Candy Hodag Hunt
Scotland has its Loch Ness Monster. Canada has its Sasquatch and Big Foot. Tibet boasts the Yeti. And the little town of Rhinelander, Wisconsin has the Hodag.
I just returned from our annual family vacation/in-law visit to Rhinelander, and so I had a chance to brush up on my Hodag lore. And to explore any possible Hodag candy connections, of course.
The Hodag is a fearsome beast, long and squat like an alligator, with sharp spines all down its back and a fat head, broad toothsome mouth, and curved horns. Hodag watchers dispute furiously: is it black, or dark green? Does it have fur, or scales, or hide?
One man claimed to have captured a Hodag, long ago. His name was Gene Sheppard, and his antics and feats of strength and bravery are the stuff of Rhinelander legend. Gene Sheppard was a lumber man around these parts, and the story goes that one day he was out in the woods minding his lumber business when he spotted a strange and fearsome beast. Sheppard rushed back to tell his lumber buddies, and they plotted the animal’s capture. With wile and luck, Sheppard trapped the monster, called it a Hodag, and made a tidy penny charging fair-goers and carnival crowds for the chance to gaze on the fierce creature.
Sadly, some spoil-sport turned on the lights. The creature in Sheppard’s cage was exposed as a fraud. What appeared to be a growling monster with glowing eyes in the dim light of the huckster’s tent turned out to be nothing more than a stuffed dummy. But Sheppard insisted he had really seen the Hodag out in the forest, and that it was still out there. And today, that Hodag, or perhaps the son of the son of the Hodag, continues to roam the woods around Rhinelander.
So when we visited, we decided to go on a Hodag hunt. As we searched Rhinelander high and low, we located several specimens, some fierce and some friendly.
Heading out to the woods, we hoped for a glimpse of a live Hodag. Weary with searching, we were about to give up when we stumbled on a sure sign: Hodag poop. The characteristic trail of green and white droppings led us deeper into the woods. We searched and listened for any strange noises. And then we found this:
Neither wood nor fiberglass nor stuffing, we concluded that this must be the real Hodag. We had a brief tussle before we landed the beast.
And if not exactly the “animal” we expected, we did discover that it was very tasty.
If you’d like to taste your own Hodag, check out the Fun Factory, where you can find dark chocolate Hodags like mine, along with Hodags in milk chocolate and “green and white” as well as an assortment of Hodag Poop, “carefully gathered from a secret Hodag den in Rhinelander.”