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1 Beaverton Cooking and Food- Gastronomic Literature

Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America

by

Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America Cover

ISBN13: 9781565124219
ISBN10: 1565124219
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Staff Pick

Here's a great recipe: Take one often-obsessed-upon food item, one aptly named author, and an enormous amount of writing talent. Mix them all together and you have Candyfreak. A great book that melts in your mind, not in your hand.
Recommended by Danielle, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"There are enough anecdotes from Almond's lifelong fixation that readers will feel as if they know him....Almond's awareness of how strange he is...is strangely endearing." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"Almond...details with mouthwatering descriptions his visits to the minor league of candy makers who continue to churn out their distinctive products....Sweet, never sickly — and quite informative." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"The decidedly regional nature of American candy production takes Almond to all sorts of destinations where he encounters those tastefully inventive minds who satisfy the country's sweet tooth." Mark Knoblauch, Booklist

Review:

"Flavored with the author's amusingly tart sense of humor, Candyfreak is an intriguing chronicle of the passions that candy inspires and the pleasures it offers. Recommended." Library Journal

Review:

"I got a real sugar rush and a cluster headache reading this bittersweet book by Steve Almond-joy, the sugar daddy himself. I won't sugar coat it — this book is one sweet treat." Amy Sedaris

Review:

"Steve Almond is the Dave Eggers of food writing." John Thorne

Book News Annotation:

After confessing to being a lifelong chocoholic, the aptly named Almond (creative writing, Boston College) traces the history and bittersweet business practices of the companies producing those addictive candy bars. He includes relevant Web sites.
Annotation 2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

Almond embarks on a hilarious, sugar-high tour through America's last-remaining, independent candy companies.

Synopsis:

Perhaps you remember the whipped splendor of the Choco-Lite, or the luscious Caravelle bar, or maybe the sublime and perfectly balanced Hershey's Cookies 'n Mint. The Marathon, an inimitable rope of caramel covered in chocolate. Oompahs. Bit-O-Choc. The Kit Kat Dark.

Steve Almond certainly does. In fact, he was so obsessed by the inexplicable disappearance of these bars—where'd they go?—that he embarked on a nationwide journey to uncover the truth about the candy business. There, he found an industry ruled by huge conglomerates, where the little guys, the last remaining link to the glorious boom years of the candy bar in America, struggle to survive.

Visiting the candy factories that produce the Twin Bing, the Idaho Spud, the Goo Goo Cluster, the Valomilk, and a dozen other quirky bars, Almond finds that the world of candy is no longer a sweet haven. Today's precious few regional candy makers mount daily battles against corporate greed, paranoia, and that good old American compulsion: crushing the little guy.

Part candy porn, part candy polemic, part social history, part confession, Candyfreak explores the role candy plays in our lives as both source of pleasure and escape from pain. By turns ecstatic, comic, and bittersweet, Candyfreak is the story of how Steve Almond grew up on candy—and how, for better and worse, candy has grown up, too.

About the Author

Steve Almond is the author of the acclaimed story collection My Life in Heavy Metal. He has published stories and poems in publications ranging from Playboy to Tin House to Zoetrope, and they have been widely anthologized. He is a regular commentator on the NPR affiliate WBUR in Boston, teaches creative writing at Boston College, and has eaten at least one piece of candy every single day of his entire life.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Shoshana, January 25, 2007 (view all comments by Shoshana)
+ An affectionate romp through candy nostalgia, not omitting biting commentary on the politics of big corporations vs. independent manufacturers
- Frequent forced humor

Not the easiest book to read on the treadmill, filled as it is with virtually pornographic paeans to a variety of candies. Motivated by his great love of candy, Almond tours several independent candy companies still hanging on in the U.S. If you like Americana or still bore your friends with tales of a local candy you enjoyed in your youth and have never seen again, you'll enjoy this book. Almond's love of candy is endearing and the book is both entertaining and informative.

Almond is at his worst when he strains to be funny rather than trusting that his observations are amusing on their own, or in juxtaposition with his rather pathos-saturated analyses of what sounds like a reasonably average American childhood. I?d rather read a book that simply includes exposition on the author?s various inadequacies and failures without also having to suffer his attempts at wittiness. The Prologue and Chapter 1 particularly suffer from what I can only describe as a failed attempt to emulate Woody Allen. Don't let this dissuade you from plowing onward to the rest of the book, which is considerably less self-conscious.

The most critical observation I have to make about Candyfreak is that Almond's nostalgia for the golden age of American candy is paired with his contempt for today's analogue of the family-owned candy company of yore: The small organic, gourmet, or specialty candy manufacturer. Though he uses a candy-sampling vocabulary that would do a wine snob proud, Almond presents himself as a proletarian kind of guy who wants nothing to do with the bourgeois piggery of new small candy concerns, and prefers instead to bemoan the crushing of the old candy companies by the Big Three large candy corporations. Yet confusingly he praises and appreciates Lake Champlain Chocolates. Other reviewers have criticized him for his self-disclosures and personal narrative in this book; I'd have liked to hear more, particularly about this seeming paradox, which I can only understand as a conflict between his image of himself and self-conscious image management versus how he actually behaves in the here-and-now. It reminds me of people who enjoy a local microbrew but want to complain about how much it costs; how stupid everyone is to drink it; and how when they were a teen "local beer" meant Ortlieb's, which by god cost $5 a case and wasn't any good, but still evokes one's callow youth. (Note: Not that I know anything about "Joe's beer.") I don't mean to suggest by this comment that Almond's book isn't fun to read, but that there's an inherent schism between what he wants and what he chooses to do. If candy is about the little guy, Almond should visit the little guys who have figured out the niche market for specialty candies; if it's about nostalgia, he should own this as his personal, Proust-like odyssey. The book would be better for it.

Note to Algonquin Books: It's really obvious when you spell agar agar both correctly and as "ager ager" several times in two pages. For a modest fee, I'll correct your proofs.

Note to the author: You consistently eat a great deal of candy, don't gain weight from this, and describe hypoglycemic reactions. Get your blood sugar checked now and then, Steve. I'm not a doctor but you sound like somebody at risk of developing adult-onset Type I diabetes.

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martinkato, August 30, 2006 (view all comments by martinkato)
Steve Almond takes us on a sweet ride to rediscover every American's childhood obsession. Doesn't each of us have at least one happy long ago moment in which CANDY played a pivotal role (ok, at least a walk-on role)? Aren't we all a bit reluctant to admit that we still love candy, conditioned by dentists, parents and authority figures to think CANDY = DECAY + OBESITY? Only a self-described ecto-morph like Almond would dare to reveal that he never outgrew his obsessive reverence for CANDY and celebrate it!
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781565124219
Subtitle:
A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America
Author:
Almond, Steve
Publisher:
Algonquin Books
Location:
Chapel Hill, N.C.
Subject:
Chocolate
Subject:
Candy
Subject:
Topic - Business and Professional
Subject:
Courses & Dishes - Chocolate
Subject:
Candy industry.
Subject:
Industries - General
Subject:
Popular Culture - General
Subject:
Business Writing
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Edition Description:
Hardback
Series Volume:
no.6-03
Publication Date:
April 2004
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
5 1/2 x 7
Pages:
280
Dimensions:
7.25 x 6.69 x 1 in 0.88 lb

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Humor » Business and Professional
Business » General
Business » Management
Business » Writing
Cooking and Food » Desserts and Candy » Chocolate and Candy
Cooking and Food » Food Writing » Gastronomic Literature
Cooking and Food » Food Writing » General
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » American Studies » General
Reference » Science Reference » Technology

Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.95 In Stock
Product details 280 pages Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill - English 9781565124219 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Here's a great recipe: Take one often-obsessed-upon food item, one aptly named author, and an enormous amount of writing talent. Mix them all together and you have Candyfreak. A great book that melts in your mind, not in your hand.

"Review" by , "There are enough anecdotes from Almond's lifelong fixation that readers will feel as if they know him....Almond's awareness of how strange he is...is strangely endearing."
"Review" by , "Almond...details with mouthwatering descriptions his visits to the minor league of candy makers who continue to churn out their distinctive products....Sweet, never sickly — and quite informative."
"Review" by , "The decidedly regional nature of American candy production takes Almond to all sorts of destinations where he encounters those tastefully inventive minds who satisfy the country's sweet tooth."
"Review" by , "Flavored with the author's amusingly tart sense of humor, Candyfreak is an intriguing chronicle of the passions that candy inspires and the pleasures it offers. Recommended."
"Review" by , "I got a real sugar rush and a cluster headache reading this bittersweet book by Steve Almond-joy, the sugar daddy himself. I won't sugar coat it — this book is one sweet treat."
"Review" by , "Steve Almond is the Dave Eggers of food writing."
"Synopsis" by , Almond embarks on a hilarious, sugar-high tour through America's last-remaining, independent candy companies.
"Synopsis" by ,
Perhaps you remember the whipped splendor of the Choco-Lite, or the luscious Caravelle bar, or maybe the sublime and perfectly balanced Hershey's Cookies 'n Mint. The Marathon, an inimitable rope of caramel covered in chocolate. Oompahs. Bit-O-Choc. The Kit Kat Dark.

Steve Almond certainly does. In fact, he was so obsessed by the inexplicable disappearance of these bars—where'd they go?—that he embarked on a nationwide journey to uncover the truth about the candy business. There, he found an industry ruled by huge conglomerates, where the little guys, the last remaining link to the glorious boom years of the candy bar in America, struggle to survive.

Visiting the candy factories that produce the Twin Bing, the Idaho Spud, the Goo Goo Cluster, the Valomilk, and a dozen other quirky bars, Almond finds that the world of candy is no longer a sweet haven. Today's precious few regional candy makers mount daily battles against corporate greed, paranoia, and that good old American compulsion: crushing the little guy.

Part candy porn, part candy polemic, part social history, part confession, Candyfreak explores the role candy plays in our lives as both source of pleasure and escape from pain. By turns ecstatic, comic, and bittersweet, Candyfreak is the story of how Steve Almond grew up on candy—and how, for better and worse, candy has grown up, too.

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