Happy National Candy Corn Day!

Candy Corn photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Let’s be honest. It’s just us here, America—a nation and an archivist/food-lover. I want to talk about candy corn. Most of you like it, don’t you? Despite all our protest that its sweetness disgusts us and the jokes about how it was all been made years ago and the same bags just keep appearing on the shelf, we DO buy it. It’s like the fruit cake of Halloween, and, for some of us, our own little guilty pleasure. It even has its very own holiday: National Candy Corn Day! 

So, today, celebrate your love of this classic sweet, born in America during the 1880s. Take a moment to savor those little chocolate Indian corns, bright orange pumpkins, golden yellow ears of corn, and, of course, traditional corns of white/yellow/orange. Here are a few recipes to help you: 

And that’s just a few examples of recipes containing candy corn. Your homage can also take the form of shaped, colored, and flavored cookies, marshmallows, cupcakes, parfaits…The possibilities are endless. Join me, even if it’s just to nibble on a single piece. Happy National Candy Corn Day! 


Little Witches: Halloween Recipes

In honor of everyone’s favorite impending candy-laden holiday (just how old IS too old to go trick-or-treating, by the way?), this week we present some pages from The Little Witch’s Magic Cookbook by Linda Glovach. Published in 1972, this cookbook for children includes very basic snack, lunch, and special occasion recipes, including Halloween. With great illustrations, the cookbook walks children through simple and fun recipes for picnic lunches of “pickled peanut butter burgers” with grape lemonade and apples that can be packed in a shoe box; yogurt and tangerine salads; and “ghost toast” (buttered toast with coconut). Although there are many dessert recipes, the book offers healthier meal and snack alternatives, too. It even contains directions on how to make both a “Cucumber Christmas Tree” decorated with candy and a construction paper witch’s hat!

So, throw together a batch of “Witch Mix-Up” and “Chocolate Shivers” and keep your eyes on the blog. There’s another sweet ‘n spooky Halloween post or two yet to come…

And by the way, today’s title is part of a subset of the larger Culinary History Collection at Special Collections: The Ann Hertzler Children’s Cookbook and Nutrition Literature Archive. This sub-collection consists of more than 400 publications donated by or purchased through an endowment created by Ann Hertzler. Books, extension publications, electronic resources, and other materials focus on nutrition education, cookbooks for children, and basic food preparation for children of all ages. More details and other Hertzler items to come in future posts!

Reblog: Necco Wafers

A little candy history, courtesy of foodhistoricsites, to kick of a series of Halloween posts here at What’s Cookin’…


“The Necco Wafer dates back to 1847 when English immigrant Oliver Chase invented the lozenge cutter enabling him to make the candies. The cutter is believed to be the first American candy machine, and Union soldiers during the Civil War carried the candies, then known as “hub wafers,’’ according to Necco.”

The wafers are a product of New England Confectionary Company, Revere, MA.

What is Good Food?

What is Good Food?

On October 27, Virginia Tech is holding the 2011 Choices and Challenges Forum. This year, the topic is “What is Good Food?” The event will consist of a “day-long program of interactive sessions, expert panels, and discussions on the complexities of our food choices in light of nutrition, environmental sustainability, economic well-being and social justice” by bringing together scholars, individuals, and policymakers from multiple disciplines. The forum is free and open to anyone. Consider attending one or more events! Additional information on events, including locations, is available on the website. 

Blasted Cans?

A slightly text-heavy post this week, but well worth sharing! This four-page publication, recently discovered by a Special Collections staff member, summarizes a part of “Operation Cue,” which took place in 1955.

The Federal Civil Defense Administration staged “Operation Cue,” a demonstration on the test site of the Atomic Energy Commission in Nevada. This was a big dramatic event to educate the public on what they should do to protect themselves against nuclear warfare. Products of 150 industries that are used by American householders were included, among them foods, and looming largest, because of their past value in previous wars, were canned foods in tin and glass containers.

Canned and glass packaged good were stations in different locations and at various distances from a blast site. The publication makes frequent references to the related images/figures, which, sadly, Special Collection does not have.

The text page above includes a summary of the experiment and it is worth drawing attention to the third paragraph, “The food in tin containers exposed at 3,750 feet and greater distances away, was undamaged except for perforations from flying bits of shattered glass window panes…the food was not adversely affected.” Other than the potentially irradiated broken glass in your canned corn, there’s absolutely nothing to stop you from eating it.

On a related note, in 1965, the government produce a series of nine “rural civil defense” ads for TV, “acted out” with marionettes. Number 6 in the series deals specifically with how/what food is safe to eat following an attack, as well as what to store up for the inevitable nuclear war. The video is available online via YouTube, along with the rest of the series.

Happy civil defense planning!

How do YOU Scramble?

This week’s posting features a kitchen standard: the EGG. They’ve been a staple in every kitchen since the domestication of birds. Eggs form the basis for the sweet and savory, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert, and even manage to hold their own as a main dish. From the basic “fried” to the more complex poached “Eggs Benedict”, we can’t seem to go without them. (No gelatin recipes with eggs have emerged here at Special Collections just yet, but there’s time and undiscovered collections yet to search!)

As this page from Woman’s Day (c.1960s?) proves, there is more than one way to complete even the simplest of egg recipes. Depending on your tastes, you can cater to your heart’s scrambled egg desires: custard, creamy, or speckled. Surrounded in bacon, dotted with parsley, or ringed with toast triangles, just be sure you serve them on a HEATED plate (note the repeated direction). No cold scrambled eggs for you, your family, or your guests!

Found among a recently acquired group of collected and compiled recipes, the only thing lacking from this magazine page is color. There’s something delightfully cheerful about the sunny shade of yellow in a scrambled egg that those yellow divider lines just don’t quite convey. Rather, you have to imagine it for yourself. Or, better yet, whip up a batch today, and try a different method. It could be surprisingly eggs-cellent. (Did you really think anyone could manage an whole post on eggs without a single pun?)

As for me (your usual blogger/archivist Kira, that is), I like mine with a more-than-subtle splash of hot sauce or pink peppercorns and parlsey, if I’m feeling alliterative and fancy. How do you eat your scrambled eggs?

Kitchen Items to Live Without?

Kitchen Items to Live Without?

Courtesy of the website “There I Fixed It.” For their “Historical Thursday” segment this week, they featured some strange kitchen innovations that didn’t survive to find themselves in every home…though one can’t imagine why. After all, the infra-red turkey roaster would only take up one-third of a kitchen!