By Julie Finn
Gee, it’s hard to be a craft blogger sometimes. Last week, I (and my two young, unpaid assistants, mwa-ha-ha!) did the tough, tough work of putting together two of Glee Gum’s Make Your Own Candy Kits just so that I can tell you all about them.
We made chewing gum for YOU, Friends. And gummies, all for your entertainment and edification.
We DO have standards, mind you. I prefer children’s DIY kits that include eco-friendly materials, are able to actually be completed by the actual children, and are educational. That last one makes me sound kind of crummy, but whatever. I make my kids play with educational toys.
The kids, now? The kids really just want their DIY kits to be fun. They have low standards for the educational quality of their toys, alas, but they have very high standards for fun.
We made our Make Your Own Candy Kits on a rainy, dreary post-Halloween week when everyone was kind of cold and antsy and feeling the let-down that comes after a fun holiday, when you know that you’ve got to get through a boring holiday next before you can have another fun holiday.
Glee Gum’s Make Your Own Gummies Kit
Glee Gum’s Make Your Own Gummies kit is the easier of the two kits that we made. It includes a pamphlet about the sustainable harvest of carrageenan, with an optional lesson plan online to make this an even more enriching experience. And even after that, watching my kiddo’s skepticism as she soaked the little piece of seaweed that the kit contains, dubious about what this thing was going to add to her candy, was pretty great.
Both of these kits require some stovetop (or microwave) cooking, and even with kids who know their way around the kitchen, they both need some supervision there, because sugar and gum base get HOT, and they’re sticky, so if you spill some on you, it’ll just stick to your skin and keep on burning.
Ask me how I know this.
The gummies kit asks kids to mix the ingredients from various packets (including that seaweed!) and heat them:
The most challenging aspect is making the gummy molds and pouring the gummy solution into them to set. You need a little expectation management here, as your kid is of course not going to be able to create a perfectly-molded gummy bear from her kit:
If you encourage her to make simple molds, however, she can get some pretty cute-looking pieces. My kiddo actually had the best results when pouring gummies into small silicone molds, so if you’ve got those, definitely give them a try.
Another thing that I really like about these kits is that there’s not a ton of waiting involved–these gummies go in the refrigerator to set for ten minutes, but then they’re ready to eat! The kiddo was SUPER excited to try her homemade gummies; she definitely noted that they don’t taste “the same” as conventionally purchased gummy bears, but did she love them anyway?
Yeah, she loved them.
Glee Gum’s Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit
Glee Gum’s Make Your Own Chewing Gum kit is more challenging than the gummies kit, with a few more steps to the process, and the gum solution gets quite a bit stiffer than the gummies solution. Still, though, my kid was able to follow the directions independently, and the process is quite forgiving, so you don’t have to be obsessed with perfection here.
Again, the kit includes a pamphlet showing the kid how the sustainable harvest of the rainforest sap works, and an educator’s guide if you want to add more to the experience. And again, the process mostly involves the ability to heat the gum base on the stove, and then add in the various ingredients:
With the Make Your Own Gum kit, there’s also a lot of kneading to mix in the powdered sugar and then the flavoring. This got more challenging as the gum got stiffer, and my kiddo wasn’t able to get everything kneaded in, which we both agreed affected the flavor–make a mental note that you may have to take a turn with the kneading if you’re really focused on the results. We’re more process-oriented people, so I was happy to let my kiddo do the best she could:
The process of portioning the gum is actually easier than it is with the gummies, as the gum doesn’t have to be poured into homemade molds. Instead, the kiddo rolls it out (she’s making two batches, each with a different flavor):
And then she cuts it into pieces:
I think that you could fussy cut the gum in this step, or even use a metal cookie cutter to shape cute pieces, but triangles and rectangles taste just as delicious, of course.
Overall, both of these Make Your Own kits are superb, both in the experience that they offer the children and in the final products, which genuinely work, and are genuinely tasty. The message about sustainable harvesting and the positive effects of buying sustainably-sourced products for the environment are also clear and are well presented at a child’s level. If you’ve got a kid who’s obsessed with candy or gum and is always wanting to buy some, this is pretty much a must-have.
I received these Make Your Own Candy Kits free from Glee Gum, on account of I can’t write about something if my assistants and I haven’t poured molten chewing gum all over the counter first!
Read more here: Crafting A Green World