Friday, January 30, 2015

Candy In The Media

Do you remember when candy commercials were really strange.  Sure there are a few M&M commercials that are weird, and certainly some Skittles commercials that could be called bizarre. The thing is, these commercial all have some kind of narrative, a strange story to follow.  When I was a kid you'd have commercials that were just random colourful images that didn't really tell a story, they just showed the candy in random situations.  This Smarties commercial from 91 is a great example of just that.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

How Would You Like Some Free Mike & Ikes?

This week we've started a new contest, brought to you by our friends at Just Born (the folks that make Mike & Ikes and Peeps).  They have some new/retro flavours of Mike and Ikes coming out soon, and they want to share some with one of our readers.  To win this prize pack, all you have to do is send an email or message explaining what your favorite flavour of candy is.  Tell us why this flavour is your favorite and whomever can convince us the most will get the new Mike and Ikes sent to their house (You must be a resident of the USA to enter, sorry rest of the world). You can submit your answer in the comments here, or send us a message on Facebook, Twitter, or here. Make sure include some way for us to contact you back (email always works), and the contest will end in two weeks (February 9th a midnight Eastern).

I mean who doesn't like free candy delivered to their front door? I like it so much that I built this site.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Cool Candy Thing

I can think of a million things that one could put in the bowl that would look so awesome.  First of all any kind of porridge or oatmeal would look pretty cool, the more grey the better.  If you wanted to go a little more complicated, red Jello with Cool Whip mixed in, with just a dash of cherry or strawberry syrup on top would also look really great.  Any kind of deli meat with loads of ketchup and mayonnaise would also be sure to gross out anybody around you. Candy wise I would suggest hard candy that crunches, Chicken Bones candy would be particularly appropriate. Even the example above, Cheerios, looks kind of gruesome for some reason.


Monday, January 26, 2015

This Week In Candy

This last week was really a pizza filled week for me.  First of all I was invited to a BBQ potluck pizza party, and it was fantastic.  The idea was that each person was supposed to bring ingredients for a pizza.  The dough was provided, so all you needed to bring was the toppings.  Then, one at a time, a pizza was put onto the BBQ, and each person that brought ingredients would have to top their pizza.  After the pizza was cooked, it was sliced up, and everybody got to have a slice.  I think by the time the night was over dozens of pizzas were made, including 3 dessert pizzas.  I brought one of those dessert pizzas, which consisted of marshmallows, grated milk chocolate (Dairymilk to be exact), and crushed graham crackers. S'Mores pizza!

Also this weekend, I recorded a new episode of the Junk Fud podcast.  This episodes theme was pizza.  Mark, who has been a guest on the Junk Fud podcast in the past had some great stories and insights into the world of pizza.  Hopelly this episode will be online later this week. Mark being such a great guest in the past and this time, is now going to be a regular on the Junk Fud podcast.  For now we're looking to post a new episode of Junk Fud featuring Mark every month.  We're still working out the details, so stay tuned.

This week we're also starting out a contest, brought to you by our friends at Just Born (the folks that make Mike & Ikes and Peeps).  They have some new/retro flavours of Mike and Ikes coming out soon, and they want to share some with one of our readers.  To win this prize pack, all you have to do is send an email or message explaining what your favorite flavour of candy is.  Tell us why this flavour is your favorite and whomever can convince us the most will get the new Mike and Ikes sent to their house (You must be a resident of the USA to enter, sorry rest of the world). You can submit your answer in the comments here, or send us a message on Facebook, Twitter, or here. Make sure include some way for us to contact you back (email always works), and the contest will end in two weeks (February 9th a midnight Eastern).

This week's Snack Facts we're looking at one of the best selling drinks in the world, Coca-Cola.  Every day we'll be posting a new fun fact on Instagram all about this soft drink giant.  If you don't have Instagram you can also follow Snack Facts on our Twitter feed, or Facebook page.

Our new review this week is from a chocolate shop in my home country.  Not only does the fact that they're Canadian make them awesome, but they also have the best name I've ever heard for a chocolate shop, Beanermunky.  Click here to read the Beanermunky's chocolate review.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Candy In The Media

When I was a little kid, I was convinced that Orville Redenbacher was a fictional character, and the guy on TV was just an actor.  I learned later that this was in fact the man, and that he started his popcorn empire when he was only 12 years old.  This man changed the way we snack on foods, and he rocked a bow tie like no one else could.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Cool Candy Thing

I just picked up one of these Thermo Works thermometers and I can't wait to try it out for making candy and other temperature important sweet treats.  Any candy maker will tell you that knowing the temperature of your candy or chocolate is the key to making the perfect sweet treats.  In fact, I've watched some of the best candy makers in the world, who have been making candy for longer than I've been alive, and they still use thermometers all the time.  I'm hoping that this new fancy thermometer works really well, and I'm thinking I might start out with some maple peanut brittle.


Monday, January 19, 2015

This Week In Candy

This last week the big news was the change of recipe for the Cadbury Creme Egg.  It appears that Cadbury, now owned by Kraft, has decided to change the chocolate used for the outside shell of the egg, as well as change the number of eggs sold in bulk packages (this can only be confirmed in some countries). The one place that is apparently not being affected by the changes is the USA, but everywhere else they're now no longer using Dairy Milk chocolate for their eggs.  This has rocked the candy world, and many have taken to social media to complain about this.  We here at Candy Critic are at the very least skeptical about the new shell, but we plan on getting our hands on one of these new eggs and giving them a try.

Stay tuned this week as we'll be starting a contest that could get you some free Mike & Ike's candies.  They're introducing a couple of new flavours and they've graciously offered to send some to me and to some of my followers.  I'm still working out the details of the contest, but I'll be sure to announce it on Facebook and Twitter the minute I have everything worked out.

This week on Snack Facts, our very fun and informative Instagram feed, we're looking at the French Fry.  It's going to be a week filled with greasy, starchy and salty information about one of the most popular fast foods in the world.  You can follow Snack Facts on Instagram, or you don't use Instagram, you can also follow it on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

This week's review is a fun little treat that I picked up in Turkey.  I wasn't sure if I should put this under European candy or Asian, since I bought it in Istanbul (it's the city that stretches over two continents).  I finally decided on Europe only because I actually bought it on the European side of the Bosphorus. Click here to read about this bar I bought in Turkey.


Friday, January 16, 2015

Candy In the Media

There are two reasons I looked up this commercial the other day.  First of all I discovered (while doing some research for our Instagram feed Snack Facts) that the inventor of Lucky Charms designed his cereal by cutting up Circus Peanuts into a bowl of cereal.  I thought I'd check an old school commercials for fun.  The second reason I'm posting this particular commercial is because it listed some of the more traditional marshmallows from Luck Charms.  Allison and I were talking about Lucky Charms and we thought about buying a box.  Then Allison saw all of the "new" marshmallows now available and she was blown away (in a bad way).  She felt that the new marshmallows were confusing, and she couldn't really figure out what a balloon had to do with a leprechaun.  So do you miss the classic marshmallows in Luck Charms, or are you OK with the new ones?


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Finding Chocolate in Belgium

Many foods popular in Belgium are not at all foreign to the Canadian palate, including French fries, waffles, and of course chocolate. Although they did not invent chocolate, its use for confections is a skill that the Belgians have mastered, arguably above any country in the world.  So when you visit the land that made chocolate great, what should you try?
The first thing you should know is that you don't have to worry about trying to find a great Belgian chocolate experience; there are plenty of opportunities.  The main problem you might find is fixating on one particular type of chocolate and not going out to experience others.  You could find yourself stepping out of your hotel room, stopping at the first chocolate shop you find, tasting a sample, and then spending all of your chocolate money in that one shop because the quality is just that good.  This is a mistake.  If you want to truly enjoy the Belgium chocolate experience the key is to spread out and buy in moderation at several shops.

The biggest problem with buying chocolates in Belgium is the overwhelming number of brands to choose from.  On the main square in Brussels alone, there are at least four shops, and down each street you'll find many more.  You don't have to sweat your choice that much; just about anywhere you buy your chocolate you will get a very high quality product.  That's not to say that there are no differences between each shop, they each just have a specialty that serves a different taste.
The two main categories of chocolates you'll find in these shops are hand made, and mass-produced.  Most people tend to gravitate towards the hand made and avoid the mass produced, or so you might think.  In fact after talking to several shop owners I discovered that the mass-produced chocolate outsells the hand made chocolate.  This happens because people want to take sweets home to friends and family and the price difference between these two types of chocolates is very extreme.  A box of mass produced, high quality, chocolates can cost you as little as 5 or 6 Euros for more than a dozen chocolates.  A high quality chocolate will often be sold by weight and can cost you between 70 cents and 1.50 Euros for an individual chocolate.

There are two distinctive kinds of stores when it comes to the high quality chocolates.  There are large chains, such as Neuhaus, Godiva, and Leonidas, which are based here in Belgium but sell all over the world.  And then there are smaller shops, and small chains of shops that only sell in Belgium such as Mary's and Loretta. The prices in these shops don't vary too much, but you'll often find that the large shops will carry their regular products that you find all over the world, along with special hand made treats only available at these stores.  The smaller stores may only sell their own products, but some may also carry some of more mainstream chocolates as well.

Finding chocolate stores in Belgium is a fairly simple task; most of the stores are crowded around the main squares in each town or city.  In Brussels the Grand Place and in the Galerie Hubert have many stores producing hand made chocolates as well as a few stores selling mass produced chocolates.  To tell them apart all you have to do is walk around the store.  If you notice bars (or as they call them tablets) made by large companies such a Cote' Dor or Godiva, then chances are the contents of the shop are the mass produced chocolates.  Companies like Godiva, NeuHause, and Leonidas, have many shops all around these areas as well, and they often feature their own bars, which can sometimes be mass-produced.
There are smaller stores outside of the main tourist areas, but they may be hard to find.  The advantage of these little out of the way shops is if you do find them you'll often get the greatest service and some very fine chocolates.  If you happen to forget to pick up a few treats for friends and family just before you leave, don't worry.  Many hotels have chocolate shops in the lobbies, and the airport is full of chocolate shops as well.

Now that you know a little about what kind of chocolate shops can be found in Belgium, the question is how do you pick the perfect chocolate?  My method is simple, fun, and will guarantee a great chocolate selection.  Take your time and sample, don't let the store clerks intimidate you into buying full boxes right off the bat, instead walk around the city, enjoy visiting the sites, and sample from as many chocolate shops as you can.  Many, but not all shops, may offer you free samples, don't be shy and take them.  If they don't offer samples, then invest a Euro and pick one chocolate that appeals to you.  Spend a day or two just visiting sites and sampling treats, then after you've sampled as many chocolates as you possibly can, and you're a chocolate connoisseur, go back to your favorite places and pick up a box or two for home.  Don't buy too much, since most of the fine chocolates will drop in quality when stored for long periods of time, some can go off in as little as a few days.

The best tip I can suggest when you're either sampling or making your final purchases is to ask for help, in fact, I've found that my favorite shops always have very good staff.  If the staff isn't helpful and knowledgeable, then it might be a sign as to the quality of the chocolate.  Every store I visited that had excellent products had a knowledgeable and helpful staff.  The staff at Mary's in particular knew every single detail about the chocolates being sold as well as a keen general knowledge about chocolate.

In many shops you might find chocolates filled with all kinds of flavor combinations, from black pepper, hot peppers, fruits, and salts. Seasonal treats and new flavors are also something to look out for when choosing chocolates.  The shops that include seasonal products in their chocolates, are a special treat, and are a sign of an expert and creative chocolatier.  If fancy flavors don't appeal to you, you can be sure to find chocolates in fun shapes for every season and occasion as well.  Including some that are rather risque, and many stores have their own rendition of the famous Brussels statue of the Manneken Pis(the famous statue of the little boy peeing).
Before you overdose on hand made chocolates, make sure to sample all the forms of chocolate available as well.  One of the most popular ways to enjoy chocolate can be found in the “Gaufre au Chocolat”, but you might know them better as a Belgian waffle with chocolate.  There are many places to get these fine treats as well as many different toppings to enjoy.  My personal favorite is the simple drizzle of fine Belgian chocolate, it's a taste experience you can't miss.  Belgian chocolate also produces one of the finest hot chocolates you could ask for.  It's a great way to warm up on a cool day with a fine pastry sitting in a cafe watching the world go by.

To try and find the “best” chocolate in Belgium is a task that no one person could ever do.  To attempt to find the “best” chocolate in Belgium will guarantee one of the best vacations for any chocolate lover.  This city is truly a place where one can spend the whole day wandering through twisting streets, seeing great sights, and over indulging on chocolate in all its splendor.  No matter what your chocolate tastes might be, you will find something that will blow your socks off and send you into chocolate bliss.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Cool Candy Thing

I thought it might be fun to design a series of cell phone cases using some of the images from our T-shirts as well as some of the photos from our sister site  I'll post one now and again here on the blog, and if you like it, pick one up.  All proceeds go towards keeping this site free and fun, as well as helping us work on some new projects.  Most notably, it looks like Junk Fud, our podcast will be coming back soon.  So pick up a cell phone case and listen to us make fools of ourselves knowing that you helped foot the bill.


Monday, January 12, 2015

This Week In Candy

So much to talk about this week.  First of all I tried the Ice Cream Sandwich flavour of Snack Pack this weekend, and I don't really get it.  Ice cream sandwiches are vanilla ice cream with chocolate cookies, and this Snack Pack is flavoured with vanilla and chocolate.  What I don't get is where does the cookie and/or ice cream come in.  I guess I could freeze one of these and it would be a little more ice cream like, but still no cookie.  I think it would have been really cool if they could have done something with the texture of the chocolate to make it more cookie like, and why not make it a frozen treat too.  Not bad, but not what I wanted.

Also, I've decided to start a collection of photos of candy counters from all over the world over the last week.  I've asked a few candy stores to contribute photos of their front of house so we can see how cool and different each store is, and many have sent in photos.  I'm still hoping for more contributions, so if you own a store send me a photo and I'll include it on our Candy Map, and on our social media (with a link back to your store).  If you don't own a store, but you know of a great one to feature, ask the owner if you can take a picture and contribute it to our new project.

We've also started to support a new cause here at Candy Critic.  The Beals brothers are trying to make a fun movie about candy called The Hard Candy Kid, and they're looking to get some contributors.  It looks like a really fun project, and I'm a huge supporter of Candy themed art, so I thought I'd share it with you guys.  Check out their Kick Starter page for more details.

Finally, this week we're going to be featuring an article I wrote a little while back about Belgian chocolate.  It's the perfect guide to one of the best chocolate countries in the world.  Going to Belgium can be overwhelming with so many chocolate choices, so I have a few tips to help you get the most of your chocolate experience.

Since we're talking about Belgian chocolate, I thought it would be great to learn a few more facts about one of the great chocolate countries.  So this week's Snack Facts are all about Belgian chocolate.  If you want to learn a new fact about Belgian chocolate every day this week (and keep learning about snacks every weekday after), then follow us on Instagram.  If you don't use Instagram, you can also follow Snack Facts on our Twitter and Facebook feeds as well.

This week's new review is online, and it's a bit of an anomaly.  See what happens when I get disappointed by a candy brand that normally makes some of the best chocolate bars in the world.  Click here to see who disappointed me, and why.


Friday, January 09, 2015

Candy In the Media

Jeff and Matt have a really cool idea for a film all about candy.  I love indy films, and I love candy, so this might be the perfect movie for me.  They're working on a Kick Starter to get their film made, so if you think the world needs more candy movie magic, support them and get this film off the ground.

You can click here for more info about their project and to contribute.


Thursday, January 08, 2015

2014 A Year In Reviews

2014 was an interesting year here at Candy Critic.  There's been a lot of travel, a lot of experimentation, and a lot of fun new treats.  The biggest travel experience came about this summer when we moved from Athens Greece to somewhere else.  I don't want to mention the somewhere else yet because frankly I'm home so little that it's fairly irrelevant where I "live".  Needless to say the move was fun, and it meant spending a few weeks at home catching up on Canadian snacks and treats.  Experimentation wise, 2014 has really been the year that I discovered my love of baking and making desserts.  From making my own phyllo dough from scratch, to my recent attempt at making a dessert out of ration packs, I've really found a love of making my own sweet treats.

This however doesn't compare to the kinds of amazing treats I've been lucky to taste test over the last year.  Some was great and some not so great, but all fun to taste test.  Below I've decided to highlight our highest ranking new reviews of 2014, the lowest ranking new reviews, and a few honorable mentions as well.

Best Candy Reviewed in 2014

For our top candy treats this year actually have a tie, and for the first time ever, one of them is a special holiday treat.  We all know and love the Cadbury Creme Eggs, but who would have thought that I'd like the special Halloween edition Cadbury Screme Eggs so much as well.

Click here to read the Screme Egg review.

And tied for first is a new treat from some old friends.  A true Canadian treat made by the gang that invented Clodhoppers, this is a great step forward in the candy world.  They also make these in dark chocolate and with peanuts, and you can bet that I'm going to review those too.

Click here to red the OMG's review.

In third place for the best candies reviewed this year is a classic chocolate bar that really needs no introduction... Well unless you live in the US where I don't think you can really find these anywhere.  In fact not a single one of the top 3 candies this year are available in the US... yet.

Click here to read the Caramilk Bar review.

Lowest Rated Candy Reviews in 2014

Our number 1 lowest rated candy this year is a bit of a shock.  You wouldn't expect a Snickers bar to rank as the lowest rated candy on Candy Critic this year, but here we are.  Fortunately the original Snickers bar is still just as good and this was just an experiment gone wrong.

Click here to read the Snickers Max Caramel review.

At number 2 on the list of lowest candy reviewed in 2014 is another candy made by a big name brand, Haribo.  I'm sure my bias against marshmallows had something to do with this.  I'm OK if Haribo makes an occasional bad treat though, just as long as they keep making the best gummy bears on the market.

Click here to read about this horrible Smurf Marshmallows.
For the third spot on this list, we have a tie.  I'm not really sure what the deal is with this candy, but I can tell you that it was pretty bad.  This is one of those occasions where I dare to sample a candy that I can't read a word on the package, and then I suffer because of it.

Click here to read about these strange chocolate star treats.
There's something very wrong with this package.  First of all the unlicensed Mickey Mouse is a sure sign that this might go horribly wrong.

Click here to read more about Sweet Peanuts.

Highest and Lowest Greek Candy Reviewed in 2014

As an added bonus this year, since this was the year I left Greece, I decided to highlight my favorite and least favorite Greek treat that I sampled this year as well.

The lowest ranked Greek treat this year was a bit of a disappointment to me.  This treat is based on a traditional Greek sweet, but it's just done so horribly.  The other sad fact about this treat is how common it is around Greece.

Click here to read about the Xalbadopita.
The best Greek candy I tasted this year might be the best Greek chocolate bar ever.  Although it's a fairly simple bar, it's done well.  Allison would probably go on record saying it's the best sweet thing she ate during our entire stay.

Click here to read about this awesome ION bar.

Special Mention 2014

While this treat didn't make the top or bottom of my list of reviews this year I wanted to mention it anyways.  If you didn't sample the Cinnamon Bun potato chips made by Lay's Canada this year, then you missed out on a really interesting experience.  I wouldn't say I loved them, but I would say that this is a treat that should have survived (even though it lost the best new chip flavor contest).  I'd like to see chip companies exploring the sweet side of potato chips, and I hope to see more flavors like this in the future.

Click here to find out why I liked these Cinnamon Bun chips.


Wednesday, January 07, 2015

A Cool Candy Thing

Since we're featuring popcorn this week on our Instagram feed Snack Facts, I thought it would be a good idea to show off a t-shirt I designed a while back featuring the best popped snack ever thought of by the human race.  Popcorn is one of my go to snacks, and for some reason I can't resist the stuff whenever I'm watching a movie (at home or at a theater).  Best of all is how versitile this snack is, you can put sweet stuff on popcorn, salty stuff, and best of all, it tastes best with butter.  I mean what other snack tastes so much better with butter.  So show your popcorn pride, and pick up a T-shirt.


Monday, January 05, 2015

This Week In Candy

What does the candy counter look like in your country?  My good friend Brent sent me a photo of what I believe to be a Kurdish candy stand.  It got me thinking, I travel around a lot, and I never really think to take pictures of candy stands wherever I visit.  So from now on I'm going to try and take pictures of candy stands from places I visit all over the world.  I also invite you to do the same. If you're on a trip, or even in your home town, it would be great if you could take a picture of your local candy stand or candy shop and send it my way.  I'll post them on Facebook and Twitter as I get them, and I'll ad them to the new and improved candy map (so make sure to let me know where it is).

Now that we're in the New Year, I've started to think about what kind of candies I've sampled over the last year.  Later this week I'm going to post a list of my favorite, least favorite, and most memorable treats I've reviewed this year.

This week on Snack Facts we're featuring one of the oldest snack foods ever, popcorn.  Every day on our Instagram feed we'll be featuring a new fact about our favorite salty (and sometimes sweet) treat that goes pop.  If you're not on Instagram, you can also see the latest Snack Facts on our Facebook page and Twitter feed as well.

This week's review is a classic chocolate that I'm really surprised I haven't reviewed before.  I can honestly say that I've eaten at least a dozen of these in the last year or so, but I've never thought about writing a review.  So click here to see what I thought of the classic Ferrero Rocher.


Friday, January 02, 2015

Candy In The Media

This really makes me wish I could see things in slow motion without a camera. Nothing is more trippy than watching food dance around on a sub-woofer. It not only entertains the mind, but after you're done it'll entertain the taste buds.