Thursday, May 16, 2013
Next week is the Sweets & Snacks Expo, where confectioners from all over the world descend upon Chicago to show their tastiest candies (and savories).
I’ll have lots to report on new products coming out even though I’m not able to attend this year. Until then, enjoy this selection of Root Beer Barrels.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
I haven’t tallied up all the figures, but I estimate that at least 3,000 products have been featured and at least 1,700 full reviews. I’ve posted nearly 8,000 candy photos (not to mention candy shopping photos and pictures from trade shows and factory tours).
I work by myself. I take my own photos and write my own reviews. So you can imagine, I’ve eaten a lot over the years, but what’s more staggering is how much I haven’t eaten. Only about 25% of what I buy or receive ends up on the blog. Most of the candy I buy, though some is directly from the candy companies and I do pick up samples at trade shows. I have a company that does my blog maintenance, and my husband helps out as my publisher to take inquiries from advertisers (I have one, so it’s not a lot of inquiries).
When I started the blog, there wasn’t much like it on the internet. I figured if people could review music or movies or hotels, I could review candy in the same way. The only websites out there at the time were Candy Critic (which is Canadian and had taken a hiatus at that time) and Writers and Artists Snacking at Work, which also didn’t update often.
I wanted to fill a hole, be the database of candy that I wanted to read. I wanted someone to open up the candy package and show me what’s inside. When I started this blog, I didn’t embrace new things easily. I liked the tried and true favorites I’d always had and rarely felt the need to go outside of that list.
So, the early reviews were of candies that I’d never tried before, new products or existing products, it didn’t matter. After a while, I realized I needed to cover the things that everyone already knew, because we kept referring to them and needed that static reference point of a post.
It turned out that other folks like to read about candy as well. I haven’t tracked my readership from the beginning, but I’ve had at least 20 million page loads since I did start tracking in 2006. Thanks for visiting! While there were few sites that talked exclusively about candy back in 2005, I was joined by quite a few others. Candy Addict (no longer updating) came along, as a group blog, covering a wider range of consumer items and local candy favorites. Sugar Savvy (also now defunct) covered a large swath of the confectionery world (including a review of every single piece of See’s candy). Individuals have come and gone as well, currently we have Rosa at ZOMG! Candy, The Candy Gurus, and hopefully we’ll see Sera at The Candy Enthusiast back soon. The big media companies are into it as well, you can find candy reviews on Serious Eats and Huffington Post and even the morning shows run segments around the candy holidays. (Check out the blog roll for more sweetness from around the world.)
I’m often asked what my favorite candy is or what the worst thing I ever ate was. I, frankly, don’t remember all the awful things I’ve eaten. I don’t actually have a favorite candy, and the candies that I do love aren’t necessarily the best. Lately I’ve been eating Good & Plenty, Goetze’s Caramel Creams and Trader Joe’s Powerberries in addition to the candies in rotation for review.
What I do appreciate most is that Candy Blog has introduced me to new, wonderful things. Like this Ongotoh (Juntsuyu) pictured above. It’s just a boiled sugar candy, but it’s so delicate and delicious.
Candy has also changed as I’ve been writing about it. It could be that I’m better at finding the good stuff, but I think consumers have also gravitated towards newer concepts like fair trade, bean to bar, organic or all natural and world fusion flavors. (Pictured above, Marich Chocolate Sea Salt Cashews.)
The experience of photographing, researching and reviewing has prompted me to be more mindful about what I eat. That doesn’t mean necessarily that it’s all healthy, but I tend to notice what I’m eating and enjoy it more. I try not to eat foods that either aren’t nutritious or won’t bring me pleasure. (Some might say that’s made me a picky eater.)
It’s not all serious though, I have enjoyed novelties that have come along and some fascinating new products. The chocolate LEGO blocks above were from Legoland, and are made by Chuao out of actually good chocolate (El Rey).
One of the oddest things I reviewed were the Topp’s Wazoo bars. Above is the Blue Razz version, which was launched with a huge ad blitz on children’s programming. There were production difficulties which meant that people couldn’t find them in stores. As part of the blog readers have been witness to marketing mis-steps by major candy companies, like Necco changing the ancient Necco Wafers to all natural and eliminating the lime disk only to revert to the classic artificial version within a year due to customer demand. Similar things have happened with Mars changing the 3 Musketeers and we’ll see what happens with Wrigley’s swapping the Lime Skittle for Green Apple.
So that brings us to the present. I don’t have plans for the blog beyond continuing what I’ve been doing, except maybe a little design or layout refresh. You’ve probably noticed I don’t keep up the pace I used to. There was a time there when I posted eight times a week. Now it’s about three reviews a week, sadly, I am running out of candy to review, unless I get hyper-local or cover more foreign candy. I can’t imagine now having the blog, not amassing candy and not taking picture of it all the time. It’s become such a part of me, I don’t know if I would know what to do with my time.
There may be a book in the future, or perhaps several.
Please celebrate with me, raise a Pixie Stix to toast to eight sweet years on the internet. I wouldn’t be doing this if you didn’t come and read regularly, so for you I am grateful. It’s good to know we’re not alone in our love of candy.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Pictured are Beer Chocolates & Caramels from Ethel M. The company is the boxed chocolate division of Mars, they’re made in Henderson, Nevada and sold at their stores in Las Veagas. (You can also order on the internet.)
I visited their factory store years ago when I was in Las Vegas, which also features an amazing cactus garden adjacent. I recommend getting a hot chocolate and walking around (weather permitting ... otherwise some sort of cold drink).
Monday, February 4, 2013
A little sampling of Licorice from Myzel’s in New York City that I picked up. Most are items I’ve had before, so it was nice to have the comfort of something tried and true. The one on the right end is the only one I’d never had before, it’s thyme and rosemary from Italy. It’s a soft, glycerine style licorice. Not very sweet at all with the balsam notes of the herbs.
Friday, February 1, 2013
Since I’m traveling I thought I’d feature a photo today of another chocolate I tried because a friend brought it back from a trip. I don’t know much about these little Rivoire Chocolate pieces from the Rivoire Caffe in Florence, Italy.
They’re rich and smooth and just the right size to eat with a cup of coffee.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Trader Joe’s has an incredible knack for curating candies from all over the world. One of the other habits of Trader Joe’s, though, is to make certain candies seasonal, available only for the winter holidays. This was the issue with their Trader Jacques Fleur de Sel Caramels. They were originally sold in a round wooden box. That’s nice for gifting, but unnecessary for regular purchases.
So it was a happy discovery last year when I saw that Trader Joe’s is now selling the caramels in the little tubs year round (well, they run out from time to time). The price isn’t necessarily better, but at least you won’t have an embarrassing stockpile of wooden boxes that you can’t seem to throw out and only provides evidence for your obsession.
Original review here. (7 out of 10)
Monday, January 28, 2013
I picked up this Darrell Lea Dark Chocolate Covered Ginger Fudge at Cost Plus World Market last year along with some other Darrell Lea items from Australia. The fudge is sweet, not terribly buttery but has numerous pieces of candied ginger in it. Overall, it was earthy and got a nice boost from the woodsy and smoky dark chocolate.
I don’t have a full review for the item, but after I bought this one, I didn’t see them in the store again until last week. I’m inclined to buy it again, partly because it’s a unique combination. (Full wrapper photo, if you’re on the prowl for it.)
Monday, December 24, 2012
I hope everyone is having a tasty holiday and enjoying all their favorite seasonal sweets and perhaps starting new traditions.
Keep safe, hold your loved ones tight and if all that togetherness pushes your buttons, take a candy break.
Are you getting or giving confections for Christmas this year? I’m in charge of the stockings this year, so there will be a nice mix of American favorites and a good sampling of German candy in there as well.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.