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NRG_Drops

Do you ever lust for a jolt of energy, but don’t have the time to stop at Starbucks? Or, can’t face the day without a Diet Coke, but your refrigerator is empty? Say hello to your new best friend: NRG Shock Drops.

Hillside Candy (the makers of GoLightly and GoOrganic/GoNaturally candies) introduces berry-flavored NRG Shock Drops, which are portable, controllable, and shareable energy boosts. It’s energy to go, but on your terms. Have one drop for a quick pick-me-up or have a few drops for a marathon day ahead.

NRG drops are individually wrapped, so you can stash them in your purse, pocket, backpack, glove compartment, or desk. Like a good Boy Scout, you’ll be prepared for anything … even a drive across America. NRG Drops are also sugar-free, so you won’t fall victim to a sugar crash.

Try It, You’ll Like It!
For a limited time, NRG Shock Drops are available as a three-pack for $9.99 and it ships FREE! (Each 1.13-ounce pack includes four servings of berry-flavored NRG Shock Drops.) To purchase, click here.

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Now that the 2011 Sweets & Snacks EXPO has come in for a landing, and I’ve had a chance to sift through my notes scribbles, candy samples, and manufacturer marketing materials, I have a few more confectionery wunderkinds that need to be shared.

Anne Taintor and Knock Knock Chocolate Bars
The PRAIM Group

Paul Pruett, founder of the PRAIM Group, is known for producing clever chocolate bar products (Bloomsberry USA, Bubble Chocolate, and Bosco).  His latest venture is the creation and distribution of 3.5-ounce all-natural milk and dark chocolate bars for the individual brands Anne Taintor, Inc. and Knock Knock.

I’ve been a fan of Anne Taintor’s vintage/irreverent accessories for a number of years and I came to know Knock Knock stationery and accessories a few months ago while holiday shopping. I fell in love with Knock Knock’s “WTF” self-inking stamp and post-it notes.

Here’s a peek at both brands’ designs, now appearing on chocolate bar wrappers (you might recognize the artwork):

My favorite chocolate bar in the lineup is the “99 Ways to Survive the Holidays.” I may gift a few of these to myself this holiday season and follow suggestion No. 69, “Up the dosage.”

According to Amy Goldsmith, a spokesperson for the PRAIM Group, the bars are shipping to retail stores as of today, so look for them on Candy.com shortly.

Dippin’ Ice Cream Candy and Flix Mix
Imaginings 3, Inc. (Flix Candy brand)

When I stepped into the Imaginings 3/Flix Candy booth and saw signage for the company’s new Dippin’ Ice Cream Candy, I was skeptical. My kids have tapped my wallet multiple times for the expensive Dippin’ Dots ice cream pellets at baseball games, so seeing the brand in a candy format didn’t make me jump for joy. Plus, if I was going to pick an ice cream brand to morph into a candy, I’d lean toward Ben & Jerry’s.

Even so, I plunged ahead with a sample of the Cookies ‘n Cream Dippin’ Ice Cream candy (it’s also available in Banana Split). The product, which is made in the USA and available in a 2.6-ounce theater box and 1.6-ounce pouch, is a blend of tiny cookie bits and equally tiny cream bits—think Oreo cookie and its creamy white middle cut into teeny-tiny round dots. The Banana Split variety is blend of chocolate, banana, strawberry, and vanilla cream bits.

Bottom line, the Cookies ‘n Cream Dippin’ Ice Cream candy was quite a bit better than I expected. The cookie bits had a surprisingly good crunch and the creamy bits weren’t sticky or too stiff. I would sneak them into the movies.

Also sneak-in worthy is Flix Candy’s Flix Mix, a combination of crisp rice cereal coated with real milk chocolate and peanut butter, then dusted with powdered sugar. Flix Mix tastes remarkably like the no-bake Chex Muddy Buddies (also known as “Puppy Chow”) that infiltrates most offices and cookbooks during the holidays. If you are a sweet cereal mixer, you won’t be disappointed.

Flix Mix is available in a 2.2-ounce theater box and 4.5-ounce peg bag.

Shimmer Gumballs
SweetWorks (Oak Leaf Brand)

SweetWorks‘ new Shimmer Gumballs were one of the prettiest candies at last week’s Sweets & Snacks EXPO.

Julie Davidson, the company’s eastern regional sales manager, created a beautiful candy buffet table in the middle of the SweetWorks booth that showed off the pearly round gems (see pics below).

I could see these shimmering gumballs strung into garland or necklaces for parties … or displayed in apothecary jars at Tiffany’s. They are that glam.



SweetWorks’  Shimmer Gumballs are available in bulk in lime green (my favorite!), bright pink, lavender, powder blue, yellow, orange, and white. Starting in July, the gumballs will also be available in 8-ounce bags as part of SweetWorks’ new Celebration line.

The single-color Shimmer Gumball colors match SweetWorks’ line of single-color Pearl Sixlets. (See “Sixlets” jar in photo above.) Custom colors are available upon request.

Dorval Premium Collection Chocolate Sticks
Dorval Trading Co., Ltd.

Dorval Trading Co. now has its own line of all-natural chocolate sticks, which replaces the importing company’s Rademaker chocolate sticks from Holland. The new Dorval Premium Collection Chocolate Sticks are made with real chocolate and are packaged in 2.64-ounce boxes fit for gifting.

Of the four varieties in this line (Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Mint Dark Chocolate, and Caramel Milk Chocolate), the Caramel Milk Chocolate sticks are the most interesting. They  aren’t filled with caramel, but rather the flavor is infused in the chocolate.

Normally, I’m not into flavor infusions when it comes to chocolate—give me the straight dope—but the caramel flavoring in these solid sticks isn’t overpowering or cloying. The chocolate is good quality, and reminds me of Guittard’s smooth milk chocolate. Perhaps it is.

The Dorval Premium Collection Chocolate Sticks are scheduled to ship July/August 2011.

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A few months ago, I heard about a famous pastry chef who opened up a unique storefront just minutes from my home. Turns out it’s like a mini Willy Wonka Factory.

Chef Roby’s All-Chocolate Kitchen in Geneva, IL, is filled with Chef Alain Roby’s life-sized chocolate and sugar creations, including a replica of his own custom kitchen made out of 1,500 pounds of Barry Callebaut chocolate.

Chef Alain Roby sculpting sugar into edible art.

Last week, I sat down with the French pastry chef and found out how he went from studying culinary art in Paris to becoming one of the world’s best sugar and chocolate artists. (He also earned two Guinness World Records, had a 20-year career as corporate pastry chef for Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, and appeared on The Martha Stewart Show and several Food Network shows in between. Overachiever!)

Frosty the Sugar-man.

While I was  sipping inhaling Chef Roby’s signature hot cocoa, he showed me the top of his “World’s Tallest Chocolate Sculpture,” which is on display in the shop and in the Guinness World Book of Records.

Right as he was explaining how he constructed the chocolate skyscraper, he got an e-mail asking if he’d be interested in a third Guinness World Record: making the world’s tallest chocolate cactus. Not sure if he’s going to do it, but he was thinking out loud about how he’d construct it. If he winds up in the 2012 Guinness World Book of Records with an enormous edible cactus, you heard it here first.

Also on display in the shop/museum are life-sized chocolate sculptures, including a Chicago Blackhawks hockey player, a dinosaur, and an astronaut. (Funny story on the astronaut: Chef Roby originally created it for Chicago’s Adler Planetarium. Every two weeks, he says he’d get a call from the Planetarium asking him to come out and replace one of the chocolate fingers, which, I presume, was broken/eaten by one of the field-trip kids.)

The all-chocolate kitchen.

The painting in the kitchen was done by Chef Roby's artistic wife, Esther, who used white chocolate as her medium.

If you’re in the Chicago area and have an interest in culinary arts, chocolate, and heavenly hot cocoa, Chef Roby’s All-Chocolate Kitchen is well worth the trip … and 100% kid-friendly.

If you go, there’s a good chance you’ll see Chef Roby making chocolates or sculpting sugar figurines in the middle of his shop.

Admission to the edible museum is free. The storefront offers a sit-down cafe with Chef Roby’s hot cocoa, chocolates, and pastries, as well as freshly brewed Starbucks coffee. Private tastings, birthday parties, and demonstrations are available upon request.

Visitors can also learn about the Saving Tiny Hearts Society, which is something near and dear to Chef Roby and his wife Esther’s hearts as their own son was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. A portion of the profits from Chef Roby’s All-Chocolate Kitchen are donated to the organization.

Chef Roby's gorgeous truffles.

GO Chef Roby’s All-Chocolate Kitchen, 507 S. Third St., Geneva, IL,
 (630) 232-2395, ChefAlainRoby.com. Hours: Fridays from 12 to 8 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Mondays from 2 to 7 p.m.

Photos courtesy of Steve Eisen Photography


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Described as “the true blue Willy Wonka,” “eccentric,” an “oddball,” and a “savant,” David Klein, I recently found out, is all of these things, and more.

David Klein is the inventor of Jelly Belly jelly beans, and he’s got quite a story. Last week, I talked with David about his new documentary, Candyman: The David Klein Story, produced by his son and daughter-in-law. I’d been hoping to see this film, which chronicles David’s Jelly Belly journey, so I felt like I won a first prize when he offered to send me a copy.

So far, I’ve watched this feature-length film twice. It’s quirky and a little addicting. Ellia Kassoff, the owner of Astro Pops, LLC, says he’s watched it four times.

I am drawn to this film because David is a walking candy Wikipedia. If I were writing a historical piece on the industry, he’d be the first guy I’d call. Ask David a question about a candy brand and he’ll tell you when it was invented, the company that manufactured it, when the brand changed hands, and the people behind it all.

I am also drawn to this film because of David’s character. He is wacky (he writes all of his notes on paper plates) and would probably drive you nuts if he were your dad, but he’s got a heart of gold and an entrepreneurial spirit that trumps The Donald’s.

I’m no film critic, so I won’t go into details about the film (see the Candy Professor’s review), but I will share a few good takeaways I got from my call with the Candyman:

- From the beginning, David sold jelly beans as individual flavors. “If I only sold an assorted box, I’d only have one spot in the store. By forcing retailers to buy single flavors, I got much more shelf space.”

- David got the idea for intensely and realistically flavored jelly beans while watching “Happy Days.” He got the idea for the brand name, “Jelly Belly” while watching “Sanford and Son.”

- David’s all-time favorite candy is not jelly beans. It’s actually Junior Mints (and Queen Anne’s Caramellos, but they are extinct).

- David wishes the manufacturer of Junior Mints (Tootsie Roll Industries), would come out with a Junior Mint peppermint patty.

- David is working on a new line of jelly beans that he says will “revolutionize the jelly bean business.” If all goes to plan, the new beans will roll out before Easter 2011.

- The outlandish rhinestone cowboy outfit that David wore on “The Mike Douglas Show” set him back $4,760.

Candyman: The David Klein Story is now playing on The Documentary Channel, which is primarily available through satellite television services DISH Network (Channel 197) and DIRECTV (Channel 267).

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