“Decayed Rocks Used in Candy”

March 8, 2010 at 12:04 pm 1 comment

As reported in the Philadelphia North American on November 30, 1908:

Grubbstown, Pennsylvania,  Nov 29. The astounding discovery has been made here that impure and decayed rocks are being used in the manufacture of rock candy.

How long this violation of the law has been going on is not accurately known, but certainly the fraud is widespread and thousands of persons have been cheated, if not positively harmed, by the men who have been carrying on their wicked work.

Special Agent Horatio Acornley, who has been investigating the matter for several weeks, says he can produce positive proof that several large candy manufacturers have been buying rotten rock at a low price and using it most exclusively in making rock candy.

“Thosands of innocent children have thus been exposed to the poison,” said Mr. Acornley, “and I would not be surprised to learn that it is responsible for many cases of hardening of the heart which have been reported to us.”

“As every one knows, only the best quality of rocks should be used…and we propose to bring suits against the guilty wretches.”

“In this connection I may say that I am looking into several cases of using poor limestone in making lime drops.”

Candy Professor adds:

It was these sorts of stories that made V.L. Price, the Chairman of the N.C.A. Executive Committee in the early 1900s, positively crazy. He was charged with responding to press accounts of poisoned or adulterated candy. So when the North American published this satirical piece, he put pen to paper to patiently respond, no, there is no rock in “rock candy,” only good pure sugar, and of course there are no limestones in lime drops either.

Which pedantry seems excessive, were it not for the fact that some time later Price found the Minneapolis Tribune publishing an investigative report  raising the alarm about the use of crushed rocks in rock candy and limestone in lime drops.  Price remarked wryly:

Of course, in gay Philadelphia they all saw the joke as it appeared in the paper’s columns as a fake, but in staid old Minneapolis they all took it seriously.

Or at least Marion Harland, the author of the Minneapolis piece, took it seriously. Just goes to show, you can’t believe everything you read in the papers!

Source: V.L. Price, report to the National Confectioners Association Convention June 1909, as reported in Confectioners Journal July 1909 p. 73.

Entry filed under: 1890 to WW I, Candy Humor, Candy Making, Ingredients, Pure Food and Adulteration. Tags: .

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Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure

Welcome to Candy Professor

Candy in American Culture What is it about candy? Here you'll find the forgotten, the strange, the curious, the surprising. Our candy story, one post at a time.

Samira Kawash, PhD
Professor Emerita,
Rutgers University

(C) Samira Kawash

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