Friday, May 28, 2010

My Heart Belongs to Snickers Peanut Butter

I made it back to North Carolina without getting killed or maimed - yay!  The last day of Candy Expo was insane - I have never seen so many people trying to grab everything the poor booth holders didn't have tied down!  What a bunch of greedy vultures!  I'm just thankful for all the samples I got and for all the booth holders who were so generous and kind to me.

One of the companies, Promotions in Motion, had a booth where you could get your picture taken and put on the front of the NCA Magazine.  It was free to all.  How cool is this?

More shots from the expo floor:

Love this elegant "conference room" in the Turin booth:

Can't you just tell they are doing big candy business?

I got one, I got one!  On the second day of the Expo, Hershey's pulled out the Reese's Minis samples:

Look how tiny and how perfect they are!  And as Hershey VP Tom Joyce pointed out as he gave one to me - they got the ratio just right.  These taste just like the regular size Reese's!  Go Hershey!

I scored the Drops on the second day too!

These have a shiny finish that keeps them from melting and taste just like a Hershey Bar.  If you like Hershey's milk chocolate - you'll love these!

Both come out December 3rd.

And check out the Mars booth:

Mars gave the media a great bag with tons of samples and sponsored the press room.  I wish Hershey did the same.  I had a tough time getting one sample of the new candies from Hershey.  Here are the new products Mars was showcasing - I've already reviewed several of these, but there is one that is my new love. 

First let me show you all the cool seasonal items they are going to have out this year.  First dark chocolate and cherry swirl Dove hearts:

And look at these great tin heart boxes for Valentine's Day:

And here's a new Three Musketeers for Easter - marshmallow!!

And a new Dove egg flavor - coconut (Kris - just for you!):

Ha - cute!!!
Dove Snowflakes for Christmas:

And cherry and pretzel Christmas packaging:

And my favorite of all the treats - my new forever love - Snickers peanut butter:

Not a bar - two delicious squares:

Look at all that creamy, delicious peanut butter!!  These are just so damn good!!  But they don't come out until December.  All I can say is this might be the best Christmas EVER!!

I don't need to go on another date - I have found the love of my life.

It was sooooo worth the wait!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Quick Candy Expo Update

Hi Gang!  Just a quick post - I am totally smoked after a LONG day at the Expo (we started at 7:30 am and I got back to the Hilton at 6:00 pm).  I'll give you more details, but today I:

tried Le Whif - the chocolate you inhale
tasted cocoa butter and cocoa liquor - outside of chocolate - very cool (not good, but cool)
participated in a chocolate tasting
dipped chocolate covered cookie dough in an enrober
ate a Peanut Butter Snickers (OMG!)
saw my buddies from Walkers Shortbread - what a great company!
saw the Turtles mascot, Garfield, the Jelly Belly mascot and a weird French candy company mascot.  Oui!
ate whole wheat Pringles
met the publisher of Dessert Professional Magazine, a writer for the LA Times, and Mr. Tom Joyce (a Vice President at Hershey) gave me a Reese's Mini!

I LOVE NCA and Candy Expo!!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sweets and Snack Expo 2010 Begins!

Hi Gang!  I'm back from the whole bus incident and ready to rumble!!!  Look at the load of candy I got today (this is my bed at the Hilton COVERED in candy!):

I took a bunch of pictures so you all could get a feel for what the Expo looks like:

It's so bright and vibrant and amazing - these really don't do it justice. 

There were some new products I got to try, but they didn't have takeaway samples. So no autopsy or other photos.  These are new - coming out in the fall:

Milk chocolate covered blueberries by the maker of those crazy Queen Anne Cherries.  These are pretty darn good - I really liked the tartness of the blueberries.  They are still pretty sweet, but well worth trying!

Ghirardelli didn't have anything new, but how cool is this display?  This would be a cool sculpture for my house!

Asher's debuted their new dark and milk sea salt caramels.  Very, very good.  Not too soft and not too chewy - perfect consistency:

Peeps is going full bore with the chocolate covered goodies:

There are going to be milk and dark chocolate covered pumpkins, chocolate covered mint flavored trees, and chocolate covered raspberry flavored hearts.  Mark Summers from the Food Network (he did a late session just for us media folks today) loves the dark chocolate Peeps just like I do!  Yay!!

I didn't get to sample any of these, so I can only refer you to my review of the chocolate covered Peeps for Easter.  (YUM!)

Okay - how damn amazing and cool is this???

The Mona Lisa out of Jelly Bellies.  I would like this to go with my Ghirardelli sculpture please.

The Hershey's booth is impressive:

But no samples of the new candies - Hershey's Drops and Reese's Minis.  I have to say, I thought Hershey could have done way more in the samples department.  No samples of the new dark Kit Kat either. Teases.

Good grief, does Ed Hardy have NO shame?

On more popcorn?  Puleeze!  I'd say he's gone from cool to tool.

These were an interesting idea - a marshmallow with some dark chocolate drizzle:

I wanted to like these - the guys in the booth were really nice.  But these just didn't work.  There wasn't enough chocolate to really taste.  Maybe if they were completely coated?

This is Bubble Chocolate ( it's aerated chocolate (basically chocolate with a bunch of bubbles in it):

It comes in dark and milk, and quite honestly, I didn't like it.  Maybe if the chocolate were better?  I dunno - it just didn't work for me.  The people in the booth said it's really popular in other countries.  Nevertheless, I didn't like it.

I got to see a great opening session this morning with Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi.  He showed some fantastic ads and his big message is stop planning, start acting.  The world today is all about speed.  Of course, if you're not careful, that kind of thinking can get you hit by a bus. 

I Fought the Bus and the Bus Won

Today started off great!  Everything went well, I got to Chicago - was even able to check into my room at the Chicago Hilton EARLY - around noon.  I dumped my luggage and headed off to the French Market.  Can I just tell you it's really hot and humid here?  I was determined to walk the 3 miles or so because I knew I would be eating candy all week, but I was really hot by the time I got there.  I also realized I couldn't buy much chocolate because it would melt before I could get it back to the hotel.

So I bought five macaroons at Vanille Patisserie - in some great flavors - chocolate, peanut and honey, white chocolate and lychee, chocolate hazelnut, and red velvet.  Then I went to Michael Canady Le Chocolatier and bought what I thought I could eat on the spot.  How cool do these look?  (now keep in mind that I have neither my usual photo set up nor my autopsy suite this week, so the pics might be kind of crappy.  Please bear with me):

The one with the dancing couple on it is a blueberry cream with dark chocolate.  It was VERY tart and good, although the blueberry overwhelmed the chocolate.  It was too fragile to autopsy.  Plus I was in public and it's weird enough to be photographing your food - much less taking it out of your mouth half eaten and photographing it. 

This was a milk chocolate truffle - I couldn't get over its crazy red, metallic appearance and had to get it.  It was very creamy and very good, but there wasn't much to it.  It looks fabulous, but tastes only slightly better than average.

This is peanut butter and dark chocolate and is shown (unbitten) at the bottom center of the first picture.  I did pull this out of my mouth half eaten (so classy!).  The base of chocolate was so thick I had to see what was going on.  And was surprised to see more layers of dark chocolate in the peanut butter.  With this one, the chocolate overwhelms the peanut butter.  The dark chocolate was good, but I wanted more peanut butter!  Don't I always?

This one I had to buy because it looked so, well, implausible.  It's a pistachio pyramid:

The pistachio flavor was very strong and I have to admit, the metallic color was kind of unappetizing.  It didn't have any flavor, it was just, well, weird.  But what creativity and novelty!  So cool!

I left the French Market and decided to go to Macy's.  I was standing on the street corner and when the signal changed, I stepped out - and that's when the bus hit me.  I'm not kidding.  The driver ran the red light.

No head on (I'd be dead) - it grazed me, moving fast and at first I didn't even know what happened.  Thank God for Jean Bass, a retired nurse who was right beside me when this happened.  She was kind enough to ask if I was okay - it happened so fast we were both shocked.  The bus didn't even slow.  I thought I was okay, but she walked me across the street and noticed my arm was really swelling.  She took me into a restaurant to get ice and that's when I passed out - she caught me before I hit the floor and told the people in the restaurant to call an ambulance.  Thank God for Jean Bass!!  I don't know what would have happened if she hadn't been there.  Thank God for the kindness of strangers.

And thank God I didn't get any further out in the street.  I am really, really lucky to be okay right now.

The ambulance guys got there VERY quickly and were the best - so nice!  Chicago Fire and EMS ROCK!!!  The ER was packed and, the truth is, I wasn't dying.  So they weren't taking me anywhere right away.  At this point, I just wanted to make sure my arm wasn't broken (I've got an Expo to work, damn it!).  We'd been icing it and the swelling had gone down, but this is what it looked like at this point:

This is what the back of my arm looked like:

I was in the ER for about 4 hours - the bus hit me at 1:50 pm and I didn't get a cab back to the hotel until 7:00 pm.  So much for the great first day I had planned!  But I have to say that everyone I dealt with was very, very nice.  The cops that came by to take my report (after all, a city bus ran a red light and hit me - and God knows how much this whole fiasco is going to cost) were hilarious.  One of the young men on the hospital security crew even managed to come up with a square of Ghirardelli chocolate for me!  These folks were great.

That's me, back at the Hilton all patched up.  But you know the worst part?  I don't know what the hell happened to my macaroons!