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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Gummi Lightning Bugs

imageI miss living where there are lightning bugs. When I was in Pennsylvania last month it was a little early for them ... we saw one or two, but not the nighttime display I so longed to see. It was certainly fun catching them as kids and putting them in a jar and setting them on a bookshelf in my bedroom overnight to watch all night (and then release in the morning).

I thought this product was pretty cool looking. It’s just gummis shaped like bugs and they include a set of tweezers with a battery and LED at the tip that activates when you close them around something.

The tweezers work really well, they’ll light up when they get close to being closed, so you can grasp one of the gummis and without even squeezing hard they light up.


The LED is red, which is kind of disappointing because fireflies have a more green/yellow color to their luminescence in real life, but I understand the limitations of making a novelty product at a particular price point. The other thing that I found a little bit of a bummer is that the gummis aren’t actually lightning bugs ... they’re glow-worms. 

The gummis are pretty good. A little different than a Haribo, more like a Trolli. They come in two different colors: red and yellow. They’re very soft and chewy. The orange one is citrus of some sort and the red one tastes like strawberry.

Once you’ve eaten the small portion they give you, the fun with the tweezers isn’t over. You can pick up all sorts of things with them. Light colored jelly beans worked well, gumdrops, hard candies (they’re really cool with these), vitamin gel capsules and of course any small gummis like the traditional bears. If the battery lasts as long as that light up lolly I got last year, you can have hours of fun with them!

I’ve never been particularly fond of most of the novelty items out there (such as clear plastic cell phones with little candy inside) but this one really seems to provide interactivity and promotes imagination ... as well as being a candy delivery device!

If you’re looking for a fun little party favor for a summer kids birthday celebration, these aren’t priced too bad at $1 per if you find a good sale. However, I’m seeing them online for about $1.50 each ... still not a bad deal for a little toy.

Name: Lightning Bugs gummi
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Kandy Kastle
Place Purchased: Savon (Hollywood)
Price: $1.00
Size: 1.41 ounces
Calories per ounce: 92
Categories: Gummi, China

POSTED BY Cybele AT 5:58 am     Comments (15)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Smarties Bubble Gum

Smarties had a huge booth at the All Candy Expo, which kind of surprised me because they’re pretty much a one product company. Don’t get me wrong, I love the product, but there’s only so much you can do with it (as far as I knew). They do make some other related products out of their compressed dextrose mix, like the lollies and candy necklaces.


Bubble Gum Smarties are a huge departure then, from the chalky little bites in rolls they’ve built their empire on.

They look pretty much like regular Smarties, but the colors are a little more vivid and they’re not chalky or crumbly.

On the tongue they feel different. They’re heavier and of course they don’t dissolve. You have to chew them. Instead of an intermediary step like Razzles have, these turn to gum immediately.

There’s a little flavor to them, and the colors do have slightly different flavors (maybe ... I’m not sure).

It seems to take a whole roll to make a decent piece of gum. I started with four little tablets and then added others to it in pairs as the flavor dissipated. The chew is satisfyingly soft but the flavor is of course all over the map. There’s also a strong sweet aftertaste but it’s all sugar an in there.

As for the bubbles, well, they were pretty good! The gum lost its flavor quickly, and with the combination of colors it turned out to be a slate blue when I tossed it out.

Overall, I didn’t need a Smarties version of bubble gum. I like Smarties just fine the way they are and these aren’t really very Smartie-like except for the look and packaging. They’re a fun giveaway item, for Halloween or keeping in a candy jar. The novelty is great, but the flavor just doesn’t pop enough for me to pick this over a bubble tape or Chicklets. For the record, the original Smarties are a 9 out of 10 ... I love them, but as a pure sugar they’re horribly dangerous to my blood sugar levels, so I try not to eat them on an empty stomach.

James of Chicago Conventions Blog also tried them and wasn’t impressed.

Name: Smarties Bubble Gum
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Smarties
Place Purchased: All Candy Expo sample
Price: unknown
Size: .23 ounces per roll
Calories per ounce: 100 (4 rolls)
Categories: Gum, Ce De Candies, China

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:32 am    

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


So Easter is over and your supply of Peeps are gone and there’s no hope of more until Halloween. Where do you turn?


I thought Marpoles, which are long twists of pastel colored marshmallow, might be a good subsitute.

imageThe twists are soft and flexible and covered in starch, instead of colored sugar. They’re also lightly flavored. I think it’s strawberry, but it’s hard to be sure. They smell kind of like cotton candy.

It was soft without being too foamy. Most of all, I had a good time playing with them: tying them in knots, rolling them up into discs and braiding them together. I even put one in the microwave, which made it puff up really big and become sun-surface hot on the inside. I didn’t really taste any different but it made the microwave smell like strawberry Pop-Tarts.

These aren’t really a fair replacement for Peeps, but they’re passably tasty. I can’t really see myself eating these as a treat, but they might be fun for decorating other sweet edibles.

There might be some creative applications like decorating cupcake trees or creating summer dessert kebabs. You could probably cut them smaller and dip them in chocolate or use them for chocolate fountains. They’re a nice treat for kids, as they’re only 40 calories each but look really big, if I were doing a kids party, they might be a nice favor. If you’re decorating your dessert table you could use these as napkin rings and tie them around the napkin and fork. At 10 cents each, there are a lot of possibilities.

Name: Marpoles
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Albert's
Place Purchased: 99 Cent Only Store
Price: $.99
Size: 3.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 114
Categories: Marshmallow, China

POSTED BY Cybele AT 5:55 am     Comments (6)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Repost: CraniYUMS!

NOTE: I’m not going to make a habit of revisiting previous reviews, but I was contacted by Jason Barba, the inventor of CraniYUMS! He pointed out the product that I tasted was probably not at its best:

Not a bad review considering the picture of our candy looks like its been in the sun for a while (causing oxidation and giving the skin a tinted yellow appearance see www.craniyumspops.com, the skin should have almost a glass like appearance).  Oxidation changes the pH and leads to what is called a maillard reaction or denaturing the proteins in the gummy gelatin.  I’m sure the texture and flavor were not favorable.

I have to admit that I got my sample last summer and hung onto it for many months (and perhaps didn’t store it properly, as I opened the package, took the photo and didn’t eat it for several days). The new samples seemed “plumper” which leads me to believe that mine dried out a bit. Combine that with the candy center which was opaque instead of transparent and it seems like I had an over-ripe sample.

So, here’s an updated review.


See previous picture here.

What is it? It’s a hard candy lolly in the shape of a Tyrannosaurus rex skull then covered in a gummi “flesh”. The fleshy part is transparent, so you can see the skull shape at the center. It’s actually a pretty fun idea.

The skin is soft and pliable, like a very soft gummi (not the more firm ones like Haribo). The mellow, uncolored cherry flesh tears easily from the skeleton and reveals a transparent green skull in the shape of a T-Rex.  The skin is pretty mild, not tart but not terribly sweet either. The center candy is dense and smooth in a very pretty shade of emerald green. The other flavor is lemon flesh with a cherry hard lolly center. The gummi on this one is actually really good - it’s very zesty with an intense burst of lemon essence. Again, not very tart, but really fragrant.

I’m obviously not the target market for this candy, but I can see it being a fun thing to pick up at a museum gift shop for my nephew should we go look at a dinosaur exhibit. It’s a good combination of taste, interactivity and design. I’m upgrading my review from a 5 out of 10 to an 8 out of 10. Still a little pricey, but a nice treat. If they made a giant ape one, they could sell them as a set for fans of King Kong! Maybe something to think about if you’re planning a DVD viewing party.

Previous review here.

Name: CraniYUMS Pops
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: CraniYUMS!
Place Purchased: samples from manufacturer
Price: $1.65
Size: 1.52 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Gummi, Hard Candy/Lolly,United States, China

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:16 pm    

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

CraniYUMS Pops

Name: CraniYUMS Pops
Brand: CraniYUMS
Place Purchased: sample from Candy Warehouse
Price: $1.65
Size: 1.52 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Type: Hard Candy/Gummi/Lolly

I’ve noticed that I get a lot of Google search hits on this blog for CraniYUMS. Well, that and Choxie. So it’s about time I gave folks what they’re looking for. This has got to be one of the more innovative candy formats I’ve seen. I got this as a sample at my Candy Warehouse visit over the summer. They hadn’t decided to carry the pops, so I didn’t want to blog about it until it was available then I forgot about it until I saw Candy Addict‘s post a few weeks ago.


What is it? It’s a hard candy lolly in the shape of a Tyrannosaurus rex skull then covered in a gummi “flesh”. The fleshy part is transparent, so you can see the skull shape at the center. It’s actually a pretty fun idea.

I wasn’t quite sure how to approach consuming it. A gelatinous skin does not lend itself to sucking, and of course it’s a bit big for putting in the mouth whole. So when I tried nibbling on the end of his snout, I kind of get the sense that there should be some growling involved. The gummi part is definitely gummi, but I guess that’s a good thing. You kind of have to rip it off the candy skull with your teeth. As a gummi it’s rather mild, not zesty orintensely flavored. The skin is cherry flavored and the skeleton is green apple. Once a corner has been started it’s pretty easy to nibble off pieces then to get to the center. The skeletal center is hard candy, but not quite hard, because I’m guessing the gummi softens it a little bit. The flavor overall was just bland, I wanted some zip to it all. Maybe mine was a little old, but I also think I’d prefer the lemon/cherry combo.

I’m obviously not the target market for this candy, but I can see it being a fun thing to pick up at a museum gift shop for my nephew should we go look at a dinosaur exhibit. But I can also see a kid getting kind of bored with it after a few minutes. It depends on the kid. I found myself eating all the gummi skin but I didn’t eat the center. They get big points from me on originality, but I see it as more of a special occasion candy than a regular one.

The package says it’s made in China, but it’s distributed by an Denver, CO company.

Rating - 5 out of 10

UPDATE: Please see the revised review here where I now give CraniYUMS! an 8 out of 10.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:02 pm     CandyReviewGummi CandyHard Candy & Lollipops5-PleasantChinaUnited StatesComments (0)

Friday, May 27, 2005

Butter Peanut Nougat

Name: Milk Nougat
Brand: The Foodstuffs Factory of the Jinji Restaurant
Place Purchased: Chinatown
Price: $1.69
Size: 16 oz
Calories per ounce: 120
Type: Nougat (Nut)

Nougat is tough stuff to define. Some nougat is light and fluffy, others are crackly, sticky toffee-like candy. This is the latter. The little bricks are hard and crack when you smack them on the corner of a table. You can easily bite off a third of it and after it gets warm in your mouth is has a nice give for chewing.

Think of the nougat chips that you have in a Toblerone bar ... these are like that only with a very strong butter flavor instead of honey and peanuts.

I like the consistency and fresh flavor. The Milk Nougats are also wrapped in that fantabulous edible rice cellophane. However, after chewing them down to the last little bit, a very strong and artificial butter flavor erupts. Like the that artificially flavored butter you get in bad movie theater popcorn. It doesn’t go well with the delicate vanilla of the nougat or the hearty peanuts.

I’m a huge nougat fan, I love the stuff from Italy (torrones) and the French nougats (both soft and hard) and was a bit disappointed with the unpleasant butter taste to these. Alas, that’s affected my rating. I’ll give other Chinese nougats a try if I run across the, as everything else, including the packaging and tiny bite size of these is excellent. Also, the price can’t be beat. European nougats are often over $5 a pound.

Rating: 5 out of 10.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:21 am     CandyReviewChewsNougatPeanuts5-PleasantChinaComments (4)

Monday, May 23, 2005

Pumpkin Pie

Name: Green Tea Mini Pie
Place Purchased: Chinatown (Los Angeles)
Price: $3.99
Size: 5.2 oz
Type: Nut Brittle

These are one of the oddest things I’ve bought in ages. Made from pumpkin seeds, corn syrup and green tea concentrate they’re little bricks of pumkin seed brittle.

They look a bit strange, very green like they’re made from seaweed or something. And they smell like, well, green tea and pumpkin seeds - which is not exactly an enticing combo. But the simplicity of it and the unique essence of pumpkin and green tea is really nice. They actually look like the picture on the package.

They’re pretty good for snacking and not terribly sweet. They’re mostly pumkin seeds, so it’s very filling. The biggest drawback really is the price. At four bucks for about a third of a pound, they’re pretty pricy for something that I usually throw out when carving a pumpkin.

Rating: 7 out of 10

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:53 pm     CandyReviewNuts7-Worth ItChinaComments (1)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

White Rabbit

Name: White Rabbit Creamy Candies
Place Purchased: Chinatown, Los Angeles
Price: $1.09
Size: 8 oz
Calories per ounce: 120
Type: Taffy

When buying candy where the package is pretty much all foreign to you, good packaging is a plus. The only thing in English on this bag of what I think is taffy are the required items of weight and the name of the product: White Rabbit. (And the subtitle of Creamy Candies or maybe that’s the name of the candy and White Rabbit is the brand, I’m a little unsure. There’s also a brand mark called Queensway Foods on the front.)

Inside are little white cylindrical candies. I figured taffy from looking at the ingredients which started with Corn Starch Syrup ... which I’m guessing is what we know as corn syrup.

I found I was pretty much correct, but the Asian spin on this is that they are wrapped in that rice paper cellophane that dissolves in your mouth. I love that stuff! I practically buy Botan Rice Candy just for the rice cello! Inside this edible inner wrapper is a bland, sweet and mild vanilla taffy. Unfortunately the batch I got was not particularly fresh and therefore not chewy, so I just sucked on it until it got soft enough to chew. The flavor is quite nice, not as sweet as you’d think for something that’s pretty much all sugar, with a slight creamy/milky flavor to it. Just what the name implied.

Rating: 6 out of 10 (it’d be seven if they were softer)

UPDATE 9/23/2008: Sources in Singapore have tested samples of White Rabbit in conjunction with the melamine contamination of Chinese baby formula made by Sanlu Group. They have said that it does contain traces of melamine and have pulled it from the shelves. More here.

UPDATE 10/2/2008: The tainted milk scandal is spreading to more candies. We’re tracking all the stories in the Candy Forums.

Related Candies

  1. Candy Bites: The Sweet, Crunchy & Creamy
  2. Tootsie Rolls & Fruit Rolls
  3. Botan Rice Candy
  4. Yan Yan
  5. Men’s Pocky

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:37 am     CandyReviewChews6-TemptingChinaComments (59)

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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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