Posted in Holidays, Monday Morsels

Monday Morsels: Origins of Candy Corn

candy cornThere is one Halloween candy that is more divisive than politics and religion, the American Civil War, or even Coke vs. Pepsi…Candy Corn. Ask the average trick-or-treaters on your neighborhood streets about their feelings toward candy corn and you will most assuredly have half that praise it’s honey-flavored goodness and half that refer to it as tri-colored ear wax.  Whether you are pro-candy corn or in the dissenting minority, the candy has a pretty interesting history. Would you like to hear it? I knew you’d say “yes, please!”

George Renniger, a candy-maker, worked at the Wunderle Candy Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the 1880s, Renniger invented a candy made of sugar, fondant, corn syrup, vanilla flavoring, and marshmallow creme. Ingredients were cooked in large kettles until it took on a slurry-like consistency. The slurry was then transferred into buckets and transported to the kernel-shaping molds. Workers walked backwards pouring the hot slurry into kernel-shaped molds, coated with cornstarch to prevent sticking as it cooled. Workers made three passes over the molds, each time with a different color of slurry all to achieve an authentic corn kernel-like appearance. The molding process was quite extensive and strenuous, considering neither air-conditioners nor electric fans had yet been invented. Like most foodstuffs of the times, candy corn was sold in bulk. It was packed in wooden barrels, buckets, or cartons and delivered by wagon or train to general stores within short distances.

In 1898, the Goelitz Confectionery Company’s Ohio factory began producing their variation of candy corn and boasts the longest history of making the candy in the industry. Candy corn became so successful for the company that it sustained them through World War I, The Great Depression, and World War II. You might not know the name “Goelitz Confectionery Company” today but the company still exists and still manufactures enough candy to circle the earth more than five times over…you may know them as Jelly Belly.

Fun Facts about Candy Corn

  • Candy corn is one of the healthier Halloween candies:
    • Candy corn is fat-free
    • One kernel is just over 4 calories
    • A one ounce serving is 110 calories
  • Roughly 9 billion kernels of candy corn are sold each year.
  • Candy corn hasn’t always been corn-shaped. In the 19th-century, candy-makers created these fondant-based candies in shapes of chestnuts, clover leaves, and turnips.
  • When Goelitz first created candy corn, they called it “chicken feed” and the boxes were illustrated with a rooster and the slogan “something worth crowing for.”

For more odd Halloween trivia, Halloween-themed books and DVDs,

or to sample some candy corn, drop by the HCC Library.

Bibliography:

Broek, Sara. “The history of candy corn: a Halloween candy favorite.” Better Homes and Gardens http://www.bhg.com 2014.

“Candy corn by the makers of Jelly Belly.” JellyBelly.com 2014.

Prokop, Jessica. “The surprising history of candy corn.” CandyFavorites.com 2012.

Posted in Monday Morsels

Monday Morsels: New Coke

We have all experienced it—dates and events that define a moment in our lives.  We recount stories and experiences with passion and detailed description.  For example, current college students might have grown up with hearing stories of the assassination of JFK or John Lennon from their parents.  Or, newcomers to western North Carolina will definitely hear stories of the Blizzard of ’93 from those who lived through it.

Coca-Cola TruckHowever, no other date in U.S. history is more significant than April 23, 1985*.  Two words: New Coke.  It was a Tuesday, and in Atlanta, Georgia, a warm breeze wafted through the city.  According to The Farmer’s Almanac that day, the heat rose to 82.9 degrees Fahrenheit…but temperatures were about to skyrocket!  John Pemberton concocted Coca-Cola, a drink patented as an “esteemed brain tonic and intellectual beverage,” in 1886 in a small drugstore near Atlanta, Georgia.  Fast forward 125 years and the Coca-Cola Company has over 3500 world-wide products, is available in over 200 countries, and reaches over 1 million people per quarter through social media today.  That remarkable business success almost came crashing down in late April 1985 with the announcement that the Coca-Cola Company would be altering the trademarked formula amid slipping sales.  In attempts to add some energy into soda sales, Coca-Cola decided to re-brand the classic Coke formula as a sweeter, smoother soda in attempts to compete with the rise of PepsiCo’s Pepsi-Cola and the “new generation.”

The idea to redevelop the secret soda formula did not come lightly.  The Coca-Cola Company conducted over 200,000 consumer taste tests, with the majority stating they preferred the new taste.  What the company did not account for was the cultural identity tied to Coca-Cola.  It was not a mere soda, fizzy and refreshing, but an icon of all things American…just like apple pie, baseball, and Chevrolet.  For the next 79 days, response to New Coke was overwhelming and heard from every corner of the nation.  The company’s customer service number, 800-GET-COKE, was inundated with complaints—receiving roughly 1500 calls a day compared with 400 a day before New Coke.  Company employees, ranging from CEO to janitorial staff, were held accountable for the atrocious blunder.  Disgruntled consumers formed protest groups, some to demand a return of the classic taste and some to honor a fallen icon.  The Old Cola Drinkers of America recruited over 100,000 supporters in efforts to bring back the traditional formula.  And, much like the recent aftermath of Hostess announcing the end of Twinkies, dedicated Coca-Cola customers began hoarding the classic soda in basements and closets.

Finally, on July 11, 1985, The Coca-Cola Company announced the return of “old” Coke, under the name Coca-Cola Classic.  New Coke did not initially fade into obscurity but was instead marketed alongside Coke Classic with a very separate marketing campaign aimed at a younger generation of cola drinkers.  New Coke’s name eventually changed to Coke II in 1992.  By 1998, Coke II could only be found in small, scattered groceries in the Midwest and by 2002 was discontinued altogether in the United States.

To learn more about New Coke, the Coca-Cola Company, or other awesome things available at the library–come check us out!

 *okay, so maybe it’s not the most significant date in U.S. History…but it’s up there.

Bibliography:

Isdell, Edward N.  Inside Coca-Cola: a CEO’s Life Story of Building the World’s Most Powerful Brand. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2011.

Ross, Michael E. “It Seemed Like a Good Idea at The Time: New Coke, 20 Years Later, and Other Marketing Fiascoes.” NBCNews.com, 22 April 2005. Web. 16 April 2013. <http://www.nbcnews.com/id/7209828/ns/us_news/t/it-seemed-good-idea-time/#.UW1rWrVwooI>

http://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/coca-cola-stories-new-coke

Posted in Monday Morsels

Monday Morsels: Happy Franksgiving

Thanksgiving:  Mere mention of the word conjures images of turkey, stuffing, green beans, and pie.  For some it might bring to mind Pilgrims, Native Americans, and the Massachusetts Bay area.  Moreover, for others, Thanksgiving means parade floats, football, and turkey-induced comas.

Americans celebrate the official national holiday of Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in the month of November.  Seems easy to remember, right?  Well, if you lived between 1939 and 1941, you may have celebrated Thanksgiving on two separate Thursdays…or not at all!  The tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving on a Thursday dates back to the Massachusetts Bay colonies and was technically considered a post-harvest celebration.  Colonists planned their harvest celebration to coincide with events already scheduled on Thursdays; these days (often-called Lecture Day) involved lectures, sermons, and church meetings.  The Pilgrim and Native American version of the first Thanksgiving is traced back to 1621 when the governor of Plymouth, William Bradford, invited local Native Americans to partake in a three-day festival celebrating a bountiful harvest season.  From here, the tradition of Thanksgiving took off throughout New England during the remainder of the 1600s but was not declared a national celebration until 1777 following a victory at the Battle of Saratoga during the American Revolution.

George Washington was the first United States President to pronounce a national observance of Thanksgiving and mandated it fall on November 26.  In 1789, this day fell on a Tuesday rather than Thursday.  From 1879 until 1863, Americans celebrated Thanksgiving on whichever day November 26th occurred.  In 1863, under President Abraham Lincoln, Thanksgiving moved to the last Thursday in the month of November and continued as such until 1939, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt shook things up.  Before 1939, every sitting president made a yearly proclamation as to when Thanksgiving would fall. Moreover, each of the presidents from 1863 to 1939 declared Thanksgiving to fall on the last Thursday of November.  Until FDR, that is.

In 1939, there were five Thursdays in the month of November so Roosevelt declared that Thanksgiving would fall on the second to last Thursday of that year.  He did so, not because he wanted to incite anger, because if Thanksgiving fell on the last Thursday that year there would be fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Remember in 1939, FDR was working on bringing the American economy back from the Great Depression.  Therefore, in 1939 Roosevelt declared Thanksgiving would be officially recognized one week earlier, on November 23.  The move not only infuriated smaller business retailers but the mass American people as well; think about having to reschedule football games, parades, pageants all one whole week earlier (not to mention the calendars that had to be reprinted!).  Roosevelt stood firm for the next two years, declaring Thanksgiving would fall on the next to last Thursday in November.

Many Americans either refused to acknowledge the new holiday or celebrated twice for the following two years.  It was not until November 26, 1941 that he repealed his attempts to change the national holiday and declared that Thanksgiving would fall on the fourth Thursday of the month, regardless of how many Thursdays are in November.  In an attempt to curb the potential of future presidents repeating what Roosevelt attempted, Congress decreed that Thanksgiving will always fall on the last Thursday of the month on October 6, 1941.  However, the Senate amended the resolution to have Thanksgiving fall on the fourth Thursday of November, in order to account for years with 5 Thursdays in November.  On December 26, 1941 Roosevelt signed the amended resolution and established the fourth Thursday of November as the official Federal Thanksgiving Day holiday.

Don’t believe us about the frustration and anger FDR caused?  Click here to read some of the letters President Roosevelt received concerning his decision to move Thanksgiving!

Bibliography:

Pleck, Elizabeth. “The Making of The Domestic Occasion: The History of Thanksgiving in The United States.” Journal of Social History 32.4 (1999): 773. Academic Search Complete. Web. 6 Nov. 2012.

Kirkpatrick, Melanie. “Happy Franksgiving: How FDR Tried, and Failed, to Change a National Holiday.” The Wall Street Journal 24 Nov. 2009. Web. 6 Nov. 2012.

Posted in Monday Morsels

Monday Morsels: Titanic 100 Years Later

'Titanic'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/39041992@N05/3599894909

At 2:20am on April 15, 1912, the RMS Titanic sank roughly 400 miles south of Newfoundland, Canada after striking an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean.  William James Pirrie, an Irish shipbuilder who controlled the largest shipbuilding firm in the world, designed Titanic (and her sister ship Olympic) to be one of the largest, fastest, and most lavish ocean liners ever built.  Often dubbed “unsinkable,” Titanic stretched over 883 feet from stern to bow, rose over 175 feet from keel to the top of the funnels in height, and extended over 92 feet in width.  Titanic could run roughly 24 to 25 knots[1] at maximum speed and cost $7.5 million dollars to build in 1912.[2]  The 16 watertight compartments of her hull allowed Titanic to remain buoyant if any of the first four compartments flooded while the 15 transverse watertight bulkheads allowed Titanic to stay afloat long enough to rescue passengers and crew if any remaining compartments took on water.  This innovation in ship buoyancy and her sheer size is why the editor of Shipbuilder Magazine referred to Titanic as “practically unsinkable,”thus spawning the ill-fated nickname.

Among the 1500+ passengers lost in the sinking, Titanic took the lives of some influential and affluent people of the early 20th century:

  • John Jacob Astor IV, American millionaire and builder of the Astoria Hotel in New York City.
  • Benjamin Guggenheim, American millionaire and heir to the Guggenheim mining business.
  • William Thomas Stead, English journalist and pioneer of investigative journalism.
  • Isidor and Ida Straus, owners of Macy’s department store.
  • Francis Millet, American painter and sculptor
  • Charles Hays, president of the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada.
  • Jacques Futrelle, American mystery writer and journalist.
  • Archibald Willingham Butt, aide to President William Howard Taft.
  • Thomas Andrews, Irish businessman and overseer/shipbuilder of Titanic’s construction.

However, due to sicknesses, changes in business plans, and simple twists of fate, the list of prominent and wealthy businessmen lost aboard Titanic might have included:

  • Milton Snavely Hershey, confectioner and founder of The Hershey Chocolate Company.  Due to his wife’s illness, Kitty and Milton sailed home on Amerika a week earlier.
  • Theodore Dreiser, journalist and novelist, most known for his novels Sister Carrie and An American Tragedy.  Although already booked on the Titanic, Dreiser was persuaded to changing bookings to a less expensive ship.  He sailed safely home aboard the Kroonland.
  • Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, heir to the Vanderbilt railroad and shipping fortune and sportsman.  By cancelling his passage aboard Titanic at the last minute, newspaper reports at first listed Vanderbilt among the missing.  Alfred Vanderbilt would later be one of the A-list causalities from the sinking of the Lusitania three years later.
  • Henry Clay Frick, a steel tycoon from Pittsburgh and business associate of J.P. Morgan.  Frick cancelled passage on Titanic when his wife sprained her ankle and was unable to leave Italy.
  • J. P. Morgan, financier, banker, and creator of General Electric and U.S. Steel.  Due to his business connections with White Star Line, the owner of Titanic, Morgan had a suite and private deck aboard the ship.  He was rumored to sail aboard the ship but remained in Europe at the time.

To learn more about RMS Titanic or to check out other awesome resourcesfeel free to swing by the library!

Bibliography:

Daugherty, Greg. “They Missed the Boat.” Smithsonian. Mar. 2012: 38. Print.

Garrison, Webb. A Treasury of Titanic Tales.  Nashville, Tennessee: Rutledge Hill Press, 1998.

Meredith, Lee W.  1912 Facts About Titanic.  Mason City, Iowa: Savas Publishing Company, 1999.

“Pirrie (Of Belfast), William James Pirrie, Viscount.”  The New Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th edition. 2005. Print.


[1] One knot is equal to one nautical mile per hour.  Therefore, Titanic could travel roughly 24-25 nautical miles per hour.

[2] Given inflation, $7.5 million in 1912 would equate to roughly $170 million in 2011.

Posted in Monday Morsels

Monday Morsels: “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”

The streets are crowded; people line the sidewalks in anticipation as zydeco music  plays in the distance.  Floats idle at the starting point decorated in splashes of green, blue, and purple while riders make last-minute adjustments to costumes.  A female voice hushes the chatter of the crowds.  She yells, “laisser le bon temps rouler!”  Suddenly, music, lights, dancing, and floats all come alive; the Queen of the Carnival has just proclaimed “let the good times roll!”

Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, is a celebration of many things.  From its pagan roots as a celebration of the renewed fertility of the earth to marking the beginning of Lent in Christianity, Madri Gras has come to represent various cultural and religious histories.  Mardi Gras originated a a celebration of the coming Spring and its renewal of the land.  Disguises or wearing clothes of the opposite sex were used as protection against evil spirits that were believed to roam the land.  These practices were embraced by early Christianity as a means for release from the hardships of winter.  Costumes became more elaborate, often invoking images of the devil or parodies of the upper class and the behavior of excess became so intense that in 1511 England passed an act denouncing disguises and wearing “visours” (masks).  Mardi Gras was essentially abolished in England between 1649 and 1660.

Italy, the epicenter of Mardi Gras carnivals during the eighteenth century, celebrated with masked balls, extravagant processions, street entertainments, parades, and ostentatious costumes.  Students from the French Academy were instrumental in organizing masquerades during the carnival between 1730 and 1740.  Although clergy continually condemned carnival celebrations as pagan and idolatrous, the remainder of Europe carried on with the traditions.

Although the origins of Mardi Gras stem from Europe, no other city is more identified with Mardi Gras celebrations than New Orleans, Louisiana thanks to French settlers.  Although much of Louisiana was under Spanish control in the late 1760s, New Orleans was founded by and remained predominately French.  Because of the city’s French upbringing, Mardi Gras celebrations were tradition by 1803 when Louisiana was purchased and incorporated into the United States. On February 27, 1827 the city of New Orleans held it’s first carnival celebration when costumed and masked students paraded and danced through the streets.  It was not until 1857 that the first truly organized Mardi Gras parade graced the streets of New Orleans thanks to a secret society known as the “Mistick Krewe of Comus.”  Over the years, the Mardi Gras carnival has increased the size and elaborateness of floats, music, decorations, “throws” (such as the infamous bead necklaces), and costumed participants.  The festival has also ballooned from a one day event into week-long celebrations, and occasionally lasting even longer.  Although many tourists equate Mardi Gras with Bourbon Street and the French Quarter, no parade has graced that area of New Orleans since 1979 when the streets were deemed to narrow to navigate.

To learn more about Mardi Gras or to check out other awesome resources,

feel free to swing by the library!

Bibliography:

History Channel. “New Orleanians take to the streets for Mardi Gras.” History Channelhttp://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/new-orleanians-take-to-the-streets-for-mardi-gras (accessed February 24, 2012).

“Mardi Gras.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6Th Edition (November 2011): 1. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed February 24, 2012).

Ribeiro, Aileen. “THE OLD AND NEW WORLDS OF MARDI GRAS.” History Today 36, no. 2 (February 1986): 30. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed February 24, 2012).

Posted in Monday Morsels

Monday Morsels: Riding Shotgun

It is Friday night and you are getting ready to hit the town with your friends.  You all start to load into a car when someone yells “I call shotgun!”  Without thinking, you instinctively know they mean to take the passenger seat in the front, but do you know the origins of that phrase?

"Driving Six White Horses and Talley-ho Stagecoach"

During the late 1800s, a period commonly referred to as The Wild West, stagecoaches transported more than people across the vast open territory.  Wells, Fargo & Co. had an established stagecoach route that ran between Tipton, Missouri and San Francisco, California. This 2800 mile route “passed through some of the most lawless areas of the West” and was used to transport people, goods, U.S. Mail, and gold shipments to banking institutions along the way (Christian 94).  Robbing stagecoaches became such a lucrative business for outlaws that from 1870 to 1884, Well, Fargo & Co. reported over 340 robbery attempts.

A stagecoach served as the major mode of transportation of people and goods before the popularity of railroads.  Stagecoaches were typically covered wagons pulled by a team of four horses; the driver sat on top of the coach, usually on the right side as to operate the wheel brake.  To the driver’s left sat the messenger.  His job: safeguard the stagecoach, its occupants, and transported goods.


In effort to stave off robbery attempts by bandits, Wells, Fargo & Co. messengers began carrying a “coach gun.” This was usually a 12-gauge sawed-off, double-barrel shotgun.  The compact size made it easy for messengers to handle in the cramped driver’s area atop the stage.  Although the practice of riding shotgun stems from the era of The Old West, stagecoaches, Wyatt Earp, and the O.K. Corral, the expression “riding shotgun” was not officially documented until 1905 in Alfred Henry Lewis’ The Sunset Trail:

What more should a Western marshal require than a perfect pistol hand and eye to match?  Wyatt and Morgan Earp were in the service of the Express Company.  They went often as guards—“riding shotgun,” it was called—when the stage bore unusual treasure.”

Click here to read The Sunset Trail by Alfred Henry Lewis or stop by the LRC to check out further awesome resources!

Bibliography:

Christian, Chris.  “Riding Shotgun.” Popular Mechanics 181.6 (2004): 94. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 7 Nov. 2011.

Lewis, Alfred Henry.  The Sunset Trail. A.L. Burt Company: New York, 1905.

Patridge, Eric. “Ride Shotgun.” A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. Macmillian Publishing Co.: New York, 1970. Pg. 1366.

Spears, Richard A.  “Ride Shotgun” and “Shotgun.” NTC’s Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions.  National Textbook Company Lincolnwood: Illinois, 1991. Pgs.309, 335.

Posted in Monday Morsels

Monday Morsels: History of a Bully

Bully. In today’s terms, the word means “a blustering browbeating person, one habitually cruel to others who are weaker.”  However, did you know that back in the 1500s, bully was actually a term of endearment?  Derived from the Middle Dutch word boele, meaning lover or brother, bully was originally defined as sweetheart, gallant, a fine chap.  The first recorded use of the word bully as a term of flattery dates back to 1538 when John Bale used it in his book A Comedy Concerning Three Laws of Nature, Moses, and Christ:

The woman hath a wit,

And by her gear can sit,

Though she be somewhat old.

It is mine own sweet bully,

My muskin and my mully,

My gel’ver and my cully–

Yea, mine own sweetheart of gold.

From this definition, people commonly used the term bully to express satisfaction, congratulations, or pleasure.  The popular phrase “bully to you!” would translate in today’s terms as “congratulations, well done.”  Throughout the 17th century that phrase slowly deteriorated from a phrase of celebration into one of sarcasm.  Likewise, the word bully descended from describing “a man of outstanding physical power” to “a blustering fellow more insolent than courageous.”

The concept of bullies and their victims have long been a part of popular culture.

  • Think back to November 5, 1955 and Biff Tannen (Back to the Future).
  • How did Ralph gain popularity and power over Piggy (Lord of the Flies)?
  • Do you remember “Scut Farkus staring out at us with his yellow eyes. He had yellow eyes! So, help me God! YELLOW EYES!” (A Christmas Story)?
  • Classic film lovers must remember Stanley Kolwalski and Stelllllaaaaaa!!!! (A Street Car Named Desire).
  • And in the last 20 years, who hasn’t thought of Nelson Muntz when you hear “ha ha!” (The Simpsons)?
More recently, bullying has come center-stage in the worlds of politics, news, social media, and music.  Teachers, parents, and politicians have been working in recent years to fight against bullying in schools.  With added emphasis on cyber-bullying more notable celebrities have taken up the cause.  Stemming from her own experiences of being bullied, pop-sensation Lady Gaga has become a leading advocate in the anti-bullying movement.  Lady Gaga has used her music as a means to promoting individuality and self-worth; her song Born This Way has become an anthem worldwide for equality and respect regardless of race, sexuality, or creed.  Apart from her music, Gaga has been working with the White House to develop and enhance a national anti-bullying campaign.  In the Spring of 2012 she will launch the Born This Way Foundation, partnering with the Harvard Graduate School of Education which seeks to “explore the best ways to reach youth and create a new culture of kindness, bravery, acceptance and empowerment” (“Lady Gaga to launch…”).
To learn more about bullying or for resources to help the fight against bullying, stop by the library to checkout these books:
  • Facing the Schoolyard Bully: How to Raise an Assertive Child in an Aggressive World (Kim Zarzour)
  • Easing the Teasing: Helping Your Child Cope with Name-Calling, Ridicule, and Verbal Bullying (Judy S. Freedman)
  • School Violence, The Media, and Criminal Justice Responses (Kimberly A. McCabe)
  • Teens at Risk (Christine Watkins)
  • Cybercrime (Jeffrey Ian Ross)
  • Bullying and Hazing (Jill Hamilton)
or checkout these online resources available through NCLIVE:

Bibliography:

Bale, John. “A Comedy Concerning Three Laws of Nature, Moses, and Christ” in The Dramatic Writings of John Bale: Bishop of Ossory. London: Priv. Print. for subscribers by the Early English Drama Society, 1907.

“Bully.”  Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary. 2012. Merriam-Webster Online. Merriam-Webster. Web 18 Jan. 2012.

Dent, Susie.  What Made the Crocodile Cry? 101 Questions About the English Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

“Lady Gaga to Launch Born This Way Foundation.” Askwith Forums. Harvard Graduate School of Education, 19 Jan. 2012. Web. 20 Jan. 2012.

Peters, Mark. “Bully: a Vicious, Cowardly Word with a Long History.” Good Magazine 29 Oct. 2010. Web 20 Jan. 2012.