Candy Apples: Aggressive Sampling

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Caramel apples came looking for me on the streets late one night. They were pierced with rugged wooden sword-picks and dangerously close to my face, but I didn’t run or scream.

Typically, when accosted with samples, I usually bolt—mostly because I don’t like surprises or changes in my routine. So, if I’m walking down the street, or through a mall, I don’t want things thrown in my face (you know who you are, oh, ye who regularly lurched in tandem, waving anti-wrinkle creams at haggard-looking moms with strollers, circa 2002-2005).

However, Saturday night, the Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks Team was visiting Bellingham, Washington, marveling at all of the quaint restaurants and boutiques—feeling footloose and fancy-free in our tightly fastened pandemic masks—when, bam! A samples-accoster stuck a plate of candied apples in front of us, and I went wild. (Perhaps it was the wine with dinner, though I probably would not refuse wine samples.)

These were no ordinary apples. These apples had caramel swirled inside the flesh of the Granny Smith apples, and I wondered what kind of magic had to happen to get caramel layered INSIDE the apple. So, I followed the samples-accoster inside the Sweet Bellingham store with every intention of shouting: I have a blog! Show me the behind-the-scenes-magic, and I will make you rich! But I chickened out. Also, I was distracted by other apples on display.

However, I did manage to get some “insider information:”

–Ninety-five percent of the caramel/chocolate covered apples is an actual apple. Or maybe just 95% of the apple is covered in chocolate/caramel? In any case, this is what I understood: you mostly get lots of apple taste, with just a hint of chocolate and caramel, which makes the whole thing a kind of sophisticated treat in my opinion.

–The caramel/chocolate apples are not mass-produced, and the way you can tell is by turning the apple upside down to find its tail. (Totally kidding.) Actually, if you turn the Sweet Bellingham apples upside down, you’ll notice an uneven line of chocolate and a generous peek of the apple’s green bottom. That means, each one was lovingly made by hand.

–These apples can keep several days, uncut. (Or maybe it was several hours? See the reference to wine at dinner above.) You must resist the temptation to keep the apples cold in the refrigerator because then, if you go to cut the apples into wedges, the chocolate shatters.

The only thing left to do was buy an entire apple and slice it.  Nate, Alex, and I chose a salted caramel apple, and it was amazing. A tiny splash of bitter-sweet chocolate, flecked with sea salt, covers a thin layer of caramel—and the tangy, tart, fresh apple underneath makes each flavor stand out. After just one bite, I wanted shove tooth-picked slices at strangers—I wanted to become the thing I’ve avoided my whole life—knowing that deep down inside, it was just fear that held me back. I wanted to become a samples-accoster—one that’s hopped up on caramel-chocolate-tart-apple vibes, coming at you like a raging carnival of determination.

Your Turn: How often do you turn down samples when offered? Sometimes? Always? Never?

25 thoughts on “Candy Apples: Aggressive Sampling

    1. I guess you can’t be too cautious–I mean, look at what happened to Snow White with those apples–but these looked fresh–the samples guy had JUST sliced them and walked outside into the open. I still stay away from grocery store samples–but these samples were all about wide, open spaces–with social distancing, gloves, etc.–and no touching of the food–just lift from a toothpick, so I felt safe. And, more than 24 hours later, I’m still standing! Woohoo!

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  1. I hadn’t thought about candy apples or caramel apples in years. In my youth I loved them a lot and ate quite a few of them. I’d be afraid to eat them now. Too many caps on my teeth. But if I spot one somewhere, maybe I’ll throw caution to the wind and have one anyway. They’re great.

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  2. yummy! I used to buy caramel apples at Rocky Mountain Chocolate shop all the time, but then they went out of business and I haven’t had one since then. My favorite was one called apple pie apple that was caramel, white chocolate and cinnamon sugar. I go back and forth on samples. I do not take them if they are served on a platter, but there are times we we’ve gone to festivals or craft fairs and I want to test something before I buy it

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    1. Oh, I remember the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Shop–there was one in Ohio–before we moved to the Greater Seattle area–that apple pie apple version sounds amazing!

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  3. I’m so glad you had a great experience in Bellingham – one of my fave places to visit. Maybe we’ll be able to move back there one day [hubby was raised there and graduated from the High School – his dad taught at Western Washington]

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    1. Soo cool! Alex got into Western Washington and UW in Seattle. It was a tough choice, but he will go to UW. HOWEVER, we will definitely visit Bellingham more often. Such a great place! Cheers!

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    1. Typically I do avoid samples, but this one felt okay to sample–in the open air, gloves, not many people–just brought the apple out of the store–it was shiny–but then again, that’s what happened to Snow White, I believe. In any case, I’m still standing:)

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  4. I have to be careful around food samples. My brother and I would make the rounds at the Costco scarfing every sample we could get our hands on.
    I’m addicted to salted caramel. That apple sounds right up my alley.

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  5. Definitely a situational decision. When I go by the rug factory, I always accept the samples, and I’ve got 15% of my apartment carpeted now, kind of a patchwork look. But they only offer samples from a local glove-maker, once year, just one finger, and who’s going to wait a decade to assemble a pair of gloves, I just turn them down.
    One of my grandmother’s called those caramel treats “moishy apples,” and I always thought that was just some silly name she cooked up for us kids, but that’s what they’re called in Penna. Dutch areas.

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  6. They look as beautiful as I’m sure they taste! And I never turn down a sample of wine–there’s a wine story at the local supermarket and whenever we go grocery shopping, the ladies there see me coming!

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