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  • 5 Things You Didn't Know about Candy

    Did you know that June is National Candy Month? While it's unclear how or when it originated, we do know that celebrating candy goes as far back as the 9th century. Candy has quite the history! In honor of National Candy month, take some time to brush up on your history while enjoying your favorite candy bar. Here are five things you didn't know about candy to help you get started.

    1.  Rock candy dates back to the 9th century. Is rock candy the oldest form of candy still around today? Quite possibly. Historians have discovered 9th century Iranian writing that includes a process of rock candy making. However, it wasn't intended to be the sweet treat that it is today and was instead used for its medical healing powers. The idea of using rock candy as a form of medicine was later referenced by Shakespeare in his play Henry IV, when he mentioned using the sugary candy as a remedy for sore throats.

    2.  Cotton candy was co-invented by a dentist. When it comes to your dental health, cotton candy may be the worst possible food to consume. Ironically, it was co-invented by a dentist. Dr. William James Morrison co-invented it with John C. Wharton in 1897. At the time, it was called "Fairy Floss." Were they trying to make a nice treat for kids, or was it all just a clever dental marketing ploy? You decide.

    3.  Candy-corn is the best selling candy in America. Does this surprise you? Americans purchase approximately 20 million pounds of candy corn each year. It is also the most searched for candy term in Google's search engines. Alabama leads for the state with the most candy-corn searches.

    4.  Chocolate can heal a broken heart. Okay, so maybe this one hasn't exactly been scientifically proven. However, it was recommended by doctors back in the 1800s. Next time you find yourself suffering a bad break up, feel free to indulge in all of the chocolate your heart desires. After all, it's what the doctor ordered! 

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    5.  Salt water taffy was a happy accident that Joseph Fralinger took advantage of. The story goes that a taffy merchant with a booth on the A.C. boardwalk had his whole stock soaked with saltwater during a storm. When a little girl walked up to buy some taffy the next day, he jokingly offered her some "salt water taffy." She loved it and salt water taffy was born.

    While this story comes in several versions, we know that the sweet truly became a phenomenon when Joseph Fralinger took an interest in 1884. Already selling concessions on the boardwalk, he was asked to take over a taffy stand, and decided to create his own recipe; he introduced his molasses taffy by 1885. From there, Joseph Fralinger made the sweet popular across the nation by selling it as a boxed souvenir and by offering as many as 25 different flavors by the end of his career.

     

    It is clear that Americans, who consume an average of 25 pounds of candy annually (For Germans it may be up twice that amount!), love their candy! While we don't recommend eating 25 pounds of candy throughout the month of June, we do encourage you to indulge in your sweet tooth a bit in celebration. You can even try some sugar free candy for a healthier alternative with the same great taste.

  • Why Macaroons are Making a Comeback

    Macaroons are one of the oldest and most popular European confections. But to many people who have grown up snacking on boxed cookies or candy bars, macaroons are a relatively new discovery. Recently, in the United States, macaroons have seen a huge resurgence in popularity, as more and more people discover them. So what are macaroons and what makes them so popular?

    Macaroons can be small, fluffy sweet cookies or they can be more like tiny cakes, depending on how they're made. One of the great things about macaroons is that there are hundreds of variants, but what unites them all is that they are made with a basis of ground almonds. The almonds are what give them their distinct, sweet flavor, even though the amount of sugar typically added to them is relatively small compared to cookies or cakes. Some macaroon recipes don't have sugar added at all!

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    But while all macaroons share this basic ingredient, what really makes them so enjoyable is trying the many different kinds. For example, many macaroons do not seem nutty at all. They don't have chunks of gritty nuts in them. Instead, the nuts are in the form of an almond paste, which is then blended with whipped egg whites to take on a smooth, fluffy consistency. This substance is more like meringue than cookie dough or batter and, when baked, it retains its fluffy feel. The result is something golden-brown on the outside, but white and moist on the inside. It is also this consistency and preparation method which separates macaroons from amaretti, which are also almond-based, but tend to be hard, dense, and crunchy.

    Macaroons have been around since the 800s C.E. and have spread all over the world, meaning there are endless varieties. Some macaroons are larger and moister, like cakes; while others are baked to brown and crunch when you bite them. A huge number of ingredients can be added, as well, the most popular being shredded coconut, chopped or ground nuts, or (nowadays) chocolate. Chocolate macaroons have really taken off, both in the form of macaroons with chocolate chips baked inside of them and that of traditional macaroons with chocolate drizzled over the top when they're done.

    In a world of mass produced snacks, macaroons are one of the few remaining artisanal confections. Every area has its own take and you could spend a lifetime sampling maroons without ever running out of new ones to try.

    What's your favorite kind of macaroon?

  • Six Strange Easter Traditions

    This winter was a long one, so the fact that Easter is less than a month away is a much-welcomed sign of spring. Do you ever think it's strange that, here in the United States, we fill baskets with chocolate bunnies and peanut chews, pretending to our children that a giant rabbit left it? Or that we hide coins and candies in plastic eggs around the house and backyard, risking that they will never be found? We have partaken in these traditions so many times that we don't stop to think how bizarre they might seem to people of other cultures…especially because when you take a look at their traditions, they do seem pretty far-fetched.

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    Czech Republic: Whipping Women for their Health

    You read that correctly: in the Czech Republic, the men whip the women with sticks decorated with colorful ribbon, and sometimes douse them with water. They do this every year on Easter Monday. It stems from a Pagan tradition and is supposed to keep them young and healthy. It's not meant to be painful, but we're sure some of the younger boys take advantage of the opportunity.

    Germany: Burning Christmas Trees

    Though the Germans have a strange Easter ritual, it's kind of a nice one. They save the remnants of their Christmas trees so they can pile them into a heap and burn them around Eastertime. It signifies the end of winter and the beginning of spring, which is always a cause for celebration.

    France: Flying Bells

    Here in the States, we have the Easter Bunny, but in France, they have an Easter…bell? On Good Friday, the bells in France's churches are silenced in order to recognize Jesus' death, but the French believe that the bells are quiet because they fly to Rome and return back on Easter Sunday. They have many bell-shaped candies, the way we have bunny-shaped candies, to celebrate.

    Poland: Men Stay out of the Kitchen

    It is said that men aren't allowed to knead or bake the bread on Easter – and some believe that the men shouldn't cook at all. If they do, it's believed that their mustaches will turn grey. More likely, this tradition was started by a clever man who didn't want to do chores on the holiday!

    Finland: Halloween on Easter?

    If you're ever in Finland on Easter, you might be confused as to which holiday is being celebrated. It's tradition for children to dress up as witches and go around the neighborhood hunting for treats. The tradition started due to the belief that witches would fly from Finland to Germany and dance with Satan, and only bonfires can scare them away.

    UK: Egg Rolling Competitions

    Eggs are a popular symbol for Easter in the US, but in the UK they're sporting equipment! There are many egg rolling competitions held on Easter during which the competitors roll their eggs down a hill and see which gets the most distance, or which can survive the most competitions.

  • The Sweet Truth Behind Easter Candy

    As winter slowly falls behind us, we bid farewell to many of the wholesome holidays that focus on candy and other sweet foods. Though Halloween, Christmas, and Thanksgiving are behind us, many wait eagerly for the arrival of Easter amidst spring time’s warmer weather. While most people already know and understand the origin story behind the holiday, many remain confused as to how candy became such a centralized theme of Easter. Nationwide, people buy chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, and marshmallow chicks due to the iconic nature and tradition behind them. Yet, how did it all begin?

    To find the origin of Easter candy exchange, we must go back to the 14th century and the classic Hot Cross Bun. Hot Cross Buns were known as the traditional morning meal during Good Friday due to their trademark “cross” imagery, and became a general Christian tradition in its own right. Similarly, though not sweet, the ubiquitous pretzel twist was also considered an Easter treat hundreds of years ago. Its very design was very reminiscent of arms that were crossed in prayer, providing for further religious iconography that could be easily passed around and enjoyed.

    The tradition of distributing these baked goods to friends and loved ones continued well into the 17th century, but by the 1800’s Easter enthusiasts sought to develop more alluring foods to associate with their favorite holiday. In Europe, chocolate had become the preferred snack food of the wealthier classes, and so chocolatiers used the image of the egg as a way to celebrate Easter and sell their products. The egg was a symbol of life, resurrection, and health, many of the concepts that were already associated with the holiday. This is when the first chocolate eggs appeared, quickly making their way from Europe into France and Germany.

    The next most common Easter candy, the Jelly Bean, didn’t appear until the 1930’s. Jelly beans are often times considered the offspring of Turkish Delight, a candy already popular in the Americas in the 30’s. The “bean” shape, which many people believed looked more like an egg, quickly became associated with the Easter Bunny. The iconic rabbit of holiday lore had already been a popular cultural symbol during the Civil War, believe to bring chocolate eggs symbolizing life to soldiers. From that moment, the jelly bean became one of the most prominently recognized and understood symbols that we still embrace today.

    While there are many more Easter candies, most are stylized adaptations of candies that already existed. Every spring the candy aisles fill with rabbit, chick, and pastel motifs, giving way to one of the year’s most popular celebrations. There are plenty of other interesting historical facts behind why these shapes and colors show up every Easter, but the sweet secret of candy’s presence is now yours to savor.

  • Making Miraculous and Fantastic Fudge

    If you’re looking for the perfect dessert for a family get together or social function, what better option is there than classic fudge? While some people may be so inclined to purchase fudge from a local shop, the more industrious chef can make their own for a fraction of the price. Best of all, the recipe is simple enough that you can make as little or as much as you need without much of a hassle. To start, make sure that you have the following ingredients:

     

    • 6 oz. of Evaporated Milk
    • 1 3/4 Cups of Sugar
    • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
    • 1 1/2 Cups of Mini Marshmallows
    • 1 1/2 Cups of Semisweet Chocolate Chips
    • 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
    • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts
    • 1 Tablespoon of Butter
    • 9” x 9” Baking Pan

     

    Once you’ve amassed your ingredients, carefully combine the evaporated milk, salt, and sugar into a large pot. Stir until thoroughly mixed.

    Set the heat on your stove to high and bring mixture to a boil. Once the liquid begins boiling, reduce heat to low and allow it to simmer for approximately 5 minutes.

    Remove the mixture from the stove and slowly stir in the Mini Marshmallows, Semisweet Chocolate Chips, Vanilla Extract, and Chopped Walnuts.

    Continue stirring until Mini Marshmallows are completely melted and have been blended thoroughly within the mixture. Check to insure no solid marshmallows remain.

    Butter your pan until all sides are thinly coated, and begin to pour mixture into the pan.

    All the mixture to cool in the refrigerator or on the counter until hard and cool to the touch.

    Cut finished chocolate fudge into small pieces and serve.

     

  • Valentine's Day and Chocolate - Fun Facts!

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  • Valentine’s Day: Skip the Ordinary Chocolate

    Valentine’s Day is now less than a month away, so it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to purchase for your loved one. Many people wait until the last minute to buy their gifts and stick with predictable chocolates. Although we’re sure that your Valentine enjoyed those in the past, you can get creative this year and think outside the box (of chocolates). Below are some great ideas that will get you bonus points for originality.

    • Sea Salt Caramels – Last year, anything red velvet was all the rage. This year’s flavor appears to be sea salt caramels. These candies are the perfect blend of chocolate, buttery caramel, and the unexpected boldness of salt. They make the perfect Valentine candy because they’re both sweet and salty. There are many delicious sea salt caramels for sale, but if you really want to impress your beloved, try Food Network chef Ina Garten’s recipe for Fleur de Sel Caramels. The result will be well worth the time you invest in the kitchen.

     

    • Chocolate Covered Bacon – Is your Valentine a bacon lover? Why not put a sweet twist on this salty, decadent treat. Bacon is the perfect snack when lightly coated with either milk or dark chocolate. The unexpected sweetness coating on this fatty and salty meat will leave your Valentine speechless.

     

    • Gourmet Popcorn – If your Valentine is a movie lover, the gift of gourmet popcorn will tickle their fancy. Plan a romantic night of movie watching as you sample sweet and delicious caramel popcorn while watching something that makes you both happy. Caramel will be a surprising switch from the usual over-buttered, movie theater variety.

     

    • French MacaroonsFrench macaroons are delicious treats that have a sweet-almond base and use egg whites to achieve a meringue-like flavor. These delicious sandwich-like cookies are petite in size and unique in complexity. If your adored prefers the taste of coconut, you can’t go wrong with the more common American variety of macaroons.

     

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    It’s no surprise that chocolates are very popular around Valentine’s Day. Just about everyone loves chocolate -- but you can be original and select something special this year. Think about what your significant other likes and find a way to make it into a gift. If you’re a pro in the kitchen don’t overlook making a sweet for your sweet; if you're not, there are plenty of places that you can purchase unique sweets.

     

     

  • Summer Treats you can Enjoy in the Winter!

    When Christmas is over and the New Year arrives, it seems as though winter just loses its meaning. It's hard to enjoy snowfall when there aren't any more wintry holidays to look forward to, so we spend the chilly days dreaming of the beach.

    It's okay to be homesick for summer – especially when you've got treats reminiscent of summer to get you through! If you want to feel like you're on the boardwalk when you're really cozied up on the couch, here are some snacks you can enjoy in cold weather, even if you associate them with the shining sun.

    Ice Cream

    A lot of people like to wait for the snowfall to make their own ice cream (or, if you're not interested in eating the snow off the ground, you can use shaved ice). It's called snow cream! All you have to do is mix 8 cups of snow with a 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk and a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and you've got snow cream! That's one way to make the most of freezing precipitation.

    There are also plenty of wintry-themed flavors of ice cream that can make you feel like you're seeking refreshment from the blazing sun while still complementing other winter foods. Try making your own fudge cookie and mint ice cream sandwiches!

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    Boardwalk Candy

    Despite the fact that other boardwalk shops might close up for the winter, you can still get all your summertime favorites like salt water taffy, Bayard's chocolate, and nuts by shopping online. Or, you can visit one of the brick-and-mortar boardwalk treat stores that are popping up in locations away from the shore to feel like you're getting the real experience. Enjoy them at home or give them as gifts to let your friends in on your mid-January summertime fun.

    Winterized Soft Pretzels

    Soft pretzels remind you of outdoor baseball games and summertime fairs, but they make great snacks for warming up, too. Instead of enjoying them with yellow mustard, dip them in melted chocolate, instead. It makes for a nice break from the leftover Christmas cookies, and the chocolate is nice and warm – an alternative to hot tea, cider, and chocolate. You can even use sugar-free chocolates for a lower-calorie and heart-healthy alternative.

  • Celebrate National English Toffee Day this January

    Did you ever feel like you need a reason to celebrate your favorite candy or treat? Well, you can! You may not know it, but there are national holidays devoted to celebrating different sweets. And did you know that January 8th is recognized as National English Toffee Day? If you didn't, you do now. To help you celebrate this delicious sweet, here are some fun facts about English toffee, including its origins and what this popular candy is made of.   

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    The history of toffee
    Because toffee comes in different forms, types and mixtures, it's hard to say where the candy actually originated from. While no one knows the exact origins, there are a few theories as to how this candy came about. While the term was first published in 1825 in the Oxford English Dictionary, it is believed that the word existed before that. Some speculate that the term comes from "tafia," which is West Indian rum that was often used to make many types of candy. Some earlier spellings include "toughy" or "tuffy," which may relate to the chewy toughness of the candy.

    What exactly is English toffee?

    English toffee is made with butter, sugar and water and can be coated in nuts and chocolate, though these are not a part of the traditional recipes. Its texture can vary from soft and sticky to hard and brittle, so the candy is available in both chewy and hard versions to appeal to different tastes.

    English toffee is healthy for you
    It may sound too good to be true, but this sweet has health benefits. English toffee can be coated with chocolate, which contains antioxidants that help prevent aging. Dark chocolate, particularly, is great for your heart, as it helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Aside from these benefits, toffee tastes phenomenal, helping to put you in a good mood with just one bite!

    Order a box of English toffee today!
    Since it is National English Toffee Day, what better way to celebrate than with a sophisticated British treat? We have an array of toffees for you to choose from, including peanut butter chews, raspberry jellies, buttercream filled chocolates, and so much more. All of our sweet treats are made from high quality chocolate and an untouched traditional recipe, so you know you are getting a unique product. Whether for yourself, a friend or family member,
    order a box of English toffee today and celebrate the famous candy this January!

     

  • Don't Show Up Empty Handed! Last-Minute Ideas for Thanksgiving Dinner

    Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays of the year when it comes to grubbing, and it leaves our stomachs growling all day long. Of course, some of us have to work during the early hours of Thanksgiving, some of us have kids, and some of us just don't know how to cook, which leaves little room for bringing a hot dish to contribute to the meal. On the other hand, you can't just show up empty handed. If you don't want it to be completely obvious that you stopped at the grocery store on the way to dinner – which you don't want to do anyway, it's going to be packed – here are a few solutions that are just as quick and easy.

    Apple Cider Mimosas

    Who doesn't love a fresh, sweet cup of apple cider in the fall? It's good all on its own or warmed up with some cinnamon, but if you happened to purchase a jug last time you were at the grocery store, you've got half the ingredients for a delicious Thanksgiving treat (for the adults). Just like you'd make a standard mimosa by putting a little orange juice in your champagne, do the same thing – but with cider! Apple cider mimosas are bubbly, tasty, easy, and perfect for making a toast after everyone says what they're thankful for.

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    Pre-Ordered Sweet Treats

    If you know you're not going to have time to run to the store, why not bring something easy that doesn't require leaving your desk? Chocolate gift baskets are delivered right to your door – provided you've been thinking ahead – and look beautiful. They're decorative, so they make a great gift to the host, and have so many selections of chocolate, your guests will be noshing on it all night.

    No-Bake Eggnog Pie

    If you feel you need to show up with something homemade and unique, but baking isn't necessarily your forte, why not go for something no-bake? Four easy ingredients and you've got yourself a delicious pie filling, which you can pour into a store-bought pie crust or make one from scratch with crumbled graham crackers and butter. Just combine a quart of eggnog with two packets of vanilla instant pudding mix and sprinkle in some cinnamon and nutmeg. It's sure to be something your guests have never had before – but beware, they'll ask you to bring it every year from now on!

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