Saturday, February 24, 2018

For The Love of Candy




Save the Earth; it's the only planet 
 with chocolate


I’ve got candy on my mind this month and it has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day or the empty box of chocolates on my desk. The real reason I’m thinking of all things sweet is that I just finished a book about a heroine who owns a candy shop. 
While doing the research for my book, I turned up some fun and interesting facts. For example, we can blame our sweet tooth on our cavemen ancestors and their fondness for honey.  But the most surprising thing I discovered was that marshmallows grow on trees—or at least used to.  That was before the French came up with a way to replace the sweet sap from the mallow tree with gelatin. 
I also learned that during the middle ages, the price of sugar was so high that only the rich could afford a sweet treat.  In fact, candy was such a rarity that the most children could expect was an occasional sugar plum at Christmas.  (BTW: there are no plums in sugar plums.  Plum is another word for good). 
This changed during the early nineteenth century with the discovery of sugar-beet juice and mechanical candy-making machines. 
Soon jars of colorful penny candy could be found in every trading post and general store in the country. It took almost four hundred candy manufacturing companies to keep up with the demand. 
This changed the market considerably. Children as young as four or five were now able to make purchases independent of their parents. (Had youngsters known that vegetables including spinach were used to color candy, they might not have wasted their money.) 
Children weren’t the only ones enjoying the availability of cheap candy. Civil War soldiers favored gumdrops, jelly beans, hard candy and hub wafers (now known as Necco wafers). 
Never one to miss a trend, John Arbuckle off coffee fame, noted the sugar craze that had swept the country and decided to use it as a marketing tool.  He included a peppermint stick in each pound bag of Arbuckle’s coffee to encourage sales. 
“Who wants the peppermint?” was a familiar cry around chuck wagons.
This call to grind the coffee beans got a rash of volunteers.  No rough and tumble cowboy worth his salt would turn down a stick of peppermint candy, especially when out on the trail. 
Arbuckle wasn’t the only one to see gold in candy. Outlaw Doc Scurlock, friend of Billy the Kid and a Bloody Lincoln County War participant, retired from crime in 1880. Though he was still a wanted man, he moved to Texas and opened up a candy store.
Milk ChocolateCadbury, Mars and Hershey rode herd on the chocolate boom of the late 1800s, early 1900s.  Penny candy still made up eighteen percent of candy sales but, by that time, some merchants had refused to sell it.  Profits were thin and selling such small amounts to children was time-consumingChocolate was more profitable. The penny candy market vanished altogether during World War II when sugar was rationed, but did made a short comeback in the 50's.  Fortunately, no war could do away with chocolate.
Okay, now that your sweet tooth has gone into overdrive, tell us the name of your favorite candy?  Anyone have a candy memory to share?

 Meet the brides of Two-Time, Texas









12 comments:

  1. As a kid we had a few shops that sold lollies/candy. I use to have 20cents to spend after high school and use to do some shopping for mum and with this I would by a cream bun for 13 cents. (often the lady gave me 2 if it was a neighbour as they were often wanting to get rid of them) Then go next door to the shop that also sold second hand books and comics and had a variety of assorted lollies. I use to buy 7 cents of mates. These were chocolate covered caramels. Another name is cobbers but the mates were better cos they were not as hard. The shop around the corner also had them and I would get bread, milk bottles and bananas

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    1. Hi Jenny, what lovely memories you have. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. I think my favorite candy is anything that combines peanut butter and chocolate. Thanks for the interesting post!

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    1. Hi Connie, same here, but any nuts will do.

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  3. AS a young child I remember a little corner grocery story with penny candy. It was a special treat to go and pick out a couple pieces. I like cinnamon disc and milk chocolate with peanut butter.

    Fantastic history lesson about candy. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Marilyn, what fond memories. Thank you for sharing.

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  4. What a timely post for me. :) In my WIP, heroine is a candy-maker with a booth at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, and I've been doing research on candy. I couldn't find the blog I did on candy several years ago for HHH, so this helps. I had no idea Lindt, Nestle, and Cadbury had been around so long. The only chocolate I really knew was Hershey's. Dark Chocolate is my all time favorite and I keep a stash in my desk drawer for when I hit snags in my story or a moment of writer's block. Thanks for more info about my favorite candy.

    When I was a young girl, I always saved a nickel from my 25 cent Saturday movie money to buy a chocolate bar and another nickel for a bag of popcorn to make my favorite combo. That was in the late 1940's right after after WWII when chocolate became more available again.

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    1. Martha, I can't wait to read you book about a candy-maker. I had a lot of fun researching my candy-maker book, which will be released in September.

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  5. I love your post, Margaret, and I love chocolate candy. It's funny but I always prefer store bought candy over homemade. Mars candies, Hershey's candies...love them all!!!!!

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    1. Hi Melanie, I haven't tasted a lot of homemade candy, so I'm not a good judge, but I sure do like some of the store bought stuff.

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  6. My favorite is fudge or heath bars. Chocolate of most kinds! Thanks for the post!

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    1. Ah, yes, heath bars! How did people survive so long before they were invented?

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