Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Get Your Scare On

Halloween is so close! It's time to rent your scary movies, finalize your costume, and decide which candy you’ll be handing out to trick-or-treaters.

This year, 70 percent of Americans are expected to partake in Halloween activities, spending $53 on average for candy, decorations, and costumes. Halloween is the biggest non-gift giving holiday in the United States, with analysts forecasting overall product spending at $6.86 billion this season.

With 5 percent of all candy consumed for the year on Halloween and the week after, it's safe to say that a majority of that money will be spent on sweet treats. Again this year, retailers have stocked shelves with M&M's Candy Corn White Chocolate Candy, while new products are also creeping up. Just Born's Peeps line welcomed new seasonal items, including chocolate dipped orange marshmallow chicks and chocolate mousse-flavored marshmallow cats, in addition to offering standard marshmallow pumpkins and ghosts.

But which candy brands are the most popular and provide the most buzz? Recently, NetBase, a provider of social media insight and analysis, released a Halloween-themed Brand Passion Index to determine the emotions, opinions, and behaviors of six candy brands when it comes to chatter on social sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Among candy makers M&M's, Skittles, candy corn, Reese's, Tootsie Rolls, and SweeTarts, M&M's emerged as a leader with 42 percent of overall buzz. Skittles garnered 24 percent of social media buzz, but earned a "passion intensity" level of 89. Rounding out the list: Reese's – 21 percent of total buzz; Tootsie Rolls – 11 percent; and both SweeTarts and candy corn – less than 1 percent. When it came to passion intensity scores, though, SweeTarts scored high with 73; 65 for Tootsie Rolls; 48 for candy corn; and 45 for Reese's.

This Halloween, enjoy your favorite candies, spend what you'd like on treats, costumes, and decorations, and share your thoughts about the sweets you love on your preferred social media sites. Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Eat, Drink, and be Scary

Only 12 days left to hit the supermarket, department stores, and warehouse retailers to fill up on the Halloween candy your neighborhood trick-or-treaters can't wait to get their hands on!

This year, I'm looking forward to a large number of youths visiting my door in their cute costumes, scary makeup, and creative get-ups to take advantage of this annual sweet tradition.

I'm torn, though, as to what to purchase for the kids on my block, and I'm curious to know what my readers think are the best Halloween candies. Take a moment and make your voice heard!

*Note: Survey works best in Chrome.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Me Want Cookie

No need to wait until Halloween to get your sweet fix; October is National Cookie Month! Whether your cookie of choice is the healthier kind, like Kashi's TLC Cookies, or you prefer to splurge on Grandma's Cookies from Frito-Lay, take these thirty-one days to enjoy chocolate chip, oatmeal, and peanut butter cookies…and everything in between! Pumpkin Spiced and Iced Cookies, anyone?

Think you know about cookies? Chew on these cookie facts:
  • Since its introduction in 1902, Animal Crackers have featured 37 different mammals. Today, each box contains 22 crackers in 17 varieties: bears, bison, camels, cougars, elephants, giraffes, gorillas, hippopotami, hyenas, kangaroos, lions, monkeys, rhinoceros, seals, sheep, tigers, and zebras.
  • Nabisco welcomed the Oreo in 1912.
  • The sale of cookies as a way to finance Girl Scout troop activities began as early as 1917. In the 1920s and 1930s, Girl Scouts sold cookies door to door for 25 to 35 cents per dozen.
  • The Toll House chocolate chip cookie was invented in 1933 by Ruth Wakefield, owner of the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. Today, the chocolate chip cookie is the most popular kind of cookie in the U.S.
  • Cookie sales top $3 billion annually. Each year, Americans consume roughly 2 billion cookies, and will eat about 35,000 cookies in a lifetime.
  • Sesame Street's Cookie Monster wasn't always named Cookie Monster; the Muppet used to be named Sid. Arum num num num!
If you're seeking the best cookie recipes on the Internet, check out Mrs. Fields Secrets – tips and advice from the world's smartest cookie! Want to bake a better cookie? Take Domino Sugar's advice on preparing, baking, cooling, storing, and freezing cookies of all types.

This month, indulge on Pepperidge Farm Milano Cookies or go back to your childhood with Keebler Vienna Fingers. No matter how you choose to recognize National Cookie Month, be sure to celebrate in style!

Tell me, what's your favorite cookie? Leave a note, and don't be skimpy on the details!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Shana Tova

The High Holidays are upon us! Jews around the world are currently observing the "Days of Awe," the ten days between Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

These High Holy Days are a a time of introspection, a time to atone and repent, and a time to make plans for personal improvement in the coming year. The beginning and end of the holidays are marked by what else - food!

To welcome the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah meals usually include apples and honey, symbolizing a sweet new year. While Yom Kippur concludes with a fast to focus solely on spiritual well-being, the fast is often broken with a traditional Jewish feast to mark the profound experience. Kugel, chopped liver, and honey cake are just some of the customary recipes enjoyed on these holidays.

In accordance to Jewish religious dietary laws, most Jews respect a kosher lifestyle. Products certified as Kosher Dairy or Kosher Parve are marked with appropriate symbols on packaging. As the nation's largest manufacturer of processed kosher food products, The Manischewitz Company is probably the best known brand name in this category. Macabee Foods is another popular kosher brand.

In recent years, numerous eateries have added kosher supervision to their establishments. Dunkin' Donuts and Subway are just two examples of casual restaurants that have expanded their offerings in Jewish neighborhoods to better serve the community.

Whether you keep kosher or not, it's always fun to try new foods that embrace the Jewish culture, and there's no better time than now to enjoy these customary dishes. Please share your favorite ethnic recipe or the best Jewish meal you've tried. Shana Tova - Happy New Year!