Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Pan Dulce to Jello Art: Tulcingo Bakery, Corona, Queens

A couple weeks back the living room ceiling collapsed and everyday life went down the drain while we transfer to new and safer housing. I'll admit, it's grim and I'm grumpy. Even suffered as the built-up stockpile of candy had to be dumped. Things will get better, and quickly, but for now a special sweet can really improve the quality of each day--add a little sugar-spun cheer to the situation. 

In the heart of Corona, Queens--at the 103rd Street 7 train stop--Tulcingo Bakery, a Mexican Panaderia, presents the perfect venue to indulge in some sugar cheer. I go straight for the Pan Dulce. There are so many varieties and they are so fresh from the oven. With a cup of hot tea it's bliss for less than $3.

The rest of the bakery is a visual feast--technicolor cakes with elaborate frosting, molded jello that looks like a stained glass masterpiece, fruit suspended as if by magic within transparent jello--it all forms a glorious blend of the dessert styles in a rainbow of color.

I might have to pay another visit this evening....

Monday, October 15, 2018

New Hershey's Dulce de Leche Waffle Layer Crunch Bar

The new Hershey's Dulce de Leche Waffle Layer Crunch Bar is a surprise hit. The layer of dulce de leche cream just makes the bite more creamy--the flavor isn't all that strong. The waffle bits are the great stroke of the new bar. They're super crispy but a bit more substantive than the traditional rice krispie. I thought these were pretty good but probably wouldn't opt for one over a traditional Hershey bar. The true test, though, is that I put them out at work and they disappeared in less than two hours. Everyone's feedback was enthusiastic. Everyone asked when more might arrive. Now I'm psyched to try the strawberry flavor.

Score (personal): 3
Score (mass appeal): 4

Friday, October 12, 2018

They're Back! Sunkist Fruit Gems

Truth be told I prefer a fruit jelly or fruit gem any day to a gummy candy. To my subjective and somewhat erratic taste-buds, the consistency is so much more pleasing. This love of a good fruit jelly was born decades ago as a child with Sunkist Fruit Gem--I cut my sweet tooth on these babies. All five flavors are delicious although I'd usually leave some of the Lemons and Raspberries for other people while hoarding the Grapefruit, Lime, and Orange. 

Apparently Sunkist Fruit Gems have remained on the market but I had not encountered them on the East Coast in recent years. They just weren't present in the candy aisle. Suddenly I'm seeing them everywhere, now under the Jelly Belly brand. Which is terrific, because Jelly Belly has pervasive distribution. I hadn't realized how much I missed these round fruit jewels, especially the grapefruit. 

One complaint, though. My bag of Fruit Gems contained nine candies--four lemon, three lime, and two grapefruit. Where are my Raspberry? Where are my Orange? We should be guaranteed at least one of each flavor per bag. 

Score (Fruit Gems memory vs reality): 5
Score (now available at my corner store): 5
Score (where is my Orange? where is my Raspberry?): 2

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Elegant Japanese Chocolate: Lotte Sasha Chestnuts

Sasha Chestnut Chocolate is a beautiful line by Japanese candy company, Lotte. Ribbons of golden chestnut layer weightlessly upon ribbons of milk chocolate, and the cross-hatching creates such a delicate and elegant structure. You can't beat the visuals. The taste is good, too. I probably wouldn't have been able to place the extra flavor as chestnut but its rich earthy flavor blends really nicely with the milk chocolate. I asked a few people to sample these individually wrapped chocolates and the consensus was that these are lovely and well worth a try.

Score (visuals): 5
Score (flavor): 4

Monday, October 8, 2018

Project 7 Sugar Free Cotton Candy Gourmet Gum

It's unnerving how much this sugar free Project 7 perfectly imitates the flavor of Cotton Candy. Perhaps because it is mimicking an artificial flavor it's an easy match. The first few bites hit the flavor hard--it's almost too much. But the flavor disappears just as quickly, leaving a mellow memory of cotton candy air. That's the part I really liked--the aftermath.

Score (sugar free? could it be?): 4
Score (flavor fluctuations): 3

Friday, October 5, 2018

Halloween Tricks and Treats: Reese's Peanut Butter Bats

Same Reese's peanut butter perfection, now in bat form for the Halloween holiday. These are great! My only complaint, the bat shape seems a little sloppy. I wish there was a little more clarity to the form, but this is only a minor issue.

Score (Reese's): 4
Score (messy bat): 3

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Green Apple Sour Jacks: Soft & Chewy Mouth-Puckering Candy

These Green Apple Sour Jacks Soft & Chewy Mouth-Puckering Candy are pretty tasty. They're a nice combination of sweet and sour with the flavor of a green apple Jolly Rancher. I'm not sure why the packaging makes such a hoopla over the mouth-puckering achievements of sourness. I wasn't all-that aware that the sour factor was so strident. I'm also a little put-off by meaningless mottos like "Respect the Wedge!" What? Ignore it. These are a basic tasty sour gummy candy that would be entirely pleasant to eat at the movies or something along those lines.

Score (expectations from packaging vs actual candy): 2
Score (gummy flavor): 3

Monday, October 1, 2018

Candy Corn in Sporting Form: Brach's Football Candy Corn

I'm not the biggest football fan (understatement), but I am a huge fan of Brach's candy corn. I am, additionally, an enormous fan of any substantive candy corn shape. For instance, candy corn pumpkins are fantastic. Well, now there's something even better (read bigger). Brach's Football Candy Corn. I couldn't care less about the sporty shape, but am pleased for those who will enjoy it. More important is that these are the biggest chunks of candy corn that Brach's has ever offered. They're a mouthful. It's fantastic.

Score (larger sizes of candy corn in any shape): 4

Friday, September 28, 2018

Travel Snapshot: Maple Salt Water Taffy, Perkins Cove Candies, Ogunquit, Maine

Perkins Cove Candies of Ogunquit, Maine, is the purveyor of all the sweet delights you might imagine in a local homemade chocolate shoppe. However, my heart belongs to maple, so their unique maple salt water taffy is the focus of this post. The taffy is made with real maple, not that artificial buttery maple flavoring. The flavor is subtle but rich and the chewy taffy allows the maple flavor to build slowly. I love these. Thanks for procuring, Ben!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Gummy Snapshot: Frankford 3D Animal Gummies

No, no, I was so easily pulled in by the idea of 3-dimensional gummies rather than the usual flattened forms. I think these 3D Animal Gummies by Frankford are the first version of many more 3D gummies that will arise from other companies. Unfortunately, these are a little rough in form. That could be easily forgiven, though. The bad part is that they taste terrible--some of the worst gummy flavoring I've encountered. Just not yet worth the visuals.

Score (3D in in theory): 5
Score (3D in practice): 3
Score (flavor): 1

Monday, September 24, 2018

Halloween Peeps: Marshmallow Monsters

Of the infinite flavors and forms of the classic Peeps marshmallow treat, the Marshmallow Monsters are amongst my favorite. They're the traditional vanilla marshmallow, but there's something so cheerful about these smiling green monster faces. I look forward to greeting them again each year.

Peeps Reviews Past (click each name to link to review):
Flavored Peeps
Apple Flavored Marshmallow Dipped in Caramel Fudge  
Blueberry Delight Flavored Marshmallow Dipped in Creme Fudge
Blue Raspberry Flavored Marshmallow
Bubble Gum Flavored Marshmallow
Candy Cane Flavored Marshmallow
Candy Cane Flavored Marshmallow Dipped in Dark Chocolate  
Candy Corn Flavored Marshmallow Dipped in White Chocolate
Cherry Flavored Marshmallow Dipped in Dark Chocolate 
Cherry Flavored Marshmallow Drizzled in Dark Chocolate
Chocolate Mousse Flavored Marshmallow
Coconut Flavored Marshmallow Dipped in Dark Chocolate
Fruit Punch Flavored Marshmallow
Gingerbread Flavored Marshmallow
Hot Cocoa and Cream Flavored Marshmallow Dipped in White Chocolate
Lemonade Flavored Marshmallow 
Lemon Delight Flavored Marshmallow Dipped in Lemon Fudge 
Lemon Sherbet Flavored Marshmallow Dipped in Creme Fudge
Maple Brown Sugar Flavored Marshmallow Dipped in White Fudge 
Mint Flavored Marshmallow covered in Milk Chocolate
Neapolitan Filled Delights 
Orange Creme Flavored Marshmallow 
Orange Flavored Marshmallow Dipped in Orange Fudge
Orange Sherbet Flavored Marshmallow Dipped in Creme Flavored Fudge
Party Cake Flavored Marshmallow 
Peppermint Flavored Marshmallow Dipped in Dark Chocolate
Raspberry Flavored Marshmallow Covered in Milk Chocolate 
Red Velvet Flavored Marshmallow Dipped in White Chocolate
Sour Cherry Flavored Marshmallow Dipped in Lime Fudge
Strawberry Creme Flavored Marshmallow
Strawberry Creme Flavored Marshmallow Dipped in Milk Chocolate 
Strawberry Delight Flavored Marshmallow Dipped in Creme Flavored Fudge 
Strawberry Flavored Marshmallow
Sugar Cookie Flavored Marshmallow Dipped in Milk Chocolate
Vanilla Creme Flavored Marshmallow

Traditional Peeps
Peeps Bunnies
Peeps Spooky Cats
Peeps Chicks (Blue)
Peeps Chicks (Green)
Peeps Christmas Trees
Peeps Easter Eggs
Peeps Ghosts 
Peeps Hearts
Peeps Minions
Peeps Monsters
Peeps Pumpkins
Peeps Snowmen
Peeps Tombstones 

Friday, September 21, 2018

Edeka Gut & Gunstig Erdbeer & Joghurtcreme Riegel / German Strawberry Yogurt Cream Bar

I love the special tang that yogurt adds to candy, a little sour to blend with the sweet. Unfortunately, in the case of the German chocolate bar by Edeka, this Gut & Gunstig Erdeer & Joghurtcreme (Strawberry and Yogurt Cream) is so incredibly sweet that the yogurt fades into the background. The strawberry does a bit, too. So much strident sugar, not much else in the bar registers. Strawberries and yogurt is a great idea, but allowing the tart of the yogurt and strawberries to dominate would improve this bar immensely.

Score: 2

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Monday, September 17, 2018

Brach's Maple Candy Corn

I am a great advocate of candy corn and maple is my number one favorite flavor--better than chocolate, better than anything. Brach's Maple Candy Corn should be my jam. But something's off. The artificial maple flavoring leans toward buttery which doesn't blend well with the honey base. The flavors never blend. Is this an innate problem to maple candy corn or is it just an issue with this maple flavoring? I would love to find out.

Score (maple candy corn in theory): 5
Score (this attempt at maple candy corn): 2

Friday, September 14, 2018

Salon de Look Ichigo Pancake Chocolates

The flavor of pancakes and strawberry syrup in a one-bite chocolate? I love this kind of Willy Wonka magic! Straight from Japan, Salon de Look Ichigo Pancake chocolates present a great fantasy of reconstituted foods that are delicious. In actuality, it's not a bad bonbon but the reality certainly doesn't fit the fantasy. I would never guess that the bite was supposed to taste like pancakes and strawberry syrup. There's a nice layer of strawberry jelly and then a creamy layer that tastes like vanilla with a tiny mini hint of wheat. Weird. There's nothing familiar that can be compared. They're worth a try but not that compelling after the first few bites.

Score (fantasy chocolate creations): 5
Score (reality of fantasy): 2
Score (packaging): 4
Score (current need for pancakes): 5

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Monday, September 10, 2018

Welcome, Autumn: Bring on the Candy

Until the day after Labor Day, I put on blinders to any Autumnal or Halloween-themed candy. There's plenty of time for that. Each year that September day finally arrives when I allow myself to focus in on those loaded seasonal candy shelves and the first choice is always the same: Brach's Mellow Creme Pumpkins, the hardier cousin of the brand's traditional candy corn. Note the bad photograph above. The bag never makes it home intact. I love those little sugar bombs, and consume an embarrassing number of them in a frenzy. There's nothing better. I'm a hard-core fan. Inevitably I wake up the next morning feeling vaguely sick and strongly regretful and vow to reinstate moderation for the rest of the Halloween Candy Season. Love or hate these classic Fall sweets, their arrival announces the oncoming wave of seasonal candy. Get ready.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Japanese Sweets: Xylish Sugar Free Fruits Assortment Gum

Like an elegant, sugarless version of classic FruitStripe gum, Xylish Fruits Assort offers six tasty flavors in one small pack. They're all pretty tasty--not a bad one in the bunch--with a special shoutout to the peach and lemon flavors as especially delicious. I wish these were stocked more regularly in the US!

Score: 4

Monday, September 3, 2018

Never Liked Watermelon Candy Until Now: Kabaya Watermelon Gummy

I have never met an artificial watermelon sweet that I enjoyed. I cannot find any resemblance between that nuanced flavor of a real watermelon and the chemical creation known as "watermelon flavor". These Kabaya Watermelon Candy gummies from Japan taste like watermelon! I didn't even know it was possible! They're fantastic, refreshing, evocative of the juiciest crisp watermelon on the hottest day of the year. This could change everything.

Score (flavor innovation--didn't think it could be done): 5
Score (packaging): 5

Friday, August 31, 2018

Extreme Sour Chewy Sweetarts

Chewy SweeTarts are totally my jam and always have been. Yes, they've got the sweet and the tart mixing nicely, but the best part is how the consistency changes as you chew, breaking down to the individual sugar crystals. There's no other candy that dissolves quite like a Chewy SweeTart. Here's an example of the company taking a good thing and pushing it too far. Whereas I enjoyed the sweet/tart balance of the original, here one's mouth is instantly searing and the flavor is entirely lost. I don't mind super sour stuff, but in this case, the product was made less delicious because of it.

Score (too much xtreme sourness): 2
Score (don't mess up a classic): 2
Score (that great chewy SweeTarts dissolve): 4

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Senjaku Happy Nikukyu Peach Gummy Puppy Paws

Happy Nikukyu, indeed! Who can resist these sweetly rendered, double-layer gummies that look so perfectly like my pup's paw. Rather than going for a stylized paw, this is a thoughtful reproduction. I love it! Plus the peach flavor is really juicy and robust.

I wonder if Senjaku makes gummy kitten paws....

Score (packaging): 4
Score (realism of puppy paws): 5
Score (flavor): 3 (it's good but it's still a gummy)