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'Candy: The Sweet History'

<i>Candy: The Sweet History</i> by Beth Kimmerle (Collectors Press, 2003).
Candy: The Sweet History by Beth Kimmerle (Collectors Press, 2003).

Nowadays, most of us regard candy as a guilty pleasure, but during the Great Depression, sugary confections were marketed as a healthy and inexpensive source of nourishment. Popular candies of the era carried names such as Chicken Dinner and Denver Sandwich -- designed to evoke the sense of a satisfying, full meal.

That's just one of the interesting tidbits author Beth Kimmerle shares in her new book, Candy: The Sweet History. The book is both a primer on the history of sweets -- dating back to the time of the ancient Egyptians -- and an homage to the American candy brands that became icons of the 20th century.

In an interview with NPR's Michele Norris, Kimmerle says that the nostalgia associated with sweets has been key to the longevity of many brands. Some -- such as Wrigley's and Squirrel Brand -- have enjoyed popularity among consumers for more than a century.

"Candy is with us at very special moments -- we have candy at movies, we have candy at Easter, and we have candy at significant holidays like Valentine's Day," Kimmerle says. "People want those memories again, they want to be able to relive those days... They're remembering their lives through candy."

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