CottonCandyInstagram

I have to say that I have written a lot about Cotton Candy grapes. I have talked about the first time I found them, where you can find them each year, I have toured the vineyard that grows them (actually going again in a couple weeks), and explained why the taste like Cotton Candy. I have decided, I have said enough, and it is time to turn it over to you to hear what you have to say about them. I have looked high and low across the Instagram universe to find you the best photos of Cotton Candy grapes, along with where these people found them and what they have to say about them. Enjoy!

Freshly rinsed off grapes, ready to be enjoyed. Photo courtesy of Instagram user hwarthen.

Freshly rinsed off grapes, ready to be enjoyed. Photo courtesy of Instagram user hwarthen.

“The cotton candy grapes are creative and unique – whoever thought of the idea is a genius. I remember as a kid that my mom used to say fruit was like candy. These grapes make that statement absolutely true!”

Instagram user, hwarthen who got them at Mariano’s.

Cotton Candy grapes are so good, even dogs want in on the action. Photo courtesy of Instagram user  mannan_sharkulics

Cotton Candy grapes are so good, even dogs want in on the action. Photo courtesy of Instagram user
mannan_sharkulics

“Actually, I first tried them in line at the grocery store when the lady front of me offered me some of hers. They were one of the best things I’ve ever eaten! I’ve been looking at the grocery store for them all summer and finally got a bag for myself. If that nice stranger didn’t share her grapes with me I never would have bought them on my own.”

Instagram user, mannan_sharkulics who bought them at Publix.

Pizza anyone? A deicious looking fruit pizza with the best topping in the world - Cotton Candy grapes. Photo courtesy of Instagram user, jessica_alex

Pizza anyone? A delicious looking fruit pizza with the best topping in the world – Cotton Candy grapes. Photo courtesy of Instagram user, jessica_alex

“My boyfriend is obsessed with these grapes and we’re happy to share what we did with them. It’s a fruit pizza– sugar cookie crust, cream cheese frosting, and any fruit you like.”

Instagram user, jessica_alex

Last two bags, which one should you choose? The bigger one of course! Photo courtesy of Instagram user, kwhite0728

Last two bags, which one should you choose? The bigger one of course! Photo courtesy of Instagram user, kwhite0728

“of course I bought the big bag. I didn’t look at the price when she rang them up”

Instagram user, kwhite0728, who bought them at Publix.

Nice close up of the grapes. Photo courtesy of Instagram user, melanieskerr

Nice close up of the grapes. Photo courtesy of Instagram user, melanieskerr

“They really do taste like cotton candy! 😱 #cottoncandygrapes #banishsugarcravings” (I love that last hashtag!!!!)

Instagram user, melanieskerr, who got them at Whole Foods Market

The only way a shopping cart can be completely healthy and still have cotton candy in it! Photo courtesy of girlwithgoals

The only way a shopping cart can be completely healthy and still have cotton candy in it! Photo courtesy of girlwithgoals

“Grocery haul for a few days of meal prep” (I think Cotton Candy grapes make it a sweet haul!)

Instagram user, girlwithgoals

Has there ever been such a glorious bowl of grapes. Moon Drops, Cotton Candy, and Flavor Pops. Photo courtesy of Instagram user, ernitchgo

Has there ever been such a glorious bowl of grapes. Moon Drops, Cotton Candy, and Flavor Pops. Photo courtesy of Instagram user, ernitchgo

“Hi my name is Emily and I like to buy $40 worth of special grapes on Sunday night because I’m THE WORST. .🍇🍇🍇”

Instagram user, ernitchgo

She also said this about what the red Flavor Pops grape in the bowl taste like.

“pretentious answer: similar to the cotton candy but a little more floral? Non-pretentious answer: delicious”

Want to learn more about Grapery and their grapes, check out these posts. Got a photo to share. Leave me your Instagram link in the comments section below and I will check it out!

How Did They Make Grapes Taste Like Cotton Candy?
Cotton Candy Grapes – From Vine to Your Store
Gum Drops Grapes
Where to Buy Cotton Candy Grapes in 2016?
My Tour of the Grapery Vineyards
Moon Drops grapes
Flavor Pops Grapes
Flavor Promise Grapes

Where to Buy Cotton Candy Grapes in 2016?

in Fruit & Vegetables

Where to Buy Cotton Candy Grapes 2016

Like, each and every year I once again have a listing of stores that are stocking Cotton Candy grapes this season. These are the places to look. Call ahead to see if they have any in stock. Whenever I discover any confirmed sighting, whether via facebook, instagram twitter, e-mail, the comment section below, I will update the list with the confirmed sightings. I hope everyone that wants to try them this year will be able to. The season runs from early August through early September (season is about 5 to 6 weeks long).

Before you go into the store be forewarned, they may not be there. Sometimes they sell out fast. Some stores may not be getting a consistent shipment. I think we have gotten use to going to the grocery store and always finding what we want. Rarely do you not find green seedless grapes when you are looking for them. But rarely do we go looking for a specific green seedless grape from a particular grower. We just want green seedless grapes. If you did try to find a particular grower, you would probably notice that they weren’t available each day. Maybe a green grape from a different grower arrived on Thursday than they had on Wednesday.

Where to Buy Cotton Candy Grapes 2016

From my experience working in retail produce, I can tell you that communication to the people that stock the produce isn’t always good. Often they are under pressure to come up with an answer for that customer based on what they know (or don’t know). Those answers may not always be accurate. Here are things you might hear or I have heard or read.

They told me there was a problem with their supplier

This does happen from time to time. Grapery’s grapes do have limited availability on particular varieties. It is a great way to get the customer’s wrath off of yourself. So until Grapery says the season is over, don’t give up.

“Said they were done for the season

When something was in stock and then suddenly disappears this is what people commonly believe. Especially with Cotton Candy grapes now that there are limited supplies coming from Mexico in the early summer. Some produce workers believe that the season was over with those. Grapery says they will last into early September.

Wonder how they got grapes to taste like Cotton Candy, check out my answer to the question “How Did They Make Grapes Taste Like Cotton Candy“.

Cotton Candy Grapes Up Close 2015

Here are the stores that Grapery supplies grapes to. They only know what type of store they go to, not specific stores. That is up to each store’s distribution center and buying teams. In some cases, the individual store has control over how much they get. Some buyers at the store level may order more or less than others. Always best to call ahead, especially before making a trip of any significant distance.

Store Listings by State

Alabama
Publix
Rouses
The Fresh Market
Sam’s Club

Alaska
Charlie’s Produce (distributor)
Sam’s Club

Arizona
AJs
Sprouts
Sam’s Club

Arkansas
The Fresh Market
Sam’s Club

California
Sweet Surrender (Bakersfield, CA – confirmed)
Sam’s Club
Sprouts (confirmed in Corona)
Raley’s
Nob Hill
Gelson’s
Whole Foods (confirmed in Los Angeles)
Sully’s (Bakersfield, CA)
Bel Air
Vons/Pavilion
Bristol Farms (confirmed in Manhattan Beach)

Colorado
King Soopers
Sprouts
Brush Grocery
Heinies Market
Sam’s Club

Connecticut
Fresh Direct
Nathel & Nathel (Distributor)
The Fresh Market
Whole Foods
Big Y
Stop & Stop

Delaware
TMK Produce (Distributor)
Harris Teeter
Sam’s Club

Florida
Publix
The Fresh Market
Sam’s Club
Harris Teeter
Boy’s Farmer’s Market

Georgia
Sprouts
Publix
The Fresh Market
Sam’s Club
Harris Teeter

Hawaii
Whole Foods Market
Don Quixote
Foodland Hawaii
Safeway
Sam’s Club
Times Supermarket

Idaho
Yokes Fresh Market
Pacific Coast Fruit Company
Sam’s Club

Illinois
Schnucks
The Fresh Market
Treasure Island Foods
Hy-Vee
Niemanns
Sam’s Club
Mariano’s
Jewel Food Stores

Indiana
Kroger
Caito (Distributor)
Schnucks
The Fresh Market
Sam’s Club

Iowa
Hy-Vee
Niemanns
Schnucks
Sam’s Club
Hometown Foods
Big G Food
JW’s Foods, Inc.
Maynards Food Center
Super Saver

Kansas
The Fresh Market
Sprouts
Hy-Vee
Sam’s Club
Whites Foodliner
Apple Market
Hen House

Kentucky
The Fresh Market
Sam’s Club

Louisiana
Rouses
The Fresh Market
Sam’s Club

Maine
Sam’s Club
Hannaford Brothers

Maryland
Wegmans
The Fresh Market
Whole Foods
TMK Produce (Distributor)
Giant
Martin’s
Harris Teeter
Sam’s Club

Massachusetts
Wegmans
The Fresh Market
Whole Foods
Big Y
Stop & Shop
Roche Bros.
Idylwilde Farms
4M Distributing
Sam’s Club

Michigan
Whole Foods Market (confirmed in Ann Arbor, MI)
Kroger
Busch’s
Hutch’s Food Center
Nino Salvaggio International Marketplace
Rocky Produce (Distributor)
Papa Joe’s Gourmet Market
Holiday Market
Plum Market
Vince & Joe’s Market
Randazzo’s
Sam’s Club

Minnesota
Lunds/Byerlys
Hy-Vee
Target
Maynards Food Center
Lerbergs Foods
Festival Foods

Mississippi
Rouses
Sam’s Club

Missouri
Hy-Vee
Niemanns
Schnucks
Sam’s Club
Mac’s Super Saver
Apple Market
Dierbergs

Montana
Sam’s Club

Nebraska
Hy-Vee
Sam’s Club
Allens
Thriftway Market
Lincoln Street Market
Rightway Grocery
Fosters Family Foods
Grand Central Foods
Dukeman Family Foods
Plum Creek Market
Apple Market
Super Saver

Nevada
Sprouts
Raley’s
Sam’s Club

New Hampshire
The Fresh Market
Sam’s Club

New Jersey
Wegmans
Fresh Direct
Baldor
The Fresh Market
Nathel & Nathel (Distributor)
TMK Produce (Distributor)
Stop & Stop
Sam’s Club

New Mexico
Sprouts
Sam’s Club

New York
Fresh Direct
Nathel & Nathel (Distributor)
Baldor
The Fresh Market
Wegmans
Whole Foods
Stop & Stop
Sam’s Club

North Carolina
Publix
The Fresh Market
Sam’s Club
Harris Teeter

North Dakota
Sam’s Club

Ohio
The Fresh Market
Sam’s Club
Giant Eagle

Oklahoma
Sprouts
The Fresh Market
Sam’s Club
Crest Foods
Country Mart
Apple Market
J B’s Market

Oregon
Roth’s Fresh Markets
Pacific Coast Fruit Company
QFC
Charlie’s Produce (Distributor)
Spokane Produce (Distributor)

Pennsylvania
The Fresh Market
Wegmans
Fresh Direct
Sam’s Club
TMK Produce (Distributor)
Giant
Martin’s
Giant Eagle
Altamonte’s Italian Market
Iovine Brothers

Rhode Island
Stop & Stop
Sam’s Club

South Carolina
The Fresh Market
Publix
Sam’s Club
Harris Teeter

South Dakota
Hy-Vee
County Fair Foods
Sunshine Foods
Jones Food Center
Maynards Food Center
Doug’s Food Center
Hartmans Family Food
Al’s Oasis
Menno Food Market
Sam’s Club

Tennessee
The Fresh Market
Publix
Sam’s Club

Texas
The Fresh Market
Sam’s Club
Whole Foods
Green & Fresh
HEB (confirmed in Burleson, TX)
Sprouts
Central Market
Winco (confirmed in McKinney, TX)

Utah
Sprouts
Harmon’s
Sam’s Club

Vermont
None

Virginia
The Fresh Market
Wegmans
Sam’s Club
TMK Produce (Distributor)
Martin’s
Harris Teeter
Whole Foods
Food City

Washington
Town and Country Markets
Yoke’s Fresh Markets
Pacific Coast Fruit Company
Spokane Produce (Distributor)
QFC
Frank Genzale’s Produce
Metropolitan Market
Thriftway
King’s Market
Orcas-Island Market
Charlie’s Produce (Distributor)
Haggen
Sam’s Club

West Virginia
Martin’s
Sam’s Club

Wisconsin
Schnucks
The Fresh Market
Festival Foods
Clinton Foods IGA
Hy-Vee
Sendiks
Copps
Metro Market
Pick-n-Save
Sam’s Club

Wyoming
Luckys (Jackson Hole)
Sam’s Club

What to Expect from Grapery in 2016

in Fruit & Vegetables

What to Expect Grapery 2016

It’s a “grape” time of year to be in the produce department. It’s another season of grapes from the Grapery hitting store displays across the country. If you haven’t heard of Grapery yet, they are a grower out of the Bakersfield area of California, who are all about flavor. They only want to grow grapes that have tremendous flavor. A lot of the seedless table grapes you seen in the store are grown for appearance, shelf life, and profit, with flavor not being an important part of the equation. Americans have gotten use to eating table grapes that taste like a little more than sugar water. Grapery has come in and changed the game. They are giving the consumer grapes that taste great. They have successfully change the way people think grapes should taste – and even look.

Each year I like to present you an update on what to expect from Grapery. It takes a long time for a grape variety to get up to commercial production. Here is an update on what to expect with each of their varieties this season.

Cotton Candy Grapes with Bag

Cotton Candy Grapes
This is the grape that first brought my and many other people’s attention to Grapery. A grape that tastes like cotton candy. Wow. Want to know how they did that? Check out my post from last season – How Did They Make Grapes Taste Like Cotton Candy?.

I spoke with their co-owner, Jim Beagle and he said that he is expecting about the same amount of Cotton Candy grapes in 2016 as there was in 2015. If you found them last year, you can check with the same store again. They are available now and should last in stores until the middle of September. Stores sell out quickly so make sure to ask if they have another shipment coming in the next day.

TearDrops

Tear Drop Grapes
One of the big changes this year is the name change of their Witch Finger grapes. They are now called Tear Drops. The change was made from feedback from their customers. Tear Drops have a more limited availability. They are more of a search to find. And their season is early and is about at it’s end right now. If you can still find them, make sure to pick some up. They are have a unique shape, giving them a wonderful texture and a great red grape flavor.

Tear Drop Grapes

Up close picture of the Tear Drop grapes

Moon Drops Grapes

Moon Drop Grapes
If you are a fan of this grape, I got some exciting news for you. There is a BIG increase in their availability this year. They should be much easier to find and for a much longer season. For those that haven’t experienced them yet, Moon Drop grapes are an elongated black seedless grape. They have a rich flavor and the unique shape gives them a nice crisp bite. Buy a bag or two for your next get together. Their shape will be a great conversation piece. Moon Drop grapes are available now until about mid-October.

Gum Drops

Gum Drops Grapes
More good news! I am happy to announce that the first small commercial crop of Gum Drops will be available this season. I was lucky enough to try this variety last year, while it was still in the experimental stage. I can tell you that I love these even more than Cotton Candy. They taste just like gummy candies. They pack a huge flavor in a small grape. I could see them soaring past Cotton Candy in popularity. They have very limited availability – like Tear Drops. You might not be able to find them this year. Look for them starting in late August through the month of September. If you find them I would love to hear what you think about them.

Sweet Surrender Grapes

Sweet Surrender Grapes

While not as unique as Cotton Candy or Gum Drops, Flavor Promise grapes are just really good tasting grapes, that come with a promise. Don’t like them, the other owner of Grapery, Jack Pandol’s e-mail address is right on the bag. I have a hard time believing you won’t like them. I have tried several varieties in the Flavor promise line and have approved of them all. Here is a list of the varieties and when they are available (these dates are approximate)

Sweet Surrender (Black) – July 20 to Labor Day
Sweet Jubilee (Black, Seeded) – August 10 to September 1
Sweet Celebration (Red) – August 20 to October 31
Autumn Royal (Black) – October 1 to December 15
Crimson Seedless (Red) – November 1 to December 15

Sweet Celebration Grapes

Sweet Celebration Grapes

Sweet Jubliee Flavor Promise Grapes

Sweet Jubliee Grapes

Flavor Pops Red Green

A Look to the Future
Grapery is always experimenting with new varieties. They will have another big wave of that coming in 2017. If you are lucky enough to find their Flavor Pop grapes you have a chance to taste the future. There is a limited supply of these grapes, they come with a number on the package. Each variety has yet to be given a name. Grapery is looking for your feedback. You might even get to help them a name – how cool is that!

Grapery Flavor Pops
That is what’s in store for Grapery grapes in 2016. If you have any questions, leave a comment below. I would also love to hear what your finding in stores and where you are finding them. Have a “grape” day!!!!

Mariano’s Finds – July 2016

in Where I Buy Food

Mariano Finds

There is no doubt that I love exploring grocery stores – as much as a pirate like searching for buried treasure. It is what I do for a past time. Whenever I am out of town I am looking for a grocery store to go into. I am a grocery store nerd to the core. On a recent trip to Chicago I got to make my first trip to Mariano’s. Back in January I drove by a Mariano’s. I was not able to stop as I was talking my wife and youngest daughter to O’Hare. I was disappointed that time but not this one. Lots of great finds to be had at Mariano’s. Below is some of the items that peaked my interest and should peak yours as well.

The front of the Mariano's  nearest to Chicago Union Station. There is also a Whole Foods right down the street.

The front of the Mariano’s nearest to Chicago Union Station. There is also a Whole Foods right down the street.

A collage of some of the produce selection on the day of my visit.

A collage of some of the produce selection on the day of my visit.

Of course the most important section to me is produce. Whenever I go into a new grocery store I am looking for unique or specialty items. Not just your plain old Cavendish bananas, navel oranges, or Honeycrisp apples. Mariano’s did not disappoint. They had plenty to offer beyond the basics. The thing I was most excited about were the Verry Cherry Plums. They are a cross between a plum and a cherry. They are smaller than your average plum but bigger than a cherry. They taste like a really sweet, flavorful plum, that has a really small pit. I really wish more stores carried these. I hope to see production of Cherry Plums ramp as well. If you can get a hold of these treasures, please do yourself a flavor (see what I did there) and buy them! They may be more expensive than other plum varieties but they are worth it.

Crown Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup

Crown Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup

How do you make maple syrup even better? Age it in bourbon barrels. It’s amazing the kind of flavor the syrup can pick up by just sitting in a barrel. Bourbon barrel aged maple syrup has a more butterscotch, smoky flavor. Really rich and a real treat for breakfast or even on top of ice cream. Check out another variety of syrup of Bourbon barrel aged syrup I reviewed this year.

Bags full of dried beans, lentils and the like.

Bags full of dried beans, lentils and the like.

I got to say I love when stores take bushel baskets, line them with burlap, and display dried beans, rice, lentils, etc in them. It looks really inciting – more so than when in a plastic bin that has no character. I was excited to see dried Tongue of Fire beans. This is a beautiful bean that I have grown in my gardens in years past (ran out of space this year).

Gourmet donuts with cereal on top.

Gourmet donuts with cereal on top.

Nothing says gourmet donuts more than Fruit Loops or Cocoa Pebbles on top. I admire the humor in that. I probably would like the Cocoa Pebbles donut, but I was busy eating this donnut:

A long john donut with maple icing and 2 strips of bacon!

A long john donut with maple icing and 2 strips of bacon!

Now this is a donut. Two whole strips of bacon with maple icing. I can’t begin to tell you the deliciousness that burst forth in my mouth when I devoured this sucker.

Cicero Candied Bacon Cream Soda. Never seen this flavor anywhere else!

Cicero Candied Bacon Cream Soda. Never seen this flavor anywhere else!

Speaking of bacon, I found this Candided Bacon Cream Soda made by Cicero – a Chicago company. First time I have seen this flavor of soda pop. I have had one of their other flavors in the past, their Salted Caramel Root Beer, which is outstanding. I need to get my hands on their entire line someday.

Make your own packs of soda with a wide selection of glass bottled treats.

Make your own packs of soda with a wide selection of glass bottled treats.

Their selection of glass bottled soda pop is the best I have seen since I visited Jungle Jim’s in Cincinnati, Ohio. I love that you can make your own pack as well so you can try a variety of flavors and producers.

Henning's Two Tone Cheddar Cheese Curds

Henning’s Two Tone Cheddar Cheese Curds

The cheese department was a delight at Mariano’s as well. I saw at lot of great cheese there with some good sale prices – like $10 a pound for Parmigiano Reggiano. What I decided to grab for my lunch was a bag of Henning’s Two Tone Cheddar Cheese Curds. I love the easy snackablility that cheese curds provide. Plus it reminded me of my trip to Wisconsin back in January where I brought these curds and several others home with me.

Overall I was glad that I used some of my time in Chicago to visit a Mariano’s. I got some fun treats. Enjoyed looking at all the produce, cheese, and baked goods I saw. Some of the best sightseeing in Chicago is on a 2nd floor on Halsted street – a short walk from Chicago Union Station.

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WELCOME TO MY BLOG

I'm Eric. I live in Ann Arbor, MI with my wife, 3 kids, and a flock of ducks. I love grocery shopping, trying new fruits, farmer's market, and traveling.
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