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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I Miss: Marathon

When I was a kid there was an amazing candy bar called the Marathon. It was made by Mars and came in a bright red wrapper and was almost ten inches long (the candy was only 8 inches). Inside was a braid of firm caramel covered in chocolate.

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The Marathon bar came along at a time when I would guess I was particularly impressionable and it was a marvelous time in candy. New candies were being introduced that seemed to speak directly to my soul. It was at this time that things like Reese’s Pieces, Sprees & Starbursts came out and Pringles (okay, not a candy, but I’d buy them at the Stop ‘n Go). And let’s not forget Pop Rocks.

imageThe Marathon bar was probably not marketed towards me. The commercial campaign I remember involved a square-jawed, white-toothed and practically perfect looking Patrick Wayne (son of John Wayne) who went by the name of Marathon John. This hero of little commerical stories did everything slow, like eating his Marathon bar. He had a nemesis in the commericals, a wirey fellow named Quick Carl. Quick Carl was careless and jumpy and was, of course, always foiled by Marathon John and his candy bar that you can’t eat quickly. (We didn’t have color TV back then, so the whole “red” thing was lost on me ... it’s not that I’m that old that I remember black & white TV, it’s just that we didn’t get one in my family until 1979).

My guess is that this long candy bar that came with a measuring stick on the back was aimed at adolescent boys. You know how obsessed they are with measuring things. And how often do you find yourself at lunch or hanging out at the park with your little paper bag of sweets and wanna measure something with your buds?

Anyway, the candy bar was introduced in 1973 by Mars and discontinued it in 1981. But of course once you discontinue a candy bar the fans come out of the woodwork. The bar has been gone for more than twenty years and still there are rabid admirers who insist that it be returned to the American Pantheon of candy bars. I suspect that one of the issues with it is its non-standard size. It just doesn’t fit on the shelves the same way and slotting is important for the big candy manufacturers. But Cadbury seems to be doing fine with the Curly Wurly ... but for all I know their biggest market may be the United States and these folks in their forties who insist that there is no other candy bar for them than an eight inch braid of caramel covered with chocolate.

A few years ago Mars resurrected the name Marathon but this time gave it to an “energy bar” type candy. I’ve never tried it.

Links: CS Monitor and the Snickers/Marathon bar, Linda Lee Dobbins muses on her favorite candies, including the Marathon bar and other contemporaneous memory lane items including the Marathon bar

If you’re looking for a fix now that you’ve waxed as nostalgic as I have, pick up the Cadbury Curly Wurly bar. You can find them in the UK or Canada or perhaps in the States at a shop that carries UK imports and of course online. Old Time Candy has a nice page about Curly-Wurly and the Marathon Bar Here’s my review of the Curly Wurly (I gave it an 8 out of 10). The only question that remains (and perhaps you dear readers can help) is who came up with the bar first? Was it a Cadbury product that was licensed by Mars just as Hershey licensed KitKat from Rowntree (well, now Nestle)? Or did Mars come up with it and it was successful enough in the UK to continue?

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:56 pm     CandyI MissReviewCadburyMarsCaramelChocolateDiscontinuedFun StuffNewsComments (137)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Food Art: M&Ms

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Mmmm, M&M balls. Though this one looks like it’s been rolling around for a while. Visit Nir Adar for more food porn by the excellent food photographer and artist. (Found via Slashfood.)

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:24 am     ReviewMarsM&MsFun StuffNewsPhotographyComments (0)

Treat Trip: Jelly Belly Factory

One of the best things about candy is that the manufacture of it is as delightful as the shopping and tasting part. It’s not at all like the whole “where does meat come from” thing, knowing how the candy is made actually makes me appreciate it more. I was in San Francisco a few weeks ago and set some time aside to head out to Fairfield to visit the Jelly Belly factory.

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The location is rather ordinary, right off the highway in an industrial park that holds a few other confectionary concerns and an olive oil place, too. As unassuming and corporate as the outside looks, as we all know about jelly beans, it’s the inside that matters.

Jelly Belly has an exceptional free tour for anyone who makes the forty minute trip from San Francisco, but I was lucky enough to get a personal tour from Tomi Holt, the publicist for Jelly Belly.

imageOr first stop was actually the tasting bar at the factory store. This is actually the best reason for the drive. You can try EVERYTHING they make here. They have all of their candies available for tasting, every jelly bean, every JBz, all of the licorice, the fruit jellies and even the gummis and sugar free assortments. If you’ve ever been curious about anything that they make, this is the place to try it. I had a few JBz and some of the new mint trio Jelly Bellies before we donned our hairnets.

I got the star treatment with full access to the factory floor (regular visitors are restricted to balcony area that still gives an impressive view of all aspects of the process and of course the smells). Jelly Belly built the factory in 1986, but what’s really fascinating is that the Goelitz, owner of Jelly Belly, has been making candy since 1869 and has been in business since 1896. Goelitz is best known for their excellent candy corn, which is made by many companies, but Goelitz is often credited as the first one to make they layered orange, yellow and white version which has certainly become the standard.

The Jelly Belly factory is a huge facility that produces hundreds of different kinds of candy (most of them jelly beans) but they also do panned nuts (Jordan almonds), chocolates (JBz, Chocolate Malt Balls, Dutch Mints), gummi bears, licorice (pastels & bridge mix) and jellies (raspberries, fruit jellies & peach jells).  Just about all of their candies are panned. Panning is a process where a candy center is created and then tossed into a huge pan that looks like a cement mixer. Syrups, flavors, colors and/or chocolate are added to coat the candy center, layer upon layer, until the candy is just right and can be polished up and packaged.

First, just about all Jelly Belly candies start as a sugar/corn syrup and corn starch mixture that’s boiled to the appropriate temperature and mixed with whatever flavors the recipe requires. Many recipes contain real flavor ingredients - so blueberry Jelly Bellies have blueberry puree in there. The biggest difference between Jelly Belly jelly beans and most others is that they flavor the center. An ordinary jelly bean is just a plain sugar jelly. A Jelly Belly will have a specific flavored center and then an additionally flavored shell.

imageOn the day I was there, they were making jelly beans. Lots and lots of jelly beans. We started in the kitchen which is a hot room with several large machines side by side. Okay, it doesn’t look much like my kitchen, but it did smell like pina colada. It was here that Tomi showed me the secret to most the jelly candies that we all know and love. Corn Starch Trays. Each bean is molded by depositing the hot candy soup into a tray made from plain old powdered corn starch.

Picture a deep cookie pan filled with corn starch, then it goes through a conveyer where a mold of the centers is pressed into the corn starch (1,260 per tray). The starch is just stiff enough to hold the form and a little further down the line the depositor squirts the little center in there. While I was there watching one of the candy makers was there watching the consistency of the jelly to assure the quality. The starch trays are unloaded from the conveyer onto open racks where they set up for a day in the climate controlled room.

Next the trays are then dumped out—each tray is turned over where the corn starch falls apart and the centers are sifted to remove the corn starch that clings to it. The corn starch is sifted and reused for new trays. Then they go onto a conveyer where they get a quick steaming to get them a little sticky and they are “sanded” with sugar. For some candies like a fruit pectin, this would be the end of the line. But the Jelly Belly is just getting started. Tomi pulled some of these out for us to try (they were still warm from the steaming)—they were orange. Instead of the zesty tart flavor, these were must mellow and sweet with a nice boost of orange essence. I knew it was going to be interesting to see how a Jelly Belly is built.

The Jelly Bellies get loaded intro trays where they cool, set and wait for their next coat. As most of the centers can look the same, each tray is marked with codes and dates. Different centers get different treatment as some get more rest or less rest before and after their engrossing. Each tray weighs 25 pounds when filled with the Jelly Belly centers. At their appointed time the centers are sent to the engrossing pans. 10 trays of 25 pounds of centers are dumped into one of the pans. Then a master confectioner mixes up the elixir that becomes the candy shell. It’s a tricky process that involves a bit of art as they tumble the centers and pour in pitchers of the mixtures and sometimes use air blowers to speed the process.

imageIt takes four coats over about two hours to make the shell and they keep dozens of these panning machines going at any time. So, have you been wondering how much of a Jelly Belly is shell? I asked one of the confectioners there as he was turning off the rumbling, tumbling machines and he said that they put in ten trays of centers, which weigh 25 pounds each. And when they’re done, they get about 375 pounds of beans out—that’s right, one third of the weight of a Jelly Belly is its shell. What’s more, that confectioner added more than 125 pounds of syrups and flavors to the engrossing beans—you’d have to account for evaporation, which is part of the shell making process. It’s a grueling job, if you ask me. There they are, all day pouring and managing these tumbling pans. There are fifty different standard Jelly Belly flavors alone, so the list of possible combinations is huge. It’s a really interesting process. While we were on the floor one row of pans was making Sizzling Cinnamon and the other was working on Tangerine. The smell of the cinnamon was pretty overwhelming. I’m just glad they weren’t making their newest flavor, Roasted Garlic.

You may have noticed that some Jelly Bellies have mottled colors. Those are added at the very end with special coloring agents that don’t integrate into the whole shell.

The beans are then tumbled again in another pan to polish them up with a confectioner’s glaze. It’s kind of like a rock tumbler.

imageThen the trays go back to the warehouse to wait. The beans’ flavors integrate while they cure and then when they’re ready to go they get loaded back onto a conveyer where they are sorted into a tray that places them in a huge printer that gives them their white ‘brand’ of Jelly Belly. All Jelly Bellies get printed in white, even the white ones. It’s this extra step that you can use to make sure that the bulk beans that you’re buying out of a bin at a candy shop are real Jelly Bellies.

imageOnce the beans are branded, they’re boxed. The beans are stored in the cardboard boxes until they’re called for, for whatever mix they’re making. They un-box the beans onto a huge conveyer that sends them to a tumbler that mixes them together. The tumbler we got close to was making a combo that looked like sour lime and orange—kind of like peas and carrots. It’s mesmerizing to see them tumbling in mesh drums that must be four feet high with little holes in it that keep the air moving and the rejected small jelly beans will fall through. The noise is incredible, you wouldn’t think that so many jelly beans just rustling around could be so loud, but most of the crew on the floor in this area of the factory wears ear protection.

imageAll along the way are the factory personnel assuring the quality of the beans, but there are mechanical methods as well. If a bean makes it all the way through the process to be a “complete” bean but is rejected for size or shape, they’re called a “Belly Flop.” Belly Flops can be purchased in one place, the Jelly Belly factory. When I was there they were selling them in various mixes for half the price of real Jelly Bellies.

At the end of the factory part Tomi and I went back to the lobby where she took me through the wall of history that detailed the rise of the company, the family history and of course the Ronald Regan memorabilia (he was a huge fan of the confections since they started and could be credited for bringing them to national attention in the early eighties).

imageOf course at the end of that Tomi and I adjourned to the factory store again and spent more time with Barbara at the tasting bar where she continued to feed us whatever we wanted to taste. I even gave some of the Bertie Botts(tm) flavors a try and rather liked the grass, black pepper and soap flavors. But what impressed me most after tasting such a wide range of the products they offered, no matter whether they were to my liking or not, the quality is excellent. The amount of flavor they pack into such small bits of candy is amazing and obviously is what sets Jelly Bellies apart from other jelly beans. The strange thing is that when I went on the tour I was pretty much neutral on Jelly Belly. They’re good, I never argued with the quality, but now that I’ve seen them made and tasted the full range of flavors, I’m hooked on some of their other products. See my full review for an exhaustive list of some of the things I’ve tried in the past few weeks.

imageTours:
Jelly Belly Visitor Center
Jelly Belly Candy Company
One Jelly Belly Lane
Fairfield, CA 94533
1-800-953-5592

They run the tours six days a week, but the factory doesn’t operate on Saturdays, so try to make it on a weekday for the full experience. Check their website or call ahead for hours. They also have a cafe on site (and a room you can rent for parties).

Also, if you’re in the Midwest you can tour their Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin warehouse too, which also has a full store and tasting bar.

(All inside the factory photos courtesy of Jelly Belly.)

Related Candies

  1. Friday’s San Francisco Candy Adventure
  2. Thursday Candy Trippin’
  3. Daffin’s Candies Factory & World’s Largest Candy Store
  4. Disneyland for Candy Bloggers
  5. Charles Chocolates
  6. Treat Trip: Scharffen Berger Factory

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:01 am     Bay AreaReviewJelly BellyFun StuffNewsShoppingComments (9)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Candy Essay: Turkish Delight

There’s been a lot of talk on the internets about Turkish Delight, also known as Turkish Paste or Lokum. Most of this sudden interest is because of The Chronicles of Narnia movie that just came out.

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If you’re not familiar with the books, this sweet treat plays a pivotal role in the story as the second youngest child, Edmund, meets up with the White Witch who seduces him with the promise of as much Lokum as he can eat. Some people wonder how he could betray his siblings over a simple sweet (which was bewitched) but you have to remember that the story takes place during WWII when sugar was very hard to come by, even for children in middle class families. I’m enough of a sugar freak to have done some things that were probably not well thought out because I needed my fix that I can sympathize in a way for Edmund. (And he does redeem himself.)

Turkish Delight is rather unknown in the States and probably with good reason. Americans are not really familiar with floral flavors and delicate candies such as these. They don’t really keep well, so it’s easy to get stale Turkish Delight, which only leads to disappointment. I’ve had my share of crusty Turkish Delight over the years which has made me question why I like it, but there’s something so elusive and sublime about it, I’m tempted to travel to Turkey just to partake of the freshly made stuff. Here’s a fabulous first-person account on Lulu’s Lulu Loves Manhattan blog.

Turkish Delight is a rather simple jelly candy made from sugar, cream of tartar, corn starch and a little flavor. It’s quite different from other jelly candies in that it doesn’t have any gelatin or pectin to firm it up, just the corn starch. (This makes it a good candy to get/make for Vegan friends.) This is a kind of unstable mixture which can go bad rather quickly, so Turkish Delight is always best fresh. Covering it in chocolate is actually a pretty good way to keep it fresh, as Fry’s has found with their Turkish Delight bar

Classic Turkish Delight is usually Rose flavored but can be mint or lemon. There are other varieties that include nuts (hazelnuts or pistachios are popular), coconut and of course other fruit flavors like strawberry, raspberry, apricot and I even saw this recipe on Becks & Posh for Cardamom Rose which sounded really good to me. I tried making Turkish Delight several times as a teen (having been told that the fresh stuff was the best) but never quite succeeded. A recipe probably would have helped. Heaven help the teen who has only the ingredients label to go off of; my mother was very patient with the strange pans of fragrant goo my sister and I created. 

I’ve always been fond of aromatic flavors, I don’t know if it’s because I used to eat flowers as a kid (not just violets and rosepetals but also honeysuckle and nasturtiums) but I find them very intriguing. I later worked in an herb shop as a teen where I was exposed to many amazing teas, flowers and herbs. They’re beguiling because they taste like they smell. And they have a wonderful aftertaste. There’s been a huge resurgance of floral flavors lately in upscale cooking/food - I’m seeing a lot of rose flavored, lavender, violet as well as some of the more woodsy flavors like anise/licorice/fennel, rosemary and the essences of bergamot, orange and lemon (and I’d love to try some calamansi).

Still, there will be detractors for any candy and I have no problem with that either. There are lots of candies out there I detest, such as Marzipan (though I keep giving it a try hoping that I’ll change my mind because the concept is sound) and if everyone liked the same thing, there wouldn’t be much of a need for this blog. Snarkmarket had an interesting post with fascinating comments, and Slate had an article which prompted me to write this post.

I think part of it is about engaging the imagination. I like tasting new things, especially ones specific to a region or culture. It helps me to connect. Open your mouth ... and your mind!

Photo by DBarefoot taken 4/15/200 in Dublin

Related Candies

  1. Lindt: 60% Extra Dark Truffles
  2. Halvah and Turkish Delight
  3. Fry’s Turkish Delight
  4. Turkish Delight
  5. Ginger Delight

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:26 pm     Fun StuffNewsComments (68)

Monday, December 12, 2005

Five Things about Candy Canes

The Detroit Free Press has a fun article about the candy most commonly associated with Christmas: Candy Canes.

It includes sources for sugar-free candy canes and other candy cane merchandise.

But here are the fun facts from Candy USA about the twisted sticks:

54% of kids ages 6 to 11 say they eat a candy cane by sucking on it.
24% bite or crunch.
19% lick.
2% don’t know how they eat candy canes.
1% said they eat them an “other” way.
31% of boys crunch their candy canes, but only 17% of girls do so.

 

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:34 am     ReviewFun StuffNewsComments (0)

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Spirts Go Down

Here’s another item to add to the list if you’re looking for something to bring the hostess this holiday or maybe just a stocking stuffer.

imagePeppermint Shot Glasses.

No, not shotglasses for Peppermint Schnapps, these are shot glasses that are made from peppermint sticks.

Sooo cute.

I saw them today at both Urban Outfitters (you can order online) and Cost Plus World Market (a dollar cheaper). As a side note, I’ve also seen plenty of chocolate liqueur cups which are great for serving dessert cognac. If you’re looking for a way to add candy to a mixed drink (besides a lemon drop to a lemon martini or cinnamon imperials to a sweet martini) you might want to check out the new Twizzler Strawz.

They’re made for Slurpees and are just regular Twizzlers that are bigger so you can use them like a straw and get added flavor (and eat them). For cocktails, just snip them in half for a martini glass or lowball.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:08 pm     ReviewFun StuffNewsShoppingComments (2)

Friday, December 9, 2005

Candy Mash Ups - Marshmallows & Chocolate

Last weekend I went to San Francisco for important candy and novel writing business (the best of both worlds). On our last day, Robin insisted that we visit Tartine (18th & Guerrero). She said they were reputed to have the best chocolate croissants. So before I scrambled off to my meeting and she went to explore the Ferry Terminal we went over there. We were determined enough to give them a try that we made three ever-widening circles around the place in search of a parking spot. We ended up two and a half blocks away and found the place to be mobbed when we entered. But it looked good from the back of the line. It looked even better when we got up to the bakery case which was filled with amazing heaps of cookies, tarts, pastries and cakes.

imageI bring this up because that’s where I saw the Rochers. Rochers are basically soft chewy meringues, usually with nuts in them. At Tartine they had them in two varieties: almond and cacao nibs. Gah! Heaven! I wish I’d taken some photos of them, but suffice to say they were little glossy dollops of delight. I bought a half a dozen. Now I wish I’d brought more.

So, the reason I bring this up is that it sparked me to try my own mashup this afternoon. I’ve got these Plush Puffs “leftover” and of course I’ve had this tube of Scharffen Berger chocolate covered cacao nibs on my desk. too. The vanilla marshmallow was just crying out for a little something. Cacao nibs. That’s what it wanted.

So, I tore the marshmallow in half, revealing it’s sticky interior and mashed it into the nibs. Yum. Repeat as necessary (it’s my mess o’ nibs, I can double dip!). Vanilla bean and cacao was a great combo. The bittersweetness of the chocolate and crunchiness of the nibs was a nice combo with the sweety chewiness of the marshmallows. I also tried it with the cinnamon one and though not quite as pure a combo because of the spice of the cinnamon, it was very tasty. Maybe I’ll try the peppimint next. (click photo for larger version)

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:06 pm     Mash UpReviewFun StuffNewsComments (0)

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Guide to Gifts for Candy Lovers

Here it is, your guide for what to get those candy obsessed people on your gift list. Some of this is stuff I’ve bought before, some is stuff I’d like to get and of course some is just something I’ve read about and thought was cool. Feel free to leave comments to expand this list!

Games & Diversions
imageChocolate Chess Set ($159.50) - this is the cream of the crop. A chess set made of white and dark Belgian chocolate game pieces on a chocolate game board. If this seems too pricey, try making your own with these molds.

Or for those who want to get close to someone during the holidays, maybe some Chocolate Body Tattoos ($15.00) or Candy Bra/G-String ($9.99 - link not safe for work).

Do you have a Poker fan in your life? There are lots of poker themed candies out there now. The simplest is instead of chocolate coins, get them chocolate poker chips. They have a huge selection at Candy Warehouse of chocolate novelties including playing cards, racked chips, dice and other gambling themed items. Of course you can also find candy themed playing cards (I have some Hershey’s Kisses ones) but I don’t know how the Poker club would feel about that. Candy Corn shaped playing cards by the dozen, Candy Hearts playing cards ($4.95), or go for a whole Chocolate Casino Kit ($17.99). You can’t eat it, but it’s stilly pretty sweet: Chocolate Monopoly ($21.08) - called Chocolate-opoly.

Candy Crafts
Making your own candy can teach kids a lot about kitchen chemistry, it doesn’t hurt that they get to eat it when they’re done. Make your own Rock Candy Crystals ($9.95), Lollipop Shop Candy Lab ($8.32), Fruit Rolls ($8.32) or Red Jelly Candy Sweets ($8.32).

If you really want to get into candy making, Candy Crafts is a great place to start. They have kits you can use to make your own candy gifts or give to someone else.

Crazy Candy Art kits where you can make sand art with candy powder (or just guzzle the half gallon bottles of the stuff).

Books
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Candy Freak by Steve Almond
Emperors of Chocolate by Joel Brenner

Videos/DVD
Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory - the first version with Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, directed by Mel Stuart. (1971 - $12.99)
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory - this year’s version starring Johnny Depp, directed by Tim Burton. (2005 - $17.96)
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - an inventor (and candy maker!) creates a flying car - starring Dick Van Dyke, directed by Ken Hughes. (1968 - $26.99)
Like Water for Chocolate - a feast for the senses, directed by Alfonso Arau (1998 - $6.99)

Paper Goods & Art
Fred Flare always has hip gifts, this year they have the 2006 Pez Retro Calendar ($12.99) and you may as well tuck it in this felt Gingerbread Gift Bag ($6.00) and write some notes on this Confection-ery Stationery ($8.95) that includes stickers and yummy envelopes.

imageDon’t forget how welcome a candy poster might be for your sweet-toothed recipient. Art.com has a huge selection of candy photography and classic advertising recreations. You can get them framed (starting at $50) or unframed ($6.99+). May I recommend the Andy Warhol version of the Lifesavers ad, “Do Not Lick This Page? (144.99 framed.)

We’ve all seen the bowls of Murano glass candy. Either you hate it or love it, but if you want to give it to someone, here’s a cool site that seems to have excellent prices and a pretty wide selection. Rebecca’s Unique Glass ($6.99-99.99). Don’t forget to pick up a jar or bowl for it!

Calendars
Chocolate Mini Calendar ($7.99), Chocolate Diary ($9.99), Chocolate Wall Calendar ($12.99) and finally the one that I think is irrestistble, the Sweets Pocket Planner ($5.99).

Keeping Candy in Your Life
For those who commute a lot and like to snack in the car, maybe one of these strange little cupholder organizers ($9.99) - be sure to fill it up with candy before wrapping it!

imageHere’s something that I’d be happy to get. It’s actually for spice storage, but I think it’d be super cute to buy this and fill each of the little tins with fun, tasty and colorful candy. Magnetic Spice Storage ($12.99). You can do the same thing with just about any spice rack/storage solution. Filled with pretty pastel Jordan Almonds, Skittles, M&Ms, Kisses (or the new Kissables) or anything your recipient would find tasty is a fantastic and pretty inexpensive gift that keeps on giving.

Purse/Clutch made from candy wrappers ($22-$235) - even if you don’t buy any, they’re just so cute!

Candy Bar Holders
($15.00) or another Candy Bar Holder ($10.00) from MOMA or in Sterling Silver ($159.96).

Dispensers and Holders (actually designed for that purpose)
imageGumballs.com has to have the largest selection I’ve ever seen of gumball machines. These are the real thing too, not some cheapie plastic thing you found at BigLots (though that can be fun, too). There are plenty of other machines out there, including those sold by Jelly Belly (because you don’t want just one bean! - $44.99) and M&Ms ($10-$35).

Don’t forget the fun with the Candy Poopers. Especially if someone’s a fan of animals and candy (how could you not like both). There’s even a Penguin Pooper now, so go ahead and bundle it with the March of the Penguins DVD. (My original review here.)

Ornaments & Decoration
It’s not Christmas without candy all over the house from Gingerbread house to candy canes. Here are some ornaments I saw online at Bronner’s. Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, M&Ms, Hershey’s Chocolate Garland and a glass Chocolate Bar ornament.

Whole Body Indulgences
Chocolate Lovers Spa Therapy ($65) - features bath salt, body milk, body scrub, bubble bath, body butter and body wash, sisal back strap, exfoliating hand mitt, exfoliating sponge, body massager and poof all in a reusable faux-suede hat box.

Face Candy
imageThere’s a huge selection out there too for candy-themed lip balms which make excellent stock stuffers or something to tie on a grand big package or perhaps tuck inside a larger gift. Here are some glitter lip gloss pots that are shaped like wrapped hard candies (set of 5 for $8.00). SeeFred has a huge selection that includes mixed drinks too. ($2.29 each.) If you’re into TV shopping, QVC also has a large selection of bundles: Jelly Belly lip balm set ($15.78) or a full candy makeup kit 9$15.75) and this little cutie looks like a box of chocolate truffles ($19.82).

Candy for the Feet
Candy Socks - they don’t have a huge selection, but I have to say it’s ultra cute. And of course anything that’s white and red striped can be called candy cane, but here are some Candy Cane Tights ($9.00).

Candy as Protection
How about a cute umbrella shaped like a Hershey’s Kiss ($14.95 for adults or two child-sized ones for $19.95). That’d be pretty welcome around Christmas in my neck of the woods as it’s rainy season for us then.

imageOf course you can take candy to the pool or shore with beach towels that look like candy packages: Candy Bar Beach Towels (14.99) - they come in Tootsie Pop, Dots, Charms Blo Pop and Sugar Daddy. You can also order directly from Bazooka for the Bazooka Bath Towel ($17.99 + 25 comics)

If you want more from your beach towel, how about one that doubles as a game board. Catch this one fast, it’s already on clearance at Bed Bath & Beyond: CandyLand Beach Towel Game! ($7.99 clearance).

Sweet Dreams
You can dress up your couch or bed with these:
imageWonka Plush Pillows ($14.99 each) or Candy Pillows ($14.99) shaped like Kisses, Hershey Bars, Crunch Bars, Razzles or Tootsie Rolls. (Fun to Collect also has a whole Wonka store for fans of the movie or books.)

Edible Gifts (something for everyone)
Fun themed Painter’s Chocolate Toolkit ($29.00 - unfortunately no guarantee of delivery for holidays) for the handy person in your life. Or maybe a candy bouquet (or maybe this one) with classic favorites arranged artfully.

imageSushi lovers might enjoy any of these Koo-ki Sushi ($12-$65). If you were looking for these gummi sushi, that I reviewed before, unfortunately it looks like they’re discontinued. But maybe someone on your giftlist is a Manga/Anime fan? Jbox has a great candy kit ($25.00) that includes a variety of KitKats, Pocky and fruity snacks like Lotte blueberry gum.

Crate & Barrel - Food/Candy (prices are a bit steep but the tins & packaging are pretty cool)

I’ve actually gotten this Chocolate Lover’s Crate from Zabar’s before. Yum! If that’s too pricey maybe just check out their tins of candy.

imageIf you didn’t blink with the prices at Zabar’s, well head down to SoHo to Dean & Deluca. Spectacular packaging, great website and I’ve ordered from them before and have to say that the stuff does get there in one piece. The best looking thing they had there was the Joseph Schmidt Chocolate Bowl ($34.00). No, it’s not a bowl for chocolate, it’s a bowl made from chocolate. Shazaam! I can’t link directly to the products there but check out the regular gifts like Chocolate Tower Tiers ($75-$125), Caramel Dominos ($45.00), Chocolate Ornaments ($20), and Pig & Piglets (it’s like a Trojan pig, you crack open the pig and pigs come out! - $34.00). Fear not they have an Under $25 Section. (You can also order the chocolate bowl directly from Joseph Schmidt.)

Lake Champlain Chocolates - check out their amazing online store. I really enjoyed their 5 Star Bar and their medallions but I’m sure everything is great. Check out their sale items too, there’s some great deals in there.

Chocosphere for online ordering of most of the top brands of chocolate - a good place to go if you want to combine different chocolate brands in one candy gift.

imageWilbur Chocolate - of course I’ve talked about my favorite chocolate before. What’s cool is that it’s not that expensive, even for their top of the line pacakges. My favorite is the Bud filled Milk Bottle ($16.09) but they also have the following Super Assortment in a box ($49.99), Tier of Treats ($63.79) and the more cost efficient selections like the Crock ‘o Buds ($26.99) and the Cocoa Mug ($10.99). You can’t order online, you have to either fax or call it in (800)2WILBUR. (My reviews here.)

Boule - a tiny candy shop in Los Angeles that makes this fantabulous Fruit Pate and some pretty innovative taste combinations for their truffles. Here’s my review.

Candy All Year Round
imageJelly Belly - Jelly Belly of the Month Club

Candy of the Month Club from Candy Warehouse - three levels: Bazooka Joe, Gruffi Gummi Bear and The Thurston Howell Chocolate Package.

Seventy Percent has a chocolate tasting club where they send you a different 70%+ chocolate every month. Chocolate Connoisseur’s Club includes three bars (or more) plus tasting notes for each of the featured items. Based in the UK, they have access to chocolates that I’ve never heard of. Prices start at 13.95 pounds per month plus a 3.95 pound surcharge for non UK addresses. Without making a huge committment you can also pick up one of their “Chocolate Hampers” which feature incredible selections.

For Stockings / Gelt
Best Chocolate Coins - I’m partial to Madelaine’s Chocolate at the moment. The chocolate is excellent and the details on the foil is pretty spectacular. When you get them you don’t know if you should eat them or take pictures of them. Chocolate Pennies & Assorted Coins. If you have a coin collector on your list they might enjoy these: 50 State Chocolate Quarters. Not into chocolate? How about Bubble Gum Coins

For more stocking stuffers check out Cost Plus World Market or some similar store in your area. Ours carries not only a huge selection of international foods and candies but also gift kits, baskets for making your own and tins of retro candy, nostalgia items and of course cute stuff. Their prices are far and away more affordable than someplace like Williams Sonoma or Crate & Barrel but probably the same stuff.

Other Gift Guides
The NY Times Food & Wine Gift Guide
MSNBC’s Geek Foodie Gift Guide
New York Magazine’s Consuming Passions Gift Guide
UKTV’s Make it Yourself Gift Guide
Food Network’s Shopping Site Holiday Gift Guide
The Food Section’s Guide to Gift Guides! (Okay, it’s from last year, but it’s still pretty good.)
Daily News Foodie Gifts

imageUPDATE: Here are a few things I left out!

Plush Puffs (reviewed here) is featuring a great new gift basket that allows you to pick your assortment of three packages of their gourmet marshmallows. $27.99 (but there are gifts for all price ranges).

Yum Boxes ($48 for a set of 8) - I’m not sure if this is a gift idea or an idea for your next party. They’re cool little invitations for parties that include candies and handy mailing boxes. They’re pricey but maybe something you can custom make at home.

Regular reader Desertwind suggests Allentown’s own Josh Early Candies which looks kinda like a Pennsylvania version of See’s with their black and white logo and focus on nuts, chews & toffees.

Last, I completely forgot Scharffen Berger! I went to their factory last week and was enchanted with their stuff in the gift store. How can you resist their chocolate shirts with the messages: (semi) sweet, (bitter) sweet and (extra) bitter ($14.50). Sassy! Oh, and they have chocolate too. Can I recommend their panned chocolates ...ooh, I already did!

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:22 pm     Gift GuideFun StuffNewsShoppingComments (16)

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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

Halloween Candy Season Ends

-19 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:

• Orgran Molasses Licorice

• Rogue Chocolatier

• Godiva Chef Inspirations

• Hachez Braune Blatter (Chocolate Leaves)

• Dandelion Chocolate

 

 

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