Saturday, May 5, 2007
The newspapers are still latching onto the story. Browse through a few stories:
It’s important to keep the coverage going through blog posts and message boards and letters to the editor. The story should saturate the news so that the comments at the FDA will ultimately reflect the citizens and not just manufacturers.
Friday, May 4, 2007
This is a new level of portability for tape shaped gummi products. Capitalizing on the bubble gum tape dispenser (with the ultimate application being the Bubble Roll Message Maker) this little plastic disk holds six feet of candy.
Hubba Bubba introduced these in two flavors: Sour Blue Raspberry and Shocking Strawberry. Though the product calls itself gummi, it’s looks more like Red Vines from the ingredients: Sugar, Corn Syrup, Wheat Flour, Corn Starch, Partially Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Malic Acid, Apple Juice Concentrate, Citric Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Mono & Di-Glycerides, Red 40.
There isn’t any gelatin in there, which is what I consider a defining ingredient of gummis. To continue that thought, jellies use pectin or corn starch, licorice or vines use wheat flour.
Naming aside, the dense roll unravels to reveal a long and flat tape with a coating of sugar and flavor on it (a little sour bite) which keeps it from sticking to itself. The chew is pretty dense and leathery, like a rather dry Red Vine.
I found the package frustrating, as the cutter didn’t really cut, it just held the tape in place while I stretched it until it split and broke. Of course it would also scatter bits of the sugary coating around as well. I guess they’re worried about giving sharp objects to kids. I guess they’re not worried about stuff getting in my keyboard. Or maybe they have a co-marketing deal with those compressed air can companies.
The candy is tasty but the novelty of the roll in a pack you can put in your back pocket isn’t well executed. These remind me of a bunch of different products, including the Sour Punch Straws and the unbranded stuff you can get in the bulk bins at the grocery store. Basically there are better values out there, however, if you’re looking for a light candy snack, especially for kids that involves some portion control, this might be fun.
I thought I would give you some real-world info about what it’s like to order from some of the webstores I’ve mentioned before.
Economy Candy’s site is pretty well organized. The photos are good the descriptions are decent, except when it comes to the bulk stuff. I visited their brick & mortar store when I was in New York last year, so I knew that they were for real. The site does not have everything that’s in the store. However, I get the feeling that you could probably call them and have them throw in some ad hoc items. (Perhaps someone can confirm that.)
I went there specifically for the chocolate covered halvah, and I figured as long as I was there and paying the shipping I’d throw in some other stuff.
I put in an order at Economy Candy and purchased the following:
The order tracking was a little frustrating. I kept visiting the site and their order tracking page but it never said that my order had shipped. But the candy showed up within a week. So go figure.
The package was well organized and everything was fresh and in tact. My Halvah came in a little white box and the rest of the contents just wrapped nicely in bubble wrap.
I would definitely use them again for future purchases of items I’m not able to get elsewhere. They allow purchases of single candy bars, though the shipping is a little high, if you’re getting a variety the shipping isn’t that bad.
Pros: Good selection, good prices, fresh product.
Cons: Frustrating website & order tracking, they don’t always give a lot of information about the bulk items. Shipping and handling a bit expensive (but candy is kind of heavy).
I give the whole experience a 7 out of 10.
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Quetzalcoatl is one of the gods of the Aztec pantheon with a serpent head and feathers. He was the morning star, the giver of agriculture and creator of books & calendars. Most importantly, the legends say that he gave cacao to the Aztecs. (Truly making it a food of the gods, as the botanical name for the plant implies Theobroma cacao.)
The traditional chocolate of the time was made by taking whole beans and crushing them/grinding them on a metate (also used for corn). The resulting paste (what we now call cocoa liquor) was combined with milk or water and spices to make their chocolate. Xocoatl, the early name for chocolate actually means “foamy water.”
Gary Guittard created this bar using whole cacao beans and no added cocoa butter. So the ingredients are just about the shortest you’re going to see on a chocolate bar: Cacao Beans, Pure Cane Sugar, Soya Lecithin, Vanilla Beans.
The package characterizes the bar thusly:
This bar is dark and roasty with strong woodsy flavors in the cedar family along with smoke and tobacco. There are a few dried fruit flavors in there as well, with some raisin and cherry notes. It has a dry finish and is very filling. I have to admit that I’m a big fan of high-cocoa butter chocolate bars, as I think the butter buoys the flavors so that they can roll around on the tongue a little longer and you can tease out more of the intricacies. I was really missing the extra fat here.
This isn’t a bar I’d eat all the time, but I like it as an educational piece of chocolate.
As part of the effort to Keep it Real, I asked Guittard if they’d be willing to donate something to the cause that I could give away. So after I pledged my $100 Chocosphere gift certificate to the lovely chocolateactivists who took the challenge, I also got a package of a dozen of Guittard’s bars (a $38 value) plus this extra bar for my own enjoyment, of course. I did a second drawing yesterday using all those people who entered with the “raffle ticket” that commented to the FDA (to kind of even the playing field). The winner was reader desertwind! Congratulations ... I hope you enjoy the array of fine (and real) bars.
I found this bar at a store called Kearn’s on Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles. I’ve passed by this little convenience store for 13 years without ever stopping in. Because it’s in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, I thought they might have an interesting selection (and perhaps some leftover Passover Coke). They carried a good line of candies, with a strong focus on jelly based ones (Sunkist Fruit Gems, anyone?). They also had some imported items, especially ones from Israel in the Paskesz brand.
I’ve had a few Paskesz candies and find them decent middle of the road fare, rather like Hershey’s or Mars but with a good wholesome twist on the ordinary crunch.
Looking at the Milk Munch bar it was pretty obvious that it’s a Milky Way knock-off (Mars knock-off for your European readers).
The milk chocolate is unremarkable. It’s sweet and creamy, but lacks any real chocolate flavor contribution here. The main flavor here is the rather cereal tasting nougat. Salty and perhaps a little malty, it tastes a bit like cookie dough. The caramel is nice and soft, but again, not very flavorful.
I was hoping for a Milky Way Bar here, but I got something a little more toned down but far saltier ... and Milky Ways are pretty sedate as it is. But there was something more dense about the nougat portion that just didn’t please me. And at more than the price of a regular Milky Way, it just wasn’t worth it.
Note from wrapper: made under the supervision of Rabbi O.Y. Westheim, Manchester
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
April was the end of our most recent Candy Season. I hope everyone has stocked up on excellent candy for the rest of the summer.
Here’s what brought many new readers to Candy Blog in April:
1. cadbury mini eggs
My Don’t Mess with Our Chocolate post is the first thing that comes up when you googled “fda chocolate” but that only accounts for a small number of folks who have been helping educate themselves and spread the word about the issue. Over 7,000 people have read that post so far.
The other searches are mostly old posts I’ve made, except for the Berries and Creme ... folks really want to see that commercial, I guess. It’s a little startling to see the Barnegat candy on the list. The post I made about Hometown Candy, Jordan Almonds and Barnegat is still seeing a lot of traffic as more and more people are swindled by this dubious webstore.
My predictions for this month include Skittles getting on the list and possibly fair trade.
Skittles are insanely tasty little morsels. Rather like little bits of Starburst covered in a candy shell. Skittles were first introduced in 1974 in the UK and parts of Europe. They spread to the States as an import for a while and then in 1981 Mars began making them in the States.
Obsessive folks (perhaps I’m one of them and speaking from experience) like to divide up the colors and eat them. I usually eat mine in pairs of same flavors, but when it comes down to the end of the pack, there are certain acceptable combos (all the citruses can be paired and grape and strawberry can go together ... strawberry and lemon are also acceptable but never ever put orange and grape together).
Original Fruit Skittles
Lime (Green) - classic lime, leaning more towards the tart side than the floor-wax side of things.
Grape (Purple) - a pretty well rounded fake grape flavor
Lemon (Yellow) - good and sour with some hints of zest
Orange (Orange) - juicy and flavorful
Strawberry (Red) - one of the few red candies I like, it smells like cotton candy and has a tangy, creamy berry taste
While the Skittles website asserts that the flavor distribution is random, I’ve always felt that there were fewer green and purple ones in most bags. But as you can see from the photo, it’s just the green ones that seemed slighted in this mix (and I’m not going to complain). I took copious photos of all of the bags as well, so if you’re curious they’re here.
You might want to partake of some of my favorite Skittles commercials: Man with Beard, Skittles Leak, this one is from the previous campaign (one that I think captures a bit of the wonder of candy and magic better) and the original with great costumes ... oh, wait, those aren’t costumes, that’s what we used to wear back in the day.
Wild Berry Skittles
These have been around for a long time, but I never really noticed them. I never saw a reason to get anything other than the regular Skittles. All of the flavors were great. Sure I ate the grape ones last, if at all (always share!), but they were one of those candies you can eat in a dark movie theater without having to spit out mistakes.
Wild Berry Skittles come in a super purple pack, so there’s no mistaking them at the store (not like the M&M Pirate Pearls and M&M Almond). The colors look vaguely familiar, but without the vibrant orange and yellow. Instead they have a mousy pink in the mix which just makes them feel bland.
Raspberry (Blue) - it’s a good berry flavor, perhaps a little more jammy and caramelized than I’d like
Strawberry (Pink) - I don’t know why these are pink, it confuses me ... why not just keep the same red from the classic mix?
Wild Cherry (Red) - cherries aren’t berries ... these are dreadful, they taste like Sucrets but without the numbing power
Berry Punch (Purple) - this one isn’t that different from the raspberry, perhaps a little more floral and less tart
Melon Berry (Green) - melons aren’t berries. It definitely tastes like watermelon and something kind of lemony.
Not enough of these flavors are actually berries and berries as a mix aren’t that interesting to me.
Rating: 6 out of 10
As I was looking through a bunch of old commercials for Skittles online I realized that this was another flavor mix that I completely ignored. However, part of that may be that the flavors were different back then. The original mix of Tropical Skittles included two different flavors: Passion Punch (Blue), Mango Peach (Orange), Strawberry Watermelon (Pink), the new flavors are noted with an *.
Banana Berry (Yellow) - I was hoping this would be like Laffy Taffy. Alas, the banana and berry mix was not pleasant.
Kiwi Lime (Green) - good kiwi flavor, not enough lime
Mango Tangelo * (Orange) - it’s kind of nice, but tastes more like peach than mango.
Pineapple Passionfruit * (Blue) - finally! A blue flavor I like. The pineapple part was great.
Strawberry Starfruit * (Pink) - I don’t eat Starfruits very often, only when they show up as a garnish on an expensive meal. These don’t taste like starfruit or strawberries. This tastes like the way ink pens smell.
I loved the look of these spread out on the table but again the proportion of “tasty” ones was too small to warrant buying the whole bag. (How long before Skittles goes the way of M&Ms and you can special order flavor mixes?)
Rating: 6 out of 10
Smoothie Mix Skittles
I’m not sure if a consumer wrote to Skittles and said, “I love your chewy little morsels, but could you make them with less flavor? I just can’t take it.” And of course being capitalists wishing to capitalize on all corners of the untapped Skittles market, they did.
Smoothies in real life are great. They’re like shakes only made with lots and lots of fruit. At least when I make them that’s how they taste. Some folks put yogurt or ice cream or sherbet in there, so I guess that’s where the watering-down of the flavor comes from.
Lemon Berry (Yellow) - like lemon sherbet, just a little flavor and no tartness
Mixed Berry (Lavender) - the most flavorful of the bunch, berries lend a good floral brightness to this
Peach Pear (Light Green) - my two of my least favorite fruit flavors ... which don’t taste at all like peach or pear in this mix (more like banana)
Orange Mango (Light Orange) - smells like orange and tastes like papaya
Strawberry Banana (Pink) - I like this, probably because banana creates its own creaminess in smoothies, so it’s a believable flavor
These are just too bland. Maybe if I’d just come out of a coma these would be good for easing me back into the world ... or might put me back into a vegetative state.
Rating: 5 out of 10
UPDATE: Smoothies are discontinued.
While all the other bags were virtually identical in format (same size and weight and materials) this bag is different. It’s a little shorter than the others and made with a much thicker plastic (that’s annoyingly hard to open). I’m guessing it’s because these are rather different Skittles. Instead of all the sour being locked up under that candy shell, here it’s on the outside of the shell in a sparkly sanded coating.
Blue Raspberry (Blue) - a good sour and then a berry hit and then a weird aftertaste
Grape (Purple) - the tartness felt more like citrus than malic acid and I kind of lost the grape flavor and just had a sweet chew
Lemon (Yellow) - the tartness really works on this, it feels citrusy on the outside and on the inside
Orange (Orange) - a slight blister at first and then a good sweet chew
Strawberry (Red) - really sour, then pleasantly floral, kind of like eating a not-quite-ripe strawberry and then a ripe one ... or maybe some limeade with some strawberries in it
The chew towards the end on all of these seemed grainier than usual. I don’t mind that as a feature though. I don’t like how messy these are. I like to line up my Skittles on my desk in little lines of each color as I dump small amounts out. These leave a dusting of sour on the desk. A word of caution as well, don’t ever get the sour powder in your eyes. It’s also very easy to just suck the sour off the outside, though it tastes the same on all of them, it also seems to lead to more tongue damage.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Tart & Tangy (discontinued)
Ice Cream Skittles (limited edition)
Fresh Mint Skittles (discontinued)
Carnival Flavors Skittles (limited edition)
Skittles Bubble Gum (contains artificial sweeteners, so I haven’t tried it)
Skittles Chocolate Mix (introduced in 2007 - probably discontinued as of 2009)
Skittles Crazy Cores (new introduction January 2009)
Skittles Fizzl’d Fruits (new introduction March 2010)
Skittles Blenders (new introduction January 2011)
Skittles Riddles (new introduction January 2012)
Skittles made in the United States before 2009 contain gelatin, therefore were not suitable for vegans and are not Kosher. As of mid-2009 with the introduction of the new Skittles Crazy Cores they are made without gelatin and marked as being Gluten-Free
Skittles made in Europe do not contain gelatin (but I’m not sure if they’re Kosher).
Skittles have less fat than Starbursts: 2.5 grams per pack, all saturated versus 5 grams with 4.5 grams saturated in Starbursts.
In 2008 Mars and Wrigley’s merged and as of 2009 Skittles are marked as a Wrigley’s product.
POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:04 am
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
This is another one of those products that I’ve only seen at the 99 Cent Only Store. These Sour Bloops are billed as “Intense Chewy Fruit Candies” and are made by Lance. Yes, Lance, that company that you makes those bright orange Cheese & Peanut Butter crackers that come in mini-bricks in vending machines.
As something you would find in a vending machine, these fill an important niche. They’re like mega-Skittles or fruity Mentos. The flavor assortment is definitely unique.
Each candy is a rustic looking Mentos, same size, same basic shape.
The name Sour Bloops may be a little pedestrian and unimaginative but the candy certainly lives up to it. Basically they were okay.
Green Apple - tangy, with a pretty good combination of apple juice notes and that fake green apple flavor of Jolly Ranchers. Pretty soft and pleasant. The flavor stays with the chew to the end.
Wild Cherry - tastes like a red cherry Lifesaver, but much more tart. Flavorful and a smidge medicinal, especially towards the end where I get a little burning feeling in my throat.
Peach Lemonade - I haven’t the foggiest what this tastes like, since there were none in my mix.
Stick with Mentos or Skittles unless you really need a peach lemonade fix ... which I can’t comment on, as they’re so rare as to not make an appearance in my bag. If you’re stuck with what your vending machine offers, well, this is a far better choice than Garfield’s Chocobites. These candies may also appear in rolls called Chewz.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.