Saturday, May 12, 2012

Old Time Candy Part 4

This is it!  Part 4 of our features on Old Time Candy  because they were so generous when they sent us the 4.5 pound "Chocolate Lovers Collection."  Only eight bars remain but I hope these stir up as many memories at the first 28 we've looked over the previous three months.  Since the last feature of this shop was right after Easter, I cut back and only did 8 bars so that means I have 10 to reveal to you all today -- their chocolate nature and a bit about their history.

There isn't much information on when Hershey's took their standard milk chocolate bar and added almonds to it but I was able to find a date on their official website: 1908. Hershey's Milk Chocolate with Almonds then came out not long after the original bar around the turn of the century. But why almonds, why not cashews or peanuts?  I couldn't discover the answers.  Now Hershey gets a negative rap from a lot of gourmet chocolate lovers but in comparison to other mainstream chocolate candy bars, it actually does fairly well with both chocolate and cocoa butter with no added oils beyond what the almonds are roasted in.  While it isn't as pure as many gourmet bars, it certainly has a strong milk chocolate flavor.  In a candy box for chocolate lovers, this bar makes the grade easily.

Sometimes candy bars are really not so much new as renamed and tweeked by companies. This was the case with the Baby Ruth, a renamed Kandy Kake bar from the Curtiss Candy Company in 1921.  Name after the famous baseball player or a Curtiss child, who can be certain, but the roasted peanuts and their flavor really does invoke baseball memories in some folks. Today this candy bar is made by Nestlé after Nabisco sold the rights to the Curtiss products to them in 1990.  These have very little cacao products in them, only cocoa shows up way down on the ingredient list so immediately this wouldn't quality it as chocolate lover's anything here on The Chocolate Cult. When you eat it the chocolaty coating is more waxy than cocoa and with the peanuts and corn syrup/sugar sticky stuff really dominating the experience.

The next year in 1922, the Blumenthal Brothers Chocolate Company created a nonpareil that later in that decade turned into the Sno-Caps candy you see most often at movie theaters. Currently they are made by Nestlé and they can now be found in some stores as well as in the theaters.  When you dump these out of the box about 10% or so of the white sugar balls fall off of the semi-sweet chips; these are basically semi-sweet chocolate chips dipped in sugar spheres, right?  But the chocolate is the first of the ingredients with both chocolate and cocoa butter listed and other than milk fats no other dairy.  The chocolate is nice, it has a decent kick to it but the sugar balls, I don't know, they seem a bit too much for me; more of those can fall off as far as I'm concerned but this candy does deserve a place in this gift box.  I'll have to keep these in mind for decorating, too, maybe for Christmas.

A year later, in 1923, the Curtiss Candy Company created the Butterfinger candy bar and it, too, is now made by Nestlé.  Supposedly it the name was part of a contest the Curtiss Candy Company ran to name the new bar and it referred to a clumsy person, you know a "butterfinger" who drops everything.  The only cacao related ingredient on this label is cocoa and it well down the line after corn syrup, sugar, ground roasted peanuts, and palm oil.  By simply standards this can't be a serious part of any chocolate lover's selection.  I'll confess that if these are an treat that is available, I'll get it if it's free, I might buy it for Halloween, but I never get it for chocolate but that inside that is sort of peanut and tangy sweetness that gets more and more sticky as you chew.

That same year, 1923, Mars created the Milky Way bar, the first huge success from the company since their creation in 1911 as a kitchen industry. Mars remains in the same family hands as it started and they now have several varieties of Milk Way to choose from but we have the nougat and caramel variety today though that was not the original flavor when it started; it was malted!  Now it's chocolate, caramel, and nougat made from cocoa butter, chocolate, and cocoa in that order on the ingredient list plus a lot of sugars, palm oil, malted barley (not enough for me to taste malt, what about you?), and other added ingredients.  With some of the other candy bars we're looking at today, the chocolate just cannot compete with all that sugar but Milky Way tastes like chocolate, milk chocolate to be sure, but it still tastes like chocolate.  It should be in the Chocolate Lover's box without a doubt.

1937 saw the birth of the Rolo, that little chocolate covered caramel candy we use as BINGO markers for our annual holiday party in my house.  Originally made by Mackintosh's, an Edwardian candy company dating back to 1890, today they are made by Hershey's today under a licensing agreement since 1969 in the USA but by Nestlé in other locations.  Talk about a complicated business arrangement, huh?  Just shows you how interconnected all these corporations can be.  But back to the Rolo candies. Lets be honest here, I don't like these for the chocolate but for the caramel because when you eat them you can't really taste the chocolate because the cocoa butter and chocolate it has is just overwhelmed by the sugars and added ingredients.  This would not be one of my top ten chocolate lovers candy by long shot.

When you think of chocolate, you probably do not think of Necco but in 1938 they introduced the Sky Bar using an interesting sky writing campaign and they continue to make it to this day.  This is a candy bar I've only had once before and it is very unique.  It is like four separate milk chocolate bars in one with fillings of caramel, vanilla, peanut butter, and fudge.  The insides are not as clear as on the label.  The vanilla or whiter center, the third from the left in my photo is the stickiest and the most liquid.  The peanut butter and caramel looked identical to me and frankly didn't taste that different, the peanut flavor only comes out after several chews.  Of course the fudge center has the greatest chocolaty essence.  There is both chocolate liquor and cocoa butter here but also a lot of sugars and added oils and dairy as well.  For contents it qualifies as chocolate but in terms of chocolate it is very sweet and creamy, definitely more for sugar and milk chocolate lovers than for anyone else.

1940 saw the invention of the York Peppermint Patty for the York Cone Company which only produced the candy for a very limited market.  In 1972 the Peter Paul company acquired the product and introduced it nationwide.  Peter Paul in turn merged with Cadbury Schweppes and that mega candy company was bought out by Hershey in 1988.  I love these things because their combination of darker flavored chocolate and peppermint is just so well balanced.  The chocolate here has chocolate (mass/liquor), cocoa, and cocoa butter, all three of the basic cacao products you can find in chocolate or chocolaty items so this definitely fits with theme of the gift box for both ingredients and flavor though personally I'd be happier with less corn syrup in it.

Junior Mints were introduced in 1949 by the James O. Welch Company and named after a popular Broadway show called "Junior Miss" which ran from 1941 to 1943 in three different theaters.  The candy has been made by four companies with the last acquisition in 1993 by Tootsie Roll Industries which continues to make them today.  If you look at the ingredients list it seems a lot like the Sno-Caps but with sugar before the semi-sweet chocolate as well as no milk fats and the peppermint oil.  I don't think these are as good as the previous chocolate-peppermint candy but the chocolate fights fairly well against the sugar and peppermint.  With both chocolate and cocoa butter here at a prominent place on the label this fits in the Chocolate Lover's Box well.

Finding a history for the Farao chocolate "quality sticks" proved very challenging. Did these chocolate sticks come out at the same time as the all sugar sticks commonly referred to as candy cigarettes?  They are made by Pieterman Chocolate in Holland today so I went to their website and I had to get a pdf about the products and sort though that information which told me nothing of historical value.  Geesh!  So I sent them an email asking for some basic historical information.  I haven't heard back yet by the due date of this Saturday Sacrament.  Loo at the photo, these are 2.5 inches long pieces of "chocolate" made only with cocoa powder and a lot of sugar and added oils, really really not what I'd say should be part of any chocolate lovers's anything just by ingredients alone.   They are waxy tasting and feeling, but have a chocolaty flavor to them.  Morally?  Call them "quality sticks" all you like but these are basically a candy cigarette, wouldn't you say, Sisters and Brothers?  I wouldn't give these to kids but as an adult if I'm role-playing in a game they can be a bit of fun to use just like the all sugar variety.  Oddly I couldn't find these on the Old Time Candy website at all even though they sent these to me in this Chocolate Lover's box.

When I started this I didn't realize how many of these bars are connected by their companies and years but a bit of digging around on the Internet at company sites and other resources revealed some information I had no hint of either from my own personal history or the candy rumor mills.  Let me know about your own history with these ten treats we're looked at today please.

Now that we've covered the selection of chocolate candy over the past century, Sisters and Brothers, what do you think of Old Time Candy?  Have you checked them out?  Found a favorite from your childhood is missing? Have you tried something new or placed an order for those treats you hoped you get when you were 12?  I want to know.


Pauline said...

Thanks for this series - retro sweets here in the UK are also popular but tend towards candy rather than chocolate. The biggest difference I can see in the chocolate bar range is that you have always had more bars with some sort of peanut filling.
My biggest treat as a kid was a bar of Dark Bournville chocolate or Fry's chocolate cream which was considered 'grown up' chocolate -. However, I am still partial to a BabyRuth Bar. I also remember those Farao sticks, a very strange cocoaish taste.

TammyJo Eckhart said...

Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Paula.

Old Time Candy sent us this this huge selection so I was honored to do these features in a way that also worked my historian muscles just a tiny bit.

I'd love to get more UK chocolatiers featured here on The Chocolate Cult.

Wyrenth said...

I grew up loving Sky Bars! I'd only first ran into them at the small store up town when I moved to PA, and they still stock them (but their candy isn't often very fresh, so the last purchase tasted awful). Ah, the memories...

TammyJo Eckhart said...

Hi, Wyrenth, haven't had a comment from you in a while, welcome back.

Yeah one of the issues with low-sale candy is that yes, it can get stale.

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