Before the refrigeration age, candy couldn't travel long distances. Regional sweets were a lot more common than they are now. A few remain in production, such as Valomilk from Kansas, GooGoo Clusters from the Deep South.
We have the Idaho Spud Bar - produced, as it has been since the end of World War I, on South 8th Street in Boise.
T.O. Smith, a journeyman candy maker, came to Boise to help build the Dewey Palace Hotel in Nampa. Around 1901, when the job was done, Smith returned to his earlier profession. He started making candy and selling it door to door out of shoe boxes. Soon, he had a staff of 17 people churning candy out of a small shop near 8th and Fort streets.
In 1909, the company moved to its present-day home. The 23,000-square-foot factory was among Boise's most modern buildings at the time. Boiseans considered it a progressive atmosphere for workers because it had innovations such as skylights and a "welfare" room - break room - for employees.
Next time you walk by the building, look closely at its facade. Each brick is individually painted in various shades of orange. Someone, said Dan Everhart of Preservation Idaho, then took the trouble to paint the mortar joints black.
Today, using some of the very equipment that was used in the early 1900s, the company makes a variety of candies, including Owyhee Butter Toffee, Burnt Peanuts, horehound drops and Chicken Bones - the latter an amalgam of molasses, peanut butter and coconut.
Three of its classic bars are still in production, including the Cherry Cocktail Bar (1926), the Old Faithful Bar (1925) and the celebrated Idaho Spud Bar, introduced in 1918. Despite rumors to the contrary, the Spud Bar does not contain potatoes. It resembles a potato, however, and has one of the most charming, retro-style wrapper designs around.
Many consider its slab of cocoa-flavored marshmallow covered in dark chocolate and coconut an acquired taste. The company originally marketed it as a health food, said current owner Dave Wagers, because it contains agar agar, a vegetarian gelatin made of seaweed. The company website features recipes for transforming the bar into a cocktail and into fondue.
Trivia lovers take note: At one time, the bar was shaped even more like a potato. It had two rounded slabs adhered to one another by a chocolate wafer and chocolate syrup "glue."
The Idaho Candy Co. has produced more than 50 different candy bars over the years, including the Chicken Dinner Bar, the Big Chief, the Quarter Section and the Fox Trot. The product list from the years between 1919 and 1928 offers the perfect opportunity for a list poem:
"Boise Retro Sugar"
Owyhee Mystery Package, Owyhee Victorias, Owyhee Tasties, Owyhee Anticipation, Owyhee Package of Plenty, Owyhee Matinee, Owyhee Tete Tete, Owyhee Meditation, Owyhee Peg of My Heart, Owyhee Floradora, Big Eat Bar, Hunky Dory, Kreamy KoKo Bar, Dainty Bits, Beetles, Bottles, Mice, Pipes, Slippers, Crabs, Hot Rolls, Dark Secrets, Brooms, Mapolette Society, Over the Top, Grasshopper Lunch, Midget Stix, Peter Pan, Roly Poly, Shimmy Dip, Sweet 16, Have-an-Egg, Tippecanoe, Fluffly Ruffles, Pecan Nut Tango, Uncle Sam Bar, Raspberry Jelly Cake, KoKo Paste, Daddy Paddles, Sweetheart Bar, Figgly Wiggly Bar, Poosey Bar and the Gin Fizz. The recipes are lost.
412 S. 8th St.
Anna Webb: 377-6431