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

Candyfreak by Steve Almond
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Apr 08, 09

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 “the writing pulses as if Almond (of course, Almond…) were a five year old on a sugar high” or “the vivid descriptions of the nuances of biting into different candy bars sent me running to the candy store” (entirely true, by the way). So I will not resist. I’ll surrender to the flow like a log of caramel on the conveyer belt through the chocolate enrobing machine.

This book functions both as tribute to the small businessman and candyfetish pornography. Almond’s travels lead him through the factories of one-building companies struggling to survive in the shadow of the candy world’s “big three” (Nestle, Hershey, Mars). He chronicles a fading world of beautiful machines churning out regional candy bars that maybe, just maybe, you’ll find on the less desirable candy rack real estate (if you’re lucky) but not in mainstream locations or near eye-level because the company owners can’t shell out the tens of thousands of dollars necessary to place their products in the big stores. The spirit of invention lives in these factory owners as well; when they talk about product development they sound insane, honestly, in the best way possible, as if they can taste the new candy before they produce the first sample.

Almond stumbles a little when he stereotypes small town living (sir, I defy you to get on a Greyhound bus anywhere, even in your precious Boston, and find anything different than you describe. It’s not like the Bostonians on Greyhound are wearing cardigans and reading Kant.) and he slips into “I’m a successful author but pity my pathetic personal life” territory more often than he should. Still, reading Candyfreak is flat-out fun, the kind of experience that raises your pulse a little when you pick up the book, like you’re about to do something you want to do after a long day of the opposite. Almond’s descriptive powers and childlike passion carry the day. And candy bars that look like potatoes sound cool. I want one right now.

Epilogue: I would say I’d read more Almond, but I realized after I read Candyfreak that I had once picked up his Not That You Asked at the library and put it back after reading the first few pages. So, in full disclosure, the jury’s still out on Almond the author, but Candyfreak (pop) rocks.
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Reading Progress

04/05/2009 page 150
52.08% 4 comments

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Hee!

(Mmmm...Jordan almonds, Hershey bars with almonds...)

message 2: by RandomAnthony (last edited Apr 05, 2009 04:42AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

RandomAnthony Ha, he addresses the name thing pretty early in the book...

I'm liking this, esp. the discussion of small candy businesses and how they evolve...it's a quick read...I started yesterday and I'm about 150 pages in...should finish in a day or two...the book inspired me to take the kids to a cool candy store a couple towns over...

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

His book "My Life in Heavy Metal" is great.

Sarah Did you find anything cool at the candy store? I searched out a few of the bars he mentioned after I read it -- one of which lived up to the description, and one of which didn't.

message 5: by Kim (last edited Apr 08, 2009 09:19AM) (new)

Kim Okay, I take offense at the cardigan wearing Bostonian crap, Anthony. Us New Englanders rock and you know it.

Plus, hello? Five Star Bars? Yes... I'm going territorial on you (AGAIN). Val's review said and I quote: This book turned me on to Five Star bars. Enough said.

Have you ever had one of these? Huh? Chocolately goodness at its finest.



message 6: by RandomAnthony (last edited Apr 08, 2009 10:03AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

RandomAnthony I mean no disparagement of the fine people of New England, Mrs. D. I was saying that Bostonians aren't wearing cardigans and reading Kant on the bus. I blame Steve Almond. Let's both beat him up.

I had never heard of Five Star Bars but I will check them out. I think it's great that Vermont has good chocolate, since the cheese is sub-par.


Sarah, the candy store was more the "little bags of candy" type...so I didn't try out anything new at the store. I'm very, very tempted, however, by candydirect...

message 7: by Kim (new)

Kim But I DO wear cardigans and read Kant on buses... Okay, maybe not Kant... maybe the Twilight series, but STILL.


Don't you start on the fucking cheese, Anthony.

message 9: by Kim (new)


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