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Sweet Tooth: The Bittersweet History of Candy Hardcover – May 22, 2012

3.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


(Kate Hopkins) is looking for Mr. Goodbar with a vengeance. - Wall Street Journal

“Kate Hopkins is excellent company – witty, self-deprecating and intensely curious – as she travels through Europe and the United States in search of the story of candy. Packed with nuggets of fascinating history, it is also a gentle chew on the nature of growing up and a search for her eleven-year-old self, who equated sugar with love and lived for the innocent pleasure of a sweet treat. Hopkins is not afraid to address the darker side of sugar's history, nor the bland hegemony and cynical marketing of today's mega-corporations – Cadbury World in England is like ‘an ecstasy trip gone horribly wrong' - but she is still at heart unashamedly and infectiously in love with candy.” ―Matthew Parker, author of The Sugar Barons and Panama Fever

“Kate Hopkins's scrumptious first-person account of her pilgrimage to resolve a midlife crisis by replicating her childhood candy consumption is served alongside her research into the surprising and often bitter history of candy. Hopkins's post-journey epiphany: Adulthood is when one has the money but has lost the desire to buy every candy in the shop. Sweet Tooth is illustrated throughout with Kate's Candy Bag sidebars, which describe and rate other treats against York Peppermint Patties: for example 1 York Peppermint Patty is equal to 1 Cadbury Egg but 1,645 black licorice jelly beans. Sweet Tooth indeed!” ―Elizabeth Abbott, author of Sugar: A Bittersweet History

“A pleasing chronology of candy through the ages.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“The author's track record as a stand-up comedian serves her well, producing good-humored, but never flip, comments.” ―Booklist

“The worldwide tour is great fun, and it is a delight to read her funny, self-deprecating reports. You can read her book, learn some important world history, and wonder at some very fancy or very plain candies. You won't risk a single cavity or gain a pound, unless (and this is a true risk) you find Hopkins's enthusiasm contagious.” ―The Columbus Dispatch

About the Author

Kate Hopkins's food blog The Accidental Hedonist has been named one of Time Magazine's 50 Coolest Websites. She is the author of 99 Drams of Whiskey and lives in Seattle, Washington.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (May 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312668104
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312668105
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,142,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
This book is as much a memoir and a travelogue as it is a history of candy, and isn't quite satisfying as any of the three. The book frequently feels like it is somehow digressing from itself, as the author goes from style to style. The tone veers from scholarly to conversational, from fact to opinion (and occasionally to wild conjecture almost presented as fact, as when Hopkins speculates about why something was done in 1830, and then refers to her conjecture as "evidence"). She could also be quite repetitive, pressing a joke about Palermo's traffic laws being more like guidelines into service repeatedly, repeating sentences verbatim from her main text to her "Candy Bag" side bars, sometimes on the facing page. It would be more accurate to say that this is the author's bittersweet history of her relationship with candy, perhaps, than to describe this as a history of candy in general. She frequently discusses her exploration of candy as a quest for a lost innocence or bliss from childhood, sometimes in terms that were bordering on the self-indulgent. (And the last chapter feels oddly like a commercial for her local chocolate manufacturer.) The book is not without its charms, but a bit like black licorice, I suspect this book is not to everyone's taste.
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Format: Hardcover
The old advice is that you grow up and you are to put away childish things. Journalist and food blogger Kate Hopkins bought into this. She was a fiend for candy when she was a kid, but as you age your view of candy is supposed to change. "No longer is it representative of the happiness that life can bring you," she writes in _Sweet Tooth: The Bittersweet History of Candy_ (St. Martin's Press). "Now it represents the unhealthy, the immature, and the gluttonous." She found that her definition was coming correct: "Adulthood is when one has the means to buy every candy in the shop but no longer has the desire to do so." Fortunately for her, and for her readers, her means of getting her midlife crisis behind her was to travel and research the history of candy. A friend is incredulous, saying, "So you're going to travel the world, claiming you're studying the history of candy, but instead you're using it as an excuse to do a yearlong Halloween?" She does get to binge on some fancy candies, and some Halloween-bag standards, and some historic sweets, and even readers who don't want to admit how much they themselves would enjoy such indulgence will enjoy the witty, wide-eyed report of this binge and the travelogue with its historic views of the sometimes unsavory candy story.

The ancient Egyptians may have combined nuts or seeds with honey, but there is no evidence of sugar making until around 500 AD. Naturally, the history of candy is closely linked to the history of sugar, and Hopkins does not skip reflections on the darkest part of this history, slavery. Not only was there a slave problem centuries ago, but we continue the problem today with that other irresistible treat, chocolate.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Charming narrative of a personal quest into why we love the sweetest substance of all. From childhood delight to the polictical heritages of slavery and exploration, this book doesn't sugar coat its subject, it infuses it with rememberance, lost childhood, and adult temptations.
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