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More filters. Sort order. Mar 04, Tom Quinn rated it really liked it. My dad's favorite candy was Necco Wafers.


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An acquired taste for sure, but one that he developed because they were the only candy his older sisters wouldn't steal. Me, I like Milky Ways although I will eat almost anything chocolate-covered. My wife is much pickier but does have her own Achilles' heel: Reese's the original cups, not any of the holiday shapes which mess with the peanut butter to chocolate ratio. And don't even mention the Pieces that E. Yes, I admit it readily: I am a candyfreak, even still into my adulthood.

So I am without question Mr. Almond's target audience. It's trite to say a book is "laugh out loud funny" but the truth is I was laughing audibly, from little chuckles to full-on guffaws, in just the first few pages. The author is a relatable nebbish, a humorist deftly spinning yarns that amuse and revel in the powerful shared emotion of nostalgia. He writes well too, with a dazzling vocabulary and a vivid, painterly eye for detail.

He had me grinning ear to ear with glee, remembering my own childhood candy store as all the sugary little memories I'd had tucked away flooded back to me full force. And more than just the expected recounting of past experiences, Almond ventures out in the present to visit both big candy factories as well as small batch gourmet candy operations nationwide, all the while musing about the whats and wherefores of capitalism, consumer psychology, and society writ large through a sugared, sweetened lens.

A bright and cheerful spot in an often too-gloomy world, and especially recommended for any who count themselves among the candyfreaks. View all 5 comments. Apr 04, RandomAnthony rated it liked it. Candyfreak provides way too much candy-metaphor fodder for the weak-hearted reviewer.

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So I will not resist. This book functions both as tribute to the small businessman and candyfetish pornography. The spirit of invention lives in these factory owners as well; when they talk about product development they sound insane, honestly, in the best way possible, as if they can taste the new candy before they produce the first sample. Almond stumbles a little when he stereotypes small town living sir, I defy you to get on a Greyhound bus anywhere, even in your precious Boston, and find anything different than you describe.

And candy bars that look like potatoes sound cool. I want one right now. View all 9 comments. Aug 29, Michael rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: humans.

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My review, 3. Skip to the sweet shop with my girlfriend, Sandy. Got my pennies saved. I'm her Hume Cronyn, she my Jessica Tandy. I want candy! I need candy, any kind will do Don't care if it's nutritious or FDA approved. It's gonna make me spaz like bobcats on booze The cover blurb calls the author "the Dave Eggers of food writing" He comes off more like the Anthony Bourdain of candy writing!

This book is terribly enjoyable, and yes, it made me go buy candy, although Safeway's candy selection is pretty pathetic. Walgreen's at least provided me with Reese's Elvis-themed peanut-butter and banana cups.

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The best parts about the book, though, apart from laughing out loud at some of Almond's turns-of-phrase, were the moments when he evoked my own memories of lost childhood 'freak' moments. I can still recall the smell of Coulson's Pharmacy in Lewiston and the comics arrayed on a low shelf by the entrance.

The sounds of the old now gone video arcades of the early 80's. The panoply of GI Joe figures at the local Gold Circle and the quest to track down each one, well before the days of thirtysomething toy collectors. These things are golden, never to return, always cherished. View all 50 comments. May 22, Tama Filipas rated it really liked it. Super interesting story of the small guys in the candy biz and where they've mostly all gone, gobbled up by the big guys.

I wanted to search out some of the old school candy bars, and did find some, though it wasn't easy. Made me think back to my tiny hometown and the local chocolate shop that was on Main Street, at the base of West Hill. Where did they go?

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I have a vague memory of going there on a class field trip at some point in elementa I laughed SO HARD during the first half of this book. I have a vague memory of going there on a class field trip at some point in elementary school while they were in the midst of making thousands of chocolate creations for Easter. Where have all those little businesses gone? View 1 comment. Sep 23, Jill rated it really liked it Shelves: good-writing , humor , favorites , nonfiction. What a combination: Goo-Goo Clusters, Snickers, Valomilks, and Big Hunk bars all alongside ample doses of liberal guilt, childhood neglect, failure to commit emotionally in relationships, and a dooming fear of failure!

As you will learn, in the early s, the candy bar had its heyday. Across America thousands of provincial factories were pumping out regional candy bars. Local stores are swallowed up everyday by corporations. But Almond recognizes that candy is special. We have a more intimate relationship to candy than most products.

Maybe your mom always bought you a certain treat if you were good during grocery shopping or maybe your grandparents could always be depended on having a certain chocolate goodie in a bowl on their kitchen table when you came to visit. Candy is simply about pleasure. So candy memories are tight little balls of happiness mixed with nostalgia and thus, according to Almond, worth preserving.

Almond embarks on an American roadtrip stopping at small, family-owned candy factories that have somehow managed to stay in business and continue serving their regional delicacies that have charmed for generations. Just be careful. May 12, Malbadeen rated it it was amazing. Steve Almond is deep passion veiled as giddy enthusiasm. I can't help but to think that in general Steve Almond makes you me feel deeper. And he frequently does that while making me laugh! I love you so much Steve Almond.

I remember those. I would never admit that. Before reading this book, I had never heard of Valomilk candy bars. Now I must have one, thanks to the description by author Steve Almond. But here, inside my mouth, it was finally dawning on me: the way in which the airy tones of vanilla infused the chocolate and lent the heavy tang of cocoa a sense of buoyancy. The chocolate in the Valomilk was transcendent; I would go so far as to call it velvety.

The process to make the Valomilk is itself, antiquated. In a day and age when candy is mass prod Before reading this book, I had never heard of Valomilk candy bars. In a day and age when candy is mass produced with little flavour and an obsession with corn syrup, the Valomilk stands alone. Pure cane sugar is used, rather than beet sugar. Bourbon vanilla, grown exclusively on Madagascar, is used instead of artificial vanilla, as with other products.

The marshmallow is hand-made with pan-dried egg whites instead of spray-dried egg whites.


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Everything is then mixed, by hand, into a snow-white meringue. The chocolate itself is tempered by hand. This is almost unthinkably impractical - the rough equivalent of GM casting their bolts by hand.

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By hand! When did the devil come? When first attack? Excuse me, John Betjeman, for using your poetry to describe the decline of the candy bar, but it is appropriate. As with any product that can be mass produced, the quality is so yucky that I haven't eaten a candy bar in a long time. The years fall off and find me walking back When you grow up in an immigrant family that doesn't have much surplus money, the attainment of a candy bar is something to behold.

What to do, how to choose? I remember candy bars being bigger and tasting better. Like real chocolate. By the time I hit my teens, the bars had shrunk and the taste had changed. Then Big Chocolate took over, dominating the checkout stands and candy aisles. Throw in Wal-Mart and its dominance of America, where only mass-produced items can make it to a consumer's hands, and one has the almost complete obliteration of old-style candy. There's more, such as the company that still makes Idaho Spuds and the splendiferous Owyhee Butter Toffee. Let me say this about Owyhee Butter Toffee: if you are one of those people who views butter as the high point of western culinary achievement, as I do, track down some of this stuff.

As the author notes, some of the straggling regional candymakers are still known to their small fan bases, but for the rest of us, these are only found in souvenir shops when travelling the backroads. I still prefer See's Candy to all others, as it was what every San Franciscan craved, but now I am going to check some of the retro candy onliners to see what they carry and to try some taste tests. Steve Almond made this a very enjoyable read, not least because we both dislike coconut in candy.

His passion for his childhood love comes through as does his worry that the big corporations aren't just ruining our physical environment but also our environment of memories. Support your local candymaker. View all 8 comments. Jul 16, Jon rated it liked it. There are definite five-star sections within this book.

The author travels around the U. These are great parts. It is a real eye-opener to hear that in the early 20th century there were over American candy companies and now there are only or so.


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The rise of the "Big Three" of Nestle, Hershey and Mars has made it nearly impossible for any other manufacturers to get their products into stores. Reading these parts There are definite five-star sections within this book. Reading these parts of the book filled me with an urge to "buy local", as much as that is possible with candy, and support a dying tradition. My problems with "Candyfreak" are the author's autobiographical interludes. These are straight one-star confessions of how awful his life has been professor at BYU -- boo-hoo and how he has used candy to fill other gaps in his life.

The level of self-pity in these sections is unbelievable. And if that wouldn't be enough, the author then treads upon the goodwill of several companies he visits by stealing samples and, in one unbelievable passage, pretending he is a representative of one company so that he can get into a food fair illicitly.

All of these are presented in a boastful tone! Grow up, Mr. Nov 23, Melissa rated it liked it. If Steve Almond is a candyfreak, then I'm a candywhore. I'll take it where I can get it and I'm not half as discriminating about its origins. That said, you can't help but laugh outright at the sugar-fanaticism of a man who gets faint with joy witnessing the birth of chocolate bunnies and is rendered speechless at the thoughtless waste of even one piece of chocolate, recalling, "I stood there in a cloud of disillusionment I'm someone who has been known to eat the pieces of candy found underneat If Steve Almond is a candyfreak, then I'm a candywhore.

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Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America

I'm someone who has been known to eat the pieces of candy found underneath my couch. I giggled, chuckled and guffawed my way through the author's confessions of freak-like candy-hoarding, reveling in the kind of sweet self-effacing wit only a candy junkie could muster. From there, it's mostly an historical tour of the four candy companies he visited, fascinating and richly detailed, yet interspersed with progressively more disturbing moments of personal crisis. At one point the author himself notes, "I realize that I am over-sharing," a phrase that, in a work of humor especially, should be immediately followed by the words, "so I'll quit while I'm ahead.

From that point on, we are treated to sad reflections on how one may ineffectively attempt to use candy to fill the void created by emotionally unavailable parents, an alarming, overly personal description of penile hypochondria, and finally, how Dubya, terrorists, college hockey players and Reaganomics are to blame for everything from airport security to the author's inability to give up pot and find love. I found the experience much like seeing a house guest naked -- you don't know whether to avert your eyes and mumble an apology or pretend it's hilarious and hope he laughs along.

The erratic emotional pitch of the book can be summed up by Almond's description of a candy-orgy during a San Francisco layover; "A brief jolt of good humor Perhaps if Almond has just stuck to candy, the last bite A Numismatic Journey Through the Bible. Journey Through Morocco. Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam. A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy. Recommend Documents. Davidson, Y. Kaneda, H. Sreenivasan Contents List of contributors pag No Downloads.

Views Total views. Actions Shares. Embeds 0 No embeds. No notes for slide. Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America A hilarious taste of the triumphs and tragedies faced by America's small candy companies, from the funny and engaging perspective of a self-confessed candy freak. Steve Almond doesn't just love candy—he unabashedly worships every aspect of confectionary culture, from the creation of an exceptional malt ball through the tragic demise of a badly conceived candy bar, from the emotion-laden memories stirred by a bite of chocolate to his near-drooling anticipation of spotting a new package on the candy shelves.

Almond, who claims to have between three and seven pounds of candy in his house at all times, set out to uncover the inexplicable disappearance of the Bit-O-Choc, the Caravelle bar, and other delights. As he documents his visits to candy factories across America, he reveals the true nature of the industry, with hilarious asides examining the role candy plays in our lives, and often confessing his own near-obsessive cravings.

Almond's wry writing style is undeniably addictive and impossible to put down until every last bit has been devoured; listeners should be warned to keep a ready supply of sweets on hand.

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