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Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America (Harvest Book) Paperback – Bargain Price, April 4, 2005
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With the aptly named Almond (don't even think of bringing up the Almond Joy bit--coconut is Almond's kryptonite), obsession is putting it mildly. Almond loves candy like no other man in America. To wit: the author has "three to seven pounds" of candy in his house at all times. And then there's the Kit Kat Darks incident; Almond has a case of the short-lived confection squirreled away in an undisclosed warehouse. "I had decided to write about candy because I assumed it would be fun and frivolous and distracting," confesses Almond. "It would allow me to reconnect to the single, untarnished pleasure of my childhood. But, of course, there are no untarnished pleasures. That is only something the admen of our time would like us to believe." Almond's bittersweet nostalgia is balanced by a fiercely independent spirit--the same underdog quality on display by the small candy makers whose entire existence (and livelihood) is forever shadowed by the Big Three: Hershey's, Mars, and Nestle.
Almond possesses an original, heartfelt, passionate voice; a writer brave enough to express sheer joy. Early on his tour he becomes entranced with that candy factory staple, the "enrober"--imagine an industrial-size version of the glaze waterfall on the production line at your local Krispy Kreme, but oozing chocolate--dubbing it "the money shot of candy production." And while he writes about candy with the sensibilities of a serious food critic (complimenting his beloved Kit Kat Dark for its "dignified sheen," "puddinglike creaminess," "coffee overtones," and "slightly cloying wafer") words like "nutmeats" and "rack fees" send him into an adolescent twitter.
...the Marathon Bar, which stormed the racks in 1974, enjoyed a meteoric rise, died young, and left a beautiful corpse. The Marathon: a rope of caramel covered in chocolate, not even a solid piece that is, half air holes, an obvious rip-off to anyone who has mastered the basic Piagetian stages, but we couldn't resist the gimmick. And then, as if we weren't bamboozled enough, there was the sleek red package, which included a ruler on the back and thereby affirmed the First Rule of Male Adolescence: If you give a teenage boy a candy bar with a ruler on the back of the package, he will measure his dick
Candyfreak is one of those endearing, quirky titles that defy swift categorization. One of those rare books that you'll want to tear right through, one you won't soon stop talking about. And eager readers beware: It's impossible to flip through ten pages of this sweet little book without reaching for a piece of chocolate. --Brad Thomas Parsons --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
That said, you can't help but laugh outright at the sugar-fanaticism of a man who gets faint with joy witnessing the birth of chocolate bunnies and is rendered speechless at the thoughtless waste of even one piece of chocolate, recalling, "I stood there in a cloud of disillusionment...I'm someone who has been known to eat the pieces of candy found underneath my couch."
Goaded by the disappearance of his adored Caravelle bar, Almond (yes, he talks about the name) tours independent candy companies (read: anyone other than Mars, Nestle, or Hershey) to, "chronicle their struggles for survival in this wicked age of homogeneity, and, not incidentally, to load up on free candy."
The best laughs are all in the first five chapters. I giggled, chuckled and guffawed my way through the author's confessions of freak-like candy-hoarding, reveling in the kind of sweet self-effacing wit only a candy junkie could muster.
From there, it's mostly an historical tour of the four candy companies he visited, fascinating and richly detailed, yet interspersed with progressively more disturbing moments of personal crisis. At one point the author himself notes, "I realize that I am oversharing," a phrase that, in a work of humor especially, should be immediately followed by the words, "so I'll quit while I'm ahead." No such luck.Read more ›
In Candyfreak, Almond parlays his own obsession with chocolate into a quest to seek out the sources and practices of today's chocolate confection, as well as to learn about the forces that have overwhelmed the artistry and pluck of individual chocalatiers into the mechanized behemoth of American mass culture. Throughout, Almond tempers his political urgencies with his own disarming awe and glee at the industry and its products, and he also deals with unfolding family tragedies. His grandfather is dying, while at the same time Almond realizes his lifelong zeal for chocolate both saved his life and "broke his spirit." If it sounds like too much to cram in, perhaps you've not read Almond's ambitious book of sort stories, My Life in Heavy Metal, a book that will give you faith in Almond's ability to multi-task, regardless of genre.
Almond's prose packs a sensory wallop at all times. It is also candid, direct, and muscular- he wastes no space. Because of his economy, his writing is akin to the best candy: all good stuff, no fill or the useless air that puffs up the wretched Three Musketeers bar. When he rattles off the names of regional candybars now gone to mass marketers, he says their names are "incantatory poetry." When he says he doesn't like coconut, he says it's like "chewing on a sweetened cuticle." The writing says it: candy, chocolate in particular, for Almond is a passion, a "freak." And like all freaks, Almond has his rage, and the loss of a particular candybar, the Caravelle, and his subsequent despondency and rampage after any sign of it led him to consider the book.
Almond meditates on the sources of his "freak," including its lineage.Read more ›
If you're looking for a straight-up, just-the-facts book about candy, clearly this isn't the book for you, nor does Almond intend it to be. If you're looking for vibrant, edgy, witty writing and sharp, sometimes controversial insights, then it is. In other words, if you don't feel like thinking or being challenged a little (ouch! ouch!) don't buy the book!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Really an enjoyable trip through the places of fantasy and dreams! I've been seeking out several of the candies Steve mentioned in the book, and found most of them to be worth... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Valorie Bond
I enjoyed learning about no longer made candies, small candy makers, & candy freaks. Well-written, but somewhat too autobiographical.Published 5 months ago by Howard Guthermann
I enjoyed this look back at some of the candy I remember and some I had never heard of. Interesting.Published 5 months ago by Lisa W.
Some very interesting stuff here about the invention, history, growth and eventual domination of the candy industry by the giant corporations. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
Made me crave chocolate the whole time I was reading it! Great book.Published 6 months ago by A&EMOM
Now I Know What Happened to some of my Favorite Candy Companies.....when I was a kid in the early 1960s, I could find some of the coolest candy that a decade or so later seemed to... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Tilly
reminded me of my childhood obsession with candy. I LOVE STEVE ALMOND!!!Published 6 months ago by Margaret J Kirwin
Fun read. Writing was good. If you enjoy enjoy candy and manufacturing history this is a good book for you.Published 6 months ago by Sharon S. Hanna
Weird book. Who knew all this about candy and how can he eat so much?Published 7 months ago by Joanne D. Dale