Posts tagged ‘candy’

Igniting Cough Drops

Violent candies: It’s not about the taste, but about the action. Pop Rocks explode in your mouth. Extreme Sours of all sorts burn the skin off your cheeks. Wintergreen Lifesavers emit sparks when chomped in the dark. Dear candy, don’t just sit there; DO SOMETHING!

How delightful it must have been for whoever discovered the igniting cough drop, back in 1913. One typically seeks such medicated confection for its soothing, cooling properties. One does not expect pyrotechnics.

Woman Taking Throat Lozenge

A popular cough lozenge ingredient in the day was chlorate of potash; mixed up with a little sugar, it promised a tasty and effective treatment for respiratory discomfort. But when you rubbed the lozenge on the igniting strip of a safety-match box, watch out! The lozenge would light up like a match and burn.

It’s a cough drop. No, it’s a match. No, it’s a cough drop AND a match!

Confectioners Journal called it “killing two birds with one stone.” One wonders how it could have been as tasty as claimed. Of course, in 1913 those chalky Necco-style wafers were popular, too.

Source: “Killing Two Birds With One Stone” Confectioners Journal, Jan. 1914 p. 93

More: Chemistry expert Anne Marie Helmenstine explains Candy Triboluminescence (those sparks from Wintergreen Lifesavers).

November 13, 2009 at 6:53 am 2 comments

Candy Band Aids

Sugar is a somewhat magical substance. In all its many crystalline and syrupy moods it gives us jellies, and taffies, and candy canes, and fudge. These days, we don’t often worry about spoilage, so its easy to forget that sugar is also an excellent preservative. Fruit preserves and candied fruits last a long time; the sugar draws moisture out of the microbes that would make the food spoil.

Doctor Bandaging a Knee

None of these uses would suggest that we could use sugar in the arsenal against injury and bloodshed. Yet just such a use was discovered among German surgeons during the early days of the first World War:

…it is said that many of the wounded have been cured by dressings of ordinary granulated sugar, the compresses being changed every second or third day.

Actually, it kind of makes sense. Sugar would impede the growth of infectious bacteria, just as it discourages the growth of spoiling bacteria in food. But Confectioners Journal offered a more metaphysical explanation:

Sugar is always vitalizing and it seems logical that it should purify and heal when thus applied externally.

And there was a suggestion for a new candy product:

One of these days our confectioners may be found turning out sugar plasters.

Candy band aids sounds like a great idea. Imagine how much easier it would be to sooth little Suzy’s scratched knee if you could offer one bandage for the knee, and another to suck on!

One final thought: Of course, salt would have the same effect. But in addition to the general non-yummyness of salt band aids, it should be pointed out that packing wounds with salt sounds like it would really hurt!

Source: “Sugar as a Life Saver,” Confectioners Journal April 1917 p 65

November 6, 2009 at 7:38 am 2 comments

Creed for Candy

As you contemplate the vast glittering expanse of your Halloween booty, I offer you this little meditation on the loveliness of candy:

Candy adds to the sunshine of the world as well as to the nutrition of the world.

Candy is a symbol of fun to the child, sentiment to the adult, pleasure to old age.

Candy knows no social barriers, it is for the rich or poor, young or old, man or woman, no matter the race or religion or rank.

Candy is available to everyone, priced for everyone, with a choice for everyone.

Candy is delicious food.

Enjoy some every day!

–1948 Council on Candy, National Confectioners Association

colored candy figures
A little background information: The Council on Candy as Essential Food in the War Effort was organized by the National Confectioners Association in 1942 in response to the sugar rationing program. The Council on Candy was charged with persuading the government, the military, and the general population that candy was an essential food item, and therefore that candy manufacturers should continue to have access to sugar supplies. The “Creed for Candy” was reproduced and republished in magazine advertisements and shop placards as part of an ambitious advertising and education campaign in the 1940s aimed at securing a place for candy in American hearts and at American tables.

November 2, 2009 at 7:14 am 2 comments

A Musical TV Tribute to Candy, 1951

By 1951, candy was fully committed to a television future. TV viewers on the night of December 1, 1951, enjoyed a full-length musical tribute to candy, as featured on the popular Ken Murray Television Show. There were specially written songs, special costumes and scenery, and a unique candy dance extravaganza.

Family watching TV

Viewers would be entertained, to be sure. But they would also be educated. The Candy Show was a promotion for candy, after all. The 14 million viewers learned about the important part candy plays in food and nutrition, the tireless efforts of candy manufacturers to improve their products, and the “constant efforts being put forth to provide the buying public with delicious and wholesome candy.”

The Ken Murray Show’s sponsor probably had something to do with the plans for “one of the greatest good-will promotions in the entire history of the candy industry.” The sponsor was Anheuser-Busch. The Anheuser-Busch Corn Products Division was a major supplier of corn syrup to the candy industry (see CandyProfessor:  “Beer and Candy III”). So what was good for candy was good for corn products, and what was good for corn products was good for Anheuser-Busch.

Source: “TV Show to Promote Candy as Food,” Confectioners Journal Dec. 1951, p. 27

October 23, 2009 at 6:55 am 2 comments

Candy Discovers Television, 1950

In 1950, candy woke up to a whole new realm of candy selling and candy eating possibilities: television.

Watching TV

5 million television sets were in use in 1950, with another million expected to be added by years end. In the days of “family viewing,” that meant 15-20 million Americans gathered around the black and white hearth.

But what really caught the candy industry’s eye was this: families gathered around the television were eating candy. Lots of it.

TV was a perfect candy eating opportunity. TV created “a concentrated attentive audience, in a relaxed pleasure seeking mood. An audience that should be receptive to eating candy.”

Marketing professionals had some advice for exploiting this new opportunity. Henceforth, candy manufacturers would

1. sell the consumer on the idea of eating candy while watching television.

2. create special television candies and packages

3. investigate the potentials of television as an advertising medium for candy.

The observations of a reporter for Candy Industry proved prophetic:

As a new confectionery outlet it is still in infancy, if not the incubating stage. But it has taken root, and if properly developed, it may well have a terrific impact on the candy business in the months and years to come.

Source: “Television Opens New Candy Market.” (p 1, 31) Candy Industry 25 April 1950, 1, 31.

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  • October 21, 2009 at 5:03 pm 1 comment

    Home Made vs. Store Bought Candy

    It would seem to follow that more expensive candies are better candies. Better ingredients, more care, higher quality, all adds up to higher price.

    For candy buyers in the nineteen-teens, worried about food purity and adulteration, expensive candy seemed not only better, but safer. Women’s magazines encouraged housewives to buy only the most expensive sorts of candies for their families. If they couldn’t afford the best, the only safe alternative was to make it at home.

    Professional candy makers laughed at the idea. One remarked,

    Those who are such fools as to suppose they can turn out kitchen stove candy as good as the cheapest sold by any respectable confectioner are soon undeceived. Candy making calls for skill and experience. It is cheap because it is made in large quantities and by the use of machinery.

    Commercial candy had to overcome consumers’ anxieties about new products and new technologies for manufacture. Commercial candy also competed with a nostalgic idea about home made candies. Although candy making was indeed a laborious affair, the work could be made fun, and the product was certainly a pleasure. Taffy pulls, fudge parties, and the like had been popular middle-class entertainments at the turn of the century.

    The candy trade hoped Americans would come to see store-bought candy as an everyday food rather than a luxury for holidays and special events. One enterprising candy poet proposed this little scene to illuminate the new world of candy consumption, circa 1916:

    “’Lasses Candy”

    How ways have changed since dearest Grandma’s time,
    ’In lots and lots of things,’ she says, ’it’s so.’
    When she was young and in her girlhood prime
    Store candy was a luxury, you know.

    ’But,’ she says ’when farmhouse work was done
    And company’d come–just country girls and boys–

    They’d have a candy pull.’ I’ll bet ’twas fun,
    In those old times of simple, homely joys.

    What fun ’twould be, if mother’d only leave
    Me have a ’candy pull,’ like grandma did.
    With boys and girls to come and make believe
    That each was just a jolly country kid!

    But mother’d say: ‘Who put such notions in your mind?
    Don’t let me hear such nonsense anymore.
    I guess, when grandma comes to town, she’ll find
    Much better ’lasses candy at the store.’

    Sources: “Those Silly Sunday Pages,” Confectioners Journal, Feb. 1915, p. 62; “’Lasses Candy,” Confectioners Journal, April 1916, p. 78.

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  • October 14, 2009 at 7:14 am 4 comments

    Candy and the Polio Vaccine

    Vaccine on a sugar cube

    Unless you’re over 50, you probably don’t have much experience with polio. It’s a nasty viral infection, which can in bad cases cause paralysis of legs, arms, and in the worst cases, your whole body. Polio gave us the Iron Lung (for paralyzed victims who otherwise would die of asphyxiation) and the March of Dimes, which started out raising money for polio research.

    A vaccine pretty much eliminated polio from the U.S. and most of the developed world in the 1950s. And candy is part of the story.

    In the late 1950s, polio researcher Albert Sabin developed a live virus vaccine to protect against polio. The vaccine had to be taken by mouth. The problem was that it was bitter tasting. Adults might swallow it anyway, but the primary intended beneficiaries of the vaccination programs were children. The obvious solution: put it in candy.

    As early as 1959, scientists and confectioners in the U.S.S.R. had collaborated to produce a candy that could deliver the live virus. We don’t know what the confection tasted like, but it must have tasted pretty good. Over 1.5 million Russian children were successfully immunized by eating the vaccine candy.

    Here in the U.S., Sabin’s live oral vaccine was approved for general use in 1961. Unfortunately, the Russian candy never made it across the ocean; instead, through the 1960s, the oral vaccine was administered to millions of adults and children as a sugar cube. The vaccine was effective; poliomyelitis is virtually unknown in the U.S. today.

    A 1968 article in the New York Times makes the polio vaccine program sound like a party. “Children Frolic and get ‘Candy’ Polio Vaccine” describes a festive event organized by the NYC Health Department at the George Washington Houses in upper Manhattan. With music, toys, balloons and free orange juice, public health officials hoped to draw in pre-schoolers who had not yet been vaccinated against polio. At the event, each child received sugar cube tinted lilac with two drops of the Sabin live oral polio vaccine. Some kids, loving candy, came back for a second piece.

    Too bad every vaccine can’t be candy!

    More: See my research on the role of candy in the 1916 polio epidemic in Articles: The Candy Prophylactic: Danger, Disease, and Children’s Candy around 1916

    Sources: “Children Frolic and get ‘Candy’ Polio Vaccine” New York Times May 22, 1968; “Polio virus Put in Candy” Science News Letter June 27, 1959: 405; “Polio Vaccine Given in Candy, Soviet Says,” New York Times Nov. 26, 1959.

    October 12, 2009 at 6:20 pm 3 comments

    Alayam: Candy from Sweet Potatoes

    For U.S. manufacturers as well as ordinary citizens, World War II meant shortages and rationing of many staple goods, including sugar. Citizens were encouraged to substitute honey and syrup in their home cooking. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture began to encourage the development of substitutes for sugar that would satisfy the nation’s demand for candy.

    Close-up of a sweet potato

    In Alabama, the Agricultural Research Station at Auburn began experimenting with a local crop, the sweet potato, sometimes also called the yam. After some mixing and melting and molding and such, they came up with something promising. In naming the new candy they melted together the state of its invention and the name of the now exalted tuber. They called it: Alayam.

    Alayam was described as “a cocoanut brittle made with sweet potatoes.” The candy had potential. Some people liked it. In consumer acceptance tests, researchers determined that “40 percent of the nation’s consumers like this new product as well as or better than the candies they are currently buying or eating” and that “more than a third… would buy the product if it were available on the market.” A little luke-warm as endorsements go, but the point is, they didn’t spit it out.

    Of course, neither the Alabama Station nor the U.S.D.A. was equipped to bring such a candy to the consumer market. Sugar rationing having been lifted in 1947, candy manufacturers were not so eager to experiment with marketing strange candy substances. And so Alayam never came to be.

    It was perhaps an idea before its time. In today’s climate of concern about what goes into the food that goes into our bodies, maybe a sweet potato candy is just what we need.

    Source: “Candy from Sweet Potatoes May Become Popular,” Confectioners Journal May 1950, p. 43.

    October 7, 2009 at 7:36 am 5 comments

    Sweetose: Better Candy from the Chemistry Lab

    sweetose corn syrup

    The astro-turf group calling itself The Center for Consumer Freedom has once again taken up the high fructose corn syrup cause. New ads in national papers and TV stations are meant to mock those concerned with possible health effects of this corn syrup derivative, and to reassure the public that HFCS is just another sugar.

    All the corn dust kicking around got me interested in the whole history of HFCS. While I learn about that, allow me to share a little something with you this HFCS precursor: Sweetose.

    Sweetose was a “high-sugar-content” corn syrup manufactured by the A.E. Staley Manufacturing Company, of Decatur IL. In 1938, Staley patented an enzymatic conversion process that would transform regular corn syrup made up of the single sugar glucose into a sweeter syrup with different chemical properties, made up of glucose and maltose. In addition to industrial applications, Staley marketed Sweetose in consumer formulations as a pancake syrup and baking ingredient, similar to Caro syrup.

    The ad above is from 1950, from a candy manufacturer’s trade journal. Sweetose promises to add quality and sales appeal:

    Sample candy with and without Sweetose…discover immediately how this enzyme-converted corn syrup increases tenderness and intensifies flavors. And Sweetose prolongs freshness, too!

    The Staley patent expired in 1955. This opened up the field for others to experiment with enzyme conversion processes, leading to the development of the process that would produce high fructose corn syrup in 1957. But it was not until 1970 that Japanese scientist Dr. Y. Takasaki perfected an industrial process for HFCS production. HFCS was quickly adopted by the food industry, and here we are today.

    Sources: Staley advertisement, Confectioners Journal 1950; High-fructose corn syrup, Wikipedia; A History of Lactic Acid Making: A chapter in the history of biotechnology, By Harm Benninga (1990), p 414, Google Books.

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  • October 5, 2009 at 7:49 am 6 comments

    Daily Candy in Childhood Prevents Violence in Adulthood

    A study published yesterday in U.S. News and World Report shows that the daily consumption of candy in childhood is strongly correlated with the failure to become a violent criminal as an adult.

    British researchers followed 17,415 children born in a single week in 1970. 7338 reported eating candy on a daily basis in childhood. Of these, only 24 went on to become violent criminals. Candy eating appears to protect 99.7 percent of children from a future life of crime and misery.

    Surprised? It’s no wonder. If you caught the story in the news, you probably heard the headline: “Daily Candy in Childhood Linked to Violence in Adulthood.”

    The story reports that 35 of the 17,415 children followed in the study report becoming criminals by age 34, and that 69 percent of these, as opposed to 42 percent of the non-criminals, were daily candy eaters. Based on these numbers, the study author Simon Moore, a senior lecturer in the Violence and Society Research Group at Cardiff University, concludes: “There appears to be a link between childhood diet and adult violence.”

    So what’s wrong with this picture?

    The way the numbers are presented magnifies a tiny effect. Saying that 69 percent of the adult criminals were childhood candy eaters certainly catches our attention. But this is the same thing as saying that 99.7 percent of candy eaters did not become criminals. Thousands of children who ate candy every day and didn’t go on to lives of violence. If candy eating causes violence, we would expect a much more dramatic result.

    Even the lead researcher rejects the link between diet and violence, at least from any nutritional point of view: “We think that it is more to do with the way that sweets are given to children rather than the sweets themselves,” Moore said. “Using sweets to quiet noisy children might just reinforce problems for later in life.” This is behavioral, not nutritional.

    Kids with lollipops

    Melinda Johnson, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, gives many other good reasons to be skeptical of the “candy causes violence” thesis:

    • Correlation is not causation. Two things might increase together, but both be caused by some other third thing.
    • Daily candy may be a sign of other lifestyle factors that could increase violent behavior. For example, children in violent homes might be more likely to consume candy as an “ease the pain” tool, but the violence itself is the relevant factor.
    • Daily candy might be a sign of poor nutrition overall. That is, it might not be the presence of candy, but the absence of nutritious foods, that leads to developmental or behavioral problems later in life.

    So what is this all about? Why would someone even think to try to correlate candy and violence? The question is significant; when you go looking for something, you are much more likely to find it. And in the case of this study, what is effectively a non-finding is being broadcast as news.

    Since the nineteenth century, candy has been blamed for a host of moral, social and health evils. Bronson Alcott, Louisa May’s father, decried candy’s “demoralizing effect” and suggested candy eating would lead to sexual dissipation;  the Women’s Christian Temperance Union cautioned that candy eating in childhood was likely to lead to alcoholism in adulthood; progressive reformers at the turn of the century worried that uncontrolled candy eating would lead inexorably to stealing, gambling, and smoking.

    Today’s headlines continue in this venerable tradition of candy-bashing. Candy is an easy target. We all “know” its bad, somehow, even if we can’t figure out exactly why.

    There is something that adults don’t like about the spectacle of children eating candy. The latest headlines confirm deeply held suspicions that children’s tastes and pleasures are essentially corrupt. The claim that “candy causes violence” is just another (fallacious) reason to deprive children of a pleasure that, in moderation and with a dose of tooth-brushing and good food, is generally viewed by most scientific experts as being pretty harmless.

    I say, give the kids their apples and their broccoli and their grilled chicken breasts, definitely. But give the kids their candy, too.

    More: Susan at the National Confectioners Association official blog Candy Dish responds to the study with a reminder that how kids grow up is about parenting, not candy.

    Image: Kids are for illustration purposes only. No actual kids were harmed in the posting of this blog.

    October 3, 2009 at 9:07 am Leave a 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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