Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Kids Smoking Smarties?! That's Some Crazy Shizz!

A while back I wrote several entries about candy cigarettes, one of the staples of my childhood growing up in the '70s. Such a shocking candy! How could candy makers allow such a thing to exist? Did the candy versions promote smoking the real stuff? Scientific studies concluded that yes, they did glamorize smoking and therefore were evil.

Well my friends, leave it to the new generation to find something even more horrifying, more anarchist than candy cigarettes. Brace yourself: The Kids are "smoking" Smarties!

When I heard about this on a teaser for tonight's news, my first thought was that kids were crushing up Smarties and stuffing the powder into a pipe (or bowl or bong) and lighting up. Well, it's not *quite* so naughty. Apparently this is how it works: you take a roll of Smarties, crush them up in the package, inhale the dust and then blow it out your mouth and it looks like you're smoking. There's a fantastic how-to video here by 14-year-old Titus Williams (although he admittedly used Sassy Sours, a simliar product made by Copper Kettle Inc., which he says crush more easily).

Oh how I wish I was the reporter who broke this story. What a riot. Such a serious topic-- talking to the child "users," consulting doctors, consoling heart-broken parents. I've got to say, this has me laughing my Smartie Pants off. This article in the Wall St. Journal by Dionne Searcey is actually a really good piece of reporting. To wit:

"Last month, Mark Shikowitz, an ear, nose and throat doctor at
Schneider Children's Hospital in New Hyde Park, N.Y., treated a boy about 9
years old who complained his nose was burning because of a Smarties incident.
(His parents brought in a Smarties wrapper but weren't sure how he'd ingested
them.) Dr. Shikowitz determined that part of a Smarties must have lodged in the
boy's nose until it dissolved. The child wasn't harmed."

"Oren Friedman, a Mayo Clinic nose specialist, cautioned that frequent use could
lead to infections or even worse, albeit rare, conditions, such as maggots that
feed on sugary dust wedged inside the nose."

Now that's something to get freaked out about.
So Yumsters, have any of you ever tried to smoke candy? Maybe snorted Pixy Sticks? Here's your chance to dish the dirt.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Hershey's Thingamajig!

Here it is folks-- the Hershey's Thingamajig. Let me tell you, I scouted all over the place for this baby. I wanted to get it while No-Nuts was here because I was under the mistaken impression that there wasn't any peanut butter in it, so I figured she could be my guinea pig because of the self-imposed candy fast. Wrong.
As the wrapper says, it's "Chocolate, Cocoa Crispies and Peanut Butter."
So much for my brilliant ideas. I haven't been this excited about a candy bar in a long time, because I used to LOVE Whatchamacallits before they went and messed them up with caramel. So now I have this baby sitting on my desk, haunting me. Easter can't get here fast enough. But you tell me: have you tried one? Whaddya think?
UPDATE: Several of you have asked where I found it. I looked at lots of places and finally found it at one Walgreen's (after visiting other ones). It was at the checkout counter.

Candy the Way It Should Be

This past weekend, we headed up to Vermont: me, Mr. Goodbar, Bazooka Betsy, No-Nuts and the Sugar Baby. We each had our own reason for going. Mr. Goodbar was meeting with contractors to begin culling numbers for our Shangri-La project. Bazooka Betsy was looking for an excuse to read her book and sleep late. No-Nuts and Sugar Baby had no choice and I, well, I was on a chocolate mission. More about that later. But first, just thought I'd share this photo I took at the Vermont Country Store. Tourist trap? Yes. Overpriced? Yes. But I give them props when it comes to their candy selection and presentation. I love that you can buy one mini Swedish Fish or gummy strawberry for 10 cents. And of course they had rows and rows of truffles, turtles, licorice, hard candies and retro favorites. Great fun! But I didn't buy anything there. Shocking? Perhaps. But it was only because we had just been to a most fabulous chocolate shop in Walpole, NH. I'll have complete details and photos soon!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wazoo: An Unfortunate Bar with an Even More Unfortunate Name

Here's the thing: No-Nuts was supposed to write this review for me, since technically candy bars are off-limits to me at this time. But spring break has come and gone, and so has she, so I'm forced to write this entry by nose alone.
Well, all right, fine, I did try a bite. Whatever. Let's get down to it. Here, dear Yumsters, is the Wild Berriez Wazoo, "chewy fruity candy sprinkled with crunchies." Its uniqueness was a driving factor in my purchasing it. I had no idea what to expect, although I can say with certainty that I didn't expect a light lavender bar with a bright yellow and pink center. The "crunchies" on top are very similar to Nerds-- very fruity and sour--and the package says they're made in Thailand. (Apparently it's not all just Pad Thai and Massaman curry.) The bar itself smells and tastes like raspberry yogurt. It's chewy like a Charleston Chew. How did No-Nuts feel about it? Well, she only ate one bite, so that says something. How do I feel about it? I'd never want to eat this. I have to give credit to Topps though. They've branched out from their traditional line-up of baseball cards/Bazooka/Baby Bottle Pops to create something totally new and creative. I don't dig it, but I think this will be a big hit with 9-12 year olds.

Mmmmmm ... m&m's!!

FREE m&ms! The Easter Bunny has arrived early at the House of Yum. I have an Easter m&m's goodie package (m&m's, recipes and some crafty stuff) to give to one lucky randomly-chosen Yumster. Here's all you have to do: in the comments, leave a note telling me about your favorite Easter basket goodie and I'll pick one lucky recipient on April 5. Here's the fine print: Please leave a way for me to contact you if you're picked as the winner. If you sign in as anonymous, that won't help you much. Also, you must live in the continental U.S.
Just to get the old creative juices flowing, I'll share with you some of my favorite Easter basket memories: a chocolate ladybug (I thought that was just the coolest!); a stuffed Winnie-the-Pooh character that, at the time, were only sold at Sears. I had Pooh, Eeyore and I believe Tigger; and red, white and blue jelly beans-- oh wait, no, I hated those.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Craving Some More Sugar?

The folks over at Blogs.com asked me to write a guest post, so if you're looking to add some sweetness to your life, check out my Top Ten Sweetest Candy Blogs.

Two, Two, Two Tastes in One! (Well, not really.)

On a normal candy-scavenging day, I probably would've walked right past the Skittles Crazy Cores, but after I read the review by the cheeky lads over at Candy Gurus, I had to give them a go.
The Gurus claim that these are bunk because they are not "Two Flavors in Each Piece" as the package claims. The flavors are supposed to be: Mango Peach, Cherry Lemonade, Strawberry Watermelon, Melon Berry and Blue Raspberry Lemon.
Out of all of them, I think the Cherry Lemonade came the closest to being two flavors, but the boys were right: these aren't magic candies. There's no dual personalities here. These are just differently-flavored Skittles. Having said that, No-Nuts LOVED these Skittles and I believe she's going to go on a rampage if she doesn't get more soon. As for me, they were fine, but I've always been a little afraid of Skittles ever since I found out they have more calories (230!) than your average candy bar.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Candy: Recession-Proof Happiness

The stock market has been a bit like Anna Nicole Smith's life: you know that whatever's going on is going to be ugly, but you just can't help but take a peek. And usually the results are pretty depressing.

So what's a person to do after he watches his 401k shrink down like a giant bag of bright green spinach that's been sauteed into a teeny-tiny, ugly mushy mess?*

Eat candy, of course! This article in The New York Times explains it all so well. Our generation may be cutting down on eating out, drinking good wines, taking vacations and buying the latest techno toys, but candy endures. The only difference is, we're eating less Michel Cluizel and Richart and more Tootsie Rolls and Bit o' Honeys. And that's a good thing!

*Terrible analogy, but I'm writing this before my morning coffee.

Monday, March 23, 2009

All The Buzz

A Yumster wrote to me the other day and asked if I ever cried over discontinued candy. She said her heart was broken that Peerless, the maker of rootbeer and cinnamon hard candies, shut down their operations. Indeed, this upset many candy aficianados. But then she mentioned their Honey Queen Bees and I perked right up. Honey Queen Bees? I've never heard of them! Turns out that Peerless used to make these fruit-flavored hard candies filled with real honey. They came in green apple, honey, lemon, orange, pineapple and strawberry. I can't believe I've never heard of these before! So tell me Yumsters, were they good? Did you have a favorite flavor?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Parenting Secret #36: The Power Lies Within the Bunny Box

There comes a time in every new parent's life when he or she quite suddenly discovers The Secret. The Holy Grail. The one thing that holds all the power of universe over every two-year-old in its tiny little shell. Yes, of course I'm talking about


Up until this week, the Sugar Baby had never had an m&m. He went blissfully through almost three years of his life in total ignorance of these tiny treats. And then this week, Memaw sent him a package and in it was a small plastic bunny-shaped box of m&ms.

Frankly my first thought was, yay! Candy for me! But of course, I'm knee-deep in my 40 days of candy bar fasting, so they're off limits. I held out the little box and told the Sugar Baby he could have one. Can you even imagine eating just ONE m&m? It seems impossible. But to a little man who subsists on fruit and ... well, fruit ... one delicious m&m was enough to get him hooked. A new routine was immediately established. Now, whenever we get home from our morning errands, he looks at me with his big blue eyes and says, "An m&m and I go to bed."

I'm trying to be a good parent and not to use the m&m's as a bribe. But dang, it's so easy. Today, he held his pre-nap m&m in his hand while I got him ready for bed. When he was kicking like a wild mule fussing while I changed his diaper, I actually threatened him. "I can take away your m&m!" I said.

He immediately popped it into his mouth. So much for the authority of mom.

North Carolina Chocolate Lovers!

Calling all Yumsters in and around the Charlotte, NC area. The Actor's Theater of Charlotte will have a free showing of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory on March 30. Free popcorn, too, and apparently they sell beer at these things. Check out the details at Charlotte on the Cheap. If any of you go, please report back. It sounds like a fantastic time.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Do You Know This Candy?

A reader writes:

"I remember this candy in the 70's with names of people on them. I think they were called 'name drops.' Does anyone remember these?"

So Yumsters, anyone have a clue? It doesn't ring a bell to me at all.

March Madness Winners!

Thanks to all the Yumsters who wrote about their favorite orange things. What great answers you all gave! I wish I could send something to each and every one of you. But since I can't, the randomly-picked recipients of the Hershey's March Madness giveaway are:
Kate and Virga!
Don't be disappointed if you weren't picked this time. I have some more giveaways coming soon!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Warning: Not For the Faint of Heart

There are few things in life that can be universally agreed upon, but here's one. I would bet that the majority of the world's population would agree that the following are just creepy:
  • dolls
  • clowns/mimes/Mummenschanz
  • any show by Sid and Marty Kroftt (i.e. "Sigmund and the Sea Monsters," "H.R. Pufnstuff")
  • wood paneling
  • the boat scene in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory"
  • Cirque de soleil
  • and certain parts of New Hampshire

Now, I would also bet that the majority of U.S. residents would name m&m's (plain or peanut) as one of their top ten favorite candies. So what happens when you combine something wonderful, such as m&m's, with something creepy, like dolls?

This is what happens:

Ah! My eyes! This, my friends, is the "Heavenly Handfuls m&m's Melts in Your Heart Doll Collection." Yes, now, for the first time ever (and let's hope the last), m&m's has paired with Ashton-Drake's line of creepy collectible baby dolls.

In case you're wondering (and I know you are!), each baby is a "mini-masterpiece, with all the details you'd expect to see in a full-sized doll--but they're only 6" long! Tiny enough to carry along with you to give you a delightful boost on the toughest day."

(Imagine this scenario: "Sorry Johnson, but we're in a recession. We've gotta let you go."

"It's okay, sir, I understand. I have my little doll right here in my pocket to make things all better.")

Each little bundle o' fright comes dressed in a specially-designed onesie and a little hat with a saying: "There's a little nut"; "Sweet on the Inside"; "Never let them see you melt"; and the appropriately threatening, "I melt for no one."

But wait! Before you go shelling out $29.99 (plus shipping and service charges) to buy one of these for your favorite little girl, please read the fine print!

"These dolls are not toys; they are fine collectibles to be enjoyed by adult collectors."

All those who think this is beyond creepy, say "Aye!"

Friday, March 13, 2009

Score Some March Madness Candy!

Woohoo! It's time for March Madness! I actually don't know anything about basketball, but the Sugar Baby's recent interest in it makes me think that I might be an expert before I know it. In the meantime, Hershey's is launching a March Madness giveaway consisting of a mini basketball net and ball (perfect for your cube at work!) and lots of yummy Hershey candy bars.
Here's all you need to do to enter into the giveaway: leave a comment here telling me what your favorite orange-colored thing is. It could be anything. Be creative!
Now for the deets: you must live in the U.S. and be at least 18 years of age. Make sure you leave a way for me to get in touch with you so if your name is picked, we'll know where to send it! (In other words, don't sign in as Anonymous, because that guarantees your name won't get picked!) I'll pick two winners on March 17 at noon, EST. Good luck!
And be sure to visit www.hersheys.com/marchmadness to learn more and to create a bracket.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Vanilla Whoppers Milkshake

Today I took the Sugar Baby to evil Wal Mart to buy some green streamers for a craft project that he ended up destroying. It's been another one of *those* days. I blame it on the full moon. In any case, I tried to scope out the Easter candy as best I could without ever stopping the cart, because that's when bad stuff happens-- when you stop the cart. That's when crazy, useless items get surreptitiously hidden in your cart by tiny hands that are quicker than a gypsy pickpocket. It's also when beady little eyes spy the packages of 10,000 stickers or the $19.99 Curious George video and you end up cutting your trip short to avoid the stares of the other people around you who aren't toting along a screaming 2 year old. But I digress.
It was fascinating to see that the Easter candy aisle was laid out by color: pink Peeps with pink M&Ms; blue Robin's Eggs with blue jelly beans. A rainbow of Easter delight! There were even orange Peeps, which I don't think I've seen outside of Halloween. The big excitement, however, came in the form of Whoppers Milkshake. They have two new flavors: vanilla and blueberry.
I just couldn't bring myself to get the blueberry, although I really probably should have because they had the greatest potential of being really gross. But I bought the vanilla and frankly, was a little hesitant to try them because of my bad experience with the strawberry ones. But lo and behold, the vanilla ones aren't half bad. The flavor is much more subtle than I imagined. I was afraid it would be a heavy, Play-Dohy vanilla, but it was quite the opposite. I'd recommend them if a) you like Whoppers and b) you like vanilla.
I took a picture of the tiny carton they came in, but I'm feeling too lazy to download it. Nothing personal. It's just time for bed after a loooooong day of full moon madness.
Here's the picture but, oops, forgot to rotate it!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Real-Life "24"

A couple of weekends ago, I did the most amazing thing: I left my home for 24+ hours without husband or child. Yes, this was my first time away from the Sugar Baby overnight. Yes, I panicked-- for about one second. Then the thought of sleeping late and eating junk food overtook me and it was smooth sailing from that moment on. Here's how it all happened: my friend's husband called me and said, "I'd love to give Susan a break, but I know she doesn't want to go away with me. Could you get away for a night?"
Hell yeah, I could.
And so, overnight bags in hand, we checked into our fantastic room at the inn on the water and we dove right into our blissful, peaceful vacation which consisted mainly of lunch, dessert, champagne, taking turns in the jacuzzi tub reading Us Weekly, bad TV (something about Hugh Hefner and the playmates ... I don't know, I don't have cable), happy hour, Facebook, watching Weeds and more food. So here's where the chocolate comes in. After lunch, we decided to have gelato, only to find that the place with the huge "Gelato" sign only has it in summer. So we went in search of something sweet and came upon a funky place with not only gelato, but lovely cheeses, decadent cakes and an entire aisle of unusual chocolates.
It was a tough decision, but I finally decided upon a bar of bittersweet chocolate with crushed amaretti bits and an Anette's Chocolates "Winter Cabernet" chocolate truffle bar. I was so, so excited for the amaretti one. I really thought it was going to be awesome. Until I opened it a few days later and saw that it had bloomed. The chocolate had turned an icky grey. I tried a nibble, but nope, it was a goner. So very, very sad.
Then the cabernet bar. The funky trapezoid package says, "Our Winter Cabernet bar is a blend of fine Cabernet Sauvignon wine and a rich, dark, Belgian chocolate." Sounds fantastic, right? Well, it was fine. As in, I had a bite and thought, "Well, okay, nothing wrong with that." But at a whopping $3.29 for a 2.1 ounce bar, I expect to be wowed. I definitely wasn't wowed.
Of course, in the end, it didn't really matter, because the important thing was that I got to sleep until 9 a.m. and I took a bath AND a shower, just because I could.
(P.S. The Sugar Baby fared just fine. His pants were on backwards, but hey ... who am I to complain?)

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Ye Olde Chocolate

When you think about the history of chocolate, what comes to mind? For most people, it might be European chocolates, or perhaps the discovery of cacao by the Aztecs. But wait, my friends! Did you know that colonial America has a rich chocolate heritage? No? Neither did I. Of course, most of my knowledge of American history comes from "Little House on the Prairie," and I don't recall Half Pint ever eating chocolate. I know Willy and Nellie were always sneaking their paws into the store's glass jars of treats, but I think they were more like taffy or hard candies, if I remember correctly. But Mars is launching a "scholarly pursuit" to understand everything there is to know about chocolate and so, without further ado, I introduce you to the American Heritage Chocolate brand.
I was sent these little chocolate "sticks" as a taste test and, according to the press release, "Old-world chocolate has a distinct texture and taste with sometimes a hint of other flavors such as ginger, mustard or pepper."
The packaging made it look like something you'd buy in the gift shop of a historic site. Here in New England, every grade school child goes on a field trip to Sturbridge Village. I could imagine seeing these in the gift shop, next to the reproduction Horn Books and bags of marbles.
I was a little scared to try it, especially since it looked so much like a stick of brown chalk. But it wasn't bad. Less sweet than the chocolate we have today, and more crumbly. I didn't get the spicy notes they mentioned; instead, I found that there was a residual fruity taste, not unlike a piece of Juicyfruit gum. At first, I was unclear as to whether this American Heritage Chocolate would be for sale or if this was a press-only thing. But then I went to their website, www.americanheritagechocolate.com, and found out that yes, they will be selling it in blocks, sticks and drink mix at-- guess where?-- historic site gift shops! Somebody did a good job with the packaging.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Hershey's Thingamajig

This just in from Alexandra: Hershey's has released a new limited edition bar called "Thingamajig," apparently a sister bar to the Whatchamacallit. Instead of peanut butter crispies, this one has cocoa crispies. Stay tuned for Alex's full report!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Like a Blind Man Reviewing a Movie

The Baroness bought me these on her recent trip to Florida:They're Coco Rhum Bites-- "Delicious Rum Flavored Coconut Treats-- Crushed Vanilla Wafers and Cocoa Dipped in Rich Chocolate." Don't they sound yummy? (Although I think they probably meant to write "Coconut," not Cocoa on the package. I mean, that sounds kind of weird to have chocolate-covered cocoa, and then leave the main ingredient-- coconut-- off the description.)
Well, I've been told they are delicious (by Mr. Goodbar) but I can't tell you myself because ... well ... I sort of gave up chocolate for Lent. I know, I know! I've heard it already-- how am I supposed to write this blog if I can't eat chocolate for 40 days? First of all, I have a back log of posts, so this will be a good time to catch up. And second, I'm being kind of specific in my giving-upedness. I've actually given up candy BARS, not necessarily "candy." So technically I could try one of these Coco Rhum Bites, since it isn't a bar but more like a ball. But there's something to be said about cleansing one's palate (and intestines) of chocolate for a bit. Let's look upon this as an experiment. When the 40 days are up, will chocolate taste different? Will I gorge on candy bars, or will I be more selective? It will be interesting to see. But the real question of course is, can I really do it?
This weekend Mr. Goodbar and I went out to dinner after our guitar lessons (more on this later, perhaps) and the woman at the table next to us was enjoying a glass of wine. "Six days into Lent," she said, pointing to the glass. "I gave up alcohol. I couldn't do it. Now I'll just give up the hard stuff."
So I suppose when it comes to self-imposed abstinence, we all fudge it a little. (Mmmmm, fudge!)

Monday, March 02, 2009

3 Musketeers Recipe Winners!

It's March 2, which means I'm a day late in picking the two lucky recipients of the 3 Musketeers baskets o' goodies. You all came up with some interesting recipes. To be perfectly honest, I think the Ice Cube Queen's Kumquat Refrigerator Pie sounds awesome, but since she's my sister, I kind of can't pick her.** So, Jilleh wins for her 3 Musketeers Crispes (which do sound quite yummy) and Jessica for her 3 Musketeers Mousse Pie (oh yeah!). So Jilleh and Jessica, please send me your mailing info and I'll make sure your bountiful reward arrives on your doorstep!

**Don't worry, Ice Cube Queen. I'll be sending something yummy to you soon. If No-Nuts doesn't eat them all.