Monday, May 31, 2010

Stephen vs. Burritozilla

Today, I went to an anime convention with some friends. I had never been to one before, so I thought it would be fun to check it out. While there were many interestingly dressed people there, the main attraction for me was finding exotic foods. My friend, Phil, introduced me to his friend, Jeff. Jeff had a bottle of curry flavored Ramune. The idea of a curry flavored drink disgusted me, but I bought a few so that I could give them to my students. Anyway, Jeff led me to find where the candy was sold. I bought quite a few candies today thanks to Jeff and the convention.

Anyway, those are for a later time. What I would like to write about now is my experience with what is known as the "Burritozilla". This monstrosity comes from a taqueria known as Iguana's.There are no shortage of taquerias around the San Jose State University campus, but what separates Iguana's from the others is their Burritozilla. It's advertised as a 18", 5 lb. burrito. It's reputation is notorious to students and alums of SJSU and many of those who have heard of it dare not try it. Some of those who have tried it have said that it is as mentally taxing as it is physically taxing. I could talk about how much I love eating and how much of a big eater I am, but it wouldn't be worth anything if I didn't try something somewhat official.

I decided that I would try it. I chose refried beans as my choice of beans and carne asada as my choice of meat. I wanted to play it safe with things that I knew were good. One of the patrons in front of me had ordered the same thing. When his order came out, I was a bit intimidated. I don't think I could have imagined it looking the way it did. On television and in pictures it looked manageable, when seen in real life, I started having doubts. My friends saw the process of them making the Burritozilla. They took three large flour tortillas, filled it with heaping scoops of rice, beans, and other fillings. I looked away and tried to not think about it too hard. I tried psyching myself up. Then it came:

This picture does not do it justice because as I've stated before, you can't really fathom what it's like until you see it in real life. It looks bigger than 18 inches and feels heavier than 5 lbs., I'll tell you that much. I don't think they weigh and measure it beforehand

I saw the other patron who had ordered it eating it with a knife and fork. I chose to eat it using my hands. I dug into it and was eating at a very rapid pace. I finished 1/4 of it in what seemed like no time. When I got to the 1/2 way mark I started having my doubts. I began thinking that I couldn't finish it. I thought to myself, "I'm probably going to have to walk back to the anime convention, and I'll probably have to do some walking once I get there." I was thinking this was a bad idea. Somehow I soldiered on and got to the 3/4 mark.

A view of the inside. The rice and beans seemed endless and the meat and sour cream were a welcome break from the monotony of rice and beans

I'm not going to lie, I really had to do a gut check and think, "Is it worth it?" My friends, who had supported me previously, could see the pain I was in. I chewed listlessly, my eyes were glazed over, I was a zombie at this point. They encouraged me to stop, but I was in too deep at this point. I found humor in the most pointless of things, a food high, as my friend Josh had described it on many previous occasions. The laughing only made things worse. I pretended that the burrito was a mouth and began moving the opening and talking in a mock voice to my friends. I was in a state of pain and delirium.

I had nibbled, little by little, in-between these pain-filled moments and surprisingly made good progress. The burrito was now the size of 1/4 of a regular burrito. However, I still had that feeling of, "One more bite, if you even put it in your mouth, it's game over." My body was telling me to stop, especially my stomach and ribs. My pride would not let me stop, however. By the time I got to the last bite I had to nibble at it because I knew that if I ate the whole piece, my body would not react kindly. You see, after many years of overeating, you get to know your body. You know what makes it feel miserable and what you can do to make the experience a little less painful. Finally, this is the end result:

A pile of foil, napkins, and other miscellaneous trash. No burrito though

I had finally done it. I had conquered Burritozilla and I had witnesses to tell the tale. I may not have received official recognition from the taqueria, but I knew that in about an hour or less, I had finished this beast. From that point on, I felt both proud and physically miserable. My body knew what I did, and it didn't like it. I'm glad that it decided to keep it down; God only knows what would have happened otherwise.

And so, one of my goals was achieved. I'm not sure if I would ever want to attempt this again. Maybe next time however, I'll be more mentally prepared for this task. Maybe each time it'll get mentally easier and easier. Physically though, my body would hate me for it, and I don't like the idea of anyone hating me.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A cereal flavored snack

Alright, so one day when I was in the European market, while I was stocking up on candy, I saw another patron buy a bag of something that I knew nothing of. Basically it looked like a bag of some sort of chip or snack product. The next time I came in, I decided to try something outside of the candies, so I grabbed a bag of something or another. This is what I bought:

The best I could tell on the drive home was that this was a product of the Republic of Serbia. Smoki I guess is a type of snack...or something I don't know. Flips sa kikirikijem means peanut flavored snacks or something. I didn't research anything past the "Republic of Serbia" part until after I tried the snack

So this is what it looks like. It reminds me of a corn puff snack or something. Nothing quite odd about the appearance of the snack

The first thing I noticed when I opened the bag was there was a peanut smell coming from the bag. AfterI ate one I thought to myself, "I guess this tastes alright." I kept eating and when I found that it reminded me of Cheetos or some other curl/puff snack combined with Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch. Yes, it tastes like savory PB Cap'n Crunch with the texture of a Cheeto. I'm not saying it was bad, but it was definitely different. You don't see peanut flavored puffs around. I'm going to give these to my students (the ones WITHOUT peanut allergies) and see how they feel about it. Personally, I thought they were okay. However, after eating a few they do start tasting a bit oily as well, but I didn't get sick of them.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

We'll hit Turkey, then 5th Avenue

Alright, so I bought the walnut variety of the jellies I talked about before. Now my friend, Phil, thinks he's Mr. Smartypants by looking at the word "lokum" and conclude that these must be Turkish delights. Well I tell you what, he's lucky that I trust him over Google Translate. Anyway, despite how ridiculously sweet the rose flavored variety was, I decided to give the walnut variety a chance:

As you can see it's walnut. I think

An open box

So whereas the rose variety had a distinct floral smell, this one had a very scant walnut scent. It was hard to notice that it was walnut, and it felt as if I was just eating chewy sugar. Again, this was ridiculously sweet, and I'm going to try to shuffle these off to my students. I also decided to write about another unknown candy bar:

I've seen 5th Avenue bars around, but I've never really been tempted before to get them. The description is pretty simple, "Crunchy Peanut Butter in Rich, Chocolatey Coating"

Yeah, it kind of broke as I was unwrapping it. As you notice, there's nothing that really separates it from other candy bars

The inside was incredibly crumbly

The candy bar that I can best relate a 5th Avenue bar to is a Butterfinger. Yep, it's pretty much a more peanut buttery Butterfinger. I don't see why I can't find them more places. I guess Butterfingers are bigger, marketing wise; they did have a whole period where the Simpsons were doing advertisements for them. Anyway, I guess if Butterfingers sell better, there's no need to sell something that's almost like them.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

More clowns and punchy chocolate

When I first bought the Ki-Ki brand clown toffees, I only bought the strawberry and milk flavor because I knew that there was a risk that my students wouldn't like it and I'd be stuck with them. However, my students liked the candies enough that I decided to return to the European market to purchase this bag:

It's bigger than the bag of strawberry toffees and features six different flavors, including strawberry which I already wrote about. I am on my way to becoming Clown Master

Top: Orange, Apple, Lemon
Bottom: Raspberry, Banana

A picture of the candies unwrapped

I don't think that I could actually rank the flavors because I liked them all. They reminded me of Now and Laters except they weren't terribly tough. They also had a nice, mellow aftertaste. However, I can tell you that I didn't like the banana, but you probably already knew that. I let one of my students take some of the banana flavored ones so that she could torture kids at her school.

Moving on, I was very curious about this next time:

Punch flavored chocolate? Ridiculous. Well, this is brought to you by the same people who had the idea of putting pop rock like candies in chocolate, so I suppose it's not so strange

Nothing noticeable about the appearance of the chocolate

I'm not going to lie, this one disappointed me. The flavor of this chocolate reminded me of chocolates with liqueur in the middle. Instead of having gooey liqueur or something in the middle like cherry cordials, there was just more liqueur flavored chocolate. I would not get this one again because the chocolate with the popping candy is so much better.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Roses and chocolates

I'm not a big fan of fruit jelly candies. I'm not saying that I don't like them, but I wouldn't prefer them over something like chocolate or something else. However, when I went to the European market, I got a box of what seemed to be jellies. They had two flavors, one I assume was some sort of nut flavor and the other was rose. As you can see from my previous picture of the stash of candy, I chose the rose one. I thought it would be interesting to try a floral flavored candy.

Okay, according to Google Translate, this box reads "Bosnian Jewel". I have no idea what anything else on the box reads. I do know that the box looks very nice though

Jellies inside the box

When I first bit into this candy, the first thing I noticed was that it was extremely sweet. It was as if they had jellied sugar and made it sweeter. Then I noticed the rosy smell which didn't appeal to me, but it wasn't bad either. I gave some of these out to some students and they said that it was the equivalent of eating pure sugar. I'd have to agree with them. Overall, not bad, but it's nothing special except for the fact that it's ridiculously sweet.

Next on the list is a candy I really wanted to try:

I had read about Kinder brand chocolates before, but I never had tried them. With the new market, I can purchase different Kinder chocolates. These Schoko Bons are individually wrapped "eggs" of chocolate with what seems to be hazelnut inside

An individually wrapped Schoko Bon

A Schoko Bon unwrapped

The inside of a Schoko Bon

I have to say that I rather liked this candy. It had a nice semi-crunchy texture, probably due to the hazelnut filling and it tasted good as well. The scent of hazelnut wasn't really apparent, but I suppose people prefer the smell of chocolate anyway. I also like that they come individually wrapped; it makes it easier to share these than it would be with a chocolate bar. Anyway, I look forward to trying future Kinder products.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Peanut Madness: The End?

Update: I was able to convince my students to try the European candy, and they actually liked it. Awesome!

I believe that this may be the last installment of Peanut Madness, seeing as how I don't THINK that there are any more candy bars like the ones that were mentioned. To end Peanut Madness, I'm going to end it with what I think is the best of the peanut covered candy bars:

When I was younger I hated this candy bar. I think I didn't like it because it wasn't coated in chocolate and it was different from other candy bars. It was salty and sweet, as opposed to other candy bars that were just sweet. However, as I grew up, I came to like this candy bar more and more

As you can see this is peanut covered, but the caramel is visible as well

As mentioned above, what makes this candy bar unique is the fact that it is both salty and sweet. Something else that sets this candy bar from the other candy bars is that its texture isn't brittle; it crunchy when you first bite in, but then it becomes chewy as you get to the caramel. There aren't as many peanuts on this candy bar, as opposed to the previous candy bars I wrote about before, which makes this candy bar much easier on the mouth. All in all, I think I can easily say that Pay Day is the king of peanut coated candy bars.

I think that's all for Peanut Madness, unless I'm able to find another candy bar coated in peanuts. Those who are allergic to peanuts can breathe a sigh of relief now.

Clown Toffee and Exploding Chocolate

I bought a lot of European candy yesterday and brought some of it in thinking that my students would fall on it. However, quite the opposite happened, and the students kind of looked at the candy, but they didn't show interest. I was trying to tell them, "Look, there's fizzy chocolate candy!" but none of them bit. I'm not sure why they fall on Asian candy immediately and ravage Japanese candy. I suppose the packaging for those candies is flashier.

Anyway, I took it upon myself to be the judge of these candies. The first one I decided to try was some sort of strawberry flavored toffee

I see that in Eastern Europe, they are much more accepting of clowns. Personally, if I were a kid, this bag would have scared me pretty bad. I also entered the words into Google Translate and found out that the language printed was either Serbian or Croatian. I then found out that both languages were similar. On the lower left it says that it contains vitamins and no artificial coloring

More clowns, and not just happy clowns, there's that scary nonchalant clown on the right. Anyway, the top reads, "Anywhere Everywhere Ki-Ki!" and I think the bottom reads something like "Gotta Catch Em All" or something. Cute clowns must be like Pokemon or something in Eastern Europe

A wrapped strawberry toffee. It's shape reminded me of a Starburst

An unwrapped strawberry toffee

This candy was much softer than candies like Starbursts. Also the flavor was a bit more tart as well. It was good, but nothing amazing. It was a solid choice and I'm going to literally throw these at the heads of my students until they eat it. They need to try and accept sweets from all parts of the world. Next up:

Here we have a dead clown or something. It's pretty scary if you ask me, much scarier than the happy strawberry clown. Anyway, this is milk flavored and it contains calcium and no artificial coloring

This one is wrapped more fancily than the strawberry one

An unwrapped candy; it looks like a caramel chew

Not only does it look like a caramel chew, it tastes like one as well. I like caramel chews. That means that I liked this candy. It's a bit softer than what I'm used to, like the strawberry toffee, but the flavor was good. I don't understand why my students won't eat these. Well, maybe they were just unsure yesterday. Today could be the day they try these candies. To end this entry, I'll tell you about a friend of mine:

As you can see, my friend is full cool. I'm not sure who decided to name this candy, but I guess it's better than anything I could think of. I would have probably named it "Explosive Chocolate" or something along those lines. They're missing a "p" in the word popping, unless they meant to spell it "poping"

A square of the chocolate. The lighter shades are the popping candy

Every student I told this about seemed disgusted by the concept of fizzy chocolate. Let me tell you, this was the best item that I've tried so far (I've only tried the three I just wrote about). This bar is chock full of the popping candy and there was not a moment that it was not popping. The chocolate tasted very good as well. However, the popping candy just put it over the edge and made me love it. Sure it may be a novelty, but it's pretty cool in my opinion.

Hopefully some students will try some of the candies I bought. I'm not sure what the other candies taste like, but I know the toffees were solid and the chocolate was pretty awesome. I don't know what food they eat in Eastern Europe, but I can tell you that I enjoy the candy that they sell there.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Peanut Madness: It Continues

The next item I'm about to write about is what actually made me want to start Peanut Madness. You see, the next item is from Planter's, a company known for their mascot, Mr. Peanut. I didn't know they had made a candy bar of some type, and when I found it I already had purchased the Munch bar that I wrote about before. I thought it'd be a good idea, but so far it's been pretty rough on my teeth, seeing as how I'm basically eating a handful of peanuts in each bite.

If it has Mr. Peanut on it, you know it has to be a quality product. Also notice how peanutty the wrapper is; it'd probably give one of my students allergic reactions just looking at it

Thank you for this disclaimer

Welp, that's a lot of peanuts

In my post about the Munch bar I wrote that it was like peanut brittle except nuttier. Well this bar is even nuttier than Munch. This one hurt my mouth because there were so many peanuts. I'm not sure if they even tested this with a tasting group, because I would not have approved this. If you like peanuts this much then you should just buy a jar of Planter's Nuts or something. As you can tell, I didn't really like this bar and felt that there were just too many peanuts. I guess this is for people who love peanuts to the extreme. I suppose there was some demand if Planter's decided to come out with this.

This wraps up the second part of Peanut Madness, I wonder when I'll get to the conclusion.

Treasures from the Far East (Europe)

After some time of writing entries about candy, I realized that most of the candy I was writing about was either from the United States or Asia. Of course I have yet to try all the candies of either places, but I felt like I was leaving people out. My friend, Rubab, suggested that I do reviews on candies from Europe. The problem here was that, unlike Asian markets, I've never really seen a European market. Luckily, she recommended a place, and that led to finding out about even more places. Apparently, European markets exist, they're just not as big as Asian markets.

It was pretty hard to find the particular market I went to today because I had no idea that it was so small. In fact, I got lost yesterday, and gave up. Today I was able to find it though, and I was amazed at what I saw. The market I went in was pretty small, but they used the area to its fullest. Everywhere I turned there were snacks, preserved foods, and candies in languages I couldn't even try to understand. Everyone in there seemed to speak some form of Eastern European language, I'm not sure what it was. I'll just say it was Russian for now, just to make things convenient. I went by picture alone and grabbed whatever caught my eye. The cashier was very nice and she said that it looked like I knew what I was doing. Well here are the items that I picked up today:

All of this cost me a little over $25, but that's a lot of candy

Here's one part of the candy

Here's the second part. Yes, I did buy duplicates because I expect my students to ravage some of this

I don't know when I'll get to write about all these. I don't think that I'll be able to write about ALL of them either seeing as how I'm planning to share some of this with my class. The most interesting one to me is the chocolate bar that has a little bomb on it. According to the label it's fizzy chocolate.

I'd like to thank Rubab for helping me find out about these places, and now I am able to go back and forth between European, Asian, and American candy.

Peanut Madness: The Beginning

I'm going to be posting a few candy bars that go off the beaten path and are absolutely full of or covered in peanuts.

So I went to the gas station by my work the other day to grab some provisions for myself and some students. While I was there, I noticed a candy bar that I haven't seen in quite some time. Now, keep in mind that the items carried at this particular gas station can be, at times, years old. This greatly pissed me off because I bought a Diet Pepsi from there that was two years past its "Best By" date and was utterly flavorless. It was worse than drinking Club Soda. Anyway, I decided to give this Munch candy bar a chance, seeing as how I didn't see it anywhere else.

The packaging shows you all you need to know about this candy bar. Unlike other candy bars, which have chocolate coating, this candy bar is like a Pay Day in that its main attraction are its peanuts. Also notice that it advertises that it has only 6 ingredients

Yep, it only has 6 ingredients. It's also, interestingly, made by the same people who make Snickers

Peanuts everywhere

Okay, so this Munch pretty much tastes like peanut brittle, but nuttier. Whereas in peanut brittle, it's mostly brittle, with Munch it's mostly peanut. I have to say that as a fan of peanut brittle, I rather enjoyed Munch. It was much bumpier than peanut brittle, on account of it having more peanuts, but overall it was good. If I had a craving for peanut brittle, I'd eat a Munch bar to satiate that craving, but it's probably harder to find than peanut brittle.

Reese's Snack Barz: Z iz cool again!

Every time I go into a 7-11 I don't expect to be wowed by their candy section. I usually scope the candy section, pick up a few things, head to the soda, and then finally to their protein bar section. Anyway, I caught a glimpse of Reese's Snack Barz a few weeks ago, but I didn't have the urge to buy it. This is odd because I really like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Reese's Pieces. Also, around Easter time, I look forward to things like Reese's Eggs and stuff like that. The description for the Reese's Snack Barz though, made it seem like an overdressed Rice Krispie's Treat. However, it bothered me that I was disregarding a candy without trying it, so I decided to give it a chance.

Here's the packaging. It advertises "Crispy Rice & Marshmallow with Reese's Peanut Butter" and it also has Hershey's Milk Chocolate. By description alone, it sounds delicious

Well, it certainly looks the way it does on the packaging. I'm not very impressed so far

Nothing in the middle; nothing more to see folks

My concerns of it being an overdressed Rice Krispies Snack were pretty much confirmed. Surprisingly though, it wasn't very sweet despite all the ingredients listed. The peanut butter had a salty taste and the crispy rice & marshmallow wasn't all that sweet either. The way I see it, you could do much better going one of two routes. The first route is just purchasing a pack of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, which are much better tasting than this. The second route you could take is purchasing a box of snack bars that are available at places like Target and Wal-Mart. The snack bars by Kashi, Special K, and so forth are not only have less calories, they surprisingly taste better too. I'm going to go further and say that I've had protein bars which tasted better than this. Speaking of which, protein bars are pretty damn tasty.

Anyway, to sum things up, skip this item and either indulge in real candy or go find a snack bar; either choice you make will taste much better than this.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Number #50

Well, if you've been keeping track, this is the 50th entry of stephenlovescandy. Yay!

Anyway, back to business. I actually found the next item at a Korean supermarket. This one in particular is larger than the other Korean markets and carries many more Japanese products. I found some items that I would have found in a Japanese market, and the items were marked a bit more than at Japanese markets. I think this item in particular would have cost just around the same at a Japanese market though:

Yep, it's those stick Oreos again. This time they come in what I assumed to be cheesecake flavor

A picture of an individually wrapped Oreo stick

Oh god, what is this?

The packaging made these products look a lot more appealing than what they actually look like. Then again, I don't write all about appearance, and flavor is a much more important factor. When I first bit into it, it really did have a cream cheese/cheesecake smell. A few seconds later however, it started tasting like a typical wafer. Again, I can't say that I'd choose this item over the regular Oreo cookie. Something about paying more for less and not being able to twist the cookie makes it less appealing to me. After doing so many entries about Asian candies, part of me wants to take a tour of the world just to see how much candy costs in different places.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Kit Kat Attack again

Alright, so I went to an Asian market again, and they had more foreign Kit Kats. I suppose milk chocolate Kit Kats are the best sellers in America anyway, so why branch out, right? I mean if they made Strawberry Kit Kats in America and no one ate them, then it'd be pointless to make them. This is my speculation as to why they don't have any flavors outside of milk, white, and dark chocolate Kit Kats in America.

Anyway, getting back to the Kit Kat I'm writing about, I asked my friend what flavor it was, and she said it related to some Japanese pastry. I guess you'll just have to see the picture to get an idea:

Yeah, she said it was something like the outer shell of that pastry that's pictured. I think. Or it could be flavored after that pastry. I'm going to need her to help out again. Anyway, I'm sure that's a thought provoking haiku by Basho or someone on the right hand side.

Well according to the back, it's Chocolate. There's also some diagram explaining to consumers what a Kit Kat is

Another interesting haiku. Or it could just be whatever the front said.

Kit Kat unwrapped

Insides look pretty much the same

I describe the taste as being somewhat nutty. That's the best way I can put it. It was a good flavor; I enjoyed it. However, I can't see what makes this flavor unique. If you told someone that they were eating a Kit Kat with a slight peanut flavor, they'd believe you. If you told me I was eating Kit Kat that was flavored after a Japanese dessert, I'd ask you, "Does it have peanuts in it?" Overall, it was enjoyable, but again these foreign Kit Kats are more expensive than domestic ones. If you want to enjoy the flavor of this Kit Kat, then maybe you could dip your Kit Kat in peanut butter.