Peggy Keener: Your Dentist’s Most Profitable Vacation – Austin Daily Herald
What can I say about Halloween? Well, sure it’s a cavity treat, but then who cares? Once a year… go there!
One of the most iconic Halloween treats is Candy Corn. George Renninger invented a way to layer buttercream in the late 19th century, which resulted in his core-shaped tricolor candy. Some disparaging revelers initially called it “chicken feed.” But denigrate anything you love. For 71 years, Candy Corn has been synonymous with Halloween.
So how do you eat yours? National Candy Corn polls show that 7% of our population bites the bottom yellow stripe first. More people, 29%, start with the pointy white top. And finally, 65% just put the whole kernel in their mouth. But then, these people don’t know how to have fun.
The next chewy treat is the chocolatey Tootsie Roll. An Austrian confectioner introduced it to us in 1905. He named it after his daughter, Clara, whose nickname was “Tootsie”. This was the first individually wrapped candy, which begs the question: With her name on the wrapper, did that mean Clara had to wrap them as well? All?
During the Depression, delicious Tootsie Rolls sold well because they only cost a dime. During World War II, the military signed up with a troop candy contract that turned the non-melting treat into a GI favorite.
On the heels of the Tootsie Roll were Hershey Kisses. Concocted in 1907, no one knows for sure where they got their name from. One version is that it comes from the gentle sucking sound made during production as the chocolate fell on the conveyor belt. It’s okey for me.
And, the little white paper plume on top was dropped in 1924. Then, in 1962, the silver foil wrapping was enhanced when an enterprising Christmas elf suggested using seasonal red and green wrappers. . Surprisingly, today more than 70 million teardrop-shaped kisses fall from the line every day in Hershey, PA. (Bet candy thinks it’s hot to have a town named after that! But, then, I guess their bragging rights are legitimate. As have you ever heard of Tootsie Roll, Wyoming, or Candy Corn, South Dakota?)
No one knows for sure, but it seems Babe Ruth inspired the candy bar that bears her name. After all, he came out in 1921, the same year the little puncher hit 59 home runs. Still, the big boss of the Curtiss Candy Co. claimed he named the candy after the untimely demise of President Grover Cleveland’s daughter Ruth. As for me, I can’t see it. Can you imagine a little trick or a caterer handing out their bag of candy and hoping for a President-Grover-Cleveland’s-Daughter bar?
An enraged baby then approved another candy bar and named it after it. Curtiss CEO Schnering has taken legal action to keep him out of stores. A patent judge (clearly not a baseball fan) upheld the request. But Baby Ruth aficionados protested strongly. In a knife-edge marketing ploy (also known as “guilt”), Schnering erected a billboard advertising Baby Ruth candy bars outside Chicago’s Wrigley Field. And you Brute.
In 1912, Life Savers appeared. There was only one flavor: Pep-O-Mint. Seven years later, six new flavors were introduced. They were packaged in distinctive hand-wrapped aluminum packaging. (Oh, no! Do you think little Clara / Tootsie must have wrapped them too?) Since 1935, Life Savers have been available in 5 flavors, with 14 donut-shaped candies in each roll. (Does anyone know what happens to the candy donut hole?)
Talk about the hype! The name of this next candy was coined to encourage children to be smart and continue with their education. Edward Dee immigrated from England to New Jersey in 1949. There he began making his pressed bittersweet discs in a former WWII pellet factory. He called them “Smarties”. Billions, yes, billions are earned every year. But, does anyone know anyone who got smarter just by eating them?
At this point, does it seem like the finger of blame for the candy eaters should be aimed at European immigrants? Should Ellis Island have welcomed them with open arms? Or sent them back?
Another example: British soldiers during World War I turned chocolate into an American national craving. (See what I mean? There those Europeans leave!) British troops ate boxes of King George chocolates with their daily rations. This got the US Army Quartermaster Corps thinking. Wouldn’t chocolate be both an energy and morale booster for our troops? So what did the Quartermaster do other than start asking (coaxing? Begging?) American confectioners to donate 20-pound blocks of chocolate to the military cause. The huge blocks were then cut into small pieces and distributed to the men. What happened next ? You guessed it. Our pasta went home with an insatiable craving for chocolate!
(I would add a personal note here. During our decades in the military, I ate stacks of canned C rations. They each contained a small packet of 5 cigarettes. Even if a soldier did not smoke, he did. was nonetheless drawn into the camaraderie of it all, lighting up with his pals, as well as cementing in his brain that every meal always ended with a cigarette! Think about it.)
Ironically, during Prohibition (1920-1933), when alcohol was not legally available, chocolate became a substitute for the devil’s drink. There, no surprise. Like alcohol, chocolate boosted mood and helped people feel better. This is still the case, although now, without any restrictions, you can swallow every bite with a good dose of gin. How blessed we are!
Later, chocolate was combined into Field Ration D boxed meals as a 4-ounce, 600-calorie bar that could withstand the heat and keep a hungry GI alive. It is estimated that during this war, more than 3 billion bars were shipped to military personnel around the world.
In 1991, during Operation Desert Storm, approximately 144,000 Hershey Desert Bars went to troops in the Middle East. They have been formulated to become fuzzy at high temperatures, as opposed to melting. The troops loved them. Then, just like that, Hershey quit the candy bar shortly after Desert Storm ended. (I wonder if they were upset to have their chocolate treat spelled out “Desert” instead of “Dessert?” Does anyone know?)
The scariest thing about Halloween is this – and here I turn into a spoiled first-class sports marplot – Americans buy around 160 million pounds of Halloween candy each year. The average stash of candy per child can reach up to 7,000 calories. And, if that’s not enough to sign up for candy tips, the cost for a measly silver amalgam fill is between $ 50 and $ 150. If you want your little trick or your healer to have a tooth-colored composite filling, earn between $ 90 and $ 250. Then, if none of these paltry treatments are good enough for your cherub, a single gold or porcelain filling will reduce family income from $ 250 to $ 4,500!
None of this starts to tap into weight gain. But then the argument would be, what do you mean, Peggy? Our costumed darlings get a ton of exercise just by frolicking from house to house carrying their heavy, loaded bags.
Boy, I look like a curmudgeon! Like the only candy I eat, it’s sour grapes. Alright, alright, I’m sorry I ruined a perfectly fun day. So eat! Happy Halloween! Chew… swallow… burp… (all done to the background noise of the dentist’s strawberry.) Ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-chiiiiinnggg !!