Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America

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9780156032933: Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America

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.

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Review:

Picture a magical, sugar-fueled road trip with Willy Wonka behind the wheel and David Sedaris riding shotgun, complete with chocolate-stained roadmaps and the colorful confetti of spent candy wrappers flying in your cocoa powder dust. If you can imagine such a manic journey--better yet, if you can imagine being a hungry hitchhiker who's swept through America's forgotten candy meccas: Philadelphia (Peanut Chews), Sioux City (Twin Bing), Nashville (Goo Goo Cluster), Boise (Idaho Spud) and beyond--then Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America, Steve Almond's impossible-to-put down portrait of regional candy makers and the author's own obsession with all-things sweet, would be your Fodor's guide to this gonzo tour.

With the aptly named Almond (don't even think of bringing up the Almond Joy bit--coconut is Almond's kryptonite), obsession is putting it mildly. Almond loves candy like no other man in America. To wit: the author has "three to seven pounds" of candy in his house at all times. And then there's the Kit Kat Darks incident; Almond has a case of the short-lived confection squirreled away in an undisclosed warehouse. "I had decided to write about candy because I assumed it would be fun and frivolous and distracting," confesses Almond. "It would allow me to reconnect to the single, untarnished pleasure of my childhood. But, of course, there are no untarnished pleasures. That is only something the admen of our time would like us to believe." Almond's bittersweet nostalgia is balanced by a fiercely independent spirit--the same underdog quality on display by the small candy makers whose entire existence (and livelihood) is forever shadowed by the Big Three: Hershey's, Mars, and Nestle.

Almond possesses an original, heartfelt, passionate voice; a writer brave enough to express sheer joy. Early on his tour he becomes entranced with that candy factory staple, the "enrober"--imagine an industrial-size version of the glaze waterfall on the production line at your local Krispy Kreme, but oozing chocolate--dubbing it "the money shot of candy production." And while he writes about candy with the sensibilities of a serious food critic (complimenting his beloved Kit Kat Dark for its "dignified sheen," "puddinglike creaminess," "coffee overtones," and "slightly cloying wafer") words like "nutmeats" and "rack fees" send him into an adolescent twitter.

...the Marathon Bar, which stormed the racks in 1974, enjoyed a meteoric rise, died young, and left a beautiful corpse. The Marathon: a rope of caramel covered in chocolate, not even a solid piece that is, half air holes, an obvious rip-off to anyone who has mastered the basic Piagetian stages, but we couldn't resist the gimmick. And then, as if we weren't bamboozled enough, there was the sleek red package, which included a ruler on the back and thereby affirmed the First Rule of Male Adolescence: If you give a teenage boy a candy bar with a ruler on the back of the package, he will measure his dick

Candyfreak is one of those endearing, quirky titles that defy swift categorization. One of those rare books that you'll want to tear right through, one you won't soon stop talking about. And eager readers beware: It's impossible to flip through ten pages of this sweet little book without reaching for a piece of chocolate. --Brad Thomas Parsons

Book Description:

Driven by his obsession, stubborn idealism, and the promise of free candy, self-confessed candyfreak Steve Almond takes off on a quest to discover candy's origins in America, to explore the little companies that continue to get by on pluck and perseverance, and to witness the glorious excess of candy manufacturing.

From the Twin Bing to the Idaho Spud, the Valomilk to the Abba-Zaba, Almond uncovers a small legion of singular handcrafted candy bars made by unsung heroes, working in old-fashioned factories for tiny profits to produce something that they love. Fascinated by the emotional power of these confectionary delights, the primal and persuasive experience of the world in our mouths, Almond describes our candy cravings in sensuous and titillating detail. Though the road is laden with free samples, he discovers that the world of candy making is not the sweet world of childhood reveries but one beleaguered by stiff competition, closely guarded secrets, and increasingly limited markets. But no matter. As he also finds, every candy maker, even when poised on the edge of failure, is happy, indulgent, and childlike. For finally, even the darkest market forces, even the clout of the Big Three candy companies that threaten to wipe out all others, cannot lessen our desire to lose ourselves in chocolate.

Candyfreak is the bittersweet story of how Steve Almond grew up on candy--and how, for better and worse, candy has grown up, too. Almond gives us a hilarious, sugar-high tour of those old-fashioned candy companies.

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Book Description Mariner Books, 2005. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: Some Things You Should Know about the Author xv Chapter One The Author Will Now Rationalize 1 Chocolate = Enabler 8 In Which an Unhealthy Pattern of Dependence Is Established 10 An Ill-Advised Discussion of Freak Economics 16 Night of the Living Freak 21 Mistakes Were Made 25 Chapter two Caravelle: An Elegy 29 I Manny 39 Feeding the Beast 45 Chapter Three A Top-Secret Chocolate Situation 51 The Politics of the Rack 56 The Last Man in America with Black Jack Gum 62 Chapter Four The Capo Di Tutti Freak 71 The Love Song of Ray Luthar Broekel 76 Welcome to the Boom 82 Chapter Five There Are Men upon This Earth Who Tread Like Gods 90 Feuilletine, Revealed 97 Freak Fetish 105 Chapter Six The Official Dark Horse Freak of Philadelphia 108 Wee Willie and the Pop-a-Licks Rage 115 Chapter Seven Southern-Fried Freak 123 Chocolate Haiku 130 Freak Retentive 139 Chapter Eight In the Belly of the Freak 142 The Unstoppable Freak Energy of Mr. Marty Palmer 145 Southbound with the Hammers Down 163 Chapter Nine The Candy Bar on Your Chin 168 The Marshmallow Parallax 177 A Depressing but Necessary Digression 189 Chapter Ten Boise: Gateway to . . . Boise 191 Ladies and Gentlemen, the Idaho Spud 195 Huckleberry, Hounded 206 American Lunch 214 How Will the Spud Survive? 218 Chapter Eleven The Past Is Just Ahead 224 Remember This Name: Banana-Zaba 231 Chapter Twelve A Second Depressing but Necessary Digression 238 A Little Hidden Bomb in My Idaho Spud 240 A Few Final Relevant Facts 244 acknowledgments 253 freak appendix 255. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0156032937

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