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What can you bring me back from the U.K.?

If anyone asks me what they can bring me back from the U.K., the answer is always the same.

Percy Pigs.

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These delish gummy candies from Marks and Spencer are just the best. There are spin-offs with Percy piglets, hearts, sheep and cows but no, nothing compares to the classic Percy Pig.

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The chewy joy of wine gums

Wine gums

When I first moved to the United Kingdom nearly 20 years ago, I discovered the Maynards Wine Gums and being a Haribo convert and loving anything gummy, sweet and black currant flavored, I became an instant fan.

And then the whole Mad Cow Disease broke and there was rumor/conjecture/fact that wine gums were made out of gelatin (made from those mad cow’s joints or muscle, bones or gristle, I’m not quite sure) and they fell out of favor with me. I stopped buying them (I was a vegetarian at the time and did think it would be tragic and also ironic if I got Mad Cow Disease, not from eating cheap burgers or sausages, but from these blissfully nearly blameless fruit candies), but that decision did come with anguish every time I spotted them in the grocery checkout aisle.

Fast forward to this past year and I started thinking about those wine gums again. When my mother-in-law was packing her bag to visit us in November, I asked her if she could bring some. It only took a couple of bites into the black and red (the only flavors worth mentioning, in my opinion) and I was transported to those days at uni. I love the density of them. The hearty chewiness of them (not weak and loose in bite like some excessively jubbly candies you can buy). The black currant-y smell of them. They don’t stick to your teeth or make you worry that you’ll loose a filling. They’re just a burst of sweet berry joy and I can’t compare them to anything here in the U.S. Needless to say that packet of wine gums went quickly.

My sister-in-law came to visit us this month and also brought a box of wine gums along with Percy Pigs (more on this delicacy in a future post…) and it was again like a tasty reunion of memories and nostalgia, wrapped in animal gelatin and black currant flavors (or lime, lemon or orange, if you prefer the green, yellow or orange, which I don’t touch).

Have you tried wine gums? What do you think of them?

British sweets

Fiona's sweets

Have you heard of Fiona’s Sweetshoppe? They do a line of imported candy from the U.K. in the U.S. My husband got a few different types for his birthday and I’m excited to try it – particularly the sherbet lemons, which I’ve never tried, but sounds so very Harry Pottery, I can’t wait.

What’s your favorite British candy?

Brits and trick or treating

rhubarb yogurt

Does this belong in a trick or treat bag to you?

I have this general, possibly misguided, theory that trick or treating is not that big in the U.K. Part of this is based on the fact that I never went trick or treating when I lived in Scotland or London, and never knew anyone who did. Guy Fawkes Night was much more of the thing to do. Granted, that was over a decade ago. Times may have changed. Halloween may have arrived in a bigger way in the U.K. since I’ve moved back to the U.S. Has it?

My husband has an American colleague who moved to London with her family this summer when her husband landed a job there. She commented on how big Halloween was this year, how many kids trick or treated at their house. And then, in nearly the same breath, commented on the amazing items that her kids brought back from their trick or treating adventure in London, which included unwrapped M&Ms and other small, loose, unwrapped, man-handled candies, loose home baked cookies and even a pot of rhubarb yogurt.

Okay, Londoners. Is this weird or the norm? Is this an accurate picture of Halloween, circa 2013, in London? Enlighten us, please!

Percy Pig turns 21

percy pig turns 21

Percy Pig turns 21 this year! If you’ve never had a Percy Pig gummy sweet from Marks & Spencer, you don’t know what you’re missing! I like to think of myself as a gummy connoisseur and Percy Pig puts every Haribo and Trolli sweet to shame.

Read more on how Percy became the sweets dynamo that it is today. And order some Percy Pig paraphernalia from Marks & Spencer online!

Happy birthday, Percy! And have a happy weekend!

Stateside Candy Company

Stateside Candy Co.

Americans who are homesick for their favorite candies can get them delivered in the U.K. now, thanks to the Stateside Candy Company.

The selection is impressive, including Hershey’s and Twizzlers, Life Savers, Willy Wonka candies, salt water taffy, Mike and Ike’s, jumbo gummy bears and the list goes on and on! Grocery items like American cereals, pancake mixes, cookies, cake mixes and barbecue sauces are also offered. U.K. delivery charges start at £4.50.

Busted for Kinder Surprise eggs

Kinder surprise eggBefore you attempt to head into the U.S. carrying Kinder Surprise eggs from the U.K., beware! The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol seized about 25,000 Kinder Surprise eggs in 2010 and reissued the warning that Kinder eggs are banned (due to the non-edible prize inside each egg). Rumor has it that if a Kinder egg is seized by customs, you can be fined for $2,500!

If you’ve never had a Kinder Surprise egg, they are quite fun little toys (i.e. cars, characters, even stamp rings) tucked inside a half milk chocolate and half white chocolate shell of an egg. You never know what you’re going to get! Nearly 30 billion have been sold worldwide.

And check out the Americanized version of the Kinder Surprise: The Choco Treasure! It launched last month.

Also, here are the top 10 items not to bring back from your international holiday.

Candy Review of Marvellous Creations: Jelly Popping Candy and Beanies

Marvellous Creations

A few weeks ago, I did a candy review of Marvellous Creations: Jelly Popping Candy and Beanies, a Pop Rocks-infused milk chocolate from New Zealand, made by the British chocolate giant Cadbury. This weekend, I tried the second in the collection. Marvellous Creations: Jelly and Crunchie Bits. This one is similar to the previous iteration, with the exception of shards of honeycomb bits, like a Cadbury Crunchie Bar, in lieu of the Pop Rocks. It has a crunchy crisp rice texture you might get in a Nestle Crunch, but a little more crunchy and sweet.

I’ve always been a little fascinated by the use of said honeycomb and chocolate in the U.K., an ingredient absent from the U.S. candy market. If you haven’t tried it, it’s interesting, light and airy, but satisfyingly crunchy.

A big thanks again to my sister-in-law for sending the candy!

Candy review: Marvellous Creations

Marvellous Creations

My sister-in-law in New Zealand sent us some crazy candy bars awhile back. I’m not a big candy eater, but this was a novelty I had to check out: Marvellous Creations by Cadbury.

They take a regular bar of Dairy Milk milk chocolate and then infuse it with a little bit of something gummy, a little bit of plain M&Ms and colorful Pop Rocks. Mad! It’s actually a strange but ridiculously fun thing to eat, particularly with the Pop Rocks. If I had unlimited access to Pop Rocks, I would add it to everything. Yogurt. Cheesecake. The possibilities would be endless! I can’t help smiling and feeling like I’m 5 when I’m eating Pop Rocks!

Would I prefer it if the chocolate base was dark chocolate, rather than this silky, creamy Dairy Milk chocolate? Absolutely! But on a feel-good factor scale, it’s still a 10.

The chocolate bars now have a Facebook page and Brits are already posting online begging for them to come to the U.K. With Cadbury World in Birmingham, England, I’m hoping it’s only a matter of time.

Happy Valentine’s Day

A box of Thorntons chocolate

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

May your day be filled with the best chocolate, along with the appropriate chocolate identifier glossary (which British chocolatiers smartly include so you know just what you’re getting before you take a bite. No surprises!).