Posts Tagged ‘old time candy’

The Strawberry, a Spy, and a Happy Accident

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Taken, in part, from “Sweet as Sin” (Prometheus, 2016) Strawberry is one of the most popular candy flavors in the nation. It’s in chewing gum, hard candies, jelly beans, taffy, Caramel Creams. Strawberry leaves make a healthy and delicious tea and chocolate covered strawberries are unbeatable. Yet, the most intriguing aspect of the strawberry is its story, involving three continents, international spies, life at the high seas, and science. Humble Beginnings Originally, North American strawberries were tiny little nuggets, a humble yet wild plant. They held special meaning for Native Americans because they were the first to produce fruit in…

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The Remarkable Life and Times of the Jelly Bean

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The story of the  jelly bean is remarkable, spanning cultures and centuries, involving sultans and ancient apothecaries, wars and great literary figures. It began around 226-652 CE in the Persian Empire where the ruling power, the Sasanids, enjoyed a sweet called “abhisa” made of honey, fruit syrups, and starch.  By the 9th century, it appeared in the Arab apothecaries as a remedy for sore throats called “rahat ul-hulküm,” later shortened to “lokum,” meaning “throats ease” which many still use today. The sweet had a more or less humble life until the 1750’s when Sultan Abdul Hamid I fell in love…

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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 Quick Clean Story of Dentyne

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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 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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My Grandmother’s Purse: John Guenther: Muddy Pond Sorghum Mill

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I was born and raised in Canada. Up there we were isolated, our life was primitive. I grew up in the tradition and was raised in the Church of the German Mennonite. We believed in the Lord Jesus but we didn’t have fellowship. There were a lot of do’s and don’ts but nothing about living-making. In ‘62, I was 25 and me and my sister went to Pennsylvania. The church there had about 25 families. I liked the atmosphere very much and realized the salvation we had with Jesus Christ. We had a lot of trials, hard times, disappointments but…

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Will the real cinnamon please stand up!

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“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…

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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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