September 2010

Chocolate Covered Peeps

The first and last thing I can say about chocolate covered Peeps is: F#&@ YEAHHHHHH!  Seriously, these are one of the best things to come out of the candy industry in at least the last ten years.

I'm only a moderate fan of Peeps.  I know that Peeps have their detractors, and their lovers.  I fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. 

I'm Peep-friendly, if you will.  Marshmallow-curious.  Every year at Easter I'll buy one pack of Peeps, eat them , enjoy them, and call it good for the year.

I usually eat my Peeps fresh, although I understand the appeal of the stale Peep.  Many people feel that Peeps need to be ripened for a few days (or weeks) before they can be eaten.  I feel the same way about Red Vines.  So I can empathize with this point of view.

Chunky Bar

The Chunky bar is one of the few candy bars that remains unchanged from my childhood in the late 70s and early 80s.  This is what you bought when you wanted a great value, the most bang for your buck.  (Or, back then, for your quarter.)

In hindsight, this was a pretty silly belief.  And yet it was a common one.  Perhaps if we had read the label and seen the weight (1.4 ounces) we would have realized that it was actually smaller than most other candy bars.  A Snickers bar for example is 2 ounces.  Even a plain Hershey bar is bigger, clocking in at 1.5 ounces.

Nevertheless, the Chunky bar manages to feel far more substantial.  Its tall, "ice cube tray" shape gives it a lot of heft for the footprint.  It's like the opposite effect from restaurants that serve drinks in glasses that are very tall and thin. 

Tootsie Pop Drops

How do you feel about Tootsie Pop sticks?  I'm willing to bet that you are not a fan.  Not of the stick per se. 

Who likes the stick?  It serves no purpose.  It only gets in the way, getting all spitty and mushy and sticky, and when you're done with your Tootsie Pop you have to look around for a trash can, because if you just set the stick down on something, you will regret it. 

Maybe you can't find a trash can, so you reluctantly wrap it back up in the candy wrapper (GROSS) and stick it in your pocket (DOUBLE GROSS) until you can get to a trash can.  Little kids, of course, just throw the sticky gooey spitty stick on the ground and call it done.  

Bimbuñuelos Crispy Wheels Pastry

I live in an area of the Pacific Northwest (the Skagit Valley) with a thriving Hispanic population.  The grocery stores here have a much more comprehensive selection of Hispanic foods and brands than I used to see in Seattle, which is pretty fun.  I like new food!

One thing that always puzzled me was the snacks section.  Not the savory snacks, the chips and such - those are all delicious.  But the sweet snacks baffled me.  Whenever I picked one out, it inevitably tasted like heavily sweetened sawdust. 

Obviously they are popular, or Safeway wouldn't carry them.  But I eventually chalked it up to one of those "acquired taste" things, the way that adults hold that nostalgia for childhood sweets.  And the way that children are none too picky about sweets, and would probably enjoy these terrible cookies just fine.

Kit Kat Dark and Kit Kat White

I was thinking the other day about how rare it is for an actual, honest to goodness new candy bar to hit the store shelves.  I literally can't remember the last time I saw a real new thing.  Instead, manufacturers just fiddle with existing lines, turning out a thousand different Skittles variations.

I understand, don't get me wrong.  If I was a candy company, I'd be a lot more secure about producing a new Skittles flavor than re-tooling the line for an entirely new candy.  You've got the marketing, the branding, the packaging, and then who knows if anyone's going to like it?

There's just not as much risk if you produce a new flavor of an old standard.  If it doesn't take off, then you just stop making it.  And you get to capitalize on your existing brand name.

Bit 'O Honey

This sticky chewy treat has a long history in America.  It was originally made in 1924, when flappers ruled the land, and women had only just gotten the vote.  I imagine it would have been popular during the Depression that was soon to follow, being a long-lasting and affordable candy.  

Just thinking about it, now I picture a man wearing nothing but a barrel held up by suspenders, snacking on a Bit 'O Honey while waiting to get work on a WPA project.  But I digress.

I had only ever had the single bite size Bit 'O Honey prior to buying an entire bar for this review.  The whole bar is a great value, providing a whopping 48 grams of candy for the price of a single candy bar, with only 3 grams of fat.  (But 39 grams of carbs.)

It's Not Amish, And I Didn't Give It To Friends

Amish Friendship Bread is sort of a cross between a coffee cake and a chain letter.  The bread is based on a sourdough starter, albeit one that is fed with flour, sugar, and milk instead of a "regular" starter fed only with flour and water.  

The idea behind Amish Friendship Bread is that you bake two loaves, give one to a friend, along with a portion of the starter.  Frankly this is the kind of obligation-heavy gifting that I frown upon.  I don't know many people who would be grateful to receive the gift of sourdough starter unasked.  

Starter takes a fair amount of work.  Yes, it makes a better bread than what you can find in the stores.  But I think it's instructive to consider why we all started buying bread from the store in the first place.  And I say this as someone who has been baking my own bread exclusively for the last two years or so.