Sweet Spot: Where I Get to Go Eat Free Candy

Press events are usually a waste of time. I avoid them if I can. But while I'm typically lured out by free booze, the geniuses behind the "Sweet Spot" event went double-fisted: booze and chocolate. A group of confectioners gather every year to show off their latest goods to the press, inviting us in to stuff gooey sweets into our cavernous chonk-holes; to dribble wine down our shirts as we "notice the pairing of the cacao nibs with the sharpness of the wine," even though our mouths are still coated in the amniotic slime from a just-hatched marshmallow Peep; to discover how many ways companies can rebrand the flavor "mint"; to hear how healthful chocolate is—the darker the healthier.

Then they sent us home with like 20 pounds of candy. Normally I don't even take home the brochures from press events, but you can bet your ass I sweated that paper sack full of *trose treasures through a crowded subways and cold Brooklyn streets. And then went on a four day fast in penance. *

Unsurprisingly, the coolest candies were the ones being marketed to children. My cohort Kat and I, when not making our PR handler nervous from all our tittering and misfired jokes**, were completely enamored by the Mike & Ike's Spray, a sweet-and-sour solution of the familiar candy in a handy mister, perfect for hungry asthmatics. It's very addictive, not unlike Binaca and other flavor sprays. Shssmppfft. Slap tongue against roof of mouth. Repeat until container or pancreas is empty.

gum_labelmaker2.jpg

We also got a kick out of the Bubble Roll Message Maker, which works just like the squeeze tape labelers of old, but impresses letters onto a six-foot roll of sour gum. Take solace in knowing that I did attempt to imprint something puerile into my piece of gum before giving up and chewing a nice strip of "COCJJJJ." Replacement gum is available, so you don't have to buy a whole new gun. They also have another Message Maker that does emoticons, but it's not as fun, which is to say it's not as easy to write distasteful phrases. (You can buy a Message Maker online for $3.)

While we ate tons of decent chocolate (my personal poison), I also had to knock back a few "Sports Beans" from Jelly Belly to keep up my stamina. Each bean is filled with vitamins, electrolytes, and carbohydrates—and some have caffeine. They're not candy, sir! They're a performance-enhancing Extreme bean. We tried desperately to get the woman showing these off to acknowledge that these beans, like most energy drinks, mostly are just full of delicious, buzz-inducing sugar. She was firm.

There is also a new version of the Nestle Crunch bar coming out, called "Crunch: Crisp!" I begged the PR woman to explain to me the difference between crunch and crisp, but that got her flustered, so she just kept repeating "Crisp is crispy; crunch is crunchy." Things might have gone worse for her but Kat noticed a framed photograph of Stevie Nix in the fake bookcases in the fake living room of the demo area which sent our sugar-fired attention steaming stickily away from the crunch/crisp dilemma.

Finally, as something of a Peeps connoisseur, I must tell you two things: sugar-free Peeps made from Splenda are surprisingly close to the genuine article, although very expensive at $1 for three (they may also not "cure" like proper Peeps will do, but I did not have time to test); Peppermint Peeps are actually sort of gross.

* I actually don't eat that much candy these days, so I'm going to swipe a couple of chocolate bars out of the bag and give the rest away at Funde Razor.

** "The snap from the chocolate is how you can tell it is well-tempered," said one nice woman from Nestle. I held the chocolate to my ear. "This one sounds like a dick." She coughed. "But it's...square?"

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