Saturday, October 30, 2004
Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America - Steve Almond
Homer: "Got any of that beer that has candy floating in it? You know, Skittlebrau?"
Apu: "Such a beer does not exist, sir. I think you must have dreamed it."
Homer: "Oh. Well, then just give me a six-pack and a couple of bags of Skittles."
Candy seems like an apt topic around Halloween and Steve Almond's Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America is a saliva-inducing, hedonistic choclate voyage.
The aptly named Almond is, to be blunt, unhealthily obsessed with candy and Candyfreak is his own personal analysis of his bonbon fixation, from early childhood onwards, culminating in his cross-country trip to visit the last of America's independent manufacturers and purveyors of cavity-inducing deliciousness.
Candyfreak is, at best, an uneven journey, albeit a well-written one, that slowly draws you into the author's fascination and passion for candy and choclate. At first, reading Almond's endless descriptions of a particular brand of sweets, you start to wonder what on earth he's carrying on about, but after reading a few, you actually start to slip into the same sugar-rushed fetish frenzy. After reading this book, every chocolate bar you munch on your way to work becomes a pause for thought and a brief attempt to try to capture some of the sheer joy he seems to find in this food.
Alas in the end Candyfreak is a good but fairly thin product, partially due to the relative dearth of independent candy manufacturers today and partially because the book seems to coast along in uneven spurts, without a real direction or culmination of his odyssey. In long run, Candyfreak is, like its subject matter, highly consumable, with some flavorful morsels that roll elegantly off the tongue, but once it is gone...well, the moment ends.
Interested in candy? There is a veritable smorgusboard of candy-related sits ont he Internet, enough to make every dentist able to retire to Key West...
For some of Almond's favorite objects of obsession, check out the Twin Bing, the Goo Goo Clusters, and the Idaho Spud.
Grab more candy here, here and here. Still hungry? Visit the CandyFreak site for a complete list of deliciousness...
My personal favorite candy - boring old chocolate M&M's - refrigerated, so that you can crack off the candy-coating in your teeth....