I am a huge Mindware.com junkie, and while they’re not paying me to write this, I would totally be okay it if they wanted to. Our craft shelves are full of fun activities from them, along with puzzle books, manipulative sets and more. Being a homeschooling family of 5 in a townhouse means that we can’t do major storage of “stuff” without our house looking like the wrong side of an episode of “Hoarders” so we try to get our kits completed.
I actually really do love having things like this around. They’re perfect for a day when the weather makes you change plans last minute and you need something to distract your children from whining at you about how GROSSLY unfair it is that you can’t go to the pool without severe risk of death from electrocution due to those pesky afternoon thunderstorms.
On just such an afternoon, PwcGrammy pulled two make your own candy kits from our shelves. I think they were actually part of a box that my mother-in-law sent at Christmas, but with all my health adventures, we hadn’t gotten to these yet. Oddly, the chocolate kit seems to have been completed separately.
What’s neat about these kits is their focus on ecology. The gummies are made from fair-trade algae called Carrageenan, which my middle kiddo is holding in his hand in the picture above. The brochure that comes with the book includes a story about how harvesting the particular red algae used to extract Carrageenan provides revenue for an island village, and how the harvest of seaweed is a sustainable agricultural endeavor.
I’m not sure how much of that they retained, though, because they were too busy noticing that the seaweed smelled like old ocean. Bad.
The make your own gum kit also has a similar sustainable and eco-friendly slant, and uses chicle, which is the sap from a sapodilla tree in South America, rather than a chemical agent, to provide the appropriate level of “chaw” to your gum.
The actual age on these kits (does anyone with more than one kid actually listen to the age on packages?) is ages 8 and up. I would go just a tiny bit higher on the gum, to be honest, because you have to microwave several items together and then flatten them out to roll (see daughter getting powdered sugar EVERYWHERE) and the mixture is incredibly sticky and really hot. PwcGrammy burned her fingers trying to get it out and flat enough for the kids to handle before the whole thing just solidified in the microwave container. The gum can be flavored mint or cherry, and while it doesn’t hold its flavor for long, it does taste and chew just like gum, and has no artificial dyes, so if your child is sensitive, this might be fun for them.
As far as the gummies went, we had a little trouble using the “molding starch” provided in the kit- but you could just as easily use candy molds or cookie cutters from your house and skip the starch step. Also, as bad as the seaweed smelled, the sour mix (your gummies are sour-patch style) covered up any “ocean” smell or taste.
The kids actually really enjoyed making these, and they especially liked learning about the tree sap and seaweed that went into the treats. They weren’t the best candy we’ve ever had, and I think that everyone just tried a piece and the rest, honestly, went in the trash a week later, but the process itself was really fun and enjoyable. Both kits did have a white powdery component, the gum used powdered sugar for rolling and the gummies had “molding starch” which just seemed like cornstarch, but obviously no matter what kind of food-grade powder your slinging around your kitchen, you’re going to make a bit of a mess!
We’re giving these “Make Your Own Candy” kits 3 out of 5 stars. The kids loved the process but didn’t really eat the candy (not necessarily the worst problem on earth!) and the hot gum was a little hard to navigate without burned fingers. We had a good time and learned something, but wouldn’t probably buy the kits again.