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Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America
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Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  4,045 ratings  ·  648 reviews
Perhaps you remember the whipped splendor of the Choco-Lite, or the luscious Caravelle bar, or maybe the sublime and perfectly balanced Hershey's Cookies 'n Mint. The Marathon, an inimitable rope of caramel covered in chocolate. Oompahs. Bit-O-Choc. The Kit Kat Dark.

Steve Almond certainly does. In fact, he was so obsessed by the inexplicable disappearance of these bars—wh
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Hardcover, 266 pages
Published May 4th 2004 by Algonquin Books (first published 2004)
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RandomAnthony
From the book, page sixteen:

Every now and then, I’ll run into someone who claims not to like chocolate or other sweets, and while we live in a country where everyone has the right to eat what they want, I want to say for the record that I don’t trust these people, that I think something is wrong with them, and that they’re probably-this must be said-total duds in bed.

Candyfreak provides way too much candy-metaphor fodder for the weak-hearted reviewer. I don’t know I can resist saying things like
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Michael
Sep 14, 2007 Michael rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: humans
My review, 3.0:

First I would like to quote MC Pee Pants.

"I want candy, bubblegum and taffy.
Skip to the sweet shop with my girlfriend, Sandy.
Got my pennies saved. so I'm a sugar daddy.
I'm her Hume Cronyn, she my Jessica Tandy.
I want candy!

I need candy, any kind will do
Don't care if it's nutritious or FDA approved.
It's gonna make me spaz like bobcats on booze..."

etc, as the song stops being about candy.

The cover blurb calls the author "the Dave Eggers of food writing" ... which seems not only
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Malbadeen
Steve Almond is deep passion veiled as giddy enthusiasm. So much of his writing just makes you want to high five the world and sceam "F**** yeah!"

If you're not careful you might lose your self in the enjoyment of it all and begin to take for granted his amazing ability to lift up the ordinary and point it out in a way that has you remembering your own forgotten sensations/images/relationships.

As an educator I am always begging/pleading/admonishing my collegues to please give our students opport
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Jill
Candyfreak is the most delightful book about candy that also happens to record the author’s deteriorating mental health. What a combination: Goo-Goo Clusters, Snickers, Valomilks, and Big Hunk bars all alongside ample doses of liberal guilt, childhood neglect, failure to commit emotionally in relationships, and a dooming fear of failure! Steve Almond is a clever writer who decides to explore America’s dying Mom and Pop candy industry in order to distract himself from his own depressing life.

So b
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Jon
There are definite five-star sections within this book. The author travels around the U.S. to visit a number independent candy manufacturers and tell their stories. These are great parts. It is a real eye-opener to hear that in the early 20th century there were over 6000 American candy companies and now there are only 150 or so. The rise of the "Big Three" of Nestle, Hershey and Mars has made it nearly impossible for any other manufacturers to get their products into stores. Reading these parts ...more
Luann
Oct 25, 2010 Luann rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who likes chocolate
I had to read this one quickly because it was bad for me. Very bad. Is there anyone who has read this and didn't feel the overpowering NEED to eat chocolate while reading this book? If so, please post in the comments to this review because I want to know where you get your incredible willpower! And the problem was that if I wasn't eating chocolate, I just had to be eating something, anything, while reading this book! I defy anyone not to salivate at his descriptions of chocolate. Here's just one ...more
Leigh
Oct 08, 2009 Leigh rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: men, nonfiction lovers
Recommended to Leigh by: Beth
Candy Freak is the story of Steve Almond's obsession with candy, particularly candy that no longer exists. Almond begins the story lamenting the disappearance of the candy bars of his youth, and wonders why such perfect candies aren't being made anymore. He sets out to explore the "chocolate underbelly of America", touring several small candy factories and getting the viewpoints of small, independently-owned candy companies. Almond discovers that there are indeed many candies being made by these ...more
Elizabeth
Aug 26, 2010 Elizabeth rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Jenny benevento
The back jacket describes Candyfreak as 'hilarious' - I think that's a bit of a stretch. Like Not That You Asked, I found Candyfreak a quick and enjoyable read - but not one that I expect to reread.

Personally, I wish this book was more about the candy industry and the small producers Almond visited. The highlights for me were his descriptions of the candy-making processes and of the candymakers themselves - interesting, fanatical characters who were often involved in every detail of the process.
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Kate Mollohan
Interesting book, and in reading it I have learned more than I ever thought I would know about the chocolate candy industry. Seriously. Did you know that it costs nearly $20,000 just to get a spot on the shelves by the cash register at one of the three major food chains? And did you know that the three major chocolate makers (Nestle, Mars, and Hersey's) all own their own chocolate plantations? Or that smaller candy makers look down on Hersey's chocolate as not being tasty enough (a fact on which ...more
Tama Filipas
I laughed SO HARD during the first half of this book. Super interesting story of the small guys in the candy biz and where they've (mostly) all gone, gobbled up by the big guys. I wanted to search out some of the old school candy bars, and did find some, though it wasn't easy. Made me think back to my tiny hometown and the local chocolate shop that was on Main Street, at the base of West Hill. Where did they go? I have a vague memory of going there on a class field trip at some point in elementa ...more
Regine
Candy. Candy. Candy. There's just something so nostalgic about it. I'm sure that everyone's had the experience of biting into a piece of candy, and as soon as the flavour swells in your mouth, little bits and pieces of your childhood come back. For me, it's the little Choc Nut bars -- little powdery chocolates flavoured with peanuts, each delicately wrapped in a red and white paper. Everytime I bite into one of these guys, I'm reminded of Sunday shopping with my parents at the Asian mart, and th ...more
Melissa
If Steve Almond is a candyfreak, then I'm a candywhore. I'll take it where I can get it and I'm not half as discriminating about its origins.

That said, you can't help but laugh outright at the sugar-fanaticism of a man who gets faint with joy witnessing the birth of chocolate bunnies and is rendered speechless at the thoughtless waste of even one piece of chocolate, recalling, "I stood there in a cloud of disillusionment...I'm someone who has been known to eat the pieces of candy found underneat
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GoldenjoyBazyll
godiva... lint....kit kats.... you name them I love them. After reading this book I definately have a better underastanding of the American candy industry. I never knew that there were stocking fees to place candy at registers at supermarkets. I never knew the history of independent candy makers in the late 1800's and early 1900's. It ws interesting to read how social factors such as war's inpacted the business of candy producers. Who knew???? The book started out very interesting and very enter ...more
Wileyacez
Okay--you have to love this guy (he wrote a book about eating CANDY!), but you can also hate this guy (he does not gain weight no matter how much candy he eats!). He chews his fingernails to the nubs and claims to be an oral person; but he does not like coconut, which is a favorite of mine because you can keep crunching the pieces hidden away in your teeth for HOURS--that's an oral person! He's also not much on marshmallow, which is one of my own personal shameful weaknesses.

On the other hand,
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Kathy
From a blog post in 2005:
What a fun and interesting read! The full title is Candyfreak - A Journey Through The Chocolate Underbelly of America by Steve Almond The author is a self-avowed candy addict and traces his addiction back to a childhood need for affection. His anecdotes about his childhood candy habits (hording, sorting and classifying candy as well as his Halloween strategy) and bonding with his Father (The Enabler) via candy bars are hilarious, touching and sometimes a bit sad.

The mai
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Christy Sherrill
Jan 24, 2008 Christy Sherrill rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This book is sweet. The author explores why sugar makes him shallow. The redeeming fact to this sweet and shallow book is the author apologizes for this in the preface and then goes deep to find the history, facts, industry, theories and thoughts surrounding sugar. Some of my favorite quotes from the this exploration:

" So, the question: Given all this moral knowledge, how can I lead the life of a unbridled candyfreak?"

"I hate most vegetable.................I realize that I am going to hell."

" In
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Tracey
Checked out from the library & munched my way through it in a weekend.

If you're looking for a history of candymaking, this isn't the book for you. It's equally a memoir, and a paean to an obsession. Even though I'm not a candy bar aficionado (preferring my chocolate pure & dark), I found this exploration of the author's fascination with candy, complete with visits to regional candy makers very entertaining.

Almond (who comments on the irony of his last name) writes wryly of using candy
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Laura
This book is about...well, a Candyfreak. Almond is obsessed with candy -- eating it, talking about it, thinking about it, keeping it around the house, finding new types. So he undertakes a trip cross-country to the few candy factories that will let him watch the process of making the stuff (the processes are highly proprietary, it seems).

Almond comes across a scarily neurotic and utterly likable, and who can't be happy reading about someone who loves candy? Sometimes he was trying a bit too hard
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Heather
This is a really easy, enjoyable read. I guess I'm not quite on the freak level of Almond because he is a real sensualist when it comes to candy, coming up with eating strategies that I never would have considered. It makes for some interesting, funny reading. On the downside, it's a little depressing to think that even the world of candy is super capitalistic and cut-throat.

I found a lot of the candies that he talks about in the book for my book club tomorrow. I have a huge sweet tooth, so I h
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Raina
I wish that this wasn't read by an actor - I can hear the acting a bit. But maybe Steve Almond isn't like David Sedaris. And that's ok. I really enjoyed this story of candy. He traces the descent of small businesses in amerika and the evil big three takeover of amerikan candy. Also imparts lots of anecdotes and issues lots of chocolate porn descriptions of the candy he consumes as he travels across amerika touring various candy factories. So fun. Funny too, though probably too sophisticated to f ...more
Nshslibrary
You may think having candy/ chocolate is normal and that it isn't that deep of a meaning, but the people who have made it in tiny industries are suffering. The author uses so much descriptive words to describe how each delicious chocolate/ candy is like in the tiny factories many people don't know of.

I think that his point in his book is to say that bigger industries of making chocolate has taken over family run ones, and that fact is a depressing information to hear. Most of the family-owned f
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Sue Jochens
I didn’t set out to read this book in particular, but last week, Garageman called me to his office (i.e. the garage) to listen to an interview on sports talk. You can imagine my total joy. As I listened to this very articulate and entertaining man talk about the book he had just written on football and why he both loves and loathes it, I became entranced. I decided to find his name (Garageman couldn’t remember) and the book (he couldn’t remember that either. At the end of the program, he did rem ...more
BooksAndTea
I thought I might be getting Godiva but got cheap chocolate instead. Candy lover and perhaps aptly named Steve Almond takes the reader on a journey about candy: the history of candy's rise in the US, how it's made, what he likes and why he loves candy so. It sounds like an awesome story, right?

Wrong. The book is a slap-dash mix of childhood reminiscing, descriptions of how candies are made (right down to what goes on in factories), what happens when candies disappear and why candies are so popul
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Jeanna
I read this one forever ago, so I don't remember it very well right now. The three things I remember most:

1. It was hilarious.
2. I couldn't recommend it to anyone because of some super inappropriate sexual content (I don't actually even remember much of what it was anymore; I just remember thinking it was a shame I couldn't recommend it).
3. His intense description of Five Star Bars (by Lake Champlain Chocolates) was sooo delicious that I had to buy some for myself (they were, indeed, quite yum
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Vonia
Being a Candy Connoisseur myself, I had high expectations for this. Did it live up to my expectations? Not quite. I suppose I was wanting something less personal-diary-coming-of-age-story, more candy-chocolate-informational-enlightenment. Almond was extremely honest, writing this as an essential documentation of a personal cross-country road trip, inserting personal stories, anecdotes, and/or tangents that were sometimes funny, sometimes interesting, but always distracting.

At the same time, he d
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Michael
May 31, 2007 Michael rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Geeks of all stripes
I love to read pretty much anything written by geeks. People who are unhealthily obsessed with a given subject and clearly amped to educate others about it. With enough geeky passion on display, the subject becomes almost irrelevant.

Steve Almond is a hardcore geek for candy. His enthusiasm is more than evident in this book. It's a quick read, he writes well and I for one found myself desperately wanting something with chocolate and hazelnuts in it when I was done.

Highly recommended.
Jim
I read this years back but saw it recently in the bargain bin of a local bookstore and had a wonderful book flashback. You know that thing that happens when you see a beloved book after many years, like seeing an old friend. Such an interesting book. I distinctly remember the author's premise that companies no longer create new candy so much but introduce new flavors of established brands, i.e. Snickers Dark, Milky Way Caramel, Peanut Butter Twix, etc. This really has been proven true over the y ...more
Lize
Aptly titled, as the author has one ferocious oral fixation that he mostly satisfies with candy (although he does confess to wanting to suck on Cameron Diaz's eyeballs). Despite my NOT being a candy freak (I don't quite qualify--a cake freak, yes) I itched to try some of the regional bars that he talks about in the book.

Best quote: "If you give a teenage boy a candy bar with a ruler on the back of the package, he will measure his dick."
Abby
Jul 22, 2007 Abby rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Candy Lovers
This book was so fun and light. And for a candy addict like me, this was a validation that I am not alone. Though it mostly deals with chocolate and nostalgia, the author does tour many of the small mom and pop candy factories left in the US. He writes in an easy conversational style and you can tell that both he and the peole he interviews really love the subject.

This was a lovely summer read and has made me put other candy history books on my to read list.
John
This was fun. Listened to it as an audiobook, and I thought it was odd that he didn't read it himself. I know that Almond can speak in public, since I've seen him host the Moth, and it was weird because this is a first person kinda autobiographical essay book, and every time I remembered that I was listening to some actor it brought me out of it a little.
The only problem here was things got a little repetitive as Almond hit the third and fourth and fifth candy factory. It seems like there are a
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Steve Almond is the author of two story collections, My Life in Heavy Metal and The Evil B.B. Chow, the non-fiction book Candyfreak, and the novel Which Brings Me to You, co-written with Julianna Baggott. He lives outside Boston with his wife and baby daughter Josephine.
More about Steve Almond...
My Life in Heavy Metal: Stories Which Brings Me to You: A Novel in Confessions (Not that You Asked): Rants, Exploits, and Obsessions Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life: A Book by and for the Fanatics Among Us The Evil B.B. Chow and Other Stories

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“Every now and then, I'll run into someone who claims not to like chocolate, and while we live in a country where everyone has the right to eat what they want, I want to say for the record that I don't trust these people, that I think something is wrong with them, and that they're probably - and this must be said - total duds in bed.” 97 likes
“The answer is that we don't choose our freaks, they choose us.” 77 likes
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