Friday, June 03, 2005

I Want Candy... Candy Freak That Is

Regular THG readers are keenly aware that in the pages and pages of zine, web and e-mail posts, there is one topic that I show little or no interest in. And that topic is candy.

I don't have much of a sweet tooth and never really did. Sure, I like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup every now and then, but to drool over a candy counter display is as foreign to me as getting excited about a cricket match. Yeah, it's a sport, but who really cares?

I'm the same way with candy. It's food. (Kinda.) It's often colorful and bizarre. They even have funny names every now and then. But getting all excited about a new candy being introduced? What are you, high?

So it should come as a bit of a surprise that I devoured Steve Almond's (yes, that's his real name) funny and insightful book, CANDY FREAK, now out in paperback from Harcourt. It caught my eye while I was killing time in the Chicago airport recently, and since it was too early in the morning to start drinking I decided that I'd see if he could explain what I was missing.

Almond is exactly what the title describes... a candy freak. He admits to eating some type of candy every day of his life. He waxes poetic and gets a bit weird about regional candy bars and peanut clusters, probably the way people look oddly at me when I get all goofy about Klaus Kinski or really good barbecue.

Not unlike a book I read years ago about a nationwide trek to discover the last of the regional breweries, CANDY FREAK takes Almond across the country to visit the makers of such odd-sounding concoctions as Twin Bing, Idaho Spud and Valomilk. But more than a simple trip down memory lane, the book is an interesting -- and sometimes sad -- look at these small companies trying to carve out their niche in the cutthroat world of candy.

Like a bag of non pareils (my own candy craving as a kid), CANDY FREAK will be finished before you know it, yet you'll look back on it fondly.

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