Archive for April 2017

The World’s Sexiest Plant

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What is this winding plant? Hint:  It’s the sexiest plant around and the source of one of the most revered flavorings. It’s the vanilla orchid, known more formally as the Vanilla planifolia. A native of Mesoamerica, it winds its way up other plants, embracing, rather than clinging, as it does. The pod accentuates its intrinsically sexual – and sensual – nature, as it resembles a vagina. Even the name “vanilla” reflects this fact: the Spaniards, who “discovered” the orchid in the early 1500s, compared it to a sheath or “vaina,” derived from the Latin “vagina.” No surprise, the vanilla was…

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Chocolate in the Cards

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Bridge was a popular card game in the early to mid-1900s: it was strategic and engaging, where partners played against other partners, for hours on end. Besides, what better way to escape the horrors of the Depression, the Second World War, and the Cold War? Naturally, the players grew hungry so candy-makers, among others, served as the perfect finger foods where players could nibble away using one hand while holding the cards with another. Soon, the candies found homes in movie theaters, Halloween collections, grandmother’s candy bowls and just about any other candy-friendly places. So here’s the back story to…

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The Chocolate Covered: Peace-Maker and Friend to All

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I have found the answer as to why chocolate is so loved. It comes down to this: its versatility. In fact, so accommodating and versatile is the chocolate, it could be a metaphor, if not symbol, for world peace. We have a number of new chocolates that prove the point beyond reason: Chocolate covered ginger patties. The Mesoamerican chocolate merged with the Asian ginger plant for a perfect balance of spicy, bitter and sweet. All the better as these are hand-dipped in a shop that opened generations ago. Chocolate covered apricot glace´. The cultivated apricot originated in the Mideast and…

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The Popcorn Machine

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In the news today, I read that federal agents were arresting Mexican immigrants in sanctuary cities. It reminded me of my own experience with Mexican immigrants about a year ago. This is it: Last year, I decided we would make fresh popcorn at True Treats, my candy store. It seemed a natural fit: like candy, popcorn is associated with good times – movie theaters, carnivals, state fairs. In fact, the early popcorn machine was invented by Charles Cretors and showcased at the illustrious Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. What could be better? The attempt didn’t go as well as expected:…

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Betty Boop

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Betty Boop: The International Sensation The animated Betty Boop began life in 1932 as a flapper, a relic of the gay ‘20s when women did as they pleased from the kitchen to the Speakeasy. Gradually Betty became more proper, due to the Hays Code, which restricted unseemly content in movies. Getcha Candy Here! The ‘30s were a bad time for the nation but movies were a great escape. And to sweeten the occasion, movie theaters started adding candies in the increasingly popular concession stands.  Among the leading sweets were Jujubes, Milk Duds, chocolate covered raisins and malted milk balls. The…

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The Great Billie Holiday

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Billie Holiday Billie Holiday, born Eleanora Fagan Gough in 1915, lived a remarkable, ground-breaking, and tragic life. She was raised in an impoverished section of Baltimore by her mother, her jazz guitarist father rarely around. After spending two years in reform school, she moved to Harlem with her mother where she ran errands in a brothel and later worked as a prostitute. Eventually, she went to a speakeasy looking for work as a dancer, but wound up singing instead. This launched a remarkable, international career where she appeared with Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Artie Shaw and other greats….

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Charlie Chaplin and a Favorite Retro Candy

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What is the connection between iconic silent screen actor Charlie Chaplin and a favorite retro candy? The year was 1925 and Charlie Chaplin was making a movie that would later be renowned as a silent movie classic. The film was called “The Gold Rush” and in it he played a poor, starving gold miner, so starving, in fact, he was forced to eat his boot. This put Chaplin in a bind: he needed an edible boot. What to do? What to do? Chaplin called the American Licorice company who had just settled into their San Francisco home. The company filled…

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Guess who invented Corn Syrup?

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Ok – I don’t get why Americans hate corn syrup. It’s sugar. I know, the whole corn-taking-over-the-nation fear and the GMO problem. But these aren’t really about corn: they’re about our agro-economy. Don’t like GMOs, there’s plenty of non-GMO corn syrup – in fact, we sell some at True Treats. As for the invented part? That’s the best thing! Unlike many other sugars on the market today, corn syrup is an North American original, made by the Native Americans living in various parts of the land. They also candied the cob, probably by boiling it and allowing the sugar to…

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