Letters

Letters 09-26-2016

Welcome To 1984 The Democrat Party, the government education complex, private corporations and foundations, the news media and the allpervasive sports and entertainment industry have incrementally repressed the foundational right of We the People to publicly debate open borders, forced immigration, sanctuary cities and the calamitous destruction of innate gender norms...

Grow Up, Kachadurian Apparently Tom Kachadurian has great words; too bad they make little sense. His Sept. 19 editorial highlights his prevalent beliefs that only Hillary and the Dems are engaged in namecalling and polarizing actions. Huh? What rock does he live under up on Old Mission...

Facts MatterThomas Kachadurian’s “In the Basket” opinion deliberately chooses to twist what Clinton said. He chooses to argue that her basket lumped all into the clearly despicable categories of the racist, sexist, homophobic , etc. segments of the alt right...

Turn Off Fox, Kachadurian I read Thomas Kachadurian’s opinion letter in last week’s issue. It seemed this opinion was the product of someone who offered nothing but what anyone could hear 24/7/365 on Fox News; a one-sided slime job that has been done better by Fox than this writer every day of the year...

Let’s Fix This Political Process Enough! We have been embroiled in the current election cycle for…well, over a year, or is it almost two? What is the benefit of this insanity? Exorbitant amounts of money are spent, candidates are under the microscope day and night, the media – now in action 24/7 – focuses on anything and everything anyone does, and then analyzes until the next event, and on it goes...

Can’t Cut Taxes 

We are in a different place today. The slogan, “Making America Great Again” begs the questions, “great for whom?” and “when was it great?” I have claimed my generation has lived in a bubble since WWII, which has offered a prosperity for a majority of the people. The bubble has burst over the last few decades. The jobs which provided a good living for people without a college degree are vanishing. Unions, which looked out for the welfare of employees, have been shrinking. Businesses have sought to produce goods where labor is not expensive...

Wrong About Clinton In response to Thomas Kachadurian’s column, I have to take issue with many of his points. First, his remarks about Ms. Clinton’s statement regarding Trump supporters was misleading. She was referring to a large segment of his supporters, not all. And the sad fact is that her statement was not a “smug notion.” Rather, it was the sad truth, as witnessed by the large turnout of new voters in the primaries and the ugly incidents at so many of his rallies...

Home · Articles · News · Books · Candyfreak: One Sweet Read
. . . .

Candyfreak: One Sweet Read

Nancy Sundstrom - May 27th, 2004
After a lifetime of responding to jokes about his last name, it was probably inevitable that Steve Almond should finally cave in and write an open love letter to the world of sweets in the form of “Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America.“
That title alone ought to be enough to convince half of America to pick up this whimsical, yet occasionally biting look at candy (sorry, it‘s just too easy to make bad puns here).  After all, who among us doesn‘t have at least one fatal flaw of weakness when it comes to the confection?  Whether it‘s red licorice, a Snickers bar or peanut M & M‘s with no prejudice about the brown ones, Americans have something of an obsession with candy, a sentiment documented in other tomes like Hilary Liftin‘s “Candy and Me“ and Tim Richardson‘s “Sweets: A History of Candy.“
Almond‘s tribute is different, though, and other critics have already identified it as something of a Willy Wonka meets Douglas Addams, primarily in regards to his Fodor-like journeys to candy meccas like Philadelphia (Peanut Chews), Sioux City (Twin Bing), Nashville (Goo Goo Cluster) and Boise (Idaho Spud).  When it‘s not out and out hilarious, which it often is, the book is – well – quite sweet.  It‘s also a worthy addition to a growing oeuvre from Almond that includes the short story collection “My Life in Heavy Metal“ and pieces that have appeared in the likes of Playboy, Tin House and Zoetrope.
Early on, Almond explains why he, as he puts it, “has some issues“ with candy:

“The moment I tried Kit Kat Dark I fell deeply in love. The bar, introduced a couple of years ago by Hershey‘s, features a dark chocolate coating that exudes a pudding-like creaminess, and a smoky flavor that puts the standard Kit Kat to shame. Because I knew the bar was a “limited edition“ I took to buying them by the box from a drugstore near my house, which was the only place I could find them. And then one day, they disappeared altogether.
Now, most people in this situation would probably assume their luck had run out. A few ambitious souls might scour the more esoteric online candy sources. What I did was on another scale: I called a local candy wholesaler and ordered an entire case of Kit Kat Darks. That‘s 12 boxes of 36, or 432 bars. I don‘t keep the Kit Kats in my home -- too tempting. Instead, I‘ve arranged to have them stored in a secure, refrigerated location a few miles away. Which is not to say I don‘t have candy in my apartment. On the contrary, I keep anywhere from three to seven pounds on the premises at all times.
It would be fair to say, then, that I have some issues with candy. And I really wish I could tell you this in a purely light-hearted manner. But the truth is, my obsession with candy has a long, dark history.
For me, candy has never been just a sweet little indulgence. It‘s functioned as something more like an antidepressant. My pattern of consumption as a kid was pretty textbook: if one my brothers had beat me to a pulp, or I felt neglected by my parents, or simply lonely, I‘d retreat to my room with a box of Hot Tamales, or a Tangy Taffy, or a roll of Lifesavers, and medicate myself. I wasn‘t just interested in eating the candy. I fondled it. I sorted it by flavor and color. I ran the pieces across my skin, sometimes even lay down on top of it. Other little boys may have needed toy soldiers or action figures to engage in make-believe combat. I‘d set a platoon of gummy bars against a squadron of Swedish fish, smash them together, and eat the resulting mess.
For most kids, candy is a subversive pleasure, because their moms are always yelling at them not to spoil their appetite, or rot their teeth (mine certainly did). For me, eating candy was subversive a much deeper way: it violated the unspoken familial principle of self-deprivation. And this, I think, is why my consumption of candy was almost always linked to some other form of vice.
For instance, my friend Brian Danforth and I used to buy half a dozen boxes of something called Popeye candy, which featured a selection of not-very-high quality taffies. It wasn‘t so much the candy we were interested in, as the boxes that held the candy. We would set them on fire in my backyard. There was plenty of other stuff we could have burned, of course. As ten year olds, we viewed most of the world as flammable. But the ritual called, quite specifically, for us to burn only the Popeye boxes, and, even more creepily, to *eat the candy as we watched the flames.“ *

Almond is deeply, seriously, madly passionate about candy, but there are other things at work in his book, among them, the sense of nostalgia he invokes when it comes to the independent entrepreneurial spirit of smaller American candy companies, as opposed to the big three of the industry, Hershey‘s, Mars, and Nestle.   He‘s also a clever wordsmith whose descriptions of the subject are sometimes jaw-droppingly good.  So effective and contagious are his extrapolations on the subject that you won‘t be able to read much of the book without having to indulge in something sweet.
It‘s hard to imagine that there‘s anyone more fanatical about candy than Almond, and his obsession translates into revelations that are as informative, quirky, and as personal as they are universal.  If you‘re nuts about candy, especially chocolate, then you‘ll find much to appreciate in “Candyfreak,“ and if not, you can kick back and enjoy some fine writing and original observations about it.  In a world where so much seems to have gone haywire, especially as of late, “Candyfreak“ offers readers a chance to think about simpler times and pleasures that can still be summoned by savoring the singular sensation that takes place when a favorite piece of candy enters your mouth.
 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 
 

 

 
 
 
Close
Close
Close