Archive for May, 2012

Sweet Endings

May 31st, 2012 by Rosa

Psychology Today has a great explanation of a recent Psychological Science paper about positivity bias - a paper on an elegant study that I wish I had done!

Psychologists have long known that first and last gets special attention. When we remember a list of things, the first and last item of the list is better remembered, known as the serial position effect.

Turns out that last also gets special attention when deciding how much we like things. Scientists gave participants 5 different flavors of Hershey Kisses to try one at a time (all those limited editions came in handy!). The Kisses were randomly pulled out of an opaque bag, so participants got them in random orders and didn’t know how many they would get.

Half of the participants were always told, “Here is your next chocolate” before getting to taste and rate the chocolate. The other half were told, “Here is your last chocolate” before the fifth chocolate.

When participants were told that the fifth chocolate was their last one, they rated that they liked it more than those participants that were told that it was their next one. That difference was significant, whereas the difference between the first four chocolates’ ratings was not significant between the two groups.

Figure 1 from O’Brien, E. & Ellsworth, P.C. “Saving the last for best: A positivity bias for end experiences.” Psychological Science, 23(2), 163-165.

Isn’t it cool how manipulatable we are by stupid little changes? I wonder what would have happened if participants knew that they’d get 5 Kisses but were still told “Here is your next chocolate” on the fifth one. Do we need to be explicitly reminded when things are “last” to enjoy them more?

Just to be safe, I’d recommend consciously thinking about your final bites – of food and whatever else you’re enjoying – if you want to savor it more.

 

Category: news | 3 Comments »

Ritter Sport – Rum Raisin and Nuts

May 30th, 2012 by Rosa

This Ritter Sport Rum Raisin and Nuts was one of the most exciting samples that I brought back from Sweets and Snacks.

According to the Gourmet Grand Dame bloggess of the company that imports Ritter Sports to the U.S., Alfred Ritter didn’t want to export this flavor of Ritter because the rum flavor dissipates if it spends too long on the shelf. I believe that they convinced him it would be okay to sell it in the U.S. as a limited edition around the holidays, so you may see this in the States eventually.

The second that I unwrapped this bar, I was launched into booze city! The bar smelled overwhelmingly of rum and sweetness.

The flavor of rum pervaded every bite. There was no burn, just the flavor of alcohol.

The chocolate had a softer texture than expected – solid, but with no snap. Little bits of hazelnut that were generously distributed in every square added a dry crunch and toasty nuttiness.

Small raisins also distributed throughout the bar added a mild sweetness and a slight change in texture. Their grapey flavor, however, was lost in the boozy chocolate.

I enjoyed this bar for the novelty factor. Alcohol flavored chocolate is still a relative rarity in the U.S., and I’ve never had anything like this before. An OM.

 

Category: chocolate, European, nuts, OM, review, Ritter Sport | 2 Comments »

Fair Trade – not so fair?

May 29th, 2012 by Rosa

Via The Kitchn, an article from Food First claiming that “Fair Trade is Dead.” According to the article, big companies jumping on the Fair Trade happy good feelings wagon is corrupting the original purpose of fair trade – to benefit small farmers.

Fair trade is a popular designation for chocolate these days, and there are other chocolate makers without the official fair trade designation but who conduct business by paying small farmers a fair price. Let’s hope that the spirit of fair trade can persist, even if the official label is less reliable.

Category: news | No Comments »

Happy Memorial Day

May 28th, 2012 by Rosa

Hi readers! I hope you are enjoying your day off – well, those of you that live in the U.S., that is.

While it’s nice to have the long weekend to fire up the grill or hop in the pool, it’s also nice to remember that the original point of Memorial Day is to honor our military. To that end, I’ve assembled a few candy-military links, in case you’re feeling inspired.

Operation Shoebox sends care packages to troops overseas. They’ll take candy donations and send them overseas for you.

Operation Gratitude also sends care packages to troops. They also take candy and ask that you separate the chocolate from the non-chocolate.

As I posted last winter, True Blue Candy Canes makes red, white and blue candy canes and donate a quarter of their profits to families of marines. Couldn’t hurt to pick some up before the Fourth of July!

Category: news | No Comments »

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate filled with Speculoos Cookie Spread

May 25th, 2012 by Rosa

It’s here! It’s here! It’s finally here! After year (okay, really just months) of searching and asking every time I went into my local Trader Joe’s, after I completely gave up on ever finding one because a Trader Joe’s cashier told me that they were no longer orderable, I GOT TO EAT A SPECULOOS CHOCOLATE BAR!

Got a little over excited there… let’s back up. Trader Joe’s introduced their “Les Chocolates de Belgique” line of chocolate bars {filled with} things with three bars: a caramel one, a chocolate buttercream one, and a Speculoos cookie spread one. The first two were easily found, but the latter most interesting and delicious-sounding one was missing from my local Trader Joe’s.

Until now! My friend Amanda found them on her latest Trader Joe’s run and was kind enough to remember that I had been lusting after them.

If you’ve never had a Speculoos cookie, you’re missing out. They’re light and crunchy cinnamon spice cookies from the Netherlands. Delta serves them on their flights as Biscoffs, and Trader Joe’s sells them as Bistro Biscuits.

The chocolate bar had six segments full of Speculoos in cookie spread form, which was similar in texture to peanut butter. The cookie spread filling was creamy and thick but also pillowy soft.

The cookie bits added a slight grit and crispy crunch. It tasted of sweet cinnamon and dusky caramelized cookie.

The dark chocolate shell was softened by the filling and lacked snap. The whole bar was on the soft side, hence the squished segment on the end of mine.

It tasted of deep cocoa with a woodsy finish and a minimal amount of sweetness – just enough to keep the bitter away. Paired with the cinnamon cookie, it was sweet and spicey and crispy and melty. So much delicious!

It was also so much fattening – 51% of your recommended daily dose of saturated fat in just one little 1.58 oz bar – probably because its center was basically cookies plus whipped oil. For that, I must take it down a notch, to an OMG. I want to hoard them, but I will try not to, for the sake of my arteries.

Category: chocolate, cookie, OMG, review, Trader Joe's | 6 Comments »

Wine and Chocolate – not a good match?

May 24th, 2012 by Rosa

When I lived in Rochester, Chocolate and Vines was one of my favorite hang-out spots. You could get wine and chocolate pairings there, along with desserts and cheese plates, which made it a fun place to go for a quiet night out.

Recently, via the Kitchn, I learned about a piece that ran in Palate Press. an online wine magazine, about the science behind chocolate and wine flavors. Apparently, science says they don’t pair so well because their flavonoids are too similar, and they bring out the worst in each other.

I’ll confess that I went to Chocolate and Vines more for the chocolate than for the wine. I’m not much of a wine connoisseur, so I didn’t notice anything funky from mixing my chocolate and my wine. What are y’all’s experiences?

Category: news | No Comments »

Starburst Flavor Morph

May 23rd, 2012 by Rosa

Starburst Flavor Morph is a new-ish addition to the Starburst line. Cybele covered them back in November, but I didn’t get mine until very recently, both as free samples from CandyFavorites.com and from the press room at Sweets and Snacks.

Though they’ve been out for at least six months, my package still called them “New!” It also touted the candy’s “flavor changing beads!”, which made them sound all fancy and technologically advanced.

Those flavor changing beads were actually visible in the Starburst square. I could also sometimes feel them in the sticky chew of the Starburst as little hard pellets between my molars.

There were only two flavors in the pack. One was orange that morphed to orange strawberry, and the other was cherry that morphed to cherry lime. It seems like they don’t so much morph as gain a second flavor.

Orange to orange strawberry started off as a much more mild form of the usual orange Starburst flavor. It was not nearly as sour or bright or citrusy.

The strawberry flavor came in quickly and further mellowed the flavor, giving it a slightly plasticky floral edge that finished like strawberry Starburst (the pink ones).

Orange strawberry was a weird combination for me. I think I prefer those flavors separately to them together. An O.

Cherry to cherry lime was much better. It started off like a regular cherry Starburst, with a slight tartness to the start. The lime then came through in a few chews with a strong, limey bite of zestiness.

It was like a chewable form of a Sonic cherry limeade. Sort of Shirley Temple-esque, but tangier from the lime. The mix of sweet berry fruitiness and the zesty lime flavor was a winner for me. An OM.

Category: chewy, O, OM, review, Starburst, Wrigley's | No Comments »

SendFudge Giveaway

May 22nd, 2012 by Rosa

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s Fudgie Wudgie review comes today’s free fudge giveaway, courtesy of SendFudge.com. They offered me a free sample of their fudge for review, but, as noted yesterday, I don’t properly appreciate fudge.

Instead, I’m going to let one of you appreciate some of Send Fudge’s fudge! They agreed to let me do a giveaway in lieu of a review. Here come the rules:

1) You can enter once by leaving a comment on this post about which flavor of Send Fudge fudge you most want to try. Make sure you put a valid email address in the email field, NOT in the comment itself, so that only I can see it. The winner’s email address will be used to contact the winner; the rest won’t be kept.

2) You can enter a second time by tweeting @zomgcandy with a link to your comment on this post. Click on the timestamp to your comment for that direct link.

3) Continental 48 U.S. readers only, please, due to Send Fudge’s shipping restrictions.

4) Contest closes at 11:59 PM EST this Sunday, May 27th.

5) I will randomly select one entry as the winner of a box of SendFudge fudge.

Good luck!

Edit: This contest is now closed. Congratulations to Jack, my randomly selected winner!

Category: giveaway, news | 26 Comments »

Fudgie Wudgie Rocky Road Fudge

May 21st, 2012 by Rosa

Though I love candy of nearly all forms, I actually don’t like fudge. I find it to be far too sweet. Chocolate is great as it is; why turn it into a super-saturated sugar bomb?

Thus, when online candy retailer CandyFavorites.com sent me a free box of Fudgie Wudgie Rocky Road Fudge to review, I approached it with guarded suspicion.

It came in a super shiny red box adorned with a stretchy gold elastic tie. Inside was trapezoidal plastic trough, about 2″ X 2.5″ X 6.5″. It was heavy and dense and jam-packed with fudge.

The Rocky Road Fudge had a thick milk chocolate fudge base. The texture was really nice – totally smooth and creamy without any sugar graininess – while the flavor was that of ultra sweet chocolate. It was so sweet that it finished on a noticeably sour tinge.

The fudge was speckled with fluffy pockets of foamy marshmallow that tasted of sweet sugar. Based on the size and pure whiteness of the marshmallow pockets, I’m going to guess that they used to be standard mini-marshmallows, like what you’d get at the grocery store.

Bits of walnut were also distributed throughout the fudge, I think more sparsely than the marshmallow was. Most of the bits of were small, but I came across one giant half piece in the small tasting sliver I cut. The big chunk was nice, as it enabled the mild walnut to balance out the sweetness of the fudge.

I was pleasantly surprised as I enjoyed this more than I thought I was. It was definitely still too sweet for my palate, but I loved the creaminess of the texture. An O.

Category: chocolate, marshmallow, nuts, O, review | 3 Comments »

Sweets and Snacks Tips for Bloggers

May 18th, 2012 by Rosa

Before I went to the Expo, I boned up on what to expect by reading Cybele’s past coverage and checking in with Sera on what her experience was like. For current/aspiring candy bloggers, here’s my list of DOs and DON’Ts.

DO dress nicely. This is a business trade show, and there will be buyers and sellers and brokers out there in full business suit attire. As a blogger, you get some leeway to dress down, but I was still glad that I was wearing flats, a dress, and a blazer. By day three, though, I had to switch to jeans with a nice sweater, as my feet were killing me. See next tip.

DO wear flats. You will be on your feet all day, and it will make your feet hurt. Heels would just be asking for trouble.

DON’T stay for the third day, unless you want to take home a bunch of free samples. I managed to see all the booths in the first two days. On day three, I aimlessly wandered. Many industry people will have already left, and many that are left will be mostly thinking about packing up and getting rid of all their excess samples. If you want to take home handfuls and cases of treats, though, you should stay for day three.

DO bring an extra suitcase. I guesstimate that I took home at least 20 pounds of candy. I had packed an empty duffel bag inside my carry-on and flew Southwest, so free checked bags on the way home!

DO bring extra canvas bags with you to the Expo. Like Cybele, I stashed a bag (or two) in the press room. You’re only allowed a smallish sample bag on the floor, so I’d empty that out into my press room bag and go back for more. On day 3, to discourage the free-for-all atmosphere, they were punching bags to limit the number of dumps and refills that you could do. By then, though, I was basically sampled out.

DON’T eat too much candy on the floor. You will make yourself sick. I overhead an NCA intern talking about how one of her fellow interns had to go home early because she ate three chocolate bars in a row one morning. I think I ate the equivalent of one or two candy bars across my three days on the Expo floor. However,

DO eat the snacks, especially the jerky. Protein will be your friend, and salty snacks will prevent sugar overload, real or mental.

DON’T be afraid to ask for samples. For the most part, people were great about giving me wrapped samples that I could take home. See Perugina guy as Exhibit A. I would introduce myself as a candy blogger and ask if they had anything that I could take home to photograph and review later. The only people who said no were the business guys who checked out as soon as they realized that I wasn’t going to buy anything (coughLindtcough), and small companies that needed their full displays. It also helps if you can find your way to a marketing or PR person, or, if it’s a small company, a president or VP, rather than the business guys.

DO get business cards made. You’ll need at least one anyway to register as press, but I also found myself handing them out to candy people at their booths. If anything, it legitimized me as someone worthy of free samples. I had 100 mini cards made up from Moo (note: that’s a referral link for me) for $19.99. It was a little pricier than going to a local copy shop, but they came out really nicely, and quite a few people complimented me on how they looked.

DON’T believe the registration website when it says photography isn’t allowed. I even tried calling the NCA to figure out the real camera policy and couldn’t get a clear answer, so I told Emma not to travel with her expensive and fancy camera. When we got there, they said photography was fine and even encouraged; it was just video photography that was restricted. Wasted opportunity!

DO bring a companion if you can. I am so happy that Emma was able to come with me. While I was chatting up people at their booths and taking notes on what they were telling me, Emma was busy Tweeting away and taking photographs. She also kept me on task (I nearly got derailed when they gave away Eiffel Bon Bons) and kept me sane. And it was just fun to have someone to chat with!

DO navigate the Expo in a systematic manner if you don’t want to miss things. We went up and down each aisle in sequence so we knew where to pick off where we left off whenever we needed a bathroom or pressroom break. DON’T diverge from your path, even if you see something really exciting, as it is really easy to skip a whole block if you’re not paying attention.

DON’T try to get a side salad from the salad bar at McCormick Place’s food court. I thought it would be nice to get a turkey sandwich with a small side salad from the salad bar. Turns out the salad bar is priced PER PLATE, not by weight like any other salad bar in the world. And it was $9.50 for my tiny side salad, and my lunch ended up costing me nearly $20. So not worth it.

That’s all I can remember for now. Feel free to leave any further questions in the comments!

Category: news | 5 Comments »