In the production notes for this week’s episode of Radio Free Charleston I promised you the story behind the “Idaho Spud” shirt. So here goes…
First, although it’s a reasonable assumption given my level of fantacism for the band, this shirt has nothing to do with DEVO. It features The Idaho Spud Candy Bar, which has been a regional favorite in the Northwest for nearly a century, but which is virtually unknown in other parts of the country. How I came to be aware of this candy bar requires links and references to another blog.
I’m a big fan of Mark Evanier and read his blog, News from ME, every day. Mark’s had an amazing career as a writer and producer working with everyone from Jack Kirby to Sergio Aragones to producing the Garfield cartoons and story-editing a season of Welcome Back Kotter. He also writes one of the most entertaining blogs in the world.
Last February, he ran an encore of a post from 2006. This was a flash back to an incident in his youth where he and his friends went to see a double feature, a trip to the snack bar ended badly and a candy bar was thrown at the movie screen…where it stayed, apparently for weeks. You need to read Mark’s original post because he tells the story in such a hilarious fashion and I don’t want to simply reprint his post here.
The reason for that is because, as funny as Mark’s story is, it was only the spark that led to this post. You see, Mark’s story made me curious. The candy bar in question was The Idaho Spud, which I had never heard of before. So I Googled it.
It turns out that the Idaho Candy Company is still in business and has an active website, from which, if you are so inclined, you may purchase said Idaho Spud candy bars, as well as T-shirts and some of the other fine candy bars offered from this company. They even offer a nifty variety pack with samples of all of their candy.
You need to remember, your PopCulteer does not drink alcoholic beverages. That includes beer. Ordering exotic and weird candy on the internet is as close as I’m ever going to get to the craft beer craze.
And that brings us to this post. I’m going review the candy offered up in the variety pack. This has actually taken me months to write, since I try to limit my sugar intake. This week’s PopCulteer is all about reviewing the candy in the Idaho Candy Large Variety Pack. Since I wore the T-shirt on this week’s RFC, it made sense to run this piece now.
First off a note: Mrs. PopCulteer, who is quite the afficianado of chocolate declined participation in these reviews because, while she loves chocolate, she hates coconut and isn’t terribly fond of peanuts, either. So I had to fly solo on this. I did discover, while talking to people about this candy, that a surprisingly large number of folks absolutely hate coconut. I’d never realized that before.
The Idaho Spud Candy Bar
This is the one that started it all–the candy bar that was mistaken for a chocolate-covered potato and then found itself in a supporting role in a Dark Shadows movie. It’s actually a pretty good candy bar. Light cocoa-flavored marshmallow fluff is covered in dark chocolate and then rolled in coconut flakes. Yes, it does look vaguely potatoesque, but it tastes great. I can see why it’s been around since 1918.
The hostility directed at this candy bar by one of Mark Evanier’s friends seems totally unjustified. I can understand why Steve Adams got so excited when I mentioned this on the episode of Mark Wolfe’s The Real podcast when I was a guest. If you like coconut and dark chocolate, this is probably the next best thing to a Mounds Bar.
Old Faithful Candy Bar
Named after the famed Geyser in Yellowstone National Park, this is a simple, yet well-executed candy bar. The Old Faithful is a chocolate peanut cluster bar with a soft white marshmallow center. The vanilla flavored center is topped with whole peanuts and then generously coated with premium quality milk chocolate. Imagine a Mallo Cup with peanuts, only bigger. Another winner.
Here’s where we get outside of my comfort zone. I’m not big on berries due to a food allergy. This candy treat offers two gem-shaped lumps of Huckleberry-flavored marshmallow, covered with milk chocolate. If you like berry-flavored candy, you’ll probably enjoy this.
The smell is very strong for this candy, and to me it brought back memories of getting a piece of candy out of an unlabelled box of chocolates, and accidentally getting one with a filling I didn’t like.
Keep in mind that this is my personal taste. The Hucklberry filling tasted a bit like cough syrup to me, but that’s just my take on this. I’d imagine that, if you like the taste of blueberry or raspberry, you might like this one. I found it to be rather nasty.
The Owyhee Cherry Cocktail
This is another candy bar where my personal tastes come into play. I love cherries, and I love chocolate, plus I like peanuts. However, I’ve never been able to stand chocolate-covered cherries. The reason is that gooey cherry liquid inside most of them. I can’t stand that stuff. It reminds me of Creomulsion cough syrup.
This candy concoction takes the peanuts and chocolate, grinds them into a not-very-appetizing-looking paste, and forms it around a whole maraschino cherry, and some of that infernal icky goo. It was visually unappealing to me.
Surprisingly, it didn’t taste that bad. The chocolate-peanut paste, which looks a bit like pressed wood, is delicious. The cherry was tasty and the goo was tolerable. I can see how folks who like chocolate-covered cherries would really love this thing.
Bite Sized Owyhee Butter Toffee
Owyhee Butter Toffee is handmade in small batches with natural ingredients. Sugar, corn syrup, real butter, and fresh California Almonds make this one of the best butter toffees I’ve ever tried. This butter toffee is made using a 1925 recipe and is then rolled in ground almonds.
Of all the candies in the Variety Pack, this is the one I’m most likely to order again.
There you have it: The result of an impressionable PopCulteer reading Mark Evanier’s blog and being inspired to surf the web to order candy and a T-shirt, and further inspired to write about it here so that he can count it as a business expense.
And one more time, here is this week’s episode of Radio Free Charleston, “Idaho Spud Shirt”
Look at yesterday’s post for a guide to STUFF TO DO, and check back for all our regular features. PopCult has fresh content every day.