Organic Colors in the Food Industry

As companies continue to opt for organic ingredients for their food products, they eventually come a cross a common problem in the organic food industry. Color plays a vital part in the perceived taste and quality of a food product. Recently, food companies such as Nestlé and General Mills have announced their plan to leave behind synthetic food colors and pursue plant based food dyes.

According to Carol Culhane, president of International Food Focus Limited, a Toronto-based firm that helps American and Canadian food manufacturers comply with food regulations, demand for natural food colors began to take off in 2007, after a study in The Lancet linked artificial food dyes to hyperactivity in children.

However, deriving food dyes from natural sources is much more expensive than synthesizing it in a lab. Much of this has to do with the availability of the necessary plant or vegetables.

Culhane explains, “in a factory, companies can make as much of a synthetic color as needed at any given time the exact same way, and keep the price consistent. But pigments in real vegetables can vary from field to field, region to region and year to year.”

So how exactly is color derived from natural sources. According to the Salt, the following companies are pioneering the search for natural food dyes.

California based company colorMaker, uses a wide variety of fruit and vegetable juices to create a spectrum of naturally colored dyes. However, in order to do so, they must import their juices from all over the world, including red cabbage from China and purple carrots from Europe.

Another company, Kalsec, has been deriving colors exclusively from different types of carrots for over 50 years. They’ve discovered a solution to another common problem found in natural food dyes. These dyes are not as stable as their synthetic counterparts and so Kalsec adds their patented Durabrite technology to protect the dyes from light, heat, oxygen and trace metals.

Companies like these will continue to scour the Earth for sources for their food dye, eventually making it possible for other companies to make the switch. As candy companies push towards organic ingredients, it will be interesting to see what methods they will adopt to color their confections.

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7th Graders Ship Candy To The Troops


One middle school in the East Coast really knows how to embrace the holiday spirit.

7th graders in a New Hampshire middle school have collected over 400 pounds of Halloween candy and shipped it to troops over sea. A five year tradition, students at Hampton Academy have been shipping packages to troops since 2011. A couple of years later, the students began combining their trick-or-treat candy and sending it Afghanistan.

The students became inspired to support the troops while taking a class on the Middle East. Inevitably, the class discussion gravitated towards the U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan. The first year, the kids collected pencils, crayons and clothing to a parent stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan, working with NATO forces. The supplies were used by Afghan women and their children

After that, the packages became an annual tradition. The teachers of Hampton Academy see the effort as a way to teach their students about helping others, no matter where they are.

In 2013, the children began piling their candy together and shipping it overseas. Every year the pile continues to get bigger. Last year, the 7th graders collected over 260 pounds of Halloween treats. This year, the pile increased by 140 pounds, which proved expensive to ship to the Middle East.

Every box filled with candy was about $15 dollars to shop overseas. In the end, the shipping bill turned out to be over $600, a hefty bill on a teacher’s salary.

The teachers turned to social media for help and the donations came flying in. One donor even donated $500.

It’s impressive how much candy one school alone can pile together. We’ll have to wait until next Christmas season to see how much larger the pile gets. For more candy news, make sure to keep up with our blog. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter

 

3 Strange Candy Cane Flavors

What piece of candy captures the Christmas spirit better than the candy cane?

This classic holiday treat is deeply rooted in tradition. The first recipe for the candy cane was published in 1844 but some sources say that the origin of the candy cane can be be traced back to a German monastery in 1640. You can read more about the mysterious origin of the candy cane here.

Sugar, water and corn syrup; that’s all it takes to make a candy cane. Originally, the candy was flavored with peppermint flavoring but, for some, peppermint has become passé. Recently, more and more flavors of the Christmas treat have entered the market. What’s interesting is that some candy makers have opted for more exotic flavors.

Here are three peculiar candy cane flavors that the more daring might want to try this holiday season:

Dill Pickle Flavored Candy Canes. I’m not entirely sure how this idea came to fruition. The description online says that these are meant for those who don’t particularly enjoy sweets. “Christmas can be a difficult time for someone who isn’t that into sweets. If you’re the savory sort, you might prefer the dill tang of our Pickle Candy Canes.” Not only do the candy canes taste like pickles, they also come with festive green stripes.

Gravy Candy Canes! Some people genuinely prefer Thanksgiving to Christmas. Reminisce about that delicious turkey feast whilst taking in the Christmas spirit. Now, I’ve never tried these but I’m not sure peppermint candy canes have too much to worry about.

Wasabi Candy Canes. Let’s be honest. Who hasn’t heard someone complain that their candy canes aren’t spicy enough. Maybe you’re the family prankster and want to trick someone with the green-striped candy. Imagine how disappointed your little sister would be if, while reaching for a delicious pickle-flavored candy cane, she was greeted with a mouthful of horseradish instead.

It’s always fun to spice up boring holiday traditions. I’m sure any of these three flavors would be a hot topic of conversation.

As for me, I’ll stick to “original.” For more candy news, please keep up with our blog. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Christmas is coming up! If you need any last minute gifts don’t forget to check out our online store.

Nestlé’s New Type of Sugar

d8a38c9f-6e3d-4ec5-817a-e6007eff5610-699-000000de56a6c64a_tmpNestle has created an innovative way to reduce the amount of sugar in their candy recipes. “Reformulated sugar” will be used as a substitute sweetener. But what exactly is it?

“It is sugar,” said Nestle’s chief technology officer Stefan Catsicas, “but it is assembled differently so it can disassemble easily in your mouth with less going into your gastrointestinal tract.”

Reformulated sugar allows you to savor the sweetness of the candy without paying for it later.
Casticas compared the two types of sugar to a shoebox. A normal grain of sugar would be like a solid box made of sugar. A reformulated grain would be more like a hollow shoebox.

The new sugar is meant to to cut back the amount of sugar in Nestle’s confectionary line by up to 40%.

Nestle has already mentioned that they will not use reformulated sugar to sweeten soda. Aspartame, an artificial sweetener commonly used in diet sodas, has long been a source of concern for the health-conscious public.

Though there has been no conclusive studies, rumors warn aspartame users of the sweetener’s carcinogenic effects.

As a result, I suspect some people will be weary of reformulated sugar. Ideally, the new sugar will be a big step towards healthier, tastier candy. Hopefully, there won’t be any long term adverse effects.

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Sufganiyah: A Delicious Hanukkah Treat

Christmas isn’t the only holiday being celebrated this month. Besides Christmas Eve, December 24th also marks the beginning of Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Also known as the “Festival of Lights,” Hanukkah is observed for eight straight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev, a month in the Hebrew calendar. Hanukkah may occur anywhere from late November to late December, according to the Gregorian calendar.

As with Christmas, Hanukkah carries its own rich holiday traditions. As the story goes, a flask with only enough oil to light the menorah in the Holy Temple for one day was able to miraculously last eight nights. Those who celebrate Hanukkah commemorate the Temple miracle by eating foods fried in oil.

One of these delicious treats is called sufganiyah(soof-gah-nee-ah) a deep fried donut, filled with jelly or custard, topped with powdered sugar.

The word sufganiyah can be traced back to the arabic word “sfenj” a smaller type of deep-fried donut. Jews in North Africa have eaten similar fried balls of dough to celebrate Hanukkah for centuries.

But sufganiyah didn’t contain their iconic jelly filling until they reached central Europe. Colonies established in the carribean brought cheap sugar to Europe in the 16th century. Fruit preserves quickly became popular and, as a result, so did fruit filled pastries. The recipe for jelly donuts spread throughout Europe, eventually reaching Jews in Poland. The Polish Jews substituted the un-kosher lard with goose fat and began eating the donuts regularly on Hanukkah.

These groups eventually fled Europe, fearing the harsh anti-semitism of the early 20th century and migrated to Israel. Fortunately, they brought along their delicious jelly filled pastries. From there the Hanukkah tradition of Sufganiyah began to spread around the world.

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History of the Gingerbread House

Gingerbread has withstood the test of time. Many believe that gingerbread was first baked in Europe at the turn of the 11th century. Crusaders returning from the Middle East brought back the custom of spicy ginger baked into bread. The ginger not only enhanced the taste but also helped preserve the bread.

Ginger bread as we know it today emerged from medieval baking practices but the act of shaping the bread into various forms can be traced back to Franconia, Germany. “Lebkuchen” a sweet, baked treat resembling modern gingerbread was invented by monks baking in monasteries. Records of Lebkuchen bakers in Nuremberg can be traced as far back as 1395. To this day, Nuremberg is the number one exporter of Lebkuchen in the world!

In the early 1600’s, Nuremberg was awarded the title of “gingerbread capital of the world” when guilds began commissioning master bakers to make complicated works of art with the bread. Medieval bakers would carve intricate designs into the hard bread.

Gingerbread baking was so prestigious in Europe that by the 17th century only expert bakers were allowed to bake it. The only two exceptions were Christmas and Easter, when everyone was allowed to bake gingerbread.

The tradition of decorating model houses made out of gingerbread came about much more recently. Gingerbread houses began to emerge in 19th century Germany. Many believe that the invention of the gingerbread house can be accredited to one of Grimm’s famous fairy tales. Can you guess which one?

In “Hansel and Gretel,” two children abandoned in the forest come across an edible house made of bread and candy. Little do they know that the house is inhabited by an evil witch that plans to fatten them up and eat them.

Today, gingerbread houses have shed their grim origin and have become a prominent symbol of the Christmas holidays.

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3 Essential Candy Stocking-Stuffers

Thanksgiving is over, which means it’s time to start preparing for Christmas! Last week, we talked about the origin of the candy cane. This traditional holiday treat can be found all over the world, at this time. Yet, candy canes aren’t the only popular Christmas candy. Consider the following stocking-stuffers, next time you’re out holiday shopping.

1.Peppermint Bark

This delicious chocolate confection is the perfect holiday treat. It generally consists of peppermint candy pieces embedded in white chocolate, on top of a dark chocolate bark.

2. Peanut Brittle

Peanut Brittle is a confection that consists of hard sugar candy pieces filled with peanuts. There are many variations of this delicious confectionary around the world. You can find brittle year-round, but it surges in popularity during the holidays.

3.Toffee

Toffee is made by caramelizing sugar along with butter and sometimes flour. The consistency of the candy can range from soft and chewy to hard and brittle. In the US, “English toffee” is a particularly popular variant. English toffee is very buttery and is often made with almonds.

These treats, store-bought or home-made, are bound to brighten anyone’s Christmas. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of making them yourself, make sure to check out our online store.

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The Origin Of The Candy Cane?

The holiday season is a busy time for us, here at Quality Candy. No candy embodies the Christmas spirit more than the candy cane.

King Leo first introduced our famous peppermint sticks back in 1901 but do you know the origin of this iconic holiday treat? Odds are you most likely don’t, as the invention of the candy cane is a much debated topic.

A lack of historical evidence makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact origin. There have been many claims of the invention of the candy cane with the oldest dating back to 1670. According to folklore, the candy cane can be traced back to 17th century Germany. The choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral sought to keep the choir children quiet during the Christmas Eve nativity scene.

The choirmaster asked a local candy maker to make sweet sticks to keep the children entertained during the nativity scene. To justify giving the children candy during the religious services, the choirmaster asked the candy maker to make a hook at the end of each stick, symbolizing the canes of the shepherds that visited infant Jesus.

Others claim that the candy cane was a much more recent invention and can be traced back to 20th century Indiana. According to the myth, a candy maker wanted to create a Christmas candy that would symbolize the life and death of Jesus Christ.

The white of the candy cane symbolized sinlessness. The red represented the scourging Jesus received by which Christians believe they are healed.

The crook at the end of the stick was meant to represent the letter “J,” the beginning letter of Jesus’s name.

Over time, the candy cane has shed its religious symbolism and has become a treat that both adults and kids enjoy. 1.7 billion candy canes are produced every single year and can be found all over the world during the holiday season.

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3 Delicious Holiday Candy Recipes

When you’re in the mood for delicious candy, Quality Candy is the place to go. However, we understand that, some days, nothing beats homemade candy. We scoured the depths of the internet and discovered some of the most delectable candy recipes available. Here are three of my personal favorites. Give them a try and impress your friends and family this upcoming month.

 

1.Butterscotch Squares are chewy, bite-sized pieces of butterscotch dipped in chocolate. Need I say more?
What you’ll need:chocolate-covered-butterscotch

•2 cups brown sugar
•3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
•6 tablespoons butter
•1/2 teaspoon vanilla
•1/4 teaspoon salt
•1 cup powdered sugar
•16 ounces melting chocolate
•Candy thermometer

 

Start by lining a pan with foil and spraying it with cooking oil. Place the sugar, cream and butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir the mixture until completely melted and bring it to a rolling boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and place a candy thermometer in the mix. Let it simmer for around 7-8 minutes, occasionally stirring it. When the mixture reaches 236 degrees, turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Use a whisk to mix in the powdered sugar and pour the entire mixture into the pan you prepared early. Give it a couple of hours to cool down and set at room temperature. Once cool, use a knife to carefully cut the butterscotch into bite-sized squares. Dip each square into melted chocolate and place them on cookie sheet. You need to cool the chocolate to make it harden. Pop the sheet in fridge and you’re done!

 

2. Melted Snowman Bark is melted white chocolate covered in your favorite treats. If you find yourself scrambling for time during the holiday season, this quick and easy recipe is perfect for you.melted-snowman-bark
What you’ll need:

•6-7 mini peanut butter cups, halved
•10 pretzel sticks, broken in half
•2 Tbsp chocolate chips
•3 Tbsp red and green M&M candies
•1 bag white chocolate chips

 

Start by cutting the pretzel sticks and peanut butter cups in half. Use your microwave or double-boiler to melt the white chocolate and place the melted chocolate on a pan lined with wax paper. Add the toppings to the white chocolate and allow it set. Remember to work quickly and add all the ingredients before the chocolate sets.

 

3.White Chocolate Covered Peppermint Pretzels are the perfect Christmas treat on the go. This is another one of those incredibly simple but delicious recipes.
 chocolate-covered-pretzels
What you’ll need:
•Pretzel Rods (or regular pretzels)
•Vanilla Candy coating
•Crushed Candy Canes
Begin by crushing some candy canes and placing the crushed bits in a bowl. Break up the vanilla candy coating and place in a pot on low heat. Stir the candy coating until it is completely melted. Once melted, pour into a tall glass and dip the pretzel rods into the coating. Place the rods on parchment paper and sprinkle them with the crushed canes. Let the coating set and you’re done!

 

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The Big Deal About Organics

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The Big Deal About Organics

Nowadays, the term organic describes much more than the way food is processed. In this health-crazed age we live in, organic has become a lifestyle. Within that lifestyle lies a niche that you as a candy company can explore. This is the big deal about organics.

And what better way to explore that niche than with organic candy? Here at Quality Candy, we recently launched our first line of organic products. But before we go any further, let’s quickly break down why organic food is so important to many health conscious consumers.

Organic ingredients are grown without the use of non-organic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, ionized radiation or genetic modification.

When food is genetically modified, the result is an organism that grows bigger, faster and more resistant to pesticides. Genetically modified foods can even be engineered to contain their own preservatives! You don’t have to be a genius to see why so many GMOs are grown every year, but what happens to the consumer?

The Organic Consumers Association

According to the Organic Consumers Association, the number one cause of deteriorating public health amongst adults and children is genetically modified organisms. Genetically engineered ingredients are found in most processed foods in the U.S., even in products labeled “all-natural.” These ingredients are untested and, when consumed, leave behind genetically modified material that may cause long-term health effects.

In fact, according to the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, genes inserted into genetically modified soy can transfer into the DNA of healthy bacteria living inside our bodies.

Health effects aside, consumers’ biggest worry about GMOs is a lack of transparency. Products containing GMOs are not required to be labeled so many people consume them without knowing. Everyone should have the right to know what he or she is putting inside his or her body, especially if it’s detrimental to one’s health.

The bottom line is that organic food is simply healthier than genetically modified food. It doesn’t hurt that it tastes better too. Still, many people remain unaware of the dangers of GMOs so please share this post! Make sure to follow Quality Candy on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for our latest blog entries. Our next post will talk about how carrying organic candy can help improve your company’s sales.

 

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