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With the book in production for an October publication date, the next thing to do is to pick an author photo for the jacket.
This is my first choice–what do you think?
Credit: “Head of Candy Research,” Warner Jenkinson ad, 1974.
Any special Easter favorites, new or old?
If you want to know what I’m hoping will be in my basket, check out my Easter candy gallery at Saveur.com
We have a title! CANDY: A Century of Panic and Pleasure
Coming in October 2013, published by Faber and Faber.
And here’s a description:
Many adults who wouldn’t dream of indulging in a Snickers bar of jelly beans feel fine snacking on sports bars and giving their children fruit snacks. For most Americans, candy is enjoyed guiltily and considered the most unhealthy thing we eat. But why? Candy accounts for only a small portion of the added sugar in the American diet. And at least it’s honest about what it is—a processed food, eaten for pleasure, with no particular nutritional benefit. What should really worry consumers is the fact that today every aisle in the supermarket contains highly manipulated products that have all the qualities of candy. So how did our definitions of food and candy come to be so muddled?
CANDY tells the strange, fascinating story of how candy evolved in America and how it became a scapegoat for all our fears about the changing nature of food. Samira Kawash takes us from the moral crusaders at the turn of the century, who blamed candy for everything from poisoning to alcoholism to sexual depravity to dread diseases; to the reason why the government made candy an essential part of rations during World War I (and how the troops came back craving it like never before); to current worries about hyperactivity, cavities, and obesity.
CANDY is an essential, addictive read for anyone who loves lively cultural history, who cares about food, and who wouldn’t mind feeling a bit better about eating candy.
Well, it’s done. The book is finished, the manuscript is edited, the whole 118,000 words bundled up and sent off to production.
Book? Yes, that’s where I’ve been the past few months, shaping and molding all my candy thoughts into a coherent whole. I’m very happy with the result, an entirely new story about candy in America from about 1880 until today. Some of the themes will be familiar to readers of CandyProfessor, especially ideas about the way candy takes the blame for all kinds of bad things, and our essential ambivalence about candy (“evil, or just misunderstood?”). But what I’m really excited about in the book is the way I can tell a larger story about how the emergence of mass-produced candy changed what we call food, and how so much of what we eat as food today is directly descended from candy.
Alas, you (and I) will have to wait some time to see the actual book. Books, evidently, are like babies. They take about 9 months, so look for my book at the end of October, 2013. It’s called….
Oh, wait, I don’t know what it’s called. First it was called “The Candy Lure.” Then it was called “In Defense of Candy.” Then it was called “Candy: The Secret History of Food.” And now…I have no idea. There are many masters to please when titling a book: the author, the editorial staff, the marketing people, the sales people…. and while I’m thrilled to be working with an excellent team at Faber and Faber, the fact is that once an author signs the book over, the publisher gets the final word. Lots of smart minds are brainstorming at this very instant to come up with the best title ever; I can’t wait to find out what it will be!
So stay tuned. As soon as I find out what my book is called, I’ll let you know.
Pepperidge Farm, purveyor of better-than-average grocery store cookies, is tip-toeing farther into candy territory with a very tasty treat called “Signatures Chocolate Medallion Cookies Milk Chocolate Caramel.” It’s a buttery biscuit, a layer of salty caramel, and a cap of milk chocolate, which is pretty good on its own merits. But this confection is more than just good taste, if you can believe the back of the box:
Savor richness…followed by lightness…and a hidden silky caramel filling. Taste waves of pleasure, building to the Signatures sensation. Then revel in the afterglow of…Chocolateness.
All that, in a little cookie. Enjoy it alone, or with a friend.
Check out my piece on the origins and history of American caramels just posted at Gastronomica.org
For generations raised on Kraft cubes, the superiority of a fresh, small-batch caramel is largely unknown. In fact, the mediocrity of the overprocessed caramel helped chocolate bars rise to dominance in the candy aisle.
This just in:
“Scientists have discovered a brain area that helps control your desire to eat sweet, hyper-palatable foods like chocolate.” read the story over at LA Times: “Craving chocolate? Activity in certain brain area might be why.”
Researchers at the University of Michigan discovered that when you chemically poke a rat in this particular brain spot, the rat eats twice as many M&Ms as rats that are just minding their business and eating M&Ms as Nature intended.
This research has obvious implications for humans, at least those with brains similar to rats. When traditional methods of craving control fail, we can turn to our nearest brain surgeon to delicately remove this chocolate-craving region.
Or, we can just eat another chocolate bar.
Nearly the night before Christmas…Where the Heck are the Candy Canes?
Here in Brooklyn Heights, my little elf and I journeyed hither and yon in search of your basic classic candy cane. You know the one I’m talking about: peppermint, white with red stripes. The Classic, to hang on our tree.
How many drug and grocery/food stores do you think we visited before we found this basic Yule-time staple? One? Three? Guess again.
We found the candy canes in store number NINE! Yes, eight stores, and nary a cane.
1. Duane Reade Drug Store: one box of Skittles brand fruit canes
2. Perlander Natural Foods: no holiday candy (hardly any candy at all, actually, but I was hoping for some “all natural” canes)
3. Key Food: Christmas? Who knew?
4. Sahadi’s Specialty Foods: Beautiful Hammond’s lollipops, but no canes
5. Rite Aid: one box Skittles brand canes, one Lifesavers, all lurid un-Christmasy colors.
6. Rite Aid (another one): large pink and white Barbie cane
7. Garden of Eden (expensive specialty foods): closest they had here was pretzels coated in white chocolate and peppermint crumbs.
8. Duane Reade (another one): a couple of boxes of Skittles brand and one other with green apple and strawberry flavored canes.
9. City Chemist: EUREKA! An independent store with a “old time” candy section, at last we find real Christmas candy canes. We almost missed them, though; they were stashed below some discounted boxes of Christmas cards, not even with the Christmas candy proper. No respect! But at $1.99 per dozen, and 30% off, we are happy.
Is it just that all the candy canes are sold out? Or is the old-fashioned hard peppermint just not hip enough for the Facebook generation? Any theories?
I ran across this item in a June, 1918 issue of The American Food Journal:
Cactus candy is now being made in Louisiana from the spineless cactus grown for cattle food. Tills Candy makes a palatable confection, with only a reasonable amount of sugar used, the cactus being peeled, dipped in hot sirup or molasses, and coated with granulated or powdered sugar. … Cactus candy can be made by housewives on southern farms, using home supplies of cane sirup, a standard farm product of the south.
Add this to my “candy from anything” file… (see also: potatoes, lima beans, yams, garlic, cottonseed, alfalfa…)
- Some Candies You Won’t Be Making for the Holidays
- Eat More, Weigh Less: Bulking up Candy With Vegetables
Amazing find… in the Harvard Depository is a box, and in the box are samples of candy lozenges produced by Boston candy-maker Fobes & Hayward, way back sometime around 1870.
I have not actually seen this candy in person. I was at Harvard to look at a book, the NCA’s 1907 report on candy poisoning allegations called “Facts,” only one copy of which exists. It was totally worth the trip.
And then, poking around in the Business Library Historical Collection, I stumbled on a reference to a box containing “lozenges and labels” associated with business records of Ball & Fobes (which became Fobes & Hayward, which merged with a couple of others to become NECCO). Alas, the box was off-site in the depository, and I only was there for the day, so I couldn’t actually look in the box. But by a stroke of good luck, the very helpful reference librarians were able to track down pictures of the contents.
Amazing! They are pale pinkish and brownish flat opaque disks. The substance looks like Necco Wafers, chalky and dry. These style lozenges were the forerunners to our wafers. The shape is obviously machine made. They are round with scalloped edges. Each is stamped with a cameo-like bas relief. The detail on the images I looked at is murky, but they appear to be animal and classical type scenes; one looks like a woman holding a vase or urn, another looks like maybe a deer. I can’t tell what size these are, there is no scale reference.
Dating the lozenges: There are several labels that are in the same collection. It is impossible to know whether they are contemporaneous with the lozenge candies, but assuming they are, they provide some clues to dating. The labels read “Fobes & Hayward.” The puts the date after 1865, when when Ball & Fobes became Fobes & Hayward. The labels are for lozenges, comfits, and sugared cardamom and flagroot. These are candies that lean more toward the early nineteenth century than towards the developments of the 1880s. So I think it is unlikely that these lozenges are older that 1880, and I’d be comfortable putting them closer to 1870.
I can’t wait for my next trip up to Boston. I really want to see that box, and put my hands on, or at least near, such an amazing piece of candy history.