Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

An Evening With Virginia Willis

Posted on:

Recently, I attended an event in DC featuring the food of Virginia Willis, a Southern chef and food writer whose newest book “Secrets of the Southern Table: A Food Lover’s Tour of the Global South” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018) was just released. Note the words in the subtitle: “Global South.” Among her interesting (and often hilarious) insights throughout the evening, Willis point out that “Southern” food is relative depending on where in the South it originated and the cultural heritage that influenced it.  We were treated to sweet potatoes and collards from Africa (the collards had a vegetarian twist: Italy-based…

Read More »

Something’s Old is Entirely New at Chicago’s Sweets and Snacks Expo

Posted on:

Regal Crowns, Turkish Taffy, and Classic Tootsie Rolls What’s new in the candy universe? I decided to find out at the annual Sweets and Snacks Expo held at Chicago’s McCormick Hall. What I found was plenty of candies that are delightfully old. Best of all, the owners of the companies who make them were there – such as Mitchel Goetz, whose family has been making Caramel Creams for generations, and Ross Born, of the Peeps family fame… my personal real life heroes. Among the classics were the Wax Lips, big bar Tootsie Rolls, American Licorice Black Licorice Twists, and Goldenberg’s…

Read More »

The Quick Clean Story of Dentyne

Posted on:

This familiar gum was invented by pharmacist. Franklin V.Canning in New York in 1899. The name stood for “Dental Hygiene” and Canning was the first, since the Aztecs, anyway, to position gum as a breath freshener. Canning’s tagline was: “To prevent decay, To sweeten the breath, To keep teeth white.” “Taste the tingle” is new – demonstrates the transition of gum from something that is purposeful to something that creates an experience.

The Guy Who Invented Chewing Gum – A Life of Many Firsts

Posted on:

John Bacon Curtis was the one who started it all – he ushered in the world of chewing gum, bringing the nation a new pastime and treat. In the process, he ignited many other firsts, most so commonplace we forget anyone could be first to do them. Curtis was born in Hampden Maine in 1827. He went to common school for a few years then left to help bring in money for his family. He worked as a farmhand and later a “swamper,” clearing the underbrush and forests to make way for roads. At that time, the Native Americans of…

Read More »

So Much Resin, So Much Time: The First Chewing Gums Ever

Posted on:

Throughout history, people have chewed tree resins: they were the first and longest-standing chewing gum, appreciated for their flavor and medicinal and health value. Amazingly, the shift from gum as a natural resin to a popular industrial wonder spanned a mere 75 years – a fraction of a hiccup in time. Here are some of the originals: Birch: The oldest chewing gum in the world was found by British archeology students on a volunteer dig in Finland. There, they discovered a clump of birch-bark tar, complete with teeth marks. Finish archeologist Sami Viljamaa says the chunk is between 5,500 and…

Read More »

Ancient Confections: The Secret to Harmony? Who Says?

Posted on:

Who knew that two ancient confectionery ingredients could provide evidence that 1. two starkly different cultures could come together in a perfect union; 2.opposites can find perfect balance when brought together; and 3. at least men and women really can co-exist no matter what the sitcoms say. We discovered this symbolically (and tastefully) with two new products we introduced at the shop. One involves the cacao nib – the  essence of chocolate in its rawest, most naked form. At the risk of sounding sexist, the cacao is male in nature – the taste is deep, rich and complicated and the…

Read More »

Will the real cinnamon please stand up!

Posted on:

“I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. Come let us take our fill of love till morning.” (Proverbs 7, 17-18) When enjoying cinnamon, a staple in food stores large and small, you’re actually enjoying a spice with a history colored by elegance, spirituality and brutality. The cinnamon goes back to Egypt around 2000 BCE and comes from the bark of a laurel tree. It has gone by the Malay name “kayumanis,” meaning “sweet wood,” the Italian, canella, or “little cannon tubes” for the rolled cinnamon sticks, and the Hebrew “qinnämön” – probably the origin of the English…

Read More »

Chocolate Talk Bits and Nips

Posted on:

I attended a talk on the history of chocolate at the historic Dumbarton House in D.C. The speaker, Joyce White, managed to cover a broad swath of history in 90 minutes with plenty of interesting facts. Here are a handful with a few of my own thrown in. We all know that the ancients Aztecs revered the cacao bean: they even considered it money…so drinking chocolate was much like drinking gold. But the crème de la crème of the chocolate drink was the froth. The frothier the better. Chocolate was considered hot and moist in a purely sensual way. In…

Read More »

Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube