Candyfreak : A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America

Edition: Reprint
Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 2005-04-04
Publisher(s): Lightning Source Inc
List Price: $16.95

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A self-professed candyfreak, Steve Almond set out in search of a much-loved candy from his childhood and found himself on a tour of the small candy companies that are persevering in a marketplace where big corporations dominate. From the Twin Bing to the Idaho Spud, the Valomilk to the Abba-Zaba, and discontinued bars such as the Caravelle, Marathon, and Choco-Lite, Almond uncovers a trove of singular candy bars made by unsung heroes working in old-fashioned factories to produce something they love. And in true candyfreak fashion, Almond lusciously describes the rich tastes that he has loved since childhood and continues to crave today. Steve Almond has written a comic but ultimately bittersweet story of how he grew up on candy-and how, for better and worse, the candy industry has grown up, too.Candyfreak is the delicious story of one man's lifelong obsession with candy and his quest to discover its origins in America.

Author Biography

STEVE ALMOND is the author of the acclaimed story collection My Life in Heavy Metal. He is a regular commetator on the NPR affiliate WBUR in Boston, teaches creative writing at Boston College, and has eaten at least one piece of candy every single day of his entire life.

Table of Contents

Some Things You Should Know about the Authorp. xv
The Author Will Now Rationalizep. 1
Chocolate = Enablerp. 8
In Which an Unhealthy Pattern of Dependence Is Establishedp. 10
An Ill-Advised Discussion of Freak Economicsp. 16
Night of the Living Freakp. 21
Mistakes Were Madep. 25
Caravelle: An Elegyp. 29
I ™ Mannyp. 39
Feeding the Beastp. 45
A Top-Secret Chocolate Situationp. 51
The Politics of the Rackp. 56
The Last Man in America withp. 62
The Capo Di Tutti Freakp. 71
The Love Song of Rayp. 76
Welcome to the Boomp. 82
There Are Men upon This Earth Who Tread Like Godsp. 90
Feuilletine, Revealedp. 97
Freak Fetishp. 105
The Official Dark Horse Freak of Philadelphiap. 108
Wee Willie and the Pop-a-Licks Ragep. 115
Southern-Fried Freakp. 123
Chocolate Haikup. 130
Freak Retentivep. 139
In the Belly of the Freakp. 142
The Unstoppable Freak Energy ofp. 145
Southbound with the Hammers Downp. 163
The Candy Bar on Your Chinp. 168
The Marshmallow Parallaxp. 177
A Depressing but Necessary Digressionp. 189
Boise: Gateway to . . . Boisep. 191
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Idaho Spudp. 195
Huckleberry, Houndedp. 206
American Lunchp. 214
How Will the Spud Survive?p. 218
The Past Is Just Aheadp. 224
Remember This Name:p. 231
A Second Depressing but Necessary Digressionp. 238
A Little Hidden Bomb in Myp. 240
A Few Final Relevant Factsp. 244
Acknowledgmentsp. 253
Freak appendixp. 255
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.


The author will now rationalizeThe answer is that we don't choose our freaks, they choose us.I don't mean this as some kind of hippy dippy aphorism about the power of fate. We may not understand why we freak on a particular food or band or sports team. We may have no conscious control over our allegiances. But they arise from our most sacred fears and desires and, as such, they represent the truest expression of our selves. In my case, I should start with my father, as all sons must, particularly those, like me, who grew up in a state of semi-thwarted worship.Richard Almond: eldest son to the sensationally famous political scientist Gabriel Almond, husband to the lovely and formidable Mother Unit (Barbara), father to three sons, esteemed psychiatrist, author, singer, handsome, brilliant, yes, check, check, check, expert maker of candles and jam, weekend gardener, by all measures (other than his own) a stark, raving success. This was my dad on paper. In real life, he was much harder to figure out, because he didn't express his feelings very much, because he had come from a family in which emotional candor was frowned upon. So I took my clues where I could find them. And the most striking one I found was that he had an uncharacteristic weakness for sweets, that he was, in his own still-waters-run-deep kind of way, a candyfreak.I loved that I would find my dad, on certain Saturday afternoons, during the single hour each week that his presence wasn't required elsewhere, making fudge in the scary black cast-iron skillet kept under the stove. I loved how he used a toothpick to test the consistency of the fudge and then gave the toothpick to me. I loved the fudge itself-dense, sugary, with a magical capacity to dissolve on the tongue.Following his lead, I even made a couple of efforts to cook up my own candy. I would cite the Cherry Lollipop Debacle of 1976 as the most memorable, in that I came quite close to creating actual lollipops, if you somewhat broaden your conception of lollipops to include little red globs of corn syrup that stick to the freezer compartment in such a manner as to cause the Mother Unit to weep.I loved that my dad was himself obsessed with marzipan (though I did not love marzipan). I loved his halvah habit (though I did not love halvah). I loved that he bought chocolate-covered graham crackers when he went shopping, and I do not mean the tragic Keebler variety, which are coated in a waxy, synthetic-chocolate coating that exudes a soapy aftertaste. I mean the original, old-school brand, covered in dark chocolate and filled not with an actual graham cracker, but with a lighter, crispier biscuit distinguished by its wheaty musk. I loved that my father would, after certain meals-say, those meals in which none of his sons threatened to kill another-give me a couple of bucks and send me to the Old Barrel to buy everyone a candy bar. What a sense of economic responsibility! Of filial devotion! I loved that my father chose J

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