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Chocolobotomy, anyone?

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.

September 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm Leave a comment

Candy Cane Emergency

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?



December 22, 2011 at 7:24 pm 10 comments

Cactus Candy Recipe (mind the needles…)

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…)

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November 29, 2011 at 9:57 am 3 comments

150 year old candy hidden in Harvard Depository

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.

November 15, 2011 at 8:35 am 2 comments

Candy Professor on Canadian Radio

Candy tales…

I talk to CBC’s Brent Bambury about Halloween fun, candy corn, kisses, and more on this morning’s radio show “Day 6.”

You can hear the pod cast here.

October 29, 2011 at 9:38 am 2 comments

Waiting for Halloween

When you are six, this is what Halloween candy is for:

You go every day after school to see what kinds of candy you can buy. You examine the sizes, the varieties, the colors. You think very hard about what you like, what other kids like, what would be good to give to big kids and what would be fine for little kids.

You buy a little candy today, a little another day. You dump it all out on the floor each time you buy more. You admire it. You count it, you sort it, you think about whether you really have enough for all the kids.

You contemplate which kids might like which ones. You consider whether you should hand out these first or those, or whether you should mix them all up and just reach in and hand out which ever you grab.

You think about the candy in its big sack, in an unobtrusive corner. When other kids come over, you remember it but don’t mention it, because they might want some. And its not for eating. Not now.

You wait for Halloween to come. You wait and wait. You ask your Mom every day, how many weeks? How many days?

You might have to try one piece. Just one. After all, it’s your favorite.

October 28, 2011 at 11:40 am Leave a comment

Dr. Pepper Ten–Seriously?

It launched on Monday: a new line of Dr. Pepper soda, with 10 calories per can.

It’s called Dr. Pepper Ten, and its NOT FOR WOMEN.

This is where marketing has taken us, people. A “manly” diet soda that surrounds itself with monster trucks and beefy plaid-clad pecs. The can looks like a bullet. Suck it up guys! 10 calories! That’s real stuff!

Manly man voice over: “Hey ladies. Enjoying the film? Of course not. Because this is our movie and this is our soda. You can keep the romantic comedies and lady drinks. We’re good.”

Over on Facebook, they won’t even let women onto their special man page.

Ten has real calories and 2 grams of real sugar, manly virile stuff. That regular Diet Dr. Pepper, with zero calories, is just so femmy, so frilly, so embarassing for a calorie-counting sort of guy.

Unfortunately, I can’t put the video of the commercial here, because everybody who has tried to upload it has been slammed by Dr. Pepper Snapple Group for copyright infringement. Which is kind of  a funny way to get the word out. Especially when the whole point of the campaign is to create social “buzz” and controversy (what! no women!)

How long do you think this product will last? I of course immediately think of another “not for women” line: Yorkie Chocolate Bar. Or, as we call it in my candy-discriminating household, Yukkie. After spitting it out, I concluded that it is not for women because women are too smart to eat such bad candy. As for Dr. Pepper Ten, well, I guess they’ll try anything.

October 26, 2011 at 4:31 pm 6 comments

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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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