Tag Archives: Candy

Candy Review – Russell Stover Dark Chocolate & MARSHMALLOW Pumpkin

Too soon.

Too soon.

Today is August 11, 2015.  It’s 90 degrees and sunny here in Portland, Oregon, and people are frolicking on the sandy beaches of the Columbia River, since it’s hot and it’s summertime and that’s what you’re supposed to do on a hot summer’s day.


Today is also the day I stopped by the drugstore for some ice packs and happened upon a Halloween Candy display.  Halloween.  As in October 31st.  As in the second best candy holiday in America, but one that is firmly rooted in the chilly fall.  Nevertheless, I purchased one of these Halloween candies for (cough cough) research purposes.  Here are my findings:




The Russell Stover Dark Chocolate & MARSHMALLOW Pumpkin is 110 calories of sugary goodness.  There is no actual pumpkin involved in the treat.  Except for the fact that the candy is vaguely pumpkin-shaped (although, let’s be honest, pumpkins come in a wide variety of blob-like shapes and almost any candy could arguably be called pumpkin-shaped), this tasty treat has no connection to pumpkins or Halloween or summer or food.  I’m also not sure why it must yell MARSHMALLOW at me, but that’s an issue for another day.


Cross section candy marshmallowAs for the candy itself – the dark chocolate coating is wafer thin and the marshmallow is soft, gooey, and as fresh as only a 2.5 month premature marshmallow can be.  It was so sweet it actually hurt my teeth, which is worrying on a number of levels, but it was also exactly how I expected it to be.  It was like eating the candy incarnate of diabetes itself, and it was delicious.


For those who want a more descriptive account of the taste – are you familiar with soft marshmallow, more firm than marshmallow fluff but softer than your typical store-bought bagged marshmallows and minus the powdery exterior?  Are you familiar with briefly running your tongue against a cheap bar of dark chocolate?  Can you imagine combining those two experiences and injecting them into the center of your teeth where unborn cavities live?  Can you also imagine some small part of you enjoying this experience in a deeply guilty way?  Then that, my friend, is the Russell Stover Dark Chocolate & MARSHMALLOW Pumpkin, enjoyed on a hot summer’s day in mid-August, after a big lunch and before a long nap.


How early do you think it’s acceptable to start selling and/or consuming Halloween candy?  How many naps will it take before my EMT camp sleep debt is repaid?  Did you know Easter is the best candy holiday in America?  Share in the comments!

The Best Marathon in Every State

My marathon schedule as laid out last April is already off (missed Missoula, only did half of Blerch, and 2015 is all over the place).  But the schedule was not so much about hitting those exact races in those exact years but rather seeing how long it could (would?) take to run the 50 States, and to create a list of the top races to do.  The whole goal is to enjoy this quest, so I want to make sure to pick the right races.  How can I know if I’m picking the best race?  Random internet lists to the rescue!


The venerable website VacationHomeRentals.com (“by Trip Advisor”) recently posted a list of the Best Marathon in Every State in the USA.  I agree with the sparse comments more than I do with the list – not that I’ve run that many of the listed races, but the fact that they included my least favorite marathon to date (Marshall Marathon in West Virginia) leads me to suspect they just randomly threw this list together.  Shocking, I know, considering what a leading runners’ resource VacationHomeRentals.com is.  Is my sarcasm coming through?  This thing on?  <thump thump feeeeedback!>


Since that wasn’t a reliable list, I decided to suss out (aka Google) other lists of the “Best Marathon in Each State.”  There aren’t all that many.  Interestingly enough, FlipKey.com (also “by Trip Advisor”) posted an unannotated list of the 50 “top marathons & races” in each state here (dated April 9, 2014).  Not all are full marathons, but it looks like most are.


The 50 States Marathon Club also has a “favorites” list from suggestions from members, but it’s unclear how many members have actually given input or how often they update it, plus it often includes more than one marathon per state.  I only found one comprehensive 50 Marathons in the 50 States list from a site that actually has to do with running – Active.com’s Top 50 Marathons to do Across America – which also includes a short description on each race.  There’s no date and no comments, so I have no idea when they put this list together.  I also hate that it’s spread across 7 pages so you have to click-through everything, making it difficult to compare this list with the others – so, I did it for you!

Best marathon in each state page 1 of 3Best marathon in each state page 2 of 3Best marathon in each state page 3 of 3In alphabetical order by state, here are the 50 “best” marathons in each state from VacationHomeRentals, FlipKey, the 50 States Marathon Club, and Active.com.  Click the images above to expand, or click here for a 3-page PDF of the compiled lists.  I also included my tentative “to do” list but did not highlight when my selections overlapped with another’s.  Someday I hope to be able to create a compact review of a race in each state myself!


I highlighted those races that appeared in more than one list (and bolded the races in my list I’ve completed).  It’s interesting to note that no race was included in all four lists, but several races were included in three (Little Rock, AR; Hartford, CT; Mesa Falls, ID; Boston, MA; Steamtown, PA; Myrtle Beach, SC; & Richmond, VA).  Are those 7 races the best of the best, or do those states just not have a lot of great options?  There were 10 states that didn’t have any overlap on the four lists (Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, & Washington).  Not surprising for those states that are full of natural beauty and/or a lot of runners (e.g. Alaska, Colorado, Montana, Washington, etc.), but I was surprised there were that many “best” races in Maryland and Missouri.


For the sake of thoroughness, although I did not include these lists in my compilation:  here’s Men’s Health’s 2012 article 11 Races to Run Before You Die, clearly written by someone who was asked to name every race that he could name off the top of his head, with a couple of randoms thrown in (if you hate the slideshow format like me, here’s a spoiler:  Chicago Marathon, NYC Marathon, Honolulu Marathon, Boston Marathon, Big Sur Marathon, Mt Desert Island Marathon, Indy Mini Half Marathon, London Marathon, Bay-to-Breakers, Miami Half Marathon, & Covered Bridges Half Marathon).  But it’s no worse than the TopEventsUSA.com’s list (updated Feb 2014) of the “Top 20 Marathons or Marathon Events in the USA,” presented in such a maddening non-list I can’t bother to re-create it here.  There’s also this crowdsourced list of marathons by month, but the links simply send you to comments made on MarathonGuide.com.  Finally, here’s Marathon and Beyond’s 1998 list of the top 26 Marathons in North America.  Surprisingly I think most are still being run!


As always, I think the best resource for information on marathons in the US is MarathonGuide.com – bless all those people who write detailed reviews – but now you have a color-coded compiled 50 “best” list, which is better than actually training for anything, right?

Hazelnut chocolate wafer candy bar

And for a bonus candy review – the candy pictured above was one of the new candies I got in Houston.  It’s super delicious, like a delicate Kit Kat with chopped hazelnuts on top.  The wafer is airy, the chocolate and hazelnut flavors are good, and the chopped nuts go perfectly with the wafers and chocolate.  I could easily eat 50 of these things in every US State.  Too bad I have no idea what this candy is called, even though I’m looking directly at the wrapper.  (Ion Chocofreta?  It’s all Greek to me!)


Do you have a list of the top 50 marathons by state, or a list of races you’d like to do?  Do you have a list of the 50 best candy bars?  Which list would you rather research and compile?  Share in the comments!

Twizzlers Heal Injuries by Where's the Finish

NYC Marathon Spectating – 2014 Experience

Twizzlers Heal Injuries by Where's the Finish

Many people asked if it were true. I said yes, and that I was a doctor.

As a marathon runner who has benefitted countless times from spectators who passed out food, beer, or just had a funny sign, I feel I have a duty to karmically pay back these good deeds.  My one big chance every year is the NYC Marathon.  I volunteered at the Expo on Thursday, but my real “good marathon deed” came today – for almost 5 hours, standing at about mile 21.5, I passed out 12 pounds of Twizzlers and 4 bags of Kit Kats.  I had two signs – “Twizzlers heal injuries” while passing out the Twizzlers and “Show Us Your Tata Consultancy Services” when I ran out of Twizzlers.  The Tata sign was from last year, but since TCS was the actual sponsor this year, many, many more people got the joke this time.

Show us your Tata Consultancy Services

Sign with candy bag detritus. They still smell strongly of Twizzlers.


I also learned a few things from spectating today:


  • Norwegians love Twizzlers.  Or they don’t have Twizzlers in Norway and they wanted to literally grasp the one chance they got to try this waxy American treat.  Either way, I think the first 4 pounds of Twizzlers went exclusively to Norwegians.  Or maybe they were Swedish.  I’m not so good with the flags.
  • There’s no such thing as overdressing to spectate a cold-weather race.  It was in the 40s today but with a windchill in the 30s.  I wore long underwear, thick jeans, an extra wool top, a wind-blocking fleece, wool socks, boots, fleece headband, hat, scarf, and (rubber, for sanitary reasons) gloves.  When it got shady I added my long down coat and hood.  All of this was just barely comfortable, although my ears and fingers were still cold by the end.  While my friend somehow, amazingly, ran the marathon shirtless, if you plan on standing still for multiple hours you won’t be sorry you’re warm.  You can always remove layers if you’re hot, but you can’t put on the extra wool sweater you didn’t bring.
  • I probably pissed off several runners today.  To those runners, I say:  I hope you understand it was only because I was trying to get candy to another runner, and I really didn’t mean for that runner to clothesline you while reaching for a treat.  I hope those minor irritations only fueled you to a stronger finish.
  • Having a sign explaining what you are handing out is very helpful.  I saw people reading the sign that Twizzlers heal injuries, which then helped them identify the strange red ropes in my hands.  I didn’t have a sign that said “Kit Kats” and people seemed confused by them, although they still went like hotcakes (assuming marathoners love hotcakes).  It would have been even better to have multiple people passing out treats, but amazingly I haven’t convinced anyone to join me on these marathon spectating adventures yet.  Maybe next year!
  • Twizzlers are a great candy to pass out.  It’s cheaper than chocolate (12 lbs for about $22 on Amazon, vs 4 bags of Kit Kats on sale at Duane Reade for $10, but they lasted about 15 minutes because there’s not much in a bag) and I personally enjoy eating Twizzlers more during a race than other candy.  I wore disposable rubber gloves so it was moderately more sanitary and I didn’t have to hand anyone candy I touched with my bare hands.  Plus the Norwegians love it.
  • Candy grabbing goes in waves.  When one person takes candy from you, usually a bunch more will also grab for candy right afterwards.  Then 50 runners will go by and nothing.  Then, one person wants candy, and 5 people right around them also want it.  If someone wants to run a detailed psychological study on this, please give me credit in the footnotes.
  • A ton of really attractive men ran the marathon this year.  I saw so many guys who could be doubles for the ridiculously photogenic runner meme guy, it was hard to believe they had already run 21 miles in the freezing cold.  If someone wants to run a detailed psychological study on this, please include my contact info in the footnotes.
  • Even when I ran out of candy, people seemed to appreciate that I stood there holding my silly sign.  I felt terrible I couldn’t offer them more, but since they didn’t know what they missed, there were no hard feelings.  Now that they know, however, I can understand if they demand candy from me if they ever run into me on the street.  “You’re that girl with the sign and the blog?  Where’s my candy?!”  “Hold on, handsome, I have some right here in my handbag…”


Did you run or watch the NYC Marathon today?  Or are you mostly just excited for another Walking Dead episode tonight?  Do you also always carry candy in your handbag?  DO Norwegians love Twizzlers?  Share in the comments!