This place matters

This place matters

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Good Ship Lollipop

For Jeremy and my first anniversary, we went with some friends to The Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant, in case you couldn't guess. Now, The Melting Pot is pretty darn expensive, and we wanted to save up our appetites. So you know that show Unwrapped on the Food Network, where they show you how they make all kinds of wonderful delicious foods? There was a marathon, and that was the only thing on TV that day.


In addition to ensuring that I'd eat so much at Melting Pot that we got significantly worse mileage on our ride home, it taught me some interesting facts, supplemented here by Bill Bryson's Made in America


It's not Reecies Pieces, it's Reece. As in a dude's name. Harry Reese, in fact. He was a farmer, then worked for Milton Hershey, and liked Hershey's chocolate so much, that he started his own candy company, mixing Hershey chocolate with other ingredients. Like nom nom peanut butter cups. Reece's company was purchased by Hershey some years after Reese's death and is now a Hershey subsidiary. Reece's Pieces weren't created until long after the founder's death.


Contrary to what you may have heard, Reece's Pieces were not invented for use in the film ET. The candies were actually invented in the late 1970s and had been on shelves for a couple of years when ET came out. It is true, however, that sales of the treat skyrocketed once the movie came out, making it one of the most successful instances of product placement in history. It is also true that the tie-in was originally offered to M&Ms, but Mars candy turned it down.


I believe I read in Stephen King's memoir On Writing that when King was struck and nearly killed by a van in 1999, the driver was on his way to buy "some of those Marses bars," prompting King to quip that he'd been run over by a character from one of his novels. The book is all the way over there on the other side of the room, and I'm not getting up to go verify. This is the Internet. Accuracy is an anachronism.


Also, Hershey candy was appropriately named for Milton Hershey, mentioned earlier. The original Hershey bar cost a nickel, and stayed that way until 1970. It just kept shrinking to keep pace with inflation.


Before Baby Ruth became a Nestle product, the Curliss Candy Company created it; originally it was called Kandy Kake. Curliss changed the name around 1920, right when Babe Ruth was getting crazy famous. The company insisted, however, that the candy bar was named for Grover Cleveland's daughter, Baby Ruth. Who had been dead for sixteen years at the time. Because that's not creepy, naming candy after a dead baby or anything. They probably came up with the Baby Ruth story so they wouldn't have to pay Ruth royalties. But seriously? "No, no, Mr. Ruth, it's not named after you, it's named after a dead baby. See? It all makes perfect sense."

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