As snackers around the world prepare for one of the most important holidays of the year—the day after Halloween—Snacktaku celebrates the only flavor combination powerful enough to knock pumpkin spice off the fall charts.
While children and sexy versions of non-sexy things around the world may revel in pseudo=pagan ritual on October 31, snack aficionados salivate at the sales to come on November 1, the day when the stores attempt to shed their Halloween stock via the time-honored tradition of deep discounts.
Though my November 1 stocking up has lessened significantly since I had children and began watching my calories, in my heyday this entire video could have been shot with candy I still had in the freezer from the year previous.
Since my last major Halloween Snacktaku report back in 2012, things have gotten dire. The holiday candy aisles have become a battleground between three warring flavor factions—candy corn, the dread pumpkin spice and the plucky old-timer making a comeback, caramel apple.
Nowhere is this battle more evident than in Target stores, where the three have been purposefully grouped together for the past several months by employees hungry for bloodshed.
Fine, Target. I have cast my lot. As a Maximal commander once nearly said, he seeds of the future lie buried in the past and covered with burnt sugar.
When I was a child around Halloween-time my mother would come home from the store with boxes of brown caramel discs. We’d plaster these over apples, insert sticks into the resulting mass and jam them into our teeth until every nook and cranny was filled.
It was hard, but we survived. We survived to see a time when caramel apple flows like product from Target trucks into the hands of consumers and (in the case of toys) scalpers.
This year I selected five different caramel apple treats to review on November 1 Eve. I also purchased a bag of Hershey’s Candy Corn chocolate bars just to throw them over my shoulder in the video atop this article.
Dedication. I have it.
One of two lollipop entries in this year’s list, the Blow Pop proper (red) flavor has been a favorite of mine since I was but a small caramel-mouthed child.
I expected an apple pop with a caramel center, because I do not read packaging. No, this is a caramel apple swirled candy pop with an apple bubblegum center.
The candy itself is delicious. I do not appreciate the gum in the center though, and neither does my dental work. Mixing things you are supposed to eat with things your mother warns you not to swallow or you’ll eventually explode all over her nice carpet is not something that should be done.
Still, nowhere on the bag does it say we can’t just throw away the center bit. Or donate it to a gum charity. Something.
Almost nothing to do with Tootsie Roll other than the name. They aren’t Tootsie Pops with caramel centers. They aren’t Tootsie Roll-ish in the least. It’s just branding, the same as Tootsie Roll Ham or Tootsie Roll Adhesive Strips.
These are apple lollipops entombed in caramel, which seems like a lovely thing to be entombed in. Due to the nature of the lollipop structure in begins with caramel taste and ends with apple, but in between the two there is heaven.
Sometimes, in the pursuit of making a thing without flavor taste apple-ish, a candy company is forced to use a strange flavor mixture with a tangy chemical aftertaste. This is one of those times.
The caramel filled Twizzler apple twists are fine as long as they are consumed in the proper ratio. Just pop it in your mouth and chew, and the caramel with overpower the chemical taste just enough to astound and delight.
Try to suck the caramel out and your skull will cave right in and no one will ever love you again.
Man, the Peeps folks have been knocking it out of the park lately with the strange flavor combinations. Just when we though the age of sugar with extra sugar and food coloring was over, POW! Watermelon. BAM! Hot chocolate! EXCLAMATION SOUND! Caramel apple.
See that brown bit on the bottom? That’s a candy caramel shell. See the white bits? That’s not just sugar—there is salt there. Sure, the apple flavor of the Peep proper gets a little lost, but damn if that fake chick’s underside isn’t tasty.
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve written that last sentence over the years.
Well they tried.
I’ve had chocolate-based caramel apple treats before, and the same disappointing fact applied there as it does here—chocolate is not a proper conveyance for caramel apple.
Caramel apple is a mellow taste. Chocolate, even the lightest of chocolates, is not. It overpowers and eradicates any hint of the other two.
There are flavors powerful enough to overcome chocolate—raspberry, Vincent D’onofrio, clams—but caramel apple is not one of them.
Despite that last setback I still believe in the power of caramel apple. If any flavor combination can triumph over the evil of pumpkin spice, it’s old faithful. It we’re lucky this time next year we’ll be complaining about all the green and brown snacks on the shelves instead of all the orange.
Candy corn will still be crap.
Happy Halloween, everybody!