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GF/CF Friday: Surf Sweets Candies


When Edward was in Pre-K, his teacher rewarded students for staying in their seats, completing coloring worksheets and raising their hands before speaking by proferring Skittles, Ring Pops, Dum-Dums, Pixie Sticks and the like.

Needless to say, Edward did not receive that much candy because he preferred to stand near the world map memorizing countries, write his own math problems to solve on the back of the coloring sheets or lounge in the reading center reading book after book.

Still, eliminating artificial colors, flavors, and high fructose corn syrup was our first step toward implementing what would eventually become the GF/CF diet to help Edward’s behavior.  Three years ago it was almost impossible to find sweets and candies that didn’t have colors and dyes.  We found a few items and brought them to class, but Edward soon tired of the same old lollipops day after day.

Life for the sweet lover who avoids the artificial is easier now, however, with a host of organic, natural candies.  I was delighted to learn about Surf Sweets candies last year, and even more excited when they sent me a sampling of their candies to review.

These confections are simply great with a “normal” texture.  They offer Gummy Worms, Gummy Swirls, Gummy Bears, Fruity Bears, Jelly Beans, and Sour Worms.


These treats are:

*Made with Organic Fruit Juice and Sweetners

*Natural Colors and Flavors

*100% of Your Daily Vitamin C

*Free of Corn Syrup and GMOs

*Made in a Nut Free Facility

*Gluten Free

According to Joseph, you can’t tell the Gummy Worms from the ones they sell at the ball park.


Sue thrilled to the Gummy Swirls would have eaten the entire bag if I had let her.


Edward embraced al of the Surf Sweet offerings, preferring, not surprisngly the Gummy Worms!


I just keep a bag of these in my purse and then when candy is offered at soccer or another event, I’ve got a swell substitute!

Thanks, Surf Sweets!

Posted on 1 May '09 by , under GF/CF Diet/Food Reviews. 4 Comments.

Jonesin’ for Blue Sugar


We first wondered if Edward might have some food sensitivities after he ate a large piece of black forest cake at my inlaws and proceeded to bounce from carefully upholstered couch to silk-swathed chair like a ping-pong ball, his mouth bedecked with a cherry red ‘frostache.’

He was three.

Three-year-old boys being what they are, which is patently crazy, I didn’t think too much about it, but did decide to cut out all extraneous food dyes and flavorings.  (It’s also pretty easy to limit what a three-year-old consumes.)

During Pre-K, Edward spent most of the time busily studying the world map or reading books about black holes in the corner, but he would emerge occasionally into the Pre-K world with a promise of some sugary treat like Nerds or Starburst.  If offered a Tootsie Roll pop, he would slash a few marks on a “Letter A” coloring sheet or lacklusterly trace his name.  His teacher started to notice, however, that a few minutes after he consumed the sweet, he would begin to fret and jump and generally become increasingly hyperactive.

We found some alternatives, armed the school with those, and went on our way.  Of course that didn’t stop Edward from approaching perfect strangers at the grocery to warn them about food additives: “Did you know that product has Blue Lake #5 and Yellow Lake  #3?  They can make you hyper.”

Yes, they can.

A year later, we would embark upon the Gluten-Free/Casein-Free diet, but that is a whole other story for a different post.

What got me thinking about food sensitivities lately is how many people I meet don’t seem to realize that they exist, and that they can absolutely wreck a child’s behavior.  Since we are trying another run at public school, I decided to volunteer to help teach the after-school clubs.

Initially Edward planned to sign up for archery, and I found that a troubling and frightening combination.  Arrows, targets, Edward–it just seemed like a recipe for disaster and/or the wounding of others.

I was elated when a mother/physical therapist with a child on the spectrum decided to teach a Gross Motor Skills class. I figured after three years of sitting in on occupational therapy sessions, I qualified to be some sort of assistant, so I told her I would help.

She showed up the first day with a plethora of fabulous activities–scooter boards, bubbles, giant bouncy balls–you  name it and she had a van filled with it.

Yet she also spilled out a bag stuffed with the most gloriously colorful candies and treats that I have seen outside of Wonka.

(Edward, poor, jaded soul that he is when it comes to food, looked at me wryly and, without too much grumbling, shuffled over to the table to partake dutifully in his gluten-free pretzels and apple juice.)

One little girl, however, immediately seized a fistful of blue Sour Patch Kids and began stuffing them in her mouth with gleeful abandon.

I was sort of shocked.  I knew this child fairly well because she takes sensory breaks with Edward, and I knew her to be an exceedingly smart and relatively calm child.  I mean she is a MODEL for Edward during the school day.  But this child saw blue sugar and she could not stop.

She crammed “kid after kid” in her mouth until we feared she might choke.   Three minutes later, her face turned bright red and she began running up and down the hall, screaming and shrilling.  I had to run as fast as I could (which is not all that fast) to even hope to catch her, and when I did, she flailed and dodged me.  She was inconsolable–screaming for more candy at one moment and writhing in the floor the next.

The aide who was helping us with the group was baffled because she worked with this charming little girl on a daily basis and had never seen her react this way.  I went on to ask if it might be the food coloring in the candy, and after some interesting discussions on food sensitivities, we all agreed it must be.

So the next week, I bought a bag of vegetable dye gummy bears from Whole Foods and some pretzels for the snack.  This sweet girl entered the class, locked eyes with me, and demanded, “Where’s the blue stuff?  I need that blue candy!  Please!”  She whined and fussed for a minute, but contented herself with the gummy bears even though she sourly assured me they were not as tasty as the blue variety.

So later that week the mother/physical therapist teaching the club told me that she asked this little girl’s mother if she was sensitive or allergic to any foods.  The mother said she ate everything and they had never noticed any problems with foods.  The club teacher continued to tell the mother about the child’s reaction to the candy, and the mother was dumbfounded.

Another mother I met during a Sensory Connections parent support group was telling the group about her undiagnosed five-year-old whose Pre-K teacher was requesting she leave artificially colored and flavored foods out of his lunch to see if that helped with his behavior.  This mother had never heard of food additives affecting behavior but after we went around the group and told our various stories, she decided to try eliminating them.  We’ll hear at next month’s group how it went.

And then of course there is my dear friend whose son’s ADD was effectively cured by a regime of fish oil and eliminating red dye.

Would that it could always be that simple…

Anyway, if anyone else has a food sensitivity story they’d like to share, discuss it here, or write a blog post and I’ll be happy to link to it.

I’ll try to write something funny for tomorrow!

Posted on 10 March '10 by , under Autism Spectrum/Sensory Processing, GF/CF Diet/Food Reviews. 8 Comments.

The Perfume Stalker

Thursday night, I naively went to see Mamma Mia with my dear friend, hereafter to be named The Perfume Stalker.  (You’ll have to read the whole post or skip to the bottom to find out why.)

I twittered my movie-going announcement proudly as I ran out the door, and then about 20 minutes into the musical, I almost sent a text to H begging him to “un-twitter” it.

Here I’ve just started twittering a few days ago and I’m not sure what my new twitter friends will think when it looks like I am waxing poetic about Pierce Bronson singing “SOS”.  (Granted I knew nothing about the movie before I agreed to go, which is a problem in itself because other than Batman, I couldn’t name a new movie.  Incidentally, H does not believe this claim of ignorance; he is running around telling everyone I was secretly yearning to see the movie.)

Anyway, what was interesting about the whole scenario was why The Perfume Stalker chose this film in the first place: she was coerced, strong-armed, if you will, by her mother!  It seems that her mother, who is in her early 50s, found the story “life-changing” and wanted her to experience this phenomenon as soon as possible.  She called her relentlessly every day to make certain a screening had been scheduled.

As we sat through the “film,” the pain was palpable…we crunched our popcorn and squirmed uncomfortably–cringing when Meryl Streep writhed all over tables and attempted to hit high notes.  When we were finally filing out of the theatre, The Perfume Stalker asked me, “I just don’t get it–do you think that movie makes my mother feel like Grease made us feel when we were 10?  Does she think our relationship is like the one depicted in this movie?  What am I supposed to say to her when she asks me what I thought about it?”

Still, didn’t we all yearn to be a dancing queen and/or Olivia Newton John at some point?  I will never forget strapping on my skates, cranking up my Abba tapes, and dance-skating with graceful abandon all over the asbestos tile floor in my parents’ basement.  I would even go so far as to don old tap-dancing costumes, set up flashlights as spot lights, make tiny cakes in the Easy Bake, and sell tickets.

Well, apparently this desire becomes buried only to resurface (for some/all of us) when we reach menopause and/or see Mamma Mia, the movie.

As we were leaving the theater, three sweet ladies in their early 80s were making their way slowly down the steps.  I stopped to let them pass, impressed that they would be out so late (9:30 pm) after dark.  I also noted inwardly how much one of them reminded me of my own grandmother, who passed away from Alzheimer’s when I was in my mid twenties.  Something about the pastel seersucker cropped pants and matching top, the tightly laced white Keds with those socks that had puffy balls at the heel instantly transported me, and I felt an unusually poignant longing for her.

As we meandered through the parking lot, my friend kept exclaiming about this wonderful smell.  “Somebody smells wonderful and I’m going to find out who it is!”  She raced ahead toward the older ladies, her nose in the air, sniffing uncontrollably.  I was a little frightened.

“Ladies…ladies,”  she calls, “one of you just smells so good I’ve got to find out who!”  Two of the ladies stopped and reluctantly turned around.  A worried look crossed their faces as they clutched their purses tightly.  The other friend trudged ahead, undaunted, toward her car.  If this was some type of scam or holdup, those friends would have to make it alone!

The Stalker smiled to show she was friendly, and then carefully sniffed the air near each lady.  “Well, you both do smell nice, but that’s not the smell I’m looking for.  It must be your friend–let’s call her back!”  The ladies beamed:  “This is going to make her day.  She will never let us forget that she was the one with the unforgettable smell!”

They called Evelyn back from her Buick.  The Stalker sniffed, smiled, and exclaimed with glee, “That’s it–that’s it–what on earth is that divine scent?”  We stood still for a moment in quiet anticipation.  “Oh, baby, it’s Beautiful, by Estee Lauder.”

So, so rare.

The Stalker thanked the ladies for their patience and had one last question: “What did you think of the movie?”  They smiled gleefully and said almost in unison: “Oh dear, it was grand, simply grand!”

So I called The Perfume Stalker yesterday to find out if she had talked to her mother about the film.  And her answer?  “I told her it was grand, simply grand.  And that made her so happy.”

Yep–just what I’d expect from a Perfume Stalker.  There’s an unusual kindness there.

Posted on 2 August '08 by , under Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 11 Comments.