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Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure

Candy Professor is no longer active, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your fix.
Like candy? Like history? Like Candy Professor? Then you’ll LOVE my book, Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure. Get it now, before it goes all sticky and stale.


March 19, 2016 at 2:18 pm Leave a comment

Today’s Interesting Candy Facts

1. If you spill some M&Ms while you are riding in the car, and you happen to accidentally sit on one for several hours, and it stains your white pants, you can get the stain out with Spray and Wash.

2. If you are at a restaurant, and they give out those red peppermints in cellophane, and you put one in your pocket for later, and you forget about it, and you put your pants in the wash, you will find the wrapper at the bottom of your washer. You will not find the peppermint.

3. If you are driving home for several hours in the dark, and you stop at a gas station to “use the facilities,” and you feel like you ought to buy something since you are using all their nice facilities, and you notice a new kind of “3x Chocolate Snickers” featuring chocolate-ish nougat and chocolate-ish caramel along with the usual chocolate coating, and you buy it, and you break it into pieces in the car to share with your family, and your loving spouse drops some of the crumbs of chocolate onto his shirt, and they melt, you will need that Spray and Wash again. You will not, however, need to try another 3x Chocolate Snickers.

Have any other interesting candy facts to share?

January 21, 2014 at 12:45 pm 3 comments

CBS Sunday Morning on the Tootsie Trail

CBS Sunday Morning broadcast a fun segment on the mysteries of Tootsie Roll…pay attention and you’ll catch a glimpse of yours truly!

January 6, 2014 at 9:40 am Leave a comment

Celebrating CANDY with Original Music

CANDY not only tastes good, it sounds good too! In honor of the publication of CANDY, my Fearless Assistant (aka Jelly Bean Baby) has composed an original clarinet solo titled “Candy Books.”

Press play to hear it:


October 16, 2013 at 11:10 am 1 comment

Starred Reviews for CANDY

Reviewers for both Booklist and Kirkus have awarded CANDY: A CENTURY OF PANIC AND PLEASURE the coveted star!

Kirkus (starred review):

“Though the subject matter may be fluffy, the treatment is substantive and significant, representing an important contribution to the literature about what, and how, we eat in 21st-century America.”

Read the full Kirkus review here

Booklist (starred review):

“…lively, engaging, and deliciously descriptive….With a helpful heaping of information in every verbal bite, this fascinating social and culinary history gives readers a deeper understanding of the powerful forces at work behind the brightly colored wrappers.”

Read the full Booklist review here

October 8, 2013 at 11:22 am Leave a comment

Fermented Sugar by Any Other Name

Perhaps you are aware of the tiny war being waged on the “ingredients” panel of your average processed food. The law requires that ingredients be listed. But every food processor knows that more and more consumers are wary of the multi-syllabic mystery chemicals that make possible the magic of modern food. So the food industry is very interested in what grad-student types call “semantics”: how things get named.

Controversies over naming go all the way back to the dawn of processed foods. One of the first had to do with a corn derivative that was having an image problem. The common name was “glucose,” but food reformers’ attacks had made consumers suspicious of an additive reputed to be concocted of arsenic, saw dust, and glue. So the corn industry came up with a much nicer sounding name: corn syrup.

I thought of this when I read about a new additive known to the trade as Verdad Power F80, a preparation developed by Dutch company Carbion Purac that is designed “preserve the freshness and flavor of a variety of fresh and ready-to-eat foods, including sauces, salads and bread.” No stranger to the label wars, Carbion Purac assures its customers that this additive can legally be named on ingredients lists by a much more benign title: fermented sugar.

Carbion Purac claims the additive is “natural” and the product of “minimal processing.” Something about “the latest in fermentation and spray-drying technology.” I don’t know what that means. But I do know what this means: “With Verdad Power F80 we …. can now offer food processors a greater choice of label-friendly ingredients.”

Maybe I’m being too curmudgeonly. Verdad Power F80 does seem to be less of a chemistry experiment than many other additives. So isn’t that a good thing? I’m not sure. Does a dose of “all-natural” preservatives really make it that much better to chow down on Twinkies and PopTarts?

Quotations from Food Business News | New fermented sugar ingredient preserves freshness flavor and Press Release:
Corbion Purac expands Verdad® portfolio of label-friendly ingredients

October 3, 2013 at 11:20 am Leave a comment

Review: M&Ms White Chocolate Candy Corn

candy cornCandy doesn’t grow on trees. You can make it with “natural” ingredients, but there’s nothing natural about it. It’s totally artificial, a product of human ingenuity, chemistry, food engineering, and a dash of whimsy. And since candy is completely artificial to begin with, it is free to be anything.  Like, say, corn. Candy corn, I mean. No one thinks candy corn is actual corn,  no matter the resemblance. And the flavor? How could we possibly say what candy corn should really taste like? Candy corn is about as unnatural as you can get.

Candy isn’t the only artificial food we eat, of course. But what I like about candy is how it is totally honest about its origins. You won’t find candy corn in the frozen food aisle.

So you’d think, given my enthusiasm for the fakeness of candy, that I’d be a huge fan of any sort of candy innovation. And I generally am. Then along comes something like M&Ms White Chocolate Candy Corn.

If candy is fake food, then M&Ms Candy Corn is fake squared: candy-flavored candy. It makes my mind spin a bit. Which would be a more pleasant sensation, I suppose, if I didn’t find M&Ms Candy Corn to be not only existentially troubling from a philosophical point of view, but also, from the point of view of candy eating, just plain nasty.

Tasting notes: "Blech"

Tasting notes: “Blech”

Look at the morsels: bigger than normal M&Ms, bulbous and swollen. The colors lack the shiny depths of the usual M&M glaze. Instead, we have a chalky white, a toxic yellow, and an orange that is trying too hard. I’ve got to conclude that the folks at Mars weren’t giving this candy their full attention; even the proud “m” that marks each bit is missing from many of these sad specimens.

As for the taste, let’s just admit that with the possible exception of Green&Black bars, plain white chocolate is not something anyone should have to eat, ever. Waxy, salty, and overwhelmingly vanilla, yes. Candy corn, no.

The bottom line is that these mutant M&Ms have nothing to do with candy corn at all. And the M&Ms know it. Just look at that poor Red M&M guy on the package, dressed up in an ill-fitting candy corn suit. He is obviously unhappy. He is thinking, “What the he88 am I doing in this candy corn outfit?” He knows it’s not right.

MM candy corn package

Candy corn may not be “natural,” but I will not shy from naming this awkward and bad-tasting M&M hybrid for what it is: a freak of nature.

September 28, 2013 at 2:16 pm 3 comments

Oreos Save the Environment

Oreo cookies are going “Eco.” At least, that’s the way Mondelez is spinning their most recent patent application for a new process to give Oreos their dark chocolately color.

According to a report in Confectionery News, 

“Mondelez has filed a patent for a method to give black cocoa powder its rich color using fewer environmentally damaging chemicals and no iron salts.”

Sounds pretty good, right? But here’s the kicker: this process also evidently results in an even more intensely colored black cocoa. In the patent application, Mondelez suggests the new process will mean Oreos can be made with “significantly less cocoa powder.” Sounds like the “Eco-Oreo” is really a “cheapo Oreo.”

Kind of reminds me of the last time I showered in a hotel. How much better it made me feel to re-use my towel, knowing it would help Marriott save the planet.

September 10, 2013 at 5:35 pm 1 comment

A Glimpse of the Author

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.

April 11, 2013 at 10:57 am 2 comments

What’s in Your Easter Basket?

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

March 30, 2013 at 4:54 pm 1 comment

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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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