Christmas Peeps? Where will it end?

For this Peeps purist, the crossover is nothing short of betrayal.

Ever since I was a kid there have been certain candies that were harbingers of the various holiday seasons. Candy canes were the first pepperminty signs of Christmas and Peeps lorded over the Easter candy aisle.

But, over the years, somehow the lines have been blurred, and while you don't see candy canes making appearances in the shapes of Easter eggs, it's a fair bet you'll find Peeps in snowmen's clothing. In fact, they've pretty much found their way into every holiday candy display all year round.

Now, I realize the change was purely business. Settling for one holiday doesn't make economic sense when you can make small adjustments in your products and work your way into other seasonal markets. Still, it feels like a betrayal to look down the holiday candy aisle and see those sugar-sprinkled gobs of marshmallowy deliciousness masquerading as snowmen and Christmas trees.

And then, as if that wasn't enough, they've started dabbling in other flavors too. It's not just sugar-flavored sugar anymore. They've also started making specialty Christmas peeps in Gingerbread, Sugar Cookie and Candy Cane flavors. WHAT?

My world was rocked when Peeps strayed from yellow birds to purple Easter bunnies, but this other holiday movement is starting to really shake me at my foundation. At the risk of sounding like an intolerant holiday candy bigot, I have to say I'm uncomfortable with the whole thing. What's next, Peeps? How do you sleep at night? Is there nothing sacred anymore?

Simple Delish: Nestle-Carnation Fudge Kit

A sweet, chocolatey confection is only a few steps away.

When I was growing up, one of my favorite holiday morsels was my aunt's fudge. It was the perfect mix of creamy, chocolatey richness...every bite was pure indulgence. It was her specialty, and the whole family went nuts for it every Christmas Eve. Year after year, my other aunts would ask for the recipe, and year after year, their requests would fall on deaf ears. My aunt's fudge recipe is still a secret to this day.


And, since she won't humor even her favorite niece and just pass it along, I've tried to find something comparable over the last few years. The results have been grim so far, and I've all but lost hope.


My husband did, however, stumble upon a quick kit from Nestle-Carnation that makes some pretty sweet treats with very little fuss. Their Rich & Chocolatey Famous Fudge Kit is incredibly easy to use and yields some delicious, creamy fudge if you do it right.


The kit is very basic: marshmallows, chocolate chips, evaporated milk, sugar mix and a disposable tray. The instructions are equally simple and easy to follow, making it great kit for beginners to the fudge making scene.


There are really two factors that can be the downfall of the Famous Fudge experience, temperature and over- or under-stirring. You have to be very careful to follow the written instructions closely or you're going to get dry, nearly inedible fudge.


If your aunt is as tight-lipped about her fudge recipe as mine is, I recommend giving the Nestle-Carnation Famous Fudge Kit a shot. As long as you don't fudge the steps, you're in for a delectable, chocolatey treat.

Which candy bar had all three Neapolitan flavors?

Can you guess without doing a net search?

The scene: A small area. No one was allowed to use electronic devices to answer the questions.


The question:


Which candy bar used to have all three of the Neapolitan flavors? 


None of us knew the answer to the not-so-cryptic question posed by a friend. Was it the Charleston Chew? Was it Butterfingers? Was it the O’Henry? 


None of the above. 


Can you, without the use of Google, Bing, Yahoo, or any other search engines, give me the answer? I won’t give you any other prize than the feeling that you are smarter than the average candy bar eater. 


(Erika, of course, is NOT the average candy bar eater and I apologize to her in advance if she has covered this all-too-important topic already.)

The answer: 


Our small group caved and looked up the answer. 3 Musketeers had all three neapolitan flavors at one point in time: chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. I never tried the pre-all-chocolate 3 Musketeers, but it sounds absolutely terrible. My guess is that the vanilla flavor was in fact the sticky sweet coconut candy bar. 


The deceased French (pardon my French) must be fricking rolling around in their graves. The French who are alive would never condescend to read about an American candy bar, so I’m sure that the 3 Musketeers former neapolitan flavor doesn’t concern them too much. 


Reading the list of the subsequent flavors added into 3 Musketeers is an incredibly scary prospect; the company should have stopped with chocolate. The worst may possibly be either limited edition orange or the marshmellow limited edition minis. Icky. Candy bar companies should stick with chocolate and forget about all the other nonsense. 


Do you agree? 


Have any of you tried any of the new 3 Musketeers candy bars? Do you think that adding in different flavors makes them better with age or do you think that once the company finally figured out that fake vanilla, fake strawberry, and chocolate do not go together that they would just left it chocolate? 


As candy bars should be. 


Are there any popular candy bars that don’t focus on chocolate? Isn’t chocolate approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) as a food group now on the school lunch pyramid? Doesn’t the saying go: A chocolate candy bar a day keeps the doctor away?*


I only know one person on the face of the planet who doesn’t like chocolate. 


*The doctor in question is not the dentist. 

The danger of mini candy bars

Mini candies continue to appear on the market.  Don’t want a full-size Hershey Bar? Try Hershey’s Drops.  Can’t handle an entire Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup? Pick up a bag of Reese’s minis. Almond Joy and York Peppermint Patties come in pieces. Most major candy bars still come in mini and fun size versions and the number of M&M flavors continues to expand. People love chocolate, but they don’t want to feel guilty about it.Mini candy bars, drops and pieces make it possible to get your candy bar fix without consuming hundreds of calories and excessive amounts of sugar.  That is, if you’re disciplined. While most people eat mini candy bars intending to eat a lot less, they often end up consuming just as much, if not more. The problem is that, aside from fun size candy bars, most mini candies are not enough to fill a craving with a single serving. You eat one drop and don’t feel satisfied, so you pop in another, then another and before you know it you’ve consumed the whole bag.

Sticking to just a few mini pieces of candy at a time requires doing some work ahead of time. Purchase some snack size plastic bags. Divide the bag of mini candies into 10 or 15 of the snack size bags. Then, instead of carrying around an entire bag on mini candies, when you need a chocolate fix, pick up a snack size bag and eat its contents.  If you keep the contents of the snack size bags small, but big enough to satisfy, you can embrace the mini candy trend and have your chocolate without the excessive calories and guilt.

PayDay Candy Bar

The carmel peanut log was a breakfast staple for me

It seems like a lot of my memories involve candy. The memory I am about to share is no different.

Every time I buy a PayDay candy bar, I think of the mid 1990s. At the time, I was working for a local television station in the Midwest. Every day, a co-worker and I would take a mid morning break and head to the vending machines. We would each get a Diet Coke and a PayDay. This was our breakfast, the fuel we needed to get through the rest of the morning. I know, healthy breakfast, wasn’t it?

While not the healthiest of breakfasts, it was pretty tasty. Peanuts and carmel, with a Diet Coke chaser. What could be better?

PayDay candy bars are made by Hershey’s. Basically, the candy bar is a carmel log covered with salted peanuts. It is nothing fancy, but it sure is good. A PayDay bar is 240 calories, which is about 15 percent of an average daily calorie intake (based on a 2000 calorie diet). I’m not a big calorie counter, so I really don’t know if that is good or bad. I’m guessing bad.

My co-worker left the company before I did, and the daily tradition ended when she left. Sure, I’d occasionally get a Diet Coke and a PayDay, but it was no longer a daily occurrence. I still buy PayDay candy bars; it’s one of the few candy bars that my husband enjoys, and it satisfies my hunger like no Snickers bar can ever do. It never fails though; I always think back to those days in the mid 1990s and my trips to the vending machine with my co-worker.



Jolly Rancher Hard Candies

Flavors include Apple, Cherry, Cinnamon Fire, Watermelon, Blue Raspberry and Grape

As a child, I loved Jolly Rancher Cinnamon Fire hard candies. I have not been able to find this flavor for years, even though they are still made. The fruit flavors seem to dominate the market. I'm not a big fruit flavored hard candy fan.

My husband and I were reminiscing about Jolly Rancher Cinnamon Fire candies, and we got to talking about Jolly Rancher stick candy. According to the Jolly Rancher website, Jolly Rancher Stix are still made, but only in Apple and Cherry flavors. Jolly Rancher Stix are just what they imply -- sticks of Jolly Rancher candy.

When I was a child, there were Cinnamon Fire Stix. I'd unwrap a little bit at a time, and suck on it until I needed to unwrap more. I would save the wrapping so that I could lay the stick down and save the rest for later. One stick would last me at least a week.

The Jolly Rancher Candy Company was started in 1949 in Golden, Colorado. Jolly Rancher hard candies were originally called "Famous for Flavor" hard candies. Beatrice Foods bought Jolly Rancher Candy Company in 1966, and Leaf Candy Company bought the Jolly Rancher brand from Beatrice Foods in 1983. Hershey's took over the Leaf Candy Company, and the Jolly Rancher hard candies, in 1996. Hershey's still makes Jolly Rancher candy today.

Besides the hard candies, there are Jolly Rancher chews, lollipops, sours, gummies, and jelly beans. Flavors of the hard candies include Apple, Cherry, Cinnamon Fire, Watermelon, Grape, and Blue Raspberry.


Goo Goo Clusters

The original Southern confection

I remember the first time I had a Goo Goo Cluster. It was in 1982, and I was on vacation with my parents in Nashville, Tennessee.  It was a planned vacation for my parents, but it wasn’t planned that I would be along. My parents were going to the World’s Fair in Knoxville with some friends. There were to be three couples, traveling by RV from Kansas City to Knoxville, stopping at points in between. Because of a medical reason, one of the couples had to back out. Instead, their daughter and son-in-law, and their two little girls, were going to go in their stead. I was 21 at the time, and home from college for the summer.  I didn’t have a job, so they asked if I would go along to babysit the girls.

The couples’ had pre-purchased tickets to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. I stayed back at the RV park, babysitting the girls. We played games, took a walk, and went swimming. I put the girls to bed, then sat reading until their parents, and mine, returned from the Grand Ole Opry.

I think my mom felt sorry for me for having to stay behind. She brought me some candy that they had purchased at the Opry, a Goo Goo Cluster. I had never heard of a Goo Goo Cluster before, but my mom said she’d had one at the Opry, and that they were Heaven. I unwrapped the Goo Goo Cluster, bit into it, and sighed. She was right, it was Heaven.

Goo Goo Clusters were first made in 1912 by the Standard Candy Co. of Nashville, Tennessee. It was the first “combination” candy, meaning a candy made of more than one ingredient. The original Goo Goo Clusters contain caramel, marshmallow nougat, peanuts and milk chocolate. In the 1980’s the Standard Candy Co. introduced the Goo Goo Cluster Supreme, using pecan pieces instead of peanuts. The third type of Goo Goo Cluster, the Goo Goo Peanut Butter Cluster, was added to the line in 1991. The Goo Goo Peanut Butter Cluster uses peanut butter instead of marshmallow nougat. My favorite is the Goo Goo Supreme.

Goo Goo Clusters are found mainly in the southern United States, although Cracker Barrel Country Stores throughout the country carry the confection. I was at the local Dollar Tree today and saw them there, which surprised me, as I don’t think I’ve seen them since I moved to Arizona. You can also order Goo Goo Clusters online. Note however, the company does not ship the candy from May to October due to the temperatures.

If you’ve never had a Goo Goo Cluster, I recommend trying one if you get a chance.



Reed's Hard Candies

Discontinued in 2006

I was talking to my husband the other day about Reed’s candies, saying that I wished I had some of the cinnamon candies, and he informed me that Reed’s was no longer made. Say it ain’t so! But, I guess it is true. Sigh. That’s very sad news.

I loved Reed’s candies, especially the cinnamon. Reed’s was rolled candy, kind of like LifeSavers, only much better. Each candy was individually wrapped, so they were easy to pop into a pocket or a purse. The flavors I remember are Cinnamon, Butterscotch and Root Beer. I think there was also a mint flavor, but I don’t remember much about it.

My favorite flavor was cinnamon. It was a cinnamon candy unlike any other commercial cinnamon candy I’ve had. The candy disks were smooth, with a little dip in the center, instead of a hole like LifeSavers. The flavor was intense! The butterscotch candies were also good, and were a favorite of my mother. My brother loved the root beer flavor.

The Reed’s candies were hard to find, at least in my area. We very rarely found the candy at the grocery store. We most often found them at the local Ben Franklin’s 5 & 10 store. I remember riding my bicycle to the corner drug store in search of Reed’s candy, and would buy 3 or 4 rolls at a time if I found them. After all, they were only 25 cents a roll at that time. It was a favorite thing for my brother and I to buy with our allowance.

The Reed Candy Company was based in Chicago and began in the late 1800s. Besides the hard candies, Reed Candy Company also made Clark and Teaberry gums. The company changed owners many times over the years, with the last owners being the Wrigley company. The original Reed’s candies were discontinued in 2006.

Cadbury Mini Eggs

A Once-A-Year Milk Chocolate Treat

What can I say about Cadbury Mini Eggs except that they are, in my opinion, the best chocolate treat ever made? They are a little bit of chocolate heaven in a hard sugar shell. For a true chocoholic like me, I don’t make that statement lightly.  

I wait all year for these Cadbury Mini Eggs. There’s a similar treat at Christmas time, but I think the eggs are better. I don’t know why, since they are basically the same candy expect for the shell colors, but the mini eggs just taste better. I’m weird, I know. I wish Cadbury Mini Eggs were available year-round and not just at Easter and Christmas, but it’s probably better that they aren’t. If they were, I’d gain a lot of weight.

I’m not talking about the Cadbury Crème Eggs that are plentiful this time of year. I’m not a big fan of those. The Cadbury Mini Eggs, well, that’s another story. The Cadbury Mini Eggs are solid milk chocolate nuggets shaped like eggs, with a hard sugar shell. They start appearing on store shelves right after Valentine’s Day, and they become harder to find the closer it gets to Easter. At least in my area they do. I usually buy several bags over the course of the season. The bags last longer than they used to, as I can only eat a couple at a time these days. I’m lactose-intolerant, and since they are milk chocolate, well, I won’t get into that.

Cadbury Mini Eggs originated at the Cadbury Company, a United Kingdom candy company. In the United States, Hershey’s owns the rights to produce and distribute Cadbury chocolates.


A kosher, low-fat candy

For a long time as a child, Twizzlers cherry-flavored licorice twists was the only candy my younger brother would eat. He always had a bag of Twizzlers with him. His favorite after school snack was Slim Jims and Twizzlers. Odd combination, but it worked for him.

Twizzlers candy was invented in 1845 by the Young & Smylie confectionary, which later became Y&S Candy Co. Hersheys Foods Corporation acquired the Y&S Candy Co., and Twizzlers, in 1977. Twizzlers was the most popular creation of Y&S.

The original Twizzlers candy was a twisted licorice-flavored rope. It is now available in a variety of flavors, shapes and sizes. The twists are available in strawberry, cherry, chocolate, black licorice and rainbow flavors. The rainbow flavors, introduced in 2006, include orange, grape, strawberry and lemonade. Pull ‘n Peel Twizzlers were introduced in 1994 and are available in cherry and watermelon flavors. Bites and Nibs are available in cherry and black licorice. These are relatively the same, except that the Bites are bite-sized and have a unique texture, and the Nibs are great for nibbling. The newest Twizzlers, introduced in 2009, are sweet & sour filled twists, with Citrus Punch and Cherry Kick flavors.

Twizzlers is a great low-fat candy. Twizzlers products are certified as kosher, and are approved by PETA as a vegan confection. They are a popular candy at movie theaters. Twizzlers are easy to eat, it’s not a messy candy, and it tastes good too. My favorite Twizzlers product is the Cherry Bites.