Posts Tagged ‘candy’

Nutmeg: Sure, A Flavoring in Candy but an Aphrodisiac and So Much More

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If you’re searching for an effective yet tasty aphrodisiac look no further than your local grocery store. The solution comes bundled up in the pit of a more-or-less remarkable spice humbly referred to as “nutmeg.” For thousands of years, the nutmeg has been used to inspire love and lust – even its name derives from the Arabic word “mesk,” or “musky,” as in fragrance.  Today, Americans enjoy nutmeg to limited degrees – in hot cider and apple pie, for example, unaware of the sultry – and dangerous – spice that it is. But First… Nutmeg: The Early Years Even the…

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Art Candy: From Candy Bowls to Christmas Candy

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When I think of candy and the idea of giving, I think of the candy bowls grandmothers of a certain generation left out for their children and grandchildren. These women grew up during the Depression and wars when sugar shortages were common and sweets hard to find. Once sugar was available they filled their bowls to the brim with brightly colored sweets, as ornamental as delicious. It’s no surprise some of these candies became standard Christmas fare, such as the art candy, ribbon candy, and candy straws. Of all these candies, the art candy is the most impressive, in my…

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Sweets Under Seige: Revolutionary War

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Here’s a picture of my handsome husband over there in Afghanistan. The USO gives a little levity to folks like him with shows and, yes, candy, upholding a tradition that started with the Revolutionary War. I send Dan chocolate covered espresso and bourbon balls among the books and aspirins.  My packages are always followed by an e-mail that exclaims: Got IT!  Then a blow-by-blow of what he ate first. So, why not explore what the troops have enjoyed since way back when starting with the Revolutionary War. The soldiers back then had an unpredictable assortment of food, sometimes nothing, sometimes…

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The First Pop and Blam of Bubblegum!

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When you think of bubblegum, I’ll bet 10,000 gum balls the Fleer brothers don’t enter your mind. But the Fleer brothers started it all. The story begins when Philadelphia native Frank Fleer, born in 1860, joined and later took over his father-in-law’s flavor extracts company. Fleer was in good company: his father-in-law was a Quaker, one of the oldest, most influential, and ethical players in candy history. Within five years Fleer began making chewing gum, some of which he sold in vending machines in the lobby of buildings. One of the Fleer company’s most impressive accomplishments was created by Frank’s…

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The Story of the Peppermint Pattie (via the ice cream cone plus Junior Mints and a quick peek at the John Birch Society)

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I’ve been traveling around the country, north and south, on my endless search for historic candy. To the north, I went to farmland in Pennsylvania where I passed the most astonishing vistas of farmhouses and fields…just stunning. A while back, I was in that same area where I found a group of women baking in a Mennonite farm/bakery. I asked if they knew anything about sauerkraut candy: it originated in Germany and is made with actual sauerkraut.  They didn’t – and thought the whole idea was pretty funny. Would they be willing to try a batch? I had the original recipe….

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

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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…

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Ancient Confections: The Secret to Harmony? Who Says?

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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…

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The Amazing and Mighty Date

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If you love sweets, ancient history, ancient symbols, and the miracle of certain plants…then you have to love the date. This remarkable fruit has been cultivated since 7000 BCE – longer according to some reports. Its very existence defies the endurance of other plants: it grows in hot, arid conditions, its palms rise up in the desert like large, ungainly umbrellas in the midst of dry earth. When food in the Mideast was often scarce, and sugar unusual, the date must have been a marvel. More than half of the fruit – roughly 54% – is sugar and the tree remarkably…

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Chocolate Talk Bits and Nips

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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…

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The Triumph, Defeats, and Ultimate Victory of the Sorghum Syrup

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Most people don’t know sorghum syrup, but it’s an American classic, as woven into our culture as the stars and stripes, but with a longer history. Its story sounds much like the cane sugar: it dates back to the early 1700s; was closely connected to slavery; grows in tall stalks with a plume on top, primarily in the South; and requires a process of milling and boiling. Its story involves haunting political, economic, and moral factors, remarkable people, triumphs and defeats. Above all, the sorghum is the peoples’ sugar – homegrown and affordable. From the Bible to the U.S. Shores…

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The Secret Life of Choo-Choo Charlie

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So how does a humble 19th century candy become the nation’s oldest brand? The answer comes down to two American icons. One is Choo-Choo Charlie, the cartoon engineer whose train pulls dining cars, as he proclaims Good & Plenty “Really rings my bell” in television ads. The other is the real life engineer Casey Jones. Jonathan Luther “Casey” Jones (March 14, 1863 – April 30, 1900), born in a racially charged nation at the time of the Civil War, reveals the best of America. Jones and Sim Webb, his African American friend and railroad fireman, were operating a passenger train…

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