Program Title: Candy: Evil or Just Misunderstood?
Speaker: Samira Kawash
Date: February 3, 2014
Location: New York University Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health
Is candy a food at all? Today most people would say no, despite the enormous quantities Americans consume (some 25 pounds per person each year). Most of the candy we eat today is mass produced, the product of machine technology and food engineering. Many contemporary food reformers argue that we should view such sugar- laden, highly processed, artificial substances as seductive poisons, and certainly not real food. Yet, as convincingly argued by Samira Kawash, aka ‘The Candy Professor’, for much of the twentieth century, candy was embraced as a wholesome food. In vintage advertising and government publications, in women’s magazines and cookbooks, the virtues of candy were extolled. While reformers warned of dangerous consequences to candy indulgence, boosters pointed to candy’s signal importance in providing strength, energy, and stamina. Candy and sugar were political footballs long before the current nutritional debates. In times of war, sugar rationing, to free sugary foods for soldiers’ kits, became part of the war effort that was daily felt on the home front. The long shelf life and energy wallop made candy, previously associated with women and ‘delicate’ eating, a boon food for explorers, athletes, and soldiers, a ‘manly man’ food.
Homemade Chocolate Chip Marshmallows [link] were among the candies served.