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April 2006

Sunday, April 16, 2006

What’s in Your Easter Basket?

As a kid Christmas was probably my favorite holiday, but Easter was a close second, probably because of the candy.

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The Easter Bunny graced our house with rather unusual baskets. Besides the customary “hiding of the basket” which got more and more complicated as the years went by, we also got plenty of non-candy items in our baskets.

Our Easter baskets came with a large chocolate rabbit. They were usually solid, but there were years when they were hollow and others when they weren’t even made of real chocolate. There were foil-wrapped chocolate eggs and jelly beans. Sometimes the jelly beans were the spice flavors, sometimes the fruit flavors. I liked them both and usually traded for the black ones (though it was hardly necessary as my brother and sister didn’t care for them and I’d get them eventually anyway). Sometimes there were those premium chocolate eggs like the large Russell Stover ones. But there was always a can of black olives for each of us. I have no idea how this tradition started, but we loved black olives (especially putting one on each fingertip). Later we also got dill pickles and depending on what our tastes were at the moment it could be slim jims or a stick of salami (I kid you not). Our Easter baskets were honestly more like picnic baskets. And we loved them that way.

The photo above was taken in 1969 by my grandfather on the lawn at the side of my grandparents house in North Canton, OH. Sometimes they’d have an egg hunt for us, and I think that’s what I’ve got in the picture ... a hard-boiled, decorated egg that I started eating. Yes, I’m wearing a plaid wool suit. Yes, I look fierce (that hasn’t changed).

So, what did you get in your Easter basket as a kid (or this weekend) that was not quite what most folks expect?

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:00 am     Fun StuffComments (11)

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to all my readers!

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For those of you who have been following along, Easter marks the end of “Candy Season” which is the series of candy focused holidays starting with Halloween in October. For me Candy Season isn’t just about the special candies for each of the holidays, but also the pursuit of the extra cheap candy that goes on sale after the holiday is over. This is the chance to try all those things you might have snubbed because of price or uncertainty.

Then we have a long dry summer of candy choices. Sure, there might be some special colored M&Ms for Independence Day and of course there are fairs where you can get those special summer candies like candied apples and cotton candy but chocolate candy is de-emphasized because of the heat. Summer is all about ice cream and popsicles. Happily, promotion for Halloween comes just after “back-to-school” so good sales come quickly.

This year I’ll have no long desolate candy summer, instead I’ve been granted a press pass for the All Candy Expo in Chicago in June! So, the countdown clock over there at the right has been changed to mark that occasion. You can look forward to some unprecedented coverage of candy at that time, as I go and meet the folks who make and market all things candy.

Feel free to post comments here about the fantastic sales you’ve found after Easter as we all stock up on cheap candy favorites for the months ahead!

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:44 am     EasterComments (8)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Name that Candy!

I’m a little tired from my trip and thought I’d let you do the work today!

I took this photo a couple of weeks ago of a candy I’d never bought before. When I took it out of the wrapper I found it, um, mystifying. It looks like a mummy, don’t you think?

It was actually pretty tasty though! I gave it a 6 out of 10.

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Anyone know what this candy is? It’s about four inches high ... submit a comment if you’d like to guess. I’ll reveal the answer on Easter Sunday!

UPDATE:

Yes, it is a marshmallow rabbit!

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Made by Necco, the package boasts real chocolate and it was actually pretty good. The marshmallow was soft and fluffy without being too sweet. I got it for 25 cents, so keep your eye out for after-Easter sales if this is your sort of thing. The look of the candy suffers from the fact that marshmallow isn’t the best for creating detail, but hey, it’s for eatin’ not staring at.

Name: Real Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Rabbit
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Necco
Place Purchased: RiteAid
Price: $.25
Size: 1 ounces
Calories per ounce: 122
Categories: Chocolate, Marshmallow, Easter, United States, Necco

POSTED BY Cybele AT 5:15 am    

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Where Have I Been?

I’m heading back from New York City to Los Angeles this evening but I thought I’d just give you a tantalizing list of all the places I’ve been this week:

Economy Candy - cheap candy, great selection, packed to the rafters
Russ & Daughters - awesome halvah and dried fruits
Kee’s Chocolates - Creme Brulee chocolate was awesome!
Maison du Chocolat - I drank an $8 cup of hot chocolate!
Pierre Marcolini - beautiful truffles and chocolates, freakishly expensive, tasty hot chocolate in pretty china cups
Dylan’s Candy Bar - all the selection of Economy Candy but at uptown prices
Marie Belle - mmm, another cup of hot chocolate and then they gave me a passion fruit truffle and it was divine
Vosges - white chocolate hot chocolate (with lavender & lemon)! hoo boy yeah! (and amazing little tasting pieces of their aztec and gunaduja)
Jacques Torres - awesome hot chocolate in absurdly huge portions, go during the day when the “factory” is working to see all the wonderous sites
Babycakes - yeah, I went to a bakery and ate a “sugar-free, wheat-free, dairy-free & egg-free” chocolate cupcake and it was goooood

I’ll have more later (I’ve made lots of purchases but haven’t eaten anything yet). Thanks to everyone who made suggestions - every piece of advice was awesome.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:25 am     New York CityNewsShoppingComments (2)

Equal Exchange Miniatures

Last fall I got to try Equal Exchange Chocolate. The company has done a good job of balancing respectful business practices with making a good product.

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I was excited about these miniatures - the other bars I tried were 3.5 ounces, which is rather sizeable bar. I like a lot of variety in my candy so small pieces (even if I buy a lot of them) help me to maintain my portion control and get some variation. These wee little buddies are only .16 ounces each.

What’s also different about these little bars is that they’re 55% cocoa solids. The other versions of theirs I tried were 70% cocoa in the dark and the 55% had almonds in it. The almond bar I tried really reminded me of the Chocovic Ocumare.

Without the almonds of course I can concentrate more on the chocolate itself. The first thing I notice, besides the beautiful dark glossy sheen, is that it’s sweeter on the tongue. The scent is slightly acidic by very chocolatey. The bar melts quickly on the tongue, releasing some very nice light fruit notes of apricot and cherry blossom. It’s a well rounded chocolate but not too complex and not at all acidic. In my opinion, because of the sweet start, this is a dark bar children might like.

The only bad thing about these is that you have to buy them by the case if you want them direct from Equal Exchange. They’re about $18 a pound. However, if I were planning a wedding or large event where I wanted to send a tasty message in a little favor, this might be a good choice. You also may start seeing these more at Whole Foods and other retailers as they grow. I actually like this chocolate better than the Endangered Species - the buttery quality and smoothness of the chocolate feels more decadent (if you can feel decadent with a fair trade, organic, kosher, all natural product).

If you’re interested in ordering, they don’t ship when the weather is warm, so if you don’t get it this month you’ll have to wait until the fall.

Name: 55% Cocoa Miniatures
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Equal Exchange
Place Purchased: sample from EE
Price: about $18 a pound
Size: .16 ounces each
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, United States, Fair Trade, Organic, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:53 am     Comments (2)

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Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.

 

 

 

 

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COUNTDOWN

Sweets & Snacks Expo Starts

-98 days

Read previous coverage

 

 

Which seasonal candy selection do you prefer?

Choose one or more:

  •   Halloween
  •   Christmas
  •   Valentine's Day
  •   Easter

 

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ON DECK

These candies will be reviewed shortly:

• Eat with your Eyes: Nougat

• Chocolate Covered Banana Gummi Bears

• 10 Candies that Shouldn’t Be So Disappointing

• Orgran Molasses Licorice

• Rogue Chocolatier

 

 

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