March 2012

Skittles: When Candy Becomes Political

Skittles are a quintessentially childish treat. It's the kind of detail that makes a story all the more heartbreaking.

 

Skittles candy has found itself in the unenviable position of being in the news all across the nation, for entirely the wrong reason. A month ago, at 7PM on a Sunday evening, a young black man named Trayvon Martin walked to the nearest convenience store. He bought a packet of Skittles and an Arizona iced tea. As he strolled home, he was pursued and shot to death by a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain.
 
This detail, that Martin was "armed" only with a pack of Skittles and a can of iced tea, has captured national attention. More, I think, than if Martin had been empty-handed or carrying some other random item.

The 5 Worst Easter Candy

From Peeps to cheap chocolate bunnies, here's what NOT to buy the kids for Easter!

 

1. Peeps
Whose idea was it, to sell sugar-covered marshmallows to the masses? These sticky treats are probably best left to the artisans who deploy them in sugary, kitschy diorama contests. (I know of two off-hand: the Seattle Times and the Washington Post.)
 
Apart from the alarming colors, these are the candies which work the least well in an actual Easter basket. Every child knows the disappointment of trying to pick plastic strands of Easter grass off a loose Peep. Not to mention the way their sugar dusting gets all over the rest of the candy.

Mike And Ike Jelly Beans

Overall, these are an adequate variety of jelly bean, if not exceptional.

 

Is it just me, or is this the year that every candy brand put out a jelly bean version? It seems like the more I look for special brand jelly beans, the more I find. Maybe I just never noticed them before! At any rate, I am committed to testing and reviewing all of them. Because I love you. (And candy.)
 
This week it's Mike and Ike brand jelly beans. I tend to forget that Mike and Ikes come in different flavors from the original versions. If you think about it, a Mike and Ike is basically a jelly bean already. These must be the simplest of all the adaptations to Easter jelly beans. All they had to do was change the shape a little. Boom, Easter jelly beans!

Making Easter Cupcakes with the Kids

I love spending time with my nieces and nephew. Since I don't have any kids of my own (and no plans to acquire any in the near future), I get my child-fix by playing with them. Being the "cool" aunt, I always come up with fun games and activities. One of my favorites is baking. What kid doesn't like to make sweets?

Any tasty treat can be turned into an art project for the kiddies. Take cupcakes, for example. With a little creative thinking, you can turn them into mini Easter baskets, perfect for the spring season. It's so simple that a two-year-old can help, yet so yummy that an older child will want to get in on the fun, too.

Chocolate Creme Filled Twinkies

Not outstanding. I would probably prefer the original. But hardly qualifying as a crime against humanity.
It seems that, as many people predicted, rumors of the demise of the Twinkie were greatly exaggerated. Although the Hostess company has declared bankruptcy, that doesn't mean the company's doors are instantly shuttered forever. Far from it; in fact, these days a bankruptcy is more like a clever business strategy than anything else. Hostess has named a new CEO, and is undergoing "restructuring."
 
And meanwhile, their production plants have kept that river of golden sponge cake flowing to the stores. With new offerings, even!

Jolly Rancher Sours Bunnies

Pick out and discard the orange ones... but the other flavors are delicious!
Geez, everything about the name of this candy makes my fingers itch to correct the grammar. I want to pluralize the company name (to "Jolly Ranchers"), singularize the product line (to "Sour") and… well, I guess I would leave "Bunnies" alone. Then we would have Jolly Ranchers Sour Bunnies. Doesn't that roll off the tongue better?
 
Anyway, it's not my call to make. I spotted these at the grocery store and only dithered for a moment before I snatched them right up. I tend to have a low threshold for sour candy, but then again I love to see a new Easter candy. It seems like most holiday candy is just the "same old same old," so anything new is pretty tempting to me.

Trick Your Kids | 5 Desserts That Aren't

Serving dessert is fun, but, as a parent, you know your kids can’t learn to have chocolate or another sweet treat after every single meal. This is where creative moms and dads learn to stash a few tricks up their sleeves.

Now, I am not suggesting that you out and out lie to your children. I am a parent and know that lying is, um, wrong. I do, however, highly recommend allowing them to think they are hitting the jackpot when you serve up any of these options:

1.   Sliced apples with fat-free caramel or organic almond butter (or both). There is nothing wrong with this dessert . In fact, it is uber-healthy and gets some extra fiber and protein into their diet.

Lemon - The Flavor of Spring

Now that the grass is turning green and the flowers are blooming, it's time for us to fill our tummies with some of the delicious flavors of springtime. I know that every year I look forward to indulging in some lemon treats. The tartness of lemons blends magnificently with vanilla and sugar.

Hoping not to forget any of my favorite lemon desserts, I've compiled a list of my must-have yellow treats.

5 Desserts With Peanut Butter

Peanut butter. PB. It comes creamy and crunchy. Sugar-free and sugar-laden. Organic and who-knows-what’s-in-that. It has fed many a child through the years. Heck, Elvis liked his in a sandwich and fried with bananas. It may not be the height of class, but it sure is yummy.

In fact, you could practice for your SAT’s with PB. Spam is to steak like peanut butter is to ___________.  Folgers instant is to Starbucks like peanut butter is to _________. Sorry, got sidetracked. Here are 5 desserts made with peanut butter that are out of this world.

Oreo Brownie Creme Filled

As a brownie, it is simply terrible. The texture is too dry and hard, and the taste is too sweet.
What strange manner of foodstuff is this? I am puzzled, even after eating it. First, there is the name. The label clearly says "Oreo Brownie Creme Filled." No matter how hard your mind tries to rearrange those words to say "Oreo Creme-Filled Brownie," the fact is, that is not the order in which they are presented. This is clearly a product which is named "Oreo Brownie Creme Filled," and there is nothing you or I can do about it.
 
Secondly, why did my cat want so badly to eat it? True, he is somewhat drawn to sweets, even though I have repeatedly explained to him that the scientific evidence holds that he is genetically unable to smell or taste "sweet." You might think that he is being drawn by the fats, but then why would Otter Pops drive him to attack my face with jealousy and desire? The only thing in an Otter Pop is water, artificial fruit flavor, and "sweet."

Russell Stover Pectin Jelly Beans

What's so special about pectin? A lot, it turns out.
The packaging described these as "A PREMIUM BEAN." The box was at the top left of the aisle section, far above the other commercial jelly beans vying for shelf space as loudly as possible below. I was curious: what makes a jelly bean "premium"? 
 
There are Jelly Bellys, of course, which are "premium" largely by virtue of their broad flavor assortment. These beans made no such claim. Turning the package over in my hands, the only thing I could see that distinguished them from regular beans was their bold proclamation of pectin as an ingredient. This meant nothing to me. But what the heck - they were on sale two packs for a dollar, so I was willing to risk it.

5 Ways to Top a Frozen Pound Cake

OK, I am the first to admit that I love homemade pound cake, especially when there is just the slightest hint of lemon. So. Yummy. Now, you could make a few extra loaves and store them in the freezer or you could buy the frozen version from your local grocer.

Neither is as good as fresh-out-of-the-oven, but you can’t have everything. Besides, pound cake stashed in the freezer is a lifesaver when unexpected company stops by or when insatiable carvings for sweets hit in the middle of the night. Not that I would know anything about that.

So, what do you do with pound cake? Most people serve it with something. Here are a few suggestions:

Robin's Eggs

Hooray for Easter candy!
Easter is probably my favorite candy holiday. It's one of the few holidays that still offers holiday-specific candy, stuff you can't find during the rest of the year. 
 
Robin's Eggs are just one of the many egg-referential candies that appear during Easter. (You also have your Cadbury Creme Eggs, Hummingbird Eggs, and of course the venerable Cadbury Mini Eggs.) It's easy to dismiss these as being just big malted milk balls. Although technically, that's pretty much all that they are. They are even made by Whoppers, just to cement that connection.

Mentos

Delicious fruit candy! Oh and mint too I guess. I never buy those.
It's impossible for me to think the word "Mentos" without silently adding the phrase "the Freshmaker." Such is the value of a truly memorable ad campaign. Love them or hate them, they certainly did cement the phrase "Mentos: The Freshmaker" in my mind.
 
In high school we puzzled over these ads. Why were they so… odd? They almost seemed like artifacts of a different era, like very old ads from the 1970s or something. But no one had heard of them before, and they kept coming out with (seemingly) new ads.