Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

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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If you are an Elvis fan, particularly poly-jumpsuit-era Elvis, check this:

The oversized (a smidge over a foot) Elvis PEZ dispenser comes with a gold-plated TCB (that’s “Taking Care of Business” for Elvis neophytes) necklace and six rolls of PEZ candies. If that weren’t enough, the battery-operated dispenser plays “There Goes My Everything,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “American Trilogy,” “The Wonder Of You,” and “Promise Land.”

Have I died and gone to heaven?

If Elvis doesn’t do it for you, the Winnie the Pooh and Friends collection may win you over. I’ve always been fond of little Piglet.

You can bring these classic characters up to the iPhone era with chocolate-flavored PEZ refills, which PEZ Candy, Inc. introduced in 2008.

Beth Mora-Panepinto, product marketing manager at PEZ Candy, Inc., says it took the company two years to get the chocolate candy flavor “just right.” According to Beth, consumers frequently report that the chocolate tablets taste like Nestlé Quik Nesquik. Who didn’t like drinking that stuff as a kid?

This fall, Beth says to keep your eyes peeled for the following new PEZ products:

Not sure which is cooler—packaging or product.

Hello back-to-school gift.

Hand out this vamp at Halloween and instantly become a block star.

PEZ Trivia Takeaways (bet you didn’t know this stuff)
1.
The first PEZ dispenser was created in 1948 and was designed to look like a cigarette lighter to encourage people to quit smoking and eat candy instead.

2. The name PEZ comes from the German word for peppermint, pfefferminz, taking the P from the first letter, E from the middle, and Z from the last letter.

3. The most popular PEZ dispenser sold to date? Santa Claus.

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A very peculiar novelty candy item arrived in my mailbox last week: Gummy Shotz (edible gummy shot glasses). The “shot glasses” ship six individual flavors per pack and flavors include cherry, grape, orange, lemon, lime, cola, blue raspberry, green apple, pink bubble gum, and pineapple.

I’m guessing these colorful, two-inch-tall sticky vessels were dreamed up for gimmicky 1 oz. drinks like Lemon Drops, Kamikazes, and B-52s … and for more mature events like bachelorette parties, Mardi Gras, luaus, etc.

I get that, but I took these super sweet and somewhat rubbery shot glasses in a more juvenile direction. (How many adults really want to eat a gooey gummy “glass” after downing a shot of Jäger? It’s a heck of a chaser.)

I spent a morning in my kitchen concocting candy crafts by inserting a mini baking cup in each shot glass and filling the mini cups with colorful candies like peanut M&M’s, Reese’s Pieces, sour crawlers, gummy bears, and Skittles to play off of the primary gummy colors.

My craft project turned out to be something I would use as a kid’s party favor wrapped in cello and tied with a bow (Candy Land theme anyone?), or as eye candy on a candy buffet.

Per my 14-year-old neighbor’s brilliant suggestion, I also filled some of the shot glasses with whipped cream and topped them with fruit and sprinkles. I don’t think I’d serve these to guests older than 14, though, but they do look pretty on a tray.

I photographed some of my final products with my low-budget 35 mm, so my apologies in advance for the following lackluster visuals:

Now it’s your turn to think outside of the box. What would you fill these gummy shot glasses with?

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in Brands/Companies, Candy, Candy Type, Reviews, Soft

22 Mar

A Sour Solstice To All! 0

Making sour versions of existing products is the new black. Sour gum, sour gummies, sour chews, sour chaw, sour chocolate, sour milk and so on. It would seem all the world wants to play good cop / bad cop with its snack food, and while some of these excursions into sourtopia have been horribly misguided (sour spam), I admit I’m rather sweet on sour skittles.

The flavors are five; Orange, Grape, Lemon, Lime and Strawberry. To my tastes, Strawberry is the best of the bunch, mostly because it tickles the same taste nodes as my beloved Pink Starburst, what with its bright / mellow fruitiness and its creamy / tangy carryings on and the fact that I’m willing to root around in the package, neglecting all the other perfectly good skittles until I’ve exhausted this flavor. The citrus family of Orange, Lemon and Lime are all pretty solid and share the honor of being sour-er than your average citrus sour—the lemon especially approaches warhead-caliber pucker levels, though admittedly, the sensation doesn’t endure quite so long. Finally, Grape, like most artificial grape flavors, just exudes that fresh from the lab, dimetap flavor we all have to come to terms with on our lonesome, down in a cave somewhere on Dagobah, without Yoda.

I say, it's foggy.

Basically, Sour Skittles take what’s already present in Original Recipe and amplify it with a liberal dusting of magic, big-kid-strength sour powder (read citric acid, and the ever elusive “natural and artificial flavors”). It’s notable that Sour Skittles, unlike Original Skittles (and the first generations of Sour Skittles) contain no gelatin or gluten, making them vegetarian and celiac disease-sufferer safe. Whether they are vegan safe is a more complex question, as it’s unclear if sour skittles contain shellac (which is derived from the secretions of the female lac bug), and reports persist of MARS Inc. cruel animal testing practices. If these aren’t deal breakers for you, I think you’ll enjoy Sour Skittles thoroughly, though I recommend doing so in relatively small doses, as too many handfuls of this powerful, confectionery potpourri might also see you suddenly confronting dagobah.

On a lighter note, one 5.7 ounce “peg bag” has 160% of your daily Vitamin C!

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in Candy, Reviews