Wednesday, August 31, 2011

International Chocolate Bar Challenge - Twix Edition

For years I've had the impression that chocolate bars in Europe are better than Canada, and Canadian chocolate bars are better than American.  I've always said this, but I've never actually tested it.  I've tasted the same bars from these three different regions, but never at the same time.  Well that's all changed, now I've collected chocolate bars from the US, Canada, and Europe, and I'm going to do a blind taste test each week.  When I taste these bars I won't have any idea which bar is from which place.
To start off I'm going to examine the Twix bar. I was handed 3 bars, bar one was from the US, bar two was Canadian, and bar three was European.
Bar one (US) I thought was actually the European bar, but I was wrong.  I felt the chocolate was nice and melty, and it proved to be my favorite.  Bar two (Can), the difference between these two bars is astounding, the chocolate was not nearly as melty and the caramel was a lot chewier.  I assumed that bar two was the American, mostly because of the quality of chocolate and the intense caramel.  Bar three (EU) was a lot more like the first one, particularly in the caramel department, this bar was also a lot thicker as well.  I assumed it was the Canadian bar.
This test really changed my ideas about the difference in bars from around the world.  First of all I thought the differences would be very subtle, but as you can see from the picture the bars look nothing alike, and they taste very different as well.  I also thought that the European bar would be so much better than the American, but I actually liked the American a lot more.  My stance on this argument over the quality of bars from different places is going to change, however my opinion on the fact that the bars are different is going to be even stronger. Next week, the Kit Kat Bar.


Why Do The People At Coca-Cola Hate Me?

In my entire life, I have only lived in one city with a regular suply of Cherry Coke, for about one year.  That year was just long enough to become completely addicted to the stuff.  Then, for no reason they discontinued it.  I thought that maybe it was gone everywhere, forever.  But as I traveled around a bit I would occasionally come across it again and again.  It had the same can, same flavour, and the addiction returned quickly.
So, to the people of the Coca-Cola bottling company, why do you insist on torturing me.  Why can't you allow Cherry Coke to exist in the same country that I am currently living, or that I plan on moving to.  Do you pay attention to my movements.  If so, what did I ever do to you?  Please, for the love of all things good, please release Cherry Coke in the following countries: Canada, Greece, England, Japan, or any other place I have either lived or might live.


Wawel Store in Krakow

Wawel (I believe it's pronounced va-vel) is a brand of chocolate bars in Poland.  Yes, I know, I posted last week about a brand called Wedel, but they're two different companies.  However both of them make chocolate bars that are available all over Poland, and both of them like to dress up their stores to look like old fashion candy shops.  That is kind of confusing, isn't it.
Although the two concepts are confusingly similar, the chocolate selection is a little different.  Wedel tends to focus on fine chocolate and in particular chocolate bars.  Wawel seems to be a little more divers and they sell more than just chocolate.
Even with their chocolates Wawel tends to have more size and shape variety than Wedel.
It's kind of nice to see competition in the candy world, although I'm not sure which is my favorite.  I like Wedel for the purity of their chocolate, but I find that Wawel is a little more fun.  I guess the good news I can have a little of both if I want.


Another Poland/Lithuanian Review-A-Thon Review

It's early in the morning and I'm siting here at my computer wondering what I could possibly say about the latest installment of the Poland/Lithuania review-a-thon.  I can give you a little more details about the trip, considering this blog is being flooded with entries about it.  Allison and I went on an adventure starting in Warsaw Poland then going to Vilnius Lithuania, a stop in Kaunas Lithuania, back to Warsaw, then to Krakow Poland, a day trip in Oświęcim, and finally back to Warsaw for a few days.  It was a good time and I got to see a whole side of Europe that I've never seen before.


Wednesday's Candy Links

According to an online poll by hostess, chocolate was rated the number 1 flavour of cupcake.  This leads to the question, what are the other flavours?

Check your honey containers, you might be eating illigal honey from China.  I'll be writing more about this later.

Lonely Planet posted a list of "the world’s best gourmet sights".  I've been to a few, but not to the one you'd expect.

Remember the Dallas Chocolate Conference I mentioned a little while ago?  Well if you didn't make it, here's an article to make you sad about your decision.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Kinder Truck

Saw a Kinder truck today... Never seen one before... I wonder what kind of prize is inside?


Stuff I Want To Try

Mars Triple Choc bar - Made by: Mars - Why: Because three times the chocolate has to be three times the fun - Click here to learn more about this treat.


Licorice Gummy Bear

The other day I was shooting some fancy candy photographs of gummy bears for a particular project.  I picked up a bag of fairly generic gummy bears, I really liked them because they had some new colours and they where super detailed.  The colour that surprised me the most was the black bears.  I can't say that I've ever seen black gummy bears before.  They looked great, and the shoot went perfectly.  After the shoot I enjoyed the spoils of my laybour and proceeded to munch the bears.  To my horror, the black gummy bears were in fact licorice flavoured.  Even if I put a side my general dislike for most things licorice, I have to say that it still didn't work in this context.  This bag was full of "Fruity Flavoured Gummy Bears",  and as far as I know, licorice is not a fruit.  I think they should have been some kind of berry or grape flavour instead.


Jelly Belly Store

While wandering through a mall in Warsaw, I came across this Jelly Belly kiosk.  I've never seen an entire kiosk, or store for that matter, dedicated to just selling Jelly Bellies.  Is this a one off thing, or are there any more of these around?  Either way I think it's a great idea, and the selection is fantastic.


It's National Toasted Marshmallow Day

While I unfortunately have no place to toast a marshmallow at this time, I do have a recipie for a really great toasted marshmallow sauce that my friend Marc made me a while back.


Tuesday's Candy Links

Our first link today looks at fun candy/sweet treat inspired lip balms, and fellas, if you think you're too manly to wear the stuff, look up lip cancer on the internet and see if you're too manly for that as well.

Do you like the taste of wood pulp?  You may not, but I'm sure the texture has made many of your favorite treats a little better.

I just drank a bottle of coke, and after looking at what it's done to my body I'm a little worried.  It could also be the extra caffeine that's just making me paranoid.


What's With The Silent "K"?

Today's Poland/Lithuania review-a-thon treat is a pretty common bar found in both countries, and it represents the type of treat that's popular all over Europe.  The thing I want to know is what's the deal with silent "Ks" in the English language?  Who thought this was a good idea, and where did it come from?

Click here to read the review.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Candy Art - Action Figure Diorama

I love these candy/snack photos from a fellow junk food blogger.
His use of Star Wars action figures is brilliant.
This one in particular is brilliant.

Click here to check out the Food Junk blog and more of these inspired photos.

If you've created some candy art, and would like me to post it on this blog, drop me a message here.

I'm Google +ing

I've decided to set up my Google + account to post whatever I'm working on at that very moment, for candy critic and any other projects.  It's still evolving at this point, but why not join me on this silly adventure.  I may even occasionally open up a video chat thing now and again while I write reviews.

My Google + stuff is here.


Dill Chips

 After reading my blog post about my love of eating chips while ridding on the train, Allison made sure we were well stocked up before our long train trip from Warsaw to Vilnius (it's about 10 hours long).  Before the trip we picked up a bag of dill flavoured potato chips.  Isn't she awesome!
I've tried many variations of chips that include dill, but never just dill on their own.  Most of the time you either find they have some kind of cream flavour or they're mimicking dill pickles, but these where just simple salt and dill, and they were fantastic.  I'm thinking the only thing that might improve on these is to use fresh dill instead of dried stuff.  That would give it a fresh taste that would balance really well with the salt and oil.  I think I have an experiment to try.


Kit Kat In Lithuania

Sure this review doesn't really show off the fine treats available in Lithuania, but it does demonstrate how many Western treats are available all over the world.  In fact, I have yet to visit any country that does not sell a form of Kit Kat.  Many, like Lithuania, sell many varieties as well.  I'll go so far as to say that I believe the Kit Kat is one of the most well distributed candies in the world.  Any argument?

Click here to read the latest from the Poland/Lithuania Review-A-Thon.


Monday's Candy Links

As I mentioned on Friday, I've decided to handle the links on this blog a little differently from here on in.  Instead of posting each link separately I will now post a set of links first thing in the morning.  I expect that you'll probably see two or three each day.  I'd like to thank the folks at Mental Floss for the inspiration.

The first link today is all about how the use of cashews is really growing in range, everything from sweet treats to strange drinks can be made from this nut.

Next, we see a new trend (I hate food trends) in sweet treats that's all about making miniatures.

Finally, Mental Floss (thanks again) posted a list of some of the best food named towns.  In particular I liked "Ding Dong" and "Pie Town"


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Good Luck East Coasters

I sure hope all of you living the path of this storm hitting east coast of the US are doing OK and... (looks at the picture above)... Oh my goooood, the humanity!

Picture found here.


Day One Of The Polish/Lithuanian Review-A-Thon

When you think about Lithuania or Poland you really don't think about ice cream. But both of these countries produce lots of ice cream, I figure it's because the summers are pretty warm.  I also figure ice cream would be the perfect way to start off this weeks Poland/Lithuania review-a-thon.  You might be asking why I chose to do both of these countries at the same time, and it's pretty simple.  I just got back from a trip to Poland and Lithuania, and frankly I'm not 100% sure where some of these treats were made.  I'm assuming that they were made in the country I bought them, but frankly I'm not certain.  So really this is the "treats I bought while visiting Poland/Lithuania review-a-thon", but that doesn't really roll of the tong as well.

Click here to read this review.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Stuff I Want To Try

Hot Dog Flavored Potato Chips - Made by: 7-11 - Why: Because I've always wanted to eat a crunchy hot dog and not get sick. - Click here to learn more about this treat.


After This Week...

I've decided to re-work the way I post links on this site.  I'm finding that I spend way too much time writing about the link, and not doing much original content.  So after this week I've decided that I'm going to post the days links in one post.  Each link will be found in the describing sentence of the link, and there will be far less description.  Also, next week I'm going to start posting more regular articles about what I'm doing, eating, and some interesting finds I've discovered.  The idea is to focus on making candy discoveries instead of just posting links to others.

This idea is in its testing faze right now, if it doesn't work, and you think it sucks, let me know.  Also let me know what you want to see in this blog, and even if you're interested in contributing.


Good and Bad Gum Ideas

I asked followers of Twitter and Facebook to name a few bubble gum flavours that would be (or are) great, and some that would be(or are) horrible, here's some of the replies I got:

Licorice, ear wax, kidney, melted plastic, gasoline, bile, blueberry lavender, pumpkin pie, chicken pot pie, pineapple with strawberry pop rocks embedded in it,mayonnaise.

Can you guess which are "great" and which are "horrible"?


Stuff I Want To Try

Red Velvet Cupcake Bites - Taste of Nature - They sound so soft and cuddly - Click here to learn more about this treat.


Nut Allergies

I just read a few articles about nut allergies, and I have to say I feel a little bad about myself.  I've been asked many times about what I think/do about treats filled with nuts, and my answer is generally nothing.  I've rarely voiced any opinions on the matter and after reading these articles I'm thinking I should.  In fact, these articles have changed my opinion, a little.  At first I thought that nut allergies were kind of a nuisance, and overblown in the media.  Then the more I thought about it, the more I thought that maybe it's something that candy manufactures could easily deal with.  Why not make your treat that contains no nuts, actually contain no nuts?  It says a lot about the effort into detail and quality if you can make sure your bar doesn't contain something that's not in the ingredients.

Click here to read about kids with nut allergies that are being mocked regularly.

Click here to read about a chocolate maker that didn't cut it when they said nut free.


Giant Chocolate Bar Is Not Dangerous

There was a scare on a Seattle highway bridge a couple of days ago.  Some thought it was a bomb, and the authorities were called in to investigate.  Turns out it was just a giant chocolate bar.  At that point authorities were still called in, only for a different reason.

Click here to read more.


Polish Cheese Cakes

One of the suggestions people had for us when we told them we where visiting Poland was that we should make sure to have a slice of cheese cake.  Seeing as Allison and I love cheese cake, it instantly became a priority.
We tried several cheese cakes in many different restaurants and cafes, but each one really didn't impress us at all.  We soon realized that Polish cheese cake really wasn't our thing.
The problem we found is that the cheese part of the cheese cake was really gelatinous, and very often over flavoured with citrus.  Now don't get me wrong, I like a little citrus in my cheese cake, it adds a nice zing.  The think about all of the cakes we ate in Poland is they had an orange or lemon flavour, instead of just a bit of a tart aftertaste.  They where all really spongy as well, and me, I like a nice heavy cheese cake that weights you down a little.  Did we just happen to visit several restaurants with lousy cheesecakes, or is this the way they do it in Poland?


Science, Cola, Mentos, and People that Didn't Study Science

Sometimes if you see them do something on TV or the Internet, it's not a good idea to try it yourself.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pierogi Festival - A Photo Journal (Photos by Allison Stewart)

While walking down the streets of Krakow, I came across a site that left me in shock.
It was a sign for one of the greatest festivals I'd ever heard of.
I made my way through the pierogi vendors checking out all the different varieties of pierogis available.
But it wasn't just pierogi, they also had waffles...
And candy...
Even the coolest cow bench that you ever did see.  It's like this wasn't as much a pierogi festival as a festival for things that Chris Stewart really likes.
I checked out every single vendor, looking for the perfect choice of pierogi.
And eventually I went for the desert pierogi with blueberries, raspberries, and sweet cheese filling, just like Grandma used to make.
So tasty.
I couldn't stop shoving them in my mouth.
I ate until my tummy was full, and I was just a little sleepy.
The Krakow pierogi festival, a good time for all... Until you eat so many pierogi that you can't walk straight and you feel a little dizzy.


Chewing Gum Will Make You Eat Less

Although I'm not an expert on this science, it seems a little fishy to claim that chewing on gum suppresses the appetite and therefore makes you eat less.  I think it's true that while you're chewing gum you're not hungry, however I think once you stop chewing it the hunger comes back.  I also think that, as the article suggests, chewing too much sweetened gum will really tick off your dentist.

Click here to read a study about appetite and gum chewing.


Stuff I Want To Try

Lindt Excellence Dark Caramel - Lindt - Because caramel and dark chocolate are awesome - Click here to learn more about this treat.


I May Be Broke, But At Least I'm Not Thirsty

One of my pet peeves about traveling, mostly in Europe, is the bottled water scam.  It happens in many restaurants all over the continent, and there's not much you can do about it.  When you arrive at a restaurant, parched after a day of sight seeing, and you ask for water, all they have is bottled water.  Now I happen to know that in Greece, Poland, and Lithuania that the water is safe to drink.  I appreciate the offer of bottled, but when I ask for tap water, that's all I want.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to visit your establishment and just drink tap water.  I plan on getting something to eat, and maybe another fancy drink as well.  I just need something to balance out my body before enjoying your wonderful food.  In some restaurants, particularly the ones I like, they set you up with some cold tap water right off the bat, without asking.  It's a nice thing to do.


It's National Banana Split Day

Today I eat no banana split, but do not despair.  For I will make up my lack of splitting bananas by eating several sundaes with several different toppings.


Hershey's Facebook Page isn't all Sweet

Organic Authority pointed out a contest that went a bit awry: instead of being lavished with praise on National S'Mores Day, Hershey's was confronted by Fair Trade chocolate activists via their Facebook page. The activists were organized by to raise awareness about child labor and other unsavory practices in the cocoa industry.

Read the full article here.

Ice Cream Billboard

I've seen this ice cream advertised all over the Europe.  I'm not sure how good it tastes, but I can assure you it is the whitest ice cream treat ever made.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wedel Chocolate Shop In Warsaw

While walking through Warsaw I saw what I can only describe as one of the strangest signs I've ever seen.  It appears to be a guy dressed in red, carrying a few giant chocolate bars, while riding a zebra.  Come to think of it, the only really strange part of this is the zebra.  If you saw a guy in red walking down the street carying giant chocolate bars you'd probably just get excited and hope he was planning to share.  If he was ridding a zebra, you'd probably be a little more freaked out than excited.
As it turns out, under this strange sign is a chocolate shop, but not just any ordinary chocolate shop.  This chocolate shop is in the house of Emil Wedel, founder of the popular chocolate treats.  Inside it's very fancy, and you can choose if you want to enjoy a chocolate drink in the cafe, or just buy some sweets at the candy counter.
The selection of treats is vast.  They not only carry the regular Wedel bars and sweets that you can find in stores, but they also carried more fine quality treats.
I decided to try out these pistachio truffles.  Although the experience at the shop was great, and I'm normally happy with Wedel bars and treats, I have to say that these chocolates disappointed me.  I couldn't taste any pistachio at all, and only found one or two small pieces in the creamy center.


Chocolate Is Good For the Eyes

I assume it's not a good idea to put chocolate directly into your eyes, and I'm also sure that it has more to do with cocoa than chocolate.  However, any good news about the positive effects of chocolate on my body is great to hear.

Click here to read more about chocolate and your vision.


The Best Part Of Breakfast

There's not doubt in my mind that the best part of breakfast has to be the cereal.  It's even better if the cereal contains either chocolate, marshmallow, or better yet both.  But you know what would be perfect?  How about a bowl of just cereal marshmallows?  If this appeals to you, then I have a site you should check out.

Click here and place an order.


Don't Steal From Candy Stores

In particular don't steal from candy stores when they're giving part of their proceeds to charity.  Even worse, don't steal from a candy store, that's giving part of their proceeds to charity, twice.  Some people are just scum.

Click here to read more.


It's National Waffle Day!

Here's a tasty waffle I recently ate.  The greatest thing about waffles is their ability to hold other tasty things, and make them even tastier.


Round and Ugly

While looking through a grocery store in Lithuania, Allison and I came across a bag of kind of ugly, but tempting cookies.  It's amazing how a cookie that really has no "pretty" features, could attract you so much.  As it turns out the attraction was well founded.  These ugly little cookies where fantastic.  We picked out the bag that appeared to marked as chocolate, but they also came in vanilla, and caramel.  From now on I'm going to be an advocate in the ethical selection of ugly cookies.