Black Crows Unmasked

February 10, 2012 at 10:48 pm 4 comments

Some time ago I published a post on the disputed nomenclature of the candy we know as “Black Crows” (read it here).  Candy lore has it that the real name was supposed to be “Black Rose,” but some miscommunication resulted in birds instead of flowers. My post was a “proof” that Black Crows must have been the original name.

But why “Black Crows”? Now I think I know.

Today in a 1917 history of the confectionery trade in the city of Philadelphia, I discover this mention in passing:

In the early 40’s, Sebastian Henrion made the first Cream Chocolates and Jim Crows, the latter, which were quite black, being named after a troupe of colored minstrels then playing.

Get it? Jim Crows, Black Crows. The candy is, after all, quite black. So when you see that dandy crow in a top hat, think “racist minstral stereotype.” Mmmm, the taste of America.

Source: Ellwood B. Chapman, The Candy Making Industry in Philadelphia, Educational Pamphlet No. 6, Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, 1917, page 4. See it here.

Entry filed under: Candy Origins and Stories, Myth Busting. Tags: , .

Candy Cane Emergency Chocolobotomy, anyone?

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. yamseer  |  February 10, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    I see a fun, themed eating day ahead. Breakfast of Aunt Jemima pancakes smothered in Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup, lunch with some Uncle Ben’s rice and for desert, Black Crows. Did I miss any? Was Mrs. Butterworth actually black at one time?

  • 2. leg717  |  February 15, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Here’s another fun one on the topic of candy related to racial stereotyping. There’s an image in the LOC prints and photographs collection that I’ve always wondered about. It’s identified as inside the Williamson Candy Factory and shows two white men at a candy machine with the caption: “De candy done drop I’se regusted.” I kept wondering, what in the world does “I’se regusted” mean? Then I was doing some research on Williamson’s Amos ‘N Andy candy bar and found a reference to the famous catchphrases that came out the A ‘n A show — mostly, it seems, phrases that Amos got wrong including, I’se regusted (see for example). So, duh, of course! When you compare that photograph with others of Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll (the actors who voiced Amos and Andy) you can clearly see it’s them, presumably posing for a publicity photo at Williamson for the Amos ‘N Andy candy bar. Funny how the photograph has survived with no mention of who the guys are or why. And even funnier how short-lived our memory is for famous catch-phrases.

  • 3. Trixie  |  February 24, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    But aren’t Black Crows actually green, if you hold them up to the light?

  • 4. Helene  |  May 24, 2012 at 5:28 am

    besides the candy and the group there is also a rock group 😉 But they’re spelled The Black Crowes


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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.

(C) Samira Kawash

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