Posts Tagged With: Confectionery

362/365: National Chocolate Candy Day

They’re really milking it down the homestretch. December 28 is National Chocolate Candy Day!

It feels like we’ve celebrated about a hundred different chocolate and/or candy holidays this year. They have been so plentiful, I think we need a new food pyramid. One that looks like this:


But, I can now say that this is the very last one! There are no more chocolate holidays this year. No more candy holidays, either. This is it, baby!! And it’s a good thing, too. Because at this point, I’ve got absolutely nothing new to say about either chocolate or candy. However, there is one final twist to our challenge: we are traveling out of town for New Year’s, leaving today for Ely, Nevada. We’re going to spend a week visiting family and friends in Ely, Las Vegas, and Elko, and stopping by to say hi to a ghost in Tonopah. Which means we are going to finish up this monumental project on the road, some 840 miles from where it first began. That in itself seems a little odd, but it’s just representative of some of the many challenges faced during the course of the year. A lot of times we were on the go, away from home, but we made it work then…and we’ll make it work now.

We ate a couple of miniature Reese’s peanut butter cups in honor of this holiday. Very early in the morning, before we hit the road. It’s going to be a long travel day, and that was one less thing we had to worry about en route.

National Chocolate Candy Day

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360/365: National Candy Cane Day

You’ll really earn your stripes if you help us celebrate today’s food holiday. December 26 is National Candy Cane Day!

National Candy Cane DayCandy canes are cane-shaped hard candy sticks that are traditionally white with red stripes and peppermint flavored, though nowadays different variations exist. There are a lot of false reports about how candy canes are religious symbols, with the colors representing blood and purity, the three red stripes symbolizing the Holy Trinity, and the shape itself, a letter “J” when inverted, standing for Jesus, but while these stories sound plausible – especially given the candy cane’s association with Christmas – they simply aren’t true. In reality, candy canes were the invention of the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany in 1670. Bothered by the noise caused by children attending his Christmas Eve services, the choirmaster enlisted the aid of a local candy maker to create a peppermint stick to shut the heathens up keep the children preoccupied. Since he was giving them away during church services, he had the candy maker bend them into the shape of a shepherd’s hook to remind the kids about Jesus. Perhaps that’s where the other, more elaborate stories originated! Candy canes were traditionally all white until the turn of the 20th century, when stripes began to appear.

Because Christmas just passed, we had candy canes on hand. Celebrating this holiday was a breeze!

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350/365: National Chocolate Covered Anything Day

Today you’re allowed to let your imagination run free – as long as you let it run in a sweet direction. December 16 is National Chocolate Covered Anything Day!

This would probably be a much more exciting holiday if we hadn’t already eaten chocolate covered insects. Once you’ve gone there, anything else is going to pale in comparison. I’ve eaten my share of unusual chocolate covered foods before – including bacon and Pringles – but those items don’t compare to this list of 11 “seriously weird chocolate-coated foods.” Onions? Pickles? Slim Jims? Weird barely begins to describe it! And from The Huffington Post, here are 10 Things You Didn’t Know Taste Delicious With Chocolate. Avocado made the cut. As did beets and quinoa. I’ll take their word for everything here.

Still, we wanted to try something a little different, so after perusing the aisles of WinCo I settled upon chocolate covered banana chips in their bulk foods section. I think I would have liked chocolate covered banana slices better, because these were crispy – being chips and all – and the texture was a little unusual. But they didn’t taste bad. A couple at breakfast time, and we were good on our RDA of potassium for the day!

By the way…we now have only 15 days left in our challenge!!

National Chocolate Covered Anything Day

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308/365: National Candy Day

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’re going to be smiling a lot today. November 4 is National Candy Day!

Candy is defined as a sweet confection made with sugar or other sweeteners, and often flavored with fruits or nuts. The word is believe to derive from the Persian Qandi (=قندی ), meaning “cane sugar.” In the U.S. it’s a pretty broad term that includes candy bars, chocolates, licorice, hard candies, taffies, and gumdrops. In Europe it’s often called “sweets” or “confectionery,” and in Australian and New Zealand, is referred to as “lollies.” How fun would it be to walk around Melbourne, approach a stranger, and say, “G’day, mate! Let’s throw another shrimp on the barbie. And then eat lollies for dessert.” There’s no way you would be mistaken for a tourist if you talked like that! Regardless of what it’s called, candy has been enjoyed as far back as ancient times, when people scooped honey from beehives and ate it raw. The first true confections consisted of fruits and nuts rolled in honey. Sugar was initially expensive and enjoyed only by the wealthy, but as prices dropped in the 17th century, hard candies became popular. In the mid-1800s, there were over 400 candy factories in the U.S., giving Willy Wonka some seriously stiff competition. A survey by Bloomberg Businessweek ranking the world’s bestselling candies lists M&M’s at #1, followed by Snicker’s. Can’t say I’m really surprised. Rounding out the Top 5: Trident gum, Kit Kat, and Wrigley’s Orbit gum.

This is one holiday where the timing makes perfect sense. It’s four days after Halloween, so most homes have at least some candy on hand. Ours is no exception. We live in a condo complex and never get trick-or-treaters, but we’re always prepared just in case. That preparation inevitably leads to left over candy, of course. Which made today pretty easy to celebrate.

National Candy Day

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201/365: National Lollipop Day*

You deserve a licking if you’re not a fan of today’s food holiday. July 20 is National Lollipop Day!

This is also the first post we are scheduling to publish. (Remember, we write the majority of these ahead of time)! We’ve gotta do it this way since we’re camping this weekend and  Internet service is hard to come by in the wilderness. Besides, we’re too busy making S’mores and keeping raccoons away from our food in order to worry about blog posts this weekend, so we’re happy to let Technology do her thing.

Yes, technology is a she, in case you were wondering.

It’s also National Fortune Cookie Day, but Confucius say no lookie for cookie in middle of forest. So, lollipops it is!

A man named George Smith, owner of the Bradley Smith Company – who manufactured candy and other sweet confections – claimed to have invented the modern lollipop in 1908, putting candy on a stick to make it easier to eat. He named the treat after his favorite racehorse, Lolly Pop, and trademarked the name. But lollipops have probably been around in one form or another for as long as man has roamed the earth. Prehistoric dudes are believed to have scooped honey from beehives using sticks, and licking them so as not to let any of the sweet nectar go to waste. Archaeologists have found evidence that ancient Chinese, Arabs, and Egyptians all made candied fruit and nut concoctions that were served on a stick to make them easier to eat. In the 17th century the English enjoyed soft boiled sugar candies that they placed on sticks for easier eating. Though the candy wasn’t hard, the concept is pretty much the same. During the Civil War children were given hard candies on the tips of pencils as treats. So at best, Smith reinvented something that had been around since the dawn of man. Nice try, George. He allowed his trademark to expire during the Depression, when people were too busy trying to put scraps of food on the table to enjoy a treat like a lollipop, and the name fell into the public domain.

To celebrate, we bought a bag of Dum Dums and enjoyed lollipops around the campfire.

National Lollipop Day

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167/365: National Fudge Day

Today is the second of three fudge-themed food holidays this year. Happy National Fudge Day, y’all!

Last month, we celebrated nutty fudge. I shared the history of this happy accident then, so I won’t bore you with the same old story again. I will say that some believe the dessert got its name from the word “fudged” which means doing something wrong, since the first batches were nothing more than toffee that got screwed up during the cooking process. This “mistake” was deemed delicious, and went on sale for 40 cents a pound in Baltimore area grocery stores when it was introduced in 1886. Fudge is similar to Scottish tablet, a confection made with sugar, milk, and butter, and often flavored with vanilla, whiskey, or nuts. Tablet is brittle and grainy, and harder than fudge, though the flavor is similar.

In true deja vu spirit, we still had leftover chocolate nut fudge from the last fudge holiday a little over a month ago. Fudge is one of those things that keeps for ages, so we simply dusted off the old hunk (not literally) and ate that today. It was good on May 12, and still good on June 16!

Nutty Fudge

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132/365: National Nutty Fudge Day

May 12 is devoted to a sweet and rich confection that was probably invented accidentally. It’s National Nutty Fudge Day!

The exact origin of fudge – a drier version of fondant, made by boiling sugar in milk until it reaches the soft ball stage and then beating it while it cools until it’s smooth and creamy – is unknown. Most historians believe that fudge, an American invention, was created by accident when a batch of caramels recrystallized, leading to the exclamation “Oh, fudge!” The earliest mention of the treat dates to 1886, when Vasser College student Emelyn Battersby Hartridge wrote a letter discussing how her schoolmate’s cousin made a batch of fudge in Baltimore and sold it for 40 cents a pound. Fudge became popular at women’s colleges because it tasted delicious and was easy to make: students could cook a batch using nothing but a gas light or chafing dish. Wellesley and Smith soon had their own versions of fudge floating around campus in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This is going to make me sound terrible, but could there be a correlation between the popularity of fudge at women’s colleges, and…well…PMS? I’m just wondering. Some women do seem to crave chocolate during certain times of the month.

Women aren’t the only ones who appreciate fudge, though. And there are no fewer than 3 fudge-related food holidays this year. I wasn’t actually sure where to find it, because fudge is one of those things you see all the time at bake sales, but rarely appears on grocery store shelves. My mom mentioned that a local produce store carries locally-made fudge, so we swung by there last weekend to pick up some fruits and veggies and, sure enough, were rewarded with fudge, too. So we grabbed a hunk of chocolate nut fudge to enjoy. It was creamy, nutty, and tasted great!

Nutty Fudge

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112/365: National Jelly Bean Day

April 22nd won’t amount to a hill of beans unless you’ve got a sweet tooth and are ready to celebrate today’s food holiday. We honor a tasty treat that comes in dozens of creative flavors and was adored by a former President. It’s National Jelly Bean Day!

Jelly beans were inspired by a Middle Eastern treat called the Turkish Delight, consisting of soft jelly covered in confectioner’s sugar. Exactly how and when they were reinvented is a mystery, but in America they can be traced back to 1861, when a Boston candy maker by the name of William Schrafft urged his customers to send jelly beans to soldiers during the Civil War. Nice idea, but bullets work better. In 1905 an ad in a Chicago newspaper advertised jelly beans on sale for 9 cents a pound.By the 1910s the slang term “Jelly Bean” was used to describe a young man who would dress stylishly in order to attract women, but had no additional redeeming qualities other than his clothes. Men like this were also called “dandies” or “fops” and were, essentially, famous for being famous. Like Paris Hilton. In the 1930s jelly beans became synonymous with Easter because they were shaped like rabbit turds eggs.

In 1960 Herman Goelitz Rowland, a fourth-generation candy maker in Oakland, was looking to carry on the family business but times were tight; the candy corn they were known for just wasn’t keeping them afloat. Probably because candy corn pretty much only sells during Halloween. He decided to take a chance and expand the product line to include Gummi Bears and jelly beans. Not just any jelly beans, though – gourmet jelly beans using the most expensive, finest ingredients, and flavors cooked into the center (previously only the shells were flavored). These jelly beans caught the attention of California governor Ronald Reagan, who became a big fan and was known for always keeping a jar of jelly beans in the White House. Reagan famously wrote, “we can hardly start a meeting or make a decision without passing around the jar of jelly beans.”

In 1976, David Klein had an idea for jelly beans made with natural flavorings. He contacted Rowland, whose company was now called Jelly Belly, and the two collaborated on a new type of intensely flavored jelly bean made with natural ingredients. They were a hit right from the start, beginning with 8 flavors (Very Cherry, Lemon, Cream Soda, Tangerine, Green Apple, Root Beer, Grape and Licorice) and eventually expanding to more than 50. Some of the more exotic flavors include Chili Mango, Cantaloupe, Cappuccino, Margarita, and my favorite, Buttered Popcorn. Today, Jelly Belly is the #1 seller of gourmet jelly beans.

For this challenge, I was more than happy to pick up some Jelly Belly Buttered Popcorn jelly beans. I love them! Tara is not quite as fond of jelly beans as I am, but she tried a variety of Jelly Belly flavors herself – watermelon, coconut, and ice cream – and declared them “okay” and said they “tasted fine.” Hardly a rousing endorsement, but at least she didn’t spit them out.

Jelly Belly's Buttered Popcorn flavor.

Jelly Belly’s Buttered Popcorn flavor.

Categories: Candy | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

67/365: National Peanut Cluster Day

Today we celebrate peanuts. And chocolate. Together in one sweet, salty little bundle. It’s National Peanut Cluster Day!

Peanut clusters have been around for about a hundred years or so. The Standard Candy Company of Nashville, Tennessee came out with the GooGoo Cluster, a round candy bar containing marshmallow, caramel, and peanuts, covered in chocolate. It is considered the first combination candy bar, made up of several different types of candy rather than an all-chocolate chocolate bar. Kind of like the mutt of the candy bar kennel, if we’re stretching for analogies here. During the Great Depression, the marketing slogan for GooGoo Clusters proclaimed them “a nourishing lunch for a nickel.” The FDA would have a field day with that today.

Here’s an interesting story on a company whose own peanut cluster recipe dates back to 1912 or 1913. They are bucking the manufactured-by-machine trend and bringing back their original recipe peanut clusters, making each one by hand. If you happen to be in Bryan, Ohio, stop by the Spangler Store & Museum and pick some up!

I bought peanut clusters from the bulk foods section at WinCo. I doubt they were handmade, but they still tasted pretty good! It’s hard to go wrong with that combination of sweet and salty. Just ask the folks who created chocolate covered bacon (which, unfortunately, is not a food holiday). Tara and I ate them in the car on the drive to Seattle, where we’re headed for the weekend.

Chocolate Peanut Clusters

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