Thursday, April 29, 2010

My Gripe for the Day

One of the women in my super-secret writing group alerted me to this the other day, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.
Tcho, a chocolate company in San Francisco, is looking for testers for their chocolate. Here's the description from their website:

"Beta is a fun opportunity for YOU to participate directly in designing your next chocolate. When we launched our first chocolate in December 2007, we wanted to engage with our first tasters by requesting their feedback. Since a lot of us have tech backgrounds, we adopted a familiar idea: we encouraged our users to help us make the chocolate they wanted, in much the same way software developers engage beta testers. We called what we were doing Beta Chocolate, and put it in plain brown bags with rubber stamps to identify the contents and batch numbers. Beta Tasters are invited to submit feedback (on both Version A and Version B of each Beta Pack) on our website’s feedback form."

Sounds kinda cool, right? Yeah, well, the only thing is, you have to pay for this privilege: $5 for two 25 gram bars. Still sounds okay, until you do the math-- 25 grams is less than an ounce. Then, after eating it, you have to give the company your feedback. Somehow this just doesn't seem right. I shouldn't have to pay you to do your research and development. It should be the other way around. There are such things as professional taste testers after all. (ahem.) Maybe I'm being an old curmudgeon about this. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Addendum to Stix in the Mud

Yesterday I wrote a post about Funley's Stix in the Mud and noted that they are an all-natural candy. What I failed to notice was that the photo I used was from their old formulation which, apparently, wasn't all natural. (I had taken my own photos, but alas, my camera is being wonky again. If anyone would like to contribute to the Candy Yum Yum Cure for Bad Photography, please note that I accept PayPal as well as cold hard cash.)
So I've posted a picture of the Stix in their new, au naturel formulation.
Also, I need to back track on my comments about the peanut butter Stix. I had one tonight and I thought, "Wait a minute. These are really, really yummy." Forget what I said about having to live up to a Reese's. These do a good job all on their own. A nice balance of sweet and salty, and that mysterious crunch. Quite delicious indeed.

Monday, April 26, 2010

When Cookies and Chocolate Collide: Stix in the Mud and Twix Triple Chocolate

It was almost a year ago when I found a package of Funley's Stix in the Mud at a little grocery store in Vermont. They were little clusters of "cookie bits" covered in milk and dark chocolate. I had an e-mail exchange with the owner back then, but to be honest, I kind of forgot about them. Then, just a few days ago I received a package in the mail from Funley's, with samples of their original Stix, as well as their peanut butter and caramel varieties.
The clusters come individually wrapped in tent-style boxes. Some might balk at the individual wrapping but I love it. The box says, "Individually wrapped for self control," and you know what? That's exactly right. If these were just dumped in the box, I could probably eat the whole thing in one sitting. But this way, I can have one (or two) a night and be perfectly content.
I've found that I've been gravitating toward the caramel variety the most. Don't get me wrong; the peanut butter is good, but it has that same old problem that all peanut butter candies have: they can't compare to Reese's. But the caramel ones are very complex. If it were up to me, I wouldn't call the insides "cookie pieces," because they're much crispier than you'd think. They almost border on chip-style crispiness. These kind of remind me of something I had when I was a kid ... I think it was a Little Debbie product ... Cosmic something or others?
In any case, not only are these little patties yummy, but they're also all natural, with no trans fats or preservatives. A big hooray for that!
I have to give Funley's credit. These are definitely unique. I'm having a hard time trying to describe them (of course, that could just be because of the cough medicine with codeine that I'm nursing in an effort to get rid of this dang cold). You'll just have to try them for yourself and see what you think.
While I'm talking about cookies and chocolate, I should also mention that I finally tried a Twix Triple Chocolate bar. I had bought it in Maine when we were there for the Baroness' birthday, but we were so sugared out that we didn't have a chance to try this there.
In this Twix version, the cookie is chocolate and so is the caramel. I thought I'd love this, but I found myself just really wanting a good old plain Twix. Maybe there just wasn't enough contrast between the three tastes, or maybe it was that the texture of the cookie was different. Whatever the case, I'll stick with the original. Hopefully by tomorrow I'll be feeling a bit better so I can fill you in on the Candy Mystery that has popped up in my life. It's a story just rife with intrigue. You won't want to miss it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pina Colada Tic Tacs

Now that Easter is over we've hit the apex of the candy season and we're descending into the vast wasteland of summer candy. Don't get me wrong; wax bottles, salt water taffy and orange slices all have their place in the candy lexicon, but honestly, it's not a very exciting time of year for candy. Having said that, I was pretty psyched to see these Summer Edition Pina Colada Tic Tacs.
I'm generally not a fan of the coconut/pineapple combination, but since these are so different I decided to give them a try. They actually have a nice balance of pineapple and coconut upon first taste. The thing is, though, I usually don't like it when fruit flavors are combined with mint. I suppose they need the mint to fit into the Tic Tac mold. (These actually brought to mind Dynamints-- remember those? They were like Tic Tacs, only the box was horizontal and they came in grape and lemon and lime flavors.)
Anyhow, I certainly would have preferred straight fruit flavor, but the mint does freshen ones breath, so who am I to complain?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Candy Tree

With all this beautiful weather we've been having, candy trees have been sprouting up around the House of Yum. I'm just ever-so-slightly concerned with the Sugar Baby's fascination for, as he says, candies, gummies and chocolates-- always in that order. The Temptation Trifecta.
Maybe I should have him sign his trees and sell them on Ebay in an effort to start saving up for his tuition for culinary school.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

PEZ: Screw the Candy. It's All About the Toy

This weekend I did the usual-- cleaned the house, drank a lot of wine, went to a PEZ convention .... Well, actually it was the Northeast Candy Collector Expo, but about 99 percent of it was PEZ-related.
First off, let me say that these PEZ collectors were the nicest bunch of people. I've been to all sorts of trade shows and conventions and expos, and I can easily say these were the friendliest bunch of all.
There's a lot that can be discussed about PEZ. It's interesting that it's known as a "candy," but the collectors really just want the dispensers. The candy itself-- little compressed tabs of sugar are fine, but you never see anyone just chowing down on a packet of them. They're always eaten within the vicinity of a dispenser. I have some ruminating (haha) to do on the whole PEZ thing, but for now, I think I'll just let the pictures do the talking.We knew we were in the right place when we saw this in the parking garage.

The most expensive PEZ at the show: a "Make a Face" PEZ made in the 1970's. It was recalled due to choking hazards. This one, because of the black wig, is from Europe and valued at $2400. If it was still in the original packaging, this baby would bring in a cool 4K. A die-hard PEZ fan and his ink.

There's a whole world behind PEZ collecting... what makes one more valuable than another. Here, a bagful of "Tigger + Eoor Eoor Mistakes."Bad picture, but I had to include this. This is a special edition big PEZ, "New York Goes to Hollywood." Apparently this is (was?) a reality show on VH1 and this chick is Tiffany. "It's like a slutty 'Bachelorette,'" said Ernie K. from Lancaster, PA. (He doesn't realize that's an oxymoron.) "I don't know why PEZ made this," he said. "It's something PEZ shouldn't be doing. She doesn't reflect PEZ because she's a mean gal." (Note to self: follow up with the PEZ company on this.)

Going to a wedding any time soon? Forget doves and hearts. Wrap your gift (a New York Goes to Hollywood PEZ, perhaps?) in this "Bride and Groom" PEZ wrapping paper. Old Skool PEZ.
Got some mad sewing skills? Check out these bolts of PEZ fabric. (Wedding dress, perhaps?!)

This little dude is named Sam and at the young age of 7, he already owns over 300 PEZ. He never eats the candy (well, sometimes), and his Yankees PEZ is his favorite.

And now ladies and gents, the big reveal. The moment you've all been waiting for. My surprise for PEZ Jody: Yes indeed, these are PEZ costumes! Here we have a French maid with shoes and water pitcher and a nurse with medical kit and shoes. I was so psyched to try these out on a Mickey Mouse PEZ, but then I discovered that they didn't fit because my PEZ had feet. You see, some PEZ have feet, some don't. I don't know why. (Another question for the PEZ people.) You'll just have to imagine how groovy these would look on Ernie or Bert.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Happy National Licorice Day!

Lordy, I don't know how things are where you live, but around here, the National Licorice Day festivities seem to still be carrying on. A parade just went by my house and the fireworks have just started. King Licorice 2010 has just been crowned and the world's largest black jelly bean has been unveiled.
Well, maybe that's a bit hyperbolic. Let's just say that I celebrated today by trying some Grapevines Purple Grape Twists in honor of this most important holiday. The cats over at American Licorice Company kindly sent me some samples of their grape-flavored twists. I have to admit, I wasn't too gung-ho on trying these, given the agitated state that Rainbow Twizzlers put me in a few years ago. I was afraid these would be another hot candy mess.The first thing I noticed when I opened the package was the aroma: big, juicy grape, like Bubble Yum. They get an A in the aroma category. As for taste, well, it's kind of baffling. Once you bite into a piece, it seems that the BIG taste isn't there. It's grapey, just not GRAPEY!
I think the biggest difference between Twizzlers and Red Vines (or in this case, Grapevines), is texture. While Twizzlers tend to be dense and chewy (at least the red and black kind), the Vines are more doughy. They're also more hollow, which created for me a very interesting situation. I found myself puffing into a piece and then drawing back in, almost as if it were a cigarette. It was kind of hypnotic; definitely a one-of-a-kind mouth-feel experience. I just don't know where to place these on the licorice continuum. I mean, if you're a purist, then these don't belong anywhere on the licorice charts. They'd be a candy all their own. But if you're more lax, and you like grape, then these could very well be a cult favorite. As a side note, Red Vines are holding a pretty cool contest where you can design their new label. You can check it out here.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Psychic PEZ Dreams and Other Such Facebook Gems

You might remember my pal Jody from Sweet Treat of the Week. She was the one who risked her life for a Hershey bar and lived to tell about it. Well, she posted something on Facebook the other day that just begged for more detail. It all started with this:

"Last night I dreamed that for Halloween my costume was a FUNCTIONAL PEZ dispenser. I dispensed "to scale" (that is, huge) PEZ candy. It seemed like such a brilliant idea, but now that I'm awake it seems sort of dumb. And difficult."

I needed to know more about this dream, so Jody graciously answered my questions.

CYY: What do you think brought on this dream? Have you been eating PEZ? Do you collect PEZ?
Jody: I have not been eating PEZ. However, I think I've seen some in the store recently.

CYY: What type of character were you in the dream? A bunny PEZ, Hello Kitty, witch, truck?
Jody: I'm me! It's a Jody PEZ!

CYY: Was the giant PEZ going to be edible? If so, would you have made it from scratch? What flavor?

Jody: Yes it was going to be edible. However I was not going to let anyone eat it. I was going to make them give it back to me so I could dispense it repeatedly.

CYY: Would you have made your children dress up as tiny PEZs?

Jody: Yes, when my children were at an age when I could have made them do things, I would most certainly have made them dress as PEZ. However, now they are both taller than I am and I refuse to be bullied.

CYY: Could you sketch a drawing of what you looked like in the dream. (Okay, I know this is pushing it.)

Jody: Yes, I'm scanning something and will e-mail it to you.

I'm bummed that you can't really see this picture because it's quite a sight. The first picture shows the PEZ costume; the second shows how the candy is dispensed; and the third is an X-ray vision of how Jody would actually wear the costume. As you might imagine, she got lots of comments on this, including this gem from another former Sweet Treat of the Week, Kris:

"Because I'm reading this prior to my first cup of coffee, until I saw the X-ray vision, I was thinking a costume FOR PEZ. Which is really an equally brilliant idea. I mean, just imagine if you had different costumes for your Batman PEZ! It would change the whole experience."

Well ladies and gents, guess where I went on Saturday? To the Northeast Candy Collector Expo, which largely consisted of PEZ collectors and guess what? I have some exciting news to reveal to you. But it will have to wait until tomorrow, because I have a lot to say and many pictures to go with it. I need some time to let my thoughts gel. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Argh! Here Be Treasure, Matey!

Memaw sent the Sugar Baby a big box o' Easter fun (as Memaws are known to do) and included a few fun things for me as well, including a bag of DeMet's Treasures Dark Chocolate Caramels.
My first reaction to seeing the package was, "Wait a minute. Isn't there another candy called Treasures?" My second thought was, "DeMets? Who the heck is DeMets?"
As it turns out, DeMets is a candy company that is located about 20 miles from my house. Go figure. They are probably best known for Turtles in the red striped boxes and Flipz, the chocolate-covered pretzels. As for the Treasures, yes, these used to be Nestle's. Apparently there was a series of buyouts and such, so now the candies bear the DeMet's name with the same "Treasures" logo that Nestle used.
Since I didn't recognize the name right off, I was highly skeptical of these. So much so that I almost considered not eating them. But then I noticed one day that the bag was open (ahem) so I tried one.
Wow! Let me just say ... these are fantastic. The chocolate is smooth with just enough bitterness to contrast with the soft, sweet caramel. If you're a Caramello lover, you will flip over these.
I don't know what the story is behind these. Have they just been released? Or have they been around for a while and I just never noticed them? Whatever the case, I think I see a revolution coming on. The DeMet's website said they're opening a larger facility soon, and I think that's good, because these Treasures just might be the next big thing.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Easter Sugar Crash 2010

Well my goodness gracious, I'm wiped out. These candy holidays can really take a toll on a person. So much build-up to the big day and then CRASH! Too. Much. Candy. Must. Have. Salad.
In any case, let's tie up a few loose Easter ends.When life (or the mailman) gives you a See's Easter candy catalog, you make puppets. That's what we've been doing for weeks. Cutting and taping pictures of chocolates onto popsicle sticks. The Sugar Baby asked me to draw sad faces on them. (I'll be accepting donations for his future therapy via PayPal.) He currently has them all nestled inside his lunchbox and he sleeps with them. Trader Joe's offered milk chocolate peanut butter eggs this year. What can I say? They were good, but nothing can ever compare to a Reese's egg with its perfect balance of sweet and salty. Really, there's no reason for any company to ever make a chocolate peanut butter candy because Reese's will always win out.
The Sugar Baby got these adorable bottles of bubbles in his Easter basket. They look like Peeps and the bubbles smell like them, too. Fun!

So Yumsters, what was in your Easter baskets? Do tell!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter Everyone!

Happy Easter Yumsters! I hope the Easter Bunny has brought you all the yumminess in the world. As you can see, the Sugar Baby got a big basket full of candy and toys. Hooray! The Reese's Pieces carrot seems to be a particular hit.
And here we have some of Chef Sugar Baby's Easter creations: Easy Easter Nests with Eggs and sugar cookies, which were supposed to be for dessert today, but strangely, there are only a few left.
Have a wonderful, joyous Easter!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Free Butterfingers!

Wanna coupon for a free Butterfinger? Go here.