Archive for December, 2009

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Ineffective as ambulatory aids, but delicious to the mouth, Candy Canes are certainly the most flibbertygibbetery Winter candy. Whether you hang them on your tree or cram them down your throat, there’s a little history you ought to know.

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It’s a well established rumor that Candy “Canes” were invented by a German Choirmaster in the city of Cologne in 1670. His restive younger singers, no doubt harangued by dreams of Sugar-Plums and Weihnachts-Wurst so prevalent amongst the teutonic youth of the day, had trouble sitting still through long rehearsals, so the ingenious Choirmaster bent a few sticks of boiled sugar he had lying around into delicious symbols of the Lord’s piety with the aim of keeping his young charges mouths shut, their throats moist and their minds on shepherdry.

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Records indicate that these canes (and boiled sugar sticks in general) became popular in the 17th Century, but the peppermint and stripes weren’t added until the early 20th Century. Depending on who you talk to, the stripes are either supposed to represent the blood of the scourged of Christ, or recall a barber’s pole– maybe both. Whatever the case may be, the real thing that matters with candy is the taste.

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For this review, I’ve chosen Spangler Canes. Now, you may think that any brand of candy cane will do. Not so. The best candy canes (Spangler among them) are made with real peppermint oil (though admittedly, in a pinch, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference), since it provides a cleaner and more intense flavor. A good, fresh Candy Cane will be smooth, non-brittle and difficult to bite into without first being worried into a point for a good few minutes. Spangler provide a nice balance of sweetness and mint flavor, and don’t leave behind as thick a film, even after a few, where many lesser canes might.

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Just remember, if you bludgeon yourself in your Christmas revelry this season, don’t expect to rely on these so called “canes” for any support, in fact, even trying to walk with one without prior ailment could prove injurious. You’ve been warned.

Happy Holidays from Candy.com!

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18 Dec

Candy or Not, Here I Come 0

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If you’re like most Americans, it’s hard for you to resist pork and molasses, which is why America loves Boston Baked Beans. It doesn’t take a master confectioner to see that  FDA approved, grade “A” pork belly, dark, sweet molasses and  tender haricot beans are a recipe for success, breakfast, lunch or dinner! Slow cooked with plenty savory seasoning , Boston Baked Beans–

Apologies ladies and gentleman. The blogger who had been writing this post had Boston Baked Beans the candy confused with Boston Baked Beans the side dish. He or she has been removed from the blogosphere. We now return to the review already in progress.

– needless to say, that’s not traditionally well thought of in most kitchens. The peanuts are then placed on a tray, rotated and sugared in a lengthy process known as “panning,” which layers the candy shell until the beans reach typical bean size. The result is an angry looking, red confection that’s incredibly crunchy, quite delicious and highly addictive, despite the fact that there isn’t the merest hint of pork-flavor.  Not that a little wouldn’t go amiss…

In the immortal words of Beans Hambone, “Beans, Beans, Beans!

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18 Dec

NECCO au Naturale 0

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We might have seen it coming what with the greenwashin’ and the health watchin,’ the 400 calorie menu and the ban on hydrogenated pork shortnin.’ Folks, Candy.com would like to announce that the rumors are, in fact, fact—NECCO Wafers have shed their artificial ingredients and have returned to earth, the humble naked sugar, starch and everything nice discs they always were deep inside.

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What does this mean for wafer lovers the world round? Apart from the obvious point that the toxicity threshold of the new wafers is undoubtedly greater than the old (you can now eat a robust 14,000 in a single afternoon compared to the modest 12,000 of yore), it means no lime. Yes, sadly the new NECCOs number only seven due to issues replicating the original lime flavored discs under the more stringent “all natural” standards (read, it’s probably prohibitively expensive). How about a replacement flavor contest, NECCO? My vote; “Revere” a patriotic nod to the birthplace of NECCO and the gallant Massachusetts Silversmith, with the fishy flavors of the North Shore he loved so well. Until that happens, seven (while maybe not heaven) is just fine by me, as most of the remainder seem to have benefited from the haute cuisine treatment. The chocolate is chocolate-ier, the wintergreen mint-ier, clove clove-ier (and wow it packs a punch, be careful if you tend to crunch), licorice anise-ier, orange citrus-ier. I was never a big fan of the lemon to begin with and still don’t care for it, so the only real dud to my palette is the cinnamon, which somehow seems to have lost a lot of its kick in translation.

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Overall, the update seems to have improved NECCO Wafers, though I can’t see it converting any heretofore unbelievers. The good is better, but the bad (mainly the fact that after about five it gets tough to tell the difference between the flavors) remains the same. Still, I say whatever your opinion, give ‘em another spin. They may not be all beer and skittles, but you should remove your hat to any candy that saw the Civil War and lived to tell the tale.

Try one “It’s only wafer thin…”

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11 Dec

The Sweet has Landed 0

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When unassuming confectioners at the gateway to the West’s own Sunline Candies first devised their now world renowned mixture of citric acid, dextrose, artificial and natural flavors, they weren’t looking to turn children into fleet hellions supercharged for evil (more than usual). No, they just wanted to sell a vaguely sweet, vaguely fruity drink mix they called “Frutola.” When it became clear that most kids didn’t want to wait around for water and a glass and were consuming the sweet powder directly from the package, Sunline decided to go with the flow, changing the name of their product to the edgier “Fruzola” and packaging it with a spoon for lickin’ purposes. As the wheels of science turned and word filtered to the ears of discerning parents that consuming large quantities of pure sugar would never be considered healthy, Sunline once again changed their game and compressed tablets of Fruzola to produce the more palatable seeming SweeTarts. Eventually acquired by Nestle’s Wonka subsidiary, Sunline’s legacy of sugar-schtick remains alive and well in Pixy Stix, and most recently, Giant Pixy Stix.

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Before you old-timers “split a log” wondering why anyone in his right mind would want to subject himself to a Giant Pixy Stix, I say hold your horses. Remember your youth– relentlessly experimenting, searching for the next thrill? Staying up ‘til 10, 12, 2 and so on? Wearing shorts in the dead of a Yukon December? Lying about “Blopple” being in the Scrabble dictionary? You were always pushing the envelope, trying to chart the bounds of your life and luck.  It’s the same with the kids today with their twitter, their speculative finance and their Giant Pixy Stix. We may not understand it, we may not condone it, and we may not know how to broach the subject at the dinner table—but by gum, we’ve got to tolerate it. Yes, we live in a world in which Seth MacFarlane has three primetime television shows and where Giant Pixy Stix exist.  Maybe it’s a phase? They’ll probably get over it.

Got Grandkiddies? Get the little Pixies something that shows you speak their language.

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