Saturday, July 12, 2008


In the tradition of Mark Jenkins' "Sugar Sugar" candy column that popped up in the pages of his fanzine HYPERION comes this writeup of a new confection that's hit my taste buds within the past two weeks. And what a treat they are, given that the candy du jour's patterned after a variety of name brand soft drinks that I've known and guzzled for years, and considering how candy and soda pop are two of my favorite foodstuffs the combination of the two is one of the bestest things to hit the grocers since those over-priced yet scrumptious pop-flavored bottled egg creams that came and went just this past spring.

The concept of soda-flavored candies and gum ain't exactly new, and I understand that Coca-Cola candy and gum were pretty popular items during the earlier part of the previous century. Lucky dogs those old-timers were for being able to get hold of such yummies, for things along the line of Coke-flavored candy seemed all but gone 'round the time I first became conscious of the sweet things to eat! I do remember seeing what I guess was a chewy (or "gummy") Coca-Cola candy being sold by the pound in department stores as a kid; they were pretty much the size and texture of the Swedish Fish that were being sold in the bin directly next to it, but no matter how hard me or Jillery pleaded for some of these presumably tasty chewies my mom always turned us down saying that "we wouldn't like it". (The same excuse she gave me for not buying any Fizzies no matter how hard I pleaded.) Instead she insisted on buying her fave, that whippy confection which had nuts in it which I guess was better'n nothing, but as sure as Sam smells it ain't chewy candy that looks like flattened-out Coca-Cola bottles! (And the Hairbo brand of gummy cola bottles that I first discovered in the eighties miss the mark by a long shot, tasting more like the glass than the actual soda inside!)

But man, at least I've lived long enough to see this new treat courtesy of the usually staid Brachs candy company! And these Soda Poppers sure are good, better than those bottlecap candies that purported to be pop-flavored that came out when I was in adolescence or any of the current soda-flavored candies that may be available on the market at this time. Whatcha get per package are a mix of four fabulous flavors that I guess are based on the actual patented soda brand such as A&W Root Beer, 7 Up, Orange Crush and Dr. Pepper shrunken down into a nice li'l candy pop can, and what's best about it is that the insides of these hard candies are actually soft and chewy, meaning if you like to bite down on these candies with all your strength or suck on 'em for a while you'll get to the tasty soft core which comes off like a concentrated soda pop syrup that'll send you into sugar bliss in no time flat!

Being critical 'n all, I must say that the A&W Root Beer really doesn't live up to its promise, but then again it's always been hard to transfer root beer into candies as years of root beer barrels will tell you. Seems that whoever concocts these things tends to rely too much on the licorice base of root beer and neglects to add the other essentials to the overall taste like wintergreen, vanilla and sassafrass amongst others. The 7 Up variety's fine enough yet has to capture the kid bliss I used to get drinking the stuff from a bottle back in those pre-diet soda days. (If you must know, I have been double whammied by both sides of the family when it comes to the baldness and ugliness genes and guess what...diabetes is next on the list which means I better keep an eye on my sugar intake now or there will be no time for Soda Poppers in the not-so-distant future!) As for Orange Crush, I've always liked orange-flavored candies and it sure is nice having this line of pop available in candy form, but frankly I'd rather get my orange thrills through a Tootsie Pop where a better variety of taste is coupled with that chocolate-center making for a pretty darn good combination.

Thus my fave o' the bunch just hasta be the Dr. Pepper, not only because I like the unique flavor of that particular drink which is one of my all-time fave raves, but because (of all the available flavors) the taste of the candy comes the closest to the actual drink. And if we can't have Coca-Cola candy, Dr. Pepper is probably the next best thing to sate our soda sweet teeth! And, keeping with my kiddie perspectives on candy enjoyment, what I like to do with a package of Soda Poppers is the segregate the flavors, eat all the A&W's first since they're my least fave, then gobble up all of the Orange Crushes and 7 Ups, then save my fave Dr. Pepper for last! Even better, if I buy multiple packages I'll save all of the Dr. Peppers for one big flavor orgy, usually in concert with a number of classic old rock mag/fanzines or comic books just like I would do with my Good 'n Fruities during my early double-digit days! It's because of things like this that my mother says I live the life of a playboy!

Great idea you have there Brachs, and keep it up! May I suggest some other soda flavors like Fresca, Mountain Dew or better yet Moxie? Who knows, maybe if Soda Poppers take off the era of pop-flavored candies will be reborn, and if you keep coming out with these sweet treats who knows how many corners off the sides of my molars I'll be crackin' off. Buy a few packages today and pay a visit to your dentist tomorrow!


WESTEX said...

A&W, Orange Crush, and Dr. Pepper are also available as popsicles. Dr. Pepper is, of course, EXCELLENT! Check your local Walgreens.

If Walgreens is local anyhow.

Christopher Stigliano said...

I remember Jillery telling me about 7 Up popsicles when I was a kid! I guess that every Friday afternoon during the summer (we're talking very early-sixties) some guy in a truck would pass them out to the kids at the local playground (where they used to have KKK cross burnings back in the twenties...the place is now a public tennis court). Naturally by the time I was of playground age the 7 Up popsicles were long gone.