About

About CandyProfessor

CandyProfessor offers a cultural and historical view of American candy over the past century, one post at a time. I’m interested in things like: what people thought and said about candy; how candy got made and packaged and marketed and sold; who ate candy and when and why. To find the answers to these questions, I do research: newspapers, journals, trade publications, on the web, whatever I can find.

I also try to stay on top of current candy news. When something catches my eye, I’ll include it here, and try to put it in a broader historical context.

If you are looking for blogs about tasting candy, or eating candy, or reviews of new candy products, check out some of the blogs on my Blogroll. I do like candy, of course. And I do eat it as well. But I only know so many ways to say “mmm, tastes good,” so I’ll leave the reviews to the pros.

About Me

My name is Samira Kawash. America’s love/hate relation with candy has been puzzling me for many years. With CandyProfessor, I’m hoping to figure out why.

I enjoyed a career as an actual professor until recently, when I decided to leave the University so I could write full time. CandyProfessor brings together my fascination with candy, my love of writing, and my intellectual curiosity which inspires me to dig around in dusty archives and obscure databases.

I’ve recently completed a book about candy in America called Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure (pub. Faber and Faber). Look for it in October 2013. In addition to the short snippets posted on CandyProfessor, I have also written about candy on websites for The Atlantic, Gastronomica, and Saveur, and published research articles in the Journal of American Culture and the American Journal of Play. Click here for links to my candy writings on other sites.

If you are interested in knowing more about my academic credentials and publications on non-candy topics, click here to see my CV.

65 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Callie Pisut  |  January 28, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    Hi Samira I love your website. I think it is very interesting.

    Reply
    • 2. CandyProfessor  |  February 1, 2010 at 9:23 pm

      Thanks Callie! I hope you’ll come back soon!

      Reply
  • 3. Michelle Lian-Anderson  |  February 19, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Hot coke now makes perfect sense! Thank you for both the history and edification. I love your blog, Samira. I’ll try to dream up a way to bring you to MN for a speaking engagement… :)

    Reply
    • 4. CandyProfessor  |  February 19, 2010 at 5:11 pm

      Thanks! Doing this blog, I’m constantly amazed at the weird and surprising things I find.

      Reply
  • 5. Ruth Smisko  |  March 7, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    I love the CandyProfessor unique point of view. Thanks!

    Reply
    • 6. CandyProfessor  |  March 7, 2010 at 6:15 pm

      Thank you! I’m glad others also find something intriguing in the hidden story of candy!

      Reply
  • 7. CandyProfessor  |  March 8, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    I’m glad you like the blog, Sarah! Good luck with your Graphic Design career!

    Reply
  • 8. Melissa  |  April 28, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Just stumbled across your blog…what a great area to research. I’m a candy-holic, and was charmed to learn when I moved to Hoboken that Tootsie Rolls were made just a couple blocks from me & that there were several chocolate & candy manufacturers in town. I will follow your research & blog with great interest.

    Reply
    • 9. Candy Professor  |  April 28, 2010 at 2:44 pm

      Glad to have you! The New York City area was a huge center of candy manufacture, many classic candies originated in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and across the river in New Jersey. I’m over in Brooklyn. One of these days I’ll have to put together a (virtual) candy tour!

      Reply
  • 10. Steve Schmidt  |  May 23, 2010 at 11:52 am

    I just learned of this site through the Culinary Historians of New York newsletter — and I have happily spent this entire morning reading it, post by post. I find your topics fascinating, your research awe-inspiring, and your general appoach extremely congenial.

    Reply
    • 11. Candy Professor  |  May 24, 2010 at 9:21 am

      Thanks, Steve!

      Reply
  • 12. Levo Dextro  |  October 26, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Hi! I found you in the NY Times…. cool blog!

    First I want to say that I am NOT NOT NOT a Nazi, a sympathizer, a Holocaust denier, etc. But I do want to point you at a fascinating bit of chocolate history — Scho-ka-kola. It was manufactured in Germany before the war and during the war it was eaten by Nazis, of course. There is a huge mythology about Scho-ka-kola and the Luftwaffe. They were given it as food to stay awake during long flights; they were given it as food to stay awake during dog fights; they were given it as survival rations for when the were shot down; their chocolate contained extra caffeine; their chocolate contained dexedrine or other stimulant drugs.

    On and on. The many stories about it are probably mostly fanciful, but I have always wondered why chocolate and the Luftwaffe has been such a potent combination for the imaginations of WWII buffs.

    Reply
    • 13. Candy Professor  |  October 26, 2010 at 9:21 pm

      Fascinating. In the U.S. during WWII, Hershey’s was supplying some very un-tasty “Field Ration D,” which was chocolate, oat flour, and other “enhancements” which I understand was explicitly designed to be less appealing than the chocolate emergency rations of WWI. Because when they gave soldiers chocolate bars for “emergencies,” they would just eat them. Of course.

      Reply
  • 14. leslie  |  October 26, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    What a great blog! I don’t even like candy particularly (sorry), but I love the historical angle. What a fun topic.

    Reply
  • 15. louise  |  October 27, 2010 at 7:46 am

    I learned about your blog in the NYTimes today. This is such an interesting project. I associate candy with freedom and fun. I was the oldest of 8 children and my parents believed that if they controlled me everyone else would follow me. (That plan didn’t work, BTW!). Anyway, every Saturday, we’d get allowance and the only thing 25 cents or 50 cents would buy (in the 1960s) was candy. My choice! Freedom! Also, candy was not allowed in our house except for bday parties and Halloween. These are very fun activities, even today. So, candy is all about freedom and fun for me. Today, I am like a little kid when I see “penny candy” being sold. e.g. Strand on Bway in Manhattan recently started selling penny candy (3 for 35 cents) at their registers. I’m in heaven–a book and some candy.

    Reply
    • 16. Candy Professor  |  October 27, 2010 at 8:35 am

      A book and some candy, I’m totally there! Thanks for sharing your happy candy memories! I used to get 15 cents only! Ours was “Sunday Candy,” after church, and I have such memories of that little candy shop. It’s a shoe store now. Sigh.

      Reply
  • 17. KitKat Adams  |  October 27, 2010 at 8:27 am

    You are amazing! I love the organization of your blog and the super information contained here. Brava!

    Desire, chocolate and class. These are topics I can really sink my teeth into.

    No sugar or “bad” foods for those on SNAP? Grrrr. Middle-class reforms can be such a bummer.

    Reply
  • 18. offthebeatenmap  |  October 27, 2010 at 9:31 am

    I also found your blog through the New York Times article. Fascinating work, and very well done–it’s so interesting to learn about the history behind different candy campaigns and types of candy through the lens of cultural study. I’ll certainly be looking forward to new posts!

    Reply
  • 19. Karen  |  October 27, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Hello, I was wondering about “chocolate drops”. I used to get them as a small child from the “newsagents/sweet shop” in England. They seemed to be about the size of a quarter, could have been a nickel, I was small. I remember them being just round disks of what seemed to be poured, or dropped liquid chocolate. They had white or pink sprinkles on top of them covering the whole surface. Maybe they were poured onto wax paper and allowed to set up with the sprinkles put on somewhere in the midst of setting…

    The same shops also sold white, pink and brown chocolate mice that were obviously poured into an inverted mould. All of these things were sold by the piece, being somewhere from 1/2 pence to 2 pence a piece. They’d put them into tiny, open ended, paper envelopes.

    Ah the memories of the sweet shop!

    Reply
  • 20. Catherine  |  October 27, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Hi– the NYT article led me here. I am a philosopher working on agency, control and social norms in fast food eating, and from what I have read of your blog, our work and interests overlap a good bit. It is fascinating to see the common assumptions people make about what foods are as okay to eat and what foods aren’t (also, what foods people avoid as being too healthy). Candy is such an excellent lens through which to view this phenomenon– why didn’t I think of it? :-)
    I will send you email with my contact info– I look forward to being in touch.
    -catherine

    Reply
  • 21. Andy  |  October 27, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Nice website. I find the articles are very interesting, especially your hunt for the cultural artifacts that help connect the dots. I will check back regularly.

    Reply
  • 22. Sara  |  October 27, 2010 at 11:48 am

    I look forward to exploring this blog. I know quite a few people who demonize candy along with television and plastic toys. I personally think those things can be wonderful. My kids and I enjoy discussing the relative merits of Three Musketeers, M&Ms (plain and peanut), Almond Joy, Mounds, Snickers, Nestle’s Crunch, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Twix, York Peppermint Patties, Kit Kats– and that’s just the chocolate category. I feel like we live in a golden age of candy! (p.s. we all have normal body mass index)

    Reply
  • 23. lauradk  |  October 27, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Very interesting bolg. Congrats!

    Reply
  • 24. Pat Allen  |  October 27, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    OMG–we must be sisters of a different mother! Since I was a kid, most of my life has been spent thinking about my next (candy) score. Over the weekend, I told a friend that my tombstone should read, “She just never believed that candy was that bad for her” and so naturally my friend sent me the NYT article today. Candy is a convenient scapegoat, I do believe.

    Congratulations on your career and this blog. I’ve fantasized about getting a TV show or even Webisode at this point called “Stump the candy expert” but you are living the life, Samira!

    Reply
    • 25. Candy Professor  |  October 27, 2010 at 9:45 pm

      Well, I’m pretty easy to stump! But it does sound like a fun game. Obviously, only candy prizes…

      Reply
  • 26. Keith  |  October 27, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Found your site from the Times Article. Very interesting articles I’ve seen so far. I will be checking back regularly. Congrats.

    Reply
  • 27. Denise  |  October 27, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    Congrats on the NY Times article! My daughter did her 8th grade independent study project on candy this past spring. While she too turned up many of the interesting “evil” aspects of candy through history, your blog would have been a great additional source for her – too bad she hadn’t found it. It is truly interesting to study the socio-cultural aspects of this seemingly simple pleasure. Again, congratulations.

    Reply
    • 28. Candy Professor  |  October 27, 2010 at 9:40 pm

      I wish she had found it too! One of my dreams for Candy Professor is that it will inspire kids to be junior historians and discover how much fun it is to try to figure out how things got to be the way they are.

      Reply
  • 29. Friday's intriguing people – This Just In - CNN.com Blogs  |  October 29, 2010 at 10:55 am

    [...] who has a doctorate from Duke University, says candy carries so much moral and ethical baggage that it’s viewed as different from other [...]

    Reply
  • 30. Rebecca  |  October 29, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    loved looking through your blog! Its true that candy inspires kids, and lives on in the memories of adults. I remember Sweetarts, cherry coated ice cream cones, peppermint candy sticks, and tootsie roll pops as all being the most divine of foods, memories that are extremely potent! Now I’ve moved onto dried fruits, I view them as adult candy!

    Reply
    • 31. Candy Professor  |  October 29, 2010 at 6:42 pm

      Especially the chocolate coated ones at Trader Joes!

      Reply
  • 32. chocophile  |  October 29, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Hi,
    Great interview this morning.
    I thought I’d share my website with you:

    http://www.chocolateratings.wordpress.com

    185 reviews, so far.

    Reply
    • 33. Candy Professor  |  October 29, 2010 at 6:41 pm

      185, impressive! I’ll check it out.

      Reply
  • 34. Wendy  |  November 2, 2010 at 12:34 am

    http://wendyssoapbox.blogspot.com/search/label/Candy

    I have been discussing Candy and Halloween on my blog and ran across yours. Thanks for the info!

    Reply
  • 35. Robyn  |  November 9, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    I thought for some strange and utterly meaning less reason well it wasnt meaningless to me it was a cadburys trifle discovery! But anyway I just thought i would comment with the very important information that if you eat a cadburys trifle with all the layers you really only getting the taste of the second layer and the last 2 layers mould into one. But if you eat it layer byb layer it is much more satisfactory and lasts longer :D

    Reply
  • 36. Philip Day  |  February 27, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    I love M and Ms, brownies, ice cream, cakes, pies, etc. (not a fan of hard candy). Thanks for the blog!

    Reply
  • 37. Helen  |  April 4, 2011 at 6:41 am

    Hi Candy Professor, Please consider coming to our candy store. Sweets have become such a big part of our town that some education and history will only make it sweeter. I recently came across your NYT article and just started reading your blog. I love candy but now I love it even more for the depth and perspective you’ve given to sweet confections. Thank you!

    Reply
  • 38. george scott zynda  |  May 31, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    hello a friend of mine has told me something that may interest you on the gloww in the dark candy !

    Reply
  • 39. Battel  |  June 14, 2011 at 2:08 am

    Oooh…
    I recently you discovered this blog because of Evan Kleiman’s show in CA.

    Reply
  • 40. Life in B Major  |  December 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Interesting blog, focusing on the first currency that we have all grown up with

    Reply
  • 41. kenny wiesen  |  January 16, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    Wondering if you or your readers have information on a discontinued product known as Regal Crown. Regal Crown was the most popular candy that today is almost a complete mystery. In the 1950’s through 1980’s Regal Crown sour candy rolls were super popular (reaching the number 6 most popular candies in the US market. We know that it was imported, we also know it was imported by Tootsie Roll industries for s while in the 50, and 60’s and thereafter handled by Callard & Bower. It is believed that it was manufactured by Trebor in the UK but very little is known about where and who actually manufactured the product.
    Anyone with information please help.
    Kenny Wiesen
    Iconic Candy
    info@iconiccandy.com

    Reply
  • 42. chocophile  |  January 21, 2012 at 11:16 am

    I remember those sour little hard candies, and loving them as a teen.
    Haven’t a clue as to what happened to them, though. Sorry.

    Nicole

    http://www.chocolateratingswordpress.com

    Reply
  • 43. Dick Ziervogel  |  February 11, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    I’m doing a history of the 110 year old American Candy Co. building, Milwaukee WI
    Would like to set up an historical display in the buildings lobby (building has been converted into condos) Looking for any info about the “American Candy Co,” “Howard B. Stark (candy) Co.” & “Stark Candy Co.” (pre 1960).
    Candy ads – wrappers – history etc.
    Some of the candies that their known for are “Rex” brand of fine chocolates, “Snirkle”, “Candy Raisins”, “Stark Wafers”, “Sweethearts candy”,little conversation valentine “Candy Cigarettes” or any other candies that you know they made.
    Any information or leads you may have is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks

    D Z

    Reply
  • 44. Khrystina  |  May 21, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    I absolutely LOVE this site! :D

    Reply
  • 45. Su Ning  |  October 10, 2012 at 1:44 am

    Hello! We had a literature paper today and you and your blog were featured in the comprehension passage. Just wanted to say, this is really interesting!
    Cheers from Singapore!

    Reply
  • 46. Carolina Pombo  |  October 18, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    Hi! Nice blog! I just wanna say well donne e thank you very much for the writing of the article “New directions of motherhood”. I am a Brazilian doctorate student, in Europe, and also a feminist mother and blogger, trying to understand mothers well-being and child care across western nations. Your text was very important to me!

    Reply
  • 47. Becky  |  November 20, 2012 at 12:14 am

    Samira, my husband had a favorite candy when he was younger, but doesn’t know what it was called, and we can’t find it anywhere online (I’m starting to doubt that it existed). He describes it as bees that may have been kind of like sweet tarts. It came in a plastic hexagon that was decorated to look like either a bee hive or honeycomb. It was in the late 80s or early 90s that he had it. Do you have any idea what this candy may have been? Thanks so much for any help you can give us!

    Reply
    • 48. Candy Professor  |  November 20, 2012 at 8:04 am

      I don’t remember that one! Isn’t it funny how those childhood candies have such a strong hold on our imaginations.

      Reply
  • 49. Martha  |  December 8, 2012 at 6:07 am

    Maybe you can help me, Samira. I have (and I say this in all modesty) a GREAT idea for a hard candy that would get attention for a worthy cause, make money for everyone on the production / dispensing end of things, and taste AMAZING. Yet, I don’t know who to contact in order to get the blasted thing made or how to get candy companies to LISTEN to me. In fact, the only candy company who has called me back (so far) did so to ask if I was joking. Can you give me any suggestions? Pretty please?

    Reply
  • 50. Sparkly Sugar Plums for Christmas - Kakor Recept  |  December 9, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    [...] Only after I created my sugar plum recipe did I discover the truth about sugar plums – traditional sugar plums have nothing at all to do with plums!  For the full story, I highly encourage you to read an article in The Atlantic entitled Sugar Plums: They Are Not What You Think They Are by Samira Kawash, author of Candy Professor. [...]

    Reply
  • 51. Michael Manista  |  January 10, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    Hello, i am a malic acid addict; there are many people looking for what happened to
    Regal Crown Royal Sour hard candy wrapped in wax paper. I remember enjoying those devils until the roof of my mouth bled and my teeth hurt. As you are the candy professor, We insist you reserch what happened to the company and what is the status of the original formula of making this wicked treat. there are many people waiting with baited breath for your response of your research. We will then grant you knighthood of professorship.Yes, this does appear threatining; but, you are dealing with hundreds if not thousands of addicted people. WE NEED ANSWERS!

    Best regards,
    doing what I can until our next fix of Malic Acid. (jolly ranchers just don’t cut it)

    Reply
  • 52. danny  |  January 12, 2013 at 10:27 am

    im looking for a peppermint ball its a hard candy about the size of a blow pop, white or opaque in color in a red and white striped wrapper. my mom believes they are from holland and we cant find anything like them or the name can you help.

    Reply
    • 53. Candy Professor  |  January 17, 2013 at 10:25 am

      Sorry I don’t know that one…but I know the feeling of wishing for the candy you can’t find!

      Reply
  • 54. K Wiesen  |  January 22, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Regal Crown Sours are on their way back. Iconic Candy is the sucessor in intetest and has the formula and Intellectual Property rights to Regal Crown. They are currently working very hard with their manufacturer in the UK on returning sour cherry, sour lemon, sour orange and sour grape back to the US market. Keep tuned:
    Iconiccandy.com

    Reply
  • 55. Jarel  |  March 23, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Hello Samira, I was hoping I could get some help with a nougat problem I’m having :) if you could contact me for details I would greatly appreciate it

    Reply
  • 56. Dino Brava  |  March 25, 2013 at 7:34 am

    The folks at ICON CANDY must have found the recipe
    information they were looking for regarding REGAL CROWN candies. Their Facebook page says they plan on distributing REGAL CROWN candies this summer (2013).

    Reply
    • 57. Dino Brava  |  March 25, 2013 at 7:37 am

      Oops! Meant to type ICONIC CANDY…..dang iPad keyboard!!!

      Reply
  • 58. J West  |  March 25, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Back in the 1970’s in Ohio I got some candy at a fair. I’ve never seen it since. It was a soft cherry jelly, in the shape of a round disc with a little white glaze on top. It came in a box (about the size of a cigar box) and the candies with in layers. They were about 5 for a quarter at the time.

    Reply
  • 59. Leslie  |  March 25, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Thank you for the dextrose articles, very interesting. I found them looking for powdered dextrose candy recipes on the internet. Amazingly, I can’t find anything, only references to the pressed powder candy. Do you happen to know if one could substitute the dextrose sugar in place of table sugar for a hard candy recipe?

    Reply
    • 60. Candy Professor  |  March 28, 2013 at 11:21 am

      I know that candy makers did use Dextrose in the 1930s in place of some sucrose, but I don’t know what that entailed in terms of re-formulating the candy. Dextrose is glucose, which is only half of sucrose (which is one glucose plus one fructose), and although I am not a sugar chemist, I suspect it has different physical properties also, especially in relation to crystallization. If you’re feeling industrious, I’d suggest doing an experiment with dextrose in a hard candy recipe, and see what happens!

      Reply
  • 61. Daniel  |  June 3, 2013 at 11:32 am

    to the Candy Professor: I am currently researching the origins of s’mores for a camping-related project I’m writing. I was wondering why s’mores are so strongly associated with Hershey’s milk chocolate bars (and, among other things, Sun Maid graham crackers.) Wondering if you might have some ideas about the cultural dominance of Hershey’s in campfire/smore-making culture … many thanks,
    Dan

    Reply
  • 62. Stephanie Stuart  |  July 25, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Hello Samira!
    I love your blog and I hope to see more posts! Any candy reviews coming soon?

    Reply
  • 63. Peter Egan  |  October 27, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Samira,
    I just heard you on NPR. I work for a farm in Maine. We are primarily a poultry farm but we have a goat dairy. I am a recovering chef (read: once onto food it never leaves you) so I still cook things. With the goats milk I make cajeta, a caramel sauce in the dulce de lache (sp) family. I go to farmers market with our products. The farmers market crowd is mixed some very organic etc and the other extreme whatever just give it to me. The cajeta generates a lot of angst in the organic crowd. I’m tired of it. A confection is as you so aptly put is a treat, just like life so enjoy it. Good work!
    Pete Egan
    Rockport , Maine
    Would you like a jar of cajeta to smear on everything, not great on fish?
    Let me know.

    Reply
  • 64. Michael Towers  |  November 29, 2013 at 2:40 am

    Just heard of Candy Medicine by Dr. Fantus – the book is listed as the latest addition to Project Gutenberg.

    Reply
  • 65. Michael Towers  |  November 29, 2013 at 2:43 am

    Meant to type “Candy Medication”. I Googled the book and came across your website.

    Reply

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