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Candy Fun

More CandyNow all this cotton candy is fine and dandy, but we mustn't forget about those other tantalizing candies long forgotten - or maybe not forgotten? Let's see if you can guess this first one - it's covered in caramel, sometimes nuts or small candies and is eaten from a stick or popsicle stick. If you said caramel apples, you're correct! Caramel apples have been a favorite for many years, despite the sometimes difficult task of keeping one's face from getting sticky. The best part about these is that despite the outer covering of caramel and candies or nuts, the inside is still just a plain, healthy apple. A perfect treat for the kids. Caramel apples are simple to make - in fact, the easiest way is to buy some individually wrapped caramels (about a 14 oz bag), get about 2 tablespoons of milk, 6 apples and 6 popsicle sticks. Just put the sticks into the bottom of the apples, near the core. Put the milk and caramels into a bowl and microwave for 2 minutes, stirring only once. Let it cool, but not too long. Then roll the apples in the caramel until they're evenly coated. You can also optionally roll the apples into nuts or small candies (such as Nerds).

Nearly everyone has had taffy - or "salt water taffy" as it was originally called. You'll be vastly relieved to know that it's really not made from salt water, in fact the only salt it contains is about a teaspoon in a batch.
Maybe you'll be surprised to learn that this candy had become a craze in Atlantic City (thanks to Joseph Fralinger) during the late 19th century. This craze caught the attention of Enoch James who gave Fralinger a bit of competition, thus starting a "taffy war" in Atlantic City. The two eventually made a company of sorts - James' and Fralinger's.

Popcorn anyone? Popcorn has been around for many centuries but didn't get popular until 1890. About this time, popcorn began to bring in enough of an income to make it worth growing. Until this point, individual families had grown their own, or bought from neighbors. Caramel corn though became popular at the World's Columbia Exposition, held in Chicago of 1893. Two brothers (Frederick and Louis Rueckheim) decided to cover popcorn in molasses - "candied popcorn and peanuts." It eventually evolved to be Cracker Jack. Adding to the light-hearted nature of this tasty treat, prizes are in every box - in fact, their slogan was "A prize in every package." I'm sure some of you remember getting a box of Cracker Jacks just for the prize inside - I know I begged my mom to get me a box. I think I ended up with a spinning top or something silly in that box.

Have you ever puzzled over those strange peanut shaped marshmallow-like candies that are orange? Chances are that you aren't the first to do so - nor the last. Circus peanuts are a baffling thing and many can't figure out why they're even still around, and more to the point, who likes these things? They were invented in the 1800's as a seasonal candy at penny stores. Beyond that, however, nobody knows much about them. What's more, is that people can't decide whether they taste better soft or stale, nor can they figure out why they're orange but banana flavored. They're a simple thing to make though - merely sugar, gelatin, corn syrup and artificial flavor. Whatever your opinion on these bizarre things, the circus peanut remains one of the most mysterious candies around - you simply have to try one, it's almost as if they compel you to do so!

Jelly beans. Oh, jelly beans! What exactly is a jelly bean you may ask? I've been asking myself that question for many years, among others, and I never got the urge to find out until recently. Well, to put it simply, there's a bunch of odd things including sugar, corn syrup, food starch, beeswax (or carnauba wax) and flavoring/coloring, each dependent on what flavor and color you'd like for your jelly bean to be. No amount of searching would provide me with a recipe for this Easter confection. Though you can find a fair amount of "recipes" for Jelly Belly jelly beans - like mixing two flavors together to create a new flavor. For example, pop a cotton candy flavored jelly bean and a lemon flavored one and you'll end up with pink lemonade!

Last but not least, licorice. Yes, licorice. They make handy straws, but what is it really? In truth, licorice is actually a root - a very sweet root. Some say it's 50 times sweeter than sugar, others say it is 150 times sweeter than sucrose. Licorice is sweet due to a certain molecule called glycyrrhizic acid. A large number of non-candy items contain licorice, such as medicines, herbal supplements, gum, drinks, tobacco and cough syrups. The technical name for licorice is Glycyrrhiza glabra and is found in many European, Middle Eastern and western Asian countries. The acid comes from the roots of a woody-rooted plant that has feathery leaves and light blue-violet flowers. If made on a smaller scale, licorice is made by filling molds with corn starch and then a hot syrup containing the licorice is poured in and allowed to cool. After that, it's given a glaze and packaged. For larger scale production, a process called rope extrusion is used. In this method, the extract is boiled with other ingredients until it reaches the correct temperature, then color and flavor is added and cooked slowly until it's dough-like. Then it is placed into an extruder and forced out of tiny holes, producing a rope of licorice.

Written by : Linda Fri, 11 Aug 2010

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