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Offbeat Candy Ideas

Encourage Your Children to Do Their Chores with St. Patrick’s Day Candy!

We’ve all heard of “The Luck of the Irish,” but as an Irish lady herself, I can tell you much of that ‘luck’ comes from hard work! In fact, an excerpt from one of my favorite Irish blessings gives a hint at how important hard work has historically been to the Irish – “May there always be work for your hands to do, May your purse always hold a coin or two, May the sun always shine on your windowpane, May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.”

I can still remember a much younger me sitting at my grandmother’s kitchen table sipping Ginger Ale and re-reading that blessing again and again. I didn’t realize at the time that work was a blessing unto itself, but I knew that I loved the little treats high honors on my report card brought! So I worked hard then, and I work hard now, and I’m lucky that my purse always holds a coin or two.

While we can’t expect young children to inherently understand the value of work, the time will come when teaching them is essential. There are countless ways to encourage your children to work hard in all they do, and just as many ways to reward them for it. This isn’t to say they deserve a prize for every dish they wash, but little presents here and there are fun for everyone. After all, you probably wouldn’t show up as often for your job were it not for the paycheck!

With St. Patrick’s Day approaching and “The Luck of the Irish” on our minds, we thought up a fun, festive way to help your kiddos cross some chores off their ‘to do’ list while earning some magical goodies!

Step One: Choose a Few Chores to Reward – The number of chores will depend on how many they have, but let’s imagine they include Dusting, Making their Bed and Vacuuming. Jot these down in a notebook, and move to Step Two!

Step Two: Get Ready to Channel Your Creative Side – The Irish Blessings we all know and love didn’t write themselves, and neither will yours! Don’t worry; this is designed to be fun. Think of the chore at hand and write a little 4-line blessing to give your child a clue at the prize. Let’s assume you will reward them with Green Apple Tootsie Frooties for dusting the living room. Your Irish Blessing might read: None of us like to live among dirt and dust, And this is what makes regular dusting such a must! But fret not for when you have finished your dusting duties, Your taste buds will be rewarded with Tootsie Frooties! OK, to be fair, it’s more of a poem than a blessing, but it’s close!

Step Three: Decide How Magical You’ll Be – Now you’ll have to decide how to gift the goodies. You can always let your child know beforehand that their chores will come backed by treats this week, sharing the Blessings with them, and handing the candy out upon completion. Or, you can make it more magical, which works especially well for younger kids, but can be fun for teens as well. For the magical angle, it will be a bit like a treasure hunt. Let’s take the chore of vacuuming as an example. You can first take the vacuum from the closet and have it ready for them to use. Then, you can place the candy prize in a bag in the spot where the vacuum lives. Once they’ve finished and are ready to tuck it back into the closet, they’ll open the door to reveal their riches! Were they left there by a little Leprechaun? That’s up to you!

Your kids can’t possibly consider work a blessing every minute of the day – no sane person can! But the truth is that it’s more than just an essential aspect of life; it’s a fulfilling one as well. And if candy can help instill that from an early age, we think that’s a pretty sweet deal. :)

Share the Love and Contribute to a Good Cause with Valentine’s Lollipops!

Whether you’re trying to raise money for a school team or group, want some help making a charitable contribution on behalf of your company, or need new supplies for a non-profit, a fundraiser can be key in achieving your goals. There are many types of fundraisers to consider, and many fundraising techniques that have been used successfully, but the results can be mixed at best, and several of those types and techniques require a lot of time input that you may or may not have at your disposal. Just like the money itself, time is an asset, and if your schedule is already packed with the team, group, company or non-profit that needs money in the first place, chances are good you don’t have the hours in the day to make countless phone calls or send out requests for donations. This is where a fundraiser with a tangible incentive can save you time, help achieve your donation target, and offer people something fun and flavorful for their support. That tangible incentive would, of course, be candy!

In our last blog post we talked about how Valentine’s Day can be a special holiday not only for kids and couples, but for all the people we treasure, from friends and family to co-workers and beyond. In fact, many of us may feel especially inclined to share a little sweetness with the special people in our lives who won’t be celebrating Valentine’s Day with a romantic partner; to add a smile to a day when the whole world seems to be telling them that love is in the air for everyone else!  This is what makes a Valentine’s Day fundraiser so easy and enjoyable – people will love the opportunity to gift their friends a sweet treat, and you can hit your goals more quickly in the process.

I’m stealing the idea for the Valentine’s Day Lollipop Drive from my high school, which I attended more years ago than we will openly discuss here! However, I’m sure other high schools had a similar drive, so you might remember it even if we didn’t grow up together. While this idea worked out very well for my school, helping to raise money for the football team, it can also work to raise money for almost any institution where a lot of people work or visit every day.

The price you charge for the Valentine’s lollipops, or whichever sweet you choose, should take into consideration how many you think you can sell, and how much money you hope to earn. There should be a limit, of course – most people won’t spend more than a dollar or two on a small lollipop. But let’s assume you work with 100 people and everyone interested would want to send a special Valentine to 5 friends in the building. If even half of your co-workers participated and bought a $1 lollipop for 5 friends, you can bank $250 in a day! If your lollipop of choice is our Jolly Rancher lollipops, 9 bags would equal 252 lollipops, costing you just $36.81, leaving you with over $200 to devote to your fundraising goal. Pretty sweet!

As for where to sell the lollipops? If your building has a front desk or central area that most people will pass by throughout the day, these are good locations to consider. A secretary or other employee can collect the money for the drive, and keep track of who the lollipops are from, and who they will be going to. Near the end of the day – or the next day, if you want to be sure to capture as many sales as possible – someone can act as Cupid and deliver the Valentine’s lollipops to everyone. Whether or not to make it a secret Valentine is up to the person who purchased the pop!

Conversation Hearts Do More Than Get People Talking…They Get Them Crafting and Creating!

Here at Blair Candy, we’ve already got Valentine’s Day on our minds weeks before we’ve packed up the Christmas decorations and put our presents in their proper place. Don’t get us wrong – we aren’t ‘holiday rushers’! We like to devote our personal time and energy to the current holiday season no matter what it may be, but when we’re at work we have to prepare for the next special day on the horizon. And that is precisely why we were placing orders for Necco conversation hearts and Valentine Peeps while we were still listening to Christmas music and sucking on candy canes. Yeah, we can holiday multitask with the best of ‘em!

But our multitasking abilities go beyond this talent alone. We’re also good at multitasking while working – you know, answering an email while checking out the fresh candy stock while perhaps browsing Etsy.com a bit? And that’s precisely what happened this morning. Once I caught sight of the Necco conversation hearts – bags and boxes upon bags and boxes of sweet sentiments – I quickly remembered all the fabulous accessories the countless talented artisans of Etsy have whipped these sweet wonders up into, or used as inspiration for awesomeness!

We can’t possibly feature every conversation heart creation on Etsy.com that we love – after all, this morning’s search for ‘conversation heart’ yielded 872 items! But we’ve chosen 3 favorites that we think would make a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift for the conversation heart lover in your life. Just don’t forget to include a bag of conversation hearts they can eat, too!

Conversation Hearts Soaps – With an Etsy Shop name like SoStinkingSweet, we were already in love!  That love only got stronger when we started perusing her virtual soap shelves and found not only the adorable oversized conversation heart soaps, but also “Goodie Goodie Gum Drops” soap and soap on a stick that serves as a delicious-looking double for a Neapolitan ice cream bar. Getting clean just got even sweeter!

Conversation Hearts Valentine Cards – The Etsy artist behind the craftynikki shop creates some of the coolest, cutest Valentines you’ve ever seen! But for as darling as her set of Vintage Valentines are, it’s the Glitter Candy Hearts cards that have won me over most. Each set of 6 mini cards is just $3, making these aww-dorable and affordable!

Conversation Hearts Jewelry – If you’re looking for fun Valentine’s jewelry you can wear all year round, take a peek at the micahjonesstudio Etsy shop! Crafted from sterling silver, these pieces are as fun and fresh as costume jewelry, but have an unmistakable quality and wearability that costume jewelry often doesn’t. My favorites include the “Soul Mate” ring, which would make a truly touching gift for a partner or close friend, and the blue conversation heart necklace accented with a clear, heart-shaped CZ. Though I might like the second one so much because blue conversation hearts are my absolute fave! Well…blue and white. And pink. And yellow. And really every color except orange. (Sorry, orange!)

Decadent Dessert Ideas from Taste Of Home!

Photo from TasteOfHome.com

With Halloween now behind us and Thanksgiving on the horizon, my mind has been swimming in savory thoughts of juicy turkey, flavorful stuffing, fluffy mashed potatoes, buttery crescent rolls and my sister’s culinary masterpiece, oh-so-amazing-I-can’t-stop-eating-it zucchini casserole topped with melted cheese. There is little debating that when it comes to ‘food holidays’, Thanksgiving takes the turkey! But did you know Thanksgiving could take the cookie as well? Take the cookie and turn it into a delightful dessert that is fun for the whole family and delicious, too? Well…it can!

As I stood in line at the grocery store over the weekend watching the woman in front of me unload what must have been the 100th can of soup onto the belt, I decided to make the most of my wait and flip through the magazines at the register. I skipped over the tabloids in favor of something more appealing – the brightly-colored little glossy full of Thanksgiving recipe cards, taste of home. While I whole-heartedly recommend you grab a copy for yourself, I should warn you this is not an issue to read while hungry. It is absolutely packed with deliciousness! But beyond the mouthwatering recipes for apple & herb roasted turkey and gingered pumpkin bisque – and mouthwatering they are! – I came across a couple dessert recipes that broke the traditional Thanksgiving mold of pies and muffins. Don’t get me wrong, I love pies and muffins! But these petite treats are much cuter, and include candy, which I’m kinda partial to. ;)

Turkey Pilgrim Cookies – The first candy-covered dessert to catch my eye was the Turkey Pilgrim Cookies. These are almost too cute to eat, but I think if I close my eyes I can manage! The recipe calls for the following ingredients, which should give you some insight into what makes these so good: Oreos, candy corn, miniature peanut butter cups, candy corn kisses, chocolate frosting, vanilla frosting, mini marshmallows, mini Oreos, Rolos and orange food coloring. And the best part, other than all the tasty ingredients, that is? There is absolutely no baking required! The frosting serves as a ‘glue’ of sorts for all the candy and cookie building blocks making these a dessert the little ones that can help put together. As there is no baking required, the kids can create these while you’re cooking to keep them busy, or it can be a fun family project the night before.

Pilgrim Hat Cookies – Just like the Turkey Pilgrim Cookies above there is no baking required for these yummy treats. Ingredients include: vanilla frosting, yellow food coloring, orange mini Chiclets, miniature peanut butter cups and fudge-striped cookies – that’s it! These are even easier to create than the Turkey Pilgrim Cookies, though I have to admit they aren’t quite as cute. What can I say – a dessert with marshmallow eyes wins my top vote! That said, I plan to make both cookie and candy concoctions this season, if not for Thanksgiving itself as a fall-themed snack for anytime. After all, with so much amazingness on Thanksgiving day, and the days full of delish leftovers that follow, I want to give my candy-packed desserts an opportunity to shine.

The Thanksgiving Recipes Cards issue of taste of home is $4.99 and marked for sale through November 22, 2011. Grab your copy the next time you hit the grocery store, and check out more great recipes on TasteOfHome.com today!

Candy for Dinner Can Be a Winner!

While I don’t endorse making a habit out of replacing meals with candy, I must confess that my dinner a few nights ago consisted of cola, M&M’s, Flipsticks and Candy Cigarettes. The day was long, I got home late, and even heating a TV dinner seemed too much work when all I really wanted was a smattering of sugary treats. So…that’s what I had! I laid them out on the table beside the couch and lazily ate my candy dinner while I watched Hoarders. I enjoyed every bite of candy goodness while I marveled at the Hoarders’ homes with eyes wide, occasionally uttering an “oh my gosh!” in response to something especially shocking. In short, it was a nice end to the day – some of my favorite candies complemented by one of my favorite TV shows.

While it felt a bit like a childlike thing to do at first, making dinner of candy, I was soon struck by how very adult it actually was. Surely I wouldn’t have been permitted a candy dinner as a child, or been allowed to eat so late in the day while watching television for that matter! But as an adult, these are the decisions we all get to make. Little treats to ourselves that make all the stresses and obligations of being a grown-up a bit more bearable. We can’t make them every day, of course. A daily candy dinner would not only lack the nutrients we need from such an important meal, but would also take away the pleasure an occasional indulgence brings. And that pleasure is important to me. While being an adult means we have to make a lot of tough decisions, expensive decisions, and potentially life-altering decisions, it also means we can let the chicken freeze for another day from time to time. We can kick our shoes off, fire up the DVR, and make a meal of Sour Punch Twists and Gummy Strawberry Creams.

Perusing CNN’s Marquee Blog today, I learned that I am not alone in my ‘candy is for adults’ thinking! I mean, I always knew, but to have celebrity confirmation is always fun. Right there before me was an article – Ryan Gosling really, really loves candy. Well, I really, really love candy too, and I also really, really love Ryan Gosling, so you can bet your Assorted Sixlets I clicked! This short and sweet post quotes Ryan as saying, “Sometimes I think that the one thing I love most about being an adult is the right to buy candy whenever and wherever I want.” Swoon! A man after my heart and my chocolate hearts, it seems! :)

Blair Candy Has the Sweetest Picks for Shark Week!

Yes, dear reader. It is finally here. That glorious week awaited by millions – nay, billions! – across the universe. The one…the only…SHARK WEEK. Discovery Channel’s Shark Week is anticipated by some the way an anxious child awaits Christmas morning. Typical plans for the week are cancelled or never made. Perhaps a few sick days have even been saved up for some Shark Week sniffles – dangerous business; definitely should stay home! But while your remote may get a vacation during Shark Week as you watch show after show without fail, your belly is gonna start to grumble. Man and woman cannot live by Shark Week alone. You need to keep up your strength so you don’t miss anything!

So what to put on the Shark Week menu? Seafood is always a good choice. Watching sharks, eating like sharks, makes sense to us! And when the time comes for dessert or a late night snack, you can keep the ocean theme wave rolling in. Don’t worry – we don’t have any recipes for crab flavored ice cream up our sleeves. Just some sweet, summery treats that are shark-tastic!

Gummi X-Ray Fish – These fruity gummies are fun to look at and neat to eat – gummy bones and all! Each box contains 36 see-through fishies, individually-wrapped and ready to enjoy.

Swedish Fish Aqua Life – Offering all the fabulous favors the Swedish Fish family of gummies has to offer, Aqua Life brings quite a bounty of oceany options, including gummy starfish, gummy blowfish, and gummy dolphins and seahorses.

Salt Water Taffy – A boardwalk favorite that will shore-ly make Shark Week all the better! It will feel like a true vacation when you add Salt Water Taffy to your SW menu, though an actual trip to the beach will likely be the furthest thing from your mind. The Midwest, anyone? I hear it’s gorgeous this time of year!

How Many Copies Would You Make if You Were Printing Chocolate?

It’s tough to imagine how long the line for the office printer would be if it was creamy, dreamy chocolates landing in the tray instead of plain old paper, but I’m going to guess much longer would sum it up! Before you get too excited, we unfortunately haven’t heard that there is an office printer update in the works that involves chocolate, as exciting as that would indeed be. However, we did just come across an interesting article in the Food section at HuffingtonPost.com – The World’s First 3D Chocolate Printer.

After watching the video detailing the chocolate printer imagined by scientists at the University of Exeter, we couldn’t help but make countless mental notes of all the custom chocolates we would love to create! The process and purpose of the chocolate printer is explained by Dr. Liang Hao and Professor Richard Everson of University of Exeter. The 3D printing technology is similar to that used in the production of metals and plastics, and Hao explains that using this technology for the purpose of creating custom chocolates will help more people learn about the technology as “chocolate is a fantastic medium to send out the message.” We can’t help but agree! Chocolate is a fantastic medium, period.

So how would chocolate printing work exactly? The idea is that it would actually be quite simple. Consumers like you and I would be able to download a piece of software in which we could sketch the chocolate design of our dreams. Once we had created our sweet masterpiece, we would press a button to deliver our design specs to a chocolate machine that would reside in a chocolate shop. The machine would make our chocolate-y dreams a reality, and we would go pick it up shortly thereafter, ready to gift or enjoy ourselves!

So why chocolate? Everson elaborates to include that this is a safe way to get people interacting with the technology, saying, “Chocolate is a very easy place to explore how that might happen because chocolate isn’t a safety critical system in any way. We wouldn’t want people designing airplanes online, but of course, chocolate, if it goes horribly wrong, then all you have is a mess of chocolate…” Mmmm…a mess of chocolate. Sounds like this plan is good no matter what happens!

If the chocolate printer becomes a reality at your local chocolate shop, what will your first custom creation be? I think ours would be a chocolate rendition of Captain Candy, Blair Candy’s resident superhero! But we’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Host a 4th of July Backyard Bazaar for Kids and Adults Alike!

If you’ve spent any amount of time around children, you know that one of their most charming traits is having a creative and active imagination. They can dream up complex stories from scratch, create imaginary worlds with the help of random objects laying about the house, and find new and inventive ways to have fun with even the most limited of resources. After all, kids don’t have jobs and don’t drive, so they have to make do with what they’ve got! And make do with what we’ve got is exactly what the kids in my neighborhood and I did when we put together our first summer bazaar many years ago.

I’m not sure if I realized it at the time, but I was a very lucky kid. My parents weren’t overly-strict, my neighborhood was safe, and I had plenty of kids to play with in surrounding houses. As such, I had the freedom to float through my summer days, riding my bike here, swimming in a pool there, and just generally enjoying myself in a way that I would love to relive for a few days as an adult! My neighbor friends and I would often gather on my front porch as ours was the biggest, and we would play classic kids games like Jacks and Truth or Dare. But just as all kids do, we would also get bored. And when we got bored, we got creative! In fact, it was this boredom that brought about the first of many backyard bazaars.

I’m not sure if bazaars are the same all over the country, so I’ll clarify as to what bazaars are in the Blair Candy neck of the woods! A bazaar is a local outdoor event, typically held in the summer, that is hosted by a Church or non-profit organization. The event is designed to bring the community together for some fun while raising money for the Church or non-profit. Bazaar highlights include fair-style foods, like snow cones and pierogies, live music from local musicians, craft stands with unique offerings, and importantly…games! These games are typically very cheap, about a quarter per play, with prizes ranging from candy to handcrafted quilts. In many cases, everyone wins at least something small, while one person takes something a bit bigger. That something small is almost always candy – Dum Dums and Tootsie Frooties are popular – so there’s no crying kids (or adults!) walking away empty-handed.

The beauty of bazaars is that they are an awesomely-affordable good time, and the smaller bazaars can be just as fun as the larger ones. With this in mind, the neighborhood kids and I decided to try our hand at creating a bazaar just for us, and it was nearly-free and a whole lot of fun. Want to try it with your kids? There’s no time like the long 4th of July Weekend! The ideas outlined below were those we used in our backyard bazaars years ago, but the rules are only limited by your own imagination. Tip: Ask your kids for their ideas, too. They’ll definitely have good ones! :)

Backyard Bazaar Ideas

Plastic Kiddie Pool – Almost everyone has one of those tiny blue kiddie pools or knows someone who does. But you may not have ever used it for a ring toss! For our backyard bazaar, we filled the pool about 1/3 of the way with water and set some rubber ducks to float. We then found some weighted plastic rings (these were a pool toy for a larger pool) and those became the tossing rings. The goal was to get as many rings as possible around the floating rubber ducks! This game can easily be modified with whatever you’ve got on hand, and is a fun game for adults as well.

Set Up Some Tunes – If your children have instruments of their own, even if they are of the plastic toy variety, book them for your backyard bazaar! They’re sure to love being center stage as they perform whatever songs they like best. And don’t forget to pay them for the gig. Most kids will be willing to work for peanuts, but Bubble Gum Candy Coins make the deal seem more real!

Find Your Prizes – This part is not only fun, but it can help you cut down on some clutter, too. While it’s a good idea to stock up on some penny candy for the little prizes, you can ‘go shopping’ for the other prizes right at home…and we aren’t talking about shopping online! As I mentioned above, as kids we had to work with what we had. So we each went to our respective homes and looked around for trinkets and little whatnots we no longer wanted or needed, such as stuffed animals won in crane machines and puzzles we had already put together a dozen times. Once we had approval from our parents to offer these items up into the prize pool, we set out to play games to win them. These included the Ring Toss mentioned above, as well as simpler games, like Hot Potato. After hours of fun, we all got to walk away with someone else’s unwanted toys that were now our treasures!

Wishing you all a Safe and Happy 4th of July full of fireworks, fun, and perhaps something a bit bazaar!

Sweet Fashions that Look Good Enough to Nibble!

At BlairCandy.com, we eat, sleep and breathe candy – it isn’t only on Christmas Eve that we have visions of sweet treats dancing through our dreams! But for as many marvelous creations as we’ve enjoyed over the years, the times that we have worn candy are few and far between. Sure, we’ve all donned candy necklaces and Ring Pops at least ten times more often than most adults, but our clothing very rarely has a candy motif. We aren’t sure if this is because we get so much of the real stuff at work, or because candy-themed clothing is a newer trend on the scene. But whichever is the case, we’re excited to say we’re seeing it pop up more and more, which can only mean that more people are starting to see what we have been saying all along – candy is cute…and cool…and quite simply, fun to look at!

Want to up the sweetness of your own style? We’ve put together a short list of some of our candy fashion favorites. Hope you find something you love!

Sugar Skull Tee from Shirt.Woot.com – If you aren’t familiar with Shirt.Woot.com, a tee-focused division of the wildly popular deal-a-day site Woot.com, you’re about to click your way to a new addiction! Each day Shirt.Woot.com features a new tee designed by creative peeps from all over the world, and for 24 hours you have the opportunity to make that tee your own for just $10, with free shipping. After that, if the tee remains popular enough, you will be able to purchase it for $15, with free shipping. Still a great deal, but not as great as $10! And $10 is exactly what you’ll pay if you make your way to Shirt.Woot.com right now and nab yourself today’s delicious design – Sugar Skull. A candy-themed play on a traditional skull tattoo, this fun and fresh design features graphics inspired by candy canes, Starlight Mints, Peeps, and a big, blingy Ring Pop! We’ve liked a lot of Woot! Shirts in our day, but this one is very high on the list of loves!

Candy Dots Knee High Socks – Wish you could treat your feet to something sweet? With these cool and colorful Dots socks you can! Aqua and white stripes set the foundation for a fabulous pair of novelty socks that show the world you love Dots candy from the tip-top of your head down to your toes!

Rainbow Nonpareils Necklace – Do you want to let the world know that while you’re a softie for something sweet, you’ve got a tough side, too? There’s no better way to do just that than wearing this cool and colorful ‘candy knuckles’ necklace. Who needs brass knuckles when there’s lightweight candy knuckles? Certainly not me! Be sure to check out some of the other sweet pieces in the Black Swan Accessories Etsy Shop for matching earrings and rings, among other things!

Know of any other candy fashions you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about them! Please leave a comment below so we can share the sweetness with all our readers. :)

Gloating About Gumballs!

We had the pleasure recently of connecting with the Gumball Machines blog, where they pay homage to the wonder and often eclectic world of vintage gumball machines. The blog is filled with photos of gumball machines to tickle every fancy, from Hello Kitty gumball machines to gumball machines that are larger than life!

Gumball Machines

We hope you’ll fill your gumball dreams and visit the Gumball Machines blog!

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