Storyworks - September 2015

How Candy Conquered America

Lauren Tarshis 2015-07-15 01:02:51

PAIR THESE ARTICLES WITH AN EXPERT INTERVIEW ONLINE! UP CLOSE Compare and contrast How have ideas about candy changed over the years? Think about this as you read. LOOK FOR WORD NERD’S 7 WORDS IN BOLD It was 1847, and for months Oliver Chase of Boston had been tinkering with a brand-new invention that would soon change America—and the world. Chase wasn’t really an inventor. He was a pharmacist; he sold medicines out of his small shop. Like most pharmacists at the time, Chase made his own remedies. His most popular medicines were lozenges, small round discs made of mashed-up herbs, chemicals, and other ingredients. People bought lozenges hoping to cure their sore throats, aching heads, and runny noses. These early medicines didn’t work very well. And they tasted disgusting, like dirt mixed with grass. So most lozenges were covered with a hard candy shell. Making lozenges was timeconsuming. Each one had to be shaped by hand like a tiny cookie. Chase’s invention was a handcranked machine that would let him quickly create large batches of lozenges that were all exactly the same size and thickness. He was thrilled with his lozenge machine. But it was his next idea that would make him famous: using his new invention to create lozenges that were just candy. Back in the early 1800s, candy was popular in Europe but extremely expensive in America. Only a few different kinds were available—clumps of tooth-busting rock candy, sticks of homemade peppermint, or sticky lemon drops. And even those were hard to find. Kids who craved sweets had to settle for dried fruits or puddings sweetened with molasses, a cheap syrup. But Oliver Chase was about to help put candy into the mouths of almost any American who longed for it. He named his new candies Chase Lozenges. The hard, quarter-sized sugar wafers were sold in stacks. The candy was an immediate hit. Sweet Treats for All Even more important to candy history was Chase’s lozenge-making machine, which was soon being sold all around the country. For the first time, American candymakers could produce sweet treats in large quantities and sell them cheaply in stores. Suddenly you didn’t have to be rich to afford chewy gum drops or a mouth-watering butterscotch. Stores sold dozens of different varieties of “penny candy.” Civil War soldiers carried candies in their pockets along with bullets and gunpowder. As the decades passed, steampowered candy machines replaced Chase’s hand-cranked roller. Companies competed fiercely to introduce new flavors and textures, like chewy jelly beans, waxy candy corn (known back then as “chicken feed”), gooey caramels, and fluffy marshmallows. Candymakers even sent spies to Europe to steal secret candy recipes and smuggle them back to America. The biggest candy breakthrough came in 1899, when a Pennsylvania candymaker named Milton Hershey figured out how to turn chalky and bitter cocoa into creamy milk chocolate bars. His Hershey’s Kisses and bars became best-sellers. Candy Bar Classics By the 1920s, Americans could choose from thousands of different kinds of candies of every imaginable size, texture, and flavor. Many classic chocolate bars and candies introduced nearly a century ago are still beloved today, including Milky Way, Milk Duds, Tootsie Rolls, and the world’s current No. 1-selling candy bar, Snickers. Far fewer kinds of candy are sold today than during candy’s “golden age” in the 1920s and 1930s. But we Americans still devour $33.6 billion worth a year. Candymakers have continued to dream up new kinds of candies to surprise and delight us. In the early 1980s, the first Gummi bears invaded America from Germany. Around the same time, candy scientists combined sugar with malic acid to create super-sour, mouth-puckering candies like Warheads. Today, chocolates are mixed with exotic flavors, like cayenne pepper and açai [ah-sah-EE] berry. And what about Chase Lozenges? America’s first machine-made candy survives, though its name was changed to Necco Wafers. They are still made in Boston, at a factory not far from the pharmacy where they were invented. In 2009, the makers of Necco decided to make them healthier. They removed all chemical flavorings and colors. Big mistake! Loyal customers were furious. Sales dropped by 35 percent. So the company returned to the original formula. Today, when you bite into a crunchy Necco Wafer, you are tasting candy history. INFORMATIONAL TEXT When Candy Was a Healthy Meal (Not really!) Imagine you’re a kid living in America in 1920, and your mom and dad are too busy to cook dinner. Instead, they serve you something that they are sure is just as healthy as a dinner of chicken and vegetables: a chocolate bar. Sounds a little crazy now. But as recently as the 1940s, many Americans believed that candy was as nutritious as a complete meal. A New Science Today, we understand that some foods are better for us than others. That oatmeal and fruit you wisely ate for breakfast was packed with vitamins and other nutrients. And those chewy candies stashed in your drawer? They are filled mainly with sugar. Even little kids understand that eating too much candy is unhealthy. But back in the early 1900s, the science of nutrition—the study of how foods affect the body—was new. People knew that food gave us energy. But the importance of vitamins was not well understood. Even many scientists believed that candy was just as good for us as steak and potatoes or fresh fish and broccoli. Candy companies wanted people to believe this. Ads for Milky Way suggested that each bar contained a glass of milk (not true). There was even a popular candy bar called Chicken Dinner (which, thankfully, did not contain chicken). Today, we know the dangers of eating too much sugar. And there are laws that make it illegal for companies to create advertisements that lie about their products. We still love candy. But most of us realize it’s best saved for dessert. COMPARE & CONTRAST How have people’s ideas about candy changed from the 1800s to today? Answer in two well-organized paragraphs, including details about what has caused people to change their ideas over the years. Use information from both texts.

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