Thursday, April 10, 2008

Candy Blog’s Happy 3rd Anniversary

WonkaI don’t often do gratuitous self-congratulatory posts, but today marks the beginning of my fourth year of Candy Blog.

Since my first post on April 9th called Adventures in Candy, things have changed quite a bit. I was not new to blogging at that point, I’d been keeping Fast Fiction since 2001 and blog regularly for blogging.la since early 2004.

I’m not sure I realized how much it would take over my life.

SunriseI was at a wedding that day in downtown Los Angeles of my friends & neighbors Amy & Robin (mentioned here often). My husband had laryngitis so I did a lot of the talking and much of it seemed to be about candy. (I can’t recall what we were talking about.) My passion for the sugary stuff impressed my table-mates and they mentioned that I should blog about it. I came home and started that night.

There was something about blogging about candy. It just clicked. People I’d never met started reading. I had fun and I realized that I’d been writing about candy my whole life. From the short story in 5th grade to essays in high school to my masters thesis, a river of candy ran through it.

DSC09544r_filteredThe default template and limited features I was using on Blogger were suddenly insufficient to hold all the possibilities of blog about candy. I decided to broaden my goals, I wanted to become a recognized candy expert from the consumer’s viewpoint. (I also wanted to go to the All Candy Expo, where you could only get in as a member of the press, a difficult thing to score as a blogger at that time.)

So I hired Hop Studios in late 2005 to redesign the blog which meant great new features like following comment conversations, the regular polls, related candies, search, the fun ratings & specs chart and intensive category tags.

imageAt first I envisioned Candy Blog as a place to experience new candy, or at least candy that was new to me. Part of what I wanted Candy Blog to be was something that I couldn’t find on the internet then, someone to tell me what was really inside that package. This was especially true for regional candies and foreign items. As the years have gone by I realized that I needed to revisit the tried and true favorites in order to give the new items perspective. There are still plenty of classic candies missing from the blog. I will get around to them eventually.

I continue to work with Hop Studios, tweaking functionality, adding new features and of course just fluffing it up once in a while.

There are over 1,200 posts here on Candy Blog so far. I don’t know for sure how many products I’ve reviewed (some posts include multiple reviews), but I put that number at about 800. My flickr Candy photoset has documentation of over 2,100 product photos (including at least 200 things that I’ve tried but never reviewed) . 

Cover Pop of Candy SetThat was the one thing I didn’t expect with Candy Blog: the photography. I wanted the photos on the blog because it was what would make the blog unique (not just the wrapper) and would satisfy the one thing that I’d want to know when thinking about a new candy ... what does it look like?. Little did I realize that I’d take so many photos and that I’d actually get good at it. (Take minute and look at some of the early photos ... not really up to the current standards.)

Readers are a big part of things here too, there are 12,700 comments logged here from you (and another 800 or so responses from me). I have no idea of the number of people who have visited the blog over the years. My statcounter says 4.6 million page loads since November of 2005 (and that doesn’t count me). The best part is that I’ve come to know so many of Candy Blog’s readers by name, via emails and through their blogs linked in the comments.

Krunchy BearsThe fun part is that I’m no longer alone with my obsession. (When I started CandyCritic.org and Writers and Artists Snacking at Work had not been updated in a while and most of the current big food blogs hadn’t even started.) I love having other voices and views of the candy world and enjoy updating my blog roll with new candy reads. The amazing part is how long so many of us continue to write about candy, owing to the enduring passion that we share.

I’ve traveled for Candy Blog, covering the 2006 & 2007 All Candy Expo (the largest trade candy show in North America), the 2007 & 2008 Fancy Food Show, the 2007 & 2008 Natural & Organic Products Expo and trips to candy factories in Pennsylvania & California. No matter where I go in the country, I try to see what’s going on in the local confectionery.

keepitreal724Since its inception, Candy Blog has become more than just reviews. Though I’ve never considered Candy Blog to be a global candy zeitgeist, mostly it just reflects my transient obsessions (often inspired by your suggestions). This is what I hope keeps me sincere and authentic. But then sometimes it’s not all frothy fun; readers helped get out the word last year about the threat to real chocolate and helped Gary Guittard to mobilize 34,000 people to respond to the Citizen’s Petition the FDA received from the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

But for the most part Candy Blog has become a faithful review site, five a week ... sometimes more, every once in a while I take a day off.

Candied Orange SliceCandy Blog accepts direct advertising now (which covers the above trips & some of my equipment and candy purchases plus the growing hosting costs & programming of the blog), but I never accept money in exchange for a review and will always tell you when any product has been comped so that you can judge my objectivity for yourself. I also never use affiliate links, so you’ll never see me benefiting directly for a review or from a link to any store, source or manufacturer of candy.

Late last year I did add an extra layer of insulation from advertising concerns by taking on my husband as my publisher. He talks directly to people interested in advertising (in case they may be manufacturers) so that I don’t have to worry about that stuff.

Prepack FavorsAt the moment my plans are modest. Simply to gain readers by writing the best that I can muster, try more candy (my list is pretty long) and visit some more candy cities. I’m flirting with the idea of forums so that you have a place to expand your discussions (poll over there to the right until April 12th) and some better search options to help you find the candy you’re looking for.

So now it’s your turn, this is an open thread for you to request things from me. More giveaways? Forums? More recipes (though I fail at most of them)? Factory tours? Candy destinations? News? Buyer’s guides? Company profiles? More history ... it’s your call.

Related Candies

  1. Candy Blog Photo Studio
  2. The Adventures of Melted Chocolate!
  3. Candy Blog is Munchcast!
  4. What I Ate on my Summer Vacation

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:35 am Tracker Pixel for Entry     Behind the ScenesCandyFeatured News

Comments
  1. Happy anniversary! It’s obvious that you love what you do, and it certainly shows through in your work. I can’t say I have any specific suggestions for improvements (more giveaways would be cool, but I never seem to win anything—in any contest—so it’s not a huge priority for me), other than to keep posting your awesome, mouth-watering reviews!

    Jen

    Comment by Jen on 4/10/08 at 11:25 am #
  2. Sweet Happy Anniversary Cybele!

    So much “work” and dedication from you looking back on it all. It’s truely inspiring. smile

    As a request, I’d love more on the history.

    Comment by Sera on 4/10/08 at 11:26 am #
  3. Congratulations on three years of candy blogging! 

    I rarely comment, but I’ve been a faithful reader for about a year now.  Not only do I like the blog for the candy its introduced me to and the old favorites you revisit, but I really enjoy your passion for candy of all kinds. 

    I like the idea of a forum; it sounds like fun!

    Happy Anniversary,

    Ruth

    Comment by telesilla on 4/10/08 at 1:01 pm #
  4. Happy Anniversary!

    It’s been a pleasure reading your blog for the past three years. I’m looking forward to reading more in the future!

    Comment by Darlene on 4/10/08 at 1:06 pm #
  5. Happy Blogiversary!  Keep the reviews coming!

    Comment by Julie on 4/10/08 at 1:14 pm #
  6. cybele, congratulations on your blog anniversary. you need a candy crown since you are the candy queen. thanks for being such a great friend and client to hop studios. we candy heart you.

    Comment by susie gardner on 4/10/08 at 1:36 pm #
  7. Happy blog anniversary!

    Comment by Nicole on 4/10/08 at 2:26 pm #
  8. Happy Blog Birthday!  Looking forward to all your delicious posts!

    Comment by kat on 4/10/08 at 2:39 pm #
  9. My only suggestion is don’t stop!  Happy anniversary!

    Comment by Justin on 4/10/08 at 2:55 pm #
  10. Happy Anniversary and many more to come.

    Histories are pretty cool and make for a nice change of pace. The recipes are always fun, too, and a bit inspirational.

    My main aim in coming here is to be exposed to new product - i.e. new Snickers and Milky Way flavors, movie tie-ins (haven’t seen the Indy stuff yet, going to avid the M&Ms;and try the Snickers), so please keep it up. And have fun, it comes through in the work.

    HTH

    Will

    Comment by Will Emero II on 4/10/08 at 3:12 pm #
  11. Congratulations!

    I’ve always been impressed with the quality of your writing and the quality of your photography. Gives us lesser mortals something to aspire to!

    Comment by Dom on 4/10/08 at 3:39 pm #
  12. Happy anniversary!  This place has become my favorite blog and you’ve steered me toward dozens of great candies I’d never would have tried before. Congratulations and keep up the good work!

    Comment by Porgy on 4/10/08 at 4:34 pm #
  13. Happy anniversary, and I hope to see you here for many more years.

    I started reading with an interest in candy.  Now, I admit, I often come for the photos.  You may review a candy I have no desire to eat, but dang, the picture is good!

    I also really appreciate how your reviews have some real details to them, an appreciation for complex flavors, or lack thereof.

    Keep up the candy!

    Comment by Cat Skyfire on 4/10/08 at 5:22 pm #
  14. Cybele, you have a terrific blog—thank you for introducing so many of us to such a huge variety of candy! smile

    Comment by aphrodite on 4/10/08 at 5:32 pm #
  15. Happy Anniversary, Cybele!!!

    May Hershey’s introduce a Take 10 candy bar, filled with chocolate, peanuts, caramel, pretzels, banana chips, coconut, peanut butter, honey, nougat, and brownie chunks, and you get the first opportunity to review it.

    Comment by Marvo on 4/10/08 at 7:35 pm #
  16. Congratulations!  I really enjoyed this post!  I find it much easier to read a blog when I really understand the history and motivations.  Thank you for this look back on the process that brought you to this day.  I really enjoy the candy reviews themselves, especially the regional reviews, and the buyers guides.  Histories are fun every now and then.  Happy 3rd Anniversary!

    Comment by Kimberly on 4/11/08 at 4:20 am #
  17. Happy Birthday!

    I love reading your blog, and yes, your photos are great!

    Comment by sketchy on 4/11/08 at 4:31 am #
  18. Happy anniversary! You’re what got me into the whole candy blogging thing - I found your blog about a year ago, was so captivated that I read through your entire archive in a couple of weeks, and got really into reading candy blogs.

    Comment by Rosa on 4/11/08 at 5:40 am #
  19. Happy Blogversary!

    I love everything about your site, from post to pics to formatting. But I especially like how your personality shines through.

    Keep up the great work.

    Comment by KateC on 4/11/08 at 6:34 am #
  20. this is one of my favorite blogs.  of course, it helps that i also love candy, but your writing style is totally engaging and it’s always a joy to see a new review.  Happy anniversary!

    Comment by Adam on 4/11/08 at 8:01 am #
  21. Happy Blogiversery!
    I love your blog and read it almost everyday for the last few months!  I think a forum is a great idea! I think it would also be neat to see some factory tours, and I always like to see the giveaways! =)

    Thank you for putting so much hard work into this blog!

    Comment by Amanda on 4/11/08 at 2:57 pm #
  22. Happy 3rd Anniversary! Wow!! smile

    Comment by Bunny on 4/11/08 at 6:31 pm #
  23. Congrats and happy anniversary!  Stopping by here always perks my day up—thank you for that.

    Comment by R on 4/11/08 at 7:05 pm #
  24. Thanks for writing about one of life’s simple pleasures. We need more of that on the internet. I’ve always wanted to run an old-time penny candy store, so I just love your blog. Congratulations on your anniversary. Keep up the great work!

    Comment by Karen on 4/12/08 at 3:51 am #
  25. Happy Anniversary, I am new to the candy blog, keep up the good work. I have been a licorice lover since I was little. My favorite gum was Black Jack. I have fond memories going to the penny candy store by my grandparent’s house. With a guarter I would get a big bag of candy. Big enough to last several days.

    Chicago was the candy capital at one time. Most of the candy companies have left Chicago to find cheaper costs. I miss them.

    Maybe I will see you at the All Candy Expo, I work at McCormick Place. It is my favorite show and The American Licorice Booth is my favorite Booth.

    Most of the leftover candy from the show is donated to local charities.

    Comment by Mike on 4/12/08 at 6:09 am #
  26. Happy Anniversary! I’ve been reading your blog for about a year now and I love checking in for new reviews every day!  The pictures are amazing and the reviews are awesome!  I’m definitely a candy addict and its nice to hear about all the candies before I try them!! Have fun at the All Candy Expo… it sounds like it will be so much fun!

    Comment by Erica on 4/12/08 at 5:25 pm #
  27. Happy Blogiversary!

    I think I started reading not long after it’s inception… and keep coming back for more.  Like any good candy, it’s addictive! wink

    Many happy returns

    Comment by jen on 4/13/08 at 11:20 am #
  28. Dear Cybele - Happy Anniversary on this wonderful blog.  I am your proud mother waiting for some candy company to name a candy after you.  If they don’t, you’re still sweet.  Love, Mom

    Comment by Eva on 4/14/08 at 3:41 pm #
  29. Happy anniversary! I stop by your site daily and buy candy (especially limited edition) according to your reviews. Thank you for your wonderful photos, smart reviews, and dedication to all things sweet.

    I really do love candy destinations! When I was in Austria last year I followed my stomach around Salzburg and Vienna. My travel memories are enhanced SO MUCH by food, especially the sweet stuff. Perhaps guest candy destination entries would be an interesting addition to your blog once in a while. Or a feature or contest about local candy and how it helps to make the hometowns of your readers unique?

    Comment by Brit on 4/15/08 at 11:25 am #
  30. dude! you have the best job ever!
    I’m jealous. 
    Keep up the great work! I LOOOOOVE candy, but you do it better than I ever could!

    Comment by karmel on 4/17/08 at 3:01 pm #
  31. I’d like to join in with the others who rarely eat candy, but always read you. Happy anniversary!

    Comment by Anastasia on 4/20/08 at 3:22 pm #
  32. wow! congrats! sorry i’m so late smile

    Comment by sunny on 4/28/08 at 1:06 pm #

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