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Cool Confectionaries specializes in candies made from recipes crated in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centurries.

‘Cool’ candy assortment is centuries old

Published: Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013 - 6:41 pm

Cool Confectionaries of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, does some very cool things with candies. It specializes in replicated historic candies made from recipes popular in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. The confections are sourced from small candymaking companies (including the tiny Historic Division of giant Mars), and from artisanal candymakers using authentic, original recipes.

We talked with founder Susan Benjamin, a former communications strategist, university professor and author of nine books. The research she did for one food-related book sparked her interest in the history of candymaking, which led to her True Treats line of historic candy.

“I was so surprised to learn about the historic connections between candy and our culture,” she said. “You have to really go out looking for opportunities to make or find and buy (historic candies”),” she said.

We tasted some samples that referenced the past, and read the written explanation that came with the packages. For instance, included was a stick of licorice root, and twists of black and red licorice. The text told us that licorice root came to the America with “enslaved people ...who chewed it to ease stomach aches and to clean their teeth. Black licorice became popular in the early 1900s in confections known as ‘penny candy.’”

We also tasted chocolate from a 1772 recipe, and peanut brittle from a recipe created by botanist-inventor George Washington Carver. Both had flavors unlike any modern equivalent.

For information and to order:, (304) 461-4714.

Call The Bee’s Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128. Follow him on Twitter @apierleonisacbe.

Read more articles by Allen Pierleoni

About Appetizers

Chris Macias has served as The Sacramento Bee's Food & Wine writer since 2008. His writing adventures have ranged from the kitchen at French Laundry to helping pick 10 tons of zinfandel grapes with migrant farm workers in Lodi. Chris also judges regularly at food, wine and cocktail competitions around Northern California. His profile of a former gangbanger-turned-pastry-chef was included in Da Capo's "Best Food Writing 2012."

Read his Wine Buzz columns here
(916) 321-1253
Twitter: @chris_macias

Allen Pierleoni writes about casual lunchtime restaurants in The Sacramento Bee's weekly "Counter Culture" column. He covers a broad range of topics, including food, travel, books and authors. In addition to writing the weekly column "Between the Lines," he oversees the Sacramento Bee Book Club, in which well-known authors give free presentations to the public.

Read his Counter Culture reviews here
(916) 321-1128
Twitter: @apierleonisacbe

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Sacramento Bee's food critic.

Read his restaurant reviews here
(916) 321-1099
Twitter: @Blarob

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Note: The Appetizers blog switched blog platforms in August 2013. All posts after the switch are found here. Older posts are available using the list below.

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