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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Candy Tease: Sweets & Snacks Expo 2012 - Part 1

The Sweets and Snacks Expo, sponsored by the National Confectioners Association starts today in Chicago. It’s a huge trade show for candy manufacturers to show their product lines to candy buyers. Hundreds of new candy products are introduced each year, here are a few:

Name: Ritter Sport CherryBrand: Ritter Sport
Description: Attention all ice cream lovers! The classic Italian ice cream flavour Amarena cherry is now also available as RITTER SPORT chocolate. With its milk cream, sour cherries and the pleasantly light flavour of almonds, it can proudly take its place beside its Italian role model. Even the crispy cornet has its place in the square “Amarena Cup” in the form of small pieces of waffle! Ice cold, this chocolate square even beats the scoop of ice cream.
Introduction Date: November 2012
Notes:  I believe the Amarena Cherry will be a summer limited edition flavor in Europe, so it will transition into American stores shortly after that for the Winter. Also of note, there will be a few other holiday flavors for Americans: Coconut Macaroon, Dark Praline & Caramel Almond and after a 5 year absence, Ritter Rum, Raisins & Hazelnuts (Rum Trauben Nuss) is back for Holiday 2012.

All Natural Sweet CandyName: Au Natural
Brand: Sweet Candy Company
Description: The products in this line are made with all natural ingredients and contain No Artificial Flavors or Colors, No Corn Syrup, No Preservatives. Nummy Bears, Squishy Fishy, Squirmy Wormy, and Citrus Slices. “Classic Candies, Better Ingredients.
Introduction Date: 1/15/2012
Notes: I tried these at the Fancy Food Show in January. The products are jellies, not gummies but once you get over the texture difference, the flavors are really well balanced and fruity. The citruses are especially good. If you like the Gourmet Gum Drops at Whole Foods, you’ll love these.

Haribo Ginger-LemonName: Ginger-Lemon Gummi
Brand: Haribo
Description: Said Christian Jegen, president of Haribo of America Inc. “Ginger-Lemon is extremely popular overseas, and we anticipate it will be a big hit in the U.S., especially among adults who are looking for something new and unusual in their choice in sweets. We believe the American gummi candy market has yet to reach its full potential.”
Introduction Date: September 2012
Notes: I’ve had these, I’ve actually bought more than a half a dozen bags of them, and if I time it properly, they’ll be in stores in the US by the time I run out. If you like authentic tasting, tangy and spicy gummis, you should seek these out.

Gimbals Sour BeansName: Gimbal’s Sour Beans
Brand: Gimbal’s Candy
Description: The brand new Sour Gourmet Jelly Bean line is made with real fruit juice, and features two flavors that have never been made in sour jelly bean format before: Sour Mango and Sour Pomegranate. Also introducing this fall, Gimbal’s Harvest Mix Gourmet Jelly Beans are made with Real Fruit Juice. This 9oz Fall-themed bag is packed with seven delicious gourmet flavors including special Pumpkin Pie, Harvest Spice, Peach Cobbler and more!
Introduction Date: 61/2012
Notes: I already reviewed the Gimbal’s Sour Beans when I found them around Easter. There’s a lot to love about Gimbal’s candies. Most notably they’re free from the Major Eight Food Allergens and they use good ingredients. But I’ve had a devilish time finding them. The good news is that many of their products are going to be available in the smaller 2.75 ounce peg bags for just a buck. I hope the really hard to find Sour Lovers also come in this convenient package.

Name: Bonomo Taffy: Blue Raspberry & Cherry
Brand: Warrell Corp.
Description: Bonomo, the nostalgic Taffy brand is introducing two new flavors! Try new Blue Raspberry, and Cherry flavors today!
Introduction Date: 5/7/2012
Notes: Bonomo was one of the most missed discontinued candies when they resumed production under the guidance of Warrell Corp (Classic Caramel Company) about a year ago. They started up with the expected flavors: strawberry, vanilla, chocolate and banana. It’s interesting to see them expand the flavors so quickly. I fully expected cherry, but blue raspberry is an interesting demographic note, as it’s mostly requested by younger folks.

Related Candies

  1. Candy Tease Spring 2012
  2. Candy Tease: October 2011
  3. Candy Tease: Mars 2011 Announcements
  4. Eat with your Eyes: L.A. Burdick

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:14 am     CandyNew Product AnnouncementGimbal's CandyHariboRitter SportWarrell CorpHighlightFeatured NewsComments (6)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Happy Easter

Haribo Gummi Rabbit

A Happy Haribo gummi rabbit for Easter.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:35 am     CandyEasterHighlightFeatured NewsComments (2)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

2012 Fancy Food Show Notes - Day 3

The last day of the Fancy Food Show is a time for me to review my hit list and make sure I’ve covered everything I needed, then wander around waiting for serendipity.

Melville Gummi Bear Lollipops
Melville Gummi Bear Lollipops - photo (c) by Manny Treeson

Melville, which I know best for their beautifully molded lollipops had a new item, a giant gummi bear on a stick. And of course, once you’ve done that, you may as well dip it in chocolate.

John Kelly Fudge
John Kelly Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge- photo (c) by Manny Treeson

John Kelly is a gourmet fudge line made right in Hollywood near my home. But it seems like I eat more of it when I’m at the Fancy Food Show than any other time of year. (It could be that their pieces are so huge and I always enjoy a little variation.) I tried their peanut butter and sea salt - not too sweet and not too rib-sticking thick.

Eclipse Caramels
Eclipse Caramels - photo (c) by Manny Treeson

Eclipse Chocolate is in San Diego and one company I’ve neglected for far too long. They use lots of great ingredients (many from California) and take a lot of care creating their product line. They have caramels, of course, since that’s the big trend the past few years. But I’m really interested in their Rocky Road, made with Plush Puffs ... I’ll have to pick some up and get a full review going soon.

Fralinger's Salt Water Taffy
Fralinger’s Salt Water Taffy - photo (c) by Manny Treeson

It’s great to see the West Coast version of the Fancy Food Show highlighting East Coast favorites. A Jersey Shore favorite, Fralinger’s Salt Water taffy was exhibiting with a compact booth filled with every flavor of their dense and flavorful salt water taffy. They even had the paddle pops (I got a molasses one to bring home and review).

More photo coverage here and I’ll have lots of reviews and thoughts coming up over the next month or so.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:58 am     CandyFancy Food ShowHighlightFeatured NewsComments (2)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2012 Fancy Food Show Notes - Day 2

I’m afraid I find day two of the Winter Fancy Food Show the roughest. I’m usually still tired from day one. (In this case we got up at 5:30 on Sunday to drive from Santa Barbara to San Francisco, dumped my stuff at the hotel and then walked over to the Moscone Center and walked around for five hours to get a good perspective. Then dinner after at a nice place and a write up of that day.) Day two is usually about digging in with longer meetings with exhibitors and taking a chance on the unknown.

So today will be more about photos than tasting notes.

Marzipan Apples
French Marzipan Apples - photo (c) by Manny Treeson

Al La Mere de Famille from Paris had some wonderful confections. They had callisons (marzipan leaves) and these lovely little apples dusted with sparkling sugar. I also tasted a dark chocolate bonbon with praline filling.

Sweet's Slices
Sweet’s Slices - photo (c) by Manny Treeson

Sweet’s Candy of Utah has been around for over 100 years, making taffy and classic jelly candies. They have a new line of jelly slices, sour worms and bears that are all pectin based, so they’re great for vegans and made with no artificial colors or flavors. That purple-ish one in the photo ... pink grapefruit. They’re after my heart.

Hammond's Bars
Hammond’s Bars - photo (c) by Manny Treeson

Hammond’s is best known for their classically pulled and twisted lollipops and candy canes. They’ve always made an assortment of chocolates, but now they’re going big with 10 new chocolate bars. Things like S’mores, a milk chocolate with popping raspberry candies, a PB&J and this dark chocolate with chipotle.

Coco Polo
Coco Polo - photo (c) by Manny Treeson

Stevia is getting big. There are a few chocolate bars that are now sweetened with Stevia. I picked up some samples from Coco Polo to see how Stevia and Erythritol do instead of cane sugar.

Wild Boar
Wild Boar - photo (c) by Manny Treeson

Truffle Pig, who makes decadent truffle bars has a new line of single origin bars called Wild Boar

More photos to browse here. I’ll have a few more notes tomorrow before I head back to Los Angeles to isolate myself with my samples and take some product shots.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:43 am     CandyFancy Food ShowHighlightFeatured NewsComments (3)

Monday, January 16, 2012

2012 Fancy Food Show Notes - Day 1

After skipping the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco last year, I’m back again and it feels so much like home since this is my fifth year attending. Though the show is dedicated to gourmet products in all categories, they have over 250 confectionery exhibitors, making it one of the biggest candy shows in the country. (The biggest, naturally, is the Sweets & Snacks expo in Chicago in May.)

I’ll just be posting some tasting notes and observations over the next few days while I’m here.

New Tree Spread
New Tree Orange Chocolate Spread - photo (c) by Manny Treeson

I’ve tried plenty of New Tree‘s bars over the years. They use Belgian chocolate and create bars with both great taste and texture and usually some functional benefit. Their new chocolate spread is the first that doesn’t contain additional oils. Instead they just blend it with lots of milk and though the package was in French and wee tiny print, it looks like sugar as one of the first ingredients as well. It’s very smooth and not the slightest big grainy. There were three flavors, but I liked the orange dark chocolate best.

Gin Gins Ginger Gumdrops
Gin Gins Ginger Gumdrops - photo (c) by Manny Treeson

I love ginger candy and always swing by the Ginger People stand to see what’s new. In previous years it’s been about drinks and cookies, but they have a completely new candy this year: Ginger Gumdrops. Far spicier than something flavored with ginger, these are made with lots of the fresh stuff and are quite intense without being sweet.

JJs Cocomels
JJs Cocomels - photo (c) by Manny Treeson

I’ve had a few vegan caramels over the years and they kind of violate the essential definition of caramel in the first place, so it’s hard for me to appreciate them. JJ Raedemaker has created something that gets so close and is such a good product in its own right, I’m definitely going to find these again. His JJ’s Cocomels are made with coconut milk instead of butter and cream. They’re fully emulsified and smooth but with strong caramelized sugar notes. Right now they just come in classic and fleur de sel plus a dark chocolate covered version. Looks like a great option for both vegans and those sensitive to dairy.

Sanders Bars
Sanders Bars - photo (c) by Manny Treeson

Sanders Candy in Michigan has been around since 1875 and are known for their ice cream toppings. They’ve been expanding quite a bit so that now their comfort style of chocolates and candies are found in stores around the country. They had some new products and a new packaging design. Their new bars include combinations like milk chocolate and potato chips. I’m looking forward to trying them.

POP Candy
POP Candy Varieties - photo (c) by Manny Treeson

It’s funny to go to San Francisco to see a local brand. POP Candy makes nutty butter crunch toffees, when they’re based in Santa Monica. But with many small companies, it’s hard to find them in local stores. They sell at farmers markets and artisan shows right now. They have a great take on toffee barks with some sweet and savory flavor mixes and all of my favorite nuts.

My husband is doing all the photography, so if you want to see even more shots of what’s tasty or pretty, check out this photoset.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:11 am     CandyFancy Food ShowNew Product AnnouncementHighlightFeatured NewsComments (2)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

6 Candy Corn Candies That Aren’t Candy Corn

Jelly Belly Candy CornCandy Corn is a sugar confection made by depositing different colored layers of fondant into the shape of a narrow triangle. The flavor of candy corn is muted but often bears notes of honey, marshmallow and occasionally butter. It’s created with starch molds and the most common color layering puts yellow as the base, orange as the center band and white as the small tip. It’s an American candy, originating in the 1880s with dozens of manufacturers now in North America. The molded fondant confection is generically called Mellocreams and can come in a variety of shapes, often lightly flavored and colored.

The first thing I noticed as a trend was Candy Corn appearing out of season with other names or color variations. As a kid, I remember there were two kinds of Candy Corn. The standard yellow, orange and white and then the Indian Corn variety that was brown (a little cocoa flavor), dark orange and white. But later on came Reindeer Corn which comes in red, green and white. There’s Bunny Corn that comes in pastels and sometimes I see Cupid Corn for Valentines that’s red, pink and white.

More recently Gourmet Candy Corns have come along. They’re not really superior in any way to classic Candy Corn, they’re just different color varieties and flavored like Egg Nog, Candied Apples, Green Apple, Tangerine, Cherry, Pumpkin Spice and Toffee.

But more importantly, Candy Corn has come into its own as a flavor and is now spinning off its own set of candies. Here are a few candies that are Candy Corn flavored, but not actually Candy Corn.

M&Ms White Chocolate Candy Corn

Mars makes M&Ms White Chocolate Candy Corn. They’re white chocolate centers with a light, sweet flavor covered in candy shells in three colors: orange, white and yellow.

Level of Candy Corn-ness: 5 out of 10
Actual Candy Blog rating: 7 out of 10

Jelly Belly Candy Corn Jelly Bean

Jelly Belly introduced Jelly Belly Candy Corn Jelly Beans earlier this year. Too bad they couldn’t get the stripes on them.

Level of Candy Corn-ness: 5 out of 10
Actual Candy Blog rating: 7 out of 10

Puffy Candy Corn

Vidal, a maker of fascinating gummis in unusual shapes, created a rather unique take on Candy Corn with their Puffy Candy Corn. It’s a foamy gummi that’s actually more fruity flavored than generic sweet fondant is.

Level of Candy Corn-ness: 8 out of 10
Actual Candy Blog rating: 5 out of 10

Candy Corn Kisses

For several years Hershey’s issued Hershey’s Candy Corn Kisses, a butter flavored white confection. The shape was a natural for Candy Corn treatment, too bad they didn’t go with the honey flavors and real cocoa butter.

Level of Candy Corn-ness: 8 out of 10
Actual Candy Blog rating: 4 out of 10

Whitman's Candy Corn Marshmallow

Last year was the first for Whitman’s introduction of the Candy Corn Marshmallow. It’s a large triangular marshmallow covered with “white confection” in two colors.

Level of Candy Corn-ness: 4 out of 10
Actual Candy Blog rating: 4 out of 10

Candy Corn Dots

Dots, made by Tootsie, have been a bit edgier and hipper lately. Their Halloween offerings are spot on, with Ghost Dots and Blood Orange Bat Dots. Of course their Candy Corn Dots also make this list. They’re just vanilla Dots, but cute as buttons.

Level of Candy Corn-ness: 9 out of 10
Actual Candy Blog rating: 6 out of 10

The level of Candy Corn-ness is evaluated on the basis of the following attributes: stacked color, colors, flavor, scale, and shape.

Related Candies

  1. M&Ms White Chocolate Candy Corn
  2. Jelly Belly Candy Corn Jelly Beans
  3. Whitman’s Candy Corn Marshmallow
  4. Flix Sour Gummy Pop Corn
  5. Kimmie Sweet & Salty Corn Bits
  6. Pumpkin Pie Gourmet Candy Corn
  7. Puffy Candy Corn
  8. Brach’s Chocolate Candy Corn & Halloween Mix

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:06 am     CandyHalloweenHighlightFeatured NewsComments (1)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Eat with your Eyes: Sarotti

Sarotti

Sarotti is a classic German chocolate maker, founded by Hugo Hoffmann in 1868. The company is currently owned by Stollwerck (which started as a cough drop company and expanded into confectionery) which was in turn owned by Bernard Callebaut. Callebaut recently announced that it sold off Stollwerck to Baronie Group, which is based in Belgium.

I picked up this little chocolate gem while in Germany, where the Sarotti brand is quite easy to find and moderately priced.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:58 am     CandyHighlightFeatured NewsPhotographyComments (0)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Papabubble Amsterdam & Pillow Fight

papabubble windowPapabubble is an artisan candy shop that first opened in Barcelona, Spain in 2004. There are now shops in eleven cities around the world including Tokyo, New York, Hong Kong and Moscow. I visited the one in Amsterdam while I was in Europe earlier this year.

One of the conceits of the shops is that all candy sold there is made there. And all the candy they make is just plain old hard candy ... I say plain because the recipe and basic steps are quite simple. But the technique and craft is extraordinary. The centerpiece of the store is the candy kitchen, where the boiled sugar and glucose mixture is poured out onto heated tables to be flavored, colored and crafted.

papabubble storefront

The Amsterdam shop is tucked away on a narrow street (aren’t they all?) called Haarlemmerdijk a little to the northwest of Amsterdam’s Centraal Station. I took a tram over there then walked back to the station on my last morning in town.

This video features they New York store, but is still a great representation of how the candy is made at all the shops.

papabubbleThe shop, like many in Amsterdam, was narrow. (At one time property in the city was taxed on its width.) It’s quite deep and I was surprised to see at the back of the store area was a series of steep stairs, about five of them, that led down to the kitchen area. Like the video shown above, the work area for the candy makers is a long table with a clear glass backsplash so that customers can watch them do their work. There’s also the added advantage of looking down into the area from above as well.

The store is well stocked with previously made merchandise. All the items are hard candies, some are single flavors in a package, some are cut rock and others are pillow shaped confections.

papabubble pops

When I visited at the end of January, the pair of candy makers was just finishing up their latest batch of heart shaped lollipops. Not much to photograph there, just bagging the glossy candies. They did look great though.

What I really wanted though was to taste the diversity of the candy flavors that they used, and hopefully find an assortment that showcased what was unique about the Amsterdam Papabubble, as each shop does things customized to their own culture. I found a mix called Pillow Fight.

Papabubble Pillow FightThe bags are a tough matte silver back with a clear pocket on the front. They held 160 grams and cost 4.95 Euros - about $7.00 at the time. I thought that was a lot for about 5.6 ounces. But then again, it was made by real people, right there, and probably recently.

Pillow Fight is a mix of classic herbal and spice flavors, all in the pillow shape, which is made by taking a long rope of the hard candy and crimping it to make the mouth-friendly shapes. The other style of candy they make is what most folks know as Cut Rock. This is the same basic rope but usually has a design on the inner core that’s revealed when the rope is cross sectioned (one variety in my mix was this cut rock, as you’ll see below).

The package didn’t look like it was going to do a great job of protecting its valuable contents. The little pillows already looked like they had a light sanding of pulverized brethren on them already. But my concerns were unfounded. The way they mix up the candy, the ends get a little worn and there is a bit of sugary dust at the bottom of the bag. But everything was quite dry (which keeps it from becoming sticky and losing its shine). All I needed to do when I got them home was pour them out on a paper towel and lightly roll around to shine them up.

The other style of packaging they have are little plastic jars. They’re great to look at and of course hold more candy and are probably easier to serve yourself from.

Papabubble Lavender Pillows

Lavendel (Lavender) - purple stripes - these were by far the prettiest little pillows. The lavender flavor is a lot like rosemary, a strong oily and mentholated flavor.

Papabubble "Pillow Fight"

Anijs (Anise) - black & white stripes - this was a mild and flavorful anise drop. Sweet and with a great crunch ... I like to crunch my candies. The pillows seem to have a lightly aerated center. Basically, the warm candy mixture is pulled on a hook like taffy to add a little air into it which gives it a little bit lighter texture and smooth melt.

Bergamot - light orange with orange stripes - this was similar to the lavender, it’s aromatic and sweet but has a balsam note to it. I didn’t feel like it was quite bergamot, but it still had a citrus zest quality to it.

Beterschap! (Cough Drop) - This was the only cut rock in the bunch - round cream color with red cross in center - the word beterschap means “get well”. It tastes rather like a cough drop - part cola, part cinnamon and part menthol. It was one of the most strongly flavored candies in the bunch.

Cola - yellow & orange stripes - is rather bold. It’s tangy and has a strong lime and nutmeg note to it. I liked it, but that’s likely because I appreciate cola candy because it’s not that common in the States.

Mojito (Lime & Mint) - light green and yellow stripes on a clear background - this one was tangy and minty. Kind of like a cough drop. Mojitos aren’t a favorite drink of mine, but are more successful for me because fresh spearmint tastes so different from spearmint candy. This version had a lot of lime oils in it, which made it much more medicinal for me.

Papabubble

Scherpe Kaneel (Sharp Cinnamon) - magenta and green - the color didn’t say cinnamon, but it was most definitely sizzling cinnamon.

Lemongrass Gember (Lemongrass Ginger) - yellow & green - this was very bold, the ginger notes were strong and a little more on the side of extract than the earthy, fibery root is fresh. The lemongrass did feel authentic though, not too sweet and no hint of tartness.

Eucalyptus (aqua with white stripes) - wasn’t as strong as I’d hoped, but still smooth and soothing with a light freshness. It was so mild, for a while I wasn’t sure what it even was until I looked at the little flavor guide.

 

I would love to spend more time at the shop and to have seen them making candy from start to finish, unfortunately my schedule didn’t allow it. (They open at 11 AM and my train was departing at 12:20 PM and I just didn’t hit it right when I arrived a little after eleven and they said they wouldn’t be ready for more crafting for another 30 minutes.) Of course my dream would be to learn how to make candy like this from start to finish. It looks like a lot of work and care goes into it, along with a bit of personality - each shop has a slightly different offerings based on the artisans themselves and the culture of the clientele.

The candy is expensive, but it really is to notch, far and away better than the similar Christmas mixes I sometimes pick up at the drug store. Besides, candy that you saw being made always tastes better, just like kettle corn and cotton candy. I plan to visit the New York store for sure next time I’m in the city and if you’re traveling the world, check to see if there will be one near you.

Papabubble
Haarlemmerdijk 70
1013 JE Amsterdam
Netherlands
+31 20 626 2662

I give the shop a 9 out of 10 and the candy itself an 8 out of 10.

Related Candies

  1. Candy Source: Albanese Candy Factory
  2. Rococo Bee Bars
  3. Daffin’s Candies Factory & World’s Largest Candy Store
  4. Disneyland for Candy Bloggers
  5. The Apothecary’s Garden: Herbs (and some Bees)
  6. Treat Trip: Jelly Belly Factory

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:58 pm     All NaturalCandyCinnamonGingerHard Candy & Lollipops8-TastyNetherlandsHighlightFeatured NewsShoppingComments (4)

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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

Candy Season Ends (Easter)

1 days

 

 

 

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:

• Patric Chocolate

• Amano Chocolates

• Candy Rant: Stimulants are not Energy

• Candy Encyclopedia: The Difference Between Gummi and Jelly

• Candy Rant: If your Licorice isn’t black, it isn’t Licorice

 

 

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