Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Apothecary’s Garden: Spices

As National Novel Writing Month approaches my mind turns to writing-friendly candy. This is a tough category. Not only does the candy need to be neat (no sticky bits to get in the keyboard) but it also has to support the work at hand. In years past I’ve nibbled on licorice vines, Reese’s miniatures (not really recommended as they are a two-handed candy), M&Ms and orange Tootsie Pops.

This year I think I’ve found my new writing candy. It’s a little expensive at $6.50 for 150 grams (about 5.25 ounces), but writing a novel in a month is an indulgence anyway and if a few hard candies can keep me on task and perhaps ingest a little less caffeine, I’m all for it.

The Apothecary’s Garden is a line of hard candies made by Sweet Botanicals of England. Infused with different herbs and spices, they’re all drop-dead gorgeous little morsels. Not only that, they’re all natural. No freaky sweeteners, they’re just sugar, corn syrup and some spices with a little juice for color. The come in a clear plastic container, which of course gives you full view of their mouthwatertingness. (The only bad thing about this packaging is that I found them to be positively DIFFICULT to recap.) Today I’ll tackle the spices:

imageCinnamon & Clove - gorgeous red spheres with white stripes. They’re the size of marbles and smell of Christmas. I’m not usually keen on clove, as it reminds me of dental procedures, but this was more on the mild side. The cinnamon was spicy and has a pleasant and mellow burn with the slight floral note of the clove that was more on the violet end than the medicine side.

The candy itself is dense and sweet with few, if any, voids that can make for sharp edges to cut your tongue.

This candy would be appropriate for novels taking place on damp moors, alien infested swamp planets and anything set during the Civil War.

imageChili (a useful digestive aid) - delicate little candies, no larger than a dried garbanzo (the smallest of all I tried). They’re lightly pink and have the disarming smell of cotton candy. On the tongue they start with a slight floral note of rose and are clean tasting. But after a moment the chili spice kicks in. It has a little burn, but something I feel on the tongue, nothing in the back of the throat.

This candy would be appropriate for writing time travel scenes, large spans of exposition in any style novel and of course anything set in the Southwestern US, Mexico or Central America.

imageLicorice & Anise (Helps Coughs and Catarrh) - beautiful large medallion-like pieces, they’re the largest of all the Apothecary’s Garden candies I tried. They’re also not a solid hard candy but a filled candy. The hard shell is a mellow licorice flavor with a liberal note of both anise and molasses (the ingredients lists brown sugar treacle). Inside is a soft, moist and grainy center of a rich brown sugar that soothes the throat (and tastes good!).

This candy would be appropriate for steampunk novels with characters involved heavily in action scenes, anything set in the middle ages, circuses or in cold climates and of course action-adventures that involve going places without proper vaccinations.

imageGinger & Orange (Useful for Travel Sickness) - these are long hexagons that are squashed into rods. The smell slightly of orange and on the tongue they immediately get me tingly with a little tangy bite and the spice of the ginger. There’s a definite rooty flavor to these that overpowers any orange essence other than the color and tangy quality.

I can’t attest to their ability to stave off motion sickness, but I will in a few months when whale watch season opens and I hit the nearshore seas. I have, however, found that ginger is good for keeping the queasies at bay, so I’m looking forward to giving these a real test.

This candy would be appropriate for novels with sea voyages or taking place on spaceships with questionable inertial dampeners/artificial gravity. It is also good for consuming during scenes involving early pregnancy and dizzying passages describing architecture.

I have lots more flavors and I’ll be posting about those soon. At $6.50 a package, they’re a wee on the expensive side. But they’re also not a candy you gobble down, so they last a while. The flavors are unique and it’s obvious the attention that’s paid to their creation, so I’d be willing to pay a little more. Right now the only place I know to get them in the States is (they sent me the samples) ... but they also sell the Montelimar Nougat that I love so much, so you know, you could get some of that at the same time.

Name: Cinnamon & Clove, Chili, Licorice and Ginger & Orange
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: The Apothecary's Garden by Sweet Botanicals
Place Purchased: samples from
Price: $6.50
Size: 5.29 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Hard Candy, Ginger, Licorice, United Kingdom

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:35 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. Haven’t tried the candy, but loved the review (particularly the framing concept of “writing candy”).  BUT…Halloween’s coming!  Where’s the candy corn review?

    Comment by good enough cook on 10/18/06 at 7:00 am #
  2. Cybele's avatar

    Candy corn? What’s candy corn? Sounds tasty ...

    (Okay, okay. I just don’t like buying Halloween candy before it comes on sale! I’m sooooooo cheap.)

    Comment by Cybele on 10/18/06 at 7:04 am #
  3. “Reese?s miniatures (not really recommended as they are a two-handed candy”
    What exactly is “two-handed candy?”

    Comment by Jonathan Keim on 10/18/06 at 7:26 am #
  4. Jonathan - A two-handed candy is one that requires the use of both hands to consume smile

    Comment by Samantha on 10/18/06 at 8:17 am #
  5. I’m not usually mad on boiled sweets but I’m finding myself strangely drawn to these. I love liquorice & anise flavoured anything and the colour on the chili one is fantastic.

    Comment by GTO on 10/18/06 at 8:52 am #
  6. except for the clove ones, these sound delish!

    Comment by anne on 10/18/06 at 9:55 am #
  7. What a great way to do a review!  I’ve never thought much about tailoring my candy consumption to what type of writing I do and now I’m wondering why. I can also see going the other way—although not during NaNo—and doing a short passage based on the flavor/texture of a given candy.

    I’m so grateful a friend of mine mentioned this blog; I’m really enjoying your reviews.

    Comment by Ruth on 10/18/06 at 10:56 am #
  8. Great review obviously. I forgot all about novel writing month! I’d like to try the chilli but all the other flavours make me think of various throat lollies i’ve had in the past.

    Comment by leigh on 10/18/06 at 11:03 am #
  9. Mmmm…cinnamon and clove sound delish!  I’m off to order!

    Comment by Julilla on 10/18/06 at 11:32 am #
  10. the ginger ones would be great for morning sickness the chili ones look yummy so do the cinnamon ones as usual a wonderful reveiw i am lookinf forward to the other flavors

    Comment by gina on 10/18/06 at 12:21 pm #
  11. Licorice, Reeses’ and Orange tootsie pops =LOVE!

    Awwwhhh! No *real* Halloween candy reviews until the sales start Nov 1st?

    That’s ok, I can wait. wink

    The Licorice and Anise drops look SO GOOD!

    Comment by Sera on 10/18/06 at 3:40 pm #
  12. Nice review, but I’d NEVER EVEN THINK about eating those.  While I may buy candy from an apothecary, I would only buy the ones made by a candy maker.  Candy with a purpose kind of saps the fun out of it (Viactiv anyone?).  The flavors read like a list of my least favorites, too.

    Comment by Dave on 10/18/06 at 4:25 pm #
  13. Mhh, these look delicious! Couldn’t you perhaps send out care packages to a few despairing novelists who beg for help once November comes? If so, let me know - I’ll put down “Beg for Writing Candy” around November 20 when the going gets *really* tough. wink

    Comment by Barbara on 10/19/06 at 1:50 am #
  14. Color me curious.  These really sound like a product that they put a lot of thought and effort into and the all-natural ingredients are a beautiful thing.  I think I’m most interested in the green tea and pear flavors.  I think I need to order me some.

    Comment by william on 10/19/06 at 2:02 am #
  15. Ok, I think I just have to get some of these candies. The review sounds promising and the candies look yummilicious!

    Comment by sports fan on 10/19/06 at 7:02 am #
  16. I love this review and can’t wait to try them, ‘specially the Ginger and Orange.  They are beautiful, as well.  Always a plus.

    Okay all you candy corn-lovers… If you’re craving a review, check out the one I did yesterday over at Sugar Savvy. It’s a bit lenghty, but corn is close to my heart so it was hard to shut up about it.

    Not to be a shameless self-promoter, but I was sensing a void that needed filling (not unlike my poor molars, which have finally given in to my life-long obsession.)

    Cybele: My top pick is only 99 cents for 11 ounces, so maybe you’ll break before 11/1.  I welcome all input and feedback from my fellow corn-fed peeps.

    Comment by Joanna on 10/19/06 at 10:14 am #
  17. Cybele's avatar

    Joanna - I was gonna mention your review! It’s awesome (as usual) ... no worries about self-promotion, folks are asking for the candy corn lowdown and I’ve dropped the ball.

    Sportsfan - I’ll have more soon on the herbal flavors and some of the jelly candies in their line.

    William - green tea is the ONE flavor I didn’t get in my samples. Though based on all the others, I’d say it’s great!

    Barbara - a giveaway for novelists is a great idea ... I’ll ponder it. (The trick with me is finding time to get to the post office!)

    Dave - yeah, the flavors are definitely old world (and probably old lady) - I’ll have some more compelling sweets up for Halloween you might like!

    Sera - I think I’ll do all Halloween next week. What the hey, I can splurge a little. (And maybe a roundup of the other bloggers who are covering the field.)

    Gina - yeah, I can tell you right now that the Honey ones are a 10.

    Julilia - tell me what you think when you get them! (And get some Montilimar nougat!)

    Leigh - write a novel, write a novel!

    Ruth - thanks so much! I had a great time pulling this one together.

    Jonathan - Samantha’s got it!

    GTO - have you ever seen these in stores in your locale?

    Comment by Cybele on 10/20/06 at 8:04 am #
  18. No, I haven’t seen these particular ones around, however herbal flavoured offerings are quite popular among the many health shops here.

    Comment by GTO on 10/21/06 at 2:48 pm #
  19. I’m not very kind to myself with novel food.  I write so often I eat everything near my computer, even pomegranates (they’re just so GOOOOOOOOD.)  My debut novel is being published in January, so I’m too busy with editing to participate in NaNoRiMo.  But I’m still WRITING (the sequel, which will take WAY more than a month) so if you’re having a giveaway…

    (PS: You’re reviewing the honey one soon, right?)

    Comment by Sophia on 11/12/06 at 10:10 am #
  20. Yup, two comments in a row.  I just thought people living in Washington would like to know that they sell these at Whole Foods.

    Comment by Sophia on 12/19/06 at 8:14 am #
  21. after reading this review i had to order these.  i bought them on line and completely forgot about them, until they arrived at my door (i love surprised like that, yummy).  needless to say i looooove the cinnamon and clove flavor even though i was reluctant to try any candy with clove in it, as clove reminds me of a cigarettes; however the cinnamon is definitely the star in this version.  i also ordered the fruit mix (which you haven’t reveiwed) and these are for sure my second runner up.  i love the inventive flavors of british candy and wonder   Cybele, again, thanks for the hours of candy reading, i love this blog!

    Comment by kirsten on 7/24/09 at 8:49 am #
  22. I have almost run out of my “tin” of Chilli drops which were purchased from Chelsea Market Baskets in New York city…they don’t carry them anymore…My heart condition, meds, etc. often result in stomach unease and the Chilli drops fix things up just right…suggestions on where to purchase them in states? Thanks…

    Comment by Sandra Allen on 2/11/11 at 3:09 pm #
  23. Sadly, doesn’t look like these guys are in business anymore. CAn’t get ahold of them by email & the phone number is no longer active. A real shame. I stocked my English Mother up with some Fennel sweets a few years ago & now that she’s run out I can’t get them anymore.  If anyone knows otherwise then please let me know! Thanks! Al - .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Comment by Al on 3/26/13 at 4:44 am #
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