Thursday, September 29, 2016

Best Variety - Lay's

All this month we've been looking  at treats  that offer huge varieties.  These varieties are all about taking the original treat, often a classic, and changing it slightly, or dramatically, to create something similar but with a twist.  So far we've covered, M&Ms, Kit Kat, Pocky, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, for our last installment we're going a little bit out of the box, in fact we're heading into a bag, a bag of Lay's Chips.

This installment might be a bit of a cheat, for two reasons.  First of all many people get on my case for reviewing chips on a site called Candy Critic, I have no honest justification for this, but I won't change it either.  Secondly, almost all of the varieties of Lay's chips has something to do with geography. Almost all of these chips are flavoured with common spices and flavours found in the  countries where they are sold.  There is one exception to this  rule, and that's Canada (my home and native land). This is because of a strange history that Canada has with potato chip flavours.

Canadians are very proud of the fact that we're crazy about crazy flavours of chips.  Most countries, as I said above, are tolerant of flavours, but only if they're based on common savory foods that they enjoy.  Canada on the other hand makes chip flavours for just about anything, and it doesn't even have to be savory.  While a few of these flavours do disappear and are only really gimmicks, several "strange" flavours have stuck around, and one in particular, Dill Pickle, remains a classic popular flavour in Canada today.

This might be why I appreciate tasting local chip flavours whenever I'm traveling.  From Spanish "Sabor Jamon Presunto", to Asia Nori Seaweed, to Pakistani street food, there are so many local flavours that can be found spicing potato chips.   Lay's is probably the largest maker of potato chips in the world, and I've seen their logo in just about every country I've ever visited.  While they always have a simple salt variety, there's inevitably a few other flavours worth trying as well.

I've tried 14 different flavour of Lay's potato chips, and the  diversity is pretty amazing.  The strangest flavour would have to be Cinnamon Bun, out of Canada.  Some flavours however are common in many countries.  Cheese, Onion, and Vinegar are very common flavours used in chips.  In just about every place I've visited there is one variety that will contain at least one of these three ingredients.  One of the other interesting features of chip varieties is the heat, or spiciness of the chips.  As you might imagine, in many Asian countries like India or Pakistan, the flavours are often very spicy, while in places like Greece or France it's more about subtle herbs.

The variety of Lay's chips available around the world are a great example of cuisines from around the world.  While being a simple snack, chips reflect a culture a lot more than most people would  think about.  This is likely because the potato gives you a blank canvas where you can add just about any flavour you'd like.  They can even be really strange flavours, like I find at home.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Candy Critic Shirt Thing

If you end up traveling to a country where they don't speak your language, this t-shirt will ensure that you can still eat ice cream. All you have to do is point to your shirt and smile.


Monday, September 26, 2016

This Week In Candy

Can you believe we're still here?.. At Disney World?  The photo above is me in Disney Paris, that's because I'm writing this way in advance and I don't have a picture of me in front of the Florida castle (yet). At this point in our trip I'm sure that I'm either sick of Disney stuff, or planning to move here permanently.

Our trip is winding down right now, and that means it's on to the second part of this adventure, but we'll have more about that next week.  For now we're still posting most of our regular blog posts, and reviews are likely to come back in the next few weeks.  This week we're posting our final installment on candy varieties, and it's a strange one.  We're going to look at Lay's chips and all of the strange flavours you can find of this salty snack.

Hope you're keeping up with everything we're doing at the Magic Kingdom via Twitter and Facebook.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

It's Time For Another Episode of Chris, Why Would You Eat That?!!

Just because we're away doesn't mean you have to miss out on all of the fun of watching Chris eat (or in this case drink) questionable foods.

Click  here to see some past episodes, I assure you most don't go this well for Chris.


Best Variety - M&Ms

All this month we're looking at some different treats that offer interesting variations.  Last week we looked at Reece's Peanut Butter Cups, and before that we looked at Pocky and Kit Kats.  Today we're looking at a fairly unique treat, that's been around so long we might forget how unique it is, M&Ms.  Unfortunately M&Ms are a copycat candy, they likely were inspired by the British Smarties.  Smarties are a candy coated chocolate that was created several years before the M&M.  The real difference in the two candies is the choice of colours (although with custom M&Ms this might not be true), thickness of the shell, and in some cases the flavour.  M&Ms have also branched out a lot more than Smarties.

Smarties have really only come out with one variety, and that's putting their popular candy into a chocolate bar.  M&Ms on the other hand have branched out a great deal.  M&M's might also be considered one of the first candy companies to produce a variation.  M&Ms peanut came out in 1954, just under 15 years after the original "plain" M&Ms came out.  This variety proved to be very popular, and today is considered just as original as the milk chocolate filled variety.  While M&Ms diversified fairly early on, they didn't get extremely experimental till much more recently.

In the last 15 or 20 years there has been a renaissance in the M&Ms variety world.  It started with adding a few different nuts to the center, and has expanded ever since. Similar to the Kit Kat, M&Ms have two different kinds of variations, long term and limited edition.  Since starting out with variations M&Ms have introduced a few varieties that have stuck around.  Peanut butter, Almond, and crispy M&Ms are still around, and are likely not going anywhere soon.  There have also been a few varieties that are limited edition, and many that seem to be tied in with movies.  Some of  these movie tie-ins make sense, like Ogre sized M&Ms that tie in with the movie Shrek.  However a few of the limited edition movie tie-ins are not so clear, like Peanut Butter and Jam M&Ms tied in with Transformers, and mint crisp M&Ms tied in with Indian Jones.

So far I've tasted 11 different variety of M&Ms, and the one thing I can say about almost all of them is that they've never really deviated from their original format.  With some of the other treats I've discussed in this series there have been some variety that are almost so different that you might have a hard time saying they're a variant as opposed to being a completely different treat all together.  M&Ms variants seem to stick to the format, a small candy coated candy, often with chocolate involved.  With this limitation, it's surprising not only the number of variations, but in the diversity of each of these variations.  There are different textures and flavours in most of these treats, and you'd likely have no problem telling them apart in a blind taste test.

In fact that would be really fun.  Take a bag of every variety of M&M ever made and put them in one bowl.  Then spend the night randomly picking out M&Ms and guessing what variety they are.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Disney Candy Thing

When I first saw this jellybean machine I thought it served frozen jellybeans, I thought that it was a unique, but likely stupid idea.  I was wrong, but not about the idea of frozen jellybeans being silly.


Monday, September 19, 2016

This Week In Candy

We're at Disney!  We're here for a while, and I imagine that our Facebook and Twitter feed are a clear indication of this.  I say "imagine" because, as usual I'm writing this well in advance.

As we mentioned last week, some of our regular posts will still be going up this week, and as you would expect, we've added a Disney twist.  Our "Candy Thing" and "Candy In The Media" are going to be full of pixie dust. Once we get home, we'll have a whole bunch of fun stuff to share about this epic trip.  While we're not posting a review this week, we're collecting a whole bunch of treats to review.  To keep you occupied, this week we'll be featuring another candy variety, this time M&Ms.

I think it's time I eat a Turkey Leg.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Best Variety - Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

Every week this month we're featuring treats that have special varieties.  The last two weeks we've looked at Kit Kat and Pocky.  While Kit Kat is a western candy bar, invented in England, and very popular all over the world, most of its varieties have come out of Asia.  Pocky, is truly an Asian creation and has only come to North America recently, and in limited flavours.  This week's candy on the other hand is truly an a North American treat, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.  In fact all of the varieties of this treat have been released in North America, and few have ever left.

For those in North America the Peanut Butter Cup is a real classic, but outside of North America it's really a niche treat. In most countries, if you can find Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, you'll find them in airports and candy specialty shops.  The reason they're not so popular all over the world? Peanut butter.  Peanut butter is a very divisive product, some cultures love it, many can't stand it. For those cultures that can't stand it, combining it with chocolate is about the silliest thing in the world. I've been told "why would you put peanut butter with chocolate, it just ruins the chocolate".
Because of this, the variations  in Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are all North American.  In fact, I can't say that I've ever seen a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup variation that isn't strictly American.  The varieties of this bar are a clear indication of that.  For the most part, Reese's Peanut Butter Cup varieties are based in changing up the size or ratio of the chocolate and peanut butter in the cup.  Some have more peanut butter, some have less, some are huge, some are tiny.  There's also the variety of the size of the peanut pieces in these cups.  Some of the peanut butter is smooth, some is chunky, and there's even a few with full peanuts inside. The other common difference is shape of the cup.  In some cases we can't really call them cups, but instead you have chocolate bunnies or bells filled with the same peanut butter you'd find in the classic cups.

I would say that there's only been one slightly "out there" Reese's Peanut Butter Cup ever made, and that's the special edition Elvis commemorative peanut butter and banana cream cup.  Other than that most of the cups have simply been playing around with the same ingredients.  It's not to say that these variations are any less than Kit Kat or Pocky, there's just a different take on change.

Of the approximately 18 Reese's Peanut Butter Cup variations I've tried, I've been really impressed with many of them.  This is because Reese's makes something good, and they stick to it.  Some might say that this is a prime example of American cuisine next to Asian cuisine.  America takes what they know and stick to it because it's what they like.  Asian cuisine likes to challenge itself, and often they go too far.  It's not better or worse, it's just different.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Disney Candy Thing

This is a pretty epic Mickey Mouse JellyBelly machine.  It's the only time you want to eat a jellybean served to you from a mouse I might add.


Monday, September 12, 2016

This Week In Candy

Guess what?  We're headed to Disney World real soon.

Very soon Allison and I are headed to the happiest place on earth. We're just finalizing all our last minute plans and working out our route... That's right, you heard me right, we're driving to Florida.  That means stopping at all kinds of classic American road trip stops down the east coast.  Our first stop is likely going to be a Cracker Barrel, because that place knows to how to be American. After that, who knows. Actually is you have any tips or ideas let us know.  You can follow some of these adventures on our Twitter feed and Facebook page as soon as we hit the road.

Many of our regular posts are going to continue to go online, with a Disney twist.  Our "Candy Things" and "Candy In The Media" are all going to be about this Magical Kingdom.  We're also going to write up a full report on this adventure when we get back, and show you the best treats Disney World has to offer.  This week we're continuing our series about candy varieties with this week featuring Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

Today's new review is brought to us from our great friends at They sent us a great sampling of some chocolate bars that we'd never heard of before.  While this week's review didn't do to well, it was great to try something brand news.  Click here to read this week's new review.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Friday, September 09, 2016

Candy In The Media

I will pretty much never miss the opportunity to watch cans of soda explode in slow motion.


Thursday, September 08, 2016

Best Variety - Pocky

Each week we're looking at some candies that have spawned many variations.  Last week we  looked at Kit Kat bars, this week we're looking at Japanese classic that's gone nuts with the varieties, Pocky.  Most people consider Pocky to be a fairly new candy on the shelves, however Pocky started in Japan in 1966.  These cookie sticks dipped in chocolate are as tasty as they are simple, but that doesn't mean they can't be complicated.
For most North Americans the classic Pocky with vanilla cookie center dipped in milk chocolate is about all you have.  Step outside of North America and this changes dramatically.  In many Asian countries Pocky varieties are vast, and if you include Pocky's salty cousin Pretz, then it's even more enormous.  It's strange to have such variety with a candy that is so simple, however this might prove the idea that the simplest of treats have the most potential for variation.

As of the writing of this article I've sampled 8 different varieties of Pocky, and two varieties of Pretz.  This is a small sampling of the varieties available, but since I've only visited (or lived  briefly) in countries that specialize in Pocky variety, it's difficult to sample every flavour.  This is true because while Kit Kat seems to focus their varieties in Japan, Pocky has expanded to other Asian countries.  Places like Thailand and China have their own flavours that are exclusive to these places.  Pocky has also had fewer "strange" flavours, and instead seem to focus on simple flavour combinations.

Probably the strangest Pocky flavour that I've ever seen is Pocky for Men.  This flavour is simple in design, dark chocolate with vanilla cookie sticks, but the idea of marketing it as a candy for men is strange, particularly from a North American standpoint.  Most of the other flavours I've sampled or seen are just cookie sticks, either vanilla or chocolate, with some kind of flavoured icing, instead of chocolate.  A few have broken bits of things, such as cookies, glued onto the sticks with the various flavours of icing.  These are generally considered the higher end of Pocky treats, and are marketed as such.

Pretz, also made by Glico, maker of the Pocky, is a salty version with a similar concept.  These are often flavoured with savory spices instead  of sweet. I'm assuming that the word "Pretz" is a play on the word "pretzel". These don't have the variety that I've seen in Pocky, or the following, but are still fairly popular.  These, much like Pocky, also don't come in many "strange" flavours.  Most of them are based on popular savory spice and food combinations.

I'm not certain that  we'll ever see the variety of Pocky in North America that there is in Asia, particularly since Pocky is a fairly new treat in these areas.  In some cases you can find varieties of Pocky at specialty stores, and I've even seen Pretz at grocery stores. I just don't know if they'll ever become a classic treat, like they are in Asia.


Monday, September 05, 2016

This Week In Candy

We're finally settled... Sort of.

So far our move back home has gone pretty well, nothing's broken... yet, and we're starting to settle into the Canada vibe.  It's still strange being back home, but it's a pleasant strange if that makes sense.  What's excited me most is that I can now buy North American treats.  It may not seem like much, but while you're overseas all of your North American friends are posting about the newest flavour of OREO (Nutella I hear) that's come out, and you can't get any.  Now I can head over to the local store and pick up a bag (or at worst drive a few hours to the US and pick up a bag). I'll miss all of the cool foreign treats I've been eating, but I'm happy to have some local treats for a while.

Speaking of driving to the USA, we're planning a road trip down south soon, and we need suggestions for not to miss US treats and snacks.  We'll be on the East Coast for the trip, and plan on going all the way down to Florida.  So any suggestions you might have are greatly appreciated.  We'll likely post a few fun photos along the way on Twitter and Facebook as well.

This week we're continuing our articles about candy varieties, this week we're looking at Pocky, our favorite Japanese Snack.  We'll also have all of our regular posts including our weekly Candy Thing, and our weekly Candy In The Media post.  Snack facts, our Instagram feed will continue be a little random where we'll focus on fun facts that we learn on the go. We'll be back to our regular Snack Facts feed in October.

This week's new candy review is a Kit Kat rip off.  The rare thing about this particular bar is that it was actually pretty good.  Most rip offs don't work at all, and tend to be money grabs instead. Click here to find out where this bar succeeded.


Friday, September 02, 2016

Candy In The Media

I know this isn't really "candy" related, but a game about fighting sausages was too much for me to ignore.

Click here for the Apple version and here for the Android.


Thursday, September 01, 2016

Best Variety - Kit Kat

All this month we're going to look  at candy varieties. Varieties happen when candy companies decide to change their classic bars with alternative flavours and textures.  Some of these variations are very complicated, while others are very simple.  Sometimes the change to the bar is more about texture, but most of the time it's about a change of flavour.  This kind of change doesn't alter  the  original  treat, instead it's about releasing a second treat with a slight variation.  Sometimes these variations stick, but most often they're temporary.

For our first installment we're going to look at the Kit Kat Bar.  This  is probably the most famous variation bar in the world right now.  This is not only because this bar is known  in almost every country in the world, but also because they've released so many different varieties.  Japan is probably the center of the variation craze for Kit Kat right now.  In Japan they release a new special edition Kit Kat flavour monthly, and to this date they've released  dozens, maybe even hundreds of flavours so far.

Interestingly though,  Japan wasn't the  first place to start this trend.  Kit Kat varieties started  in the UK and Canada first.  Simple variations included the Kit Kat Chunky (1999) and Kit Kat Orange (1996).  Both of these variations have remained very popular since their release. Japan can however be credited with creating the most, as well as the strangest, flavour variations.

As of writing the review, I've sampled approximately 26 different varieties of  Kit Kat.  Some were fairly basic, like Kit Kat Chunky, Kit Kat Dark, and Kit Kat Caramel.  Some were a little stranger like Kit Kat Mango Pudding, Kit Kat Apple Vinegar, and Kit Kat Azuki (red bean).  More interesting is how some of these varieties are presented.  With some flavours you get the standard small Kit Kat 4 or 2 fingers, however a few of the varieties come in the Kit Kat Chunky style.

This says a lot about one particular variety of Kit Kat, the Chunky.  This is probably the most successful of any Kit Kat variety, in fact the Chunky might be the most successful of any variety ever.  This bar came out in 1999 and has been with us since, and this bar has spawned varieties itself. While I'm sure the Kit Kat Chunky is not outselling the classic Kit Kat, it's safe to say that at this point the Kit Kat Chunky has turned into a classic unto itself.  This is a very rare case where a variation on a bar has become so successful.

I'm sure at some point Kit Kat will give up on their massive collection of variations, until then I'm willing to  try and them all, but I'm pretty sure that none of them will ever outsell the  original.  Hopefully the only variety to make it out of this trend will be the Kit Kat Chunky, and the rest will be bars that we'll look back on with fond memories.