Thursday, May 30, 2019

It's A New Episode Of Junk Fud On The Road (With A Disneyland Twist)

It's been a little while since we've posted a new episode of Junk Fud On The Road, but we're back. In this episode Chris and Allison talk about their latest adventure to Shanghai, China. The focus of the trip was to check out Shanghai Disneyland, but there were a few bonus adventures along the way, including a stop at Tim Horton's.

You can find older episodes of Junk Fud On The Road here, you can also follow us on Youtube or Soundcloud.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to check out some more of our travel photos.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Tim Horton's, China Edition

A few months ago, Allison and I decided that we would plan a trip to Shanghai, China. Since we're living in Asia right now, the distance wasn't too far, and we had a long weekend to use for just such an adventure. The focus of our adventure was going to be Shanghai Disneyland (you'll be able to read more about that later), but with an early flight into the city, we decided to spend our first day in Shanghai proper.

We didn't know what we were going to do on this day. We would have just got off a strange midnight to 5 am flight, likely with little sleep. The only thing we knew for sure is we wanted to walk along the Bund. Other than that we had nothing planned until we checked into our hotel in the afternoon at Disneyland. We asked a few friends about what we should see, and got a list of fun neighbourhoods and sights to check out. Then it dawned on us, we had heard rumours that there were Tim Horton's opening up in China, and Shanghai would be the perfect city to do this. We did a little research and were delighted to find that this was the case, and that the one location (two more have opened in the last few days) was well within our touring plans.

While it would have been great to make Tim Horton's our first stop in Shanghai, geographically it didn't make any sense. We decided instead to start with the Bund, and work our way into the city towards the People's Square (where the TIm Horton's is located). The day pretty much happened as expected. We wandered around Shanghai finding a few snacks and treats to sample along the way, but we always kept a bit of room for some Timbits (and whatever else we might come across at Tim Horton's). It was a fun day seeing the sights and enjoying the vibe of  the city, and it wasn't until after lunch that we finally came to the doorway.

When we came to the door it was as if we were back in Canada. The sign is perfect, even slightly understated (very Canadian). There were a few advertisements stuck to the window as well promoting things that seemed very Tim Horton's and the might have even been recognizable (it's been a little while since I've been back in Canada). But the outside is where any similarities to a regular Tim Horton's stopped.

Once you walked into this place the decor took a drastic change. There was a lot of wood and heavy tables and chairs. There were also neatly stacked mugs and bags of coffee stacked for sale in an elegant display in the middle of the store. The decorations were much more modern than one might find at a regular Tim Horton's, but most interesting was the employees uniforms. They were all wearing bright red plaid lumberjack shirts. Stranger still was the lack of any kind of doughnut rack. Instead there was a glass display case with the various doughnuts available displayed under glass. I'd never seen Timbits displayed on a slate black stone plate before, fancy to say the least.

The look was a bit jarring, but the menu did have a few things to make you feel comfortable. It was a little odd to actually see a book style menu as well. I'm glad the menu was there though because there were a few different items available, and these menus provided a good way to communicate with the people taking your order. My favourite part of the menu was the full description of what a Double-Double was and how to order it. While a few menu items tempted us, we thought that Timbits and coffee would be the prudent thing to order. We also thought it would be quick, and just in case we couldn't get a table, something we could carry outside if necessary.  Did I mention that the place was packed, it made me happy to see so many Chinese people celebrating Canada.

This is the part where things kind of fell apart a little. First of all they don't offer Timbits the same way that most Tim Horton's offer Timbits. It appears that you could only order Timbits in batches of six. We asked for assorted (since the example Timbits in the glass case didn't mention what flavour was available), when we said we wanted assorted, the girl helping us looked at us strangely. It seems like the only way one can order Timbits in this location is to buy a box of six different Timbits. It worked find for us, but if you had a craving for a full box of chocolate dipped you might be out of luck.
This is what you get if you order 1 Timbit... how cute.
Remember that they didn't have doughnut racks, so that meant that the donuts had to come from the busy kitchen. The thought was that they had racks, but they might be in the back, out of the way. As it turns out, this might not have been the case. We waited a good 20 (or 30) minutes for our Timbits to be prepared. I was peeking into the kitchen and I spotted an employee carefully preparing our Timbits, one at a time. This did turn our quick Timbit grab into a longer adventure, but a table opened up in that time, so it worked in our favour. I'm not sure if this slow Timbit issue is just a kink to be worked out, so I'm willing to give them a pass on that. I'm particularly willing to give them a pass because of the quality of the Timbits we finally got.

We ordered 12 Timbits, and we each got a box of six, the math works I guess. In each box were 6 carefully decorated Timbits that were frankly beautiful. Two in particular were absolute masterpieces (one was a little too strange for Allison). There was a maple iced Timbit that was covered so carefully with just the right amount of maple icing., but the real hero was a Timbit that was coated with chocolate icing, and then sprinkled on top was some kind of amazing chocolate powder/milk chocolate. These two doughnuts were just amazing, well beyond anything I've ever seen at a Canadian Tim Horton's.

The chocolate glazed, sprinkled, and cherry powdered Timbits were pretty close to what you might get at home with one exception. In the case of all of these doughnuts, they were far less sweet than what you find in a Canadian Tim Horton's. I imagine that this is a change made to deal with Chinese tastes, and it was a really nice twist. It helped the flavour of these Timbits come through a little bit better, and if you're like Allison, the lack of extra sugar is a plus.

The last Timbit was truly the strange one in the mix, and most certainly the one geared towards Asian tastes. It was a cheese filled powdered Timbit. It wasn't cream cheese though, it was a creamy version of something I would describe as similar to cheddar. While this seems like something out of left field, cheese doughnuts are actually pretty common in Asia. While it wasn't my favourite, I'm glad I had the chance to taste it.

All it all I would say that we had a pretty good visit to Tim Horton's in Shanghai. It didn't really fill the nostalgia hole I was hoping, but it was fun to see. A friend asked me later if it felt like I was in a Tim Horton's in Canada, and I'd have to say that the answer is no. It felt more like I was in a Tim Horton's themed restaurant. It was a little bit too fancy and complicated to feel like a Canadian Tim Horton's. There was also a lot of Canadianana being thrown in my face from all angle. The lumberjack shirts, the wood everywhere, and the general Canadian iconography all over the place (hockey sticks as door handles) made it feel like it was trying so hard to be Canadian. I would by no means call this place a failure, but for Canadians looking for a taste of home, it's a little strange.

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Monday, May 27, 2019

My Opinions Of Unicorns Is Unclear, My Opinion Of These Gummies Is Very Clear - Gummy Unicorns

I missed posting last week's Monday review because I was in China. More specifically I was in Shanghai and my focus was Shanghai Disneyland. If you check out our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, you'll see that we've been posting a collection of foods we ate a Shanghai Disneyland that are shaped like Mickey Mouse. Some of them are pretty normal, a few are pretty weird. We'll be posting more throughout this week. We'll also be posting a couple of blog posts about our adventure in Shanghai and what foods we came across in the next little while. It was a short visit, so it won't be too in depth, but we certainly saw a few interesting things.

As for our review today, it was something that I hopped would be magical, but as is most of the time falls flat. These gummy unicorns are an obvious attempt at cashing in on a food trend with no real thought about making something tasty.

Click here to read the lackluster candy review (the review is fine, the candy is lackluster).

Also remember to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram because we have more adventures in store in the near future.


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Tom's Look At The Visual Side Of Snacks And Candy - Hemp Hog

Hello again!
As some Candy Critic followers might be aware, Canada recently legalized marijuana. This package shows a cartoon Hedgehog with a relaxed expression, paws behind his head and perhaps laying in amongst some marijuana plants. The Vancouver chocolatier Rene Rey even chose to dub this hedgehog variant a “HempHog”. The package describes a “milk chocolate truffle with hemp nut cream filling.”  One of my co-workers commented that she steered clear of hemp products. That got me curious about what exactly a hemp nut is. A quick search revealed that a hemp nut is another term for hemp seed. It possesses extremely low levels of THC (one source said none at all) which is the psychoactive element of marijuana. It does have very high levels of plant-based protein, and low levels of carbs. In addition hemp nuts or seeds are rich in Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids which are of beneficial for skin health, helping combat conditions such as rosacea, psoriasis and eczema.
As a bonus, the chocolate treat  is actually shaped to look like a hedgehog!

I can attest that it is delicious. I really should have tried a regular hedgehog, which was also available to see if there was a difference to the taste. Hmmm...


Make sure to follow Tom on Instagram to check out some of his other finds as well as to check out his amazing artwork. If you like his artwork you can pick up one of his exclusive Candy Critic t-shirts.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Candy In The Media - Trolli Is Creeping Me Out

Tom pointed out this amazing series of commercials for Trolli gummies and I totally love them. I'm just hoping that they didn't put them out for Halloween. I think it would be great if they just went for creepy for creepy sake instead.


Thursday, May 16, 2019

It's A New Episdoe of In Hindsight All About The Wunderbar!

It's been a while since we did an episode of In Hindsight, and we're really happy to have the chance to eat another Wunderbar. If you're not familiar with In Hindsight, it's where I look back and an old review, and re-taste the candy again. I compare my notes and see if the old review holds up.

If you want to check the Wunderbar review in full, it's right here.

Also be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to keep up with all the candy news.


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Tom's Look At The Visual Side Of Snacks And Candy - African Gold Sesame Seed

Hi folks! Glad you could drop in for another look at snack and candy packaging! This week, I wanted to share a quick snapshot of a shipping sack for African Gold Sesame Seeds. I love how the shape of the continent is filled with graphic silhouettes that represent flora and fauna of Africa! What struck me was the fact that very few people will see this piece of package art. It is on a large 50lb sack from which bins at Bulk Barn (for example) sell the product to customers. Except for the moments when staff refill the container, the bag is stored away out of sight of the public. Hopefully, the audience of Candy Critic will enjoy this glimpse of a rarely seen piece of Snack Pack Art!


Make sure to check out Tom's Instagram account for his amazing artwork, and also be sure to pick up one of the exclusive Candy Critic shirts he's  designed.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Candy In The Media - What's A Hot Shot?

I don't think I've ever heard of this candy called Hot Shots, but based on this amazing retro commercial, I want to try one.


Thursday, May 09, 2019

It's Time For Us To Give You Our Thoughts

In this month's Breakfast Thoughts we talk about some of the news in the candy and junk food world, and also talk about some of the new content we've been posting on Candy Critic lately.

Want to keep up with the junk food news as it happens, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Also be sure to keep up with our YouTube Channel to see new videos as we finish them.


Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Tom's Look At The Visual Side Of Snacks And Candy - Pal-o-Mine

This week, let’s look at a classic Canadian confection and a genuine piece of candy history!
This bar was spotted in Bulk Barn in the section reserved for British treats. I imagine this is purely because it doesn’t fit with the neighbouring bars that are specialty types for various reasons. It’s not British either, as the label makes clear it’s made in St Stephen, New Brunswick. My curiosity was further peaked when a customer came in looking specifically for the Pal-O-Mine. He told me it was the first chocolate bar sold in a wrapper by Ganong in New Brunswick. The label says “since 1920” but Wikipedia has the original wrapped chocolate bar devised in 1898 to allow pieces of Ganong’s chocolate to be brought fishing (for example) without leaving a mess in a coat pocket. Peanuts were added later and then, in 1920, the name was chosen and we have Pal-O-Mine!

Chris recently posted a video of foods that he associates with Canada and seeks out when he visits home. Perhaps this Canadian classic will join the list in the future.
Pal-O-Mine is a two piece affair and this you see from the second photo that I ate one half before stopping to take a picture of the bar inside. It’s darn good, though my place is only to comment on packaging!


Make sure to check out Tom's amazing Instagram work, and be sure to pick up one of his cool exclusive Candy Critic t-shirts.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Has Anybody Ever Reviewed This Candy? - Rainbow Lollipops

This is probably the most ignored candy in the world when it comes to getting hyped on the internet. Sure the broad range of Kit Kat flavours is fascinating, as are the retro candies from our childhood, but these lollipops always seem to fall through the cracks. They must still be popular since you can find them all over the place, it's just that no one seems to be talking about them.

While I can't turn the tide of internet interest, I'm going to spend this short blog to remind people to show a little love to the lollipop that we've all probably enjoyed at one point in our lives.

Click here to read the review of this beautifully simple lollipop.

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We're also making all kinds of videos that you can check out on our YouTube channel.


Friday, May 03, 2019

Candy In The Media - My Name Is Klondike

This commercial asks the age old question, are you that bad a parent that  you would even consider naming your kid after an ice cream treat?


Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Tom's Look At The Visual Side Of Snacks And Candy - Broken Nut Roll (AKA Oh Henry Bars)

Hey all!

If you’ve been following these posts the past couple of weeks, I hope you’ve enjoyed the informal look at some candy packaging. This entry goes against the format perhaps, but also talks about packaging from a different angle.
If you take a look at the photo accompanying today’s post, you’ll see a close-up of Oh! Henry chocolate bars that are on display for bulk purchase. That’s right: there is no package at all! The bar sells itself on visual appeal alone. Granted, the name recognition helps customers who are already familiar with the well-known candy bar. However, the way the candy bars are displayed is intriguing. The bold-type name on the bin describes the item as “Broken Nut Roll” with the name brand “Oh! Henry” in smaller text. The fact that some bars are BROKEN is played as a virtue rather than a problem. Indeed, the way in which the caramel oozes from the center where the break occurs, revealing peanuts and the slightly darker core of chocolate can be downright irresistible. The appeal is enhanced once the bin lid is lifted and the heady aroma of those three elements grasps the olfactory senses.

Anyone else need a pause to collect and compose?


So, as much as a package serves basic functions of protection and presentation in most circumstances, in this setting it is barely missed. In another part of the store where the above photograph was taken, the Oh! Henry 4:25 bar is available in a more conventional wrapper and marketed in it’s own point-of-sale cardboard display. Package designers need not fear their obsolescence! This seemed a good opportunity to showcase another approach to marketing that evokes the past and may serve as a model for the future in a world that needs to be concerned with waste management.


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