Strawberry Fields tic tac

Strawberry Fields tic tac

We picked this candy up at the Sweets and Snacks Expo 2011. I had two packages of them so I tried a few on my way home from Chicago. It was a five hour drive and I do have a love of tic tacs. Besides, I didn't want to eat much else after two days of "sweets and snacks", so a 2 calorie mint was exactly what I wanted. At the time I thought this candy was amazing and absolutely loved it, but as I tried a few today my initial thoughts were swayed a bit.



First, here's my story about tic tacs. I remember when I was little an older gentlemen who attended our church. He always sat in the back to open and close the middle doors. I believe he was the "Head Usher", but I remember him as Mr. P. After church was over, he would always wink at you and say he was "watching you behave in church" and would then take a container of tic tacs out of his pocket and let you have one.  These tiny little mints were like manna from Heaven.  I don't know why that was such a big deal but he was always such a nice person and ALWAYS had tic tacs with him. My favorite was the orange flavored.  I remember sometimes he'd take out a white mint box and then he would smile at me as from another secret pocket he would produce an orange box just for me.  Maybe he was that nice to everyone, but at the time, I thought he was the nicest person I'd ever met. As time went on and I got older I couldn't help myself to the candy after church but my brother and sister could. They had the same smile and reaction as I did and we sometimes talk about Mr. P. and just how nice that one act really was.



Fast forward to today and I still love tic tacs, maybe because of Mr. P. Orange is still my favorite, but I love to try their new flavors. I really like this flavor, but I started out loving it. I'm not sure why I changed my mind but initially I thought these were fantastic, then I decided they were good but wouldn't unseat my favorite orange tic tac from being the king of tic tac flavor hill. These have a very nice strawberry flavor that takes just a second to hit your tongue. I think there are two different flavors in each container and I keep pairing them up. The brighter pink colored tic tac has more flavor than the lighter color one. It is more pronounced and the lighter pink seemed more soothing to me.  It's sort of like a strawberries and cream type flavor. There is also a hint of mint in these but they are not as refreshing as a mint tic tac would be. I like the newer larger size, which is still only 2 calories and I love the "new" in the corner (it always gets my attention when buying candy) and the strawberries graphic floating on the side of the box is a nice touch. These should hit stores soon and if you are a tic tac fan like me, you'll want to try this flavor out. It is very summery and light and a fun change of pace for a tic tac fan.

Strawberry Fields tic tac


Taste: 3/5 Liked It
Calorie Counter: 1 piece = 1 serving = 2 calories, 0g fat, 0g sugars
Price: Free sample from Ferrero U.S.A.
tic tac U.S.A. web site


Fruit-Tella Strawberry

Fruit-tella Strawberry

When I think of the candy company Perfetti van Melle, I think of Mentos. Besides Air Heads, which Perfetti also makes, there is no other candy I associate with them more. However, they also make another great candy that we do not see very often in the U.S. That candy is Fruit-Tella. When a good friend of ours traveled to the Netherlands recently, I asked if she would bring us back some candy. She brought back a big four pack of Fruit-Tella Strawberry (among many other items) and we enjoyed every single piece in the giant package.



For Americans, the description of this candy is pretty simple. If you look at the photo below (from the Dutch import shop I visited recently) summed it up very well.  It says, "This is the "Dutch Starburst". That is as simplistic of a description you'll ever find of a foreign candy, but it does help describe what this candy is like. There are a few differences between Fruit-Tella and Starburst though. First of all, Fruit-Tella is smaller in size than Starburst. I'd say the pieces are about 60-70% of the size of Starbursts. I also think that Fruit-Tella is more flavorful and lasts longer than Starbursts. The only downside to Fruit-Tella is that I think it is more waxy than Starbursts. I often get to the end of one and have to spit out the waxy leftover part of the candy, I do not have to do that with Starbursts.

Fruit-tella the Dutch Starburst!

The strawberry flavor in this candy was very good. I'm not a big fan of strawberry candy in general because the flavor usually seems fake and it's a very tough flavor to replicate. I did like this version of a strawberry candy though. I thought it was one of the closest flavors to real strawberry that I've had. It had a nice tart strawberry flavor that reminded me of summers picking strawberries in a large field by where I grew up. We used to go to a "you pick, you-pay" field where the farmer allowed you to eat as much as you wanted while you picked. That is probably why strawberry candy doesn't appeal to me. I've eaten so many strawberries in my life, the experience and taste is very familiar to me.

 

Having friends bring back souvenir candy is one of the best parts about writing a candy blog.  This particular friend is also headed to Sweden this year and another friend just came back from Denmark.  There aren't enough days to review all the candies they brought back, but we sure are enjoying learning about and tasting candy from around the world.


Taste: 4/5 Really Liked It
Calorie Counter: Not listed
Price: These were listed at $1.25 at our Dutch Import shop, I'm not sure what they cost in the Netherlands, I did not ask our friend to keep track of prices.
Fruit-Tella Web Site

Fruit-tella Strawberry


Sunbursts by Kimmie Candy Company

Kimmie Candy - Sunbursts

After reviewing the Habanero Kettle Corn Nuggets that the Kimmie Candy Company sent me, I moved on to their Sunbursts candy. In the past few years, it seems that chocolate covered sunflower seeds have begun to show up in nearly every gas station or truck stop. I've seen several companies that make a similar candy to Kimmie's Sunbursts, but I like the colors of Kimmie's best. Often, the candy coating on this type of candy is in shades of "fall"...muted and brown with some green and red.  To me, those colors aren't very appetizing.  But here, I like both the color scheme and the name; Sunbursts makes you think of sunflower seeds and the colors of this candy "BURST" out at you.



When I mentioned this product to friends, a lot of them asked me why someone would cover sunflowers seeds with candy coating and chocolate. I'd always answer the same...that someone in the past probably said that about peanuts, but look how popular peanut M&Ms are now. The candy coating on this candy is great, the chocolate is tasty and I love sunflower seeds, so that nutty sunflower flavor is fantastic. I liked the corn nuggets but wasn't addicted to them. I was very addicted to this candy!  But, even with a serving size of half a tube, I couldn't eat that many in a row. I like these as an alternative to peanut M&Ms. Sunflower seeds always remind me of summer and that's something I love thinking about with winter almost over in the snowy tundra that is the Midwest. I'm also telling myself that these are good for me because they contain sunflower seeds, I'm sure there's some science out there that can back up my claim, right?



Everyone in our family really enjoyed these. (This is the first candy I've let our one year old taste.  He couldn't get enough of them and they were a super size for him.)  I love the colors, the container and the taste.  This candy has me wondering how cashews would taste covered in chocolate, then covered in candy coating.  I can't think of a product like that...maybe Kimmie could do that next!


Taste: 4/5 Really Liked It
Calorie Counter: 1/2 of a tube = 1 serving = 210 calories, 12g fat, 20g sugars
Price: Free Sample Provided by the Kimmie Candy Company
Kimmie Candy Company Web Site

Kimmie Candy - Sunbursts


Jelly Belly - Wrecking Ball - Jawbreaker

Jelly Belly Wrecking Ball Jawbreaker

I picked this unique candy up at a truck stop on our way home from a weekend away. I've always wondered how you are supposed to eat one of these things and when I saw it was made by Jelly Belly, I knew I had to try this out for myself (much to the distress of my dentist, I'm sure).  When I first saw this, I was very surprised that it was made by Jelly Belly. However, when you consider that jawbreakers are made with a hot panning process, the same as the exterior of a Jelly Belly jelly bean, I guess it's  only natural that Jelly Belly would be able to make something like this.

After pondering how to eat this, I ended up hitting it with a hammer to break it into pieces small enough to eat. What a mess that was!  Here I am on our tile floor, whacking away at a piece of candy (in a plastic baggie) trying to break it into smaller pieces. It's very surprising how hard something made out of sugar can be. I powdered some of it, some of it went into tiny little pieces and the rest broke off into bite-sized chunks. This whole process makes it even funnier that 1/3 of a piece is a serving.  How in the world would you only eat 1/3 of this thing? The bigger irony, of course, is that I bought it at a truck stop...and a trucker certainly could not eat it while driving or whack it with a hammer.  He'd have to take it home to eat later (like I did) or maybe a trucker might buy it to take home to the kids after a long trip?  I did find another method at Serious Eats on how to lick one of these for 3 days to get it eaten, I wasn't willing to try that myself. I do have a job I have to go to and they wouldn't be amused if I carried this around licking it all day. This candy is about as large as a racquet ball and would be sticky mess if you just carried it around licking it.  I realize it is meant as a novelty candy....it is just so absurd!


Absurd as it is, I love the beautiful red color on the outside with small flecks of other colors in it. Once you get this open (smacked open with a hammer or some similar method) you can see a beautiful rainbow of colors inside. I couldn't get a good picture of the inside but there's a good picture at the Serious Eats link above. The packaging says this is flavored orange, lime, grape, lemon and cherry. You can taste the flavors slightly on the inside and I have to admit this is the best jawbreaker I've ever had. The flavor reminded me a bit of a Gobstopper, only better, more flavorful and less sugar-y. As difficult as it was to eat, I can imagine buying this again, this would make a magnificent "big prize" on an Easter Egg Hunt, a super birthday gift for any boy aged 7-10, or something that would make a work day around the house a little more fun for my son.  I can hear it now, "I am done hanging this picture, now pass me that jawbreaker before I put the hammer away."

Jelly Belly Jawbreaker size compare


Taste: 4/5 Really Liked It
Calorie Counter: 1/3 of this piece = 1 serving= 160 calories, 0g fat, 39g sugars
Price: $2.29 purchased at a Truck Stop
Jelly Belly Web Site


Mike & Ike Cotton Candy

Mike & Ike Cotton Candy bag

The members of our family consider themselves to be experts in the area of cotton candy. You might be thinking that's a pretty bold claim, but it's true. See, we have a family-owned cotton candy machine that travels between all of our family events. It's been to weddings, graduation open houses, baby showers, you name it.  Basically if it is a family event, the cotton candy machine is there. We've tried different colors, different flavors, and different methods to make it.  In 15 years of marriage, I've eaten hundreds of those lovely puffy and sugary cotton candy fluffs on a stick.



Now that you are familiar with my credentials as a cotton candy expert, I'll review this store bought Mike & Ike Cotton Candy. We picked this up while we were out looking for new candy. We found this bag at Blockbuster, which has a surprisingly large assortment of candy. I had seen this candy before, but I didn't pick it up because I thought it would taste bad and would sour my feelings on Mike & Ike candy in general. I'm not a big fan of changing a classic or creating variations of a classic...and  I think Mike & Ike candy can definitely be considered a classic.



When I first opened the bag the very familiar sugary cotton candy smell reached my nose and I was happy. I love cotton candy and I really wanted this product to be good. I then pulled out the giant compressed cotton candy brick you see below. Hmmm....that doesn't look good, I thought. I snapped a few photos then tried my first bite of the red. WOW! What a nice cherry flavor. I hurried on to the yellow. WOW!  A fantastic lemon flavor that tastes almost exactly like Mike & Ike candies. Okay, the first 2 are great, let's try the green color, which is supposed to be lime flavored. WOAH! 3 for 3! The lime tastes exactly like the lime you expect from Mike & Ike candies. I was definitely impressed.

Mike & Ike Cotton Candy


The only flavor that did not taste like the original Mike & Ike candy was the cherry. I thought it tasted more like a cherry Lifesaver, but it was still a wonderful taste. This cotton candy is much, much sweeter than anything we've ever made (which is explained by the 36g of sugar per serving).  When you buy "floss sugar" (that is what you pour into your cotton candy maker), we have found that the "pink" flavor is great, we'll just call it "cotton candy flavor", but the other colors/flavors (yellow/banana or orange/orange) don't have much flavor to them.  Not so in this Mike and Ike version...all 3 have tons of flavor...which leads me to believe that there is a ton of artificial flavoring in this candy that you don't see in the normal sugar mix we buy for the cotton candy machine. That's a great thing though, because these flavors are really good. The texture is the same as normal cotton candy, but we thought it melted in our mouths much faster for some reason. I do miss the stick/cone we normally use for cotton candy because this stuff sticks to your fingers and makes them very sticky. I think they should just go ahead and attach a  small wet wipe to the outside of every package, just to make clean up easier. I can't imagine feeding this to children.  I know how messy my 6 yr. old is with cotton candy on a stick.  He'd be a disaster with a block of this stuff.



Overall, I'd have to say this was a great addition to the classic Mike & Ikes line. I love cotton candy and these flavors were so good and tasted very much like the original candy. This is a very messy candy, but to me, that is half the fun of eating candy. I love messy and fun candy that reminds me of being a kid again and that's exactly what this candy does.


Taste: 4/5 Really Liked It
Calorie Counter: 1/2 of a 2.5oz bag = 1 serving= 150 calories, 0g fat, 36g sugar
Price: $1.99 purchased at Blockbuster
Just Born - Mike & Ike Web Site




Ferrara Pan - Sour Bug City - SOUR Candy Tarts

Ferrara Pan Sour Bug City

So, what is your favorite candy memory from childhood?  My wife and I have asked a lot of our friends that question lately.  In response, one of my wife's co-workers told her about this Ferrara Pan candy  she remembered buying as a kid.  Her favorite part was that after you ate the candy, you could use the container to catch bugs.  Can't you just imagine being 8 and eating the whole container of candy and then catching a grasshopper to put inside or filling the jar with fireflies when it got dark?  Maybe you can't, but living in the country, we can!!

I believe this candy has been discontinued by Ferrara Pan, so I turned to Ebay to try and find it. I'm constantly amazed at what you can find on Ebay (or the internet in general). I found a nice 12 pack of this candy so I ordered it and had it at my house within a week. Did I mention how much I love the internet?

The candy itself isn't bad. It reminds me of a Wonka Sweetart in that it is both sour and tart at the same time. You can definitely smell both the malic and citric acids when you open up one of these containers. It is a compressed dextrose candy with cute little bugs stamped on top of them. It looks like there are only two bug shapes, one with wings (looks like a fly) the other is some kind of creepy crawly thing. They come in 3 different colors, much like the bug containers themselves. There is a green, blue and yellow color but I couldn't find any discernible difference in taste between them. 

The reusable plastic container has holes in it. You need to remove a waxy round circle that is in the lid before you can use this as a bug container though. The waxy round thing is there to keep the compressed dextrose candy from leaking everywhere. The lid seals up nicely, so you can definitely reuse this for many many bug catch and release adventures. The containers even come in three different lid colors, so you can keep everyone's captured creepy crawlies straight.

 

Ferrara Pan Sour Bug City Sour Candy Tarts


I have already given several of these away to people with children and so far the reviews are good. My son thought these were great, but he loves any kind of novelty candy. We live on an acreage with no shortage of bugs, so he will add this to his butterfly house, bug house, bug vacuum, bug microscope, butterfly net, etc. He has already started hatching a plan on how he's going to make a little house for one of every type of bug in our yard. I had to tell him that would require way more jars than what we have. So he asked me to buy a lot more of this candy, HA!!!  I wish I could recommend this candy but it is getting harder to find because it has been discontinued. In spite of the discontinuation, I really wanted to do a review to make a record of a great candy that once was widely available and brought joy to a lot of children.


Taste: 3/5 Liked It
Calorie Counter: 2.4oz container = 60 pieces = 4 servings per container = 15 pieces per serving = 50 calories, 0g fat, 12g sugars
Price: $2.00 per container, 12 pack was $24 shipped from Ebay
Ferrara Pan Web Site



Candyblog also has a review of the non-sour variety of this candy.


Jelly Belly Cinnamon Bears

Jelly Belly Cinnamon Bears bag

On one of our recent mini-vacations we discovered a small town truck stop with an amazing Jelly Belly cardboard candy center. It had almost every Jelly Belly variety you could think of. One of my wife's favorite candies is cinnamon bears, so I picked up this package for her. She ate almost the entire bag without sharing! She only let us have a few. However, that isn't the point. The point is that you can find candy anywhere you look and it may surprise you what you find.



One of the reasons my wife likes cinnamon gummi bears so much is because she has great memories of eating them as a child. (This is a good example of my candy tenet #3: Love of a specific candy is often about memories.)  When she was little, her mom would take her to Famous Barr to go shopping. My wife would be given $.25 and told she could pick out anything she wanted from the Famous Barr candy counter. My wife would always pick cinnamon gummi bears because they were very large and she could get 7 to 8 of them for her $.25. My wife is looking over my shoulder and telling me she also bought them because her mom loved them too.  However, one day her mom lost the crown off her tooth while eating them and she was never allowed to purchase them after that.

Jelly Belly Cinnamon Bears


Unlike traditional cinnamon gummi bears, these gummi bears are lightly sugar coated (like a gumdrop).  They have a fantastic cinnamon flavor, kind of hot, but not too hot. The bag we purchased was super fresh, so the gummi bears were nice and chewy. The few of these I did get to eat did not stick in my teeth at all. This is my biggest complaint against gummi candy in general, I hate picking it out of my teeth. These gummis were about 1/3 the size of a normal gummi bear and about the size of 2 Jelly Belly jelly beans stuck together. Even though they were smaller, they easily packed twice the cinnamon power of larger cinnamon bears we've had. I now need to find a more convenient source to buy these from than the truck stop an hour away.  Until I find them locally, I might have to buy them from the Jelly Belly store as my wife is hoping to have them again very soon!


Taste: 5/5 Loved It
Calorie Counter: 21 pieces = 1 serving= 130 calories, 0g fat
Price: $2.09 purchased at a truck stop
Jelly Belly Web Site


Hot Tamales Cinnamon Flavored Spray

Hot Tamales Cinnamon Flavored Spray

As a child of the 80's, I'm a huge fan of breath spray. I know some of you are saying "What in the world?". Okay, bear with me. The 1980's was the decade of Binaca Breath Spray. If you didn't have one of these breath fresheners in your parachute pants or red thriller zipper vest/jacket, you weren't very cool. My favorite flavor was the Binaca Cinnamint. You can still buy this flavor on Amazon today, see the ad below. (Full disclosure, the ad links to my Amazon reseller account.)


My love of Binaca and Hot Tamales forced me to buy this product. It's not really classified as candy, but it does have a candy tie-in. Since this isn't a candy product, it does not have any calorie information on the packaging, but it does have an ingredient list. Water, Sugar and Flavoring...pretty simple ingredient list. I was a little concerned that this would be spicy hot, the flames graphics made me think that way, but then I figured if it were too hot, I could use it as pepper spray or something. The flames and Hot Tamales graphic peal off of the top and leave you with a plastic pump spray. I couldn't resist trying this out right after I snapped this photo, so with a little trepidation, I held it up to my mouth and pushed down on the plastic spray thing. Wow, I was really surprised. This was very sweet tasting with a very, very nice cinnamon flavor to it. I was expecting hot, but it wasn't hot at all.  (I didn't test it in my eyes to see how it would work as pepper spray.)  For a fun mouth freshening product, this really hits the spot. I would recommend this to anyone who is a big fan of Binaca Cinnamint (like me) or to someone that loves Hot Tamales...or to anyone like me who is a huge fan of both.  I'll slip this in my pocket today as I head to my parents' house....of course, the pocket of my cargo shorts, not my awesome old green parachute pants.  In the same theme, I put a few Whitesnake, Wang Chung, and George Michael songs on my iPod to listen to on the way!



One thing I like to remind my readers is that you should try ANYTHING and EVERYTHING once. I was worried about buying this product, but in the end, I loved it and I'm glad I purchased it. Everyone in our family became a fan, I mean LIKED, this product, I think you will too.


Taste: 4/5 Really Liked It
Calorie Counter: None Given
Price: $1.00 purchased at the Dollar Tree Store
Hot Tamales Web Site


Schuttelaar Banaapies

Schuttelaar Banaapies

To say the United States is a country of immigrants would be an understatement. You can find cities within cities, and entire towns or small enclaves in cities that are populated by immigrants to the United States. In the state I live, there are several cities that were settled by Dutch colonists and that hold close many of those Dutch traditions today. The town we visit the most has a great Dutch/Netherlands import shop. My wife and son like to look over the licorice section while I peruse the entire candy section. This is one of the candies I found on our latest visit.



I was drawn to this bag by the very cute monkeys on the front of it and the Banaapies name. I thought this candy had to be fantastic with a name like that. My German and Dutch is very rusty but I tried to decipher what this candy really was. "Hmm...I think this says soft mar... something", I told my wife. "This says foam, or something" I said. My wife wasn't impressed. "So far you've told me it's soft foam banana flavored candy, sounds disgusting" she said. Then she walked over and pointed to the large sticker on the front that says, "Banana Shaped Meringue Candy". "That's not a very helpful description", I said, "What is meringue candy anyway?" I tried to squeeze one of the candy pieces through the bag.  It seemed slightly firm, but had some give. At this point, a clerk (in a Dutch high-pointed bonnet) said to us, "Think banana flavored circus peanuts."  Even though it was $4.00, we took it home and I was VERY eager to try it.

Schuttelaar Banaapies - 3 Bananas

I was very close in my translation. When I got home I fired up Google Translate and found that these are soft marshmallow and foam flavored banana candy. I can sum up the entire review by telling you that these ARE in fact, banana flavored circus peanuts in banana and monkey shapes. However, these are less dense than any circus peanut I've ever had. They are light and airy instead of dense and heavy. These have a fantastic but light banana taste, but are very sweet (by sweet I mean, these babies are PURE SUGAR). The size is WAY better than a circus peanut. I'd say these are half the size, maybe smaller than the circus peanuts you can find at almost every store.

Schuttelaar Banaapies - 3 Monkeys

The picture above is supposed to be of 3 monkeys. The details are hard to make out in this marshmallow candy. I call them, "Read my review", "See if you can find them yourself", and "Eat them all in one sitting", sort of like the Three Wise Monkeys. These were surprisingly good. With foreign candy, you never know what you'll get, but most of the time, I'm glad I purchased it. Even at the very high price, I'll definitely buy these again, they were fantastic.


Taste: 5/5 Loved It
Calorie Counter: 1/2 of a bag = 1 serving= 365 calories
Price: $4.00 purchased at Dutch Import Shop


Chocolaterie Stam

On our visits exploring the Midwest (and beyond) we usually stop at every candy and chocolate store we can find. Over the July 4th holiday weekend we stopped at Chocolaterie Stam in Ames, Iowa. They have several locations around the midwest and if you are in the neighborhood of one, you should stop by and see what they offer.

Chocolaterie Stam Chocolate Pieces Box

In the picture above you can see our selection of chocolate, we paid $11.72 for this selection, which I thought was rather reasonable.  The chocolate was somewhere around $13.74/lb. These are chocolate bonbons with a very very creamy inside. I absolutely love the chocolate molds they use: frogs, rum barrels, mice, maple leafs, butterflies, etc.  They are all very beautiful, very creative, and very crisp.

Chocolaterie Stam

In the above photo you can see their beautiful display....a candy and chocolate lovers dream. They were very helpful in the store and answered every question I had for them. The flavors they offered were fantastic and the creamy interior of these bonbons was simply amazing. It's hard to describe how creamy, light and wonderful these flavors were. You can order their products online if you'd like, I highly recommend it, but the point of this article is to remind you to stop by a local chocolate or candy store, what you find inside might surprise you.