Food & Beverage

Toblerone, Best Thing Ever

Ah Toblerone, one of my true beloveds.  After trying so many revolting candies, I have decided to give myself a break and write up some reviews of my favorites.  And of course you can't write a review without giving one a new try, can you?

The first thing that comes to mind for many people when the Toblerone is mentioned is its distinctive triangular shape, which is meant to echo the shape of the Swiss Alps.  It is also famous as being something that you buy at the Duty Free shop at the airport (which led to several comedic gags on an episode of "Friends" when Joey kept pleading with Ross's English girlfriend to bring him back a giant Toblerone bar from the airport).

The Idaho Spud

If you live outside the Pacific Northwest, you are doubtless wondering why an article about an "Idaho Spud" is being posted on a dessert blog.  Idaho Spuds are one of the few remaining regional independent candies in America, and in an era of globalization and the inescapable force of market expansion and corporate buy-outs and mergers, that is a very rare thing, indeed.

The Idaho Spud is made by the Idaho Candy Company, and has been since WWI.  The Idaho Candy Company is located in Boise, and although they make a lot of different candy bars, it's the Idaho Spud which has been "exported to a wider audience," so to speak.  If by "wider audience" you understand I mean "Washington and Oregon."

Death Candy: Cola Bottles

Once again, I encounter a candy which keeps me up all night long.  I never would have guessed how much sleep I would end up losing to CANDY.  I suspect the problem is the gelatin, since that's the ingredient that both Cola Bottles and Conversation Hearts have in common.  

It isn't like I'm eating a big fistful of candy and then going right to bed, either.  In the case of the Gummy Brand Cola Bottles, I ate half the packet at about 8PM.  I went to bed at midnight.  By 2AM I had started tossing and turning, and downing Tums in a futile attempt to suppress the terrible gastric reflux cola and cow hoof gelatin flavored acid burps.

The next day I thought that surely it must have been some kind of mistake.  So I finished off the rest of the packet, and spent the entire afternoon being acutely aware that Cola Bottles do not agree with me.

Good & Plenty

I think Good & Plenty is being criminally neglected in the candy aisle today.  This is simultaneously one of the best and one of the least popular candies.  Mention the name to any random stranger and they will scrunch up their face in childish disgust.

I think our collective dislike of Good & Plenty is indeed childish, stemming from a child's perspective.  I don't know about you, but when I was a kid, I loved Lik 'M Aid and Pixy Sticks.  I obviously was no judge of candy, much less an arbiter of taste.  Good & Plenty tasted like death to me back then.  But then again, so did things like coffee, bourbon, feta cheese, and Brussels sprouts - all of which I enjoy tremendously as an adult.  (Although not all together.)

Reese's Pieces

This must be the greatest advertising tie-in of all time.  Nearly 30 years later, I still think of E.T. whenever I think of Reese's Pieces, and vice versa.  In fact I would wager that if you are over the age of 20 or so, you thought of E.T. as soon as you saw the title of this post, correct?

Famously, M&Ms turned down Spielberg's advances for a tie-in.  Promotional appearances were new then, and M&Ms didn't want to get caught up in a backlash if there was one.  Reese's new candy Pieces had no such compunctions, and history was made.

Everyone's Least Favorite Candy: Conversation Hearts

Of all the Least Favorite Candy I've tried during this little project, the Conversation Hearts are definitely the worst.  These things cost me a night's sleep, I kid you not.  I did my sampling a bit later at night than I should have, and then I made the mistake of washing them down with some Coke Zero.  Coke Zero + Conversation Hearts = Instant Stomach Evil.  

As I lay in bed, imagining the Mentos + Diet Coke experiment happening inside my guts, I had ample time to reflect upon the difference between Tums and Conversation Hearts.  The comparison is apt - if you set out one of each, I'm not sure I'd be able to distinguish, except on the basis of size and shape.  

Everyone's Least Favorite Candy: Orange Slices

Actually, of all the weird and worst-selling candy on the shelves, I think that "orange slices" are the candy people are most likely to stand up for.  Orange slices are not quite a gummy candy, although they belong to the same family.  They could more accurately be described as being large, strangely shaped gumdrops.  They are, as you might imagine, orange flavored.  Each slice is loosely orange slice shaped, and dusted with sugar granules.

Everyone's Least Favorite Candy: Circus Peanuts Edition

I'm going to start by stating the obvious: things are at the grocery store because people buy them.  Grocery stores are not in the business of stocking items that do not sell.  That's kind of the purpose.  Therefore, the fact that grocery stores stock Circus Peanuts means - stick with me here - that people buy them on a semi-regular basis.  Makes sense, right?  It's confusing at an emotional level, but it makes logical sense.

For those who live outside the scope of Circus Peanuts, they are a marshmallow-ish candy which is about the size of your thumb, shaped like a peanut, orange in color, and tastes like banana.  I know, right?  The only question which comes to mind fully formed is, "Why?"

Candy Fight: Nerds Vs Runts

One of the great philosophical divides among candy connoisseurs is the split between those who like Nerds, versus those who prefer Runts.  Oddly enough, in my experience there is no point trying to get Nerds lovers to like Runts, or vice versa.  In the interests of fostering an open dialogue, I will state for the record that I prefer Nerds.

The funny thing about the schism is that Nerds and Runts are pretty much the exact same candy, but in a different size and shape.  This is actually true of most of the Willy Wonka candy line, but nowhere is the similarity as remarkable as with Nerds and Runts.

Willy Wonka Candy Company, Everlasting Gobstoppers

Willy Wonka candies are one of the more confusing entrants on the candy scene.  Although we all associate Willy Wonka with the idea of the best candy in the world (and a lot of fun, and a certain dollop of grim tragedy besides) the candies produced under the name "Willy Wonka Candy Company" are in general pretty awful.

Take for example the Everlasting Gobstoppers.  In the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Everlasting Gobstoppers were literally everlasting.  Willy Wonka devised them for poor children, so that they could basically suck on the same piece of candy forever.  Kind of gross, okay, but even accounting for the hyperbole, there are some fine gobstoppers on the market today.  Most of these are sold singly, and will indeed threaten to break your teeth if you try to bite them.  


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