July 2011

Chick-O-Stick: Not Chicken; Not A Stick

My first experience with Chick-O-Sticks came relatively late in life. I first encountered them in the Halloween candy display in about 1994. I bought a huge bag, and ate most of it that night. The next day, I raved to my friends about this awesome "new" candy I had found. They quickly informed me that it was actually old-timey candy, and why hadn't I ever heard of it before?
I had no good answer to that question then. Nor do I now. I guess they just didn't have Chick-O-Stick in Alaska when I was growing up! (We didn't have a lot of things, including 7-11 stores and Little Debbie snack cakes. I understand it's a lot more modern now, what with the innernet an' everything.)

Twix Coconut

Twix began in the UK in 1967, and its identity remains staunchly British. Which is why the UK and Europe have gotten all of these awesome Twix variations, while we in the States have been treated to only a small handful.
There was peanut butter Twix, of course, which began as a limited edition and stuck around due to popularity. Cookies 'N Creme Twix, which came at the height of the American craze for all things "cookies and cream," but which frankly was not very good in my estimation. And the dual special edition Twixes (Twixen?) White Chocolate and Dark Chocolate.

Cherry Sours

Here is my childhood association with cherry sours: I am about twelve years old (which would make it 1984). I am in the passenger seat as my dad drives us home. He explains we need to stop at the store because my stepsister (who was 16) is sick with the flu, and when he asked her what she wanted, she said the only thing she wanted was a bag of cherry sours, because her throat was sore.

Snaps

What the eff is a "Snap," I wondered, as I stood in the Walgreens candy aisle. You find some pretty weird candy at Walgreens and Rite Aid. Unlikely candy. Candy that is - not to put too fine a point on it - geared towards old people, with their nostalgia for old-timey candy. And their need to refill prescriptions, thus their presence in drug store candy aisles. That's the explanation I've come up with, at any rate.

Free Slurpees Today!

Today is July 7, or 7-11, so you know what that means—free Slurpees for everyone! If you head on over to your nearest 7-Eleven, you can get a free Slurpee while supplies last. (Click here to see if yours is participating.)

When I was a kid, my dad took me to get a Slurpee quite often—I would say at least every other week. I don’t remember them having nearly as many flavors as they have today, but good old cherry was always good enough for me anyway. Remember drinking them on heat advisory days—much like the days we’re having this week—and gulping so fast that you gave yourself a brain freeze, and all of your friends laughed at you while you screamed “Argh! Argh, my head!” until it was over—just so you could return the favor when they, too, froze their noggins?

The Blizzard: King of Ice Cream Treats

I confess: despite all my best efforts, somehow I accidentally slipped and bought a Blizzard today. I mean, come on, they are so delicious! How can you resist? Possibly by reminding yourself that it's basically the equivalent of eating an entire tub of Ben & Jerry's. But hey, sometimes you just gotta.
For those who live beyond the boundaries of Dairy Queen, a Blizzard is basically the King of Milkshakes. It's soft serve ice cream blended with a bunch of big chunks of stuff. A milkshake that requires a spoon, in other words.

Macarons: Poised to Unseat Cupcakes?

I had my first macarons yesterday, after having mooned over them online for months. It's clear to see why macarons are a darling of the food blogs: they are small, adorable, flavorful, and incredibly colorful. And oh so French!
Not to be confused with "macaroons," which are those giant delicious piles of coconut and marzipan. Macarons are small sandwich cookies, sort of like the evolutionary descendant of the Oreo cookie or the Whoopie Pie. These desserts are quintessentially French, and are thought to have been introduced to France in 1533 by Catherine Di Medici's pastry chefs.
However, the popularity of macarons particularly surged in 2001, when an innovative French pastry chef named Pierre Herme began introducing his pastries like a fashion show, brought onto a stage by models. The last pastry of each collection to be introduced was his seasonal macaron. The pastry world went wild!

Strawberry Shortcake: A Summer Treat

The strawberry crop is a little bit late this year in my part of the world. But strawberry shortcake is a treat I associate strongly with summer, even though it can be enjoyed year round with the use of frozen berries. And although I am a purist in most things, I frankly think that frozen strawberries are almost as good as fresh, for something like this. Assuming you get "real" frozen berries (unsweetened) and not the sliced-and-syruped kind that come in a square carton.

Make These Brownies Now

...and everyone will love you.

     Chocolate and Peanut Butter.  My wife loves this combination so much that she has been known to take a huge scoop of peanut butter straight from the jar, roll it in chocolate chips and eat it right from the spoon. So when she made peanut butter brownies last night for a 4th of July barbecue I wasn't surprised.  But these weren't just any peanut butter brownies, they were Anne Thornton's "Fudgy Salty Peanut Butter Brownies." If you've ever watched her show, you know that Ms. Thornton, star of Food Network's "Dessert First" never skimps on rich, decadent desserts. But these brownies are perhaps the most decadent brownie I have ever tasted. The layered treats start with a base of dense, fudgy chocolate brownie, followed by a layer of peanut butter buttercream topped with salted peanuts and then you top the whole thing off with a thick, rich layer of chocolate ganache. HELLO!

When you cut them, they look like this:

     You can see the fudgy brownie on the bottom, studded with chocolate chips, the creamy peanut butter layer with crunchy, salty peanuts and the thick layer of ganache on top. Some might think these are too rich, but if you pour yourself a big, tall glass of milk to go along with it, I guarantee you'll have no problem downing one...or two...or three...

Mary Janes and Bit-O-Honey

Mary Janes and Bit-O-Honey are examples of what I think of as "convergent candy evolution." Although made by different manufacturers, from different ingredients, they have managed to produce two very similar candies - right down to the wrapper design.

Convergent evolution occurs in nature when two very dissimilar animals evolve similar structures or behavior. Birds and bats, for example, are completely unrelated - but they have both evolved very similar wing structures.