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Includes bibliographical references.sweet tooth. Copyright © 2012 by Kate Hopkins. 10010. I. Sweet tooth : the bittersweet history of candy / Kate Hopkins. Martin’s Press. 2. cm.com Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Hopkins.H67 2012 641. www. Kate.85'3—dc23 2012009741 First Edition: May 2012 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 . All rights reserved. p. For information.) ISBN 978-1-250-01119-0 (e-book) 1.stmartins. address St. N. ISBN 978-0-312-66810-5 (hbk. 175 Fifth Avenue. Title. Printed in the United States of America.—1st ed. TX784. Candy industry—History.Y. New York. Candy—History.
a smallish piece of candy that the waitress gave to each of us children while our parents drank coffee and checked the validity of the bill. and the plain ceramic mug in which it was served.Chapter 1 The Innocence of Candy I t’s odd. the memories that stay with you. and the jelly pieces stuck in the candy felt oddly out of . I can recall being about four years old. I can even remember the pattern of the Formica that surfaced the table. and my parents had taken the family to a diner that was tucked back in a strip mall in the blue-collar town of Butler. But the event that makes the day most memorable was that this was the day I first spit out a piece of candy. The texture of the nougat was soft and gritty. I can remember the cup of coffee that my dad ordered. The candy perplexed me. The candy itself was a Brach’s jelly nougat. I can remember one of my four siblings creating a bit of a fuss over the lack of hot dogs on the menu. Pennsylvania.
and I was determining whether it was worth the effort. It wasn’t that I mindlessly liked candy. Nor was it a Life Saver. based on experience and introspection. candy was the panacea for every trial and tribulation that came my way.” not recognizing the moment for what it was. my mom would be there with a Tootsie Pop. It was not as if I disliked the piece of candy. setting aside for the time being the fact that it tasted weird. demanding that I stop “playing with my food. so how bad could it be? My father. I liked the process that allowed me to reach that conclusion. I reflected for a moment on whether it tasted good. This was the first time that candy had left me intrigued. Not only did I like the nougat. What fruits they were supposed to represent is likely unknown to all except the people who made these candies. or even a candy cane. It did pass the sweetness test. When I . I have since had ample opportunity to accomplish this goal. What makes this scene so important in my development was that it was the first time I can remember having a surprising moment with a piece of candy. It was something else. and thus had an appeal that would raise the eyebrows of most preschoolers and test the patience of the majority of parents out there. But it wasn’t chocolate. It was chock-full of sugar. a marshmallow. of course. solved the situation. I spat it out into my hand and looked at it. I vowed right then and there to repeat it as often as possible.2 Sweet Tooth place. with the pieces retaining either a matted pink or a dull orange after surviving whatever process the folks at Brach’s had inflicted upon them. It was the first time that I had formed an educated opinion about food. The colors were new to me as well. For the first dozen or so years of my life. If I scraped my knee. It was. I was tasting nougat for the first time. This is what makes that moment so memorable.
The Innocence of Candy 3 learned I needed glasses. not the candy-covered chocolates known to Canadians and Brits. but usually something more. so those of us who equated sugar with love were able to welcome visits to her house without fear. at the very least. Coming in flavors that included grape. apple. and Halloween all came with copious amounts of sugary treats.) Candy was something that lessened pain and made life a little more tolerable. Mom marked the occasion with Smarties. Along with Dolly Madison. and pies. Christmas. In short. It was the initial mixed message that was fed to my siblings and me. My paternal grandmother was not a fan of candy. Candy was our ambrosia. Only later * For those who don’t remember. it was sold in a twelve-inch long tubular shape that was not only delicious but the perfect shape to whip trouble-seeking brothers and sisters who wanted to swipe the gum when they thought you weren’t looking. Mrs. Peter Paul sponsored the several Charlie Brown cartoon specials that were shown throughout the year. candy was available in good times and bad. . Paul could take a flying leap for all we cared. (These would be the compressed sugar Smarties known in the United States.* After the first day of kindergarten. my dad stopped to buy me some Bub’s Daddy bubble gum. Birthday parties held in the neighborhood ensured that each young guest received a bag of goodies. and trips to her house meant little chance of a candy high. We tolerated the healthy meals of fish sticks and broccoli but counted the days to the next holiday or birthday party. Candy also made appearances when life was to be celebrated. rock candy. This environment set the table for the first few years of my life. as well as the classic bubble gum. though she did have a way with cakes. which were closer in design to M&M’s. Easter. Bub’s Daddy bubble gum was the bubble gum to have before Bubble Yum hit the market a few years later. but Peter Paul was looked upon with an admiration that left him just behind Jesus and Santa Claus. Trips to the grandparents on my mother’s side promised. But it was more than just that. cookies.
At Halloween.000 bars close behind. I’m sure he felt he was teaching us fiscal responsibility. and trades occurred in great haste. A currency system was soon created. and a three-pack of Lik-m-Aid? Making a big purchase such as a Snickers bar was deemed fi nancially irresponsible. when I was seven. Those below the pattie line were trade bait. the older children dressed in costumes of their own creations. Into our greedy. Soon. In theory. with 3 Musketeers and $100. while we younger kids wore those prepackaged costumes that smelled of polyvinyl and included cheap plastic masks that chafed the face. valued more for the quantity one could collect than for the short-term indulgence of the “quality” candy . Our living room looked like an elementary school version of the New York Stock Exchange as our entire evening’s haul littered the floor. a hierarchy of candy developed. what we learned was thrift shopping. Those above the York Peppermint Pattie were highly valued: Snickers and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups at the top. He offered every one of his children an allowance. After all five of us had completed our neighborhood rounds. Economics seemed to fi lter throughout our family’s candy universe. Why buy a twenty-five-cent Milky Way bar.4 Sweet Tooth did I learn that Peter Paul was not a person. Boston Baked Beans. Not that the masks mattered. but a company. when for the same price we could buy Lemonheads. My father instituted a practice that changed my candy life forever. because they would fall off when the cheap rubber band broke fifteen minutes after we set off on our routes. In the middle of the value range sat the York Peppermint Pattie. we would compare stashes while a parent looked on. he placed money. In practice. each of us children would go off with our circle of friends. with a promise of more each week. an amazing thing happened. grimy little hands. and that the wife of President James Madison had precious little to do with Zingers and Donut Gems. Then.
These included Chuckles. Good & Plenty. for when I bit into a York Peppermint Pattie. These miscreants wouldn’t escape our suspicion until the next . the York Peppermint Pattie was created in York. and commercials that compared the sensation of eating a York Peppermint Pattie to skiing in the alps or being trapped on a glacier. which became the property of Cadbury in 1978. When popcorn ball givers walked the streets of our neighborhood. its name). I got the sensation of eating chocolate right after brushing my teeth. This I thought strange.The Innocence of Candy 5 YORK PEPPERMINT PATTIE A mint fondant that’s encased in dark chocolate. We were sure it was no coincidence that those who gave away these lame treats were childless. Pennsylvania (hence. The York Peppermint Pattie was known primarily for two things: coincidentally having the same name as a character in Charles Schulz’s comic strip Peanuts. children would look upon them as if they were extras from Village of the Damned. where it was purchased by the Peter Paul company in 1972. which sold the confection and recipe to Hershey in 1988. and the worst thing one could get during the Halloween excursions—the dreaded popcorn ball. Candy Exchange Rate: 1 York Peppermint Pattie = 1 York Peppermint Pattie 9 Kate’s Candy Bag 9 bars that one experienced.
no! No! No! Don’t eat my . By the end of the day.6 Sweet Tooth Halloween. !” and then immediately devouring the rabbit’s head. We started the morning by recovering all the eggs that Jesus had haphazardly thrown around the house. “Oh my god. It was the chocolate that resulted in the first upgrade in the quality of the candy we were given. this evolved into us children imitating the rabbits as their horrible child overlords chomped into their chocolate flesh. . Over the course of the next few years. in the form of a bunny. and the odd bags of candy corn soon found ourselves holding a monopoly over the family candy supply by election day. pleading. it was the trading for candy that I remember most. The last year we had chocolate rabbits. With four siblings in the house. But really. we were stuffed full of marshmallow Peeps. which we thought a tad cruel. jelly beans. Those of us who traded for the multitudes of Bazooka Joes. Sugar Babies. What my pack of friends and I believed was that Easter was the day that Jesus. I had to develop strategies in trading. Those of us who traded quickly for Milky Ways and Clark bars often found ourselves without candy a mere three days later. Various Sunday school lessons instructed us that Easter Sunday was the day we celebrated Jesus Christ’s resurrection. Easter was the second most anticipated candy holiday on the calendar. tossed hard-boiled eggs all over the place. The next year. and then apologized for the mess we’d have to clean up by leaving a basket full of candy. and loads of chocolate. each of us received a softball-sized chocolate . our father noticed us screaming in sadistic glee while doing our best bunny impersonations of these confections. When we were younger we received chocolate rabbits. . when inevitably they changed from popcorn balls to chocolates or their porch lights were no longer lit. showed up at our houses in the middle of the night. and we questioned whether we would go to hell for biting off the rabbit ears fi rst.
with fondant decorations. My birthday 4. those types of days seem long gone. While he clearly paid more money for these treats. Easter Two of those days are up there because of the abundance of gifts. to a night when I dressed in costume in order to share whiskey. I end up forgetting about Halloween until the last possible moment. life was merely the time that happened in between these days. Thirty-odd years later. The truly memorable moments were the ones when candy and presents abounded. my favorite days of the year could be ranked this way: 1.The Innocence of Candy 7 cream–fi lled egg. it seems like money well spent. When I was a kid. and kegs of beer with like-minded college friends. Four of them involved candy or sweets. I now see Christmas as a cynical marketing enterprise that uses religion as a rationalization for maxing out one’s credit card. vodka. to a night I have to remind myself that the holiday still exists. Christmas 2. Halloween 3. When I was a child. at which point my only options are to either make a dash to the drugstore to buy a bag or two of Hershey’s Miniatures or make . When you’re a child. nothing is better than a day when people give you stuff and you are allowed to eat as much candy as you want. Nowadays. Halloween has evolved from a night when I dressed in costume in order to beg for candy from neighbors. Any day that I was able to receive/discover/consume candy 5. In that light. the cost was likely offset by enabling him to survive Easter Sunday without once thinking we would end up being a family of serial killers.
I’m not sure there’s anything more pathetic than a woman in her forties trying to avoid sevenyear-olds dressed as hobos and princesses. and ready access to the local grocery store. I grew up into a cynical adult. I didn’t want to be associated with people who defended wars that allowed us to have cheaper gas. it’s possible that I would still be celebrating Christ’s ascension with ham and spiced gumdrops. If they had found a stain mark on the shroud of Turin that came from the filling of a Cadbury Creme Egg.8 Sweet Tooth sure I leave my porch light off. and the gluttonous. the media presents me with things that are going wrong. the immature. My country is fighting two wars. If Christianity wanted to retain my interest in the day celebrating the resurrection of Christ. Candy falls squarely into this worldview. As for my birthday. Instead I have settled for “comfort. a thirty-year mortgage.” I’ve compromised the joys of my childhood in order to have a better understanding of the world around me. No longer is it representative of the happiness that life can bring you. I didn’t want my life to be defi ned by a house that was smack in the middle of suburbia. Now it represents the unhealthy. it could have at least explained how marshmallow Peeps entered into the equation. with the brute force of a watermelon dropped from a fifth-floor balcony to the sidewalk below. But in middle age. And Easter? Easter went by the wayside when I could not find anything in the Bible about chocolate rabbits and jelly beans. Every day. So I have set candy aside in order to pursue the American dream— a two-and-a-half-bedroom house with a white picket fence. Institutional reli- . No longer does bliss seem like an attainable goal. In other words. the less said about it the better. I didn’t want to have political discussions based on whether I could get a better tax rate on my mortgage. Several banks nearly brought down the world’s economy. I had a startling revelation: I was miserable chasing that dream.
. Responsibility?” she said. what defi nes childhood?” Tara blinked.The Innocence of Candy 9 gions are either advocating hate or covering up the sins of their priests. “I don’t know. confused by my non sequitur. not to feel constricted by it.” “No. Ever. Now. It pays for the roof over your head. I told my partner Tara about these feelings that my midlife crisis had unleashed. I watched them take advantage of the free wi-fi. “What’s the one thing that defi nes adulthood?” I asked. no.” “Nothing except social etiquette. I didn’t want any of this. I watched them drink their lattes. And I watched them eat the cupcakes that had become the recent trend here in Seattle—a little piece of childhood that was now being sold to adults for a mere two dollars. at a coffee shop. . A thought hit me. . . What I wanted was to enjoy life. No one wants to see a forty-three-year-old skip down the street in a jumper emblazoned with a Sesame Street logo. “Exactly! With that comes the need to make money in order to fulfi ll those responsibilities. the food in your stomach. “So?” she replied. I needed a cure for this midlife crisis. One night. I looked around the room and watched other customers of the coffee shop. “Take the best aspects of both worlds.” she said. reaching for the first idea that entered her mind. “Nothing is stopping you from acting like a child. And I knew exactly what I needed to do. “Bweh?” she countered. This is adulthood? The joys of our childhood never prepared us for this.” I mulled her statement over a bit. You misunderstand. the car that allows you to commute to your job. Take the best aspect of your childhood and combine it with the best aspect of adulthood. “Candy!” I said to Tara.
with financial resources being chief among them. Instead you use money to buy a car. This was how I found myself. “Yes! And adulthood is the stage in your life when you can afford all the candy you want. “So what if I spent my money on all the candy I wanted? On all the candy I could? And not just the stuff I can get at the Rite Aid. I was going to Italy.” “So you’re going to travel the world. chasing down the meaning of life and the history of candy and indulging in the ultimate childhood fantasy. clearly unsure on what I was about to propose.10 Sweet Tooth “Candy?” she said. your idea for a cure for a midlife crisis is to binge on candy?” I paused and thought about it more. claiming you’re studying the history of candy. I could say I was studying the history of candy. but instead you’re using it as an excuse to do a yearlong Halloween? All to solve your midlife crisis?” I mulled her last statement for a bit before realizing she had crystallized the idea perfectly. a few months later. .” Tara looked at me. “What if I used this ‘bingeing’ as a means to another end? If I were in academia. What if I went out and searched for weird candy?” Tara put her latte down. My cure for my midlife crisis? I was going to do what I had to. pay the rent. thousands of miles away. adulthood does afford some measure of luxury over childhood. or out of vending machines. “So. go to the doctor. After all. That I was doing it at the age of forty-three was unfortunate but necessary. but you don’t.
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