The first thing I need to point out here is that I didn’t discover Raley’s on my own. Rather, I read a fantastic review by Cybele over at the Candy Blog. If you don’t read her site, you should. Whereas we’re charming, juvenile and occasionally funny, Cybele is witty, informative, and definitely knows her shit. She’s like Paul Newman and we’re like Paul Rudd. Or even Pauly Shore.
Hard candy is a tough thing to sell, let a lone make. Sure, Cybele likes it and I’m a huge fan, but even my damn Candy Gurus partner WHO SHALL REMAIN UNNAMED isn’t a huge hard candy fan. If not us, who? Or whom?
After I read Cybele’s review, I contacted Wes at Raley’s and he kindly sent me a few bags to check out. First, blueberry:
I love the design, especially how it contrasts with the blue siding. Does the look of candy matter to you? It does to me–in fact, it’s a significant part of the experience. Candy is color-at least in my opinion, it’s supposed to be. That’s the whole basis of wonder for children, as they gaze at the many offerings in the candy shop : the variety of textures and colors are overwhelming, in the best way.
How about these? These are the “Emoticandy” pack: all the designs are based on computer emoticons.
How excellent is grinning dude on the right?
A small aside, and I shit you not, this is true: at least 5 years ago, Matty and I invented a new art form: “Emoticart”. The concept was to convey a thought or feeling through the use of three emoticons. Try it. It never took off like it deserved to, but that’s how we like things: small victories with pay or notoriety.
Finally, I got the Variety mix, which is a random mix of all of Raley’s flavors.
Call me old fashioned, but how can you NOT want to eat these? What kind of monster must one be not to love this?
I hear ya. Yes, that’s true. A lot of hard candies, while looking cute, taste like meh. I can’t argue with you there. In fact, I bet a lot of cut rock hard candies like these taste weak.
But not these. At all.
Let’s get something straight: These are hand made from start to finish. Also, Raley’s uses all natural everything, down to free trade sugar. Vegan. Gluten free. All natural flavors and colors. And all of that comes through in the taste. What we get are authentic, rounded, delicious interpretations of all of the amazing fruit in the world.
Also peppered into my two mixes was a cinnamon, which was fantastic. I had one cappuccino, which honestly wasn’t my favorite, but then again, I’m not a huge coffee candy guy.
The strength here (to this guy) is their vast array of fruit flavors. They sell everything from guava, mango, lime, strawberry, pomegranate, to banana (excellent), grapefruit, etc. Here’s the best part: Raley’s gets the concept of contrasting flavors, so all of their candies (fruit based) that I tried had an outstanding tart edge and finish to them, thanks to our buddy citric acid. This makes a HUGE difference for me. It takes a standard tasting yummy hard candy to the next level-and makes them impossible for me to stop eating.
So here’s the deal : I love these. I’m buying a bunch of bags today to keep, and to give away as gifts. Coincidentally, Wes is having a fantastic sale going on now through Labor day : Free shipping on any 3 bags. Are you gonna get Root Beer, Kiwi, and Lemon? Or the Acid Drops, Blackberry, and Variety? Why limit yourself? Get it all.
Click the link below to support a great American candy company. Best part though, the candy is this Editor’s choice of the month. Enjoy, and let me know which flavors turn out to be your faves.