One of the funniest passages in “True Confections,” featured on the nightstand a few months back, concerned the disastrous introduction of a white-chocolate product to a small, family-owned candy company’s long-established line. It begins with a candy trade-show encounter with the products of Green & Black, a chocolatier of which I’d never heard.
The author, Katharine Weber, throws in a lot of real candy brands in the course of her story, I assume for verisimilitude. But the line at the center of it is entirely fictional, so I wasn’t sure about Green & Black. I eat plenty of chocolate, but until recently — until reading “True Confections,” in fact — I have stayed away from most candy bars. It’s a terrible vice for a stuck, non-smoking writer to be near vending machines, and I overindulged when I still had an office job. Of course I make exceptions for the usual Halloween/Easter events. Not to do so would be wrong.
But I’ve discovered what probably everybody does, eventually — two or three squares of really good dark chocolate is more satisfying after a meal than a piece of cake, and has fewer calories, too.
Anyway, the “True Confections” narrative goes on at some length about Green & Black’s white chocolate bar. Rapturous length, in fact — its texture and strong vanilla flavor and so on. And so, last week, when we stopped for the night in Toronto en route to Montreal, I had the strongest possible endorsement fresh in my memory when I stopped in to a little grocery in search of a newspaper and found a checkout display of Green & Black chocolate bars. They exist! They come in a million different flavors! And there, right there in front of me, was the storied white-chocolate variety. Newspaper forgotten, I snatched up a 100-gram bar and tucked it into my purse.
We didn’t eat it until the next day. But it didn’t last long. It was too irresistible, too easy to break off square after square, place it on your tongue, and let its creamy vanillatude melt in your mouth. Weber points out that too much white chocolate is chalky and overly sweet, but this had just the right proportions of everything.
I saved the label and hit the website when we got home, and was amazed to discover it’s available at Kroger, Target, Meijer and other run-of-the-mill stores. Where have you been all my life, Green & Black? When I visited Target, I learned where: Hiding behind the better-known Lindt and Godiva and Ghiradelli, that’s where. Target only had two varieties, the original dark and the newest — peanut. My guess is, G&B doesn’t have the cash for big-time slotting fees at places like Kroger. My search will go on, and I believe I’ll only have to travel as far as the nearest gourmet grocery.
Meanwhile, while we’re talking books and things I didn’t know about until recently, I have to say that until the ridiculous and widely mocked trailer for Glenn Beck’s new “book,” I didn’t even know such a thing existed — trailers for books, that is. Excerpts, sure. Not videos. So I apologize for being late to the party, but it’s a pleasure to offer this one, for Laura Lippman’s own upcoming release, “I’d Know You Anywhere:”
The book doesn’t drop (as the hip-hopper say) until August 17th, but I just spent some Amazon bucks to pre-order it through my store, Nance’s Kickback Lounge, and if you’re planning to do the same, well, I thanks you.
Now I have Laura’s and Martin Cruz Smith’s new novels to look forward to in August. Get outta my way, other lazy bums.
Christopher Hitchens has cancer. Sad news for anyone, and the second throat-area cancer diagnosis I’ve heard this week, the other being Mike Harden, my former Columbus Dispatch colleague and, like Hitchens, another long-time smoker. Smoking is only one risk factor for esophageal cancer, which Hitchens has. Another is drinking, two activities Hitchens has excelled at for years. I know he’s unpopular in many lefty circles, but let’s not go there, OK?
Alan is perplexed by this story, and wants someone to explain it to him. As near as he can tell, it’s about a hipster doofus who decorates axes and sells them to other hipster doofuses, and if there’s more to it than that, please send up a flare.
We haven’t had an OID (only in Detroit) story for a while, so here’s one: The acting superintendent, the woman who blew the whistle on the board president for fondling himself in front of her during their meetings, didn’t have her contract renewed. But the board president was charged. For “misconduct in office.” I’ll say.
And with that, it’s off to work. A good one to all.
judybusy said on July 1, 2010 at 11:24 am
I am very happy for you to have discovered G and B! I usually shun white chocolate, but will now have to seek theirs out…
Another truly amazing chocolate company is Theo Chocolate, based in Seattle. They are sold at Whole foods in MI. While the bars are good, one must go to Seattle for the boxes of small squares. A friend brought some back recently, and I made a gift box of 12 last nearly two weeks, because they’re that good and you wouldn’t want to waste them by gorging. I did not share very well with my other half, either, although I took pity on her and let her have a bite of the last caramel one. They also do a tour of their production space; they’re one of the few American companies that make their own chocolate from scratch.
moe99 said on July 1, 2010 at 11:28 am
Sorry to hear of the throat cancer diagnosis for Hitchens. Treatment will not be fun at all. And he should give up his smoking and drinking. But nicotine is the second most addictive substance next to heroin according to Dr. Weiss at UPA.
Oh, Judybusy, Fran’s Chocolates are also made here in Seattle from scratch and they are to die for as well. But for my money, Leonidas in Brussels is the tops. They have a mocha enrobed in white chocolate that is unequalled anywhere else. I used to treat myself to one after tough exams.
Bob (Not Greene) said on July 1, 2010 at 11:33 am
Axes starting at $100. The swankier ones are $200 and up. And and don’t forget the indispensable “axe sling” accessory. For $165. I’m sorry, but the axe sling is about the gayest thing I’ve seen in a while. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
LAMary said on July 1, 2010 at 11:35 am
moe! Another Leonidas fan. I had no idea. I used to rep Lindt and Tobler among other things in NYC. At the annual food and confection shows you’d see the other chocolate company guys from Switzerland, Germany, France heading over to the Leonidas booth for samples. Their chocolate is amazing.
Bob (Not Greene) said on July 1, 2010 at 11:43 am
Oh, and an OID-type story for those who live in Proviso Township, Illinois. Guess what town doesn’t have a vibrant local newspaper.
Dorothy said on July 1, 2010 at 11:49 am
Sad about Mike Harden. I met him last year when Mark Ellis brought him in to interview my boss. He’s a little guy – you can’t tell that from the headshot in the Dispatch.
Speaking of chocolate my husband bought a candy bar from a co-worker last week, a brand we used to have to sell at school when we were growing up: World’s Finest. Far from it. The damn bar looks like it’s shrunk. It resembles a pencil more than a candy bar. I gave it to someone in the office.
Little Bird said on July 1, 2010 at 12:07 pm
Uh-oh, I think I’ve seen that axe somewhere before. From what I’ve been told, it’s supposed to be very well made.
coozledad said on July 1, 2010 at 12:12 pm
I don’t know what a paint job does for an axe, unless you want to paint it yellow so you can find it in the leaf mold, in the woods. It’s hard to find decent axes at a big box store. A properly forged one will set you back a bit, but an Iltis or Gransfors Bruks is well worth it. They’ll take a razor edge, and they’re beautifully made:
Nancy: Green and Black makes a tasty dark chocolate ice cream. We used to order it by the case, but the distributor dropped it.
LAMary said on July 1, 2010 at 12:22 pm
That axe story seemed a little bullshitty to me. I’m too old to find it charming.
moe99 said on July 1, 2010 at 12:30 pm
Okay the Nashville attorney who sent this, swears it is true:
Filed in federal court in Nashville:
Dolly Parton dba Dollyworld; Jonathan Lee Riches
6/29/2010 3:10-cv-00631 Echols
Civil rights action. Plaintiff Madoff used to date defendant Dolly Parton before he was convicted of financial fraud and is terrified of defendant “Theft Kingpin Jonathan Lee Riches”, Parton’s current boyfriend. He is scared because Riches “put a prison hit out on me to silence me from showing intimate pictures of me and Dolly Parton shaving each other at the Penthouse in Embassy Suites.”
Kevin said on July 1, 2010 at 12:33 pm
As near as he can tell, it’s about a hipster doofus who decorates axes and sells them to other hipster doofuses, and if there’s more to it than that, please send up a flare.
No flare. That sort of thing is le dernier cri precisely in the neighborhoods you would expect to find it (Williamsburg/Park Slope on the East Coast, Portland on the West). There’s a subgenus of hipster doofi who affect Grizzly Adams beards and other trappings of the outdoorsman, which seems to make them feel better about working at an ad agency.
Here — decide which of these five gentlemen is the most insanely pretentious:
nancy said on July 1, 2010 at 12:44 pm
Wow. That’s a hard distinction to make. Since we were discussing Tom McGuane here recently, I am reminded of a line from one of his books, in describing a man with a ridiculous beard not unlike No. 1’s; the character wonders “how many women like something like that waving over their tits during sex.”
I notice the last guy says: “A beard is a bullshit filter. It keeps me from working at lame places and interacting with lame people.”
That’s one way of looking at it.
EDIT: I should add that I’ve never objected to beards on men, as long as its kept groomed; many men are quite fetching with one, and it’s the easiest way to hide a weak chin. But too many guys are like the ones in that story, and use them as an excuse to just dispense with daily grooming. No, no, no.
coozledad said on July 1, 2010 at 12:45 pm
Damn. That’s a tough call. I’ll go with Cincinnatus at 2, even though the Russian Orthodox priest at 1 looks like a probable roleplaying gnome.
prospero said on July 1, 2010 at 12:53 pm
God, I feel terrible. I called Hitchens something like a “neurasthenic creep” on this very site a couple of days ago. His politics and support of the Iraq invasion aren’t so much insupportable as they’re inexplicable. He’s always seemed too smart and cagy to be taken in by something as exceptionally crass as WBush hucksterism. The whole business of his deciding to buddy up with Paul Comblicker was a shock to me. Did y’all know that the PNAC didn’t even consider asking W to sign on? I think he would have embarrassed them. Jeb yeah, W not a chance. I despise Hitchens’ political anti-awakening but he’s a wonderfully cool and entertaining writer, even that bullcrap harping on religion, where his arguments are sadly lame. Esophogeal cancer is grotesque.
Bob, what in the world is a ‘swanky’ axe. It’s a tool. I admit to owning a 24 oz. Estwing ripclaw hammer, and I can drive a 16d nail in two whacks with that sucker, but ‘swanky’? I believe Estwing makes axes too.
coozledad said on July 1, 2010 at 12:54 pm
A man wearing a beard who tells you “a beard is a bullshit filter” has some problems with word selection.
Bob (Not Greene) said on July 1, 2010 at 1:03 pm
Swanky is what that guy makes. Check out the site. They’re made, as far as I can tell, not so much to actually cut wood but to hang on a wall or carry on your back in a $165 “sling.” Hell, you use that axe and it’d lose its glossy sheen and custom paint job in no time. Now the axes that cooze linked to — those are axes. Tools pure and simple. And they are really, really expensive. Way more than the art-axes. Actually, I have more of a problem with the art-axe slings. SLINGS??!! FOR AN AXE??? It’s sooooo Brooklyn hipster doofus.
nancy said on July 1, 2010 at 1:10 pm
I tried for a while, earlier this year, to hook up a phone interview with a Grosse Pointe kid who went on Colbert’s show (following a NYT Sunday Styles feature, natch) as an advocate of the caveman lifestyle. He blew me off three times, which is my limit, but I kept my Twitter follow on him, where he pimps his blogs on the subject. From what I can tell, he perfectly fits the ax-sling demo. Living in NYC, he advocates “barefoot running,” not only as a way to keep in caveman trim, but as a method of mindful, be-here-now awareness of one’s surroundings. The fact he can’t find a way to express this with even a note of humor tells me he’s absolutely serious about this bullshit, which essentially boils down to, as Colbert pointed out, a low-carb diet.
You should see his latest rant on the gourmet-cupcake trend. “A rich girl’s Twinkie!” I laffed and laffed.
BTW, he was not only educated at the Pointes’ finest private academy, he also went to Harvard. Where I’m guessing he did not work on the Lampoon.
LAMary said on July 1, 2010 at 1:17 pm
Running barefoot in NYC? That’s bad in so many, many ways.
Julie Robinson said on July 1, 2010 at 1:49 pm
Anyone else remember Fannie May candies? We always bought a box when we went into Chicago and then would each get to pick one out after dinner each night. My favorite was their vanilla creams, but since I was just a kid, I have no idea if they were really any good, or it was the association with being in the big city.
And what self control to buy a candy bar but not eat it until the next day! It wouldn’t happen around here, my friends.
I really loved True Confections and was excited to find Weber’s other books, but couldn’t make it through Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear. It was depressing. But I see she has three others so I’ll eventually give those a try.
Catherine said on July 1, 2010 at 1:50 pm
It seems wrong to defend World’s Finest Chocolate in the context of a discussion that includes Leonidas and Green and Black, but give me a windmill & I’ll tilt at it. If you’ve tasted it, you’ll know it’s better than Hershey’s and most of what Nestle fobs off on us in the US. It’s made in Chicago by a family-owned company, not some faceless multinational. They control much of their supply chain by growing some of their own cocoa beans. They’ve helped a lot of schools raise a lot of money. And if the bars have gotten smaller, it’s because the PTAs insist on having a “dollar bar” — that is, one that sells for $1. OK, rant over! And, give me sea salt caramels over chocolate, any day:
Dorothy said on July 1, 2010 at 2:00 pm
I do not mean to diss World’s Finest flavor, Catherine. Honestly it’s been years since I tasted it. I gave it away because I like chocolate that has something in the mix – pecans, caramel, cashews, that kind of thing. I just thought you would not expect to spend only a dollar on a candy bar and then expect it to be really, really good like the chocolates Nancy mentioned today.
Today’s treat for Dorothy: a small York peppermint patty is doing the trick.
Rana said on July 1, 2010 at 2:13 pm
You want barefoot running? I can give you barefoot running! Seriously, I’m one of the mods at a fan site for those toe shoes I linked to yesterday, and minimalist running is a buzz thing these days in the running community. Not all of them are full-on urban cavemen (and a few women) but running with minimal (or no) footwear is a growing trend.
Now the axe thing… *shakes head* I’m all for craftsmen and women getting paid for their work, and I love a well-crafted tool as much as anyone, as my collection of spindles will attest. It’s just that I can’t think that making tools for yutzes with delusions about “authenticity” to hang on their walls as some sort of hipster cred trophy is a good thing in the long run. I get that artisans can’t (and shouldn’t) compete with WalMart, but there’s a point where seeing good tools turned into art on plinths bothers me.
Tools should be used. They should get banged up, and sweat on, and dirt should be ground into the handles. Otherwise, they’re not actually tools, but fetish objects. Fetish objects for people who worship the “authentic” but who in the next breath disparage the “uncouth” people who use those tools for a living. It’s like the fashionistas who breathlessly coo over “homeless chic” but who find actual homeless people disgusting.
As for white “chocolate” – eh, I’ll pass. I like the dark stuff, especially the ones that have a bit of a fruity note.
Barbara said on July 1, 2010 at 2:17 pm
I don’t know if you have Hiller’s near you, but the one here in A2 carries a variety of G&B chocolates. Sometimes it even goes on sale, and then my husband buys 4 bars of White Chocolate at a time instead of 2.
Rana said on July 1, 2010 at 2:19 pm
Kevin – thanks for the reminder that there’s a West Coast variant of hipster to go with the Eastern one. I have no problem with a nicely trimmed beard – it’s hard to move in academic and outdoorsy circles without getting an appreciation for them – but those guys… Mossy old growth on the one hand, and froo-froo topiary on the other. Where are the neatly trimmed hedges?
Jean S said on July 1, 2010 at 2:19 pm
yeah, that’s Portland for you…or, as one of my neighbors recently said, “sometimes Portland’s too crunchy for words.”
I also shook my head over the axe story. It took up a fair piece of real estate in that section. I would have appreciated more pix of Mr. Jefferson’s garden (nice story by Anne Raver).
Snarkworth said on July 1, 2010 at 2:22 pm
Tools should be used. They should get banged up, and sweat on, and dirt should be ground into the handles. Otherwise, they’re not actually tools, but fetish objects.
Indeed, Rana. I get a similar vibe from vintage toys as collectibles. I understand purists wanting perfect specimens, but somehow a toy sealed in its original box, never touched by a child, makes me sad.
mark said on July 1, 2010 at 2:22 pm
Royce Chocolate. Sublime. I’ll be picking some up at Narita Airport in a few weeks, where you can also purchase cherry or green tea flavored Kit-Kats. Not so sublime but interesting novelty items.
paddyo' said on July 1, 2010 at 2:37 pm
Beardo #4: Is that a beard on his head, too? Beird!
In my mid-20s I let my beard go/grow for a while, but blanched when I realized I was starting to look like an Orthodox rabbi. Over the 30-some years since then, it has shortened, very gradually, to something approximated in my “Mad Men” gravatar, above. Same with the haircut. They seem to fit in OK today.
In my early ’30s, I accidentally trimmed too much one day and shaved it all off — and began regrowing the next day. My then-wife, who’d never seen me shaven, was creeped out. Said I looked like my older brother. Not a compliment.
Rana said on July 1, 2010 at 2:40 pm
paddyo’ – that sounds like our experience with my father and his mustache – he’d had it ever since I was an infant, but when I was a teenager he decided to shave it off. The whole family found it disconcerting, and he soon grew it back. He hasn’t shaved it off since that one time.
Jenflex said on July 1, 2010 at 2:43 pm
This is OT, but the link to Harden got me thinking…did you know Tom Fennessy, too? I would purely love to get a copy of that column he did about the guy who shattered to death in the cold waiting for a COTA bus.
I grew up about a half-mile from Mike H.’s house…what a great guy.
4dbirds said on July 1, 2010 at 2:48 pm
I prefer a beardless face. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’ve never been attracted to a man with a beard.
nancy said on July 1, 2010 at 3:09 pm
I did know Tom Fennessy, Jen, and I bet, if Kirk reads this, he could pull that column up from the electronic archive. Yet another example of readers, presented with an enormous, obvious joke, failing to get it.
prospero said on July 1, 2010 at 3:19 pm
Axes for dilettantes that require accessories like manpurse axe-cases and slings? Fuck me. What purpose do they serve that a saw doesn’t. Now, a maul, that’s a serious tool if you’re splitting logwood.
Now, that’s an axe. Anybody that decides to call herself an artisan? Sorry, have you got an autographed Gimli model? Rana understands tools and why we love them. They would usually end up with blood on them at some point if they’re used properly.
Y’all are truly hilarious and frighteningly obsessive on the subject of chocolate. If there aren’t caramel and nuts inside the chocolate and Snickers on the wrapper, I don’t get it. I use chocolate for mole, and I swear by Colorado Spice ground ancho and Abuelita Marquita. It’s from Nestle, which makes me cringe with embarrassment, but it dissolves easily in a little Dos Equis.
Beards? Have done. Shaving is annoying, but if you only shave downward and you look for a couple of hours of clean-shavenness, doesn’t even take two minutes. Mine comes in red, and my hair’s blonde. But really, enough about guys. How ’bout them lady beards?
My brother Mark was on the wrestling team at Detroit Country Day with Robin Williams. He’s funnier than Colbert. Robin Williams, that is, though I’m pretty sure my brother’s a lot funnier than Steve. An interview might be a possibility.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 1, 2010 at 3:23 pm
Snarkworth is a Toy Story 2 fan, no doubt.
MichaelG said on July 1, 2010 at 3:38 pm
I couldn’t get any farther than four paragraphs or so into that ax story.
My ex goes to Brussels every year to visit her mother. When we were still together she would bring home 12 lb of mixed pieces (you know, like you would see at Fanny Mae’s or See’s). We would put in the garage freezer and make it last for a year. Somebody else mentioned not sharing. We never told anybody that we had it nor did we share it. Evil us.
I can’t grow a beard. I suffer from “baby’s ass syndrome”.
LAMary said on July 1, 2010 at 3:46 pm
I don’t work for Lindt anymore, so this is a voluntary endorsement. Lindt white chocolate with coconut is pretty nice. I’m not a huge white chocolate fan but this one’s ok. I also like Lindt Milka and Lindt Berne.
Katharine Weber said on July 1, 2010 at 3:56 pm
Lindt uses vanillin in their white chocolate. Vanillin is a cheap artifical vanilla flavoring,and its presence always means a chemical taste. Most white chocolate tastes of vanillin.
Green & Black’s started small and while it continues to seem like the same company it has always been, the truth is that they are actually not too poor for slotting fees these days. Though they are managed well and give every indication of staying smallish and artisanal, the owners are Cadbury, which is to say, believe it or not, Kraft. So far, despite the corporate takeover and then again, the quality of G&B’s has been nicely maintained.
I appreciate your interest in my novels, especially this newest one!
nancy said on July 1, 2010 at 4:00 pm
I thought their website looked a little too slick for an artisanal, one-pot outfit.
Thanks for stopping by, K.W.
Snarkworth said on July 1, 2010 at 4:04 pm
Not yet, Jeff! I’ll catch it on TCM someday.
Jenflex said on July 1, 2010 at 4:27 pm
re: failing to get it. I know. I wasn’t even a teen yet, and I got it…great fun to watch the outraged adults and think how stupid they were. Sadly, just few years later, I was a too-earnest teen totally outraged by my 10th grade reading assignment: A Modest Proposal.
Karma, she is a bear….
prospero said on July 1, 2010 at 4:43 pm
Damn Nancy. I could swear a few days ago you expressed displeasure with the word “artisanal” as a product descriptor. I understand it’s a real word with a valid definition and a spot in the OED. But good grief, they put it on Kraft cheese (yech) and manufactured white bread. It is not long before somebody starts selling “artisanal” Gameboys
I read True North and liked it pretty much OK. But really, this guy isn’t even Edgerton-quality. He actually said “I’ve never felt influenced by Ernest Hemingway though I suppose there is something inevitable there.” No way I can conceive of. And why make some cloying connection between yourself and a the single most overrated writer that ever banged a Smith-Corona and think you’re aggrandizing your work? Really run of the mill. Oprah-ready. Comfy, no thinking required.
prospero said on July 1, 2010 at 4:48 pm
On the other hand, when he was asked about his career, Thomas Pynchon said “Hey, over here! Have your picture taken with a reclusive author! Today only, we’ll throw in a free autograph! But wait, there’s more!”
MarkH said on July 1, 2010 at 4:58 pm
Nancy, would you know how far back that electronic archive at the Dispatch goes? Or maybe I should wait for Kirk to check in? I have no copies of my contributions ’79 – ’81 and was just curious. Thanks.
Deborah said on July 1, 2010 at 5:25 pm
Where do I begin? This post hit home to me in a bunch of ways. First you can call me a doofus but a hipster, no way. I came across those Axes during the holidays in New Mexico and decided I want one for Christmas this year, and the wooden box too. What can I say? I’m a designer and it speaks to me. Just think of Marcel Duchamp and ready mades, not a urinal, or a bicycle wheel attached to a drafting stool or a chocolate grinder. Just a really pretty axe.
Second, I read True Confections and enjoyed it as I’ve mentioned here before. I’m currently doing some design work for Wrigley which was purchased by Mars recently. Wrigley owns Lifesavers, Skittles and Altoids as well as the many gum brands and other confections. I didn’t know that before I started this project. In fact I was just at the Wrigley Building today for a meeting. I always stock up on Doublemint while I’m there. Although they’ve changed the formula and it’s not as good as it used to be. Less sugar.
My ex had a trimmed beard and mustache, my husband is clean shaven. I prefer the clean shaven.
prospero said on July 1, 2010 at 6:04 pm
Mitch McConell and the GOP. At their best. Is there room for argument about this? Republicans, nutshell. Some of them are racists, but mostly it’s about greedy bastards who aren’t making the same scratch as the out of power party. GOPlutocrats are aiming to crash the American economy for selfish aims. Rush said a year ago they were going to do this, and it’s painfully clear they don’t give a shit who get’s hurt.
But how in the world does anybody, Teabagger or no, put up with this sort of shit? UnAmerican? Absolutely. Traitors? Certainly, but probably not prosecutable. Scumbags? Worst possible sort.
LAMary said on July 1, 2010 at 7:30 pm
I still like Lindt white with coconut.It’s not the best chocolate I’ve ever had by a longshot, but it’s not bad and I don’t have to hunt for it. And Rudy Sprungli gave me his Swiss Army Knife in 1980 so I feel a connection.
nancy said on July 1, 2010 at 7:37 pm
Just back from Kroger. No bloody Green & Black. Stoopid website.
Scout said on July 1, 2010 at 8:03 pm
Next time I’m in Target I’m heading for the candy aisle to check out B&G. Being from within spitting distance of Hershey PA, let me tell you that 95% of the locals avoid that plastic-y garbage like the plague. Wilbur Chocolate is a much better candy maker, located close by in Lititz, right near Lancaster. (LANKuster) Their Wilbur-buds put Kisses to shame. All that being said, the only chocolate that ever really tempts me is Belgian.
Deborah said on July 1, 2010 at 8:35 pm
I forgot to mention in my earlier comment that there is a fantastic chocolate scent that permeates the area around the Chicago River periodically. I’ve been told there is a chocolate flavor factory somewhere nearby where the smell wafts from. It’s heavenly.
Dexter said on July 1, 2010 at 8:48 pm
I remember having Green & Black, but it must have been long ago, because I can’t remember anything about the taste.
The best candy in the world is Rebecca Ruth. Dad’s boss stopped in Kentucky on his way back from Florida in the 1950s and picked up a box for his staff. Dad gave us a piece or two…I had no idea what bourbon was, but it surely made for the best candy when blended with chocolate. Holy Christ, what candy! I see it’s still made.
Dexter said on July 1, 2010 at 8:56 pm
Deborah…I remember reading about that, but I also must put in a plug for Tootsie Roll, pride of Chicago for years.
But that’s not what’s on my mind. When we had a retirement party at my old workplace, the folks who had transferred to our plant from central Indiana would bring baskets of Abbott’s Candies to share with co-workers. You ain’t never had buttery caramels like Abbott’s of Hagerstown, Indiana… heavenly.
Rana said on July 1, 2010 at 9:34 pm
Deborah – around here it’s mostly the smells from the Hills pet food plant. Occasionally we’ll get bakery-like odors from the nutritional cookie company, and there’s something in the north part of town that smells like frying potatoes.
When I lived in Northfield, Minnesota, I could tell when the wind was bringing a storm, because it would send the smells from the Malt-O-Meal plant past my apartment. Those were pretty pleasant – the maple flavored was the one I liked best.
A. Riley said on July 1, 2010 at 10:12 pm
Yep, Blommer’s chocolate factory perfumes the air in downtown Chicago whenever the wind is in the north, which it often is. Always a pleasant surprise to step out of an office building and encounter the scent of chocolate. 🙂
alex said on July 1, 2010 at 10:54 pm
When I lived in Chicago I remember an intense cocoa-powder smell emanating from somewhere near the intersection of Irving and Kedzie. Is that Blommer’s?
brian stouder said on July 1, 2010 at 11:05 pm
The pleasant smell of baking bread permeates downtown Fort Wayne, at different times (thanks to the aptly named Perfection Bakeries…or is it now Aunt Millies?)
moe99 said on July 2, 2010 at 12:18 am
The smell of chocolate was the first smell I encountered when I got off the train in Brussels in 1978, somewhere south of the city center. It was a marvelous introduction to the place.
Dexter said on July 2, 2010 at 12:26 am
I live five short blocks from Spangler Candy Company, home of Dum-Dum suckers and millions of candy canes. I’d wager every one of you has had a Spangler Dum-Dum or candy cane in your lifetimes. When they cook, it perfumes the town with a wonderful aroma , which makes me feel glad to be alive.
I also live three blocks from The Ohio Art Company, which used to be home to the world-famous Etch-A-Sketch, which I bet everyone of you has tried at least once.
They also made a Barbie Doll-spinoff called “Betty Spaghetti”.
All that stuff is made in China, now, of course.
It seems almost all our local industry has closed or is in danger of closing (a major factory closed just days ago), but the Dum-Dums just keeps rolling along.
And congratz to Kirk Gibson, who starred in football for Michigan State, and in baseball for the Detroit Tigers and LA Dodgers. He is now the interim manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks National League Baseball Club.
Denice B. said on July 2, 2010 at 12:39 am
I had a patient a while ago at the nursing home. Her daughter lives in California and gifted me with a box of See’s Chocolates. They are amazingly good. Mouth watering molasses crisps dipped in smooth chocolate. Raspberry truffles to die for. I thought I’d never get them again, but See’s now has a store in Novi. Glory days!!!
basset said on July 2, 2010 at 7:51 am
Mrs. Basset used to work near the Celestial Seasonings tea factory in Boulder and says it smelled wonderful.
being a four-shots-a-day insulin-dependent diabetic kinda cuts back on her chocolate tasting, though. she has lost 48 lb since her pancreatectomy at the end of March, went back to work this week though and is handling it well.
brian stouder said on July 2, 2010 at 8:29 am
Basset – excellent! I bet the life-affirming effect of simply going off to work did more good for her than any other medicine could
judybusy said on July 2, 2010 at 9:15 am
Good news for Mrs. Basset!
brian stouder said on July 2, 2010 at 10:06 am
No country for old men, indeed.
HERMOSILLO, Mexico — A massive gunbattle between rival drug and migrant-trafficking gangs near the U.S. border left 21 people dead on Thursday, prosecutors said. The clash occurred in a sparsely populated area about 12 miles from the Arizona border — a prime corridor for immigrant and drug smuggling….Sonora’s Attorney General’s Office said in a statement that nine people were captured by police at the scene of the shooting, six of whom had been wounded in the confrontation. Authorities at the scene found seven rifles. El Dario said after the fray police seized 19 high-powered weapons and 11 late-model vehicles.
4dbirds said on July 2, 2010 at 10:13 am
Glad to hear Mrs. Basset is feeling better. My daughter and I are both insulin dependant diabetics and although we love chocolate, we too must stay away from candy and other goodness.
Laura Lippman said on July 2, 2010 at 10:17 am
CANDY FREAK is a good read, too, for the candy-obsessed. And if you want to be amazed at the breadth of Weber’s powers as a novelist, go back for TRIANGLE. I’ve seen G&B in Whole Foods, I’m pretty sure and even Rite Aid. I switched to dark chocolate a few years ago and never looked back.
Meanwhile, I am tickled that it was here that my agent found my book trailer, which can only mean that my agent reads Nancy’s page before checking my Facebook page. Or else it came up on a Google alert.
brian stouder said on July 2, 2010 at 10:43 am
which can only mean that my agent reads Nancy’s page before checking my Facebook page. Or else it came up on a Google alert.
I vote for possibility #1!
An excellent trailer, by the way. If LL ever gets tired of writing, I think she could do voice-over work.
Listening to her describe her book, she highlights one specific detail (from the real series of news stories which inspired this book) that particularly struck her, and which becomes the central question within her new book. LL (somehow) conveys the genuine sense that she has worked and plumbed and explored and discovered – and now wishes to share. I look forward to snapping up her book, and with all due kick-backs paid (proper kick-backs being particularly important, since her book is set in Washington DC instead of Charm City)
LAMary said on July 2, 2010 at 11:05 am
My grandparents had a chocolate shop for years and the smell of chocolate was an everyday thing around our house. They made beautiful marzipan fruits and flowers as well.
The absolute best chocolate I’ve ever had was in Paris at a shop near the Paris Opera. They had whipped cream filled chocolates and even tea filled chocolates. I don’t remember the name of the shop but it was amazing.
Deborah said on July 2, 2010 at 11:15 am
LA Mary was it Christian Constant? That’s the one I remember in Paris.
LAMary said on July 2, 2010 at 11:30 am
Might have been, Deborah. I wish I had written it down.
Katharine Weber said on July 5, 2010 at 8:07 pm
I spend a lot of time in Paris (we have an apartment), and I have to stick my oar in here just to say that Michel CHAUDUN, at 149,rue de Université (which is in the 7e and therefore is not the place near the opera, though I am not sure which opera house you mean), is one of the finest chocolatiers in Paris.
Jean-Paul Hévin has his followers, too.
David Lebovitz calls them the Goofus and Gallant of chocolate in Paris: