Candy Wars

Every now and then, a comment on one of my candy exchange posts pops up. Uniformly, these comments are from irate New Zealanders, who probably found those posts when they were searching for a New Zealand delicacy like Pineapple Lumps. Inevitably, they feel honor-bound to defend their candies, in a nationalistic fervor which is really quite amazing. Candy manufacturers of New Zealand, you need not fear about competition. Truly.

At any rate, most of those commenters will not read this post, but I figured I would loosely respond anyway. Maybe I’ll add a link to it to the candy exchange posts, as a general disclaimer.

You see, the thing about my candy exchanges is that they are a great opportunity to taste candies from all over the world. I get to experience a wide range of flavors and national tastes, and it is awesome. And, yes, in some of my reviews, I do diss candies from other nations. But people seem to assume that I adore all American candies, when this is not, in fact, the case. I am an equal opportunity disser.

Not happy, New Zealanders? Alright, here’s a list of American candy I hate, and why. Keep in mind that this is a small sampling of the American candies I hate.

  • Reese’s: disgusting, sugary sweet mixture of chocolate and peanut butter. Why on Earth someone thought this is a good combination is beyond me.
  • Three Musketeers: sugary, foul nougat wrapped in slightly soured milk chocolate. The nougat is like a sponge, with a distinctly unpleasant mouthfeel.
  • Twix: an inevitably stale cookie (biscuit) topped in tooth-searingly sweet caramel and enrobed in the inevitable milk chocolate. Is that even chocolate? I suspect it’s not.
  • Jelly Bellies: the most peculiar flavors in a jelly which appears to be composed entirely of sugar. With a strange crunchy shell that causes my molars to cry from the amount of sugar involved.
  • Jelly Anything: I hate the texture of gelatin in my mouth, whether or not the candy is sweet.
  • Hershey Bars: they may be a classic American candy, but they taste of sour milk to me. And, again, way too sweet. Hershey’s recent offerings with dark chocolate are more intriguing, but I’m talking the classic Hershey bar here.
  • Boston Baked Beans: candy coating and peanuts is a match made in hell.
  • Baby Ruth: peanuts, which I loathe, in candy, coated in thick gross nougat that tastes even more foul than usual, enrobed in disgusting milk chocolate. The candy bar is lumpy with peanuts, just in case you didn’t read the ingredient list, so it looks like a mutant baby. Ugh.
  • Malted Milk Balls: malted milk is completely disgusting. Especially when it its covered in a questionable chocolate product.

I write honestly about my candy experiences because I try to be honest in my life. And I think it’s interesting to see pictures of candy from other places, and to read about one person’s opinion. I also do not hesitate to praise candy, when I taste something particularly excellent. There also happens to be a lot of New Zealand candy in my exchanges because I know a fair number of people from New Zealand. So it might seem like I am unfairly picking on candy from that region of the world, when in fact I have a ton of generous New Zealand readers who kindly send me candy even though I repeatedly trash it. And in every batch, there are a few things I really enjoy. Given my loathing for most American off the shelf candy, it shouldn’t really be surprising that I have a tough time finding foreign candy I like.

In fact, I’ll bet readers from anywhere in the world could send me candy I don’t like. I welcome packages of revolting candy from Germany, South Africa, Norway, Tibet, wherever. In fact, it would be really fun! My international readers should know that I have a standing offer to reciprocate any candy exchange—if you send me a box of candy from anywhere in the world, I will send you a box back. You can email me more more details on my standing agreement at meloukhia at gmail dot com, if you like, or you can just send candy directly to s.e smith at PO Box 2764 in Fort Bragg, California, 95437, but make sure to include your return address!

A lot of the irritated posters say that if I don’t like sweet things, I shouldn’t eat candy, or chocolate in particular. The thing is…chocolate is not sweet. Naturally, chocolate is bitter as fuck. Various producers add things like cream (ugh) and sugar to chocolate to change the flavor profile. A small amount of sweetness goes a long way in chocolate, in my personal opinion. I would also like to point out that I don’t make requests when people send me candy, because I want people to send me things that they like. The point is not to cater to my taste, but to expand my tastes.

If people were catering to my tastes, they would send me darker, more bitter chocolate. They would not send me chocolate with nuts, and they would probably avoid biscuit/cookie fillings as well. But, the thing is, these tastes may not represent a national preference, just as my own tastes do not represent those of the average American. Most Americans like their chocolate sweet, intensely so, and very milky, and they adore nuts in their chocolate, especially. In fact, most of my pals love the foreign candy I get. And I want to taste beloved candy from other places, not rare cult candy only liked by some people.

As for not liking sweet things: my adoration for pastries, cakes, and cookies clearly belies that silly statement. I like sweets just fine, I just like my sugar in moderation, because too much sugar drowns all of the other flavours in the food.

What’s interesting to me is how many commonalities popular candies have. As a general rule, sweet, milky chocolate is popular in most countries. People love nut fillings. They enjoy stale biscuits, caramel, and nougat. Often there are small formulary tweaks, however, which cause the same candy to taste different in various places. And that, in my opinion, is really interesting to experience.

So, my dear New Zealand commenters, you should feel no need to come to the valiant defense of generic New Zealand candy. After all, if I saw one of you dissing on a Baby Ruth, I would probably join in on the candy bashing. And if you really feel the need to leave a comment…why not leave your email, or your website, instead of hiding behind your alias?

You really don’t believe me when I say that I like some New Zealand candy, do you?

Here’s a list of candy from New Zealand sent to me that I liked:

  • Hokey Pokey: I love hokey pokey. Especially covered in dark chocolate. But I’ll take it any way I can get it, like in a Cadbury Crunchie.
  • Cadbury Flake: Cadbury Flake bars are awesome! They are so fun to eat, and I was amazed to learn that they come in a wide range of flavours including white chocolate. They are also for sale here, in one or two flavors, which is excellent.
  • Cadbury Picnic Bar: sweet, salty, slightly crunchy. I was unsure at first, but I got into it.
  • Whittakers Sante Dark Chocolate Bar: dark, very complex, delicious.
  • Jaffas: orange and chocolate! In nuggets! Hell yeah.
  • Spaceman Candy Sticks: delightfully trashy and good fun.

Now, we could have a boutique candy exchange, and I suspect that I would like most of the things sent to me. My father raised me to be a candy snob, what can I say? But I’m still game to try out new flavours, and I am often pleasantly surprised.