Sweet Treats for Sweet Reads
Do you have a favorite sweet? Does it generate a feeling or memory when you eat or see it? Maybe it was a beloved relative’s or friend’s go-to treat. Or maybe, you hear the name and you smile and must have one!
The history of candy is a varied one, because there is no truly definitive, concrete meaning of the word and concept of candy, or when it was initially created or developed. There are regional, as well as worldwide, differences for what makes something candy. It may be a dessert, or crystallized sugar, or something dairy based but sweet. Candy can also be sugar, chocolate, sweet cakes, bubble gum, hardened and flavored sugar, fruit, fruit flavored, and mint flavored – this is only a small list of the food items people consider candy.
Some say it is how the food is used that determines if it is candy, or something else. The list of food items that can be considered candy includes a few stipulations, but the main “rule” is it must be manufactured, not something normally found “as is” in nature. The items must be consumed for enjoyment only, not out of necessity or nutritional value. It must be portable. And it must be made with some type of sweetener, like sugar or honey.
Indiana is home to many candy shops/companies that are revered locally and around the globe. There are two well-known candy companies close to Crown Point. One company, in particular, owes its success to German candy-maker Hans Riegel, who was the first to mold a gelatin pastille mixture with sugar to create “dancing bears” in 1922. We now call them gummy bears.
Albanese has been making candy in northwest Indiana for over 30 years. Although best known for their gummies, they make many chocolates too. Visitors can take a tour of the factory or watch a short video about the making of candy. Candy makers and workers encourage the partaking of samples – they want to make certain you get the treat you want. In an 8 hour shift, 11,000 pounds of chocolate and 35,000 pounds of gummies are produced. The main factory also can boast the world’s largest chocolate fountain at 32 feet tall. Producing gummies for other labels, you know you are eating Albanese when you are eating a “Gummy with the A on its tummy!”
The South Bend Chocolate Company was founded in 1991. There is a chocolate museum at the facility, as well as two versions of the factory tour, which vary in length and information. South Bend Chocolate Company manufactures over 500 handmade chocolate, caramel and fudge products.
Southern Indiana’s Schimpff’s Confectionery in Jeffersonville was founded in 1891. It is one of the oldest, continuously operated, family-run candy businesses in the United States. Although known for their Cinnamon Red Hots and Modjeskas, which are caramel-covered marshmallows, they have been making a variety of candy enjoyed by generations. In addition to a tour of the facility, there is an old fashioned soda shop where visitors can buy treats produced on the other side of the wall.
Candy canes were formed by a choirmaster in Germany in 1670, when he picked up sugar candy sticks for his singers and they were still warm. Inspired by the season, he thought he’d curve the ends to look like shepherd’s crooks as an additional fun treat for the children. Two companies in Indiana still make handmade candy canes, Schimpff’s and Martinsville Candy Kitchen. A visit to the Martinsville candy shop, which has been making the holiday treat for 100 years, offers a chance to shout out questions in addition to watching the candy canes being made by the makers.
Even if there is a lack of definition of candy, one thing is certain – we all love it and have one we call our favorite. One we can rely on to always fill our hearts with joy and bring a smile to our face. Enjoy your favorite candy treat in addition to a favorite read – Sweet!