Tag Archives: candy

Fruit Slices

SweetGourmet fruit slices

I used to eat these jelly-based fruit slices all the time as a kid. Who knew they’d be so hard to come by for those who can’t eat nuts? Lots of supermarkets buy them in bulk and repackage them for sale—but they do the same with nuts, so more often than not, the fruit slices you’ll find at Fairway et al. come with “may contain” warnings. Shame. But I’ve really been craving these, so I had to make it happen.

Now, SweetGourmet definitely sells nuts; in fact, they have a whole category on their site devoted to nuts and seeds. But fruit slices aren’t all that easy to find, and I was pretty desperate to get my hands on some—and (for some reason!) I didn’t want to order them from nuts.com, so I decided to give these a try. Their ingredients are as follows:

Sugar, glucose, agar, citric acid, cottonseed oil, egg albumen, natural and artificial flavors, artificial colors (red 40, blue 1, yellow 5 & 6). **Contains: Egg Ingredients. Product information/materials may change.

Not the ideal company for someone with a nut allergy, but hey, fruit slices. So far, I’m around 75% of the way through my box, and I’ve had no issues. I got them off of Amazon, but they’re available straight from SweetGourmet, too. I ordered the middle size (20 oz.), and they arrived within a few days, packaged in a large box with sheets of wax paper separating the layers of fruit slices.

Anyway, they’re pretty good, if you’re into fruit slices (is anybody?). My only complaint is that the assortment is a little lacking. (I’m told it’s very inconsistent and varies a lot by box.) My box had mostly greens, reds, oranges, and yellows—which is unfortunate, because the watermelons and the blue raspberries are the real stars.

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See’s Lollypops

A box of See's Lollypops

I used to eat See’s lollipops (I’m sorry—I’m not going to use their spelling) on occasion as a kid, but I had no idea they were nut-free until a random flashback sent me Googling. See’s makes lots of nut products; who would’ve expected them to make these (gourmet!) lollipops in a nut-free facility?

On their website, there’s an allergen information page with lists of the See’s products that are free from from nuts, dairy, gluten, soy, and egg. There’s also a nut-free filter, and their FAQ states that candies marked nut-free are those that “are free of nuts and have been manufactured in a nut-free facility.” So at See’s, nut-free really seems to mean nut-free. Miraculous.

The lollipops are expensive ($18.50 for a box of 30) but truthfully, they’re worth it. Flavor-wise, they’re unlike any other lollipop I’ve ever had—rich, creamy, and never too sweet—and they last for-goddamn-ever, too (both individually and as a box), which makes me feel a little better about the price.

The assortment comes with four flavors: chocolate, vanilla, butterscotch, and café latte. They’re all made with butter and heavy cream, and they’re all delicious in their own way, but my personal favorite is the butterscotch (which is the sweetest by far—go figure). It’s super buttery, but not at all in a sickening way. It’s actually pretty salty, too—so in all, it’s perfectly balanced.

Chocolate’s probably my second favorite. The flavor’s closer to cocoa powder than, say, pudding, which took me some time to get used to, but once I got there, I was sold. It tastes a lot like a brownie—not the Betty Crocker kind, but a good one. (An adult brownie, I guess.) It’s very rich, and it has a sort of grainy texture, which I like. And for a lollipop, it’s actually sort of filling.

Vanilla and café latte are my least favorites, but they’re not bad by any stretch of the imagination. Vanilla’s very creamy, which is nice—and it gets a little chewy around halfway through, which is strange, but inoffensive. Café latte is great, I’m sure, if you’re into coffee, but I’m not, so I could probably go without this one. It’s all right—somewhat bitter, and subtly sweet, too—but again: I’m not into that strong coffee flavor. Oh well.

Clearly, though, I’m into these lollipops. I found them at Macy’s in Herald Square (6th floor—you’re welcome), and they’re apparently sold at Lord & Taylor, too. Or, if that’s too much trouble, they’re available online. In any case, they’re certainly worth a try—even if you aren’t a fan of lollipops.

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It’s Sugar (sorry, IT’SUGAR)

Candy bins at IT'SUGAR

Okay, this is probably (read: definitely) a bad idea—but where else am I going to find such a wide selection of fresh gummy candy? Still, you probably shouldn’t go to IT’SUGAR if your allergies are very severe or sensitive—but if you can generally handle a bit of uncertainty, or if you’re sometimes a bit irresponsible…well, read on.

IT’SUGAR (no idea why they insist on stylizing their name like that; I always read it as “it’s Ugar,” with Ugar being some sort of green, dripping swamp monster) is a rather expensive, tourist-packed bulk candy store—with nut products present in legions. They don’t have any allergen information posted, though they do have ingredients listed for all of their loose candy (and, of course, for their packaged candy—almost all of which comes with some sort of “may contain” statement). Not exactly a safe haven for the food-allergic, but hey. I’m going to write about it anyway—and maybe insist that you not take this post as any sort of suggestion to drop what you’re doing and make your way to the place.

Anyway, the store. It’s made up of a number of platforms I’m going to refer to as islands, each with around 25 bins filled with candy you’re meant to scoop into your little bag, which you’ll be charged (a lot) for by weight. There’s usually a chocolate island and two or three gummy islands—and a bunch of extra candy lining the walls, too. A lot of it is their own brand (which, like I said, is covered with “may contain” warnings), but they have plenty of other candy, too: retro candy, giant candy, novelty candy—and in general, stuff that can be pretty hard to find elsewhere. (For example: They have Charleston Chews, which are kind of awful, but which I decided I absolutely needed to try one night—long after It’s Ugar had closed. Long story short, I didn’t get my Charleston Chew.)

A price-fixed container of candy from IT'SUGAR

I avoid the chocolate island (actually, let’s go with Chocolate Island) like the plague—too many nuts, not enough allergen information, and too high a chance of cross-contamination—but I’ve never had any trouble with the gummies. The employees refill the bins straight out of these sealed plastic bags stored under the islands, and the content of the bins seems to stay pretty consistent (by which I meant that there aren’t almond clusters in a bin one day and gummy bears in it the next).

Still, I haven’t spoken to anyone at It’s Ugar about any of this, nor do I claim to know much at all about the safety of the place. So again: you shouldn’t take this post as any sort of call to action—for now, I’m just sharing my experience.

The reason I keep going back, though, despite It’s Ugar’s apparent allergy-unfriendliness, is simple: the candy is really good, and I’m a sucker for good candy. Staleness is make-or-break with gummies, and theirs are almost never stale. Major points. And the selection is really wide, which is always a plus.

If you do end up going, I have one tip (other than to avoid Chocolate Island): Get the price-fixed takeout container (pictured above, $14.99), and stuff it as full as you can manage. Seriously—really mush those gummy frogs in there. The employees won’t judge you for it; in fact, they’ll probably judge you if you aren’t actively trying to get more for your money, because the place is really, really overpriced. Plus, with the takeout container, you avoid the risk of losing track of the weight of your bag and inadvertently spending like $28 on pineapple gummy bears and red Finnish licorice. (No, I’m not speaking from experience. How dare you?)

Don’t go. Seriously, don’t. But if you do: there are a bunch of locations in the city, but my favorite is the one on Broadway between Bleecker and 3rd—although if you’re looking to avoid the crowds, you might be better off at the smaller location in Brooklyn (210 Joralemon St).

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