Interest Growing in 'Heritage Candies'

Regional favorites still have strong followings

WASHINGTON -- From the maple sugar moose heads of New England to the chile brittle of the Southwest, from the Almond Roca of the Pacific Northwest to the key lime coconut patties of Florida, America loves its candy, said an NPR report. And Americans rally around regional confections. A man from Minnesota might go gaga for the Nut Goodie. A sweet-toothed Texan may choose a Chewie Pecan Praline. A Wisconsin woman is liable to get all mushy over the chocolate milkiness of a Melty Bar.

With the noticeable rise of the local food movement, Beth Kimmerle, author of Candy: The Sweet History told the public radio network that people "are really interested in looking at our heritage candies again."

And like other aspects of homegrown cuisine, those candies often reflect the tastes and sensibilities of certain parts of the country.

In 1912, Pearson's of Minneapolis began making Nut Goodie bars--milk chocolate-covered rounds, pocked with unsalted peanuts and filled with a soft maple center. The candy still evokes Minnesota niceness.

 The Idaho Candy Co. started selling its signature Idaho Spud Bar in 1918. Today, the Boise-based company brags that the Spud is one of the "top-hundred selling candy bars in the Northwest." Open up the package of an Idaho Spud and you'll find an oblate spheroid that sort of reminds you of a loaded, baked Idaho potato. Instead of a skin, the outside is dark chocolate. Instead of mushy innards, the inside is creamy, cocoa-flavored marshmallow. The whole thing is dusted all over--not with cheddar cheese, chives and bacon bits--but grated coconut.

Also in 1918, Chase Candy Co. in St. Joseph, Mo., developed Cherry Mash, a lump of cherry-flavored fondant coated with chocolate and peanuts.

Everywhere you turn in America, from Chocolate Charlies in Indiana to pralines in Louisiana to Red Coconut Balls in Hawaii, nearly every nook and cranny of the country has its own gooey, sui generis candy creation, said the report.

Russell Sifers' family has fashioned the Valomilk--a round chocolate candy with an egg-white marshmallow interior--for decades out of Merriam, Kansas.

Survey sugary treats from all over the country, and you'll discover that although many candies from different regions contain the same ingredients, they somehow remain distinctive.

For example, the Nut Goodie, a chocolate and peanut bar from Minnesota, has a maple center. On the other hand, a chocolate and peanut bar from Tennessee--the GooGoo Cluster--contains caramel and marshmallow nougat. San Francisco's Rocky Road version marries a marshmallow core with a coating of chocolate and cashews.

Through the proliferation of Internet marketing and express shipping, some provincial candies are available now outside their regions.

Click here for the full report.