Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Name-that-Sibling Update

I've been getting lots of great suggestions for my Nestle "Name-that-Sibling" coupon giveaway. I think I'm going to wait until August 7 and then have a poll on which name you all like best. Keep 'em coming.

Random Candy Memory: Charleston Chews by the pool

Here's a lovely, summery candy memory from my friend Neil, who will probably be mortified that I'm writing this. But it's so cute, I had to do it.

We were talking about candy and the subject of Charleston Chews came up. "They remind me of being a kid," said Neil. He said he would go to the town pool and work up the courage to buy a frozen Charleston Chew from the hottie teenage girl in the bikini who worked at the snack shack. I can just picture him all moony-eyed with a cracking, pre-pubescent voice saying, "One Charleston Chew, please."

And then, like millions of other teenage boys, he'd take the frozen candy bar and thwack! it on the ground so that it broke up into a million pieces.

Good times. Good times.

This then got me thinking about the gender of candy. There are some candy bars that are just boy-oriented; fewer that are girly. Charleston Chews are definitely a boy candy, as are fireballs, jawbreakers and most other round candies. Twix are definitely boy-oriented, although probably just as many girls like them. 3 Musketeers are boy candy, as are Milky Ways. What do girls get? Stupid candy like Mary Janes, Bit o' Honeys and Necco wafers. I'll have to ponder this some more. What do you think?

The No-Chocolate candy bar

The Baron called me the other night and asked if I wanted to take part in a Biggest Loser weight loss contest again. The last time we did it, he won. Surprise, surprise. All he had to do was cut down to two hash browns at McDonald's rather than 14. Anyhow, yes, I said. I'm in.

So I woke up Monday and was raring to go. I had a healthy breakfast, then I loaded the little man in the stroller and did a nice power walk even though it was so humid it was like walking through water. I was ready to conquer the world! Bring on the salads! Let's do Pilates! Let's drink gallons and gallons of water. And then the doorbell rang.

And there sat a lovely box from Hershey's filled with Fresh From the Factory PayDays. Yes, you know, peanuts, caramel, nougat. Fresh. As in, just made. The gods must have quite a sense of humor.

The first thing I noticed was a sticker on the box that said "Saturday Delivery." Hmmm. It was delivered on Monday. When I opened the jar, I noticed the bars seemed a little flat and squishy, like they'd been sitting in someone's pocket all day. No matter, though. When I peeled off the wrapper, the aroma of fresh roasted peanuts wafted up. MMmm, mmm. I really think that PayDays are an underappreciated candy bar because they don't contain chocolate. But the combination of the salted nuts with the sweet caramel and nougat is really fabulous.

I'm not sure how I'm going to participate in this weight-loss contest, but I've got to give it a try. There's got to be some way to successfully incorporate candy into your daily diet without porking out. When I find the answer, I'll let you know.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Free Candy! Free Candy!

People always ask me if Henri is named after anyone. (It's their polite way of saying, "Where the heck did you get that name from?") My standard answer is that he's named after Henry Miller-- my uncle and the writer. I mean, no, my uncle wasn't the writer, but his name was Henry Miller. Well now I have a more exciting answer, thanks to a press kit that just came in from Nestle. Among the little bits of trivia printed on the press kit folder was this gem:

"It was the neighbor of Nestle founder, Henri Nestle, who first combined Nestle Canned Milk with cocoa powder to create the world's first milk chocolate in 1875."

Is that cool or what? Now I'm going to tell everyone that he's named after the founder of Nestles and is heir to the candy fortune.

To celebrate this momentous discovery-- well, all right-- because Nestle is launching a new campaign, I'll be giving out two, yes count 'em, TWO coupons for a free Nestle Crunch Crisp. (See my previous review; I loved this candy bar; thought it tasted like a Bar None.) So let's have a little fun with this, shall we? Let's pretend that Henri was going to have a sibling (which he totally is not, so don't even get any ideas) and I want another candy-inspired name. What would it be? The two I like best will get a shiny, gleaming coupon good for One (1) Free Nestle Crunch Crisp Single Bar.

Candy Blues

Prepare yourself, Dear Reader, for I'm about to tell you a heartbreakingly sad story about candy. Get the tissues ready.
I was talking to my friend June yesterday and, as is the norm with me, our conversation turned to candy and nostalgia, but I was completely unprepared for her tale of woe. Here's the beast she unleashed:

She was little, maybe 10 years old, and she got her first "job" to shovel the walk. The house was on a corner, so there was a lot of sidewalk to shovel. When she finally finished, she was given $10.
"I went right to the store and bought $10 worth of candy," she said.
"What kind of candy?" I asked, licking my chops.
"All kinds of candy. Everything. Pixy Stix. Dubble Bubble. Lots of chocolate." She said she was so happy, so excited to have so much candy. And then ... and then ...
Word of her purchase got to her mother. "She made me return all of it," said June. "Not only was I sad that I didn't have any candy, but I was mortified that she made me go back to the store and return it all."
June didn't have the chance to even sneak one Bit o' Honey or caramel bullseye. Clearly the incident has scarred her forever. And who could blame her? I'm devastated and it didn't even happen to me. What a sad day, indeed.

But so I don't completely depress you, here's another tale of snow shoveling and candy. We had had a big storm and my brother and his friends went out, shovels in hand, with the hopes of making a few bucks. He came back a few hours later with a huge box in his hands. "Look what Mrs. Kissel gave me," he said. It was a giant-- I mean GIANT, probably about five pounds--Oh Henry! Oh, how I coveted that candy bar and I couldn't wait until I was old enough to shovel so that I could get one of those babies for myself. Alas, it wasn't to be and I've never seen one of those mega bars ever again.

Friday, July 27, 2007

What's new in candyland

I had planned on going to the Fancy Food Show in New York a couple of weeks ago. It's a humungo trade show where food companies display their latest creations to potential retailers. The weekend, however, was hot and muggy and I just couldn't muster the energy to get dressed in adult clothes and take the train into the city. Basically, I was just feeling lazy. But there are some new things coming out that I thought I'd share.
New from Chuao Chocolatier (based in San Diego) are their ChocoPods. These are decent-sized "pods" of chocolate that have less than 60 calories per serving. If you're one of those people who can have a small bite of chocolate and be satisfied, these are the ticket. The chocolate is rich and dense and the ooey-gooey fillings come in these flavors: Candela (spicy macadamia praline), Modena (strawberry and balsamic caramel), Picante (spicy cabernet caramel), Passion (passion fruit caramel), Banana (banana brown sugar caramel) and Dulce le Leche (milk caramel). I wasn't too keen on the banana; it was more brown sugar than banana, I thought, but I really liked the Modena and the Candela. YUM!
Other new products (that I haven't tried) include:
Koeze's Cream-Nut Peanut Butter Clusters: they look like a cross between a turtle and a peanut butter cup
Sweet's "Malt Shop" Gourmet Taffy: I'm not a huge fan of taffy, but these look good. The flavors are cherry cola, banana split, chocolate shake and rootbeer float.
ChocolateByNumbers: these are six different percentages of chocolates, from 31% up to 72%. They look ideal for a chocolate tasting party.
So there you have it, some new goodies to keep an eye out for. Now the question is: Will I attend the All-Candy Expo in Chicago? I'd LOVE to, especially since it's been quite a few years since I've gone, but the H-man presents some logistical (and financial) problems. Should I go? Talk me into it!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Do you have anything to declare?

I got word this morning that the von Schokolats arrived safely back in the U.S. with their major stash of candy. Sadly, I will have to wait until August 16 to partake in the booty, and I'm fearful that the Baron and Liesel will ransack the goodies before then. But I've been told the following items are on tap: Stroopwaffels, 20 Euros' worth of delights from the Haribo factory, Mozart balls, the salt-encrusted licorice sardines or whatever they are, and some sort of stick that supposedly tastes like licorice. The excitement is palpable!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Harry Potter and the Mystery of the Red Raspberry Dollars

After an exhausting day of chasing the H-man around the house (note to self: no more sugar cereal for the boy!) I was able to extricate myself and spend a blissful three hours at the movies. Sue, my kick-ass firefighter, garden guru friend picked me up and we went to see Harry Potter. I, of course, had the diaper bag stocked with Dark Raisinettes, Sno-Caps, Red Raspberry Dollars and a seltzer bottle filled with Tom Collinses. Like most people, I don't usually pay too much attention to what I'm eating during the movies, instead preferring to just shove goodies into my gaping maw. But when I took the first bite of a Raspberry Dollar, I thought, "Whoa, now. What's going on here?" The chew was softer than I remembered and the flavor was not as berry. I tried another one. Yep, there's definitely something different about these. I can only assume that the recipe has changed to make way for cheaper ingredients. Very sad.

In other news, I finally got to the Newtown Chocolatier this weekend. I took a photo of my selections, but I can't seem to access it. The store is a cute little jewelbox in a strip mall. The windows are covered with black curtains to protect the chocolate, but frankly, it feels like you're walking into a less-than-reputable house of business. The selection is small-- just one case of chocolates-- but they're all handmade and delicious looking. I got a dark chocolate covered orange peel cluster that was lovely: fresh and fruity; a dark vanilla cream: again, very fresh and a very distinct vanilla taste; an espresso truffle-- strong and dark; a champagne truffle-- yum!; and an almond caramel cluster which was divine. So good in fact, that I'm about to make a Candy Yum Yum! pronouncement:
Almonds are the ultimate candy nut
Everything about them is perfect for combining with chocolate. They're smoky and flavorful. They have great texture and crunch. They go well with milk or dark. I heart almonds.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Booze for the kids

Will you getta look at these beauties! The photograph was taken by Sue, my kick-ass, firefighter, garden-guru friend. She wrote to me last week and said, "Have you ever heard of Wine Gums?" In fact I had. I've seen them at the candy table at the British Invasion car show I used to go to every year and I always *almost* bought them. I didn't quite know what to make of them, though, so I never ended up buying them. But when Sue mentioned them, I figured it was high time. I assumed I'd have to go to the British import store, so imagine my surprise when I found them in Stop & Shop!
I was pretty psyched because the box has drawings of the candies labeled with (what I thought were) the flavors: Chablis, Port, Claret, Hock. (Wait ... what the heck is Hock?) I was surprised when we opened the package and there were even more flavors represented: Gin, Rioja, and a few others. But here's the thing: there was an orange gin and a red gin. A purple port and a yellow port. Huh?
I took one of the purple ones with a gin and gave it a chew. Definitely not gin. More like black currant (which I have to say is quickly becoming one of my favorite candy flavors). I've been trying to figure out what to compare them to. Here's Sue's take on the whole thing:

I couldn't help thinking they were like Swedish fish. The flavors were bright and pleasing but the food snob in me wanted them to really be wine flavored or cocktail flavored, or perhaps at least gooseberry, or kiwi. The texture is really the best part. I love chewy candy, even better if they don't stick to your teeth. Also, "Hock" is short for Hocheimer which is a German varietal wine. This makes me think that I would rather be in Germany, on the Rhine at a small restaurant drinking hock and eating schnitzel. MMMMMMMMM....

She's right about the chew. It's unusual. Not too chewy and I think a little stiffer than a Swedish fish. Not as greasy, either. More of a waxy taste. These remind me of some type of gummy candy, but I just can't place it. Kind of a like a gumdrop without the sugar? Hmm. I'll have to ponder this some more. And I have no idea what the whole booze theme is about, since they don't taste anything like wine or spirits and don't list anything remotely close in the ingredients. Any Brits out there care to shed some light on these things?

STOP THE PRESS! It just came to me: Dots! They're the same texture as Dots. Phew. Now I can get on with my day.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Notes from the Field: Liesel von Schokolat discovers the Kinder Egg

Just got this dispatch from one of the little von Schokolats:

Aunt Patti,
I love it here. Not only is Germany beautiful but thechocolate is great. Yesterday I had a Kinder Egg and it was great. It had milk choclate on the outside and white chocolate on the inside. It was the perfect match. Then when you got to the center there was a toy. I loved it.

I asked her what the toy was and she said it was a Sponge Bob eraser. WHAT?? Since when did Kinder Eggs go all commercial. I remember the toys being really cool, like a little gnome or a funky truck. So sad.

The next Caldecott winner

The first official Candy Yum Yum! poll has closed and the results are in. Your favorite childhood summer candy is: PIXY STIX! Yay! They beat out wax bottles by one vote. So I declare today the official Candy Yum Yum Pixy Stix Day.
On the other end of the spectrum, no one voted for the lowly Circus Peanut. I feel like I need to give comfort to this misunderstood candy. I thought about writing a poem, but my creativity has been inhibited by too much wine last night and not enough sleep. Since I'm pretty up on my children's literature, though, I've decided to write a story. Envision this as a board book, with bright pictures.

Who Will Share My Circus Peanuts?

Lucky Henri! He has a bag of Circus Peanuts.

Henri is a good boy, so he wants to share his candy with someone.

"Daddy, do you want a Circus Peanut?"

"No way!" says Daddy. "I hate those things!"

"Mommy, do you want a Circus Peanut?"

"No thank you, Henri. I'm busy eating this Goldenberg's Peanut Chew."

"Who will share my Circus Peanuts?"

"Well," thought Henri. "It is shaped like a peanut. Maybe Mr. Elephant would like one."

"Mr. Elephant, would you like a Circus Peanut?"

"Why sure, little Henri, I'll try one. Yuck! These taste like banana. I don't like banana. Why don't you give one to Mr. Monkey."

"Mr. Monkey, would you like a Circus Peanut?"

"I'll try one, Little Henri. Yuck! These are chewy! I don't like chewy!"

"Who will share my Circus Peanuts?" cried Henri. And then he had an idea.

"Grandma, will you share my Circus Peanuts?"

"Of course, Little Henri. They're my favorite!"

And so Grandma and Henri sat on the porch and shared a bag of Circus Peanuts.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Why I'm not a Buddhist

Brian's reading some crazy-ass Buddhism book called "Sit Down and Shut Up" by Brad Warner. He pointed out this gem to me.
An early writing by Dogen (from like 1100 A.D. or some such time) lists proscriptions for students studying Buddhism. Here they are, with my comments:

Don't read or chant too much. Reading, I don't do too much. Chanting, not a problem.
Don't overwork. Okay, if you insist.
Don't eat onions. Seriously, I eat onions practically every day. But I suppose I could give them up.
Don't eat meat. I do eat meat, but I've been a vegetarian before and could do it again.
Don't drink too much milk. I never drink milk.
Don't drink alcohol. Oh boy. This is dangerous territory. I could probably do it, but it would suck.
Don't eat too many olives. No prob. I hate olives.
Don't eat fungi. Eh, it won't kill me to give up the occasionally stuffed mushroom.
Don't watch dancing women. My eyes! My eyes!
Don't pay attention to matters of fortune and fame. Probably good advice.
Don't be associated with eunuchs or hermaphrodites. As far as I know, I'm not. But really, we shouldn't discriminate.
Don't have too much candy. WHAT???? WHAT???? Sorry dude, I'm out. Buddhism ain't the way for me.

And so, the path has been chosen for me. Call me a heretic, but candy comes first over the seven-fold path.
(Just so you don't think I'm a complete heathen, I am easily able to follow one of the next rules: Don't stare at the ocean, bad pictures, hunchbacks or puppets.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Notes From the Field: The Baron's gentle New World taste

After a few days of silence, the Baron has checked in with his latest findings:

We will pick up some of the licorice over here. It is like Swedish fish. But rather than just being black licorice it is coated in salt. Really like it but only 3 to 5 fish at a time. Too much salt for my gentle New World taste. As for some chocolate, Michelle picked up some Mozart balls in Austria for you. They were amazing!! Melt in your mouth. We bought one for us to try.

Ah, fantastic! I actually had the pleasure of Mozart chocolates when I was in Austria. The maid put one on my pillow every night. What a glorious trip that was ... my first press trip, a two-level room in a five-star hotel, dinner at the Sacher Hotel, a mind-numbing trip to the silver museum, gastrointestinal distress from the coffee .... hmm, maybe it wasn't so fantastic after all. But the chocolate was fabulous. Can't wait to try the Mozarts again! MMMM!

I've been ripped off!

Last night I scarfed the bag of Dark Chocolate Peanut m&ms I scored at the grocery store the other day. My initial thought was that they weren't as "sexy" as I hoped. They were more like less-sweet m&ms than dark-n-delicious m&ms. But they were still good. So good, in fact, that I found myself wanting more after the bag was done. It seemed to disappear awfully fast. That's when I looked at the serving size. The bag was 1.50 oz as compared to a bag of regular peanut m&ms, which are 1.74. I want my extra .24 ounce, thank you!
I've been having major chocolate cravings lately, but I've tried to keep in control. I really need to find something that's rich and super-chocolatey that will satisfy my sweet tooth. I'm open to suggestions.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

No, they're not real!

Check these out-- they're beads! This photo almost looks like a Wayne Theibaud painting. Very cool. I'd buy some if I could think of what to do with them, but I'm afraid they'd just make me want to eat more chocolate!

Monday, July 16, 2007


There I was in the doctor's office again, reading a magazine, when I found yet another interesting candy story. Of course I had to tear it out, which I tried to do on the sly so I wouldn't get dirty looks from the other patients. Anyhow, apparently there's a woman in Portland, Oregon who makes chocolate gods and icons, like the Buddha, the Virgin of Guadalupe, etc. She molds the chocolate, then hand-paints them with 23-karat gold leaf. They're quite beautiful, actually. The thing is, I don't think I could eat one of them. Not because I think it's sacreligious or anything (or, as Homer might say, "Mmmm, sacredelicious"), but just because it looks like real sculpture. It doesn't really whet my appetite the way a chocolate bunny or Santa Claus might. I don't think you can order from the website, though; I think you can find her stuff at local farmers' markets.

Repeat after me: Het Oud-Hollandsch Snoepwinkeltje

I will freely admit it: my licorice experience has been limited to Good & Plenty, Twizzlers and the occasional fancy licorice mix, but I've never really gone beyond the obvious American offerings. So when Betsy brought me back this cornucopia of licorice delights from her trip to Amsterdam, I was thrilled. The owner, Mariska Schaefer, wrote up a little list of the different "flavored" licorice that were in the bag. So far this is what I've figured out:
The left, middle row, are blueberry. Ah yes, there's blueberry again, insinuating itself into my life. These were actually really tasty, very unusual. The black licorice taste is very subtle. I don't know if I would've guessed these were blueberry; I probably would've said grape. Next to them are the honey licorice. I know this because they're shaped like honey pots and say "Honey" on them. I was expecting them to taste like Luden's cough drops, but whoa, they were really strong. That's a defining characteristic with these European licorices: they're absolutely not for the faint of heart. They're almost savory in their strength. Definitely not as sweet/sugary as American licorice.

Next I tried the top row, the brown coins and the flat black pieces. Yikes. Suffice it to say, my palate wasn't up to the challenge. These were strongstrongstrong! The little discs in the bottom left were equally as potent. The remaining flavors on the list are bay leaf, light salt and ??? (can't read it) sweet. It's hard to tell which is which because they're so overpowering.

I must admit, I don't think I'm ready to be a licorice snob, but I find the variety fascinating. The store looks really cool, the way a candy store SHOULD be! (Click on the Union Jack for English.)
(P.S. Look at those roses I bought for myself. Aren't they just spectacular?! Gotta love Trader Joe's.)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Notes from the field: Five a Day

Brother-in-law et al arrived safely in Germany. Mark (who from here on out shall be referred to as Baron von Schokolat) only managed to lose two passports in the process. Way to go! Anyhow, once the passports were retrieved, the von Schokolats hit the pavement looking for chocolatey goodness. Here's what he has to report:

Thought you might like to know this. In Europe, you can get your daily fruit intake and still have chocolate. We went into Hussels Candy Store in Bonn and had our daily fruit intake. It just happened to be hand-dipped in milk chocolate. We all tried them. Mixed opinions, but let's just say the group agreeded [sic] that chocolate improved the taste.

Apparently they had mango, banana, orange, apricot and melon. Mmmm. Sounds so yummy.

In other candy news, I had the second half of the Kinder Bueno last night that Betsy brought back from Paris. It was all melty because it's a zillion degrees out. So good. So, so good.

Also, a Candy Yum Yum! reader wrote me with this tidbit:

I just saw your brownie post, and thought I would send you along a concept my mother introduced me to. She takes a boxed brownie mix, prepares it, spoons half the batter in the pan, the covers the top in candy, usually quartered out -- 1 quarter with Andes candies, one with chopped up peanut butter cups, one with Skor/Heath bar bits, and the last with chopped up Mounds minis. Or some other assortment of candies. Then you cover everything with the rest of the batter. These are a big hit at work, especially if they think they are just getting a normal brownie.

Whoa! Does that sound yummy or what?! I love the idea of melted Andes in a fudgey brownie. And I love that the candy is hidden-- so fun! Thanks for sharing. Now I'm going to be craving these until I make them!

Sweet Dreams!

True confession time. Some people wear an eye mask to bed. Others wear earplugs. Me, I wear my Walkman and listen to talk radio all night long. Yes, a Walkman. I tried the iPod thing, but it just didn't do it for me. I want live, sometimes-boring-as-hell-sometimes-so-fascinating-I-fight-to-stay-awake-just-to-listen A.M. radio. Usually I end up falling asleep sometime around 11 and then wake up around 6 when the morning show hosts start blabbering, and through the night the various interviews and infomercials weave their way into my dreams.
This morning I was having a wonderful sleep, dreaming about candy bars. I was envisioning people talking about their favorites, from Big Hunks to Chunkies, plain Hershey bars to fancy Swiss chocolate. And that's when I realized: it wasn't a dream. They were really talking about candy! I shook myself awake and listened as the morning hosts talked about yesterday's New York Times article on British candy. They were asking listeners to call in and talk about their favorite candy bars. What did they say? I can't remember. I was still in a fog, but through the magic of the mighty Internet, I can probably go back and listen again.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Chocolate ear wax, gov'na?

Great article in today's New York Times on British vs. American candy. Maybe this will put a bee in the bonnet of American candy makers and they'll realize that we really do want good chocolate, not waxy flavorless soy lecithin cheapy chocolate.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Guest review: Mark's take on the sweet stuff (or, Today's Fresh Hell)

Lord help me. I knew I never should've told my brother-in-law Mark about this blog. Most people just politely smile and say, "Oh, a candy blog. How nice for you," and then go on their merry way. Perhaps they'll gossip about me to their friends. "Can you believe that wacko? A candy blog? How old is she, twelve?" But rarely do they come back for a second look. (This is, of course, their loss.)

Yes, some friends are regular readers, and for them, I'm truly thankful. Their interest fuels my passion for all things chocolate and candy. And then there's Mark (pictured at right; note the dribble stains on his shirt).

I was sitting around this morning, relishing the quiet while H took his morning nap when the phone rang.

"Hey," said Mark. "Have you ever tried dark chocolate peanut M&Ms?" From the background noise I could only assume that he was standing in line at the convenience store. The answer is no, because I haven't seen them in these parts yet. And I so desperately want them.

He rattled off a few more candy bars, some which I've tried, some I haven't, so he said he'd try them and get back to me with his two cents. Apparently the fact that he and his family are leaving tomorrow for a two-week trip to Europe hasn't sent him into a packing flurry. I wonder why.

I returned home this afternoon to a very sweet e-mail from my niece Kaileigh:

Aunt Patti,
Daddy had me try a candy bar that I really really loved. They were both chocolate so of course I loved them. One was a Reses crispy crunch bar. It tasted like a resse penut butter cup with a great crunch.

Now that's a review, huh?! A girl after my own heart. Brava, Kaileigh! And then there was this: an e-mail from Mark saying that he decided to leave the review of the dark chocolate M&Ms to me, since he hates dark chocolate (such blasphemy!) but his notes on the others he did try:

1) Nestle Butterfinger Crisp
- 3 out of 3 family members loved it.
- Everyone liked how the wafer softened the hard Butterfinger crunch and taste. We are not much of a Butterfinger enthusiast.
- Almost tasted like a peanut butter wafer candy than a butter finger. Sort of had a Kit Kat crunch.
- If you don't like Butterfingers, this might be the candy for you.

2) Reese's Crispy Crunchy
- 3 out of 4 family members hated it.
- Our chocolate lover would eat it just because.
- The other 3 more sophisticated taste buds determined that this chocolate bar was nothing but a terrible marketing scam. If you advertise it as a "Crispy" and "Crunchy" then the consumer would expect a crunch. Very Very disappointing!! It was like a Peanut Butter cup with a few crushed peanuts on top. Almost spit it out, but I pushed through it.

Well, I must admit, I'm impressed with his research, especially since he doesn't have a particularly discerning palate. He actually made me want to scarf down a Butterfinger Crisp. But then, at the bottom of the e-mail, was this postscript:

PS - Michelle was wondering if we do these family taste tests and can email you the results why would we bring any candy back from Europe??

Well that's a fine how-do-you-do! Why would you bring back candy? Um, how about these reasons to start:

1) I'm your favorite sister-in-law

2) I love chocolate

3) You're going to Germany and Belgium, two of the world's best chocolate countries

4) If you don't bring me back chocolate, I won't join you for Thanksgiving thereby leaving you to fend for yourself while your wife and mother-in-law join forces and cause you to curl in the fetal position and watch endless episodes of Hannah Montana.

But it's your choice, Mark.

Making lemonade out of lemons (or what to do with the melted package of chocolate)

My friend Melissa has quite possibly one of the best senses of humor around. She'll laugh at anything, from Little Britain to the death scene in that new movie "Evening." We first met in grammar school when she used to draw me pictures and attach little presents to them, like a ring from the gumball machine. She sat next to me in second grade when we had the very evil Ms. Hertel as our teacher (note the Ms., NOT Miss; this was the 70s after all), a statuesque woman who was bitter that she was a teacher and not a model. Anyhow, Melissa was telling me how her kids received a package from her friend in England. As it is summer in Raileigh, North Carolina, the temperature was a balmy 200 degrees, so she was a little dismayed to open it and find packages of molten Aero Bubbles. Not one to be daunted, she and the kids got out some plastic Christmas candy molds and poured the now-liquid chocolate in, making a batch of Aero reindeer heads. Hooray! She said they tasted just like an Aero bar with the added benefit of keeping her kids occupied for five minutes.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Hold your horses!

Wow. One mention of brownies and everyone goes nuts wanting to know how they came out. Well, here you go. I used a box mix, I think it was Duncan Hines and used an 8x8 dish so they'd be nice and thick. I put them in the oven and then, ten minutes before they were done, I chopped up some of the Elvis Reese's and tucked them into the top of the brownies. I wasn't sure if they'd melt, but they held their shape. I think, for some reason, the banana taste was more pronounced after the baking. Yes, they were tasty. I think these would be really good if you chopped up some peanuts and sprinkled them on top, too. Yum!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Local Elvis Sighting (Reese's, that is!)

Just got an e-mail from Alexandra. She found an Elvis Reese's at her local Walgreen's. Here's her take on the peanut butter and banana concoction:
So, last night I was shopping at my neighborhood Walgreens and saw that the new Reese's PB & Banana cup was there. Hmm.... okay, so I picked it up and added it to my purchases (of course, I forgot the things I truly went for but that's another story) Did you know they put Elvis trivia on the wrappers? Hmm! The top of the cup was, for lack of a better word, wet/moist???? Perhaps it melted against something else? Anyway, on with the "dissection"....I cut the cup into pieces.... tried my first bite....it reminded me of a chocolate covered banana with peanut butter. The banana reminded me of an actual slice of really ripe banana. Your brother is right though - Wow! is that sweet. I ate half the cup and then said there's no good way to save a half of PB cup so I ate the rest! I have one more cup to have later tonight. These would be a good addition to ice cream - another way to have a banana split if bananas aren't available! Yum-O!

Thanks Alex! Just this morning I baked a batch of brownies and threw some cut-up Elvis Reese's into the mix. We'll see how they turn out.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Candy Teaser!

Here's a preview of what's coming up on Candy Yum Yum!
My sister just got back from Paris and Amsterdam with a bagful of goodies for me: a Kinder Bueno, a lollipop with a lovely Cannibis leaf on it and a big bag o' assorted licorice. Unfortunately, I won't be reviewing any of it tonight because I had my teeth cleaned today and they hurt like heck. No cavities, though!

Behold, the Mighty Whoopie Pie

What, pray tell, is a Whoopie Pie, you ask? I will tell you. It's a Maine specialty. A traditional WP is about the size of your hand and is chocolate cake with sweet, creamy icing in the middle. Kind of like a Suzy Q, only round. Now it seems that people are getting all fancified with their Whoopie Pie recipes, because on the last trip we not only had one filled with peanut butter icing, but we also had this glorious delight, pictured to the right. There is Taylor about to devour a giant maple Whoopie Pie.
We were driving along the backroads and saw a sign that said "Bacon Farm." Well, naturally I had to stop and see what kind of bacon was for sale. Turns out there wasn't any (although I could've bought a pig if I wanted). What they did have was lots of maple stuff, like syrup, candy and this big wheel of mapley goodness. Usually maple is too sweet for my tastes, but this was really pretty tasty. It was kind of like eating a big cream-filled pancake. So good.
("But wait," I can hear you say. "I thought you had all sorts of candy when you were in Maine. A Whoopie Pie, too?" Oh yes. And you know what else? Carrot cake, fresh bread, some sort of trick muffins that pretend to be chocolate but are really bran, ice cream cake, chips ... need I go on? And I wonder why none of my pants fit.)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Basset Hounds and Candy: Making the World a Better Place

I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond this morning to take advantage of the "Welcome to Your New Home-- Come Drop Lots of Cash Here!" coupon and in the parking lot I saw a couple standing by their car with the hatchback open and an old hound dog sitting there. Anyone who knows me knows that I go bonkers when I see a basset. None are ever quite as handsome as my beloved P.J. was, but I have a soft spot for all stinky dogs.
I went over and said, "Can I pet your dog?" and the couple said yes. Then the guy offered me a Twizzler. "Chocolate Twizzler?" he asked, holding out the bag. "They're new!" I didn't have the heart to tell them they weren't new, and he seemed to really be enjoying them. "They match your shirt," he said. "They're the 'Beyond' part of the store." They seemed like a really cool couple.
We had a lovely conversation and I got to scratch Vern behind his big floppy ears. Then I was off to the hair-pulling task of finding curtains for the livingroom.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

You got your 3 Musketeers in my York Peppermint Pattie!

I really, really wanted to like the new 3 Musketeers Mint. I somehow feel an allegiance to the mint/chocolate combination, maybe because I grew up with an appreciation for York Peppermint Patties, my mom's favorite. It's just one of those ideal flavor pairs, like chocolate and peanut butter or raspberry. But you can see where this is heading already...
The bar is thinner than a regular 3 Musketeers and it's actually two separate bars. Visually pretty appealing, but you can't help but feel like you're being ripped off since this special edition is smaller than the regular thing. The wrapper, which goes from the traditional silver into a minty-green bleed says, "Fluffy Chocolate-on-Mint Taste." Wha?? What the heck is that supposed to mean? What marketing guru thought that gem up?
The bar itself looks really yummy. It's dark chocolate and the inside is a bright fluffy white. Kudos for presentation. But the first whiff of it is disappointing. It smells like those cheapy peppermint patties you see at Thanksgiving and Christmas. And then there's the taste.
"It's like a big York Peppermint Pattie," said Brian.
That was my first thought, too. But it's not as minty and then there's the aftertaste ... a sort of malty, grainy flavor (not texture, just taste). I guess that's what makes it a 3 Musketeers.
Like I said, I really wanted to like this bar for some reason. But the aftertaste just stuck with me. I don't think I'll ever be a 3 Musketeers fan.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Random Candy Memory: Flying Saucers

I'm in first or second grade and I'm at my grammar school fair. There's a table where they're selling penny candy, and it's being manned by one of the sixth-graders. His breath smells strongly like oregano and tomato sauce from a frozen pizza. I wonder to myself why people like pizza so much. I don't like it at all.

I tell the boy which candy I want and he puts it into a brown paper lunch bag. I see the Flying Saucers for the first time. What are they? Little pastel UFOs that make noise when you shake them. I buy two. He asks me which colors I want, but I don't remember which I picked.

They're a marvel to look at, to shake. Not only a candy, but an amusement as well.

I take a bite. It's like flavorless styrofoam that melts into a pulpy mass in my mouth. Then the little sugary nonpareils mingle with it, giving it some taste. Fantastic!

These little UFOs (or, as they're known in more sophisticated circles, "Satellite Wafers"), are the type of candy that only kids eat. I mean, really, when's the last time you saw an adult with a bag of these? They're in the same category as wax bottles and candy cigarettes: a quintessential childhood/summer candy.