Baby, Grandpa got him another Starburst.
I saw the Mint Trio in the vending machine at the Super 8 in Brattleboro, Vermont (where we decided to stay after the first hotel we checked into turned out to be the setting for the next Arachnophobia movie).
I kept passing the vending machine and looking at these mints, which stood out amongst the other usual suspects of Reese's, Doritos, etc. At 90 cents, I thought they were a bit pricey, but that just goes to show you how long it's been since I've gotten anything from a vending machine.
The three mints are more bon-bon shaped than patties. These were really good. Really, really good-- kind of what a York Peppermint Patty should be. That's because the filling was just minty enough and was relatively smooth.
I had been saving the wrapper, because the description was very funny, almost like something you'd see on a Japanese product ("These mints will take you to your bliss and beyond," or something groovy like that) but Mr. Goodbar threw it out. This makes me sad, because I was really looking forward to sharing it with you. Oh well. I'll just have to stop by the Super 8 next time we go up north.
Saturday, August 08, 2009
I spied these Haribo Alphabet Letters at the Dollar Store. I thought, "Perfect! An educational candy!"
I'm happy to report that they were quite a hit, not just with the Sugar Baby, but with No-Nuts and me, too. The flavors are just like the Haribo Gummi Bears: pineapple, lemon, orange, raspberry and the tasty (but disturbing) green strawberry. The Sugar Baby wanted all the red ones, of course, which worked to my advantage since I prefer the green and clear. It was a win-win situation! Except now the bag is gone.
I wasn't near the Dollar Store, but I was in Target, so I ended up buying a package of Puckerooms for the "incentive" closet. This decision was based entirely on the fact that there are no artificial colors or flavors, so kudos to Wonka. Your brilliant marketing idea worked on me!
Thursday, August 06, 2009
What does this have to do with candy, you ask? Well, check out this cool idea: Laughing Moon Chocolates, located in Stowe, Vermont (a little slice of heaven in New England) has created a CSCS: a Community Supported Chocolate Subscription. They're trying to raise money to paint their building so they've come up with this cool idea. For $250, you get a coupon worth $275 which you can spend on any of their yummy chocolates, truffles, fudge, candy canes and more. Check out their website at www.laughingmoonchocolates.com.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
So, given my backlog, this is going to be a rambling, random post full of miscellany.
The Internet candy world has been abuzz with the latest candy bar from Lindt: Raisin & Nuts. Several people have done comparisons between this new Lindt bar and the classic Cadbury Fruit & Nut bar. I used to love the Cadbury version, until some brilliant rocket scientist decided to change the recipe. What used to be a creamy, milky chocolate is now gritty and flavorless. So I was excited to taste the Lindt version and see how it compared. I was not disappointed. The chocolate was smooth, creamy and sweet with a good mix of almonds and hazelnuts. My only complaint is that I wish the almonds were whole, but in the long run, it didn't matter. I wolfed that thing down. Thank you, Lindt, for restoring my faith in fruit and nut candy bars.Speaking of fruit and chocolate, another big buzz has been Nestle's Cranberry Raisinets. Oh how I wish I bought stock in the cranberry industry right before they decided to start selling dried cranberries. It used to be that cranberries were only for Thanksgiving. Now they're everywhere, including chocolate. I passed along a few packs of these to some family members for tasting. The consensus: Eh, they're fine, but nothing great. My mother said, "When I want chocolate, I want CHOCOLATE." Good point there. These little nibblies might be better in say, a cookie, than eaten alone. I love Craisins, but I think I'd still pick the classic Raisinet over the cranberry version.
And lastly these delicious chocolates. Ho, ho. I'm just joking. These aren't edible, they're candles, silly! The Ice Cube Queen was in town last week and she found these candles that are just perfect for the Candy Yum Yum homestead. My favorite is the one with the walnut.
And what about you, dear Yumsters? What has your candy land been looking like lately?
Monday, August 03, 2009
Oops! I said I was going to pick the winners of the Nestle Crunch bucket giveaway on Saturday, but I forgot that I'd be out of town. Thanks for your patience, Yumsters! The three lucky winners are:
Congrats people! Be on the lookout for your bucket o' fun! Thanks to everyone who entered and keep checking back. Chances are good that I'll be having another giveaway very soon!