Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Partying with the Sugar Crowd

Last night I went to a party.

It was hosted by Salvatore Ferrara II ... the man behind Ferrara Pan and those fantabulous Lemonheads and the latest generation of the panned candy empire of Chicago.

I wasn’t on the guest list, but I was lucky enough to be invited along by Jon of The night just got better from there.

The party was lovely, held at Fulton’s on the River. The spread of food looked incredible and I loaded up a plate of shrimp immediately. It was one of those parties with music and nice looking people and some women dancing on top of boxes to the smooth tones of the live band. (The band was actually pretty odd, there was one guy on drums in one room, and another guy with a keyboard in a different room, and in the opposite corner was a saxophonist. It was like they were collaborating via cellphone or something.)

imageAfter a plate of shrimp I hooked up with my sponsors for the party, which is good because no one had on a name tag at the party, so I couldn’t tell who anyone was.

A drink and some chatting and I met one of the big confectionery brokers from Pittsburgh, Keith from J. Carrol & Associates. He was fascinated and perhaps a bit confused by what I do. Frankly, I have a hard time understanding it myself, so communicating it to others can be tough. There were a lot of questions. Part of it is that I don’t have a “business model” or clear goals for what I want to accomplish at All Candy Expo. I just wanted to come here and get a sense of the candy industry. Well, Keith was charmed by the notion that I write about candy every day from the consumer standpoint. He ran off somewhere and returned with three men:

First, it was the host of the party himself, Sal Ferrara. At his side was Mitchell Goetze, who makes Goetze’s Caramel Creams and Cow Tales. (Goete’s has been around for 111 years!)

Mr. Ferrara seemed mystified at what I wanted from the candy industry and sat me down in front of them and had me do my pitch. I had a drink, and though I was feeling very happy, I’m certainly worried that I was making a bad impression and perhaps not portraying this blog properly. Or maybe the concept of Candy Blog actually more elusive than I thought. Ultimately, I don’t know what I want. I didn’t expect to meet Mr. Ferrara on the first night of the Expo.

But I told him what I thought anyway. I told him he should make grapefruit lemonheads. He took my card and said he would.

No really!

Okay, there was lots more conversation than that, and he also took me to get another drink and we ran into Michael Rosenberg of Promotion in Motion, which doesn’t sound like it, but it’s also a candy company. They were pushing the new Creamsicle Orange & Cream candy twists out on the Expo floor, I’ll have to look at those today. 

I held my own, as far as I can tell, I’m not going to become a mouthpiece for the candy industry, I just want to give my objective evaluation of their products and then my opinions on my experiences with them. I wasn’t afraid to tell Mitchell Goetze that I didn’t like the Strawberry Cow Tales. (But I didn’t tell Mr. Ferrara what I thought of Narbles.)

What I am looking for is access. I’m looking for information and perspectives. Yes, money would be nice, but I don’t want to lose my independent voice (and I don’t think you, my readers, want that either). Right now Candy Blog is a labor of passion, there is no profit in it. It’s all love now.

Chime in .... how do you want to see Candy Blog grow? Factory tours, candy history, more high-end chocolatiers, commentary, politics, economics, nostalgia, photography, essays, interviews?

(Note, that’s not one of the cocktails I had last night ... just an illustration of my mood this morning.)

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:58 am Tracker Pixel for Entry     All Candy ExpoNews

  1. how exciting for you to hobnob with the ferrara pan! i can’t agree that they need grapefruit lemonheads but have you ever had the grapeheads? very yummy. i used to work with a ferrara cousin and they also own a bakery and she brought me delicious chocolate covered almonds.

    i love reading candy histories. i was fascinated by the sweet tarts hx and pixy stix. factory tours would not interest me. i like reading this blog bc you have an independent voice and can review honestly. maybe $$ would interefe with that autonomy.

    Comment by nani on 6/07/06 at 3:56 am #
  2. Factory tours, candy history, more high-end chocolatiers, commentary, politics, economics, nostalgia, photography, essays, interviews

    All of these! (Plus more trips to Pittsburgh—I grew up there too and I miss it!)

    Comment by alicia on 6/07/06 at 6:06 am #
  3. Cybele, there’s no doubt in my mind that you charmed the pants off these gentlemen. They will meet a lot of people at the Expo and you are one they won’t forget.

    Your personal voice is charming, kind, good humored, honest. It’s refreshing and a welcome break from much of what’s out there in Blogville. And, you write good, too! And, it’s all about candy! What’s not to like?

    Comment by desertwind on 6/07/06 at 7:58 am #
  4. Sounds like a great party!  Lucky duck.

    Grapefruit Lemonheads?  Grapefruitheads?  Whatever they call them I’d give them a try.

    As for direction?  It’s all good so long as you keep the blogginess of the blog.  nani and desertwind hit the nail on the head - it’s the personal voice that makes the blog great.  It has personality.  No matter what you do so long as the essential youness of it comes through it’s all good.

    On a slightly related grow-the-blog note… Food Network needs to do a show on food blogs (for all I know they already have).  One of those “best of” kind of shows or something.  Candy Blog would be a shoe-in for inclusion.

    Comment by william on 6/07/06 at 8:39 am #
  5. It’d be nice although not necessarily possible if you could review smaller chocolatier in different cities… I love reading all your reviews and love that you include lots of affordable and readily available candy along with the rarer high end stuff.

    Comment by Kathleen on 6/07/06 at 1:16 pm #
  6. I would love to see more factory visits. I loved the visit to the JellyBelly factory, it really made me want to go there. Frankly, I love everyting you’re doing, so just keep it up.

    Comment by Nicki Becker on 6/07/06 at 2:02 pm #
  7. personally, i quite like what you do right now. i appreciate the reviews of high end candy but i also love hearing about new candy that i can get RIGHT NOW! RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER! factory tours would be interesting but not at the expense of a solid review and history lesson.

    but with that said, all i REALLY wanted to say was “I didn?t tell Mr. Ferrara what I thought of Narbles.” is one of the greatest and most disturbing sentences ever.

    Comment by ren on 6/07/06 at 3:10 pm #
  8. Sounds like a fun party! Lucky you!

    I’ve actually been wanting to try the Strawberry Cow Tales, I haven’t been able to find them…I’ll have to re-read that review!

    As far as Candy Blog’s growth, all I can really say is “More”. The more candy you taste, the better Candy Blog will be. I tend to prefer you reviewing things that are more “accessible” to everyone; it’s hard reading about these delicious gourmet chocolates and not being able to get any! (Maybe that’s a good thing…? raspberry )

    Candy history, factory tours are great ideas and I’d love to see them here.

    MOST DEFINATELY more photography and nostalgia. I can’t get enough of good candy “porn” and good memories. smile

    Comment by Sera on 6/07/06 at 4:37 pm #
  9. Mitchell Goetze! That’s like meeting candy royalty! I am a Goetze fanatic and I’m completely jealous that you got to meet him.

    Comment by Adrien on 6/08/06 at 3:02 am #
  10. I like the blog the way it is, but any way that you’d like to change it without losing your “woman of the street” integrity is fine with me.  I just like reading about yummy candy!  Heh.

    Comment by Julilla on 6/08/06 at 8:32 am #
  11. How exciting to meet these guys!  I was excited for you just reading about it though I had no idea these guys existed!  As for the future of the blog, I love your reviewing readily accessible candies, but then I love that you review the expensive stuff too (I happened upon your site while looking up info on Plush Puffs).  I can’t tell you how excited I was to happen upon Chuckles in a random little produce stand just because I didn’t know about them until I read your blog entry on them.  Your reviews of the posh places gives me ideas of where to visit when I travel.  I so enjoyed the Jelly Belly factory tour and would definitely enjoy more factory tours.  Photography is also a favorite…I’m a visual learner and once I see something then the words make so much more sense to me.  Love nostalgia!  Especially if it’s stuff still available.  I’m not really sure what you mean by politics and economics, but I bet I’d enjoy it if you wrote it.  Thanks for all your work!

    Comment by KFSonshine on 6/12/06 at 6:55 am #
  12. Cybele's avatar

    After reading everyone’s response, I feel like maintaining my autonomy and independence is important.

    Don’t worry, I don’t think I’ll ever give up the reviews (though I can’t promise they’ll always be daily ... as I kind of tripped up on that last week). Anything else will be bonus material.

    Alicia - don’t worry, as long as my brother lives in Pittsburgh, they’ll be plenty of PA content!

    William - I kind of pushed myself on the Food Network people, so I’m hoping the producers and other show development folks are taking notice. It would be interesting to have a “food talk show”, don’t you think? Not cooking, but talking about eating, dining, reading and destinations.

    Kathleen - I would like to develop destination guides for different cities and I’m working on a couple of solutions to that. (First the technical part, then the actual reviews of chocolatiers.)

    Hopefully the contacts I’ve been making will help me to be more in tune with new products so I can get you info in a timely fashion.

    For now I will continue to take advertising from retailers who are not invested in my positive or negative review of any particular product (or ads from other non-candy entities). I can’t see taking direct ads from a candy manufacturer working out very well.

    Comment by Cybele on 6/13/06 at 12:52 pm #
  13. <q>It would be interesting to have a ?food talk show?, don?t you think? Not cooking, but talking about eating, dining, reading and destinations.</q>
    That is so very in line with what they’ve been slowly doing with the network.  It’s less and less about cooking shows and more about foodertainment and a foodie talk show is a great fit.

    Comment by william on 6/14/06 at 7:57 am #
  14. I think you should have told him what you thought.  Don’t say Narbles are BAD, just say you think they would be ‘fantabulous’ (or just excellent) with the Lemonhead sour layer.  For Lemonhead lovers everywhere.

    Comment by Sophia on 11/12/06 at 12:03 pm #
  15. Cybele's avatar

    Sophia - I totally forgot about the Narbles when I was talking to him! So it’s not like I could give him the tip while we were talking. I was pretty interested in getting him to make the Grapefruit Heads at that moment. (That’s what a gin & tonic does to me.)

    Comment by Cybele on 11/28/06 at 11:11 am #
  16. I am sorry to be commenting on this entry so much after the fact, but I was crusing through the archives, and, well… what I would really like is more reivews of high-end chocolate, plus some of the consumer stuff. Honestly, I didn’t like candy and chocolate as a child. It was bad stuff (to my discerning palate). I tried a high-quality dark chocolate bar, and realized- I really did love candy and chocolate! And then, years later, I enjoyed a consumer bar! (Milky Way Midnight). But still, I experienced so much bad chocolate as a kid I’m still afraid of consumer candy. And I’m a guy with a taste for fine food but limited budget, so… I appreciate your reviews of high-end chocolate so I can decide what to splurge on. And keep on with the “average” candy, perhaps I’ll get over my candy anxiety someday. Now, because of your blog, when I look at the candy aisle, I think of all your reviews and try to determine if any are worth picking out! Thank you for this blog, it is the most fun to read, most descriptive, most updated candy blog I’ve found and the cause of my newfound interest in candy!

    Comment by Kai on 3/09/07 at 9:06 pm #
  17. Those fruit headline candies are bitchin’ !!!

    I bought them two days ago, and I’ve almost eaten the whole bag..I guess one could suck on them, but I just take a bunch and chew them up!!
    I grew up on Alex the Grape, Cherry Chan (later Cherry Clan, probably renamed for a “PC”-ness reason), sour apple, and of course, Lemonheads!!!

    I am known for eating candy fast, and these were no exeption. I gotta go back to Dollar Tree today ot get some more bags!! Keep up the good work on the blog!!!

    Comment by Ferpancofreak on 4/25/07 at 10:15 pm #
  18. I bought two boxes of candy at Walgreen’s yesterday.  They’re named bullseye, which was, I thought, a new candy.

    I found later that they re actually Goetze’s caramel creams—you know the round stuff sort of like caramel (in color at least) with a sugary white delish center.

    I forget where the box said this candy is made but it was not by the Goetze candy company and it was not in Baltimore.

    Has Goetze sold its candy company??

    Does anyone know what is going on?

    I used to buy bags of Goetze candy but haven’t seen them in several months.

    Comment by Christine Gray on 4/04/08 at 2:23 pm #
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