All posts by Doc

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31 Days of Junk: Brach’s Smore’s Candy Corn (#21)

Last October (2017), I made it a goal to drink 31 different beers—a new one each day—by the end of the month. Incredibly, I was successful in my attempt, which I dubbed #31FallBeers (look it up on any form of social media!) This year, I wanted to try something similar, but there were two important changes I needed to make. Firstly, I wanted to be able to expound more, so I decided against social media blurbs in favor of long-form posts on my site. Second: it needed to be much, much cheaper than drinking 31 different beers. The result? #31DaysOfJunk. Strap in and hold on tight, and please enjoy this month-long odyssey into the sugary, fatty belly of the autumnal beast.

Another day, another candy corn type of goodie. Only this time, it’s not a random treat trying to imitate candy corn, it’s candy corn trying to imitate a random treat. To be specific: a s’more.

S’mores are American as apple pie, but they taste better and are way more fun to make. They’re truly one of the greatest junk foods ever to be assembled. Which is why whenever a company releases a s’more-inspired snack, I’m ever so eager to try them.

I’ve had s’more Oreos (why didn’t you call them S’mOreos, you idiots?) and enjoyed ’em. I’ve had Ben & Jerry’s s’more ice cream. I’ve had both name brand and generic versions of s’more cereal, both equally delicious. But each of these takes on the classic campfire treat had the vital components to make it work: namely, graham cracker crunch (in some form or another), actual marshmallow, and real chocolate. This is why these various iterations work so well.

But can a s’more-flavored candy corn pull it off? These ones from Brach’s do a pretty decent job of it.

Again, they lack the full-bodied, all-encompassing experience that goes along with eating an actual s’more (or any s’more adjacent treat involving the same ingredients), but what they lack in varied textures they make up for in size. These suckers are huge! Far bigger than your average candy corn. The picture doesn’t do them justice. They’re like arrowheads. Or teeth from a Sarcosuchus.

The main flavor here is marshmallow. A bit of cocoa, too. But I didn’t notice much graham cracker taste. If I closed my eyes and ate one of these and you told me it was a hot chocolate-flavored candy corn, I’d have believed you.

I tried biting them down the line, color by color, to see if the different colors, in fact, faithfully represented the flavor they were supposed to—but I didn’t notice any variation.

While these certainly won’t replace the s’more, they’re good in a pinch.

31 Days of Junk: Skeleteens Love Potion No. 69 (#20)

Last October (2017), I made it a goal to drink 31 different beers—a new one each day—by the end of the month. Incredibly, I was successful in my attempt, which I dubbed #31FallBeers (look it up on any form of social media!) This year, I wanted to try something similar, but there were two important changes I needed to make. Firstly, I wanted to be able to expound more, so I decided against social media blurbs in favor of long-form posts on my site. Second: it needed to be much, much cheaper than drinking 31 different beers. The result? #31DaysOfJunk. Strap in and hold on tight, and please enjoy this month-long odyssey into the sugary, fatty belly of the autumnal beast.

Finally, a Skeleteens soda that doesn’t scorch my innards! It’s even, dare I say…refreshing? A quick look at the ingredients list explains why: this one doesn’t contain jalapeno oil. Hallelujah!

The ingredient list is still pretty wild and chockfull of weird herbs that I wouldn’t be able to pronounce right on the first go ’round. And while the wild ingredients didn’t really make sense with the other two sodas I tried, here they sort of do: I think this particular soft drink is supposed to be an aphrodisiac. At least, that’s what the scrawlings on the side of the label would lead me to believe. (Specifically, “arousing carbonated drink.”)

Well, I’ve drunk half the bottle, and I’m not aroused, but I do think it’s the best Skeleteens soda I’ve tried, so perhaps it’s making me feel lovey-dovey.

The soda has a really pretty amethyst color to it and a subtle floral flavor. There’s a bit of grape popsicle or watered-down cough medicine in the smell, too. It’s not overly sweet—just right, in fact. And nicely carbonated—won’t burn a hole through your tongue.

One of the ingredients is dillweed, and believe it or not, it was the first thing I tasted with my initial sip. Like a pickle, minus the sour saltiness. Just a little grassiness, somewhere in the distance there.

Overall all, a winner from The Skeleteens!

31 Days of Junk: Jelly Belly Candy Corn (#19)

Last October (2017), I made it a goal to drink 31 different beers—a new one each day—by the end of the month. Incredibly, I was successful in my attempt, which I dubbed #31FallBeers (look it up on any form of social media!) This year, I wanted to try something similar, but there were two important changes I needed to make. Firstly, I wanted to be able to expound more, so I decided against social media blurbs in favor of long-form posts on my site. Second: it needed to be much, much cheaper than drinking 31 different beers. The result? #31DaysOfJunk. Strap in and hold on tight, and please enjoy this month-long odyssey into the sugary, fatty belly of the autumnal beast.

I didn’t realize this, but one of Jelly Belly’s original confections was candy corn and other mellowcreme treats. In fact, they were the primary confections before Jelly Belly started making jelly beans. Crazy, right?

The company, started in 1869, was originally called “Gustav Goelitz”, named after the man who started the company. It wasn’t until 1960 that the company started making jelly beans, and it would be another 16 years before they came up with the name “Jelly Belly”.

With that bit of history out of the way, it made me wonder: considering its history, would that mean Jelly Belly makes the best candy corn? Better than Brach’s?

After eating a few of Jelly Belly’s take on the tri-colored fall treat, I can say definitively, without a doubt: I don’t know!

They’re much smaller than Brach’s, that’s for sure. And they seem more nicely made: glossier and more of an effort to make the candy look like actual corn. (Notice the ridging on each piece.) The texture and flavor are also a bit different. These are chewier and have a softer candy corn flavor, versus other brands I’ve eaten which overwhelm my mouth with cloying sweetness after just a few pieces.

Would I be able to tell them apart from other brands in a blind taste test? Probably not. They taste like candy corn; I guess that’s all that matters.

 

31 Days of Junk: Peanut Butter Kisses (#18)

Last October (2017), I made it a goal to drink 31 different beers—a new one each day—by the end of the month. Incredibly, I was successful in my attempt, which I dubbed #31FallBeers (look it up on any form of social media!) This year, I wanted to try something similar, but there were two important changes I needed to make. Firstly, I wanted to be able to expound more, so I decided against social media blurbs in favor of long-form posts on my site. Second: it needed to be much, much cheaper than drinking 31 different beers. The result? #31DaysOfJunk. Strap in and hold on tight, and please enjoy this month-long odyssey into the sugary, fatty belly of the autumnal beast.

Sadly, when the Necco candy company shuttered its doors earlier this year (don’t worry: it’s apparently coming back soon), one of the casualties—besides Necco Wafers and Valentine’s Day staples, Sweethearts—were “Mary Janes”. (No, not that, you stoney-baloney goofballs.) And with it went its classic old-timey bag art.

Thankfully, the instantly recognizable black and orange wax wrappers remain—and while the name has changed (to “peanut butter kisses”), the concept has not: chewy, peanut butter taffy with a bit of real peanut butter in the center. In other words: mother’s milk. (No, not the Red Hot Chili Peppers album, you stoney-baloney goofballs.)

Earlier this month I reviewed what I considered the be the quintessential fall candy: Hershey’s Miniatures. But really, nothing says HALLOWEEN! more than these little black and orange-wrapped goodies. They’re so simple and old-fashioned, but they’re timeless. They might not be the candy you want to see at the bottom of your bag or bucket on Halloween night—they’ll never be on the same level as finding a full Snickers or Butterfinger bar. But if you didn’t find one or two of these suckers in the pile you dumped on your floor, would it really feel like Halloween? I think not.

Thankfully, they’re a shareable candy—the kind your parents, or old uncle, or elderly neighbor would be happy to take off your hands. (Think of Halloween as like a cooler, edgier Christmas—the theme of giving and sharing remains, but you get to dress like a demon hellspawn while doing it.)

31 Days of Junk: Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s (#17)

Last October (2017), I made it a goal to drink 31 different beers—a new one each day—by the end of the month. Incredibly, I was successful in my attempt, which I dubbed #31FallBeers (look it up on any form of social media!) This year, I wanted to try something similar, but there were two important changes I needed to make. Firstly, I wanted to be able to expound more, so I decided against social media blurbs in favor of long-form posts on my site. Second: it needed to be much, much cheaper than drinking 31 different beers. The result? #31DaysOfJunk. Strap in and hold on tight, and please enjoy this month-long odyssey into the sugary, fatty belly of the autumnal beast.

I’m a chewy chocolate chip type of cookie guy more than anything, but offer me the right kind of sandwich cookie and I might indulge. Hit, Milano, E.L. Fudge. Basically anything with a nice chocolate filling squeezed between the two cookies. Those I will gladly accept.

While I’m not big on original Oreos, I am a sucker for their limited time/seasonal varieties they offer–even though I often think these variations still taste exactly like plain ol’ Oreos. (Well, the cookie portion does.) Just a few years ago, Oreo released a Pumpkin Spice flavor, which I found to be their most enjoyable–and least “Oreo-flavored”–release yet. Still, if you’re looking for a seasonal sandwich cookie, you don’t have many options (if any, really) other than Oreo.

Enter into the arena Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s, the seasonal sandwich cookie to beat all others.

Now here is a sandwich cookie that brings some nuance and flavor to the table. Not only is the filling pumpkin-flavored, but the cookie is as well, ensuring that you get the most bang for your frugal, Trader Joe’s-shopping-ass buck.

But first, let’s clear something up: when anything is labeled “pumpkin” flavored, what they really mean is “pumpkin spice” flavored. But the funny thing is, “pumpkin spice” isn’t even a real thing. It’s like “blue raspberry”–an unnatural flavor that exists only in the junkfoodiverse. “Pumpkin spice” is a bit of a misnomer, as it doesn’t even contain any pumpkin. Secondly “pumpkin spice” flavoring is really just allspice. That’s it. Allspice is composed of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Boom. I will concede that “allspice flavored cookies” doesn’t have the zip of “PUMPKIN SPICE FLAVORED EVERYTHING!” Okay, now that we got that out of the way.

As I was saying: these Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s are really quite delicious. The cookie itself is flavorful, enough so that you could eat it on its own without the filling. It’s also a bit softer, a bit more crumbly than your average sandwich cookie, which I can appreciate (gives it somewhat of a “homemade” vibe). And the filling is actually creamy, as opposed to Oreo’s familiar semi-solid slab of frosting. When you bite into these Joe-Joe’s, the filling squeezes out a bit, giving even more of a homemade feel.

The flavor is tops. From the smell, the second you open the bag, to the first bite, these cookies are pure pumpkin spice (er, sorry, “allspice”). But, surprisingly, there is a bit of earthy, gourdy, vegetal flavoring somewhere in there. It’s not overpowering or gross, but close your eyes and smack your lips a bit, and you’ll be able to spot the pumpkin puree flavor. (Which is an actual ingredient!)

Overall, I’d say if you were going to try one pumpkin spice goody this year, try these. They’re inexpensive and delicious–which are the two most important criteria when it comes to food, for me.