From everything I’ve seen and heard, Australia is a beautiful country. Lush green areas, desolate expanses of scrubland, sandy beaches, sunny blue skies. Australia has a lot going for it, especially when I start spinning through Google Maps in Calgary in February, dreaming of emigrating to a place without icy scouring winds, snow drifts and cold-related transit breakdowns.
But it has snakes. Not friendly, harmless snakes like the ones in my Great Grandmother’s garden on Vancouver Island, but mean snakes. Venomous snakes. With fangs and slithering and … I mostly don’t want to think about it.
“Now Iain,” you say. “Alberta also has snakes. Poisonous ones, even. Ask a rancher in southern Alberta, and they’ll tell you so. Stop being such a ninny.”
True, I say. Especially the part about being a ninny. But I’ve never seen a snake in Alberta. After two and a half decades in this province, I’ve never encountered a poisonous creature that wasn’t behind the glass-window protection of a local zoo. Precedent speaks louder than logic, I guess.
And so whenever I consider up and moving to Australia, to write novels in the sunshine of a Melbourne café patio while swatting away curious koalas, I remember my other experience living in a tropical place, where neighbours had to chase a viper from my bedroom with a very large stick.
But perhaps Australians have a different opinion of snakes. Perhaps these gummy snakes from The Natural Confectionary Co. are Australian children’s equivalent of our Teddy Grahams or gummy bears. Lord knows I wouldn’t want to shake hands with a black bear in the woods, but I’ve seen them in the wild and I don’t live in terror of them mugging me in a dark Edmonton alley.
The Pitch: “Proudly made in Australia with no artificial colours and no artificial flavours so dig in and have some fun!” “Yummy fruity flavours: juicy orange, wild blackcurrant, delectable smooth banana, ripe raspberry, crisp apple.”
The Look: Gummy snakes in a plastic bag with an illustrated snake with eyebrows raised in a way that makes me think he wants to be more than just friends. I’m impressed by the brightness of the colours, given their non-artificial sources.
The Taste: Snip open the bag and the first scent is sweet candy banana. The flavours are pleasantly natural tasting and easily distinguishable from one another, and they get stronger and more rounded as they warm up in your mouth. The texture is gummy, yes, but not like the gummy worms I’m used to. These are stiffer, with less chew. More like the Jelly Rats I used to be able to get at Ikea than the gummy bears at 7-Eleven. Best flavour? Maybe blackcurrant, because it’s not something I find very often in Canadian candies. Worst flavour? Banana, but only because I don’t like banana candy flavouring.
RATINGS AND DETAILS
Nutrition?: Per 25 grams (8 servings per package): 347 kJ (83 calories), 3 mg of sodium.
The verdict: Quite enjoyable. Strikes the right balance between “natural” and “sweet indulgence.”