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Monday, January 9, 2006

Site Changes: Advertising

You may have noticed that as of the first of the year I’m now using a new rating/spec box for each candy review. If you’re reading the site via a feed, you’re missing that part (that’s the place where I list the name, brand, calories, price, etc.). The ratings box, as a table, simply won’t show up correctly in the feed, so it’s a “site only perk.” I’ll see if I can figure out a way to have some of the info show up in the feed without duplicating it on the site.

It should also help to clean up the comments area so that it’s easier to see the link and click on it.

Also, as of this week I’m adding some advertising to the site. As you can imagine, I spend a lot of money on candy and of course there’s the cost of running the site itself and eventually some travel costs. I’m not looking to profit from CandyBlog, but I’d prefer it not be a losing proposition. There are many ways to do this, “tip jars”, affiliate links and ads. I’ve chosen ads because I do get a fair number of requests from readers to help them track down places to actually buy some of the things I review. I hope that the ads that appear will actually help you out in finding them should you choose to click on them.

If you are a candy seller and would like to advertise on the site, I’m using two different companies right now, BlogAds, which is the up on the top right and Google AdSense, which will appear at the bottom of the first review on the site and on all the individual pages for the posts.

Please let me know if you find anything that is inappropriate for the site (this is a family friendly place, after all) or if anything looks a little wonky.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:40 pm     NewsComments (2)

Figamajigs

I heard about these last October. When you think about it, it’s a natural idea - combine figs and chocolate to create a candy. I’m all for wholesome candy, there’s no reason that healthy ingredients can’t be combined to create something tasty. And don’t worry, they’ve done it here.

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Chocolate Covered Fig Bar: Before you try these you might want to ask yourself if you like figs. The first ingredients in the two bars is figs, then sugar, then chocolate. The fig center isn’t at all like a Fig Newton, there are no identifiable seeds even. Instead it’s a moist, soft and chewy center with a good fresh, figgy taste. There’s also a hint of raspberry to it. If the seeds of a Fig Newton always bothered you, this might be a good way to get the fig taste without the fig texture.

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Chocolate Covered Fig Bar with Almonds: This one was actually my favorite. It’s the same fig bar as above with almonds mixed into the center. The combination of fig and almonds is a natural and the texture added by the nuts gives it a little crunch and nutty taste. Almonds also add their own nutritional benefits, a dash of protein and a little fiber in their own right. I don’t know how much attention you pay to calories, but as a chocolate candy this bar has the lowest calorie/ounce rating that I think I’ve profiled yet. That means you feel like you’re eating a lot (that’s what fiber does for you), so there’s the munching satisfaction, but not actually whole lot of calories. The bars feel substantial, but they are smaller than your typical 1.75 ounce candy bar that we’re accustomed to with Hershey’s, Nestle & Mars.

Figamajigs are billed as healthy candy as they provide both high fiber (4 grams per bar), small amounts of calcium and iron in addition to the antioxidants inherent to both figs and chocolate. The Figamajig website provides more info about these health benefits and the full story of Mel Lefer, the creator of Figamajigs, who invented the bars in a search for a healthy snack that would satisfy.

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Candy Pieces: These are really pretty candies. I saw them on the website and I thought, there’s no way they’re that cute. But they are. They’re large dollops of fig centers from the bar, covered in chocolate and then covered in a candy shell. The shell is crunchy and sweet and the center has a good balance of chocolate and figs (more chocolate in this ratio, it seems). They’re actually quite a bit sweeter than the fig bars, and I don’t know if I could eat a lot of them in one sitting for that reason. But, if I were making a trail mix for snacking in the car, out whalewatching or on a hike, this is the perfect format. In fact, if I were going to make a trail mix, it would be a combination of mini pretzels, chocolate covered raisins, chocolate covered nuts (I prefer cashews, but I know almonds are better for me) and some plain almonds. It gives you a good mix of sweet, salt and of course the creaminess of the chocolates. It also has a good balance of sugars to proteins so you don’t get a sugar high and crash ... the proteins moderate the processed carbs and give you lasting and satisfying energy. I can’t wait for them to be sold in bulk at Whole Foods or maybe in tubs at Trader Joe’s. If I have one complaint it’s really that the little colored candies have no name. Really, what am I supposed to call them?

When the time comes for me to choose between a Luna Bar and a Figamajig, I’m totally going for the Figamajig. (Sorry, I’m not going to pick a Figamajig over a KitKat though.)

Name: Figamajigs
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Figamajigs
Place Purchased: samples from manufacturer (available online)
Price: $1.49
Size: 1.41 ounces
Calories per ounce: 92-106
Categories: Chocolate, United States, Nuts

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:30 am    

Friday, January 6, 2006

Take 5 Peanut Butter

This candy bar irritated me from the moment I picked it up. First was the rich mustard color of the wrapper. A compelling “look at me!” color, but not one that makes me think of peanuts in a fond way. (In fact, it makes me think of a peanut butter and mustard sandwich, which probably has some fans out there, but I can’t count myself as one of them.) The second thing that rubbed me that wrong way when I read the package was the description, “pretzels, caramel, peanuts, peanut butter & peanut butter candy.” What the heck is “peanut butter candy” and how is that different than the whole thing being considered a “peanut butter candy?”

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What I thought the peanut butter candy part meant was something like the inside of a Butterfinger bar (or a 5th Avenue if we’re sticking to Hershey’s products). And that actually sounds kind of interesting, have a layer of peanut crisp in there somewhere. What I didn’t realize is that this bar has no chocolate (poor reading comprehension on my part) ... and that’s what the peanut butter candy replaces. It’s basically a peanut butter-white chocolate. Like the insides of Reese’s Pieces! Of course this means partially hydrogenated oils. Bah! I don’t want partially hydrogenated oils in my candy!

Anyway, you get two bars in each package (which has a nice cardboard tray to keep them from getting crushed). The outside is a little odd looking as you can see the grains of peanut butter, but I got over that. It smells peanutty and is smooth, crunchy and has a nice hit of salt in it. I got no sense of the caramel at all. There was no chewiness to this bar at all, in the caramel sense. I suspect that the fats from the various peanut incarnations invaded the caramel and de-chewified it. If you’re a big peanut fan and are not satisfied with the bazillion other Reese’s branded bars, you can pick this up and argue with me about the glory that is a Peanut Butter Take 5.

Instead of mucking around with adding more peanuts to the Take 5 line, they need to start making my version with extra dark chocolate and pecans!

Interesting things: Take 5 bars are called Max 5 in Canada. The peanut butter version of the bar contains 2 more grams of saturated fat over the regular chocolate one, but twice the fiber. This is not a limited edition bar. Other Take 5 versions: Take 5 Chocolate (9/10) & White Chocolate Take 5 (6/10).

Name: Peanut Butter Take 5
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Hershey's
Place Purchased: Sav-On
Price: $.33 (on sale)
Size: 1.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 147
Categories: Peanuts, Caramels, United States, Hersheys, Cookie

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:38 pm     Comments (6)

Paskesz Klik

There are two things that are great about tasting international candies (well, more than two, but two that I’m going to point out here). The first one is finding new and exciting candy with combinations or ingredients I’ve never had before. The second one is finding the same thing that we have available here in the States. And you wonder why I find the latter a great thing? It’s because it’s a confirmation of the universality of candy. Whether it’s the same megaglobalcorp making it elsewhere or a spontaneous expression of convergent evolution, it’s all a reminder to me that candy is the Great Uniter. 

imageI’m still plowing through the huge box of goodies from Israel, so expect weekly groupings of goodies for at least through February.

These fun little popables are kind of like those Pirouline cookie sticks. They’re a little wafer cookie tube covered with chocolate. There are little holes in either end (most of the time) that makes them look like chocolate macaroni that you could string up and wear (and eat!). This is one of those rare instances where the candy shown on the package looked exactly like what was inside. They were glossy milk chocolate that smelled like sweet, milky chocolate. They’re also very light since they’re crunchy, hollow cookies. That amount of air in there is actually, I think, a good thing as it makes you feel like you’re eating more and also allows the flavors and aroma to mix. The chocolate is very sweet but really smooth and a little sticky with a hint of the European style of milk chocolate. The crispy cookie center is airy and with a hint ofcaramelized sugar to give it a little contrast to the vanilla sweetness of the chocolate.

It’s easy to just keep eating these. It’s such a simple idea, it makes me wonder why we don’t have something like this in the States. There’s a huge variety in theKlik line, including chocolate corn flakes, which reminds me of the Ritter Sport Knusperflakes.

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This sounds like an unlikely bar: Extrafine Milk Chocolate with Cookies and Crunchy Wheat Germ. Let’s face it, most of us grow up thinking things like wheat germ are yucky. But think of it like Grape Nuts. In fact, why isn’t there a chocolate bar with Grape Nuts? These cookie and wheat germ aren’t as big as Grape Nuts but they’re very tasty and add more than texture to the bar. The wheat germ has a wonderful malty quality that gives the bar a nutty punch and moderates some of the sweetness. The chocolate here is also the same very sweet but exceptionally smooth milk chocolate.

It’s also a really pretty bar. When I opened it up I was pleased to see that it’s molded in the shape of a bunch of bubbles. It makes it easy to break off pieces, but they’re not little squares, instead they’re nice little domes which means more room for crunch.

Even though I don’t read/speak Hebrew, I was easily able to pick out the Klik items from the box from Michal. I credit this to the vibrant design and packaging. I know I’m not going to run across these again, but I know I’ll recognize them if it does happen.

Note: Israeli Kliks are nothing like the American Kliks which are a candy dispenser similar to Pez but they dispense Smarties ... the American Smarties, not the UK ones ... sigh, it’s tough being global.

Name: Klik & Klik XL with Cookies & Wheat Germ
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Paskesz
Place Purchased: candy exchange with Michal (thanks!)
Price: unknown
Size: 2.64 ounces and 3 ounces
Calories per ounce: 141 & 144
Categories: Chocolate, United States, Cookie, Paskesz, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:27 am     Comments (6)

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Chocolate Oranges make Brits Fat

Sometimes Americans think that we invented politicians that say bizarre things and create tempests in teapots. How could The Daily Show with Jon Stewart be so popular without them?

Well, the UK has their share and this week they’ve intersected with the CandyBlog world.

David Cameron, the Conservative leader in London said that retailers with their king sized candies and impulse purchases at the checkout are one of the causes of Brit’s obesity. He singled out WHSmith, ““Why? As Britain faces an obesity crisis, why does WHSmith promote half-price chocolate oranges at its check-outs instead of real oranges?”

Really? Half-priced chocolate oranges are the problem?

And it’s WHSmith’s responsibility to fix the diets of Brits? They’re not even a grocer! The store’s response, “We sell a wide range of products. Customers could buy chocolate or healthier alternatives such as cereal bars or fruit and nuts. Oranges are not that easy and our customers don’t want them, but they might want chocolate oranges. They were very popular in the run-up to Christmas.”

More reading on the subject:
Telegraph: Stores hit back at Cameron’s chocolate slur
Financial Times: Cameron takes aim at chocolate orange
Wikipedia: Biography of David Cameron
WHSmith homepage
Slashfood: Obesity all the fault of cut-price chocolate oranges

And finally, if it makes any difference at all, the Google ads next to the article on the Telegraph were all for fruit.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:59 pm     NewsComments (2)

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Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.

 

 

 

 

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ON DECK

These candies will be reviewed shortly:

• Eat with your Eyes: Nougat

• Orgran Molasses Licorice

• Rogue Chocolatier

• Hachez Braune Blatter (Chocolate Leaves)

• Trader Joe’s Holiday Roundup 2014

 

 

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