Archive for the ‘Licorice’ Category

The Marich Confectionery Company is the kind of candy company you want to buy from, work for, or—in my case—write about.

It’s a family-owned manufacturing business that was started in 1983 by the late Dutch candy maker Marinus van Dam. He was 57 at the time of launch. His two sons, Brad and Troy, now run the California-based company, but that was not by design (more in a minute).

Marinus’ candy career started in his early teens in Rotterdam, Netherlands, shortly after his father died in a German work camp during WWII. To support his family, he got a job at the DeHeer chocolate factory (now owned by The Baronie Group) scraping chocolate and other confections off the floor.

Over time, Marinus proved himself and was chosen to attend a candy technology school. Brad says his dad was a sponge and learned how to make every type of candy under the sun, including Marich Confectionery Company’s hallmark panned candies (candy with a coating or candy shell).

“My dad knew candy from a creative standpoint and by its molecular structure,” says Brad. “People in the industry would frequently call on him to troubleshoot process, technique, and formula issues.”

Marinus took his honed skills to the United States and went to work for a series of candy manufacturers, including Anthony-Thomas Chocolates, Herman Goelitz Candy Co. (now the Jelly Belly Candy Company), and Harmony Foods before opening his own operation in the early 1980s.

Family Matters
To keep his young confectionery company afloat, Marinus asked his son Brad, who, at the time, was 20, living on his own, and pursuing an engineering degree, if he would please come home and help with the business.

“My dad said, ‘I can’t afford to pay you, but you can live at home,’” says Brad who chuckles when he tells what it was like to move back to the nest. “My dad is old-school Dutch, so working for him was like going to the college of hard knocks.”

Brad and his younger brother Troy both rose to the occasion and started out making boxes, mopping floors, cleaning the bathroom, and other necessary evils. “For the first two years, we didn’t get paid,” says Brad.

When one of the candy makers left Marich for health reasons, Brad stepped up again. “I made more scrap than candy and got an earful.”

Flash-Forward to 2011
Brad and Troy are both master candy makers and are doing exactly what their dad was skillfully able to do with chocolate and sugar: read and respond to it.

“Chocolate and sugar have a mind of their own,” says Brad with a big laugh. He also mentions how the panning process brings its own unique set of challenges to the art of candy making.

“For what seems to be a simple process, you’d be amazed at the number of things that can go wrong. I equate it to bowling. You’ll get good at it, but you’re never going to bowl a 300 game every time,” he explains. “You can do everything the same way you did it the last time, and it won’t work. They key is staying ahead of the process so you have time to read and react to the product.”

Heart and Soul
Just like their father, Brad and Troy use Guittard Chocolate for their chocolate products and are very proud of that 27-year relationship.

As I’m talking to Brad about this longstanding partnership, he tells me a great story about Guittard’s now-retired sales director, Hank Spini.

“No matter where in the world Hank was on October 24, he would find my dad to have lunch with him. It was my dad’s birthday,” he explains. “This went on for decades. They were good friends.”

Hank eventually became Brad’s mentor and taught him how to buy cocoa and work with customers. Hank’s son Mark Spini followed in his own father’s footsteps and is a cornerstone at Guittard today.

How cool is that?

The Goods
The Marich Confectionery Company’s chocolate and non-chocolate products (almost too pretty to eat) are available at Candy.com and Marich.com as well as specialty retailers. Here is a tiny teaser to get you to check out the entire collection, which includes all-natural, organic, and sugar-free options. (Click on each image below for detailed product information.)

Best Seller! Pastel Chocolate Cherries

Valentine Jordan Almonds

Holland Mints

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Gulp. Right after Thanksgiving dinner at my house, I’m going to let all of the junior guests create gingerbread cottages.

I say “cottages” because I’m going to hot glue graham crackers together ahead of time, and if you’ve ever done it, it’s easiest to keep the structure modest: four short walls and one roof. Besides, McMansions are so 2002.

I’ve got green, white, and chocolate frosting at the ready along with Dots, Twizzlers, mini candy canes, holiday M&M’s, Skittles, Hershey Candy Kane Kisses, mini marshmallows, sprinkles, Peeps snowman, and Peeps Christmas trees.

Am I missing any items you’ve found successful in the construction/decoration of gingerbread houses?

I think I may need Tootsie Roll Midgees and cherry fruit rolls for campfires outside each cottage.

I plan on a follow-up blog post to show you the finished products, let you know which candies worked best for the build outs, and any interesting home decor/exterior items the kids dreamed up during construction.

In the meantime, please do send me any tips for creating killer gingerbread houses. I’m all ears!

(Speaking of tips, I recently came across the book No Bake Gingerbread Houses for Kids, which has some great examples of gingerbread houses constructed out of graham crackers, cookies, ice cream cones, and waffle bowls. Another good resource is Martha Stewart’s photo gallery of no-bake gingerbread houses and cookie cottages.)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

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Turns out celebrity interior designer Courtney Cachet has a sweet tooth and she’s going to be doing a stress-free holiday decorating segment on NBC’s Open House NYC that includes candy. Love that!

Courtney is also holding a $25 Candy.com giveaway on her Facebook Fan Page today, so tell her why you deserve the Candy.com bucks and you could win!

Speaking of decorating with candy, I spied a $14.95 glass Tilt Bowl and $9.95 glass Lidded Jar from Crate & Barrel (see images below) that would look beautiful filled with Jelly Belly Champagne Bubbles, Fall Kettle Corn Nuggets, Red Jordan Almonds, Christmas Nonpareils, Peppermint Balls, Candy Corn Nougat Fluff, Red Licorice Scotties, or snowy White Gumballs.

So simple, yet contemporary, colorful, consumable, interchangeable … and affordable. Score!

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I know it’s still August, but I already hung a fall wreath on my front door. I couldn’t help myself. My kids are back in school and I’m sniffing fall leaves from the front porch. I also just bought my daughter a pink wig for her Halloween costume, so I’ve got trick-or-treating on the brain before Target has its “Halloween Headquarters” candy aisles up and running.

Since I’m way ahead of myself (and mass retailers), I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some unique Halloween candies that you may not find locally … but you will find online.

Jack-O-Lantern Truffles If you want to go highbrow this Halloween, Lindt’s milk chocolate truffles wrapped in pumpkin-motif foils will get the attention of even the biggest Halloween candy snob.

Candy Corn Taffy Think outside of the box this Halloween by putting candy corn taffy in your candy dish instead of traditional candy corn. This might sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, but trust me, change is good. If you can’t bare the thought, try adding roasted peanuts to your candy corn. The sweet-and-salty mix is perfect for tailgating.

Pumpkin Pie Nougat Fluff How cute are these little nougats that taste like pumpkin pie? Make a colorful party favor by putting a handful of these pretty pumpkin chews at the bottom of a clear cello bag and top with a box of Dots Candy Corn.

Black Licorice Skulls Here is another Halloween bulk item that scores a 10 on the cuteness chart …

Pop Rocks Pumpkins Pop Rocks were as popular as Dum Dum Pops and Tootsie Rolls when I was a kid, but we never got them in our trick-or-treat bags. It was probably because there was an urban legend floating around that Pop Rocks exploded in your stomach if you washed them down with a soda. Now that time has proven that these candy rocks can safely be paired with a Diet Coke, they are the perfect giveaway for modern day trick-or-treaters.

Orange & Black Mint Twists If you’re gearing up for an October wedding, birthday party,  baby shower, or general Halloween bash, this minty, yet festive bulk item would look killer in a tall glass candy dish.

Halloween Licorice Pastels I am a Good & Plenty fan, so I felt it necessary to include these chewy orange, black, and yellow licorice tubes in my list of unique finds. Like the Orange & Black Mint Twists, Halloween Licorice Pastels would add zing to any candy buffet table or treat bag.

Halloween Early Birds! Save 5% on Candy.com’s Halloween Candy by using Coupon Code “early5.” Offer applies to both wholesale and retail orders. Hurry, this offer ends August 31.

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