Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Valentine Candy from Surf Sweets and TruJoy Sweets (not chocolate!)

Valentine's Day is generally all about the chocolate, but did you know that some people don't like chocolate? IT'S TRUE! Thank goodness Surf Sweets and TruJoy Sweets have this situation under control, including TONS of options for vegans. Yep, you read that right: gummies* for vegans!

Two years ago I was eating Surf Sweets' Valentine's fruity hearts all day every day, but thanks to a generous sample delivery, this week I'm positively swimming in a ton of sweet (and sour) gummy options.

Behold: fruity bears, watermelon rings, peach rings, sour worms, and those yummy fruity hearts. All are VEGAN (!), non-GMO, gluten-free, all or mostly organic, and made in the USA. I still love the hearts, but the fruity bears stole mine because they taste like Chuckles candy. Chuckles are stored in my memory bank as being delicious, but are- in reality, filled with all the yucky stuff that Surf Sweets eschews. The watermelon and peach rings were evenly divided as faves amongst the esteemed tasting panel, and the sour worms were devoured once they found the right home (we're not sour people).

But, wait; there's more! In addition to these goodies from Surf Sweets, I also received a sampling of individually wrapped candy items from TruJoy Sweets (I love individually wrapped candies because I like to fill my pockets with them).

I hesitate to say that the choco chews taste like a dark chocolate version of tootsie rolls, but at least it gives you a point of reference. You can actually see a product comparison on the TruJoy Sweet site if you're interested in seeing in writing what you can already imagine. The fruit chews are absolutely reminiscent of Starburst, another comparison made on the site. And, finally, candy canes- they're not just for Christmas anymore! These pink and mildly peppermint canes certainly blended in with the Valentine aesthetic, but I've been hoarding them because I don't like strong mint flavor and these are just my speed. All are made with organic ingredients, free of corn syrup, no artificial flavors and colors, gluten-free, vegan, and kosher (phew!); you can't go wrong.

Because even I have my limits, I became the traveling candy show- astounding friends, family, and passerby with the vegan goodness I was packing in my OCD individual containers. Note: people think you're a sweetie when you share your sweets; I try to do it as often as possible and you should too!

So, if chocolate isn't necessarily your thing this time of year or any, Surf Sweets & TruJoy Sweets have you covered.

*gummy candy is usually comprised of all kinds of gross stuff that vegans wouldn't touch with 99 1/2 foot pole. Per usual, please read all labels carefully, as not ALL of Surf Sweets are suitable for vegans; those that are clearly state "vegan" on the back of the packaging.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Goodbye, Lula's Sweet Apothecary

If you've been a fan of this blog for any length of time, you probably know that out of all of the ice cream I've consumed since the inception of A (soy) Bean, Lula's Sweet Apothecary has been my demonstrated favorite by a landslide, which is why I dubbed it The Best Ice Cream Shop in the Universe. TBICSITU was not only a fitting description, but it also helped bridge the awkward reference gap between the original Lula's shop 2009 - 2013 and the eventual "Blythe Anne's" 2014 - 2016.

A little known fact that's been hiding in plain sight, unchanged since 2009, is that the proprietor of Lula's, Blythe, had no small part in this blog coming to fruition. More than that, though, is that I came to Lula's in the first place rather out of character- having been suffering through a depression for some time that included not eating very much as an unconscious side effect. There was just something about the promise of all of my childhood (and, let's face it: adulthood) dreams coming to fruition- vegan style, in a quaint but stately little shop in the East Village, that immediately drew me in. More than once I found myself (and, oftentimes my family) sitting outside the shop waiting for 3:00pm when the black curtain would be lifted and the shop opened for business.


Ironically, it was at Lula's counter: first running front to back and then, post renovation, side to side, that I began making friends again. Having lost many when I couldn't be a very good one myself, these friends were the catalyst to my current community, for which I am extraordinarily grateful.

All of this is to say that Blythe Anne's, formerly Lula's, has just shuttered for good and what that means is that we've lost a gem in this vegan world of ours.