Friday, August 12, 2005 A.D.
Bleargh Survey: Candies We Love
This is a late update of sorts, particularly because it's supposed to be inspired by Willy Wonka and the movie has already been showing for more than a week. I plan to make this the first in what I hope will be a regular series (provided that I don't run out of interesting topics to cover).

It has often been said that the Filipino has a notoriously sweet tooth. Of course, it's a rather ironic term to use, as sweet teeth usually end up being extracted. With this, I like to revisit ten dentally destructive devils, which - having been around for some time - have given many a tooth to the tooth anito, and have as well made multi-generational diabetes a sad way of life for many Filipino families.

Selection was largely based on nostalgic value, with the consideration that the candies should be a throwback to a less sensitive age. Please note that the bigger brands have been omitted and most of these candies, therefore, are still being made in factories with probably no ISO or public health accreditation, and definitely without waterfalls and a workforce of singing little people.

Anyway, the list:

Nuts Caramel - All I could remember about this candy was its shape until I found a bag in the supermarket, and finding it was more difficult than can be imagined because I don't even have any recollection about a name... I just knew it as the peanut-shaped candy. The bag I got didn't look too fresh, but I couldn't care about the shape it was in because finding it was a big enough achievement for me.

This peanut-sized candy tastes like peanuts and caramel (surprise!). I do wonder why the guy who came up with the name didn't think up something more imaginative, like 'Caramel Nuts.' He must be a disciple of the what-you-see-is-what-you-get approach, or he can very well be a practicing pharmacist and 'Nuts Caramel' is something of a generic name for this type of candy. The caramel taste is a bit more on the milky side, which should be good news to most, except those who are lactose intolerant. It reminds me of a peanut butter sandwich dunked in milk, but sweeter (or course). Nuts Caramel is a bit soft to the bite, like moist candy, and bits of peanut can be felt if chewed thoroughly (almost like a softer, milkier version of peanut brittle). This cream-colored candy is ribbon-wrapped in yellow and brown wrapper with a picture of a happy peanut, which makes for an interesting philosophical question: what does happiness mean if one is a peanut? The answer, of course, is caramel.

At P19.50 for a bag of 50, it's priced rather cheap. There are no indications at all on the bag or on the wrapper as to what they have actually used to make the candy. It was then that I realized that 'Nuts Caramel' could have very well been the ingredient list. It could also work as a nickname that someone coined in the locker room, but that's another story.

Viva Caramel and Kendi Mint - I decided to discuss these two at the same time since they essentially have the same concept as well as the same manufacturer (being Candyman). These hard candies are hollow in the middle and have been filled with a sort of pasty chocolate.

Viva Caramel is essentially hard caramel-flavored candy wrapped around soft chocolate paste. The hard caramel has more of a buttery taste, while the soft inside has more of a rough cocoa taste to it. It has to be noted that the paste leaves a coarse sensation on the tongue. As a brand, it can work very well as a slogan (just don't forget the exclamation point at the end). The name brings images of the Mexican revolution, and I apologize for bringing up a piece of history that I know very little about. Viva Caramel!

Kendi Mint, on the other hand, has a hard outer shell of good old peppermint and a soft chocolate core. It's quite a good combination, really, like a reverse-logic peppermint patty (that is chocolate covered peppermint paste). The shell is somewhat fragile (like Viva Caramel), thanks to its hollow center. Again, the filling is of a grainy consistency (it must be made of the same stuff). The name, however, is rather blunt and could have been coined by an equally blunt speller who had too much kendi and not enough iodized salt as a kid.

Both candies are ribbon-wrapped, and as far as I can remember, their wrappers have remained the same ever since - Viva Caramel uses orange with black text, while Kendi Mint uses a dominantly green wrapper with red, white and black elements (I love the Eskimo). I read through the ingredients for both and was surprised that lard was listed among them. Then again, at only P23.25 each for a bag of 50 candies, we can't really expect them to use cold-pressed virgin coconut oil. I say, Viva Lard!

Lipps - The brand name can work in a porn flick title (Spread Those Lipps) or a pornstar screen name (Lisa Lipps). It's also the name of the group responsible for 'Funkytown,' but we'll always remember it as the strawberry candy that can cause magenta mouths. It's like merthiolate for the mouth (warning: merthiolate is not for the mouth; it contains mercury, and is therefore highly poisonous).

This hard candy has always tasted artificial to me, but that is beside the point, since I used to only eat this candy to color my tongue. I'm quite sure that many people purposely ate this candy only for that same effect, which makes me wonder why they named this candy 'Lipps' instead of 'Tongues' (maybe because it easier to exotically misspell 'lips'). This misnomer has probably led to many kids attempting to color their lips with Lipps (a difficult task when considering the limitations of the mouth), and many of those who did probably only dropped their candies in the attempt and cried to their yayas. On the other hand, those who succeeded probably ended up in the porn industry.

I remember Lipps having a white/magenta ribbon wrap while the current updated version uses a pillow pack that still has familiar Lipps flowing script under 'New Improved!' Too bad about this update, I think the old ribbon wrapper made for a good improvised kazoo. The update in the look is probably consistent with the update in ingredients, because the new version doesn't stain the mouth as much (we're only left with a deep pink shade). It's probably an update that the Storck company undertook in line with the market's growing concern over some forms of artificial coloring. There are a lot more mouth-coloring candies available now anyway, and with wilder colors, so Lipps has sort of been relegated to being a legitimate candy, offering other flavors in addition to the popular strawberry. Legitimate, in this case, means magenta-free and boring. At P22.25 for a bag of 50, it's not so bad for a boring candy.

Starr - The candy formerly known as Storck. This is the candy that grownups kept wanting to give to kids. These good-intentioned adults probably wanted to come up with a friendly gesture but could only dig up Storcks from their pockets (with a pack of cigarettes that they bought from the same yosi boy). Because eucalyptus menthol isn't a very kid-oriented flavor, this resulted in many severely disappointed children who spat out the candy almost instantly. Grownups would keep finding this reaction cute and amusing, not realizing that they had already given the kids long-healing emotional scars via their tender tongues. The children would keep trying them out every time they were given Storcks, slowly conditioning their mouths, until they would one day realize that the mentholated sensation didn't bother them anymore. This didn't mean that they started liking the taste, of course; it just meant that they were finally doing an adult candy and that was good enough.

Despite the name change, Starr pretty much still tastes and looks like the old Storck. Starr is a catchier name than Storck anyhow, which a certain Ringo Storck thought as well before he changed his name and sold bajillions of records with three other chaps whose names escape me (the new name didn't sustain him through a solo career though). As with the candy's new name, the old ribbon-wrapped packaging has also been updated (like Lipps above), to the pillow pack, but still retains the familiar black-over-green look (again, with 'New Improved! written). The picture of the bald bearded doctor is still there, albeit cartoonized. It doesn't look like Ringo... is this the actual Dr. Starr? I always thought that his name was Dr. Storck or something, but I've always known that he was German (I also know that eucalyptus is a carnivorous plant created by Nazi genetic engineers for the war effort and that its dried leaves can be used as legal tender in selected German cities).

Further research revealed that the reason behind the updated wrapper was more than aesthetic, as the ink used to print the old wrapper apparently had a high lead content. Americans have banned Storck imports into the US for a time (possibly the reason for the change in the brand name), citing that the wrapper contained lead levels 80 times of that which is considered humanly safe. Filipinos then collectively ate Storck candy and said to them, "You see, in the Philippines, we do not eat the wrapper."

Starr is priced at P22.25 for a lead-free bag of 50.

Goya Chocolate Coins - These are children's party fixtures. Until now, they still figure in a fair majority of loot bags given away at parties. I think that this is the same all over the world, because chocolate coins are something of a universal human symbol (coins are symbolic of material achievement, but like most things, coins taste better when made of chocolate).

The chocolate that Goya uses is creamy, but not melt-in-your-mouth creamy, and the taste is not as rich as that of imported brands. It's basically a disc of kid-friendly chocolate sandwiched between two sheets of golden foil. Curiously, the graphic that Goya has embossed on the coin has remained consistent (a portrait of a Gene Wilder-ish Willy Wonka-ish character, I think). There are other brands of coins available, but Goya is the only brand I'm familiar with among them.

Goya Chocolate coins figure in a lot of people's fond childhood memories, such as discovering that your stash had melted in your pockets or that unforgettable moment when you first chewed aluminum foil. 25 pieces will cost P27.50, an amount that you can easily earn back by keeping the foil wrappers, which are made of gold leaf, as everyone knows.

Curly Tops - These chocolate cups should be familiar to most. They've been around since the 60s, if I am to believe my mother (she'd never lie to me, I think). The rather mod box packaging is indeed a throwback to the 60s, and one can still make out the dots on the box that are indicative of old offset printing technology. As can be seen, the box top displays a weird white whorl that looks like a stylized P, probably implying that Curly Tops have cute curlicues, like Superman's and Billy Haley's hair.

It's funny that Comfoods, under the Ricoa brand, still markets these as 'Curly Tops' in tandem with the sleeker looking 'Flat Tops,' when they are in essence the same. My mom goes on to say that Curly Tops actually had curly tops once, and that the chocolate actually went higher than the yellow paper cups, looking like soft-serve ice cream with a bit of a mushroom cap (the un-updated box art shows this more or less). My mom also says that she used to walk to school when she was a kid, but most moms say these things, making for endearing guilt-trips.

As with the packaging, Curly Tops have also pretty much tasted the same ever since, with hints of milk powder. It also has a crumbly texture and melts like grainy butter in the mouth. The chocolate sticks to the palate, the tongue, the teeth and gums, and to the walls of the mouth, making the experience something of a director's cut. It's far from being a gourmet blend, but this affordable candy is what many of us have grown to love. Serg's chocolates, popular during the 90s (thanks to an annoying song), were actually very similar to Curly Tops (and Flat Tops) in both taste and texture.

Curly Tops are available in boxes of varying quantities, with a box of 24 costing P22.90.

Orange Swits - These are orange-flavored jellies that are molded into orange slices and coated in varying amounts of white sugar. It's a common favorite among many people, and for a period of time, was prominently stapled by yosi boys onto their vending boxes (with the requisite hanging bag of Storck). It has to be noted that this particular candy is particularly sweet. It boggles the mind how a single jelly weighing a few grams could seemingly contain a plantation's worth of sugar. Each slice just detonates in the mouth, leaving any surviving taste buds shell shocked. The texture is a bit rubbery, like jellies should be, but with something of a starchy feel. Despite being meant to be chewed, I found that I could only suck on the Orange Swit, fearing that chewing will only release more sugar.

I still stand by my theory that too much confectioner's sugar can lead to exotic brand name misspellings, but in the case of Orange Swits the spelling is quite accurate. You see, I found that after eating a pack, I could only pronounce the short I when attempting the long E because my tongue had apparently contracted inside my mouth. Furthermore, the sugar isn't limited to being inside the package, as the tacky texture of the plastic packaging can attest. I was tempted to lick the sticky film to find out if it was really sugar, but decided not to, in case the film was actually some other substance that disgruntled factory workers secrete.

These candies are still sold in packs of 4 slices, and boxes are available containing either 20 or 40 packs (I bought a pack of 20 for P46.50). Recently, individually packed Orange Swits have also become available. Curiously, the box I bought contained 2 extra orange-flavored candy drops with a generic name that escapes my mind (like Orange Swits isn't generic). Not only that, the box even contained extra granules of leftover sugar (I didn't lick the box either). Doctors claim that touching the empty box can make diabetics go into systemic shock.

Peter's Butter Ball - If Peter, whoever he is, was the one who thought this candy up, then he should be given a medal then sentenced to a firing squad to secure his legend before naming a public holiday after him. Despite the fact that most of you have eaten butter in its pure form, creating a candy after a shortener defies common logic (it's like making olive oil candy). Caramels are pretty commonplace, even butter-caramels, but butter flavored candy? Butter balls are like caramels for the lactose intolerant, skipping the unnecessary ingredients and going straight for the good stuff.

Butterball is a popular brand of turkey (it's also illogical to name a candy after a turkey). The interesting thing is that this candy actually tastes nothing like turkey, but like melted butter and sugar and nothing else. The candy dissolves slowly in the mouth, like a proper ball of hardened sugar should, without much of a buttery sensation. I can't imagine actual unaltered butter being used (despite being listed in the ingredients), as that easily goes rancid. In a way, it's disturbing how they can come up with butter flavoring this accurate. Is there a chemical breakdown for butter that allows them to write away the dairy portions and just use its very essence? What other substance in the world can approximate the taste of this beloved bovine byproduct? The answer is: I don't care. It's still more socially acceptable than sucking on a stick of butter.

Peter's Butter Ball still retains the familiar canary yellow pillow pack, and the name can be made out in small black text. The bag, containing 50 candies, features an illustration of what I think is an elf, who can very well be the mysterious Peter (even if Peter is not exactly an elfin name). It is priced at P24.00, which is more or less equal to the price of a slab of margarine. People are advised that a slice of bread wrapped around a Butterball isn't recommended breakfast fare, however tempting it is, and can possibly lead to choking.

ChocNut - Like banana ketchup before it, ChocNut is essentially a cheap Filipino third-world alternative to more expensive, often imported food products (in this case, chocolates). Unlike cubic zirconia though, it can fare quite well against the thing it's supposed to be replacing. And who doesn't know ChocNut? The supermarket shelf I got this from was stacked with over twelve different brands of ChocNut ripoffs. Furthermore, this candy is recently enjoying something of a revival, inspiring, among other things, ice cream and donut flavors. It is jolog chic for the foodie crowd, a candy that crosses over classes.

This candy is crumbly but moist - not chalky - and tends to get stuck in the throat like peanut butter. It tastes mostly like ground peanuts and sugar, and it's funny that it's being marketed as 'milk chocolate.' It is definitely more 'nut' than 'choc' and is a bit on the sweet side (which still qualifies as normal by Filipino standards). The bite-sized ten-gram bars are wrapped in silver foil with the familiar striped white label. A pack of 24 costs P24.75 (approximately P1.00 per candy).

Looking closer, there is a little crown drawn over the ChocNut logo, with 'KING' written inside it in capital letters. There's also a logo with something like 'Risman' written. Curiously, the manufacturer's name doesn't have either 'King' or 'Risman' in it. These are actually hints that the brash manufacturers dropped regarding one of the ancient world's biggest conspiracies. If one were to cross reference the Dead Sea Scrolls with the Rosetta Stone, it can be found that King Risman was an actual ruler of a nomadic race of hardcore purists called Molmellesians who settled near the border of Egypt and Indonesia in 2475 BC (this was before the land masses drifted apart). Molmellesians believed in the purity of experiencing the world, and all of their things were only composed of strictly singular components. Not long after he founded his dynasty, King Risman was deposed by a wandering priest-king named Gheorge Ahck'fxn who convinced the Molmellesians that Risman was in congress with the devil and that he ate devil food (anything that contained more than one ingredient was considered evil for the purist Molmellesians). Under torture, King Risman confessed that his evil morsels contained not only two, but four scandalous ingredients, namely: chocolate, milk, sugar and peanuts. He was then promptly fed to purist lions who devoured him with neither his clothes nor condiments. ChocNut is actually pronounced 'k-hok'noot,' which is Molmellesian for 'devil food.'

There are other candies that I wanted to write about, particularly Ovalteenies/Horlicks, Bazooka Gum, Tootsie Rolls, Choco-mallows, those brandless cigarette candies sold in school canteens, plastic balloons, and a bunch of other stuff which I can do next time, I think. Then again, having already overworked my pancreas and with my tongue already feeling like a piece of cardboard, I think I'll just review some less taxing things next time, like hallucinogenics or chicken feed.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Excellent review! Hope to see Benson's and XO on the list next time :)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
ah no. benson is extinct already, but is sell in supermart the nestle eclair like similar i think for benson. xo is only few years. kopiko is older but is still like few years. i am think more like eisbonn cola and other old candy.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
is eisbonn cola the cola candy wrapped in violet wrapper? i liked that one. :) but after 2-3 candies your tongue will feel numb.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Melon balls! The candy that can choke kids. hehehehe! I wonder if they still have that in sari-sari stores. yum!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I was quite surprised that my youngest brother brought home a pack of Peter's Butter Ball candies--he says he was nostalgic about them. Well, I guess it was more so for me because I'm fourteen years older than him. Now I find myself surfing the net searching for any info about Peter's Butter Ball and I've stumbled into this blog. Hey, to the owner of this blog, Thanks a lot for your thoughts on the candies that I've ALSO loved as a kid.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Oh yes, how about the candy that comes in a white and blue plastic wrapper--Snowbear.

I think the new version of this is somewhat 'milder'than the one I used to know years ago. It has a eucalyptus/menthol icy flavor that really makes your mouth tingle.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
hi edwin,

you're the third person (as far as i know) who stumbled upon my blog through an internet search. thanks for not being a psycho like the first!

of course, thanks for the kind words as well. btw, i'll try to check out snowbear (i don't think i remember that brand).
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Hi Ronan,

I would have to say that Flat Tops taste differently from Curly Tops. We conducted a taste test, and I have to say that Curly tops taste better.

How about the Nougat wrapped in white and blue paper?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
wow. i'll get a pack each of flat tops and curly tops this week then. thanks for pointing that out.

the nougat you're referring to must be white rabbit... unfortunately, that's imported from china, so i didn't include it.

thanks for visiting!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Does anyone know whether the company that makes these products is the same as August Storck in Germany?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
yeah its the same brand, i think theyre the licensee for the august stork brand before.. but not anymore as of date.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I saw the familiar wrapper of Peter's Butter Ball in a sarisari store and I immediately had to buy a handful of it because I thought they stopped making it!

So I Googled it, hoping to find more info on this candy and I found your blog. I love your post, brings back so many childhood memories.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Hi Ronan;
I've always wondered why I can no longer find Storck candies on the Filipino markets, and since Starr was the closest match that's what I would pick up. I figured with the same color, the same guy on the front it had to be the same. I'm actually eating Starr as I write this up. Aside from the coughdroppy flavor of storck/starr I always grab some CurlyTops and ChocNuts.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I miss Bazooka and BigBoy!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
hi, i was researching on old candies from the past and stumbled on your site after googling "kendi mint". one of the best articles & well-researched! hope you continue with other candies.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
you can now get these 80's candies & more at
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -