Monday, April 30, 2012

Old Ads snacks

Welcome to another look at some fun old advertisements for candy that I came across while browsing my comic collection. Today I'm going a bit off track of tradition here on Walking the Candy Aisle, as we look at a few snacks. While technically these probably aren't in the candy aisle in every store. You'll certainly find all of these treats nearby the candy aisle, and their advertisements are great.

First up today is Hostess with a double ad for Cupcakes and Twinkies!

 Hostess snacks are great. Too bad I was never ever allowed to eat them when I was a kid. After deliciously describing these treats the ad asks us to "Ask mom... she knows!" Well my mom certainly didn't. Not to pout, but really that kind of stinks. Did you guys get Twinkies growing up???

Anyhow, apparently these cakes are SO good that it even brings rival baseball teams together over their awesomeness, although why they both have their gloves on is beyond me. Which team is at bat if they're both in the field? Any why the heck don't they take the gloves off to eat the Hostess cakes?! did they just catch them in a popfly? If that's the case I can understand their looks of wonder and amazement. Either that, or they're wondering who took that bite out of their delicious treats...

As for the baseball cards, well that's pretty cool. Apparently Hostess produced a couple of these sets of baseball cards over the years. With 150 cards, that's (do the obvious math now) 50 boxes of twinkies to buy... seems like an awful lot, but complete sets of this run are going on ebay for between $200 and $300 dollars, so I guess it was worth it to whatever obsessive kids could manage it. Even if I had been allowed Twinkies I don't think I would've been able to get all those cards though...

Onto an ad for Cracker Jack.

Well this just proves it, people love baseball. Even I could tell that despite growing up in Canada even with the hockey fanatics.  This is definitely a fun little story about Scottie the Cracker Jack winning the big game. I'm glad the coach believes in him, even if he has his doubts. Thank goodness Scottie didn't strike out, that would really make for a depressing advertisement... It'd probably be pretty funny though. I guess this is little league or something but I have to point out the lack of helmets. It was a different time then. As for the Cracker Jacks themselves, well I've always been a fan. These days given the choice I'd probably go for Poppycock instead but Cracker jack was always fun as a kid, and the prizes we're pretty fun. I mean not like Kinder egg fun, or like they used to be back in the 50s and 60s fun, but the prizes we're at least something. Now I think when you get a Cracker Jack box you're lucky if you get anything more entertaining than a Bozooka Joe comic.

This next ad for Slim Jims is just for quick fun. I always loved Slim Jim, but didn't remember any advertising for it before Macho Man came on board. It's nice to see they had an actual campaign with a through line fighting the Horrible Hungries before Randy Savage joined up. I also had no idea they came in 6 different flavors (mild, spicy, pizza, bacon, salami, and peperoni). And finally I have to agree with the tag here: "A little less than a meal, a little more than a snack." Nice.

Finally  I;ve got a couple of cookie ads. The first is another game ad, this time from Oreo.

As you know I love advertising that gives me a game as well. This time its an Oreo decoder puzzle.... Wait a sec. around the cookie 5 times?! That's too much. What do I look like I've got all day here? Ok, ok... I know as a kid I would've been all over wasting my time doing this. But with an answer key right there I just can't bring myself to actually put in all that work. Yes I love Oreo, but that dedication only goes so far.

Back in the day it seemed like Oreo and Chips Ahoy! we're the only game in town when it came to store bought cookies. At least they were the only ones marketed to kids. I remember how excited I got when double stuff Oreos we're announced. Even though we didn't usually have Oreos around the house you can't be a child of the 80s and not remember the advertising. It was as heartwarming as Coca cola, with the fun of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

My only question about the ad, who's glove is that???

The final ad for you today is another 'cookie-like' product, its Fig Netwon.

 As you may have expected I am a fan of Fig Newton, I'm also a fan of treasure maps. It seemed like a staple of cereal commercials that at some point Lucky, or Trix, or Toucan Sam would have to navigate their way through a treasure map to the goal of delicious cereal and I'm glad to see it carried over to Fig Newton. Question for those playing along at home... is a Fig Newton a cookie? I never thought so myself but I've heard others call it one. I see on the ad itself they call it a cookie, but its certainly non-traditional if it is one. Whats your take on it?

As for the ad I really enjoy it. There's is so much fun imagery here, I like the idea of a world with fig forests, and newton mountains. Probably not somewhere I'd like to live permanently. but it'd be a pretty fun place to visit. It does seem a bit odd that a pirate is hiding Fig Newton treasure in a land literally made of Fig Newtons.... couldn't he just get more wherever he went? Ah well... It doesn't really matter, the ad is still brilliant.

These ads we're pulled from Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man #11, What If...? #41, Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man #11 again, Web of Spider-Man #2, and Web of Spider-Man #1 respectively. Next week I've got the conclusion to our look at some bubble gum ads. It should be fun!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Valrhona gift box - video review

Today we've got something a bit different for you, its a review for a whole gift box full of Valrhona chocolates!

 For a bit more, please check out the written review or all of the reviews over on the Reviews Page.

Valrhona gift box review

Today I've got something really different for you. A review for a whole box of chocolates! This is the Valrhona gift box.

Ok, technically this is the Valrhona Ballotin Box 36 Bonbons Gift. It's an assorted box of chocolates from a French boutique chocolatier. As far as I can tell Valrhona specializes in ganache, which is a chocolate and cream mixture that you sometimes see as filling on these kind of bonbons and is, of course, absolutely delicious.

Let's have a look at these chocolates. The packaging is very nice, sheik, black and stylish on the outside. Looking inside we get bright and shiny gold. This gold wonderfully reflects the chocolates, and collects light giving a warmth and sense of size to the inside of the chocolate box. I really love how nice the packaging is here. Unfortunately there aren't any dividers for the chocolates themselves, Since the bunching up that you can see in the picture below takes a little away from the initial splendor, but that's a rather small trifle overall.

The box has 3 layers, with 36 chocolates total. According to the website, these chocolates are ganache-filled, they are also noted as different though, with a few specific flavors including jasmine, orange, praline,and almonds. Oddly the site only has 7 different chocolates listed on it and the box obviously has more than that in it.

Now's probably the time to explain how I'm intending to do this review. Of course I'm not planning on sampling every kind of chocolate in this box, so instead I think I'll just treat this as I would any regular box of chocolates. Especially since there's no guidemap to the various flavors here, my plan is to sample at random 3 different chocolates from the box. Maybe I won't pick the best 3 chocolates, but I probably wont pick the worst... and lets be sensible here, these chocolates are going to be pretty good overall.

Ok so looking at our first sampling, this is one I know a little bit about. It's the "Palet Or", dark and milk chocolate decorated with gold leaf and filled with ganache. The chocolate smells good, but not very strong. Biting into the bonbon is good, I mean really good. The ganache is smooth and rich, and the chocolate exterior blends extremely well. I can't really taste the golf leaf, but its a nice decorative touch

the next chocolate is the nut one. I don't know what its called really but every chocolate box has at least one or two bonbons with the crumbled nut in chocolate deal going on. I believe in this case we're dealing with almond. biting into the chocolate again reveals the same ganache mixture, and confirms the almond. This one is about texture and so far these Valrhona's are firing on all cylinders. The nuts add a nice body to the experience.

Finally we get the stick looking chocolate. This ins;t one I usually go for in a box of chocolates. The stick shaped chocolates often hide hard toffee or general weirdness. Since my preferences usually lean towards cream fillings I aim for ovals, but I'd like to find something different if I can... and it looks like I've hit paydirt. The chocolate is filled with... well it tastes like marzipan, but I don't think that's actually it. I suspect this is an almond flavored ganache, that only resembles marzipan. If it actually is marzipan its got a bit more viscosity than I'm used to tasting. But in terms of flavor the almond is unmistakable. I am not a personal fan of marzipan. BUT I don't hate it, I just don't ever seek it out, and any more than a little does turn me off. This is only a little though, and it manages to mesh very well with the chocolate exterior of the bonbon. I also know of course how many people out there love that subdued almond paste flavor. So for me the fact that this isn't something I'd line up for is beside the point. The chocolate is wholly successful.

Overall these are some pretty fantastic chocolates. The quality is top notch and I can't remember the last time I has a chocolate ganache filling that was so smooth. You really can't go wrong with these. And while they are boutique French chocolates, thanks to the internets they seem to be available all over the world.

Walking the Candy Aisle rates this Valrhona gift box - 5 / 5

Special thanks go out to my friends Jan and Cecile for bringing these back from France for me as a gift. It was delicious. Valrhona isa  privately held French chocolate company headquartered near the town of Lyon. You can find out more about them on their website

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Old Ads bubble gum pt 1

Our look at old candy advertizing continues today with a few fun ads I found in some comic books for bubble gum. While I'm not a huge fan of gum now, preferring mints, when I was a kid I loved bubble gum, and not the Doublemint boring kind, I wanted Juicy Fruit, Big Red, Chicklets, or even better Bubbilicious, and Hubba Bubba. Looking back on it I'd say my requirements were twofold: lots of sugar, and bubble blowing potential.

Let's have a look at these great ads for Bubble Yum.

 I just love this ad. Four happy go lucky kids, just hanging out at the park chewing some Bubble Yum. They're white of course, kind of preppy, I especially love the scarf of the girl, and the awesome 80s headband on the other girl. But seriously these kids don't have a care in the world. Probably because they've got NEW Pink Lemonade flavor Bubble Yum. I mean that's probably made their day right there. But that is not all by a longshot, this is my favorite kind of ad, and interactive one! Word jumble = awesome. You've got a jumble and a riddle, its like that bottom section of the newspaper comics with the games that I always want to play but never do. But this one is better because its dead simple, and about Bubble Yum! Ok, lets do it. Yes I see there's an answer key on the bottom, but don't look at that.... hmm.. ok got it. Soft, Smooth, Juicy, Yummy, Pink, Bubbles...and I guess they've got to sday "Its a MOUTHFUL of Yum!" sweet, thanks for playing along. This ad gets top marks all around from me.

Yet another fun Bubble Yum ad. I love the purple word balloons, and that its unique in that it puts us in place of the candy clerk. Although, what kind of a jackass working at a candy store eats your gum before you get any?! If I were that kid, I would be pretty peeved off by the end of that ad. Still I like the idea behind the ad, pretty fun stuff.

And finally we've got the introduction of another new flavor of Bubble Yum. This time its Wild Cherry. I know Wild Cherry was hot back in the late 80s but I never really got into it. I think maybe that's because I was never a huge cherry fan to start with. It kind of always made me think of medicine. But anyhow, as for this ad its again really a lot of fun. Kids at the Circus having good clean bubble blowing fun. That's something you can't go wrong with, there's even a clown so you know its a great time. I also like that there are 5 flavors, including the always lame (but popular) Sugarless. Where's Pink Lemonade though?! I have a feeling this was a later incarnation of Bubble Yum. Anyhow, a fun time all around with Bubble Yum.

Bubble Yum was originally owned by Lifesavers, and then moved to Hershey, and is still around. You can see more on it here. But their current crop of flavors include: Original, Original Sugarless, Cotton Candy, Sour Apple Berry, and Jolly Rancher Watermelon. According to wiki, it was the original soft bubble gum, introduced in 1977. Pretty cool :)

These ads we're pulled from What If...? #41, What If...? #37, and What If...? #21 respectively.

I've got a few more awesome bubble gum ads to share, so look for more in a part 2 to this post. Until them I think I should try to get some gum...when was the last time you even blew a bubble?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Walking the Ice Cream Aisle

Sidestepping the candy aisle today I took a stroll down the ice cream aisle today at my local Target.

Let me tell you there are a lot of candy and chocolate bars to be found in ice cream these days. Here's some of what I came across.


The Girl Scouts would be proud :)

These are GREAT!

I don't think these Popsicle flavors would work in regular ice cream but they seem a good fit here.

A classic
This is a San Francisco delicacy!
Ice cream for DOGS!!!
Ok, so I threw a few others in there too but wow, it's pretty awesome to see so much chocolate and candy in the ice cream aisle!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Bitter Truth

Well, I know I said that Walking the Candy Aisle wouldn't take itself too seriously, but there is a time and a place for everything and even here there is certainly room for a little gravity when the situation calls for it. Today is Earth Day, and I wanted to take a minute to recommend a documentary I recently watched called Chocolate: The Bitter Truth.

The film was made in 2010 by the BBC under its 'Panorama Investigations' series and has also aired on CBCs Passionate Eye series. The film takes a look at child labor used in cocoa production, specifically in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire. It's pretty eye opening to see these kids harvesting cocoa, real honest to goodness slaves. And while the film does talk about the well intentioned work of the Fairtrade Foundation, and the International Cocoa Initiative it also specifically went out to put these standards to the test in the fields traveling to cocoa plantations and investigating for themselves.

I've spent some time in West Africa and I know how poor it is. I also have seen first hand how messy trying to clean things up can be. Having worked in development, I've seen how foreign NGOs often end up throwing money at problems in ways that just don't work, there's rampant corruption, little to no financial or practical oversight of development projects, and not a lot of follow through. The problems for these countries, some of the poorest in the world, are often systemic, and despite the best efforts and intentions of a lot of good local and foreign people they are not easily solved. I hate that I'm so jaded to these issues, because I do have hope, but problems like child labor are really complex. I think I'll start by trying to  keep an eye out for the Fairtrade logo on my chocolate from here on out. At least it's something to start with.

The documentary is available on YouTube, here is Part 1, followed by links to parts 2 - 5. I'd encourage you to check it out.


Part 2 / 5
Part 3 / 5
Part 4 / 5
Part 5 / 5

Thanks for checking it out, we'll be back to our regularly scheduled blog by the next post, but Id love to hear any comments you may have on this subject...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Baby Ruth - video review

Another day, another review. Today we're looking at Baby Ruth.

For more please check out the written review, or browse the entire Reviews Page.

Baby Ruth review

We've got another classic review for you today, with Nestlé's Baby Ruth.

This chocolate bar is a weird one for me. It's got to be the most famous chocolate bar that I never ate as a kid. Why? because it just wasn't available in Canada. I think my first knowledge of Baby Ruth had to come from The Goonies. There's a great scene in that film (which truly is a classic) where Chunk gives Sloth a Baby Ruth to befriend him and then he end up helping the kids and saving the day. Ever since seeing that I knew I had to try Baby Ruth. For some reason though on my various trips to the States as a child I never ended up getting one. I don't think I actually tried a Baby Ruth until I was maybe 20 years old. And to be honest I'm not sure I've had one since that first time.

Lets start then by looking at the packaging. Nestlé has been printing this "2 for $1" logo on a few of their bars lately and I definitely approve. At least I know I'm not getting ripped off. Looking at the rest of the package though its pretty full, pretty busy. I prefer a little less ostentatious packages but I wonder if this is trying to evoke something of the excitement that you'd feel in a baseball stadium. Checking out the wiki, it seems like the company that invented the bar, claimed they weren't naming it after the baseball legend, but instead after Grover Cleveland's daughter... riiight... and I'm sure there was never any confusion over that one. And of course conveniently they didn't have to pay any name royalties to Babe Ruth. Even the font is a baseball font for god sakes... Ok, moving on though, there is some pretty serious text on the side of the packaging "Bursting with Peanuts, Rich Caramel, and Chewy Nougat - Savor the Good Stuff!" definitely a bit wordy for a slogan in my opinion, but I guess it works. It seems like you should know there's an issue though when you can't even fit your slogan on the front of the candy bar.

As for the chocolate bar itself. Well it looks ok. There is another famous scene in a movie with this chocolate bar where in Caddyshack a Baby Ruth is thrown into a swimming pool and all of the people at the club think someone did something else in there... until Bill Murray comes along and takes a bite out of it. I suppose you could see that looking at a Baby Ruth...

The smell is pretty minimal, alright, but nothing super exciting. Biting into the bar is a bit difficult. There's a real pull to the bar that means you need to chomp down hard to get your bite off. The first sensation though though is texture. This is a really chewy bar. I mean really chewy, Is it the caramel, or the nougat? I kind of think its both... although I suppose on the side of the wrapper it says that the nougat is chewy. Ok, well looking at the bar, you've got a core of nougat, surrounded on 3 sides by caramel and peanut. I'll give them something for having the caramel and peanuts on the sides as well as the top, but the mixture is really not very pleasant. I don't know if its just my tastes, but this candy bar is making me work too hard for a bite, and on top of that, its really too sweet. The nougat is chocolate flavored, the caramel is rich, and the milk chocolate coating is strong too; this is just too sugary. I think the main here culprit is the nougat though. This nougat is too chewy, and too sweet. I am not enjoying this chocolate bar.

Well no wonder I never had another Baby Ruth since the first time. Its really not for me. Oh I suppose there may be some tastes that would like this, but I am certainly not one of them.

Walking the Candy Aisle rates Baby Ruth - 2 / 5

baby Ruth is a Nestlé product. You can find out more at

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Remainder redux

If you saw my last entry on post-holiday remainder candy you'll know that I'm always looking for that sweet spot, often around 3 days after the holiday when the 50% off remainder candy tags turn to the even more popular 75% off tags. Well my friends that day has come, at least to my candy aisle. I'll tell you though, it's really not a pretty sight.

The candy and chocolates have been unceremoniously dumped into carts and semi-temporary bins in an island amid the seasonal aisle. It's all very cluttered and a bit sad. Especially when you see the kinds of candy that are left behind.

Today is the day you'll want to hit the sales though. Its not pretty but come 2 or 3 days from now, rifling through these piles of leftover candy is going to be a truly sorry state of affairs. The 75% off signs are cooking now so the last-of-the-best, or maybe more appropriately, the best-of-the-last stuff is there for the taking at a crazy low price. Easter may be gone, but now we can remember all the good times... in remainder candy form.

Here's my haul from today. And since it only cost me $4 I really can't complain.