Monday, November 26, 2007

Parkside Candy Sponge Candy

Parkside Candy Sponge CandyOne of the regional candies that I haven’t reviewed here before is Sponge Candy. Sponge Candy is best known in the Buffalo, NY area. The history of Sponge Candy is kind of murky, but variations of it exist in in Australia (Violet Crumble or simply Honeycomb), Cinder Toffee (UK), Sea Foam (Pacific Northwest) and Molasses Puffs (St. Louis area).

Sponge Candy is basically a hard candy, just boiled sugar and corn syrup, but just as its taken off the heat some baking soda and vinegar is added to foam it up as it cools.

Sponge Candy

The resulting block of frothed sugar is mostly air. It’s a strange and very light hardened sugar that smells lightly of molasses or caramel (though there is is no butter or molasses in most versions). Think of it as the candy version of pumice.

The Sponge Candy I got is from Parkside Candy, which looks like a charming, classic ice cream shop in Buffalo. They a few versions of their Sponge Candy including milk chocolate covered and orange, but I chose the classic Dark Chocolate Covered Sponge Candy.

The pieces varied slightly in shape and size, but all were about two bites and 1.5” square. The chocolate enrobing was thin and in good proportion to the honeycombed sugar foam.

The sugar center had a nice smoky note to it with a little salty hit (even though there was no salt listed on the ingredients it might have come from the sodium bicarbonate). It melted nicely on the tongue or could be quickly chewed (though it gives off a strange sound like crunching styrofoam).

There were a few pieces at the bottom of the box where either there was a gap in the coating or it broke. This allowed moisture to get into the sponge, which deflated it. It creates a tacky, sticky texture and while I’d eat it, just out of curiosity, it’s not a selling point. I’ve also had Sponge Candy from a local shop in Los Angeles called Littlejohn’s. It’s a very different texture (and might actually be called Honeycomb), but similar burnt sugar flavor with a thicker chocolate coating.

Overall, I like the stuff. The one pound box is substantial. I felt satisfied after two or three pieces and I know that weight-wise that was a pretty small portion. I liked the texture and strong flavor much better than the Violet Crumble, and it doesn’t hurt that this was nice semi-sweet chocolate on the outside.

I paid quite a bit for my one pound box at The Candy Store, $25 actually. It’s only $16 on Parkside Candy’s website ... but I also didn’t have to pay for shipping. A smaller sized box would have also suited me better, but luckily I’ve had guests over the Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend to help me out with the box.

See G’s review of Fowler’s of Buffalo Sponge Candy.

Related Candies

  1. Mary Jane’s Bread Pudding
  2. Walkers Nonsuch Toffee
  3. Eat-More
  4. Violet Crumble
Name: Sponge Candy (Dark Chocolate)
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Parkside Candy
Place Purchased: The Candy Store (San Francisco)
Price: $25
Size: 16 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:59 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. Looks good, but I can’t believe you didn’t mention Cadbury Crunchie once in this review!

    Comment by Dom on 11/26/07 at 1:35 pm #
  2. Wow, I haven’t had sponge candy in FOREVER!  Just thinking about it makes my mouth water and my teeth ache!  I grew up in Buffalo, and we always had sponge candy, especially at Easter.  Thanks for the memories!

    Comment by Tricia on 11/26/07 at 4:28 pm #
  3. HOW FUNNY! my boyfriend just brought me back a box of this today!!! from buffalo and i told him about your blog and how you should review it!! how funny

    Comment by jeny on 11/26/07 at 7:16 pm #
  4. i was going to comment on the absence of the Crunchie but Dom beat me to it.

    Comment by laura on 11/26/07 at 7:30 pm #
  5. Mmmm, candy pumice!  I always forget how much I like this stuff until I actually eat it.

    Comment by Pam on 11/27/07 at 3:22 am #
  6. I get sponge candy from Fowlers Chocolates when I visit Buffalo.  Love it!  I get the dark chocolate and the orange milk chocolate. Usually I prefer dark chocolate, but I do like the orange ones of these too.

    Comment by g on 11/27/07 at 3:29 am #
  7. Oh, thank you for this! I moved away from Buffalo 3 months ago, and I’m dying for sponge candy!

    Comment by Amanda on 11/27/07 at 3:33 am #
  8. wow so weird that you are doing a review of this stuff since i just found a store with Violet Crumbles this past weekend. i was trying to describe to someone what they were like and couldnt come up with a good description. the best i could think of was Astronaut Ice Cream, which obviously isnt accurate. but “Pumice Candy”-perfect! i never would have thought of that. I also had no idea that the actual name for this stuff was sponge candy, or that any other company made comprehible products. thats good to know since the VCs are sort of hard to find already.

    Comment by fluffy on 11/27/07 at 5:54 am #
  9. We called it Fairy Food, and we usually got it in Milwaukee, when it is fresh it is out of this world.  I love it!  My mom always bought us fairy food and chocolate covered orange peel when we were in any kind of “real” candy shop.

    Comment by Jennifer Palmer on 11/27/07 at 1:47 pm #
  10. growing up in New England, it was always called gingerbread candy.  living in London now, i love the fact that i can get it whenever i want!!

    Comment by jen on 11/27/07 at 8:36 pm #
  11. “(even though there was no salt listed on the ingredients it might have come from the sodium bicarbonate)”  HAHAHAHA sodium is salt honey.  table salt is NaCl (sodium chloride). sodium bicarbonate would be NaC2.  there is your chemistry lesson for the day smile

    Comment by jess on 11/28/07 at 5:31 pm #
  12. That’s my second-favorite Christmas candy…had it when I was a kid growing up in Minnesota. Now can pick it up anytime from Fleet Farm in Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin. I also heard it called Fairy Food, but sponge candy was what we always called it. About $3-4 bucks for a 12 ounce bag.

    Comment by darrel on 11/29/07 at 2:14 pm #
  13. Oh, I love this stuff! I had a Crunchie bar in Africa…I had gone nearly 3 weeks without chocolate and that was my first fix…I miss it :(

    Comment by Chelsea on 11/30/07 at 4:08 pm #
  14. I grew up in the suburbs of Buffalo and Parkside Candy was on the way to my grandparents house.  What a treat it was to stop there….........sponge candy has always been my favorite, and living down in Georgia now, you just can’t find it.  I have been away from Buffalo for 18 year, and being nostalgic around the holidays made me think of Parkside.  Their windows always looked so pretty driving by, and going inside the shop was like stepping back in time (even as a child in the 70’s).  Now that the weather has turned I can have it shipped to me down south and share this little treasure with my 4 children!  Yeah!

    Comment by cathy on 12/03/07 at 6:33 am #
  15. Can anyone tell me why my homemade sponge candy has “caverns” versus that nice dense sponge texture? Thanks!

    Comment by Susan Bizon on 12/05/07 at 5:29 am #
  16. Sponge candy is really easy to make. The trick is to make sure there are no lumps in the baking soda so you don’t get blobs of it in the candy. We used to eat it all the time as kids (and sometimes now).  I didn’t know it was uncommon in the USA.

    Comment by Kim on 1/06/08 at 2:02 pm #
  17. hey! i am 29 years old…and remember eating sponge candy that we called sea foam when i was little. My dad used to “treat"us when we went to the mall as kids. It was expensive even then. Does ANYONE have an awesome recipe that works that tastes just like this stuff? Thanks so much!

    Comment by rhonda wittenmyer on 1/22/08 at 11:25 am #
  18. My dad and I have been trying to describe this candy to my family and friends in Washington State.  When I married my wife 10 years ago I tried describing it to her and she thought I was crazy.  Just recently my dad found a receipe on line.  We call it Angle Food Candy.  We use to find everywhere around Christmas time back in Wisconsin.  You still can find it in most stores today.  Not so in Washington.  He made some for my family for the superbowl and it was gone in 5 minutes.  1 cup sugar, 1 cup dark or light karo syrup, 1 TLBS vinegar.  Boil without stiring to 300 degrees (hard crack stage).  Remove from heat, add 1 TLBS baking soda, stir well pour into baking dish 5 x 9 or so.  It will rise and after a few hours break into small chunks and coat with your favorite chocolate.

    Comment by Pat and Mike Moore on 2/04/08 at 5:05 pm #
  19. I used to own a candy shop in western n.y., and one of my most popular candies was sponge dipped in semi-sweet chocolate.  Five years later i still have people call me for it around the holidays.  Just a note if you make it: you can’t have much humidity in the air, or it will not turn out. Other than that it is pretty easy to make.

    Comment by marjir on 10/26/08 at 3:04 pm #
  20. All I have to say is I love this candy, and I am from Milwaukee too and we call it Fairy Food as well. Brings back memories. But I am looking for the recipe to take a “stab” at it. Anyone have any suggestions?

    Comment by Shelley Young on 11/02/08 at 11:18 am #
  21. Some of the best and frestest honeycomb I have ever had was at Disneyland.

    Comment by Elizabeth on 11/07/08 at 5:09 pm #
  22. OMG, i just posted on your crunchie post…i did not realise that crunchie is NOT honeycomb. All these 30 years of my life i thought it was, up until today when i just read this post! OMG. My favourite food ever totally ruined. I’m gonna have to go look at the wrapper now and see what it is that’s written on there. I’m sure no other ppl i know that love crunchie know this either. Thanks, and maybe not so thanks. ;(

    Comment by Kelly on 11/29/08 at 2:56 am #
  23. wow love that candy just got some today for my BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ummmm GO BILLS!~!!! ITS MY BIRTHDAY. and of course it would be from buffalo bc its great here!!!!

    Comment by holly on 12/29/08 at 4:30 pm #
  24. Going to Parkside Candy is like stepping back in time. All of their candies are good. If you would like to see a photo of the interior, go to this URL

    In addition to ice cream, they have good soup and sandwiches. The factory is located at this site on Main St in Bflo as well. It’s a wonderful place.

    Great site you have here wink

    Comment by Beth on 1/03/09 at 10:55 pm #
  25. can’t find it in the south.I moved from Wis. to Ky. and could not find it any where . went on line and found a recipe I made it but didn’t have time to dip in chocolate, so I covered it with a towel and when I got back to it it was a melted blob {like sticky peanut brittle. I figured the humidity here is why it dosent hold up and why You cant buy it here . so my sister sends me some each Christmas and I have made some if the weather is right [not high humidity] an it is my all time favrite Christmas candy My Youngest son and I can polish of a #2 bag in a couple of days.

    Comment by donna on 1/07/12 at 12:55 pm #
  26. Another good place to get Sponge candy is from Watson’s, also in Buffalo. In fact, I think they were the ones profiled on the Food Network’s “Kid in a Candy Store” earlier this winter.

    Also not cheap, but more reasonable than $25/lb, if I recall…

    Comment by Rob Carlin on 1/24/12 at 7:22 pm #
  27. Yes, Watson’s also sells delicious sponge candy, but nothing compares to Parkside if you want atmosphere, and Parkside just takes you back in time.  Walking in the store is an experience above and beyond the fabulous candy and treats.

    Comment by cathy on 1/25/12 at 8:16 am #
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