N-E-S-T-L-E-S… Are you singing the jingle? If so, you’re old enough to recall reaching up to drop your small change on the counter of the general store to buy penny candies like Bit-O-Honeys, Mary Janes, Necco Wafers, candy buttons, wax soda bottles filled with flavored syrups and so on.
Candies from a bygone era, or retro or vintage candies as they are called, are now a candy trend. Their brightly colored wrappers, beckoning from old-school candy bins or antique oak display cases, have become big business. Fans of the sweet and gooey, the crispy and the crunchy scour the world looking for just the right combinations of taste and texture, and manufacturers are re-introducing discontinued brands like Charleston Chew, Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy, Black Jack Gum, Chiclets and Juicy Fruit.
In my family, the sweet art of confectionery dominated every holiday. There were candy corn and mini chocolate bars in our trick-or-treat bags at Halloween, candy-decorated gingerbread houses and peppermint candy canes at Christmas, “conversation” candy hearts on Valentine’s Day, and at Easter time all the dipped-in-chocolate delights, jelly beans, sugar-dusted marshmallow peeps and, of course, the giant edible effigy left in our Easter baskets by Sir Rabbit, himself.
Chocolates are the hard currency of candy. Once the ancient Mesoamericans discovered the palate-pleasing qualities of the cacao tree’s fermented, roasted and ground beans, chocolate became a precious commodity that was ceremonially served during religious rituals, quaffed by royalty and traded for other valuable goods. Much later, the Europeans added refined sugar and milk, developed the emulsification process and learned how to press the cocoa butter from the beans. Mechanical processes developed during the Industrial Revolution made candy available to the masses.
These days, the art of the chocolatier extends far beyond the borders of fondant and flavor. Chocolate massages aside, chocolate chess pieces vie with chocolate stilettos for top prize in the strange-uses-for-chocolate category. In 2005, a 227-pound, life size chocolate figure of Elton John that took a thousand hours to create was added to the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in London. In 2012, Qzina Specialty Foods set the world record for the largest chocolate sculpture with an 18,000-pound replica of a Mayan pyramid. The chocolate “Temple of Kukulkan at Chichen Itza” is on display at the Qzina Institute of Chocolate and Pastry in Irvine, CA. It is slated for destruction on December 21, 2012, the final day of the Mayan calendar.
Not just for birthday parties anymore, candy has recently been in the news as a theme for weddings, graduations, baby showers, fund raisers and more. Candy-themed parties set a fun and festive tone, interweaving the magics of bright colors, swirling shapes and fabulous flavors to form a most memorable occasion, from invitation to leave-taking. Dylan Lauren, daughter of designer Ralph Lauren and owner of Dylan’s Candy Bar in New York City, planned her own candy-themed wedding complete with candy cocktails, candy tiara and a bridal bouquet of pink and yellow sugar flowers.
It seems there is no limit to the varieties of flavors, shapes and objects to “candify” that can be coaxed from the sweet and sometimes eccentric imaginations of confectioners. It is clearly evident that candy makers are making every effort to disprove the adage, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.”
Cran-Walnut Bark recipe
(Donated by Nancy Kimble of Susie’s Sweet Shop)
12 ounces of semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries
In the microwave, melt half the chocolate and stir in remaining 6 ounces. Spread into a ¼- to ½-inch-thick rectangle or square on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients evenly over chocolate and let sit, or refrigerate until firm. Break into pieces.
Area candy shops
Susie’s Sweet Shop
594 Route 6 and 209, Milford, PA 18337
Chocolate-dipped Strawberries, Chocolate Bark, Coconut Haystacks, Homemade Fudge, Gift Baskets
Candy Cottage, Apple Valley Shops
108 Route 6, Milford, PA 18337
Vintage Candy, Novelty Candies, Fine Chocolates, Gifts, Fruit Butters, Jewelry
103 East Ann Street, Milford, PA 18337
Homemade Candy, Chocolate, Ice Cream, Egg Creams and Shakes. Candy, Cookies, and Cake Supplies.
Memory Lane Candy
1095 Texas Palmyra Hwy, Route 6
Honesdale, PA 18431
Vintage Candy Favorites, Candy Gift Baskets, Chocolates, Novelty Items
Weniger Variety Store
1206 Main St., Honesdale, PA 18431
Old-fashioned Variety Store with Vintage and Novelty Candies in Antique Display Cases
Penny Lane Candies & Candles
602 Church Street, Hawley, PA 18428
Penny Candy, Dips, Preserves, Gift items and Collectibles, Greeting Cards
84 Country Store
8 Silk Mill Drive, Hawley, PA 18428
Homemade Fudge, Vintage Candies, Gift Baskets, Amish Furniture, Home Décor, Candles