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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hello Kitty Candy Sticks

When I was a kid, we could purchase something called Popeye Candy Cigarettes, a white chalky candy cigarette stick that had a red tip to make it seem like it was a lit smoke, and we could suck on those candy cigarettes all day long, provided your day was only a few minutes long, because the end would get wet and it would then need to be chewed... and once you started chewing that whole damn stick was going to be consumed like a two-pack a day Marlboro man.

So... when I stopped by my local convenience/variety store... I don't know what they call them elsewhere, but at least here in Toronto, I call it a variety store, to pick up some coke, a bag of chips, some gum and my retirement plan (lottery ticket)... when I spied a carton of Hello Kitty Candy Sticks.

Hello Kitty is the cultural and iconic darling of Japan. A white female cat without a mouth. A female without a mouth? There's too many jokes there, so let me instead wonder just how is she consuming one of her own candy sticks?  

I immediately thought about the Popeye Candy Cigarettes and dared to wonder if someone was bringing them back, but with an icon that was created within the past 40 years, as opposed to one created in 1929 (Popeye).  

Now, I had heard that because of the negative press that cigarettes were getting, Popeye Candy Cigarettes were eventually rebranded as Popeye Candy Sticks, because apparently sticks are safer for kids to put in their mouth than cigarettes - though I must admit I haven't read any studies to back that up.

In Canada, federal law prohibits candy cigarette branding that resembles real cigarette branding... which means the candy cigarettes can't have a package that looks like a pack of smokes and still call itself a candy cigarette.
So... was Hello Kitty trying to get into bed with the tobacco industry by hawking candy cigarettes smartly labeled candy sticks, but in a carton that still looked like a cigarette pack if you were a color blind yak?

So I bought a pack. I have no idea how much it cost, but I'm pretty sure it was a lot less than the $10.25 a pack of cigarettes cost here in Canada.

I got it home, waited until everyone was asleep, because not only did I not want my eight-year-old son Hudson pretending he was smoking, in case these babies looked and tasted like the old Popeye brand of candy cigarettes, I certainly did not want to share them as I turned myself into a diabetic.

But... I need not have worried.

Hello Kitty Candy Sticks taste as good as they look... which is unfortunate.
The Hello Kitty Candy Sticks were a grotesque pink in color and lacked any sort of flavor... until I swallowed it, and then... then I discovered this horrible, horrible aftertaste. Even worse than IPA beer.

Let me tell you... this is the first time in my life that I have ever opened up a candy snack treat and not wanted to eat the whole thing. 

Not only did the disturbing pink Hello Kitty Candy Sticks look like an animal wang, but the tattoo that came with the sticks was incredibly lame.

Yes... I was secretly hoping that the tattoo in the package might show Hello Kitty doing something cute - like just standing there - but no... I have an absurd tattoo that just spells out her name.  
Why does the French-language side of the Hello Kitty Candy Sticks look way cooler than the English side (top)?

Anyhow... just in case you were wondering just what ingredients are in a Hello Kitty Candy Stick, it doesn't appear to be anything nasty. There's sugar, corn starch, corn syrup, gelatin, citric acid, tapioca, artificial flavor, and color.

While I might take umbrage over the fact that the color described on the carton isn't specific... like is it Red Dye #47 or Pink Dye #12 or Hair Dye Black, in which case I could stick it up my nose to snuff out the grey starting to come in. But wait...

... tapioca?

Tapioca... ugh. No wonder it didn't yank my crank.  They might have been better off using real tree stick flavor.
I'm strong to the finish 'cause I eats me spinach, I'm Popeye the sailor man. Toot-toot! Ah ga-ga-ga-ga-ga-ga!

And anoth... Hey! Didn't that spinach munching skinny-chick chasing Popeye always have a pipe in his mouth? He never smoked cigarettes! It is now evident that my childhood has been purloined. 

Sorry Hello Kitty... nobody that puts tapioca in candy can tell me it tastes good. Even if you had a mouth to tell me so.

Andrew Joseph


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