Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Kai’s Candy Campaign 2008 Candies

Obama PopAs we gear up for the final showdown for Election 2008, the commercial tie-ins will start popping up.

Kai’s Candies has a line of candidate sets. The one for Barack Obama is currently available and includes lollipops with Obama’s likeness on them plus little single candies that either say VOTE or have an image of a donkey.

Later in August they’ll have a set for John McCain that features a lollipop with his face plus red elephant candies.

The images are made by hand. Basically sugar and syrup are boiled, a little flavor or color is added and then the different hunks of colored candy are assembled into a large blob that is rolled thinner and thinner - little slices are cut that reveal the design created by stacking the different colors. This is the same traditional technique used to make swirled & twisted lollipops, starlight mints and candy canes.

In Japan this technique is called Kumi Ame (rolled candy), where these are made to Kai’s Candies specifications.

Kai’s Candy has a nice post on their blog that shows photos of the process.

In the case of Kai’s Candies, the background is a translucent candy instead of an opaque color, which adds to the appeal of these, like they’re enamel.

The Obama pop is attractive, I recognize it as Obama, though the flesh tone is a bit light and his lips should be darker as well. It’s about 1 1/2 inches across and about 1/4 inch deep. The stick is a stiff plastic, white with a twirl of color. They’re a bit longer than usual lollipop sticks at almost eight inches, so you could put them in a vase or something as a centerpiece.
Vote for Candy!The flavor is light. The website says that Obama is lemon-lime, but at times it tastes like a sweet banana or simply boiled sugar. There’s absolutely no hint of tartness to it, or even any zest. I found that the individual pieces were similarly bland. (I found McCain bitter, but that’s probably the red food coloring.)

The design goes through and through, it’s not an imprint or a raised design.

However, as the candy dissolves the different kinds that make it up dissolve at different rates. The clear candy background seems to be the hardest, so Obama’s face disappeared more quickly (as did the donkey in the little piece).

As a piece of edible propaganda, it’s one of the best I’ve seen. It’s good quality stuff and the company takes great pride in their work. The packaging is spare but appropriate. (I liked that the donkey, elephant & vote were not only in clear wrappers but had color coded ends.)

They are expensive ($14.95 for a set that includes 4 pops and 14 little candies) but they’re also hand made. There are also mini-sets for only $3.95 but of course it makes the per item charge higher ... and don’t forget shipping. There’s nothing on the site about just ordering the vote and party affiliate animals (though I bet you could contact them directly for that).

UPDATE 8/18/2008: Kai’s Candy has lowered the prices, the regular set is now $13.95. They also include lettered pops that say “Obama” or “McCain” and mixes that have both Obama and McCain face and name pops mixed.

UPDATE 2/20/2009: Kai’s Candy has a message on their website: Kai’s Candy Company Is No Longer In Business. We’d like to thank our customers who helped launch our business, but like many others, we haven’t been able to sustain our business through the recent economic downturn.

Related Candies

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  3. Short & Sweet: Japanese Goodies
  4. Spangler Candy Canes
  5. Goodbye Reed’s
  6. Barley Sugar Candy
Name: Obama Candy Set
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Kai's Candy Co.
Place Purchased: samples from Kai's Candy Co.
Price: $14.95
Size: unknown
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Hard Candy, Japan

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:50 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. Is it just me, or does the Vote lolly look a lot like the Pepsi logo? :/

    Comment by Tindy on 7/22/08 at 3:58 pm #
  2. Lark's avatar

    Good gravy.  It makes Obama look like he’s wearing lipstick.

    Comment by Lark on 7/22/08 at 7:44 pm #
  3. Wow!  I love this style of candy.  Very clever!

    Comment by Amanda on 7/23/08 at 11:50 am #
  4. Hmm… there seems to be a problem, what could it be..?  Oh, YEAH.  Obama isn’t WHITE!  Why did the lollipop makers depict him like this?!

    Comment by SylviaPlath on 7/23/08 at 2:49 pm #
  5. Hi all - Mike Toppa here - President of Kai’s Candy Company. Thanks very much for the review Cybele. I want to point out a few things:

    * I appreciate the readers’ comments about the coloring. We are working within the limitations of the medium and what our candy makers can do with the limited range of food coloring options. Depicting a well known person in candy is quite a challenge, because everyone knows exactly what he *should* look like. We had to choose between making his skin too light or too dark, and making his lips too light or too dark. The combination that worked best was going too light. So it’s not intended to be the Mona Lisa - it’s intended as a fun candy caricature, and we certainly have no ill intent.

    * On the pricing for the small $3.95 set, the price per candy piece actually works out to be slightly *less* than for the larger pack (not more as Cybele said). This is partly because the packaging is a simple cellophane bag instead of the very nice clear tube, but mainly because we are trying to be sensitive to the unavoidable additional cost of shipping. We know it’s no fun to pay almost as much in shipping as the price of the product itself, so we’re doing what we can to mitigate that.

    * Cybele mentioned the possibility of sets without lollipops. If you’re a retailer, or want our candies for a special event, or you just want a combination you don’t see on the site, please contact us and we can work with you on a special order.

    Comment by Michael Toppa on 7/23/08 at 4:05 pm #
  6. That reminds me of the candy I saw at Papabubble, a little shop in NYC. You can watch them make the candy there, too. If you haven’t checked them out yet, you may want to next time you’re in NY.

    Comment by Lisa on 1/09/09 at 3:26 pm #
  7. i just thought you might like to know Kai’s candy is now gone out of business…. the website also reflects this

    Comment by Leilei on 2/20/09 at 6:12 am #
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