CRANKY YANK 4/?
I read Tim Richardson’s Sweets: A History of Candy before I found Steve Almond’s Candyfreak and therefore introduced myself to concepts I had never heard of before: rock, rhubarb and custard, pear drops, barley sugars. Personally, the myth of Turkish delight shattered for me: I had read (and watched, the Wonderworks mini-series on PBS) The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and like Edmund, had been lured by the White Witch’s promises of Turkish delight. However, many years later when I found a hexagonal box of Turkish delight at World Market, I was very disappointed by the sickly sweet, gooey mess—I think I had been expecting something like solidified hot chocolate. I had also heard of, but never seen, Jelly Babies, thanks to Doctor Who. Based on the glimpse I had seen of them close-up in the TV movie, I thought they were basically gummi bears. Alas, I ruined Jelly Babies for myself when I overdosed on them. One on its own was okay, I discovered, though far less delicious than gummi bears (in my opinion). But J made the mistake of buying me a packet of them when we first met in March 2007 and in anticipation of my first-ever live transmission of Doctor Who (“Smith and Jones,” to be precise), I ate them all. Now I can’t look at Jelly Babies without feeling sick.
Before all that, though, were Cadbury Crème Eggs, which only appeared in Albuquerque at Easter time (according to Cadbury’s website, “Crème Egg season” is from January 1st through April 4th). I didn’t realize that Cadbury was a confectionary company (one Richardson described in great detail in Sweets), nor that it had earned its own theme park. I just knew I liked the crème eggs. Much later, I got a Crunchie bar in my stocking (from World Market again) and not long after that, the Smith’s chain in Albuquerque started carrying Fruit and Nut Bars (a foreign concept; fruit in a chocolate bar?!). When I was in France, the University vending machines used to carry Maltesers, which I thought for ages were French.
Since then, I have been trying to do research, as it were, into British confectionary. I’ve been a big fan of the Starbar (“milk chocolate shot through with peanuts and creamy caramel”) though that may have stemmed originally from me seeing it in the Vermont Trading Company catalogue and thinking it looked heavenly. I still love Crunchies, but I’ve recently discovered the Wispa bar (it disappeared in 2003 only to recently be brought back). The Fudge is the best thing on Earth you can get for 15p. The best ice cream cone I have ever tasted has to be the 99 Flake I had from a stand on the Thames when I was visiting J last summer. I’m sure the company helped, but the photos on Facebook attest to how much I loved that ice cream. I’m also a big fan of Licorice Allsorts.
I came in contact with the Kendal mint cake when I was in the Lake District in 2007, and it sounded so good I saved the one I bought in Grasmere until, by the time I opened it up, it had sort of dissolved into sugar.
I think I might need a separate entry just to talk about British cakes and biscuits!