Sunday, December 27, 2009

Table of Contents: Candy Freak - A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America

Author: Steve Almond
Publisher/Year: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2004
Synopsis: Driven by his obsession, stubborn idealism, and the promise of free candy, self-confessed candyfreak Steve Almond takes off on a quest to discover candy's origins in America, to explore the little companies that continue to get by on pluck and perseverance, and to witness the glorious excess of candy manufacturing.

From the Twin Bing to the Idaho Spud, the Valomilk to the Abba-Zaba, Almond uncovers a small legion of singular handcrafted candy bars made by unsung heroes, working in old-fashioned factories for tiny profits to produce something that they love. Fascinated by the emotional power of these confectionary delights, the primal and persuasive experience of the world in our mouths, Almond describes our candy cravings in sensuous and titillating detail. Though the road is laden with free samples, he discovers that the world of candy making is not the sweet world of childhood reveries but one beleaguered by stiff competition, closely guarded secrets, and increasingly limited markets. But no matter. As he also finds, every candy maker, even when poised on the edge of failure, is happy, indulgent, and childlike. For finally, even the darkest market forces, even the clout of the Big Three candy companies that threaten to wipe out all others, cannot lessen our desire to lose ourselves in chocolate.

What Others Have To Say:

The Village Voice
"As Almond tours generations-old factories and hears about the sanguine plans of the family members who run them, he sees the story as universal: It's an illustration of the Wal-Mart-ization of America."

Amy Sedaris, Actress and Comedian
"I got a real sugar rush and cluster headache reading this bittersweet book by Steve Almond-joy, the sugar daddy himself. I won't sugar coat it-this book is one sweet treat."

San Francisco Chronicle
"The factory tours eventually blur together, and Almond's overuse of the word "freak" as a noun, verb and adjective is the literary equivalent of shredded coconut -- a distraction from otherwise original prose."

The Boston Globe
"Part personal memoir and part cultural history, "Candyfreak" is the work of an obsessive."

Chicago Sun-Times
"It is Almond's almost stream-of-consciousness voice that lifts this material from a merely pragmatic investigation of chocolate, or of his own predilections, to a humorous yet thoughtful meditation."

Read an excerpt (about 1/3 down the page)!
Read Almond's Candyfreak Tour Diary

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