Photos by Gendy Alimurung and Mark MauerMovie tie-ins are always a big part of the candy selection at the 99 Cent Only store. Lets go backwards in time through the blockbusters of yesteryear, shall we?
Mark: Kong Light & Sound Candy Dispenser. Was Peter Jacksons King Kong really only released in 2005? It seems decades earlier. Still, its a good 2+ years old, and this candy dispenser is battery operated!
Gendy: The best part of this is the delivery mechanism. Little balls of furniture wax coming out of King Kong's butt.
Bonus Ingredient: Magnesium Sterate
Photos by Gendy Alimurung and Mark MauerPirates of the Caribbean Chocolate Cannonballs. I almost didnt pick up this box. It seemed too normal. No pictures of Johnny Depp or Kiera Knightley gazing at me hungrily from the packaging... Just some boring, rodent pellet-shaped spheres. Plus. That movie came out last year, so its not even old. Then I realized that in small type the words Curse of the Black Pearl! Zoiks. This candy is coming up on its fifth birthday. FIVE! Again, maybe the chocolate cannonballs were so popular, so inexorably linked to the first movie, that they just kept making them. But I doubt it. On the plus side, this candy was made in the Chicago suburbs by Ferrea Pan, one of my favorite candy companies, makers of Lemonheads, Boston Baked Beans, and Atomic Fireballs.
Gendy: Are cannonballs supposed to be purple with a tinge of green? Crunchy like a milk dud.
Mark: Aged like fine wine. Easily the best candy of the bunch I tasted.
Photos by Gendy Alimurung and Mark MauerCrayola - Dippin' Lickin' Poppin' Candy.
Gendy: Maybe it's the popping, but I like it.
Mark: This is the crayon company's officially licensed product. I can see it now: A bunch of suits sitting around the table at Crayola World Headquarters:
Kids love to eat our crayons! They dont taste good, but they try to eat em anyway. How do we capitalize on this? Johnson?
Umm, we could start making candy that looks like our crayons.
Not just any kind of candy though: dippin' lickin' poppin' candy!
Bonus: Made in Turkey
Photos by Gendy Alimurung and Mark MauerLolli Pups: Know what else kids like to eat? Milkbone dog biscuits. So heres a bag of lollipops shaped like dog bisuits.
Mark: Acoording to the bag, puppies cant get enough of glucose syrup and citric acid goodness! The ingredients confirm that the treats contain no dogs. Made in China.
Gendy: I wish they were made of actual dogs. They'd probably taste better.
Photos by Gendy Alimurung and Mark MauerReeses Brownie with Reeses peanut butter and Hersheys chocolate chips topped with a drizzle of Reeses peanut butter icing.
Gendy: Is it cooked? Tastes like raw cookie dough.
Mark: One cool thing about candy shopping at the 99 Cent store is you get test-marketed products from established candy makers. But I can't even tell the difference between the peanut butter and the chocolate flavor here. It's very... blended.
Bonus ingredient: Propylene glycol mono- and diesters of fats and fatty acids.
Photos by Gendy Alimurung and Mark MauerGendy: This is what the Reese's brownie looks like unwrapped. Looks good right? Very deceptive.
Photos by Gendy Alimurung and Mark MauerFroodia: 400 mg certified Hoodia Gordonii. Made from a South African cactus, that may possess appetite suppressing qualities. Made by Trimspa. This candy could have saved the life of Anna Nicole Smith.
Gendy: Reminiscent of chewed up and reconstituted fruit rollups. I'm not saying that's a bad thing.
Mark: The smell is terrible. It does taste prety good though. And it really does contain fruit, in addition to the strange South African cactus.
Bonus warning label: Not for use by individuals under 18 years of age.
Bonus ingredient: Fine Cellulose.
Photos by Gendy Alimurung and Mark MauerCherry Jubilee Cremes: Sweet Cherry Crme covered in rich milk chocolate. Made in Nashville by the company that makes Goo Goo Clusters.
Gendy: Looks like a sausage pattie. Tastes like cotton candy.
Mark: This tastes like a hospital gift shop. I"m suddenly transported back to visiting my grandmother in the intensive care unit after high school every day.
Bonus ingredient: Invertase.
Photos by Gendy Alimurung and Mark MauerBig Hunk: Terrific chewy nougat with peanuts.
Gendy: The element that this was made of does not exist on the Periodic Table of Elements. Nougat presumably? Either way, it will get stuck on your molars so hours from first bite, you can revisit its salty-sweet taste.
Mark: This was the only candy bar to come with microwave instructions. If you ignore the microwave directions you can eat it straight:
-Place bar firmly in one hand
-Then... SMACK! Your BIG HUNK on a hard surface
-Happily eat your bite-size pieces
Bonus ingredient: egg whites
Photos by Gendy Alimurung and Mark MauerCandy Ear Wax Extremely Sour Candy Paste. The candy which is green squirts out of the ears of an orange plastic head.
Mark: That's terribly unpleasant, and dispensing it requires upper-body strength that this 37 year old man does not have.
Gendy: It's like dogs with peanut butter on their noses, except the peanut butter is congealed lemon curd. You keep licking, but it won't go away.
Bonus ingredient: Amylum
The green ear wax proceeded to get on every surface in the LA Weekly office
Photos by Gendy Alimurung and Mark MauerDouble Dare Hot Gummies - Chili Pepper Flavor. Made in Spain
Gendy: Spicy aftertaste. Tough on the inside, like tripe, only sweet.
Mark: These aren't bad. Those Spaniards love spicy candy. I am tired of chewing though. And my teeth are starting to feel... weird. Is "rotty" a word?
Bonus ingredient: Does NOT contain tripe.
Photos by Gendy Alimurung and Mark MauerBocadin - Peanut filled wafer with chocolate flavored coating.
Mark: It tastes bad. No, it tastes worse than bad. It tastes "sad." Like you're eating candy and then.... oh... disappointment.
Gendy: These look like Knorr bouillon cubes. I was so hopeful for these, too. At least they don't taste like chicken. Everything tastes like chicken.
Bonus ingredient: Cartamus oil
Photos by Gendy Alimurung and Mark MauerMark: Ouuughguhgh! What's it called? "Ultra Red Ginseng"? It's also called the sun? and in Spanish?? I'm so confused.
Dave Shulman: Wait, let me go get the spoiled milk from upstairs.
Gendy: It smells like something... I can't place it. It smells like...evil? No! Like furniture from China!
This was easily the worst thing we tasted, and we think it was responsible for the massive headaches we got, even though we only drank tiny amounts of it. Tests into the evening concluded that the ginseng could not dissolve the Pirates of the Caribbean chocolate cannonballs.
Bonus ingredient: Herb flavor. Made in Korea.
Photos by Gendy Alimurung and Mark MauerThe Big Hunk is white! The packaging made us think it was brown or chocolatey.
(By this point, I'm shoving tons of candy directly into the trash, while my head spins and I make typo agter typo.)
Photos by Gendy Alimurung and Mark MauerCalifornia Fruit Slices - "Quality Produce" claims the stamp on the front of the box.
Gendy: "Pectin Fruit Slices"? The best one so far! Tart but not overly so. Delightful sugar coating. Al dente texture.
Mark: The back of the box has a nice orange map of California, proving its connection to our state. Alas, it's made in China. And contains no fruit at all. The closest it gets to fruit is "pectin." Ever wonder what pectin is?
It's a "white to light brown powder, a heteropolysaccharide derived from the cell wall of higher terrestrial plants." (Thanks wikipedia!)
Photos by Gendy Alimurung and Mark MauerNBA Sour Slam Dunk - Gummy basketballs with sour apple liquid for dunking!
Mark: Aggururrrhhahgh! This thing is toxic! And look, it comes with its own little trash can so you can throw it away after.
Gendy: So bad it comes back all the way around to good again. A sour explosion in your mouth.
News Editor Jill Stewart: It's good. I like it.
Bonus ingredient: Sorbitol
Photos by Gendy Alimurung and Mark MauerNintendo Crunchy Candies. Tiny bags of little candies that look like Sweet-Tarts.
Gendy: They should call these tooth breakers.
Mark: I feel like I'm actually cracking Mario's tiny bones between my teeth. "Now with more granite!" Say good-bye to your baby teeth, kiddies!
Bonus ingredient: Gravel (not really).