Sweet Talkin' Blog

Happy Birthday Robert Johnson!

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Today is the birthday of Robert Johnson – the remarkable and legendary blues musician – born in 1911. The influence of just about any cultural effort affects so much in our culture, and Johnson’s influence on our cultural history and American music is profound.  We even see his influence in the candy universe in such items as the Hot Tamale candy, which runs from ancient Aztec women to Mexican immigrants working in agriculture to enslaved workers in the Delta to Robert Johnson to a Jewish immigrant in Pennsylvania to the Peeps candy and, at last, to the Hot Tamale candy…

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The Dumb in Dum Dum

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I recently visited Cracker Barrel – a regular event for me, as the food chain has the broadest assortment of old time candy anywhere. Their offerings are a window into what’s next: they’re the first to get new old-time candies; they know what sells and doesn’t, creating a road map for other candy-seller’s decisions; and their cluttered, bountiful lay-out can be an inspiration to us all. But, what I saw this trip was less inspirational and more disturbing. Cracker Barrel has gone mega. The company has cut back on ordinary candy that can fit in your fist, featuring instead candy…

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Dandelion Mania: Dandelion Jelly, Dandelion Tea, Dandelion Gardens…

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The dandelion, so remarkable, unforgettable, and essential. Plus… so loathsome to Americans, they invented a specially crafted hand tool to extract it. But time presents a non-loathsome reality: the dandelion is  a venerable flower admired since antiquity.  The ancient Chinese used it for food and medicine; the Japanese cultivated 200 varieties; the Greeks used it as a celebratory gift in their mythology; and monks planted it in the psychic garden of monasteries during the Middle Ages. The dandelion’s geographic range was vast…but not in North America. It took the Puritans to plant dandelion seeds carried from Europe; in the new…

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An Evening With Virginia Willis

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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…

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Water Donations

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Thanks to these and other water bottlers for making  our Water Tasting a splash! Purely Sedona Tourmaline Spring Crazy Water

True Treats Water Tasting!

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True Treats Candy Hosts Free Historic Water Tasting  From Sparkling to Spring the Waters are Unique Includes Candy and Soda Samples – Event Followed by an Old Time Movie     On April 21st a surprising culinary treat was available to all at True Treats Historic Candy’s theater: an historic water tasting. Yes – water. In this free taste-bud opening experience, the public sampled over 20 kinds of water from numerous time periods and categories from the first in the nation through today’s municipal, spring-fed, and sparkling water, with descriptions of them all.   According to True Treats Candy founder,…

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What’s in your water?

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  As the warm weather draws near, Americans are putting on their hiking boots, cleaning off their bicycles, and readying their water bottles for their seasonal spike in thirst. But which water to drink? Yes, all drinking water starts as precipitation, much of it having fallen hundreds or even thousands of years ago. Yet the differences between waters is remarkable depending on where it fell and how it was absorbed into waterways. More recently, bottled water marketers have entered the scene, touting the wonders of their products and, behind the scenes, planting fear about their main competitor – the tap….

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Bottled or Tap? What’s the choice?

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Today, most Americans are concerned about the quality of the water they drink. This concern is relatively new to North America: for thousands of years, Native Americans lived by reliable fresh water sources. Not so for the settlers. They considered fresh water dangerous, a perspective rooted in paranoia and the realities of poor water-drinking decisions. Said Jamestown resident George Percy, “cold water [was] taken out of the River, which was at a floud verie salt, at a low tide full of slime and filth, which was the destruction of many of our men.”   Instead, they favored fermented libations, primarily…

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Valentine’s Day – Sweet and Ancient

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Valentine’s Day sweets are older and more remarkable than taste reveals, some originating thousands of years ago, and were associated with the less romantic notions of fertility and sex. One example is the quintessential heart-shaped candy box. The heart, which obviously looks nothing like an actual heart, likely evolved from the now extinct silphium plant used by fifth century Romans as a seasoning, medicine and birth control measure. Its pod was heart-shaped, lending itself to the symbolic heart of today. After appearing in everything from 14th and 15th century artwork to16th century playing cards, it found a place in Valentine’s…

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