Monthly Archives: November 2007

Gimbal’s Jelly Beans

San Francisco–based candy company Gimbal’s was born in 1898. (Yes, that’s Gimbal’s, not gumballs.) Brothers Alexander, Louis and Eugene Gimbal Joined forces to cook up some of the greatest candy in town. In fact, they first made a name for themselves by using a steam-production process under the name “Pacific Steam Candy Factory.” Making penny candies and nickel candy bars, not much has changed outside of the price. They still have the old-fashioned goods, but also some innovative candies in the works.

Good thing for Gimbal’s, some candies never get old. Take jelly beans, for instance. These are not just a sweet treat for Easter baskets anymore, but are yummy any day of the year. Gimbal’s Jelly Beans are of the gourmet variety, and they come in 41 flavors like tiramisu, java, buttered popcorn, baja margarita, key lime, boysenberry, french vanilla, passion fruit, peach, chocolate, lemon meringue, blue Hawaiian, tutti frutti and hot cinnamon—and that’s not even half of them. You may be thinking that these sound a lot like the Jelly Belly flavors, and they are very similar. But there are some different ones—and besides, there’s no copyright on candy flavors. That would be so limiting! The Java is a standout flavor—tastes just like a cup of gourmet flavored coffee. Perfectly Pear is divine, and Orange ‘n Cream tastes just like a Dreamsicle. You might be knocked off your feet when you taste the Butted Popcorn jelly bean. It’s strikingly similar to a movie theater bucket of buttery goodness. Strawberry Daiquiri was a bit over the top in flavor, and tasted artificial. But each flavor is so much it’s own, that you have to taste them all (with a big gulp of water in between) to really make a judgment call. I love Gimbal’s Jelly Beans, and will most definitely be a repeat customer. You should satisfy your gourmet tastes with a bag of your own.

Reese’s 100 Calorie Peanut Butter Wafer Bar

In June 2006, Hershey’s first rolled out its 100 Calorie Snacks like Reese’s Pieces mixed with multigrain cereal. Perhaps this was to go along with the trend already set in place by Nabisco with their 100 Calorie Packs of popular cookies and crackers. After all, 100 calories doesn’t sound like a lot for a snack. The average person burns off that many calories sleeping at night—right? In any case, the newest 100 Calorie bar from Hershey’s is the Reese’s Peanut Butter Wafer. At 6 grams of fat and 11 grams of carbs, this snack is surprisingly small and probably more satisfying to a bird than a human. But dieters will delight in this convenient .67-ounce wafer layered with peanut butter and covered in Hershey’s chocolate.

I opened this wrapper a little skeptically, the calorie content staring me back in the face. I was expecting something like a peanut butter granola bar, but what I got was more like a Little Debbie Nutty Bar with only a fraction of the guilt! Inside the wrapper were two very thin, 3-inch-long wafers. The first bite led me to an intense peanut butter and chocolate sensation. This did not taste like diet food—that’s for sure. It is just a smaller portion of the already delectable Reese’s peanut butter and Hershey’s chocolate combo. This wafer had more than a hint of great taste. It was more like an explosion of peanut butter.

Dieters, don’t be fooled into thinking this is good for you—there is no substantial nutritional value. You’d actually be better off eating one bite of the candy bar you are actually craving, but that takes a whole lot of willpower. This already packaged portion is great to pop in your purse or desk drawer and pull out when the craving hits. A hundred calories is a fair compromise for the amount of flavor packed into this little wafer that could.

Fizzies Drink Tablets

Alka Seltzer for children? Yes, indeed. Enter Fizzies drink tablets, a candy tablet that is not meant to go in the mouth, but in a 6-ounce cup of water to make a fruity drink mix. The outer packaging of this candy looks enticing. Fizzies come in seven flavors (lemon-lime, root beer, sour apple, orange, blue razz, fruit punch, and cherry) and the animated Fizzard the Wizard character adorns the colorful wrappers. Fizzard casts spells like “balla bo berry, turn to cherry” and “floo fly florange, turn to orange!” And his spells most certainly work—when placed in water, the tablets turn a regular glass of water vibrant colors, adding a dose of flavor and fun for kids who are more interested in eating candy than drinking their recommended dosage of water.

Once the kids taste this water, however, they are likely to spit it out. Though the effervescent tablets are advertised as a good source of vitamin C (equaling 100 percent of your recommended daily value), kids may not be fooled into gulping this stuff down. It doesn’t taste as sweet and fruity as Kool-aid, nor does it taste like a soft drink. The end result is actually closer to watered-down medicine. The orange isn’t bad though, and reminded me of Airborne, the anti-cold medicine. On the plus side, these are calorie free and should make moms happy. The hands-down best part about this candy is watching it dissolve and turn your water colors. Different colored tablets can be combined to create new colors and flavors, which adds an element of learning to the mix.

If you recall, Fizzies first became popular in the 1950’s and 60’s, so parents seeking a nostalgic treat may need to snag one of these tablets just to recall the unique drink-making experience. Fizzies are manufactured today by Las Vegas company Amerilab Technologies, who also create Drinkin’ Mate, a special effervescent tablet meant to relieve hangovers. Who knew?

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Espeez Old Fashioned Pecan/Peanut Log Roll

Specializing in old-fashioned candies, Espeez (the candy-making division of Las Vegas’s SP Enterprises) is nonetheless a company on the move. Since 1993, they’ve made sweet treats such as their Rock Candy (the kind on wooden sticks), Gold Mine bubble gum, Aunt Flo’s fudge, and other novelty candy products inspired by a bygone era. But this family-run company, started by brothers Sam and Alan Popowcer, also produce new products that catch on with the kids, like Viper Venom (a sour powder candy that sounds more like torture than a treat to anyone over age 18).

Espeez Peanut and Pecan Log Rolls are unique in the candy industry—no one else really makes this kind of candy the way Espeez does. Each 1.5 to 2 ounce log roll is a hearty size. Good luck finishing this off in one serving, unless you’ve skipped lunch. A sweet and fluffy vanilla nougat center is rolled in finely chopped nuts (either peanuts of pecans) to make this handmade treat so delicious. I like to picture grandma’s kitchen, a place where each layer of nougat is rolled out by hand with love. The peanut log roll is a bit salty, which is a nice complement to the sugary center, while the pecan roll is almost too sweet. But everyone has their own preferences, so you’ll have to try both to see which one is to your liking. I really liked this candy after I got used to eating it. It’s not quite a candy bar, and though it is soft, it’s also not something you can just wolf down. A heavy yet satisfying candy, I had to eat this over several days—and even that was with some help from friends. But isn’t that how a good candy should be…long lasting? So, where do you buy these candies if you have no mom and pop store nearby? Try finding them online at

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