Friday, May 29, 2015

Candy In The Media

It's been a while since I've seen the movie Bloodsport, I think I'll have to pop it in the VCR again.  I meant to say VCR, because I'm pretty sure a VHS tape was the last format that I ever watched Bloodsport.  I love the way that this YouTuber turned a deadly chase scene into a fun filled Mentos advertisement.  It makes me wonder, can you remix Mentos advertisements into deadly chase scenes?


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Dutch?.. Netherlands?.. Holland Adventures, The Candy Critic's Travel Guide

Of the three (and a half) countries we've visited on this trip, the Netherlands is the only one we've never visited before.  Because of this, the only impressions we had about this place was what we'd read, and any stereo types we knew.  Fortunately for us, the stereo types are pretty close to correct, and fortunately for the Netherlands these stereo types are all pretty positive.

Food wise the Netherlands is well known as a place where crafted and fresh made food is very important.  It's not that everything is ultra healthy, it's that the food is well thought out, and comes from the heart.  Specifically, Dutch food has some pretty great additions to the world menu.  Probably the most famous of these foods are licorice, cheese, and pancakes.  That's not to say that this is all that's on offer, but these are some of the best, and most famous contributions.
Probably the most dominant food on the Dutch landscape is cheese.  This could also be because we stopped in both Gouda and Edam.  Having said that, just about every village, town and city in the entire country has several cheese shops.  These shops offer area local cheese, or cheese from the more famous areas of the country.  They also offer many ways to eat cheese, including various cheese specific mustards and chutneys.  This was the first time I'd ever thought about dipping my cheese in a dip before, and after visiting a few of these shops I became addicted to the cheese and Dijon mustard combination.

A close second, when it comes to Dutch treats, is licorice.  Any candy store, or even grocery store in the country has many licorices to choose from.  They go from super strong licorices, to really super strong licorices, there's no room for weak licorice in this country.  Not being a huge licorice fan, I had trouble coming to terms with this, however I dug in a little, and I learnt something, I'm still weak when it comes to strong licorice.  Being the Candy Critic, I'm not going to give up that easily though.  I went to a local candy shop and picked up a huge bag of various varieties.  I'm going to eat this bag until I'm used to it, or my taste buds die trying.

Pancakes are another Dutch treat that are available in many different formats.  You can eat them for any meal, or even just a snack.  They come plain, with syrup, or filled with all kinds of savory ingredients.  While I'm pretty sure the Dutch didn't invent the pancake, they've certainly made it a big part of their diet.

If you want to talk about Dutch treats that haven't really crossed over to the mainstream, there are two things you have to try, stroopwafels and hagelslag.  Stroopwafels are actually fairly common in many stores all over the world, but I'm not sure how many people know that they're Dutch.  They consist of two thin waffle cookies with a thick syrup in between.  I've had stroopwafels in a few countries, but in the Netherlands they take them very seriously.
Hagelslag is another Dutch tradition that's spread around a little bit (mostly just surrounding countries), but I think could take the world by storm.  At first glance, one would say that hagelslag is basically chocolate sprinkles on buttered bread (or toast). The thing that makes these different however is the quality of the sprinkles.  Unlike most sprinkles you find in North America, hagelslag sprinkles are much more chocolaty.  In fact they will even on occasion substitute the sprinkles for curls of pure milk or dark chocolate.  The variety and quality of the hagelslag is really the key, and as the photo shows above, grocery stores have full sections dedicated to this very Dutch treat.
The final stop on our Dutch journey was in the big city of Amsterdam.  This city is very different than the other towns and cities of the Netherlands.  While there are lots of great places to see in the city, there's no getting around the fact that marijuana and sex are a big part of this place.  Even the candy reflects this liberal attitude.  Sexy candy was available all over the Red Light District, and all of the local stores offered hemp and marijuana themed and flavoured treats as well.
The coolest candy thing that I saw on this trip? It had to be this very retro candy machine in the hallway of my hotel in Amsterdam. The candy was average, but the machine was awesome.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Spicy Christmas Candy Thing

I probably should have waited until Christmas to post this Spicy Candy Thing, but I just couldn't wait.  I have to be honest, I don't know if I've ever tasted Sriracha, but it's pretty trendy right now, so I thought these candy canes were pretty neat.  Since Sriracha is also a pretty popular BBQ addition, I guess these candy canes could really be an all year treat if you wanted them to.  Come to think of it, why aren't candy canes popular all year round, and why don't they come in more flavours?  The hook shape makes them handy for storage all the time, and even the traditional mint flavour would be great for cooling you down on a hot summer's day.  When I first posted this, I thought it was silly to post about candy canes this time of year, now I think it's silly not to eat candy canes all year long.


Monday, May 25, 2015

This Week In Candy

The road to recovery was long, but I'm back, and it appears that I'm almost %100 healthy.  That means this week we'll have a little catching up to do.

Myself, I'm getting back into the writing grove, I'm writing a few travel articles, as well as working on my latest book.  I'm also thinking about finding a way to make finding some of the candies we review a little easier for you.  I was recently inspired to try a link up with a few brick and mortar candy stores to help you guys ( readers) find some of the treats you read about at candy stores near you.  The first thing I need to do is find a couple of candy stores that would be willing to try out this experiment.

Last week we should have posted the last installment about our latest European adventure.  Since we missed last week, we're posting it this week instead.  This week's post is about the last stop on our trip, the Netherlands.  Check back on Thursday for a look at what we saw in the land of cheese, licorice, and canals.

This week Snack Facts is also back to normal, with posts on something other than crackers.  Although, I was pretty amazed that crackers had such an interesting history.  Since the weather is getting warmer, we thought we'd look at the perfect cool down treat, ice cream.  Every day this week, on our Instagram feed,  we'll be posting a new fun fact about this cool creamy treat.  If you don't have Instagram, don't worry, you can follow Snack Facts on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page as well.

This week's review is a bit of a mistake.  It appears that I've written a review about a limited edition variations of a treat, without actually writing a review of the original treat.  I've decided that to remedy this error, next week I'll review the regular Kinder Bueno, just so things balance out.  However, you can read this week's Kinder Bueno Dark review right here right now.


Friday, May 22, 2015

Candy In The Media

This week I've had a bit of a conundrum.  Two videos have peeked my interest, both very different, but both fun and junk food related.  The first one is pretty much what you might expect from the internet, it's a cat, more importantly it's a cat eating ice cream and then getting brain freeze.

The second video is the triumphant return of Colonel Sanders.  Apparently the folks at KFC want to re-live their great history with a new Colonel.  This wouldn't be so creepy except for the fact that Colonel Sanders was a real man.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Breaking Bad Candy Thing

I was listening to a podcast a while back and they were talking about movie props.  One of the people on the podcast mentioned that the props from Breaking Bad were in fact often made of candy.  For those unfamiliar with the show, the main "prop" of the show is crystal meth.  I thought it would be interesting to see if anybody has taken the logical step and turned this "prop" into a candy business.  As it turns out there are a few people making official, and I'm sure unofficial Breaking Bad blue crystal candies.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

This Week In Candy... Sort of.

Well my weekend didn't go as planned.  It appears that as a gift for the Victoria Day holiday this year I got food poisoning. And not just a sore tummy,  full on everything doesn't want to stay in my body food poisoning. So that's why everything is a little late this week.  Just because I'm writing this, don't let that send you the wrong message. I'm still extremely sick, over the last few days I've eaten a grand total of 12 crackers, a bowl of yogurt, and 2 bananas. I've decided to take on the "BRAT" school of dietary recovery and so for the next little while it'll be bananas, rice, apple sauce, and toast (although I may go for crackers instead of toast).

So this week is going to be a week of recovery and rest. But fortunately for you we'll still have a few posts that I've previously written going online later this week.  I won't be posting a new review, mostly because I don't want to associate any candy with this very bad week, food wise.

Snack Facts, our Instagram feed will also continue as usual, and this week's theme will be on crackers. Why's that?  Well they're the only food that I can eat regularly right now, so I don't want to push it.  Check our Instagram feed everyday this week (except Monday because I really couldn't do it on Monday) for a fun filled fact about the food that's probably keeping me alive right now.  If you don't have Instagram you can also follow Snack Facts on our Facebook page and our Twitter feed as well.

Now I'm going to go to bed.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Candy In The Media

On my way home from Europe, I had a stop in Dubai.  While in Dubai I stopped at a candy store, it was a massive candy store with treats from all over the world.  I'm pretty sure I'll be writing about this store in the future.  While at this candy store I was offered a foreign (at least to the local Emirates) treat, an Almond Joy.  They gave me a piece and then went on to explain the bar to me, like I'd never heard of it before.  After describing the Almond Joy, the girl then went on to describe the Mounds Bar to me, just in case I didn't want the almond.  The conversation then went as follows:

Girl in store:  The Almond Joy has an almond in it, and the Mounds Bar does not.

Me: Cause sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes you don't.

Girl in store: *Blank stare*

Me: *Walk away awkwardly*

This just proves that some cultural references don't cross all borders.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

British Adventures, The Candy Critic's Travel Guide

Last week I posted the first entry in our three part series about a recent trip to Europe.  Part one was all about the French leg of our journey, full of pastries, crepes, and Disney stuff.  Today I'm going to write about the British leg of our journey.  Most of this journey took place in England, however we did spend one day in Wales, that provided us with an interesting sweet surprise.
This was by no means our first trip to the UK, in fact the UK tends to be a regular stop for us whenever we travel in Europe.  It might just be a stop over with a day or two in London, or it could be a grand adventure through the British countryside.  This particular trip was more about the grand road trip, and we managed to stop in a few places both in the north and in the south west.

The thing that always appeals to me when I travel to the UK is the fact that the treats are fairly recognizable.  Some British sweets and foods are very common in Canada, so when I travel to the UK it gives us a little taste of home.  Treats that aren't available in Canada are still fairly comfortable to our palettes.  I'm rarely shocked by any British foods, but instead I'm filled with a certain feeling of comfort.  The other great thing about the British palette is their love of sweets and pub food, two of my favorite things.
This trip started out at a friend of ours' wedding.  The great thing about this friend (and his family), is they have the traditional British love of sweets.  The dessert table at this wedding was filled with all kinds of amazing treats, many of them were even homemade.  I could go one for hours about how much I loved this food, but that's not really fair to you since many of treats aren't available to you unless you're friendly with a local British family.  I'll tell you this much, the meringues were fantastic.
The second part of our British experience was all about driving around exploring the countryside.  Food wise the two themes seemed to be cheese and Scones with clotted cream.  In some cases we were lucky enough to experience both at the same time.  One of our great stops was in the beautiful city of Cheddar.  There I learned that real cheddar is not about being orange, but instead it's about being aged in the caves of the Cheddar Gorge.  It's not only a beautiful place naturally, but there are plenty of places in the area to have a cheese sandwich (made with real cheddar) and some scones with clotted cream.
Our obsession with clotted cream comes from a past experience we had in Scotland where we sampled the best scones with clotted cream we've ever had in our entire lives.  It came from a fairly unlikely place, a cafeteria on the shores of Loch Ness.  Since then, every time we go out in the UK countryside, we always get a craving for scones with clotted cream.  This was no different, and I'm sure we managed to fill our cravings at least 6 or 7 times on this journey.
While Cheddar is a great all around place to enjoy some British food in a beautiful setting, on our second day we visited a large ice cream shop in a town with a really strange name, Mumbles, in Wales.  The place has a very simple name "Joe's", but it serves up what might be the best vanilla ice cream I've ever had in my entire life.  If you're not convinced by one Candy Critic's opinion, just check out the Tripadvisor page for this ice cream place.  You can ask just about anybody in the town what to visit, and before they suggest the seaside, or the castle, they'll ask if you've had ice cream at Joe's yet.

If you go, I recommend getting the plain vanilla, if you want you can ad some sprinkles or nuts, but don't go for the flavours.  It's not that the flavours are bad that I know of, it's just the vanilla is so good.  It's smooth, creamy, and has a beautiful texture.  This was one of the best food finds of this trip, and I can't recommend it any more.  After eating Cheddar in Cheddar, and with a belly filled with Joe's ice cream, we headed to London.  London is always a great place for anybody with a sweet tooth, however it's not really perfect.
I've noticed a trend in London of these places selling import candy, most of which is American, Canadian, and Australian.  While I love the fact that they're exposing candies from around the world to the folks in the UK, I do have a beef with their prices and policies.  The shop above in particular is a prime example of this problem.  When I went into this shop I found that the only person to even look my direction was the large security guard.  Most of the staff was either wondering or too busy to talk to anybody.  The prices were extremely high (I can kind of accept that because of shipping costs), but they had many policies about buying a minimal number of each candy.  When I travel I like to sample small amounts of each candy, but this place refused to sell me a candy that I was interested in and told me I had to buy a minimum of 4.  I don't mind big candy stores, and I accept the price increase because of the imports, but I don't accept stupid policies, and I hate it when I find local candies in these stores at jacked up prices (to get the tourists).  Worst of all, the woman I spoke to (who I assume was the manager or owner) was very rude to me, and wore a constant scowl.  There, rant over.
So I don't end this post on a bad note, I wanted to share with you guys something I noticed on one of the Tube trains in London.  It appears that the chair cover design, may have been inspired by one of the UKs more famous candies, Licorice Allsorts. You be the judge.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Really Big Nerdy Candy Thing

I love Nerds candy.  The thing is, Nerds don't come across as a "manly" candy to eat.  So often when I buy a box, I have to eat them at home, behind closed doors.  After all I wouldn't want to embarrass Allison with my weak candy habits would I.  This giant box of Nerds is the perfect solution to my problem.  It will allow me to enjoy one of my favorite retro candies (when I was a kid they weren't retro, but that's another rant for later), and I don't have to worry about thugs around the neighborhood making fun of me.


Monday, May 11, 2015

This Week In Candy

Welcome to another week of candy good times here at Candy Critic.  This week around the Candy Critic office we're going to be writing.  As you may or may not know I'm working on a book about the history of chocolate.  It's been a long time in the research, but I'm finally starting to piece things together and the writing is going to be flowing like crazy this week... I hope.  If you have any fun tidbits of information that interest you on the history of chocolate, please share, as any information or encouragement helps.

On the blog later this week we're going to have our second in a series of posts about our recent trip through Europe.  This week we're going to look at our stops in the UK... Or is it Britain?  Well it was England and Wales, so it might be both.  We had a really great time touring around and sampled some pretty awesome foods along the way.

This week on our Instagram feed Snack Facts we're going to look at a classic American treat, the Charleston Chew.  In the past we've compared the best temperature to eat your Charleston Chew, and now we'll look at a few other fun facts about this great American snack.  Make sure to follow us on Instagram to have our fun Snack Facts delivered to you every day.  If you don't have Instagram, you can also follow Snack Facts on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page as well.

Our new review this week is a twist on one of our favourite chocolate bars, the Chunky Kit Kat.  These "twists" can sometimes be great, but they can also be failures as well.  This week I feel as though it's more of a fail than a win.  But we have to give them credit, they just keep trying don't they.  Click here to read about the latest Kit Kat we've tasted.


Friday, May 08, 2015

Candy In the Media

This very popular video has inspired me.  I think I might try something similar, only instead of feeding strange candies to others, I'm going to eat them myself.  I had this concept a few years back, but seeing how simple it can be shot, though this video, I think I might try to start it up again.  Stay tuned.


Thursday, May 07, 2015

French Adventures, The Candy Critic's Travel Guide

On our recent trip to Europe, we stopped in three and half countries, France, England (and Wales for a day), and the Netherlands.  Today we're going to look at the French leg of our journey, and what kind of fun snacks, junk food, and treats we sampled.  This was my third or fourth visit to France (Allison has been here at least a dozen times), and we've traveled all around the country in the past, but mostly in the North.  On this trip we stuck around the Paris area,  and the only thing we did outside of Paris was a stop in Versailles, and a few days in Paris Disney.
And what better way to start this look at Paris than our time in Paris Disney.  For the most part Paris Disney has a pretty bad reputation when it comes to their food.  Unfortunately for some part I have to agree with this, but it wasn't all bad.  Since we were visiting France not from North America but from Asia, we were craving some good old fashion North American food. This really worked in our favour as almost all of the food available at Disney Paris is North American(ish).  Many travelers visiting Disney from North America seem to be disappointed by the fact that most of the food at Disney Paris is North American, and not French.  I think there's good reason for Disney to shy away from french food, because Paris Disney is a huge tourist attraction for Europeans, and Europeans don't want European food, they want something exotic (in this case North American food).
While many of the North American food choices were pretty good to us, we did have a problem with a few places and the quality of food that was delivered.  Our worst experience was at The Steak House at the Disney Village area.  It was a pretty low quality steak, the service was pretty terrible as well, and it wasn't cheap.  We did however find another place in the Disney Village that turned out to be our favorite place in all of Disney Paris, an all you can eat Tex-Mex place on the top floor of Billy Bobs Country Western Saloon.  While the Tex-Mex wasn't authentic, it was the first time I've ever been to a Tex-Mex buffet, and I think it's a great idea.  The buffet also offered some very European options, including the treats pictured above, I'm not sure what a "Paris Brest" is, but it certainly wasn't what I thought.
Disney Paris also had many carnival and theme park standards including this awesome hot dog with cheese and deep fried onions.  It wasn't the highest quality hot dog ever, but it hit the spot and certainly reminded us of classic carnival food. The candy selection was probably the biggest disappointment of all at Paris Disney.  They have such a huge opportunity to sell themed, fun candy, but all I really found was Haribo and other standard candies packaged with Disney characters on the label. I don't even think I saw one gummy version of any Disney character.  There were a few lollipops shaped like Mickey, but that's about it. While the food at Disney certainly wasn't the highlight of our Paris trip, it wasn't as bad as the internet claims.  We also got to meet Goofy, so that was pretty awesome too.
The city of Paris itself is dotted with all kinds of restaurants and a few street food options.  The price of restaurant seems to depend greatly on how close you are to a tourist attraction.  This is made even more difficult since tourist attractions seem to be all over the place (in other words everything is expensive).  You can take advantage of the fact that Paris is having a huge number of people migrating from other countries for your food options. While this does create a population problem, it also creates a huge range cuisine options.  In some cases you'll find places run by African or Asian immigrants that are just out of this world.  Don't think that just because you're in France, you have to eat French.

One of our regular foods we eat every time we visit Paris is a crepe.  In my opinion this is one of the only foods that the French still hold as their own.  We managed to enjoy both dessert and savory crepes several times on this trip.  I recommend going to a sit down crepe place for a lunch, we tried a place called Crêperies Framboise near the Louvre and it was perfect.  Sit down and order a crepe filled with all kinds of savory delights including their awesome creamed spinach.  Then, walk around a while, and find a crepe stand selling sweet crepes.  You'll find some of the best near the Tuileries gardens.  A safe and tasty order is a crepe with Nutella, or you could go a little more traditional and get marron cream instead.
After a few days in Paris, we decided to make a quick stop in Versailles for a day.  Versailles is probably one of the most beautiful park areas anywhere around Paris.  The food is pretty standard (sandwiches, and simple French foods), and very expensive.  Although the price may be high, I really think this is a great place to have a meal.  If the day is nice I'd recommend any of the many outdoor cafes around the garden.  Pick up a sandwich and sit where royalty once sat to eat their lunch.  Inside the main palace there's a cute little sandwich counter with limited seating.  While it's not the most glamorous of places, it does give you the opportunity to eat cake in Versailles, and that's just so perfect.

Paris is often considered to be one of the food Meccas of the world, but I have a big problem with that statement.  The problem I think stems from the fact that places all over the world have taken French cuisine and made it their own.  In many cases these places have even improved on it.  While there are many nice snack and pastries to enjoy, I'm rarely blown away with the innovation coming out of Paris today.  The classics are always there, but in many cases I've tried better version in other parts of the world.  The best Mont Blanch I've ever had was in Japan, I've had some amazing Macarons in Greece, and Allison claims that the best croissant she's ever eaten was in Vietnam.
While visiting Paris you are certainly seeing where many of the most famous chefs and foods were created, however I've not really seen much advancement recently.  The food created here is some of the most famous in the world, and it's all fine and good, however other countries are starting to perfect the French classics as well.  I'm not saying that this isn't a great place to eat at all, I'm just wondering if Paris is due for a renaissance in food.  I'm hoping that this influx of migrants coming into Paris might be the key to this great new era of French cooking.  This city could turn into one of the best places to sample foods from all over the globe.


Wednesday, May 06, 2015

A Donut or Doughnut Candy Thing

I've discovered a design flaw in this designy donut shirt from our awesome line of candy themed t-shirts.  The problem is that it's white.  While many donuts are safe to eat in white shirts, there are plenty that are very drippy and gooey, and would stain the heck out of this shirt.  I think for a future design I'm going to make a shirt specifically designed for people that want to eat donuts.  It'll eliminated any embarrassment that might come up after eating a chocolate cream filled donut.


Monday, May 04, 2015

This Week In Candy

Now that things are unpacked, and our world is organized, it's time to get back to our regular work.  Over the next three weeks we're going to look at the snacking and junk food fun we had in the three (and a half) countries we visited on our latest trip to Europe.  We'll call them "travel tips for the candy fan", and we're checking out some great places worth visiting in this great continent.  We'll start this week with a look at France (including a stop at Disney Paris), a place that's known for being a mecca for all foodies, candy and junk food fans are not forgotten.  Next week we'll look at British/Welsh treats, and finally in two weeks we'll look at Dutch treats.

This week on Snack Facts, our Instagram feed, we're going to look at one of the most famous desserts to come out of Turkey, Turkish Delight.  When I was a kid Turkish Delight was something that you really had to travel to taste, but today it's available all over the world.  It's a treat that has many flavours, textures, and a great history.  So tune into our Instagram feed and learn a little something about this soft chewy treat.  If you don't use Instagram, you can also check out our Snack Facts on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page as well.

If you want to keep up with all the candy news and trends, make sure to follow our Facebook or Twitter feeds.  We post the latest news as it happens about junk food, candy, sweets, baking, or anything else that catches our interest.  You'll also get to see some behind the scenes stuff that goes on at Candy Critic.

All of this traveling and sampling of foreign treats has made me a little homesick.  So this week's new review is a treat from my "home and native land", Canada.  Unfortunately this treat didn't really do very well in the review, but I'm still happy to have a bite of home now and then.  Click here to read this Canadian review.


Friday, May 01, 2015

Candy In The Media

In this, our last post about how sex is used to sell candy, I thought I'd go with the most blatant use of sex to sell candy I could find.  I would even go so far as to say that this commercial is probably selling sex more than it's candy.  You're pretty much in the last 10 seconds of this commercial until you realize they're even selling a Snickers bar. I guess the Snickers folks felt that those wanting a bikini car wash would also enjoy a chocolate bar filled with nuts, nougat and caramel.  Having said that, I'm pretty sure just about anybody would enjoy a bar filled with nuts, nougat and caramel, so I guess this works.