Sunday, December 17, 2006

Wanted: Popcorn Ball Recipe

navy bbqLook at this sailor boy, isn't he cute? And hungry. This is my Godson, and I want to make him popcorn balls for Christmas.
Last year the others got his chewy stash before he even stepped off the plane. Not that hiding anything from his youngest brother does any good. The boy has a nose like a bloodhound.andyMy touch for making popcorn balls has flown the coop, and if I'm going to spend the week before Christmas with my hands in a vat of hot caramel, I need a good recipe.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Chocolate Gift Boxes

santa with candySanta's got a brand new bag, and it's loaded with candy.
You've seen those holiday chocolate commercials. People treating shiny boxes of chocolate like bottles of Château Lafite-Rothschild.
But as William over at Chocolate Obsession cautions, you never know how old boxed department store chocolate will be.
How long do you think that Ferrero Rocher Christmas bell has been sitting on the shelf at Walgreen's?
Although I have nothing against Godiva, Ghirardelli, or my favorite drugstore chocolate, Lindt, I'd be reluctant to pay more than a few dollars if I didn't know how old the chocolate was.
Especially if someone, let's call him Phil, bought a $50.00 box of Godiva chocolates, then left it to fend for itself in a room containing two labrador retreivers. The one with the holiday assortment breath looked very much like Roscoe hereRoscoe (left).The actual culprit, a known associate, was bigger, a little older, and suffered no serious side effects.Vixen I suspect the active participation of the "smart one" (right).
There are a lot of candy gift boxes out for Christmas, and who doesn't enjoy a Whitman's Sampler under the tree.
The point being, if you're going to spend $50.00 on a box of chocolates, don't gift wrap it for your dog. No, wait, the point being, you don't know how old most gift boxes are, and as William points out, freshness is key.
Even if you don't know your neighborhood confectioner the way people used to know their butcher, support your local candy maker. Do a sweet search. Type in "chocolatier" and your city and state—enter the name of a larger town if you don't get results. We have some exceptional ones in the Madtown area. (Candinas, The Chocolate Caper, James J., Gail Abrosius) Take that, Milwaukee.
And if your dog has a sweet tooth (see previous entries on dogs and candy), try treating your expensive chocolates like food on a camping trip.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Hanging Out on the Candy Corner

candy corner windowQuit fogging up the window and come in.
You'll find owner Jeremy Schertz emersed in a huge Christmas order and surrounded, as always, by candy.
Jeremy is the one who introduced me to Pucker Powder four years ago when the Candy Corner first opened. Today the store was trimmed ingingerbread hosue gingerbread houses, santas, and salt water taffy garland. I find something new every time I go. I picked up large chocolate clusters I thought were pecan caramel turtles on this winter visit. Turns out the très chewy treats were something I didn't know you could do with gummies and chocolate.
"This Christmas is the first time we're making homemade seafoam," says Jeremy.
Sounds delicious. But the rack of cola Pez, and a personal tour of the Fear Factor candy line were more down my Gingerbread Lane.
This foul stuff has its own wall in a newer section which will be further renovated. The area now includes a lollipop stand, exploding ice cream, and a display of pink cuddly things staring across at the candy roaches.
(Who do I know that would appreciate a Fear Factor Candy Challenge game this Christmas. The commercial is on the same page. The Joyride website will also tell you how to host a SICK a ning house party.)
The Candy Corner had Fear Factor candy out early last spring, putting them ahead of the crowd. I've handed out a fake bug sucker or two, so it was hard for me to grasp that not only fear, but bug larva is the factor.
When the back room goes through its metamorphosis, it will be called Carnival Cravings. This is because it will have fair foods. You know, stuffed pretzels, caramel apples, cotton candy, and funnel cakes, while keeping the ice cream and Fear Factor bits of nasty.
“We’re getting a lot of new Fear Factor candy in. It’s so popular we’re going keep it," smiles Jeremy.Pucker PowderThey'll also be filling the buttery void left by their neighbor, Kernel Popcorn's. (Sigh. A wonderful place, hope to have more news on them soon.) Jeremy says they're doing a whole new thing from the Kernel's. Does that mean no more black licorice, barbecue cheese, cheesy baked potato, cheezy caramel, double cheese, jalapeno cheese, and pizza cheese popcorn?
"We're doing a lot more cheeses," he says.
That I'll have to see.
And what of black licorice popcorn?
"We are doing as many kinds as we can,” he laughs.
taffy garlandAnd having many flat screen TVs. All around the store. Someone up in Rapids is making a new video for them about a kid who sneaks into a candy store and stumbles onto a secret chocolate lab.
The Candy Corner was recently featured in Treasures of Wisconsin, available at the local Barnes and Noble.
Jeremy, who started working for other Dell's candy stores at age 16, takes the Christmas order—did he say something about a thousand pieces of chocolate—and the ambitious Carnival Cravings in stride.
Adding, "It's going to be a big job."
Bring on the exploding ice cream. Which btw, is Mini Melts with Pop Rocks.
exploding icecream sign

Friday, December 08, 2006

Horsing Around in the Dells

DellsA bitter wind and some holiday cheer blew along the Dells drag yesterday.
Stay tuned this weekend as we talk to the Candy Corner's Jeremy Schertz about revnovations under the Glockenspiel.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Poll: Sweet or Salty

What's Your Favorite Snack Combo?
Free polls from

Saturday, December 02, 2006

'Tis The Season (For Fruit)

fruit and gummiesYes, I said fruit.
Move over fall holidays, take a hike wax fangs, it's sugar plum time. Sugar plums, btw, are also a fruit.
Are you longing for a Christmas platter piled with cookies, ribbon candy, peppermint puffs, chocolate kisses, and figs.
You heard me, figs.
I'm old enough to have parents who are old enough to talk about the delight of an orange in their Christmas stocking, so the idea of fruit as a delicacy has become ingrained. The cravings seem to peak in the summer,
Why is that?
A Pavlovian response to the crates of oranges and grapefruit we get from Florida this time each year? The fruit orgies of dates, pomegranates, tangerines, grapes, star fruit, and prickly pears from the Christmas tables of my childhood?
Or is it because, as a study done last summer at Cornell University would have us believe, people who love candy, also love fruit.

The Sweet Tooth Study
This study involved thousands of test subjects, dividing the sugar people from the salt people, then the veggie people from the fruit people.
They found a major link between sweet eaters and fruit consumption.
It turns out that sugar lovers, like ourselves, go for fruit over salt. And not surprisingly, fruit lovers eat more sweets than veggie lovers.
The idea is that the same craving which tells you to eat a pack of frozen Snickers, also directs you to the fruit aisle in search of a Cripps Pink.
This explains why I eat Dots with apples, but what about the desire to pour Jujyfruits and Sour Patch Kids into popcorn? (Warning, that Sour Patch link is a little trippy.)
Getting back to the study by Cornell Food and Brand Lab director, Professor Brian Wansink, he's a food psychologist and really wants people to eat better. Knowing that we may just as easily eat a banana as a bon bon gives the healthy types hope for us sweet tooths.
So let's show Professor Wansink what candy lovers are made of.

Sources: Nutrition Today (Sept-Oct 2006), Cornell University Faculty Profiles
flickr photo by Jane.b

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Flickr: A Great Way To Procrastinate When You Should Be Writing An Essay

Jesus and MosesHoly Moses, I finally uploaded my Halloween photos to flickr.
"Timely," you say sarcastically.
(Apologies to Shannon.)
Hey, I've been busy.
Plus, this is still part of a class project, and some of those photos are just too cool for school.
(James Dean is always a relevant link.)
Did I mention how much I hate writing essays?
Maybe I should start my St. Patrick's Day set.

Monday, November 27, 2006

From The Mailbag: Fairy Food Recipe

fairyfoodBetsy K. emailed the Dish in search of a good Fairy Food or Sponge Candy recipe.
Also called Angel Food Candy, here are the most common ingredients:
•Corn Syrup (light or dark)
•White Granulated Sugar
•Baking Soda
•Semi-sweet Chocolate (chips or bark)
Used less frequently:
•Brown Sugar
•Paraffine (my mother hates this stuff)
From the recipe file, here's Marsha From New London's Recipe For Angel Food Candy:
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 tablespoon baking soda
8 oz. chocolate
1. Cook the vinegar, sugar, and corn syrup over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves.
2. Continue heating without stirring until it reaches the hard-crack stage (hard brittle threads) or 300 degrees on your candy thermometer. (If you're sick of people asking, "How on earth did you manage to break another candy thermometer?", here's a handy Candy Temperature Chart.)
3. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Stir well.
4. Pour into ungreased 8x8 inch pan, and let spread on its own.
5. Let cool.
6. While cooling, melt your chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat. (I prefer a double boiler. If you don't have one, use a pan and metal bowl to melt your candy. Make sure the sizes don't allow for splash back into the smaller, melting bowl.)
7. Lay out your non-stick paper. Don't use cheap wax paper, it sticks to everything. If you want to be sure, use parchment paper. (There are some interesting comments on this subject at Say La Vee, where they talk about Silpat, which I've never tried with candy.)
8. Break your cooled candy into chunks, and dip in the melted chocolate.
9. Place on non-stick paper until the chocolate hardens. Store in cool place. Avoid using the fridge if possible.
Watch out for quick temperature changes which causes surface moisture.
This results in sugar and fat blooms.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

What else but pumpkin pie and whipped cream could be numbers 1 and 2. Is it because a combination of autumn vegetable and dairy is considered health food in Wisconsin? Have pumpkin pie and whipped cream become our wafer-thin mint?

Thanksgiving Day
bulldog2) Whipped Cream
It's a dessert topping, a floor wax, a party favor, and the best thing to happen to a pumpkin since someone scraped out its insides and chucked it in a pie. I remember first discovering Cool Whip at a Kohl's grocery store when I was a kid, then eating an entire tub of it while waiting for the Park St. bus. I thought it was ambrosia, and didn't know how easy whipped cream was to make. I've seen recipes calling for either confectioners' or granulated sugar. I'd think the powdered would blend well, and the granulated would taste better; this whipped cream recipe from Grandma's Cookbook doesn't specify. It's best to chill the bowl and beaters before using. So we're looking at heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla, then beating it until you see soft peaks. Or was it Twin Peaks?

piewhippedcream1) Pumpkin Pie
According to, pumpkin pie dates back to 1621. (They are now saying, btw, it's time to start on Christmas cookies.) Pilgrims filled a pumpkin with milk and honey and tossed it in hot ashes. Why does this remind me of camping trips with the Prestigiacomo's? Another time, another story. Meanwhile, have a slice or twelve, and surf these pumpkin pie recipes from Chiff.
bulldog flickr photo from bulldog1
pumpkin pie and whipped cream flckr photo from Lenna!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Countdown: The Other Pies

Once you've devoured just enough turkey for leftovers, it's time for pie. But which pie? Should you start with the Thanksgiving co-star, the hearty pumpkin, or is it best to work your way to the top, much like this countdown?

Day Four
pecanpie4) Pecan Pie
I've never thought much about baking a pecan pie because it was another one of my mother's monster dessert specialties. Like the pumpkin, pecan pies beg for real whipped cream, but in a southern accent. Now that I give the recipe a second look, it appears to be pretty simple. There are variations which call for either dark or light corn syrup, 3 or 4 eggs (4 eggs!), and here's one from a New Orleanian that calls for brandy. That leaves you with butter, sugar, vanilla, pecans, and the crust. I've been down the why-not-just-get-it-from-the freezer-aisle road, but it's second rate. Crusts are tasty, quick, and easy to make. The best ones have few ingredients (flour, butter, water). There is a strong distaste for an undercooked pie crust in my family, so I usually pre-bake. Did you know that baking a pie crust sans filling is called blind baking? This recipe for a pecan pie and crust uses an ubaked crust, and doesn't specify brown or white sugar. I'd use brown. I notice they put sugar in their crust, too. This pecan pie recipe for left brainers, pre-toasts the pecans, and has a table at the bottom which reminds me of every math major I've met.
3) Apple, Sweet Potato, Coconut Cream, French Silk
For some reason, four of my other fav pies, blueberry, strawberry, strawberry rubarb, and peach, don't show up at our regular holiday feasts. Is this a summer pie thing? We'd still welcome the appearance of a Perkin's lemon or key lime pie if they'd only keep making them. Can you get more summer than that? Apple is the all occasion pie. The little black dress of pies. It's a classic, and in season whether or not it's fall. This apple pie recipe talks about how the apples will shrink. I don't do much more than make the crust, peel and cut, add sugar, butter, and cinnamon, then bake until it smells right. I don't use nutmeg, but may squeeze in a bit of lemon. Remember, if you haven't almost overfilled your pastry shell, you may end up with another dessert entirely. Sweet potato pie probably needs to be made by someone who grew up with it. Not many in the fam will eat it unless they think it's pumpkin pie. I keep sneaking it into the mix just to be subversive. What I've tried tastes like a poor cousin to pumpkin, but I'll keep trying it from time to time in search of the real deal. I find coconut cream pie intrusive, yet irresistible. I'll take it fresh or frozen, chilled or room temp. French silk is decandant enough for any major holiday. You can have it with wine. It's one, like key lime, that can go graham or flour crust. Here's a french silk pie recipe that calls for 4 eggs. Serve chilled with defib paddles.
flickr photo from hirosan

Monday, November 20, 2006

T-Day Countdown: Chocolates And Nibbly Bits

Numbers 6 and 5 are all about platters of chocolates and your bowled food group. We used to call it "company food." As in the only time we see this stuff is when we have company.

Day Three
chocolate6) Things That Are Easy For Me To Take Home
One of the beauties of Thanksgiving is that people want you to empty their fridge. For students, writers, artists, or anyone who's lined their pockets with Saran Wrap at a buffet, this is your time to shine. I can fit a seven course meal in three Baggies and a storage container. And remember, Baggies keep food tasting as fresh it sounds. The sound of all those nibbly bits as they slide into muliple plastic bags is music to my ears. One of my favorite things to go is the honey roasted nut. Peanuts, pecans, cashews, or almonds, load me up. Honeyed nuts are candy, snacks, study food, something else to eat with beer, and often, dinner. What can I say about chocolate in a paper cup that can't be said by this photo from the Lake Mills wine and chocolate tasting.
5) The Other Nibbly Bits
We're not talking Beluga or Japanese finger food, but something to do with your hands because this isn't an episode of Ab Fab, and you can't smoke in the house already. The classic nibble is some form of Chex mix in a bowl, which of course nicely tranfers to a plastic bag of any size. If it requires popping a lid or tearing open a bag, you're on the right track. You might want to avoid the cheese based munchy in some cases, such as your stand alone Cheetos type puff, although crunchy may be a key ingredient in your party mix. It's hard to go wrong, even if you walk into a PDQ blindfolded, which we here at the Dish don't recommend.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Thanksgiving Countdown: Hard Candy And The Mother Of All Cheesecakes

Weighing in at numbers 8 and 7, are dishes full of high grade hard candy, and my mother's mammoth cheesecake.

Day Two
hardcandy8) Homemade Hard Candy
No candy sits in a dish like hard candy. And there's no hard candy like homemade hard candy. Even if clove or horehound isn't your thing, you can't go wrong with these squares or pillows from James J. Chocolate. In my family, if it smacks of licorice or toffee, it won't make it through the day. Here's what I stock up on: Brown Sugar Cinnamon, Lemon Butter, and Anise. I recently noticed that James J. has Lemon Drops and a dark colored Butterscotch which I'll try soon. My favorites, the Brown Sugar Cinnamon and the Lemon Butter, are full-flavored, and at the same time delicate in a way you don't find in common store brands. Good homemade shop candies tend to give way to a mouthful of teeth in a way that would make your dentist plotz.
7) Mother Cheesecake
The last time I saw my mother's cheesecake was on a Papa Phil's dessert menu. There was no mistaking it. This brick of sugar, cream cheese, butter, graham cracker, lemon, and cherries was one of my mother's holiday calling cards. A very large, evil, calling card. It was made in the heaviest of CorningWare, and there had been jokes of baking the mass in something even larger. Like our '76 Cutlass. The slices were as subtle as a wheel of cheese, and must have stood 3.5, 4 inches high. It was no coincidence that the ristorante sharing this madness belongs to my godfather. I've never attempted to make it, not many have, but I gain ten pounds every time I look at the recipe. In deference to the days of yore and lore, we have some manner of cheesecake for almost every holiday. Coincidently, my sister was insisting we get a pumpkin cheesecake from Papa Phil's for Thanksgiving. And so it begins. Try and stop me from picking up a cornucopia made of and filled with chocolate tomorrow.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Sweet Thanksgiving Countdown: Cut Out Cookies and Torrone

Turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, something cranberry, good bread, and real butter. All Thanksgiving must haves. But what of dessert?
Over the next five days we'll be dishing up our Top Ten favorites.

Day One
10) Cut Out Cookies
After much trial and error, this Land O' Lakes butter cookie recipe is the only one I use. It allows for extra flour when the chilled dough starts sticking to everything, and uses orange juice for a touch of fresh flavor. Besides, my cousin works there, and gives me free butter. If you missed baking headless horsemen for Halloween, there are always turkeys and evil pilgrims to be baked and decapitated for Thanksgiving. Guest dependent of course. It's also a great excuse to take stock of your cookie cutters and decorations before the Christmas baking season begins.
9) Torrone
I'm Italian, enough said. No? Torrone is a chewy honey and almond nougat candy my grandpa kept around his restaurant so he could pretend to get mad at us in Italian when we stold it. Any self respecting Italian Groceria will have it, and if they don't, turn around and leave. If you're heading east, keep driving until you hit Brady Street. Closer to home, the best place to go is the Fraboni's in what remains of Madison's Greenbush Neighborhood. And they still have the best subs in town. (If, however, you're looking for a decent cannoli, I'd head to the Gino's Deli on Verona Rd, where they make them fresh to order.) For a nice selection of torrone online, this candy site out of the UK is pretty impressive. How many times have I said that. If you're looking for the torrone I grew up with, you can find it online or at Frabroni's by the piece or box.
flickr photo from roboppy

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Making Chocolate Covered Pretzels If You Had Your Own Chocolate Factory

Longtime employee Carol shows us how they cover things in chocolate at the James J. Chocolate Shop candy factory.
In case the sugar groupies hovering around the belt scare you, Laurie Jarnigo says they go through, inspect, and clean everything.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

In The Kitchen With James J.

startingangelfoodJames J. is happy with the move from Watertown to Lake Mills. They have the space they need, are closer to the other candy store in Madison, and of course, home. The Lake Mills chocolate factory is their central kitchen, and is housed in two large rooms accessed from a friendly looking hallway (the woman's bathroom there has Barbie wallpaper), and from behind the candy counter.makingcandy
This James J. Chocolate Shop looks about the size of the one that burned down on University Avenue in August of 2005, and even has a souvenir or two from the old shop. (See the rolling pin candy cutter with the black handle.)
candythermometerJim uses copper pots and marble tables along with these cool cutters to make his candy. The latest acquisition is a caramel candy cutter that was sitting next to piles of fairy food during their chocolate and wine tasting event. Laurie Jarnigo says they only make fairy food, aka angel food, devil's food, or sponge candy, from October through April or May.
Did you know few places actually makechocmolds chocolate, but use the chocolate they get from chocolate makers to fashion their own molds and candies? James J. and Oregon's The Chocolate Caper are candy makers, Scharffen Berger is a chocolate maker.
The arsonist caught coming out of the Jarnigo's candy store got five years. Their chocolate shop on University had been there for 17.
makingangelfoodThe new place by Mallatt's on Monroe Street somehow managed to open two weeks before Christmas after the late summer fire. And since some of us have become spoiled by handmade James J. canes, sugar plums, anise, and lemon butter candy, it opened just in time.
This is what naked fairy food looks like. It immediately takes the golden blog shape after pouring out of the copper kettle. cooledangelfood

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Trip To The Chocolate Factory

Jim Jarnigo, aka James J., makes the golden insides of his chocolate covered fairy food in a copper pot. The husband and wife candymakers, Jim and Laurie, opened up their chocolate factory Monday night to benefit the Lake Mills food pantry. There was a huge stack of this irresistible stuff waiting for us along with teaming platters of dark and milk chocolates. Jim had just added the final fairy food ingredient, baking soda, to make it froth and rise. This is what makes the fairy food candy airy, similar to what creates the bubbles inside peanut brittle. The sweet mass took on a life of its own once set to cool on the marble table. (See photos in the entry above.) As for the shots of the ceiling at the end of the video, did I mention there was free wine?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Candy Lover's Hot Chocolate

hotchocolateIf you're lucky enough to have any leftover Halloween chocolate lying around, here's a great recipe for hot chocolate that uses candy, instead of powder or syrup. If you forgot you had some stashed, take it out of hiding, and put it in the communal pot, you miser.
A Hot Chocolate Recipe From Scharffen Berger
6 ounces 70% Cacao Bittersweet or 62% Cacao Semisweet Chocolate
1 quart milk, your choice, why not splurge with whole milk
Break up the chocolate and put in a small saucepan. Melt with one cup milk over medium low heat.
Stir constantly (very important when making candy).
Turn heat up to medium after chocolate has melted. Add rest of milk, whisk rapidly. Don't let boil.
Can be served with whipped cream (c'mon use real whipped cream) and liquor. My favorite is brandy. This is a Wisconsin candy blog, after all.
Any chocolate can be used. You can substitute your favorite type of chocolate, mine is Scharffen Berger or James J. milk chocolate. I started making hot chocolate this way last year when I discovered that homemade James J. Chocolate cornucopias (which are solid chocolate stuffed with candy) made a great centerpiece for the Thanksgiving dessert table. Somehow there was leftover cornucopia, so I followed this recipe and have been spoiled ever since.
flickr photo by timoni

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sour Slam Wrestling Gum

Back when there was a WCW, there was a WCW themed bubble gum by Amurol called Sour Slam. It came in collectible packs with the tag line "The Squared Circle of Sour!"
It got more sour as it was chewed, wouldn't you?hulkhoganThere's a wholesaler serving the inter-mountain west region which still lists Sour Slam Bubble Gum on their candy products list.
Now whatcha gonna do, brother?
See more of my Halloween 2006 photos

Monday, October 30, 2006

Gross and Nostalgic: Ghostbuster's Slimer Bubble Gum

GhostbustersThe number of Ghostbusters on State Street this year begs the question, "Were you even born when the movie came out?" And more importantly, "What ever happened to Slimer Bubble Gum?"
Slimer gum was made by the Amurol company around 1988. The Wrigley subsidiary loves to put things in a tube, and uses focus groups made up of kids. Does this explain Butt-Ugly Martians or Checkbook Bubblegum?
Some of their more popular products are Squeeze Pops, Bubble Tape, and Big League Chew.
The closest I got to tubed Slimer was a Yahoo auction for Ghostbusters Slimer Bubble Gum Toothpaste, auction still open.
You could have gotten the whole bathroom set on E-Bay for $10.50 yesterday.
There was so much to say about Slimer Bubble Gum at X-Entertainment in 2003, X-E writer Matt continued his report on the foul stuff here. Check out Matt and Mike's Halloween Countdown 2006.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sweet Gourd, Dude

caveboySweet Torta From Gourds

1/2 lb yellow squash
1/2 c milk
8 oz cheddar cheese
2 oz butter
1/4 c sugar
1/8 t ground ginger
1/2 t cinnamon
6 eggs
1/2 c milk
6 threads saffron
1 double 9" pastry shell
2 T sugar
1 T rosewater

Grind your gourds, then boil in milk, and strain when half-cooked. Add cheese, butter, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, six eggs, a little milk, and saffron. Blend. Spoon into pastry shell, and cook over a slow fire. (Invent Fire.) Sprinkle with sugar and rosewater. From Cariadoc's Miscellany, a collection of artcles and recipes, Torta from Gourds.
For more Freakfest 2006 shots, see my flickr photos.

Favorite Holiday Candy

Everyone has probably guessed that Halloween is consistently regarded as the biggest candy holiday. The National Confectioners Association adds that Easter, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day are close behind. The NCA also says 89 percent of adults see candy as playing a role in their winter holidays. It's estimated that Halloween candy sales increase between 1-3 percent every year.
•More than nine billion pieces of candy corn are made each yearmadeaonstate
•The U.S. spent $2.1 billion on candy during Halloween last year
•90 percent of parents admit to swiping candy from their kid’s bag
•50 percent of kids prefer chocolate for Halloween
•24 percent like non chocolate
•10 percent like gum
•The grosser the gum or candy, the better a kid will like it
•Keep your granola bars and fruit roll-ups to yourself
"You look like a rotten fruit roll-up." --Madea

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Flavor Of Halloween


Poll: What's Your Favorite Holiday Flavor?

What's Your Favorite Holiday Flavor?
Cinnamon Spice
Peppermint Stick
The Flavor of Love
Free polls from

It's Begun: Halloween 2006

Freakfest, Horse Plop, Don't Spray Me In The--Arrrggghhh, It Burns!, whatever you want to call Halloween on State Street, it officially began last night. If there's any doubt, take a look at Moses hanging out with one of the Ambiguously Gay Duo at State St. Brats.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Candy Pole Update

pollresultsAre the experts wrong about
Halloween being
the most popular candy season?
Zagnut Winners:
Leave a comment or send an email

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Score: Zagnuts

zagnutsWhat better way to fight a gloomy Monday morning in October than a trip to True Value Hardware. I always said hardware stores and gas stations have the best candy.
And look at what I found. Lookit!
The cashier says they have boxes of the tasty toasted stuff. That I'll never be Zagnut challenged again. Excuse me, I'm getting all verklempt.

Dorn True Value Hardware
1348 N. Midvale Blvd.
Madison, WI 53711
(608) 274-2511

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Better Than Quidditch?

harrypotterFind everything you wanted or didn't want to know about the game at

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Sugar Buzz: Cherry Phosphates

buzzbeeYesterday I had another hankering, this time for a cherry phosphate. You don't see them around much anymore. But you can always count on Ella's to serve you something you can't findbuzzbee anywhere else.
At least not on the eastside.
At some point I'll have to track down the Baraboo soda jerk who claims to make the best phosphates in the country. Another time, another place.
Meanwhile, feast your eyes on this.
Did you know they added a flying Harry Potter to the space junk at Ella's?

Ella's Deli
2902 East Washington Ave.
Madison, WI 53704
(608) 241-5291

Product Review: Beer and Ice Cream

If you're from WI, you've probably eaten dairy products with many things. So why not with a bottle of Leine's Honey Weiss?
The Products: Kemp's Cookies 'N Scream, Scream Stix, and Leinenkugel's Honey Weiss.
Our Findings: Half the reviewers preferred a chilly bottle of Leine's with the creamy vanilla and chocolate center of a Scream Stix ice cream bar.
The other half snubbed the Stix for the smooth vanilla ice cream and soft chocolate sandwich of Cookies 'N Scream.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Sugar Buzz: The Rolling Pin

The Rolling Pin is a Russian bakery in Fitchburg with hearty soups and an incredible bakery display. It's run by former art teacher and pastry chef Tanya Laiter.
Have you seen a black and white cookie this big?

catandcookieDanie hadn't. I can't even begin to describe the enormity of their strawberry cream puffs and the detail on some of their cookies.
No cats were fed in the taking of this picture.
The Rolling Pin Bake Shop
2935 South Fish Hatchery Road
Fitchburg, WI 53711
(608) 270-9611

Monday, October 16, 2006

Dogs Eating...Ice Cream

shitzusMeet Saki and Sushi.
These two ice cream loving shitzus live in the lap of luxury on Madison's westside.
Saki (black) is the dad and Sushi is his daughter.
They apparently have their own sliver plated ice cream bowls.
Photo from Terry and Sara

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Fact vs. Myth: Will Candy Kill My Dog?

heimlichDid You Know?
Sugar Free products can be harmful to dogs? This includes sugar free candy, gum, breath mints, and toothpaste that use the sweetener xylitol.
An NBC affliate in Lubbock, TX ran a story on xylitol last week.
And then there was theobromine, a stimulant found in chocolate. It's okay for humans, but can hurt the central nervous and cardiovascular systems of dogs.
Therobromine poisoning is also known as chocolate poisoning.
Things To Consider
•Licking chocolate off a wrapper won't kill your dog
But, once a dog tastes chocolate, he'll want more
•Dogs can eat mulch made from cacao beans like an addict uses methadone
•Dogs, cats, and other animals cannot metabolize or excrete theobromine
•Reactions can depend on size of dog, amount, and kind of chocolate
•Bakers chocolate, dark chocolate, and unsweetened chocolate are much worse than milk chocolate
•Chocolate can be harmful no matter what it's in, baked goods included
What to Do
Go to/call your emergency pet clinic.
The ASPCA says Guard Against Goulish Goodies.
Photo by Tammi
Sources:,, MSNBC,, wikipedia, and the California Academy of Sciences

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Dogs Eating Candy: For Heaven's Sake

icecreambardogNow I don't want people thinking we're condoning dogs eating candy. Or ice cream. Or baked goods, or anything with chocolate in it.
Ignore the dog to your left.

A dog cannot digest theobromine, a chemical found in chocolate. Experts say if you have a twenty pound dog, that ten ounces of chocolate will have a toxic effect.
Do the math, then I want a report tomorrow.
The Math
•A bar of Hershey's Milk Chocolate is 43 g
•There are 28.349 grams to an ounce
•One regular sized Hershey's bar = 1.5167803 ounces according to the Mass Conversion Calculator at Interactive Learning Paradigms Incorportated
•Six-and-a-half candy bars are nothing to a dog with a taste for chocolate
•That horse you call a dog would eat candy until he exploded
•What was I saying?
•Have I mentioned that the black cat I used on Friday the 13th came from Hershey's Halloween Clip Art? It's a very nice place for bold, spooky, free clip art. And child friendly.
Source: The California Academy of Sciences, Dog Owner's Digest

Dogs Eating Candy

Meet Sam.
Sam is a cuddly Brittany Spaniel who's living the high life on Madison's eastside.samsucker
"Once he got up on the counter, somehow opened up a tupperware container, and ate all of the Christmas cookies from my Aunt Dorothy," says owner, Nanci.
Do you have a dog that's eaten an entire gingerbread Christmas Village?
Send us a photo and story.
Photo sent in by Nanci from The Sam Collection

Friday, October 13, 2006

Consumer Reports For Kids: Halloween Candy

blackcatThe Great Halloween Candy Taste Test
Consumer Reports 4 kids cut halloween candy into mystery pieces in a blind taste test. What did the little devils like the most? How well did they do at picking out ingredients?
It's fun to take the test yourself. (I got one wrong because I couldn't see the candy wrapper with these glasses.)
CRFK, btw, was first called called Penny Power, then Zillions. NOTE: I had to come back and unlink The Candy Taste Test, Consumer Reports For Kids, and Zillion links in November because they've since been taken down.
The test consisted of kids tasting and identifying popular candy. There was a sample test matching candy by ingredients.

Email Teaching Guide inquires to the Consumer Reports Education Center.

Consumer Reports Education Center
101 Truman Ave.
Yonkers, NY 10703

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Fall-ing for dessert: Pumpkin Panna Cotta

Inside Bay Area: All You Can Eat
There's something much sweeter than the A's in Oakland this October. An Inside Bay Area blogger finds a bit of heaven in a plate of Pumpkin Panna Cotta, and Executive Chef Lewis Rossman shares his recipe.
Bonus: The Cetrella Bistro and Cafe has a nice bio on the 31-year-old wisk wizard on their Meet The Chef page.pannacotta
Meanwhile, you can drool over this Fruit Panna Cotta.
Photo from Stockz free stock photos

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Utter Bibble: Candy corn sugar buzz

Utter Bibble: Candy corn sugar buzz
Blogger Search turned up this sugar buzzed Madisonian with an eye on Halloween candy and a love for Black Adder.
Bonus: A sound file from Blackadder II in the sidebar.
Find wallpaper, quizes, interviews, and an Episode Guide on the BBC's Blackadder Homepage.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Sugar Buzz: Chocolate Ice Cream Soda

sugarbuzzYesterday I had a hankering for a good old fashioned chocolate soda. Thank heavens there's a place across the street from the Middleton Senior Center that will combine seltzer with chocolate syrup and vanilla ice cream. You can see how simple it is to make with this Chocolate Soda Recipe from cdkitchen.chocsoda
The Hubbard Avenue Diner is a nice place for a snack and a visit. Not only is it across the street from the Senior Center, but it shares a parking lot with the Middleton Library. It's a popular lunch spot every day of the week, so it's best to wait until lunch is over if you want to get your favorite table.
There is outdoor seating where I've waited until the cows came home to get service, and the cows never came home.
On this particular day, I was a touch disappointed with their chocolate soda because it had one large scoop of ice cream instead of the promised two. It also had a slightly funny taste. This may have been due to eating it with my cup of chicken vegetable soup, which was delicious. Since this has never been my experience with a chocolate soda there before, I'll be going back to see if they get it right next time.
Meanwhile, keep in mind that the diner is best known for their lovely pies. You can see what they're dishing up if you click Menus on the Hubbard Avenue Diner website.