I need some small, square/rectangular, rainbow-colored candies.
March 14, 2014 9:49 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to recreate this rainbow mosaic cake (by Cakes of Our Lives in Melbourne), and need candies for the sides. The best US possibility I've found is these rainbow tropical gum tabs from Sweetworks/Oak Leaf, but they seem to be available online only in bulk quantities, for use in mall gumball machines and the like. I need suggestions for either (1) other ways to source those chiclets (for instance, anyone know a large brick-and-mortar candy emporium that might be able to do a one-off mail order?), or (2) alternative brightly-colored square/rectangular candies that I could use to create the same effect.

Per the cake creator (who very kindly responded to an email), the original candies are boiled lollies made locally in Melbourne. Obviously, we do have lots of hard sugar candy in the States, but that particular small, square, bright-colored type is one I'm not familiar with. It's also devilishly hard to google, since candies aren't usually listed by their shapes.

The Sweetworks tropical chiclets would seem to be a good alternative, but they turn out to be like some mythical abominable snowman of candies, referred to everywhere but completely impossible to actually pin down in person. I have pretty good search skills, and have been through every wedding candy buffet/ online candy site I could find; some stock the right kind of gum, but don't offer less than 25lb orders, and some offer small orders of chiclets but would have to special-order that particular variety with 1-2 months' delay. Creative phoning to local malls with gumball banks, etc., has also come up dry.

Other things I've already ruled out:
--Charms hard candies (too large and thick, kind of dark-colored)
--Regular 'ol fruit Chiclets (cake needs a full rainbow of colors, not just a few)
--Round rainbow candies like M&Ms, instead of rectangular (my daughter, who will be the recipient of the cake, went particularly bananas for the "looks-like-a-brick-wall" aspect of the final product)

Thus, I'm falling back on Metafilter's creativity: how else might I come by that gum? Alternatively, anybody have a line on Australian-style boiled sweets available in the US? Or failing that, what other candies might I use instead? I'm looking to spend $25 tops on this. Thanks so much, all!
posted by Bardolph to Food & Drink (26 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Jolly Ranchers?
posted by Sara C. at 9:52 AM on March 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Broken pieces of ribbon candy?
posted by thatone at 9:55 AM on March 14, 2014

You need Tooty Frooties, although they're probably only available in the UK...
posted by pipeski at 9:55 AM on March 14, 2014

Best answer: Starburst?
posted by whatzit at 9:57 AM on March 14, 2014

Best answer: What about Starbursts?
posted by something something at 9:57 AM on March 14, 2014

Best answer: For Jolly Ranches or Charms- if the color selection is good enough, you can reshape them as follows:

-Place candies in bag; smash with something into small pieces
-Place candy on foil lined bake sheet; bake in 350 degree oven until melted (about 3-4 minutes)
-While candy is still soft, score it into rectangles with well-oiled knife
-When candy hardens carefully break

You could also use a taffy-like candy (Now and Laters come in a lot of colors; ditto Starbursts). Heat briefly in microwave to make them softer; roll them out to desired thickness; cut them into desired shapes (kitchen shears work well for this)
posted by damayanti at 9:59 AM on March 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

Two ideas for ways to DIY the candies if you can't find them:

1. Get some square candy molds and different color candy melts, and make a bunch.

2. Get some fondant or gum paste, or if you know no one has nut allergies, use marzipan. Divide it up, dye each a different color, roll it out and cut into squares.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:59 AM on March 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

They're soft rather than hard, but would Pate de Fruit work? You could cut the individual squares into rectangular slabs. They might not be quite as bright as you were hoping for, though.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:00 AM on March 14, 2014

Airheads in different flavors/colors, cut into squares or rectangles?
posted by loolie at 10:06 AM on March 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Mike & Ike? They are rounded, but you can stagger them in a brick pattern.
posted by payoto at 10:11 AM on March 14, 2014

Best answer: Honestly I think it may be easier just to make them yourself.

Get a silicone (so it's bakeable) mold like this with the size you want (this may be too large for your preference, but the baking aisle at Michaels or Jo-Ann is a good place to search). Then just do what damayanti says only you can skip the step with the cutting. Crunch up the jolly ranchers and drop a bit into each mold. Stick in the oven for a couple minutes so they melt out, then take out and let them cool.

(p.s. This is a super easy way to let kids make homemade lollypops--you just let them stack their favorite jolly ranchers on a tray (on parchment paper) and let them melt.)
posted by phunniemee at 10:15 AM on March 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Have you looked on Etsy? There are a ton of people who make this sort of thing, and many of them will do custom orders--I bet that you could find someone willing to do a custom order of rainbow-colored rectangles pretty easily.

A quick search brought up several possibilities:
A Pocket Full of Sweets
Candied Cakes

That last link actually has almost exactly what you want--look at their edible sugar jewels. They don't have a rainbow assortment listed, but the colors and the price ($27 for 250-300 pieces) is right, and I'd be surprised if they wouldn't accommodate a custom order for a multicolored batch.
posted by MeghanC at 10:16 AM on March 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Charms are square. I think you can get them at Cracker Barrel or on line. Ditto Chuckles (chewier).
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:18 AM on March 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

You might try looking for the old fashioned 'pillow' candies, although I'm having a hard time pinning down candy instead of actual pillows in my google searches. I know I've seen them in some old-timey feeling ice cream parlors around Chicago that also sell things like the candy sticks and candy ribbons.

Other possibilities could be jelly beans (kinda rectangular?), Mamba, Chuckles, Mike & Ikes (more rectangular than jelly beans, come in many varieties these days), assorted color Swedish Fish, or fruit snacks (do they still make Lego ones?).
posted by youngergirl44 at 10:18 AM on March 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

What about Fruit Rollups or Fruit by the Foot?
posted by soelo at 10:21 AM on March 14, 2014

You can roll out Starbursts (and/or Laffy Taffy) and cut them into bricks. I think the translucency is key, though. These candies are out of stock but searching for old-fashioned hard candy might help you find it elsewhere.
posted by chowflap at 10:36 AM on March 14, 2014

Here's a few that could maybe work (from youngergirl44's suggestion of looking for candy pillows at somewhere that makes old-fashioned candy sticks):

Assorted Candy Rods

"Fashion Mixed Pillows"

Snow Kisses (unfortunately they just have them in huge bags, but maybe it gives you search terms to try elsewhere)

I agree that Etsy is a great resource for you, everyone I have ever asked has been very accommodating to me with custom requests.
posted by ReBoMa at 11:17 AM on March 14, 2014

Here's chicklets, fruit rods, candy legos.
posted by newpotato at 12:20 PM on March 14, 2014

ReBoMa, didn't see any links in your post.... Hoping this is what you meant by snow kisses and fashion mixed pillows.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:41 PM on March 14, 2014

Starbursts have been mentioned above, but there's a newer Starburst Mini that look to be about the right size for what you need. Bonus: they come unwrapped, in a single package. I've seen them most recently in the candy aisle at Target, but I'm sure they're available elsewhere.
posted by terilou at 1:32 PM on March 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Maybe these folks?
posted by feistycakes at 2:23 PM on March 14, 2014

You want Papabubble!
posted by kimdog at 3:47 PM on March 14, 2014

Thanks EmpressCallipygos, that is indeed what I meant to link to, for some reason the links broke when I posted.

Here's the other link:
Assorted Candy Rods
posted by ReBoMa at 8:42 PM on March 14, 2014

The way they jut out and are different sizes and shapes, and all kind of all rounded/bumpy looking slightly makes me think they are the sides of Rock Candy -- which is rather popular in Aus; there are a lot of companies who make handmade local versions here.

People have linked to some already (Papabubble especially seems great) but this site has some too. You could cut off the edges and use that.

Charms would work as well, too, but they're a little to perfectly shaped, possibly.

You could go a soft gummy texture route; using cut squares of flavoured/colored fruit strip 'licorice'/cream strips or any kind of square gummy.

It's a really cool idea for a cake.
posted by Dimes at 12:47 AM on March 15, 2014

Cleveland candy emporium B.A. Sweetie's online affiliate offers Oakleaf "tabbylets" gum -- I'm not sure if it's the same as the rainbow variety, but there do seem to be more colors than in the normal Oakleaf chicle gum variety (also sold at that site), and you can get a 3-pound bag.
posted by snarkout at 5:07 PM on March 15, 2014

Response by poster: I tried damayanti's technique for shaping Jolly Ranchers last night, and after some tweaking of temps/wait times, it worked a treat to produce smooth, shiny, shallow brick-shaped candies. May have to do a bit of mixing to get the right colors, but I think I have a winner. Thanks so much for the suggestions, everyone!

Also, for anyone who's in the Melbourne area and interested in making this cake, Emma of Cakes of Our Lives has confirmed that the original candies are "tiny tots", available at Nadi's Lollies. Or you could just order one from her!
posted by Bardolph at 8:16 AM on March 17, 2014

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