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Sweet Memories

Candy Canes, Popcorn Balls, Christmas Trees, Magic and Memories

I am a ‘stuff’ person. There is a very real part of me that envies neat people who seemingly have no use for stuff. Their houses are always so open and spacious; they never have to slide anything out of the way before putting grocery bags on the counter. To visit homes like these is a treat for a few hours or even days – to take in all the room and see how easy it is for them to maintain a clean table or sweep the kitchen floor. But I will never be one of these people, and for the most part, I’m OK with that.

Sure, it takes me 20 minutes to move all my things off the bathroom vanity so I can wipe it down, but those candles and lotions and knickknacks are more important to me than the blank space they take up could ever be. I’m simply a stuff person and I was raised by stuff people and I feel blessed that I now have much of their stuff to remember so many good times by. The stuff I’m feeling most lucky to have right now is Christmas ornaments.

My mother’s collection of Christmas ornaments reads like a diary of her life. There are handmade ornaments she was gifted from crafty work friends and family members, ornaments honoring my and my siblings’ births, ornaments we made as children in school, ornaments from our first trip to Disney World and every trip thereafter. And many, many more. Each year, when decorating the Christmas tree, we would first string up the lights, then between the rows of lights hang the red beads, then get to unwrapping each of the ornaments. Once all the ornaments had been hung, it was time to fill in any space (of which there was little!) with shiny Christmas balls. Then, as if it simply wasn’t enough, we got about the very important business of hanging popcorn balls and candy canes. And while all the ornaments stayed just where they were until the time came to take the tree down, the popcorn balls and candy canes always disappeared almost as quickly as they could be hung!

When I was young, the only candy canes you’d find were peppermint candy canes. Perhaps there were other flavors, but I don’t remember them if there were. And to this day, peppermint candy canes are the ones I most often choose to decorate my Christmas tree. I love the look, I love the colors, and I love sneaking them off the tree to eat them just as much as I ever did! My appetite for popcorn balls hasn’t wavered a bit, either, and while the packaging may have changed, the taste thankfully hasn’t. Each year I go about the business of hanging at least 15 Humphrey’s popcorn balls on the tree, each with a smiling Santa on the wrapper. And each year if I turn my back on my husband for one minute, 15 popcorn balls becomes 14! We won’t even get into how many candy cane wrappers can be found next to his chair.

But that’s more than alright by me as it speaks to the power of the season. No matter how serious or busy or overwhelmed we may be in our day-to-day lives, there’s something oh-so-special about coming home to a tree right in our own living room – a tree full of glimmering lights, shiny beads, priceless ornaments, and the perfect snacks. Even if I have to replace those candy canes and popcorn balls a dozen times before Christmas, I stand by my belief that the ones picked from the tree taste better than the ones in the bowl. I think Christmas trees just might be a bit magical, or perhaps, more than a bit.

Reminiscing on Christmas Past with Christmas Candy

Growing up, the holidays were one of my favorite times of the year! In my childhood home the holidays were centered on family, friends, presents, food, and did I mention presents? Now that I’m older I love to look back on those cherished Christmas memories and think about the tasty candy treats my family would always have during the holiday season!Christmas Advent Calendar

- You always knew Christmas was on its way when my mother started merrily placing glass candy dishes filled with old fashioned hard candy around the house. I loved grabbing a few candies to keep in my pocket!

- Every Christmas, until I was well into my 20’s, we would kick off December by opening the first door on our Christmas Advent Calendars. Nothing was more exciting as a child than the promise of a delicious piece of chocolate everyday, while anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus!

- The Christmas season was never complete until after we made our annual gingerbread house. Decorated with M&Ms, gum drops, and other mouth watering goodies, our gingerbread houses were almost too good to eat!

Candy Canes- Decorating the tree was a fun filled celebration! My father would string the lights while my mother and I would prepare the ornaments and decorations. Not a year went by when we didn’t decorate the Christmas tree with candy canes! I remember trying to hang a candy cane from every single branch!

- Dark Chocolate Covered Thin Mints were a Christmas staple! We would always have a few boxes lying around the house to give as gifts, but more often than not we would keep some boxes to enjoy for ourselves!

- My ginormous Christmas stocking was always hung from staircase with care, and I knew that good old Saint Nicholas had rounded out the bottom of every stocking with popcorn balls!

I bet you also have some sweet Christmas memories from when you were a child! Share them with us by leaving a comment with your favorite Christmas memory.

Burgi’s Low-Life Riders Make Things Sweeter for Some of Our Littlest Neighbors

If you live in or near Altoona, PA, home to Blair Candy, chances are good you might be familiar with a group of heart-of-gold bikers that call themselves Burgi’s Low-Life Riders. Looking at their ‘About’ section on Facebook, we get a bit of a background on how they and all they do today came to be. Initially a bunch of people with a common interest, they would get together for group rides in the name of a good time. And while there is certainly nothing wrong with riding for riding’s sake, they decided to kick things up a notch and turn these group rides into charity rides.

Initially their charity rides supported the Railroaders Memorial Museum of Altoona, an institution near and dear to many in our area. But after a few years they “decided to move their mission forward and help support children of central Pennsylvania stricken with serious or debilitating illnesses.” Yeah – they’re basically awesome people doing awesome things for awesome kids. And here at Blair Candy, we get a front-row seat to their rides thanks to our big parking lot!

For the past several years Burgi’s Low-Life Riders have used our parking lot as the starting point for their charity rides. In getting a ride underway, they first find 2 kids in our area whose families could benefit from some help with medical expenses stemming from their treatment. Then, with the help of other caring members of the community, they set out to make their cause more visible by hitting the road riding.

If you would like to be a part of Burgi’s Low-Life Riders next charity ride, please check out their Facebook for more information. And if you would like to donate but can’t attend the ride, please inquire on their Facebook as well for the best way to do so! We also hope you’ll check out the Blair Candy Facebook page for some photos from the last ride. It really is a wonderful thing they’re doing, and we’re happy to be a part of it.

Celebrate The Sweetness of Love With A Sweets-Filled Anniversary

One of our favorite quotes that always brings a smile to our faces here at Blair Candy is Sandra J. Dykes famous words: “Forget love – I’d rather fall in chocolate!” Yet, for those fortunate enough to be together after 10, 15, 25 – even 50 years of marriage, we say, why not fall in love with your partner – and with chocolate, all over again? Celebrating milestone wedding anniversaries is so special, and whether you’re surprising your loved one with a special day or you’re a friend or family member planning the festivities for that lovely couple in your life, celebrate the sweetness of love by having a sweets-filled anniversary party!

10th / 15th Wedding Anniversaries

The two of you grew up in the age of Teenage Mutant Turtles and Michael Jackson, so celebrate these milestone anniversary years with an echo of your youth with Candy From the 80s –Wonka Runts, Gummi Bears, and Nerds Rope. Tin is traditionally gifted on a 10th anniversary, so fill a tin with your loved one’s favorite candy and treats. Celebrating a 15th anniversary? Choose crystal, such as a pretty crystal figurine or necklace.

25th Wedding Anniversary

Marriage may have its ups and downs, but after 25 years of marriage, you both know your life is as everlasting as our favorite gobstoppers! You both likely remember the 1970s pretty well, with 70s Candy like Ring Pops and Charms Blow Pops being pretty fond in your memories. Silver is traditionally given as a 25th wedding anniversary gift, so choose a pretty silver box, and fill it with a Ring Pop. Then, propose to her all over again – in a fun, whimsical way that she won’t forget for the next 25 years!

35th Wedding Anniversary

Did you and your love grow up in the time of popping a delish Rolo in your mouth while listening to The Beatles? Gifting Candy From the 60s is a neat way to celebrate a 35th wedding anniversary. Coral is the traditional 35th wedding anniversary gift, but we have a more scrumptious variation – gift coral, but with a bag of Swedish Fish included!

50th Wedding Anniversary

Oscar Wilde wonderfully said “Who, being loved, is poor?”, which must explain why gifts of gold are typically given for a 50th wedding anniversary! 50th wedding anniversaries are major life achievements and should certainly be celebrated with friends and family. Set out a candy buffet that would rival any modern day candy buffet, with candy from when you both grew up, such as 50s Candy – One Hundred Grand Candy Bars, Hot Tamales, and Satellite Wafers!

Did you just celebrate a milestone wedding anniversary, or did a lovely couple in your life just celebrate one? Tell us how you celebrated it!

Making That Birthday Gift Box So Much Sweeter

We’ve been making lots of candy-coated changes here at Blair Candy over the last few months, including moving soon into our brand new candy warehouse. We’ve just debuted another “new” – our Candy By Decades section on our website! We say with pride and affection that we’re pretty nuts about candy, and we’ve long been in wonderment on the different types of sweets that have blossomed from various decades over the last century. Doesn’t it just make sense that Fun Dip debuted in the same decade as when we needed a little “carefree” in our lives post-WWII?

We found ourselves chatting with many a customer on candy gift ideas, including offering up gift suggestions that relate to the gift recipient’s birth year or the decade they grew up in, so we figured, hey, why not make it easy and create a category of candy from each decade? A great birthday gift idea is to pair candy from the decade they were born or grew up in with a small gift that fits into that decade, as well! We put our heads together and came up with some awesome ideas for you:

  • Candy From The 20s: Pair some Caramel Creams, Chiclets, and Clark Bars with Betty Boop memorabilia, a typewriter key bracelet, or a Babe Ruth figurine.
  • Candy From The 30s: Combine delish Candy Buttons, PayDay bars, and Snickers with a so retro “tick tock” cat clock, Fedora hat, or a sleek cocktail shaker.
  • Candy From The 40s: Wrap up Junior Mints, Bazooka bubble gum, and Fun Dip in a package with a vintage pin-up girl poster, WWII coin collection, and a pack of Coca-Cola in the original Coke “bottle” look.
  • Candy From The 50s: Put a bow on a gift of Candy necklaces, Dum Dum lollipops, and Satellite Wafers by pairing it with a whimsical Gumby and Pokey set, Silly Putty, and a retro apron.
  • Candy From The 60s: Reflect on one fun decade by combining a gift of Gummy Swedish Fish, Fruit Stripe Gum, and Twizzlers with a tie-dyed shirt, Beatles poster, and a space shuttle figurine.
  • Candy From The 70s: Break that disco ball out and give a gift of PopRocks, Laffy Taffy, and Bubble Yum, along with a disco ball keychain, lava lamp, or anything with “groovy” written on it!
  • Candy From The 80s: Celebrate this neon-hued decade with a gift of Gummy Bears, Runts, and Nerds, paired with a so-fun Atari video game, Pac-Man wind-up toys, and a Rubik’s cube.

These are just a few ideas that our sugar-filled team came up with – what are some Candy By Decade candy and gift pairings that you’ve gifted or would love to gift?

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. :)

BlairCandy.com is Celebrating Its 12th Birthday in 2012!

Do you recognize that logo in the image above? You just might if you’ve been shopping with us since the beginning at BlairCandy.com! We took a little trip through the Wayback Machine at Archive.org to take a nostalgic peek at what BlairCandy.com looked like back when George W. Bush was taking his first crack at the whole President thing, Train was filling the radio airwaves with “Drops of Jupiter” and we were all getting comfortable with being among those that got the opportunity to live in a new millenium! Yes, the year was 2001, and BlairCandy.com was celebrating it’s first birthday. Needless to say, there were oh-so-stuffed goodie bags full of candy at the party!

While our brick and mortar store here in Altoona, PA has been selling sweet treats for 73 years, and certainly isn’t about to retire, our online store hasn’t quite hit its teenage years just yet. In the world of online stores, 12 is actually pretty mature, although you might not recognize that maturity if you were at the office during one of the many practical jokes we play on one another! But when the time comes to get down to business, we set the jokes aside for a bit. We’re always learning, changing and evolving to better serve you, and aren’t afraid to mix things up in the quest to create the best buying experience for our customers. That experience includes bringing you tried-and-true tasty treats at pocket-friendly prices, new products that just might become old favorites, and creating an easy-to-navigate site that lets you find what you’re looking for fast while also being easy on the eyes! We see lots of ugly sites out there, and we don’t ever want to be one of them. J

To celebrate our 12th year online, we’re having a virtual party, and you’re all invited! Keep an eye on the Blair Candy Twitter, Blair Candy Facebook and Blair Candy emails for more information on superior sales and fun contests. We may have sprouted a few more gray hairs around here since we opened our online doors in the year 2000, but we still know how to have a good time!

Nostalgic Gum – Sticks of Memories

Just like so many of you, I include candy as a major memory trigger for me, whether the memory involves the candy itself or is generally representative of a point in time. But it isn’t candy alone that occupies the sweet spectrum of my mind – there’s enough gum in there as well to make my 4th grade teacher give me detention!

It never fails to surprise me how quickly and vividly recollections of the past swim over me when I really think about a specific candy or gum. Sure, I see them all the time, but so often we are rather oblivious to our surroundings. In the name of being more present and conscious, I will share the memories that come to mind when I think about 2 favorite nostalgic gums. I hope my memories spark some of your own, and that you’ll share with us all in the comments! :)

Fruit Stripe Gum – I enjoyed a pack of Fruit Stripe gum recently, and am happy to report that it tastes the same as it did years ago. It has the same powdery finish, the familiar colored stripes, and while I’m not positive it had “Yipes In Action” tattoos on the wrappers in the past, it certainly does now! And of course there is the adorable Fruit Stripe Zebra, playing soccer as zebras so often do! But what has changed is the packaging itself. When I was a youngster Fruit Stripe gum came in a tin, much like past containers of Band-Aids. And while the gum was a tasty treat, deciding what to do with the tin upon the gum’s completion was a fiesta of fun! It often held change, though it was no stranger to ChapStick and Bonne Bell Lip Smackers. And I can’t forget the notes passed in class! Oh yes, saved notes were perfect for the Fruit Stripe gum tins, and the bonus was that spending enough time in the tin made them smell ever-so-faintly fruity.

Freedent Gum – Freedent gum reminds me of my Gram. She had false teeth, and Freedent was her gum of choice as it didn’t stick to her teeth, and it had a fresh, minty flavor. My Gram only ever chewed a half stick of gum at a time, and kept her gum in the cabinet above the microwave, near the drinking glasses. Her glasses were stored on a Lazy Susan, and I would always spin them slowly for several minutes before choosing which I’d use that day. She had been to visit a lot of places over the years, and I think she bought a glass everywhere she went. Finding the perfect one took some time! Once I’d picked my glass, I would fill it with ice cubes and Ginger Ale – Gram always had Ginger Ale – and then I’d nonchalantly ask if I could have a piece of Freedent (as if I didn’t ask every time!). Gram was always generous with whatever she had, and her favorite gum was no exception. But while we both enjoyed Freedent, unlike her I liked to chew a lot of gum at once, so I would chew the half-piece that was almost always there along with a full piece for the perfect amount!

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!

Consider a Candycation This Summer!

While we don’t typically have candy bars on the brain while the temperature outside climbs into the 90’s, what we do have on the brain is summer fun in the sun! And one of our favorite places to visit on these warm and wonderful days is Hersheypark in Hershey, PA. As fellow Pennsylvanians, we’ve made quite a few trips to this park over the years, and can honestly say it’s one of the best there is. (For the record, Pennsylvania amusement parks Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom and Knoebels Amusement Resort are awesome, too!) If you’ve never been to Hersheypark, we recommend making a two-day trip of it if you can, as there is quite a bit to check out and enjoy.

We usually begin our Hershey adventure at Hershey’s Chocolate World, where you can take the mouth-watering Chocolate Tour Ride. You get a fun and informative peek inside the making of Hershey’s candy, and the ride is filled with the rich aroma of sweet, spectacular chocolate. The ride is slow-moving and appropriate for all ages, making a family-friendly treat everyone is sure to love! After you’ve taken the tour, you can see all the other fun that Chocolate World has to offer, or you can step outside to line up for the rides at Hersheypark, which include Kiddie Rides, Water Rides, and my favorite rides of all – roller coasters! Hersheypark boasts quite an impressive lineup of coasters, with my top 2 residing in the Comet Hollow area of the park – the Sooperdooperlooper and the Comet. The Sidewinder is also a uniquely thrilling coaster, and resides in the Pioneer Frontier section of the park with 3 other coasters.

As fantastic as candy and coasters are, Hershey and Hersheypark offer lots of other exciting things to do, including ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park, and tons of shows and Summer Concerts. Need a little relaxation after all the rides? You can always literally slather yourself in chocolate at The Chocolate Spa! The Spa At The Hotel Hershey brings an unforgettable experience, with luxuriously decadent treatments that include a Whipped Cocoa Bath and Chocolate Fondue Wrap. This is definitely the place that “Mmmm” meets “Ahhh!”

We hope that if you give Hershey a visit you’ll enjoy your time there as much as we always do! We also hope that as long as you’re in Pennsylvania, you’ll take a swing by our brick-and-mortar Blair Candy in Altoona, PA – about 2 ½ hrs. from Hersheypark. We’ll have plenty of the Hershey’s summer-friendly favorite – Twizzlers – in stock and ready to enjoy!

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