Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween! and IHR reminder

Happy Halloween to all! We hope you have an awesome costume, whether it’s for you or for any young trick-or-treaters who live in your house :-)

Tomorrow afternoon, all Seattle area folks are invited to haul their candy hangovers down to the I Heart Rummage indie craft show : “The Best in Hangover Shopping”!

This Charming Candy will be there, along with 40 other independent artists, for Seattle’s longest running cutting edge urban craft experience

ihr-btn-sm

  • 12-4pm
  • Chop Suey
  • 1325 E. Madison, Seattle, WA

Chop Suey - 1325 E. Madison

We hope to see you there!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hockey Friday: Why Hockey Is Charming

Now that we're a few weeks into hockey season, Susan and I would like to introduce a non-candy feature: Hockey Friday. We're both hockey fans and we both think it's pretty charming. Why is hockey charming, you ask? Well, we reply:
  • The game moves faster than most and the skill level the athletes show is a combination of grace and strength and speed that takes our collective breath away.
  • Neither of us can get over how much work it takes to balance on ice on just a thin piece of metal, let alone pass and shoot a puck. Maybe this is just restating the first point, but let me reiterate: talented athletes.
  • Playoff beards can transform the most ordinary looking players into gentlemen (Joe Thornton and Scott Niedermayer, I'm looking at you).
  • The decorated goalie masks are pretty awesome.
  • Pee-Wee hockey is adorable.
  • Hockey players do a good job taking care of their own. Sidney Crosby was taken in by the Lemieux family when he started playing for Pittsburgh, and that's not an uncommon story in the NHL.
Those are just some of the reasons that we like hockey and will be posting about it once a week for the NHL season.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Importance of Taste-Testers, Part 2

One of the least-liked flavors in the tasting party, faring even worse than either of the ginger ones, was Jasmine. Even the nicest comments it received were not exactly raves:

“grows on me”

“strangely good, like drinking tea”

But most comments ran along the lines of:

“too sugary - needs more flavor”

“buttery/not fully balanced”

“funny taste, not horrible, but not good”

Despite this initial disappointment, I still believed that jasmine held potential to be a good candy flavor. After all, I’ve enjoyed floral flavored ice creams, and my husband likes to nibble on tropical flowers when he can get his hands on ‘em (you should have seen him in Hawaii!).

These comments challenged me to find a flavor to pair with the jasmine to give it a little more body and balance while not competing with its pretty fragrance. Eventually I hit up on the idea of using honey flavor, and the response from testers has been very positive! Both components are shown off to their best advantage and neither overwhelms the other.

It shows me that even a nearly-universally deplored flavor might just need a little patience and creativity to turn it into something special. Look for Jasmine-Honey to be released in the not-too-distant future!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Please Reuse Your Boxes!

By now, many of you have gotten your first order of lollipops shipped to you in our lovely boxes. Our lovely cardboard boxes that you are hopefully recycling. May we also suggest that you reuse yours? Once they're done holding your lollipops, they can be used for a myriad of things, including (but certainly not limited to):
  • Hold your pens, pencils, and scissors
  • Create a sewing kit to take care of any hems that need mending or buttons that need replacing
  • Keep your baseball card collection someplace safe
  • Ship a charming gift to someone you love
  • Store your blank thank you cards so you have plenty on hand when someone sends you a charming gift
  • Create an inexpensive rolodex: store those business cards you collect
  • Keep all those hair accessories handy!
Do you have other ideas? Share them in the comments!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Importance of Taste Testers, Part 1

We really want to make candy that tastes good. As you might expect, I make and test taste a lot of hard candy at home… but I rely on Kate and various other friends to taste and give feedback.

Back in July, we held a tasting party that featured about 30 flavors. Several of our friends had previously expressed interest in ginger flavors. I had tested ginger by itself and found it too strong, so I tried some blends. We were excited to see how our blueberry-ginger and ginger-lime flavors would be received. Some people liked them, but overall the ginger flavors bombed. Feedback included:

"too strong. A little medicinal"

"really like the ginger, but it has an odd (nasty?) side note"

"too spicy! (not hot - just too much flavor)"

"eww eww eww eww"

"dishsoap w/ burn"

Yowch! Is there any hope for ginger? Someday we’ll find the right flavor partner and a good proportion of ginger-other, and we will sell a ginger-based lollipop.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I Heart Indie

We're in! This Charming Candy was accepted to the I Heart Rummage craft fair on November 1st. This will be our first one. Anyone have any craft fair tips...?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We Need Your Opinion: Custom Messages

One of the things that Susan and I want to offer is custom messages for your lollipops. This was something she loved to do when lollipop making was her hobby. She'd put labels on the lollies that said "Grad School Sucks" or "Turning 30 Doesn't Suck". We've also had a couple of requests for it since we launched the store, to say Congratulations or Happy Halloween or Happy Birthday or whatever. We want you to be able to do that. So we're trying to work out how to get it done.

However, we need you to tell us something first: Where do you want the message? The lollies are now shipped six per bag, and that bag has a label on it. We could put the custom message on the lollipop label or we could put it on the bag label. Both options have pros and cons, but since you'll be buying it, what we really want to know is: where do you want it?

Let us know in the comments. Thanks for your help!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thanks!

We've been so swamped with everything that posting has been light this last week. It turns out that when you launch a new business, there's a lot of work to do! Did you know that? I wanted to take five minutes to breathe and give a huge thank you to everyone who helped us get this far.

I especially wanted to call out two people in particular - Kevin & Justine. Kevin Keeker, whose name you see on every post with a photo, has taken all of our product pictures. Justine Kamionsky has done all of our fabulous design including our logo at the top of the page. They have donated all of this time out of the goodness of their hearts and without them our site would be a lot less charming. Thanks you guys!

Other folks we need to thank are: Kim McCrea Wilton of Pepo Park has shared lots of useful tips and resources along the way. And Susan often moisturises her poor battered hands with Pepo Park's No More Rough Patches emollient salve after a long day in the kitchen. Jeanine Giles Larson not only got Susan started on this whole lollipop thing, but was our very first order on Etsy! Susan Selser gave us fabulous legal and accounting advice, and Anthony Hand has been a font of information about how to start your own business for the first time.

We'd be especially remiss if we didn't thank our husbands for all their love and support over the last few months.

And thanks to everyone else who's supported us, cheered us on, taste-tested our lollipops, and/or bought something from us in our first few days. You're awesome! We love you!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Charm School Dropouts

You’ll be shocked – shocked! – to hear this, but our lollipops aren’t always absolutely perfect. Sometimes we pour too much liquid sugar into the mold. Sometimes air bubbles sneak in. And sometimes, they get these weird pointy things sticking out of the side. For whatever reason, they just don’t make the cut.

You know what? They still taste really, really good. So, whenever we get six of them, whatever the flavors, we’ll put them into a bag and offer them up at a discounted price.

Buy some today at our Etsy store!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Pomegranate

Susan’s mother-in-law never let her husband eat pomegranates inside when he was a child, because he wound up staining everything in sight. As adults, who hasn’t enjoyed a red cocktail flavored with grenadine?

Pomegranate was one of the first flavors Susan worked with, and it’s a long-standing favorite with our faithful taste-testing friends. It ranked second at our tasting party.

You can find Pomegranate in a single-flavor twelve pack or as part of the Fruit Basket collection in our Etsy store.

photo by Kevin Keeker

Friday, October 9, 2009

Mango

Mangos are a still-elusive fruit for many Americans. Almost everyone we know has a story about being handed a mango for the first time and not being quite sure what to do with it. Do you eat it whole? Cut it up? How do you get a knife through it? Or do you cook it? If so, how? Confusion reigns.

However, once you try one, you’re hooked! Susan’s grandmother was given a mango in her youth and had that confused reaction; however, once she tried it she found she loved it!

Mangos have a rich, sweet flavor that’s incomparable. It’s a flavor that makes a great lollipop. (My daughter likes mango lollipops so much, I once used that to get her to try mango ice cream.) It was the second-highest scoring fruit flavor at our tasting party, so you know it’s going to be good.

You can find Mango in a single-flavor twelve pack or as part of the Fruit Basket collection in our Etsy store.

photo by Kevin Keeker

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fruit Basket

Let’s talk about the Fruit Basket collection. There’s a reason that fruit-flavored candy is so popular: it’s delicious. People go wild for our slightly uncommon fruit flavors and blends – Pomegranate, Mango, and Coconut-Caramel. A hint of sourness keeps them from being too sweet. Pomegranate is a rich, ruby red, Mango is golden-peach, and Coconut-Caramel is creamy white. Perfect for anyone who enjoys dancing like Carmen Miranda.

Starting later today (!), you'll be able to buy the Fruit Basket at our Etsy store.

photo by Kevin Keeker

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Coconut-Caramel

Coconut-Caramel was born from a kitchen accident: the syrup got caramelized (aka overcooked) and we threw in some coconut to make it palatable. Everyone loved it and lo and behold, a new flavor was born! Now we make it using caramel and coconut flavor oils, so we don’t have to intentionally overcook anything.

Starting October 8th, they'll be for sale in our Etsy store... You can find Coconut-Caramel in a single-flavor twelve pack or as part of the Fruit Basket collection.

photo by Kevin Keeker

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tangerine-Clove

We’ve had a lot of fun incorporating spice flavors into lollipops. Clove’s wonderful richness pairs perfectly with citrus – remember the childhood air freshener where you put cloves into an orange?

Turns out that cloves work equally well with tangerines. The spice-flavored lollipops aren’t for everyone – they were polarizing at our tasting party – but this is one of our favorites! Once you try it, you’ll find yourself raving about Tangerine-Clove to everyone you run into. Maybe you’ll even need to buy 12 at a time so you have enough to share without regretting the ones you give away.

You can find Tangerine-Clove in a single-flavor twelve pack or as part of the Spice Rack collection. Starting October 8th, they'll be for sale in our Etsy store.

photo by Kevin Keeker

Monday, October 5, 2009

Salted Caramel

When my friend Sarah visited Seattle, I promised her we’d make lollipops together in whatever flavor she wanted to make. She suggested we try salted caramel lollipops. I was delighted because that flavor was already high on my list of things to experiment with.

We grabbed the sea salt and put a pinch in each mold. Some were big pinches and others were small - we really weren’t sure how much salt we needed. Some of that first batch was too salty, and I’ve enjoyed making many more iterations to find a good balance.

Of all the flavors we carry, it’s the most highly requested. Our friend Bay even calls them "a salty sweet addiction that is happily decriminalized." Well I certainly hope they are never classified as a controlled substance!

When it came time to create our themed lollipop collections, we stretched the definition of spice to include salt (it's technically a mineral) so you’ll find it in the Spice Rack or in a single-flavor twelve pack. Starting October 8th, they'll be for sale in our Etsy store... Bon app├ętit!

photo by Kevin Keeker

Friday, October 2, 2009

Vanilla-Cardamom

We’ve had a lot of fun incorporating spice flavors into lollipops, particularly the wonderfully fragrant cardamom. One thing that’s great about cardamom is its versatility – you can find it in Indian curries and in Scandinavian baked goods.

We combine it sparingly with vanilla, and the result is a well-rounded and complex taste that’s as pleasing as it is surprising. Spiced lollies aren’t for everyone (as I've mentioned, the spice blends were polarizing in our tasting party). But for those who like a zing of spice in their sweet? Vanilla-Cardamom is a real winner.

Starting October 8th, they'll be for sale in our Etsy store... Check it out in our Spice Rack collection or as its own twelve pack.

photo by Kevin Keeker

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Spice Rack Lollipops

We’re getting very close now to the launch of our Etsy store… so we wanted to preview our products for readers. We’ll post a new one every day. Tell us what you think!

Let’s talk about the Spice Rack collection. In the ancient world, spices could be traded for fine fabrics. Today, we love the complex balance of flavors and aromas in these silky lollipops. Tangerine-Clove, Vanilla-Cardamom, and Salted Caramel add mouthwatering depth to ordinary candy. Tangerine-Clove is warm orange, Vanilla-Cardamom is electric green, and Salted Caramel is a lovely pale gold. Perfect for anyone who likes sugar and spice -- and everything nice!

photo by Kevin Keeker