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Archive for the ‘20th century candy’ Category

The Heart at the Heart of Valentine’s Day Candy

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Yes, hearts are at the Heart of Valentine’s Day cards and candy.  Charming, yes, but the origin of the heart is intriguing and well-deserving of its place in Valentine’s Day today. In fact, the heart originated with the silphium plant used by the ancients as an aphrodisiac, medicine, spice and, even, birth control measure. The plant contained a heart-shaped flower and was so celebrated it appeared in artwork, including coins, such as this example dated 510-470 BCE. and this coin from 550-500 BCE: Unfortunately, the silphium was so popular the ancient Romans used it into extinction…but the image lived on,…

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Time in a Glass – Cheers to That!

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Candy and alcohol—delicious, romantic, satisfying. Sugar is the basis of their existence. Both originated as medicine. And both have long been enjoyed at celebrations, rituals, and private intrigues. Wine goes back to 10,000 BCE and evolved through the ages. Around 1531, monks  accidentally created sparkling wine, deemed a flaw until the finer varieties became popular 300 years later. Meanwhile, a 16th century Dutch trader removed water from wine to make shipping cheaper, creating, in the process, brandy. For early Irish and  Scottish immigrants, wine grapes were nonexistent so they turned to grains instead, making bourbon and rye, later mixed with…

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New Years Eve is the Time for Almonds!

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New Years is a time for almonds! And why? Because it’s a time of new beginnings. A time when the light starts to come back and promises of a happier time start to form. SO WHY THE ALMOND? Well…The almond is the first tree to flower in the spring in the Middle East and Mediterranean. For that reason, it has been a symbol of good beginnings for thousands of years, including in the Bible. Sugar coated almonds have been among the favorites and still appear at weddings, Easter baskets, and other events – such as New Years EVE! – welcoming…

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The Chocolate Tasters Have Spoken!

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And the winner is….Hostess Mints! We sent our official candy tasters a variety of chocolates to try …and the verdict is in! Out of two cordials – Irish cream and peach – chocolate covered figs, milk Wilbur Buds, chocolate cayenne pepper balls, hostess mints, and the great outlier of them all chocolate covered gummy bears…the winner is the Hostess Mints!! So what about the Hostess Mints? They’re a classic treat with chocolate enrobed or sandwiched mint. and a favorite of bridge players from the 1920s through 1950s… Among the positive reviews were that the hostess mint was “GREAT! Much better…

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The Remarkable Life and Times of the Jelly Bean

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The story of the  jelly bean is remarkable, spanning cultures and centuries, involving sultans and ancient apothecaries, wars and great literary figures. It began around 226-652 CE in the Persian Empire where the ruling power, the Sasanids, enjoyed a sweet called “abhisa” made of honey, fruit syrups, and starch.  By the 9th century, it appeared in the Arab apothecaries as a remedy for sore throats called “rahat ul-hulküm,” later shortened to “lokum,” meaning “throats ease” which many still use today. The sweet had a more or less humble life until the 1750’s when Sultan Abdul Hamid I fell in love…

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Happy Birthday Robert Johnson!

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Today is the birthday of Robert Johnson – the remarkable and legendary blues musician – born in 1911. The influence of just about any cultural effort affects so much in our culture, and Johnson’s influence on our cultural history and American music is profound.  We even see his influence in the candy universe in such items as the Hot Tamale candy, which runs from ancient Aztec women to Mexican immigrants working in agriculture to enslaved workers in the Delta to Robert Johnson to a Jewish immigrant in Pennsylvania to the Peeps candy and, at last, to the Hot Tamale candy…

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The Dumb in Dum Dum

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I recently visited Cracker Barrel – a regular event for me, as the food chain has the broadest assortment of old time candy anywhere. Their offerings are a window into what’s next: they’re the first to get new old-time candies; they know what sells and doesn’t, creating a road map for other candy-seller’s decisions; and their cluttered, bountiful lay-out can be an inspiration to us all. But, what I saw this trip was less inspirational and more disturbing. Cracker Barrel has gone mega. The company has cut back on ordinary candy that can fit in your fist, featuring instead candy…

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Art Candy: From Candy Bowls to Christmas Candy

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When I think of candy and the idea of giving, I think of the candy bowls grandmothers of a certain generation left out for their children and grandchildren. These women grew up during the Depression and wars when sugar shortages were common and sweets hard to find. Once sugar was available they filled their bowls to the brim with brightly colored sweets, as ornamental as delicious. It’s no surprise some of these candies became standard Christmas fare, such as the art candy, ribbon candy, and candy straws. Of all these candies, the art candy is the most impressive, in my…

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The Wild and Not-So-Wicked Halloween Candies of the 1920s

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The 20s were a wild time – women got to vote in the first year of the decade and lost their wealth by the last. In-between we saw flappers, prohibition, and American expatriates resettling in Paris where they reported in on everything from the arts to the art of love-making. As for the Halloweens? Revelers still ate the nuts and fruits dating back to ancient rituals, but the 20’s also introduced riotous new candies, the more orange and black the better. On the list were molded chocolates, shaped like cats, jack o’ lanterns and other Halloween emblems; jelly beans, plain…

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Sweets Under Seige: Revolutionary War

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Here’s a picture of my handsome husband over there in Afghanistan. The USO gives a little levity to folks like him with shows and, yes, candy, upholding a tradition that started with the Revolutionary War. I send Dan chocolate covered espresso and bourbon balls among the books and aspirins.  My packages are always followed by an e-mail that exclaims: Got IT!  Then a blow-by-blow of what he ate first. So, why not explore what the troops have enjoyed since way back when starting with the Revolutionary War. The soldiers back then had an unpredictable assortment of food, sometimes nothing, sometimes…

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The Quick Clean Story of Dentyne

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This familiar gum was invented by pharmacist. Franklin V.Canning in New York in 1899. The name stood for “Dental Hygiene” and Canning was the first, since the Aztecs, anyway, to position gum as a breath freshener. Canning’s tagline was: “To prevent decay, To sweeten the breath, To keep teeth white.” “Taste the tingle” is new – demonstrates the transition of gum from something that is purposeful to something that creates an experience.

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