Thursday, September 06, 2007
These Zip Bomb candies showed up recently in one of the 99 Cent Only stores that I visit. I thought maybe they were a knock-off of Zotz available in little pouches.
Warning: this is another story about how I am pretty much willing to try anything, no matter how much evidence is presented that it’s a bad idea.
All wasn’t sitting well with me long before I opened the package. Part of that was the name Zip Bomb ... that’s a malicious file that’s delivered as a .zip file with a gajillion files inside that will occupy scanning software while worse things go on. Perhaps these candies came along before that, right?
Of course this made me wonder what was going to happen when I put it in my mouth. Would it occupy my taste buds while it stole my wallet? Would it swell to the size of a 63 terabyte file with tart foaming sherbet and tasty hard candy and then delete all my photos?
The other thing that struck me as odd is that the website listed on the back of the package, http://www.zipkidz.com, doesn’t exist. Oh, it might have or might someday, but as I type this, there is no website to visit for fun and games. A search on Archive.org reveals that there was a website at that address back in 2004-05. Hmm, could this code on the wrapper that says 021902 mean that they were made back in 2002?
Yes, these are the things that suddenly fill me with dread when looking at a package of candy.
But you know, I’ve already taken their photo ... what fun would this be if I didn’t go all the way and eat some?
The little individual candies were cute in their wrappers. Sure, the design wasn’t the most sophisticated in the world, but they were bright and colorful and said which flavor was which.
The candies themselves were bigger than Zotz, round instead of oval.
After putting one in my mouth I can tell you that they’re not like Zotz! The hard candy has an intense sour layer on top. Seriously sour ... but it fades away pretty quickly to reveal a simple tart and flavorful hard candy.
At the center of the candy (whether you’re a sucker or a cruncher) is a small reservior of sour powder. I was expecting it to foam, but it didn’t. It was just sour.
The hard candies were nicely flavored, each one distinct. Blue Raspberry was my favorite followed by Strawberry and then Green Apple. Watermelon was odd, probably because I just have a stubborn part of me that thinks that sour watermelon is wrong.
I wanted more of the sour center than I got in the candies, there seemed to be more hard candy than I wanted. They’re fun and something I probably would have enjoyed more as a kid than I do now, but I have to say, that first blast of throat-tingling sour is pretty fun at any age. They were probably much better when they were fresh.
Note: the candies were made in Thailand.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
After Christmas last year I bought some marzipan that I actually loved. Made by Niederegger in Germany, these folks have been making marzipan for over 200 years. I wanted to buy more, but the only ones I’ve seen in stores are the regular flavor which I tried at the Fancy Food Show and found to be okay.
While I’m not ordinarily a marzipan fan, it’s my dislike for Amaretto that prompts my avoidance, because I actually love almonds and eat them just about every day. But I’m coming around on marzipan ... Charles Chocolates makes an excellent and zesty set of marzipan and I was hoping that Marzipan Orange was a more easily available version of it. (But sadly, really not less expensive.)
I was a little irritated when I opened the bar to photograph it and found that it was slightly bloomed. At first I cursed myself for not storing it properly (this was before the Great Heat Wave of Labor Day Weekend ‘07 that got temps in my candy studio up to 99 degrees during the day when the power went out), but when I opened the other chocolate items my husband brought back from NYC (the Ritter Sport Schokowurfel and another bar) I found that it was just this one and then I raised my fist to curse the folks who sold him a SIX DOLLAR bar that had not been stored properly.
But you know, I ate it anyway. ‘Cuz it smelled sooooo good. I feel pretty good about it, too.
It smells like someone has been in the kitchen juicing fresh oranges and perhaps baking cookies at the same time. The orange zest scent is lovely with an added note of vanilla and a sort of caramelly nut smell topped off with a light chocolate. It makes me happy.
Though the chocolate wasn’t as creamy-melt-in-your-mouth as the capuccino one I had before, I’m pretty confident that this was still tasty stuff, with full chocolate flavor to add to the light zest of citrus. The marzipan was firm and a little on the dry side and only lightly sweet (one of the hallmarks of Niederegger). It wasn’t a super-smooth, doughy version like a fondant or anything, this felt like a rustic almond paste. (It’s pretty high in protein too, 4 grams per 1.4 ounce serving.)
I would definitely plunk down $6 again for a fresh and properly stored bar. I saw on the Niederegger website that they little foil wrapped pieces in various fruity flavors (this is how I’ve tried the plain), I’m going to keep my eyes peeled at the holidays at places like Cost Plus World Market. If you’ve tried these before, where have you found them? GermanDeli.com has the orange bar (and on sale for $4.99 right now).
Unfortunately it’s not vegan (milk in the semisweet chocolate) but it is otherwise vegetarian.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
I guess if there were a national flavor for Canada, it’d be Maple. After all, there’s a Maple leaf on their flag. How cool is it that a flag actually features a flavor? (I don’t consider dragon or eagle to be a flavor ... though I suppose the Olive branches of Eritrea may count.)
Caramilk are not found in the US, but its cousin, the Caramello is. It’s just a Cadbury milk chocolate bar with a flowing caramel bubble inside each section. The simplicity Caramilk Maple bar really appealed to me, especially since I was hoping that the flavor of maple would cut through the intense sweetness that keeps me from eating Caramellos more often than every 5 years. (Yes, the sweetness is that satisfying!)
This Caramilk Maple bar was the full 100 gram version (3.5 ounces). A little too much Caramilk, really, but beggars can’t be choosers (Amber brought this to me from Toronto back in April).
Even without breaking a section open to reveal the molten caramel, the bar smelled like sweet, woodsy maple.
Biting into the little section causes the caramel to ooze out. It’s actually pretty nice, smooth and creamy and not too sweet ... it appears that the chocolate itself is the throat-burningly sweet part of this bar. The caramel filling is woodsy tasting without being too artificial and has a little salty hit to it. The milk chocolate, well it’s Cadbury and it has a distinct milky flavor to it that many folks crave. I’m not one of them, but I find it interesting. It reminds me of baby formula or powdered milk.
It’s a fun bar, and I think I’d probably like it in the single-portion size better (they also have a slightly different proportion of chocolate to caramel) and they also come in the Cadbury Caramel Egg for Easter. (I think they’ll be back next year.)
Note: this was not marked Kosher, though American Cadbury products are.
What fun results! I always like it when readers surprise me with their answers. I thought for sure that Bar None or Marathon would win (though Marathon has an adequate substitute in Curly Wurly). I voted for Bar None.
Who knew there was such passion out there for Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy!
What else did I miss on the list of extinct candies?
Monday, September 03, 2007
Here’s the top 10 search strings that brought folks to Candy Blog last month (except for searching for Candy Blog of course).
1. rose petal donuts los angeles
Well, this past month had a couple of surprises. Honestly, I can’t figure out “rose petal dontus los angeles” at all. Not only that, I can’t even find what page on my site they’d find when entering those search phrases ... let alone why my site was visited 379 times as a result! The second strange one was the “hershey cocoa reserve size”, and I do come up as the first result on google. However, why 233 folks were looking for that, I have no idea. My guess is these are spambots of some sort sifting through my site contents with these keywords, looking for things to swipe from my site to put on theirs. It happens.
The fun thing is to see the staying power of Carnival Skittles (did you know there’s a Carnival Skittles flavored gum now?) ... I wonder what will be next?
Sunday, September 02, 2007
There used to be rules and people followed them. Oh, they were informal; things like no white shoes after Labor Day, your shoes should match your belt. Seasonal merchandise wouldn’t be put out until the previous holiday was over (no Christmas goodies before Thanksgiving). But those rules are long gone.
So I shouldn’t have been surprised to see Halloween candy out already at the RiteAid before Labor Day. But at least this was something different. Instead of fruity flavors, this twist is from Brach’s Milk Maid line and is called Caramel Candy Corn.
Most of us have a love-hate relationship with Candy Corn. Well, some folks have a love-love or a hate-hate ... which averages out in the big scheme of things to a love-hate for the general population. I hate-love candy corn. I don’t really like eating it, but I love looking at it and the smell of it.
This stuff smells really promising, if a little overwhelming. Like caramelized sugar. It smelled so great in the store, I really wanted to take it home. Of course in the car (which I admit was as hot as one of those scented oil diffusers) the smell started getting to me in the way that candle stores do.
It all boils down to this, if you like Buttered Popcorn Jelly Belly, you’ll probably like Caramel Candy Corn. I don’t and I didn’t.
The texture is good, a nice smooth fondant. The white tip is unflavored and the two lower layers, orange and brown, are butter flavored fondant. The caramel flavor that the smell implies is completely missing, instead it has that intense note of butter flavored popcorn just crackling away in the microwave.
I just didn’t like them as much as I wanted to. Not nearly as much as the Brach’s Autum Mix (candy corn, Indian corn and mellow cremes). I was really unhappy that it was $2.29 for the bag to boot ... yeah, it’s a 19 ounce bag, but what do I need 19 ounces of buttered popcorn flavored candy corn for?
It’s simply too hot in Los Angeles right now, and it’s a depressing situation for me here at the home offices of Candy Blog. When I say hot, I mean that it’s actually 90 degrees inside my home right now at 9 PM on Sunday. When I say hot, I mean the prospect of turning on the lights and trying to take photos of chocolate is maddeningly impossible. (We have a single window air conditioner in the house in the bedroom, it’s usually not a problem, but this heat is unrelenting.)
The saddest part of this whole confluence of heat is that I planned a wonderful party for Saturday night to feature some 75 pounds of various Koppers candies (mostly Milkies) in a great Candy Buffet. As if the heat wasn’t bad enough, on Friday afternoon a transformer blew on the power pole in my neighbors yard silencing all the fans in my house. What was 99 degrees with fanning was up to 99 during the blazing stillness of the day on Saturday.
No party. Had to cancel. It just wouldn’t be fair to bring my friends in to bake and swelter in my house even if they were going to end up being sent away with sticky piles of melted chocolate.
The power has returned after 18 hours ... but the worst part is I have no idea if the chocolate has survived. I’ve had it all sealed up inside a large cooler with some ice packs (well, cool packs) and am hoping that the ambient heat hasn’t penetrated the insulation too much. I’m afraid to open anything. (I actually considered taking it to my office ... except that we got a memo on Thursday saying the building would be closed on Saturday because they were replacing the air conditioning unit on the roof and the power would be out. See, it’s a conspiracy.)
Hopefully the heat will break and I’ll be able to set up my candy buffet and show you all the fancy photos and help you with ideas for your next party. I’ve taken this opportunity to escape my sweltering house to explore lots more variations on the candy buffet and candy favors.
But on to other good news in candy!
The Passionate Cook hosted this edition of Sugar High Friday with the theme of Going Local! Browse through the roundup of posts from bloggers around the world on their favorite local sweeties. Most of it is baked but there’s a nice selection of puddings, mousses and of course candies.
I’ve been remiss on posting about international KitKats lately, but don’t worry, Megchan is picking up the slack with Banana, Lemon, Raspberry and Orange and possibly one of the best assortments of HiCHEW, the Citrus Mix!
Business Week actually did an article about how successful brand spinoffs and limited edition marketing has been in Japan (and perhaps what we can learn from that). The article is interesting, but so are the comments that follow.
If that’s not enough candy for you, how about bidding on this lot at eBay of hundreds of pounds of candy, including full cases of M&Ms, Lollipops, Fudge, Reese’s, Tootsie Rolls, Milk Duds, TicTacs ... well, the list goes on and on. The current bidding is a lowball $181.50 but there’s a reserve on it (and a buy-it-now price of $2,150). Free shipping.
British researchers have spent a lot of time and money trying to figure out chocoholism. Why can’t they just let us be!
In a rather different OpEd piece on the FDA and Chocolate dojigger, the Salt Lake Tribune thinks that people should have paid more attention to the other foods listed in the Citizen’s Petition put forth by the Grocery Manufacturers Association. (Ya think?) However, I did a quick search on SLTrib.com and found they’d never covered it either ... so how did they think people were going to find out ... from Candy Blog?
This week’s candy reviews in review:
Monday: Katjes Tropical Gummis & Yogurt Gums (5 out of 10)
Tuesday: Ritter Schokowurfel (8 out of 10)
Wednesday: VerMints (7 out of 10)
Thursday: Candy Source: Chocolates a la Carte (8 out of 10)
Friday: Head to Head: M&Ms vs Koppers Milkies (8 out of 10 & 9 out of 10)
8.33 weekly average ... 50% chocolate content!
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.