Friday, April 6, 2012

2012 Easter Candy Roundup

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When I look back at what I remember most about celebrating Easter growing up there are really only two things that spring to mind. Coloring eggs and all the different types of candy that enter your possession come Easter Sunday. Here candy is an entirely different experience than Christmas or Halloween. During Christmastime, candy is a mere supplement to the gifts you'll receive and Halloween forces you to work for your loot. Easter is the only time in which an overflowing basket of the stuff suddenly appears one morning. Standing as a shiny chocolate beacon of joy, one that is best to experience while you can. Eater is one of those holidays that you quickly grow out of. Religious aspects aside, the rest of the stuff typically associated with the holiday pretty much come plastered with a gigantic "for ages 7 and under" label on one side.

That does not have to mean that you cannot still get enjoyment out of the seasonal candy released around this time of year. There are no age limits on Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and other things of that nature. You are free to pick up most of the same things you enjoyed as a kid, its just not quite as cool to outright celebrate the season like some of the more popular holidays.

I happen to have extra motives this season. Having not really "done" Easter in a long time. I have started to wonder how much of the candy I remember as a kid is still sold in stores and what new kinds of things have stepped up to the plate and are now making memories for an entirely new generation of children.

So I made a quick trip to a could different stores and rummaged around the candy isles. I probably waited a little to late in the game for this, turns out most of the sections have been completely picked over by now. Turns out people with kids think of these things faster than people with internet blogs. The bastards. Anyhow not all of the good stuff was gone. I left with a small cross-section of all the things that I found the most interesting. The 2012 Easter Candy Roundup has some old favorites mixed in with some new ideas and at least one chicken that shits gumballs...
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Before we get to the stranger items on this list I think it is best to start off with an old favorite, the Reese's Peanut Butter Egg. Some things never go out of style and the Peanut Butter Egg is one of them. The idea behind these has been around for as long as I can remember and I do not think an Easter has went by that I have not received at least one of them.

They taste identical to your standard Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and this one single package will set you back further than it probably should but none of that matters. Its all about that awesome egg shape, the clever little egg shape. It is what draws you in and won't let you go. Almost as cool as its pumpkin and tree counterparts, you should make the Reese's Peanut Butter Egg part of your Easter tradition!

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Shark Smarties caught my eye due to the fact that it was one of the stranger things I seen for sale. At first glance it appears to be just your cheap run of the mill plastic egg with candy inside. It is not until closer inspection that the designs on the egg start to pop. But when they hit you its like a heavyweight blow to your cranium... of awesome.

Shark Smarties fall into the ever illusive category of cheap candy product that gets converted into a toy when your finished with it. The shark egg is not all that impressive on its own but if I would have received this as a kid it would have instantly been promoted to "pet like" status. I would have snuck it to school with me, played with it under my desk top in class, fed it during lunch time. Probably would have named it something like Ragnar the Shark.

Naturally after a week of this Ragnar would have either gotten lost or taken away by some asshole teacher but his memory would have lived on for another couple of days. And those would have been hell! Ragnar wins the gold medal for being my personal favorite item on today's list. He is simple, cheap, and expendable. Everything that a good Easter item should be.

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Pastel Candy Corn is made by Branch's... the same folk who make the kind we all pretend to love during Halloween time. Well now we can pretend to love but secretly hate candy corn made out to look like Easter. The package says that it is "An Easter Basket Favorite" but I do not ever remember eating this stuff as a child. The only time I ever see candy corn is in the middle of October, but what do I know. If Branch's says its an Easter favorite then its an Easter favorite.

The colors seem a little bland but I think they are supposed to look that way. It tastes exactly the same candy corn that we have all had a thousand times in the past. I will let you decide if that is a good thing or not.

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I've seen these in stores for a couple of years now, Reese's Pieces sold in a cheap plastic bag that looks like a carrot. It took me a minute or two before everything fully clicked and I understood the connection between carrots and Easter. Turns out someone has completely over-thought this concept. Easter-Easter Bunny-Rabbit-Rabbits Eat Carrots-Reese's Pieces Sold in Carrot Bags. That would be the train of thought some PR company went through before we ultimately ended up here.

I really do not care to much for this one. It seems strange and foreign. The Reese's Pieces seem naked without any sort of logo imprinted on the candy shell and really out of place in a carrot shaped bag. I may be over-analyzing this one a bit but it seems to me that a lot of companies are not so subtly trying to push Easter into Christmas territory. We are seeing more and more floor space dedicated to it ever year, which if fine but I hope they realize that if they are upping there standards I too am increasing mine. I would not accept something like this in December and therefore will not accept it here in April. Not with as big of push as Easter is starting to receive. I know. I am an asshole.

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Branch's seems to have a bit of a monopoly on the Easter Candy business. I don't know if the best stuff comes from them but they sure as shit are the most prominent distributor of candy that will rot your teeth come Easter Sunday. Branch's makes its second appearance on this list with Pastel Fiesta Malted Milk Eggs, one of those candies that I am confident everyone has had and everyone remembers.

Personally, they were always my favorite thing to find looking back at me from the bottom of an Easter Basket. Something about those Malted Milk Eggs just felt special. I was not aware of it at the time, that these eggs are basically just your standard issue Whoppers repackaged to look more festive. Instead I always viewed them as some strange, magical candy that only appeared once a year and then seemingly vanished from existence until this time next year. It started what would become a life long love of all things seasonal and limited edition. Malted Milk Eggs are an Easter classic and if you gain nothing else from this post, it should be how absolutely imperative it is that you go out and purchase some!

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Speaking of things that are basically re-branded Whoppers made up to look like Easter Eggs, here we have Mini Robin Eggs... which really are re-branded Whoppers made up to look like Easter Eggs Robin Eggs. Which when you think about it is kind of disgusting. Halloween gets a pretty unfair reputation, with misinformed parents thinking unsupervised children will sacrifice small animals and listen to Justin Bieber music. But Halloween has nothing on this particular brand of Easter Candy.

Sure it looks all nice and innocent. Some happy little birds. Some colored eggs. A festive yellow package. You want to know what that package represents? Death. The death of innocent birds as you climb a tree to get to their nest, steal there eggs and then proceed to eat the unborn, presumably chocolaty bird embryo living inside. Whoppers Mini Robin Eggs are clearly the work of the devil. 

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Typically I save the best item for last on lists such as these, wanting to end with a high note. I am not sure if the Wrigley's Hubba Bubba Clucker is best item here, but it is most definitely the only one that will require me to take 1080p HD video of in order to show what exactly it does. It is also the only one that will require an in-depth package discussion, complete with strange instructions an artists rendition of a bird giving us... the bird. Wrigley's Clucker might not be the best but it is definitely the most interesting. 

An overview of the product seems to be in order here. What we have is one of those weird toys that walks and shits candy. I don't know what is wrong with kids these days but I remember a couple five or six years back these "shitting candy toys" were a really big deal. I will admit that at first it was sort of amusing but the novelty quickly wore thin. It started with random farm animals, such as cows that would shit chocolate covered raisins. Eventually it worked its way all the way up to Christmastime and we had reindeer that shit chocolate coated candy bits. It seemed to cross some sort of gross out line that I do not like associated with the holidays. I still do not understand the fascination with these kinds of novelty items but thankfully they do not seem to be as big of deal as they once were.

They still exist, though. Presumably being sold to the same people who find Larry the Cable Guy funny. You know the ones. Think Cousin Eddie from 'Christmas Vacation' ... that is exactly the market demographic for chickens that shit gumballs on Easter Sunday. Kind of gives a new definition to the phrase "holy shit" when you think about it like that.

I mean it is a chicken that shits out bubblegum. Can anyone explain to me how this correlates to Easter? I think there needs to be some sort of marketing meeting between all the retail power players and we need to decide once and for all what qualifies as Easter. Ground rules need to be set in place. Because obviously nobody knows and just seems to guess. Proof by up above we have carrots, because the Easter Bunny is a rabbit and rabbits eat carrots. Yet here we have a chicken because eggs come from chicks and not rabbits. Yet I have never heard of an Easter Chicken before... have you? I am confused. I wish it was Christmas.

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 And then there is this. Now... I could be seeing things that are not there but as soon as I got all this stuff at home and spread it out on the table and started to look over the packages one of the very first things I noticed was that this bird is clearly giving everyone the middle finger. An act of defiance that once you see it, become impossible to not look at. And you know what, we haven't even got to the strangest part of this package yet. Wait until you get a load of the instructions on the back of the box.

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These really strange set of directions on the back of the box do not do a whole heck of a lot to help matters either. Giving Wrigley's the benefit of the doubt here, I guess some type of instructions are probably required. Giving the target demographic of children just old enough to tie there own shoes, ones with pictures also make sense. What strikes me as amusing is the artists rendition of what exactly is going on here. Let's take a closer look at these steps:

Step 1... twist the head of the chicken 90 degrees to the side and lift. Well that sounds painful and judging by the reaction of the chicken it clearly is. Once again do you see things like this during Halloween? Not really. Just here, hiding under the innocent visaed of Easter!

Step 2... this one is my personal favorite. Pretend for a minute that you do not read or speak any English and you just have this four panel diagram to go on. It looks like after you viciously rip the head from this plastic animal that eggs fly from its neck hole. Those vertical lines really could have used an arrow pointing down, indicating that you are supposed to place the gumballs inside. Instead they look like motion lines from a comic book and at first glance makes it seem like things are flying out from inside the chicken. I think this might be the greatest Easter toy ever created.

Next we have this awesome warning label. "WARNING: Loading more than 4 eggs may jam the mechanism." For starters, defining anything inside this as a "mechanism" is a bit of a stretch in its own right. It's a cheap plastic ramp at a slight angle with a trap door that's connected to the feet and it moves up and down. Tony Stark has mechanisms built into the Iron Man suit... Wrigley's has the laws of gravity and a piece of plastic on there side.

I also like what this warning label is implying. That if you put more than four eggs inside this chicken you are basically running the risk of making it constipated and then it will no longer be able to walk and shit gum at the same time. Wow, I did not realize Easter was this.... awesome.


Speaking of awesome things here is a little video that I put together showing the bird in action. It walks. It craps out gum. I almost knock the tripod over. It is everything you could have imagined and more. .... well not really but if I don't say something like that you probably won't take the time to watch the video. Truthfully, it is short and I added some extreme background music to spice things up. You really should check it out. I feel like I should have ended this post about five paragraphs ago.

That pretty much concludes the 2012 Easter Candy Roundup. A last minute idea that I will probably put a little bit more effort into next season. Feel free to share your Easter plans in the comment section down below and talk about what your favorite kinds of Easter candy are!

~Happy Easter!~

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