July 2010

Chewy Lemonhead & Friends

Even though I'm not a big fan of sour candy (I just don't have much tolerance for it), I really like Lemonheads.  It's more about the texture than the taste for me.  There is nothing like the texture of a Lemonhead!  Except I guess the texture of a Grapehead or Cherryhead.

This confused me, reading about all the other members of the Head family.  When I was a kid, growing up in Alaska in the 1980s there was a lot of stuff we just didn't get.  Everything had to be shipped up by barge from Seattle, and the distributors made some weird choices. 

Lacking the internet, basically if something didn't have a television ad campaign and wasn't being sold in Alaska, then I never heard of it.

Clark Bars: Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate

You know, I am honestly not sure if I have ever had a Clark Bar before I picked these up on a whim.  I always sought out Fifth Avenue bars in that particular ecological niche of candy.  

A Fifth Avenue bar, for those of you who haven't had the privilege, is basically a Butterfinger bar with two almonds on top.  (Or rather it used to be, and now I date myself, because I see by the Wikipedia entry that they discontinued this practice in 1987.  Explains my confusion the last time I had one.)

Clark Bars could best be described - and I'm sure they hate it when people do this - as "kind of like a Butterfinger."  Except independently owned by a small company (well, relatively small - in this case, owned by NECCO as of a financial downturn in 1999.)

Mike and Ike Berry Blast

My first, last, and everything in-between impression of these is that they are SO PRETTY.  I mean, look at them!  The Berry Blast spectrum is like the color scheme for a stained glass window in a public aquarium somewhere tropical.  Florida.  A public aquarium in Florida.

I spent a lot of time just gazing upon them, and occasionally rearranging the colors.  Putting pink beside orange, for example, or moving that ice blue in between a purple and a dark blue.  Gorgeous!

The flavors themselves are mostly alright, although I have some real problems with "Peach Berry."  I mean for one thing, there is no such thing as a "Peach Berry."  Why would you take an assortment of berry flavors and think, "Hmm, you know what this needs?   Peach.  But since it's a berry assortment, we'll have to give it a vaguely berry flavor and then call it Peach Berry."

Jordan Almonds

I always think of Jordan almonds as being tooth-breakers.  I also associate them with Easter, which is why I was extremely puzzled when I encountered a box in the candy aisle of some random Rite Aid I happened to be in.  Sitting there with all the other candy, for all the world like a real candy, and not some kind of sweetened rock!

Well I couldn't resist buying a box.  Who could?

It turned out that these things were actually pretty good.  I never would have expected that!  I was hoping to have some funny stuff to talk about.  You know, like how I chipped a tooth and had to make an emergency trip to the dentist.  That kind of thing.

Grape Vines

I was only dimly aware of Grape Vines until recently, when I went tracking down a particular variant of Red Vines.  

(Still no luck finding the all-natural version, Natural Vines, by the way.  The Red Vines website says they're available at Haggen stores here in Washington.  I visited my nearest local Haggen store (20 miles away) and they didn't have any.  But they did have the authentic Haribo black licorice wheels imported from Germany.  

I meant to bring them home and photograph them and write a review, but I ate them all on the drive home and then I had a tummy ache but I was not sorry.  So I guess that's my review of imported Haribo licorice wheels: too delicious to wait until you get home.)

Maple Nut Goodies

Someone, seriously, please take this bag away from me.  I can't stop eating them  I'm worried!  Help!

Last night at the store I cast my eye across the candy aisle, looking for something interesting to review.  (That's my excuse nowdays - I need it to review.)  I skimmed over the Maple Nut Goodies then stopped, realizing that I had never actually tried them.  I just assumed they were gross.  Well that's hardly fair, is it?

I'm "meh" on maple flavoring.  I like it okay when it's done well.  But all too often manufacturers will compensate for problems with their maple flavoring by adding more MORE MORE sugar.  Like making it sweeter helps cover up the fact that they use cheap maple flavor.  You are familiar with this problem if you have ever had a maple bar from the grocery store doughnut case.

Candy Fight: SweeTarts Versus Bottle Caps

Yesterday we covered Giant Chewy SweeTarts, but at the same time I picked up a roll of the regular, non-giant, non-chewy kind.  And a roll of Bottle Caps too, while I was at it.  I think everyone who grew up in the 1980s associates Bottle Caps with the movie theater, and that may be true for other decades as well.

I wonder what Kids Today think about Bottle Caps candy.  They are shaped and stamped to resemble a metal soda bottle cap.  When did sodas lose the metal cap?  No doubt when they stopped being packaged in glass bottles.  Which by my count must have happened in the late 1980s.  There are kids today who are in COLLLEGE who have never seen a metal soda bottle cap.

They would have seen metal beer bottle caps, of course.  But that's a different matter.

Giant Chewy SweeTarts

I was so excited to find these!  One of the last candies I remember from when I was a kid.  The mid to late 1980s, junior high to high school, and Giant Chewy SweeTarts from the Kwik-Stop up the street.  These things all jumble together in my memory in a haze of sugary goodness.

I'm actually sad that I found these again.  Having revisited some of the candies from my youth, I probably should have known the score.  And it's true, having re-tried a Giant Chewy SweeTart , I'm not really head over heels for them the way I used to be.  

Each Giant Chewy SweeTart is about the size of a silver dollar, and according to my measurements almost half an inch thick.  This is, as befitting the name, a giant piece of candy.  Eating it presents certain challenges which made me think, "Oh yeah, I remember that…"

Candy Fight: Rolo vs Caramello

This is the first Candy Fight feature between two candies that I don't have a strong opinion on.  In fact, I hardly ever eat either of them, mostly because I find caramel-based candies to be far too sweet.  

That's kind of a weird thing to say, coming from someone who likes Nerds, but it's true.  Something about caramel makes me reach for the water while cringing because my teeth ache.

I don't honestly know why some sweets make us thirsty and others don't.  And it seems to be a mystery why some sweets make your teeth hurt and others don't.  To compound the mystery, not everyone has the same reaction to the same sweets.  

Candy Fight: Red Vines vs Twizzlers

Much like our earlier Candy Fight between Nerds and Runts, you're either a Twizzlers person or a Red Vines person.  I have yet to meet someone who likes both.  I'll just say up front that I'm a Red Vines person, although I do experiment with the occasional Twizzler.  I'm Twizzler-curious, I guess.

Red Vines are a candy which I prefer "properly ripened."  This to some people would be a state described as "stale."  I once worked in a small office where we would occasionally buy a big plastic tub of Red Vines from Costco.  

Everyone in the office had the same opinion on Red Vines, so by collective consent when a new tub arrived we would open it and leave the lid off for several days.  You just can't eat raw Red Vines!  I mean, you COULD, but why would you?

National Ice Cream Month

It’s not as if we actually need an excuse to eat ice cream, is it? I think it’s safe to say that most people enjoy the cold, creamy treat and wouldn’t mind it if every month—perhaps even every day—were dedicated to the dessert. Whether you could eat a whole pint, or you’re like me and a small scoop will satisfy you for a week, be sure to enjoy your favorite flavors this month. Here are a few ways to celebrate National Ice Cream Month.

Wonka Chewy Spree

I literally gasped out loud when I saw these at the grocery store.  There I was, minding my own business, trying to remember if I needed more white vinegar or not, when I was clocked upside the head with a fondly-remembered chunk of my own childhood.

There was a fad for chewy candies in the mid to late 1980s.  I remember Chewy Sweettarts as being the pinnacle of the form.  You basically got two giant chewy candies with the texture of Alka Seltzer tablets per package.  But Chewy Spree candy was pretty good, too.

Spree used to come in a big roll, like Mentos.  Do they still?  I don't really know.  So many things are confusing about this experience.  I read online that Nestle purchased Spree candy at some point, but I'm not sure when.  

Starburst GummiBursts

I have a difficult time saying whether or not these are "good" because that's such a subjective term.  And because they completely squicked me out.  

GummiBursts are the latest blow struck in the experimental candy wars.  The package proclaims them to be "liquid filled gummies," and so they are.  What it fails to mention is that the resulting texture is unavoidably biological, and not in a fun way.

Wonka Chewy Gobstopper

Something about Winco Foods brings out the candy experimenter in me.  Maybe it's just because they have such a wide range of unusual and off-brand candies.  (This week they had Idaho Spuds on sale, 5 for a dollar!  People, you cannot top that!)  Or maybe it's just that my mental resources have been worn down to a nub by the time I get to the checkout stand.

At any rate, this week I picked up a box of Chewy Gobstoppers, despite the fact that I dislike the original Gobstoppers, and I'm not a big fan of "chewy" as a candy texture.  

York Pieces

Continuing the theme from last time are the York Pieces I bought at the same time.  These are Pieces versions of the classic York Peppermint Pattie [sic], which I assume needs no further introduction.

The weird thing about these is that they're basically mint flavored M&Ms.  I was expecting something with the same creamy filling that you would find in a York Peppermint Pattie.  But of course, that would be Junior Mints.

Which begs the question: why buy these instead of Junior Mints?  The flavor is almost exactly the same.  To quote Kramer, "Who's gonna turn down a Junior Mint?  It's chocolate, it's peppermint - it's delicious!"  York Pieces are basically Junior Mints only hard.  Where Junior Mints have a soft chocolate exterior and a creamy interior, York Pieces have a crispy candy shell and a solid chocolate interior.