Peggy Keener: Your Dentist’s Most Lucrative Vacation – Austin Daily Herald
What should I say about Halloween? Well, it’s a caries treat sure, but who cares then? Once a year … let’s go!
One of the most iconic treats of Halloween is candy corn. George Renninger invented a method of layering buttercream in the late 19th century, which resulted in his three-colored, core-shaped candy. Some derogatory partisans first called it “chicken feed”. But denigrate anything you want. Candy Corn has stood for Halloween for 71 years.
So how do you eat yours National candy corn polls show 7% of our population bite off the yellow bottom stripe first. More people, 29%, start with the pointy white top. And finally, 65% just put the whole core in their mouth. But then these people don’t know how to have fun.
The next chew is the chocolate tootsie roll. An Austrian confectionery manufacturer introduced it to us as early as 1905. He named it after his daughter Clara, whose nickname was “Tootsie”. It was the first individually wrapped candy that begs the question – with her name on the package, did that mean Clara had to wrap it too? All of them?
During the Depression, yummy Tootsie Rolls sold well because they cost a penny. During World War II, the military stepped up with a candy treaty for the troops on board that made the non-melting treat a GI favorite.
On the heels of the Tootsie Roll were Hershey Kisses. Concocted in 1907, nobody knows exactly how they got their name. One version is that it came from the faint suction noise that was made during production when the chocolate plopped onto the conveyor belt. That is OK for me.
And the little white paper flag above was trademarked in 1924. Then in 1962 the silver aluminum case was upgraded when an enterprising Christmas elf suggested using seasonal red and green cases. Amazingly, today in Hershey, Pennsylvania, more than 70 million tear kisses are produced every day. (Bet candy thinks it’s hot stuff when a city is named after it! But then I assume their bragging rights are legitimate. Have you ever heard of Tootsie Roll, Wyoming, or Candy Corn, South Dakota?)
Nobody knows for sure, but it seems that Babe Ruth inspired the candy bar that bears his name. After all, it came out in 1921, in the same year the short slugger reached 59 home runs. Still, the Curtiss Candy Co. big boss claimed that he named the candy after the early death of President Grover Cleveland’s daughter Ruth. As for me, I just can’t see it. Can you think of a little trick or treat holding her bag of candy and hoping for a President Grover Cleveland’s Daughter bar?
An outraged babe later endorsed another candy bar and named it after himself. Curtiss CEO Schnering sued for keeping it out of stores. A patent judge (who was obviously not a baseball fan) upheld the claim. But Baby Ruth lovers protested violently. In a marketing ploy (also known as “guilt”), Schnering put up a billboard for Baby Ruth candy bars outside of Wrigley Field in Chicago. Et tu Brute.
Life Savers was published in 1912. There was only one flavor – pep-o-mint. Seven years later, six new flavors were introduced. They were packed in distinctive hand-wrapped foil packaging. (Oh no! Do you think little Clara / Tootsie had to wrap them up too?) Life Savers has been available in 5 flavors since 1935 with 14 donut-shaped candies in each roll. (Does anyone know what happened to the candy donut hole?)
Talk about hype! The name of this next candy was coined to encourage kids to be smart and get an education. Edward Dee emigrated from England to New Jersey in 1949. There he began to manufacture his pressed sweet and sour slices in an old pellet factory from the Second World War, of all places. He called them “Smarties”. Billions, yes, billions are made every year. But does anyone know someone who has gotten smarter just by eating them?
At this point, does it seem like the finger of candy-eating guilt should be on immigrant Europeans? Should Ellis Island have welcomed her with open arms? Or rejected them?
Another case in point: British soldiers turned chocolate into an American national desire during World War I. (See what I mean? That’s where Europeans are going again!) The British troops ate cans of King George Chocolates with their daily ration. This got the US Army’s Quartermaster Corps for thought. Wouldn’t chocolate be both energy and morale boosters for our troops? So what did the quartermaster do other than start asking (flattering? Begging?) American pastry chefs to donate £ 20 chocolate blocks 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 dough boys returned home with an insatiable need for chocolate!
(Let me add a personal note here. During our decades in the military, I have eaten stacks of packaged C rations. They each contained a tiny pack of 5 cigarettes. Although a soldier did not smoke, he nonetheless got into the camaraderie of the whole Lighting up with his pals as well as cementing in his brain that every meal always ended with a cigarette! Think about it.)
In stark irony, during Prohibition (1920-33), when alcohol was not yet legally available, chocolate became a substitute for the Devil’s Drink. No surprise there. Like alcohol, chocolate raised moods and made people feel better. It still does, although now you can swallow every bite with a hefty dash of gin without restrictions. How blessed are we!
Later, the chocolate was combined in the boxed Field Ration D meals as a 4 ounce, 600 calorie bar that could withstand heat and keep a starving GI alive. It is estimated that more than 3 billion bars were shipped to military personnel around the world during this war.
In 1991, during Operation Desert Storm, approximately 144,000 Hershey Desert Bars were sold to troops in the Middle East. They have been formulated to become fudgy instead of melting at high temperatures. The troops loved them. Then, just like that, Hershey discontinued the candy bar shortly after Desert Storm ended. (I wonder if they were upset that their chocolate treat was spelled “Desert” instead of “Dessert”? Does anyone know?)
The scariest thing about Halloween is that Americans buy an estimated 160 million pounds of Halloween candy each year. The average candy cache per child can reach up to 7,000 calories. And if that’s not enough to sign you up for a candy consultation, the cost of a measly silver amalgam filling is anywhere from $ 50 to $ 150. If you’d like your little trick or treater to have a personalized tooth-colored composite filling, do that for between $ 90 and $ 250. Then, if none of these paltry treatments are good enough for your angel, a single poured gold or china fill will cut family income by $ 250 to $ 4,500!
None of this is starting to tap into the weight gain. But then the argument would be, what do you mean, Peggy? Our disguised darlings get plenty of exercise by simply frolicking from house to house while carrying their heavily laden bags.
Boy, I sure sound like a grumpy! Like the only sweets I eat are sour grapes. Okay, okay, I’m sorry I had to spoil an absolutely fun day for you. So eat up! Happy Halloween! Chew … swallow … burp … (all with the background noise of the dentist’s drill.) Ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-chiiiiinnggg !!