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Melt Me Slowly Down Like (Vegan, Ethically Sourced) Chocolate
On Lagusta's Luscious' chocolates and The Muslims' "John McCain's Ghost Sneaks Into the White House and Tea Bags the President"
It’s Pride Month so I’m featuring LGBTQ-owned snack and candy companies throughout June. Buy their products! Support them on social media! They’re doing really delicious things.
Lagusta’s Luscious’ Cam’s Collection Box
It was a risky move ordering chocolate to be shipped from New York to Nashville in the middle of a heatwave, but after clicking through the Lagusta’s Luscious website for 30-plus minutes there was no way I was going to close that tab without buying something.
The chocolate shop, based in New Paltz, NY, makes vegan confections with ethically sourced and conflict-free cacao. Here’s a small sample of what’s currently in stock online:
🌽 Smoky corn on the cob chocolate bars (with freeze-dried corn, smoked sea salt, smoked paprika, smoked black pepper, and sage?!?)!
🥭 Mango and lime caramels sprinkled with Tajin seasoning!
Yup, those are Lagusta’s Lucious’ famous Furious Vulvas, anatomically accurate chocolates flavored with pink peppercorn and Hawaiian pink sea salt. As the website states, “there is an awful lot of penis-shaped chocolate out there, and we feel it’s our duty to do something to correct that imbalance.”
Amen to that.
In an attempt to avoid heat-related postal disasters, I went against every urge to BUY! EVERYTHING! and instead kept my order simple by purchasing Cam’s Collection box, an eight-piece box of chocolates curated by one of the shop’s employees.
Along with picking the treats inside, the employee, in this case, Cam — hi, Cam! — also gets to choose which organization will receive a portion of the box’s sales. For Cam’s Collection, $3 of every purchase is donated to The Transgender Education Network of Texas.
Surprisingly, miraculously — and thanks to Lagusta’s required $6 ice pack — my confections arrived intact.
The tahini mousse cup, topped with white and black sesame seeds and a pinch of salt, tastes like an earthy, elevated peanut butter cup. The flavor is smooth and mild, the texture far less dry and crumbly than anything Reese’s has ever produced. It’s absolutely divine.
Lagusta’s chocolate caramel is also flawless. Though it’s vegan — no butter, no cream — it rivals Fran’s caramels. (Fran’s is perfection. Fran’s is unbeatable. If I’m given the choice, a box of Fran’s Gold Bars will be my last meal.)
The texture of Lagusta’s caramel is dense and chewy. It’s not a quickly disappearing caramel, you have to work on it for a second. Unlike so many other sugary vegan caramels, you can get a few really good chews in before the candy breaks down and beautifully melts together with the chocolate and sprinkle of chocolate-infused sea salt.
That long-lasting texture really works wonders with the cardamom caramel. The cardamom is mild at first, just a little tickle on the tongue, but it builds up with each chew, growing warmer and stronger. It kind of feels like it’s casting a spell on your tastebuds. You will fall further and deeper into its grip with every bite.
My favorite, however, has to be the chocolate-covered strawberry balsamic caramel. The especially jammy strawberry caramel is spiked with a potent dose of white balsamic vinegar.
The vinegar tickles your nose at first, then the sweet strawberry comes in and melts into the smooth, rich chocolate. It’s a sensory rollercoaster — an up and down and loop around in one little square.
More vinegar in candy, please.
I’m sorry to say Cam’s Collection appears to be sold out, but several of the included confections are still available elsewhere in Lagusta’s online shop. (Like, I should probably just buy a whole box of strawberry balsamic caramels, right?)
For June, Lagusta’s is also selling a Pride Bar, a 4.5-ounce slab of dark chocolate decorated with blueberries, mint sugar, fennel sugar, edible flowers, raspberries, and more. A portion of Pride Bark sales will be donated to Trans Closet of the Hudson Valley.
We’re only a few days into summer and extreme heat continues to blast much of the country, but don’t be afraid to treat yourself. Lagusta’s Luscious knows what they’re doing, both with candy making and shipping. Just be sure to include that ice pack.
“John McCain’s Ghost Sneaks Into the White House and Tea Bags the President” by The Muslims
“Furious Vulvas” is not a song by The Muslims, but it could be.
Here are just some of the songs in the Durham, NC punk band’s discography:
“Fuck the Cistem”
“Death Grab for Bootie”
“Crotch Pop a Cop”
See what I mean?
On their full-length Fuck These Fuckin Fascists — released last year on Epitaph — vocalist/guitarist Sheikh QADR, bassist Abu Shea, and drummer Ba7Ba7 address classism, racism, homophobia, colonialism, and more with antagonistic humor and justified rage.
“Unity” is a swift call for reparations, a roiling punk rock song directed at America’s hypocrisy and chronic short-term memory. Over a churning beat QADR snaps, “We will never forget/What the fuck you did to us/How you did our ancestors/Crammed in the back of the bus/Now you’re singing live laugh love.”
“Froot of the Loom” is an energizing anthem in support of queer kids everywhere, with the verse, “Babygay, do not be ashamed/They wanna hold you down/Wanna see you drown/Tell em kiss your ass/You choose to be you/They choose to be trash.”
Their lyrics are impulsive and defiant, their music is an enthusiastic amalgamation of punk through the decades — Death, Black Flag, Team Dresch, and more — and with the song “John McCain's Ghost Sneaks Into the White House and Tea Bags the President,” The Muslims revive the long-lost art of irreverent, satirical punk songs a la Minutemen’s “If Reagan Played Disco.”
The song is a pun-filled story about, well, John McCain’s ghost sneaking into the White House to tea bag the president. The Muslims agree that it’s not a nice thing to do! But McCain just keeps showing up and dropping trou’ in a red, white, and blue thong. So rude.