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Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure [Kindle Edition]

Samira Kawash
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $27.00
Kindle Price: $7.59
You Save: $19.41 (72%)
Sold by: Macmillan

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Book Description

For most Americans, candy is an uneasy pleasure, eaten with side helpings of guilt and worry. Yet candy accounts for only 6 percent of the added sugar in the American diet. And at least it’s honest about what it is—a processed food, eaten for pleasure, with no particular nutritional benefit. So why is candy considered especially harmful, when it’s not so different from the other processed foods, from sports bars to fruit snacks, that line supermarket shelves? How did our definitions of food and candy come to be so muddled? And how did candy come to be the scapegoat for our fears about the dangers of food?

In Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure, Samira Kawash tells the fascinating story of how candy evolved from a luxury good to a cheap, everyday snack. After candy making was revolutionized in the early decades of mass production, it was celebrated as a new kind of food for energy and enjoyment. Riding the rise in snacking and exploiting early nutritional science, candy was the first of the panoply of "junk foods" that would take over the American diet in the decades after the Second World War—convenient and pleasurable, for eating anytime or all the time.

And yet, food reformers and moral crusaders have always attacked candy, blaming it for poisoning, alcoholism, sexual depravity and fatal disease. These charges have been disproven and forgotten, but the mistrust of candy they produced has never diminished. The anxiety and confusion that most Americans have about their diets today is a legacy of the tumultuous story of candy, the most loved and loathed of processed foods.Candy is an essential, addictive read for anyone who loves lively cultural history, who cares about food, and who wouldn’t mind feeling a bit better about eating a few jelly beans.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In an extended work of thoroughgoing research without any strong polemic, Kamash (Dislocating the Color Line) traces the evolution of perceptions about candy in the American diet, from rare treat to sin to food. Since sugar, rather than fat, is now largely considered the dietary fiend, a whole host of conceptions about candy foisted on the public by marketing, advertising, and media since the early 20th century are being reversed. Kawash walks the reader through candy's changing fortunes, from the manufacturing innovations at the beginning of the last century, from the addition of the starch mogul, an automated machine that allowed candy makers to create ever more fascinating confections to the use of chemists in order to perfect flavors, to the enlistment of snazzy advertising themes that enticed people to see sugar as energy food (the calorie was the best thing that ever happened to candy) and good slimming fun. Yet some complained of candy's deleterious influence on children and women, who were considered particularly vulnerable to its pleasures. In her proficient cultural study, Kawash looks at the manipulation of glucose, fructose, and creative derivatives of corn and soy in the ever-more-pervasive move toward processed foods, which blurs the definition of candy. Agent: Kirby Kim, WME. (Oct.)

From Booklist

*Starred Review* There’s more to candy than meets the eye (or taste buds). In this lively, engaging, and deliciously descriptive work, Kawash fills the gap left by culinary histories that don’t consider candy a food, revealing how the American mass production of candy in the twentieth century paved the way for the highly processed—and nutritionally problematic—foods we eat today. For a small, seemingly innocuous treat, candy has a turbulent history and much-maligned reputation. With gusto, the professor and author traces the effects of scientific, business, military, cultural, and domestic developments on candy: from the pervasive (and unfounded) perception of candy as a poisonous threat more than a century ago to its use as a military staple in the world wars and the truth about supposedly tainted Halloween treats. Advertisements, newspaper clippings, and more showcase some amusing and jaw-dropping misconceptions from the past. As nutritional understanding developed, and breaking foods into their nutrient components allowed manufactured foods to become more accepted, new products like sugar-coated cereal and snack bars kept the sweetness but dropped the candy label. Kawash makes a balanced case against accepting ultraprocessed foods at face value. With a helpful heaping of information in every verbal bite, this fascinating social and culinary history gives readers a deeper understanding of the powerful forces at work behind the brightly colored wrappers. --Bridget Thoreson

Product Details

  • File Size: 11596 KB
  • Print Length: 428 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Reprint edition (October 15, 2013)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00C74OXV4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #266,176 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Treat or Trick? October 20, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Unlike actual candy, this book was quite substantial. I was expecting something like Steve Almond's Candyfreak from about ten years ago, in which he reminisced about his favorite candies from childhood and investigated their origins and and histories. It was a personal account, bolstered by some research and social history and was entertaining.

Samira Kawash doesn't indulge in her own memories of candies past. Instead she spends much of the book examining the history of candy in America, from its beginnings in the 19th century to the present. Advertising, wartime, social vices, nutrition, holidays, and the Depression, all through the lens of candy, and with plenty of endnotes and bibliography to back it up. In many cases, she discovers that the more things change, the more they stay the same. A hundred years ago, advertisers encouraged busy people to eat a candy bar for lunch for energy and nutrition, and a great bargain as well. But an ad campaign that wouldn't fly these days was the one from the 1930s that encouraged people to light up a cigarette to keep from snacking on fattening candy.

In addition to history, Kawash investigates the sticky question of what is the difference between candy and food. Marshmallows are generally considered candy, but what about cereal that has marshmallow bits in it? Or fruit roll-ups that are mostly sugar but contain a little fruit? Power bars that contain mostly sugar, fat, and salt, but also provide a little protein? She argues that it matters what we call these foods, and cites evidence that even when people know the ingredients of their snacks, they eat more of it when it's labeled as fruit snacks rather than candy.

Despite its sometimes serious tone, Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure, is a fascinating book and a lot of fun.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Takes all the fun out of candy March 11, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
I feel a little bit mislead about this book, because the dust jacket promised a "fascinating story" and what I got was a business school textbook about the growth and development of the candy industry. It's a very detailed, very comprehensive look at candy, nutrition, and public perceptions of food, but it's not a very fun read, and I struggled to finish it. Eating candy may be fun, but reading about it in this book felt like studying for a term paper.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read! October 15, 2013
This book is a great book for any candy-lover and really for anyone who loves food and loves to read about food. Kawash provides all the answers to questions that have cropped up in my mind over the years as I bit into a chocolate bar or deliberated whether or not to allow my children to eat cotton candy at the circus. I highly recommend this sweet book!
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent, Well-Researched Read May 28, 2014
Kawash does an amazing job setting the stage for the current trends we have in our food markets. She parallels our obsession with nutrition (in the form of Clif and Luna bars) with the "good for you" candy bar obsession of the 1910s and 1920s. Kawash is an accessible writer, given to moments of humor and silliness. She is definitely worth a read.
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Finally! Samira Kawash has written a long-overdue book, showing that candy is not just a fun and pleasurable indulgence but a significant part of American social, economic, industrial, gender, and cultural history. Historians for too long have overlooked candy and its role in American history. Kawash's lively and well-researched book takes candy out of the realm of nostalgia and gives it the analysis it deserves, revealing it to be twice as fascinating and much more deeply significant than as you thought it was. What a great book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good February 9, 2014
By maggie
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book was pretty good. Kind of dry and tough to get through at some points. I would even call it somewhat academic. Otherwise pretty good, I would recommend it.
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