Lori's Reviews > Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America

Candyfreak by Steve Almond
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Feb 08, 2011

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bookshelves: 2011, food-lovers, non-fiction, audio
Read in March, 2011

I have to start by saying that I thoroughly loved most of this book. Again, I heard about this one through Books on the Nightstand and, as everyone there had remarked, this one was great fun. The author opens the book stating that he has eaten candy every single day of his life since he can remember, even through bouts of stomach flus and surgeries. Candy Freak was like a romp down memory lane as the author reminisced about Pop Rocks, Lick-a-Sticks and discovered the joys of Goo-Goo Clusters, a southern specialty that my Mississippi-born mother-in-law used to purchase by the case. It was rather difficult to believe that a book about candy could keep me entertained for hours (I listened to this one) since, even though I do enjoy my sweets, I would definitely not classify myself anywhere in the realm of Steve Almond, Candy freak, but this one did - for the MOST part.

When he was listing the favorite candies and trinkets of his childhood, I was right there. When he was describing the black market that developed as the demand for pop rocks exploded beyond the suppliers' ability to supply them, I was engaged. When he sought out various local "boutique" candy makers and visited their production lines to see, smell and taste first-hand their creations, I wanted to call him up and BEG him to take me along on a return visit. I may not be a complete "candy freak" but I do enjoy good food and his descriptions of stepping out of the car and smelling chocolate and imagining that there could be little else better than arriving at work every day to a place that smelled like heaven had me saying, "Amen!"

Then, he stopped short and stopped me with him when interviewing one of the owners of one of the small boutique companies, an entrepreneur, in business terms, and speculated with dismay that this guy probably voted for George W. Bush, horror of horrors! In other words, up to that point, he had really liked this guy (the entrepreneur) and had become appreciative of the hard work and business sense that it took to get the independent candy maker to this point but if this entrepreneurial schlub had actually been stupid enough to vote for W, he couldn't be a human being worth much more consideration. This little rabbit trail rant unsettled and distracted me for about 15 minutes, but hey, there aren't many authors/screenwriters/reporters/newscasters these days who don't feel it their moral duty to constantly put in a jibe wherever they can no matter how inappropriate or irrelevant the comment or setting may be - think the movie "Julie, Julia" which completely delighted me when I looked beyond the out-of-the-blue "Republican" remark that basically categorized all such creatures somewhere on the level of one-celled amoebas - and THEY call US judgmental and intolerant!

Anyway, his initial digression regarding Bush made me realize that, much as I had wanted to come along with him to chocolate heaven, he had just made it very clear that if I voted for Bush, my ranking as a sentient human being had just dropped significantly, so much in fact, that he would have no desire to have me along for the ride. That is a rather unfortunate position to take when you are an author of a non-fiction FOOD book and are asking your readers to come along for a fun ride - UNLESS you don't happen to agree with him politically. So, because I was listening while gardening and didn't have the clean hands to stop the audiobook in progress, I continued on when, about three quarters of the way through, he did it again, only this time it was a true rant and lament about how the Republicans cater to the ultra wealthy while the merciful, Chicago-run Democrats have nothing but the good of the nation, the poor and the environment at heart and, because the "Ultra Rich" had just won significant congressional seats, the country was going to be left in the stranglehold of greedy Halliburton! Oh, alas and lament!

In truth, his left-wing diatribes against the rich and anyone stupid enough to have any leanings towards conservative issues, probably lasted only a few pages total. I don't expect authors to hide their political ideologies and I am willing to forgive a lot. I am very capable of enjoying a book or film by people I know are politically on the opposite side of the spectrum from me. However when they assume (and we all know what happens when we ass-u-me, right?) that anyone holding differing political opinions is not only less humane or intelligent, but someone not worthy of further consideration, I do tend to become personally offended at that. A book like this is an intimate adventure between the reader and the author and this author, spoke directly into my ear exactly what he thinks about people like me and, honestly it left a pretty bad taste in my mouth for what was otherwise a very sweet read.
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message 1: by Sally (new)

Sally I just bought this book! And many others...!


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