Archive for the ‘Candy History’ Category

The Chocolate Tasters Have Spoken!

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And the winner is….Hostess Mints! We sent our official candy tasters a variety of chocolates to try …and the verdict is in! Out of two cordials – Irish cream and peach – chocolate covered figs, milk Wilbur Buds, chocolate cayenne pepper balls, hostess mints, and the great outlier of them all chocolate covered gummy bears…the winner is the Hostess Mints!! So what about the Hostess Mints? They’re a classic treat with chocolate enrobed or sandwiched mint. and a favorite of bridge players from the 1920s through 1950s… Among the positive reviews were that the hostess mint was “GREAT! Much better…

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Retro Candy You May Have Missed

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The universe of “retro” candy is a large one, spanning over 150+ years – Wax Lips (early 1900s), Good n’ Plenty (1893), NECCO Wafers (1847) and such sensations as Fruit Slice Gum (1960s) and Turkish Taffy (around 1931)… to name a few. But wedged into this clutter of wrappers, flavors and advertising stints are candies long forgotten but still among us – alive, well, and ever fascinating. Here is a sample of some of them: Cherry Cocktail (1926). Still made by the family-owned Idaho Spud Candy Company which opened in 1901. The candy bar is not your everyday cherry cordial,…

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The Deep – and Not Dark – Backstory of Holiday Candy

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One of the most beloved – and inexpensive – gifts during the holidays is Christmas candy. So, it’s ironic that the candy has little to do with Christmas, the birth of Jesus, or even the wintry season. The candy cane, for example, originated in Germany somewhere in the 1600s. Rumors abound as to its origin – some say a choirmaster gave it to the choirboys to quiet them during the services. Whatever the case may be, they were hand-pulled, all white, and yes, hung from evergreen trees…but not for Christmas. As for the most gorgeous candy (in my opinion) –…

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The Almost-Astonishing Story of Chocolate Covered Peppermint Candy

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From Ice Cream Cones to a Retro Candy Favorite As you may remember, in my previous blog “The Almost-Astonishing Story of Chocolate Covered Peppermint Candy” I revealed the ascent of the peppermint pattie from Henry C. Kessler’s first ever smooth-and-creamy filled York Peppermint Pattie to the Welsh-Brothers’ Junior Miss nine years later. But, let us not forget all those other peppermint patties that rose up through the 40’s and beyond, including our newest (old-time) peppermint patties, using an original 1940s recipe from the original shop. They were a favorite at mid-20th century family-run candy stores and likely made an appearance…

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Cinnamon Tree

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What is this gnarled tree? Today we know it well – we use its bark as a flavoring and garnish which we associate with love, comfort and fun. Yet for millennia, it had multifold uses in the Mideast, Mediterranean, and Asia – as a perfume, spice, embalming agent, medicine, appetite stimulator, digestive, and, like so much else,  aphrodisiac. It was transported from Asia through the brutality and currency of the spice trade and has had a a leading player in the American food and beverage landscape since the 1700s.  It’s the cassia, aka cinnamon, tree. “I have perfumed my bed…

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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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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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What is the vegan version of the gummy bear?

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Actually the venerable and nicely-textured gummy bear started life as the Turkish delight, a vegetarian medicine-turned-treat that originated around 900 in Arabic apothecaries of the Mideast. The core ingredients were cream of tartar, possibly starch (ours contains corn starch) sugar, and the oil, such as rose. Pistachio or other nuts would have floated deliciously in the mix. Then came gelatin in such creations as the jelly bean and gummy bear – both off-shots of the delight. At long last, one mainstream candy came along to save the vegetarian’s day: the Swedish Fish. The no-gelatin candy was, in fact, invented in…

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Mexico

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THANK YOU MEXICO! Without Mexico we would be chocolate-less. Of course, early on Mexico was home to the Olmecs, known for their large head sculptures, the Mayans, and the Aztecs. In 1521 explorer Hernán Cortés landed in Mesoamerica and saw a mesmerizing sight: the great Aztec leader Montezuma, bedecked in jewels and feathers, and attended to by 200 wives. And in his regal hand he cupped a golden chalice filled with the cacao drink. This inspired Cortés, largely to overthrow him, which he did with a devastating, bloody blow.   As for the cacao – the bean which is the…

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Roller Coaster Candy and the Fun Factor

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When you go to an amusement park, you may notice that there are two types of roller coaster riders: one has hands flung in the air, faces broad with animated expressions, plenty of laughter, and plenty of screaming. Fun screaming. The other is white-knuckled, fingers so tightly wrapped around the bars, you’d think they’d make an imprint. Their eyes are closed – rigor mortis seems to have set in. Same is true with candy. When the fun-loving visitors come into the True Treats shop, they are excited about the variety, the color and the stories. When they get to the…

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The Secret Life of the Pixy Stix (Plus Kool-Aid)

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The Pixy Stix, beyond any other candy, is a lesson in “don’t stop ‘til” you get it right. The ubiquitous Pixy Stix sugar-esq powder started out as a drink mix in 1930, along the lines of Kool Aid, made two years earlier. Not to digress, but the guy who made Kool-Aid, Edwin Perkins, actually experimented in his mother’s kitchen. Apparently, the drink started as a liquid. According to the Hastings Museum in Perkin’s home town of Hastings, Nebraska: “One of the products Perkins found success with was Fruit Smack. It came in came in six delicious flavors and the four-ounce bottle…

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