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Product Reviews

Product Review: Surf Sweets

Product Review:
Surf Sweets
by Marla Rose

Surf Sweets

This is not going to be one of those articles about how to trick your kids into eating more greens.

This is not going to be one of those articles where I raise a righteously angry fist at Big Sugar.

This is not going to be one of those articles where I boast about how my son has never, ever eaten anything that could qualify as “junk food” in his life and wouldn’t even know a gummy worm if it slithered between the kale and collards plants in our organic backyard garden.

This article is about treats. I happen to believe that it’s okay for kids young and, um, less young to enjoy them sometimes. Does this mean that my family eats candy all the time? No. Does this mean that I am pushing sugar like a back alley drug dealer? No. I think balance and perspective can prevail in a world that, yes, has candy in it. Does the occasional gummy treat diminish my son’s love for kale and broccoli? Not at all.

I think it’s important for our vegan kids to occasionally get to enjoy the same things their omnivorous peers get to eat. I have observed the kids when they get to try vegan versions of treats that once they couldn’t eat because they had gelatin, whey or other animal ingredients in them and I have seen their unabashed joy at being able to have this experience. Do we want to raise kids who will resent us for being restrictive or do we want to raise them in a world that has vegan candy in it that they can occasionally enjoy? Every parent makes his or her own decisions about this but, weighing everything, I know what mine is. In other words, I’m happy to live at a time when my son and his vegan peers can enjoy treats like Surf Sweets.

A couple of weeks ago, I was sent a big box o’ goodies from Surf Sweets, based in Wheeling, IL. Not all of their candies are vegan but they do have gummies - elusive to our population until recently - that are free of gelatin (like Fruity Bears, Sour Worms, and Watermelon Rings). Surf Sweets also has a more upscale line called TruJoy, which carries vegan and organic candies like Fruit Chews (think Starburst for a point of reference) and Choco Chews, which are similar to Chicago’s own iconic Tootsie Rolls and will be released in September. The big box had all that as well as seasonal candies and candy packs that will be sold in October for Halloween. All Surf Sweets and TruJoy candies are free of artificial colors and flavors as well as corn syrup.

I sampled a couple on my own -- the Fruit Chews and the Choco Chews. The Fruit Chews are a little more soft and chewy, a lot less waxy and much more truly “fruit-y” than the Starbursts I remember. A definite improvement. As a chocolate person, I have to say that the Choco Chews were what really thrilled me. As with the Fruit Chews, the Choco Chews are a better texture than the original version in that they are less waxy and the flavor of chocolate really came through. Both candies are an exciting innovation for those who miss an old favorite. I also had two friends who are not vegan try the Fruit Chews and Choco Chews and they both remarked that they would buy them again and preferred the TruJoy treats to the junky versions.

The word isn’t final, though, until kids give their feedback. Oh, you know kids don’t hold back about their opinions. I decided to let some of the kids in the Chicago Vegan Family Network weigh in.

That box of candy never stood a chance. The kids (and, oh, a few parents), descended upon that box of treats like a pack of hungry jackals. It was all over in a few moments of gnashing teeth and fingers tearing everything apart. Okay, from the crime scene, this was what I could discern:

Me: How do you like it?

“It’s awesome.”

Me: Could you be more descriptive?

It’s very good.”

Me: What did you like best?


Other than some disappointed hands rooting around the box fruitlessly for a stray fruity bear or random gummy worm, I’d have to say that the candy tasting was a success.

These are a great option for grown ups and their kids who want to enjoy organic treats while keeping the nasty ingredients out of their lives. Don’t just take my word for it, though. Look at these faces! (Okay, the second one is from the aftermath.)

Vegan Street received this product for free to review and this was my honest evaluation.

2013, 2014, Vegan Street

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