Friday, October 30, 2009


Happy Halloween! A non-Staircasey post for the candy-laden occasion:

According to one of the dodgier surveys I have seen (not that I would ever be the one to say there's anything wrong with making up facts to enhance a story, but something tells me this one was planted by Hershey), you can strategize and optimize your trick-or-treating if you bear in mind that:

Houses with black shutters are 77 percent more likely to hand out Kit Kats.

Trick-or-treaters have a 37 percent greater chance of receiving a Kit Kat from a ranch house.

Those who prefer Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups should focus on ringing the doorbells of two-story houses.

Knock on brown doors if seeking chocolate. Trick-or-treaters have a 32 percent greater chance of receiving a Hershey’s Bar from homes with brown doors.

Meanwhile, in Maryland, Indiana, Illinois, and Louisiana, along with countless cities, towns, and counties across the country, registered sex offenders are required to display a "NO CANDY HERE" sign on their doors on Halloween. In True Confections (pub date is now eight weeks away), when the main character, Alice Ziplinsky, is assigned to the distribution of those signs, she doesn't follow instructions at all.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Why Are Milk Duds called Milk Duds?

Why are Milk Duds called Milk Duds? Yet another candy factoid I didn't know when I was writing True Confections. This new candy piece developed in 1926 by F. Hoffman in Chicago was supposed to be perfectly spherical, much like a malted milk ball, but each batch of the dense, milk chocolate covered caramels kept collapsing into misshapen lumps. They were duds. Say, they're made with a lot of milk, they're duds, let's call them Milk Duds!
Shortly after they were developed, Philo J. Holloway took over the company and called them Holloway's Milk Duds. In 1960 he sold out to Beatrice Foods. Leaf purchased the brand in 1986 and took over production, until a decade later, when Hershey, that great swallower of large and small candy brands, took over the Milk Dud franchise from Leaf, which had by then been sold to Huhtamaki Oy of Helsinki. I wonder, what is the Finnish word for "dud"?

Until last year, all was status quo in the land of Milk Duds. But then Hershey decided to swap out costly cocoa butter for more economical vegetable fat in a range of their products, Milk Duds among them. This means they cannot legally call Milk Duds "chocolate" any longer. Thus the change on the label in recent months from "milk chocolate" to "chocolatey." Now that's a dud.