The 100 Year Old Cherry Mash Candy and Cincy’s Connection

I was recently introduced to Chase Candy’s Cherry Mash Candy while technicians were trying to replace a warning sensor on my flight.     At 100 years in 2018, it is our nation’s third oldest ‘candy bar’ – if you can really call it that – to the Hershey Chocolate Bar, and its close cousin, Nashville’s Goo Goo Cluster.    The company plans a year’s worth of celebrations honoring is centurian status.

The Cherry Mash Candy comes from the brilliant mind of Ernst Chase, the son of company founder, George Washington Chase.   It’s a cherry fondant or nougat filled center made with real egg frappe (for better mouth feel) and real pieces of maraschino cherries, covered in a mound of chocolate and crushed peanuts.      It’s more of a mound or cluster than a candy bar, like the Goo Goo.     Ernst’s father, George Washington Chase, was a doctor turned candy maker, who founded Chase Candy Company in 1876 in St. Joseph, Missouri, where the Cherry Mash, and its sibling the mini mash, are still made in a factory that’s so secret it doesn’t allow plant tours.

Wild cherry flavor has been used in the confection since the 1930s, while the custom milk-chocolate coating has been made for at least 60 years by Blommer in Chicago.  Blommer uses cocoa butter rather than vegetable oil. Peanuts, roasted and ground on site, are typically incorporated within 24 to 48 hours of roasting.   Over 15 tons of maraschino cherries, 200,000 pounds of peanuts and 200,000 pounds of chocolate coating go annually  into the production of Cherry Mash.


The Chase Candy Cop mascot was prominently featured on the  wrappers of the many candy bars the company had from the ate 1920s to the 1930s- Mallo Milk, the Nutrol, Black Walnut, Malted Milk, Chase Nut Bar and Candy Dogs.

Chase was family owned until 1944, when the F. S. Yantis company, out of Chicago, which still owns them today, bought.    And here’s where the Cincinnati connection comes in, in 1946, Chases (owned by Yantis) purchased the National Candy Company, originally owned by Vincent Price Sr. (father of actor Vincent Price) which was headquartered in St. Louis.   Our local Peter Eckert Company, joined the league of 12 companies in 1896 which formed the National Candy Company.     Roscoe Rodda, the man whose company created the marshmallow peep was a former owner of the Eckert Company before they sold out to National Candy.



Glorias Candy from Monterrey Mexico : North America’s Only Goat’s Milk Caramel


As a trade show barker for many years, I’m familiar with the all present candy jar at the booths.    It draws potential customers in for a quick elevator speech and some carry back marketing material.   I just attended a trade show in south Florida targeted to the Latin American market.    Our sales manager from Mexico City was our main demonstrator, and before the show opened we asked him if he had a local favorite candy that we could buy to put in our candy jar.

His face lit up with a smile when he said, “Yes,  I do have a local favorite candy from Monterrey – but you can’t buy it in the U.S.”    He went on to tell us that since a child his favorite candy was called Glorias.      He revealed its ingredients, and, as it turns out, it’s probably the only commercial goat’s milk caramel in all of the Americas.     Goats are everywhere in Monterrey – cabrito, or grilled whole kid goat, is the specialty of the region.    So its no wonder that their milk, with sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and pecans are mixed together to make the region’s beloved candy.   And, the Gloria is probably the only one of the many and interesting native candies of Mexico that doesn’t  get the salt or spice treatment.

There are several companies that make the candy in Mexico – the Monterrey based – Linares Company, Aldama, and Las Sevillanas.   The latter two are known for their signature red wrapped Glorias.

The story behind the candy begins in 1932 in a little town Linares, in the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon.   Two enterprising women, Natalia Medina Nunez and Melesio Perez started a business selling goats milk candy.   A few years later, Natalia went off on her own, creating the product “Las Glorias.”     It caught on quickly and became famous all throughout Mexico.   One story says it was named after Dona Natalia’s granddaughter, Gloria.  But another said customers were so satisfied by the chewy candy that they said, “It tasted like glory!”

I think there’s a possibility that Jungle Jims or one of the many Latin Groceries carry this favorite Mexican treat and I look forward to discovering it!



Burritos for the Immigrant Braceros, Were a Food of Embarrassment


Braceros (1960) by Domingo Ulloa, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.

Chipotle is now the second largest Mexican food chain, behind stolen taco chain, Taco Bell. Even with their recent food scares, they have defined the Mission Style Burrito in this country. It seems every college campus has a local burrito shop with “burritos as big as your head.” And chains like our local Currito are wrapping everything in a flour tortilla and calling it a burrito. There are Greek burritos and Thai burritos. I think I’ve even seen a German burrito, filled with goetta.

The burrito first crossed the border into the U.S. in the 1920s when small meals called burros came with migrants from the Mexican province of Sonora into Tuscon, Arizona. But unlike the taco, the burrito wasn’t as widely known throughout Mexico, only in the borderland regions of Sonoro and Baja, where flour tortillas were more widely used than the corn variety. And, the burrito has been nationally available as all the early taco chains that started in the 1960s carried them. There is a story that the immigrant miners of Sonora named their portable meal after the donkeys who led them deep into the mines.

The burrito was a meal of the working class – a simple meal of leftovers wrapped in a tortilla. They were easier to transport than tacos, made of corn tortillas, which harden shortly after being heated. The burrito’s first mass customer in the U.S. were the immigrant bracero workers.

The Bracero Program (1942-1964) was a bi-national effort that brought Mexican guest workers, known as braceros, to fill in agricultural labor shortages caused by World War II. The living conditions in bracero camps, like that in Holtville, California, were very bad. The braceros depended on farmers and the government for everything – wages, food, clothes, housing. Their handlers found it easier to supply burritos en masse to give to their workers to take to the field, rather than to prepare fresh lunches for them – wrap them in foil, let them bake in the sun and it’s an instant meal, thought the farm managers.


The Last Supper of Chicano Heroes, mural, Jose Antonio Burciaga, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California.

The burrito became a meal of scorn and embarrassment. Most of the workers, who came from Central Mexico, were not familiar with the burrito, and the flour tortilla. Each worker got two bean burritos, cheese only being added as a bonus for good performance. The workers hated them. Imagine eating two bland bean burritos a day. When the kids of these braceros and other immigrants brought burritos for their school lunch, they were often ridiculed and ostracized by the Anglican peanut-butter-and-jelly-eaters. Their grease-stained brown bags were indicators of the working class food inside. There are numerous references to this in Chicano literature.

So while the burrito is the ubiquitous convenience-comfort meal to the gringo American, it symbolizes the scorn and embarrassment to its first big customer – the Chicano migrant working families of the Southwest U.S.

Everybody is a Country Cousin in Alexandria

In the area around Alexandria, Kentucky, street names like Spillman, Shaw, and Enzweiler, bear the last names of early settlers whose descendants still live in the area. Many of them came from Virginia to claim the lands to which they were entitled because of their service during the Revolutionary War. The original 1840s Campbell County courthouse is still standing, but now houses the historical society. The downtown looks very similar to what it looked like around the time of the Civil War. If you’ve lived in the area for more than three generations, you’re most probably related to the majority of people in town. Recently, a scene from the movie Carol was filmed at their local diner, Spare Time.

So, when Marion Reinhardt and his wife, Mary Kramer opened up a bakery called Country Cousins on Main Street in Alexandria, in 1968, it was no joke. Almost everybody in Alexandria are cousins. I am a country cousin, in fact. My ancestors dug out and laid the roads through Alexandria and Carthage Kentucky, and farmed the sometimes steep, but rolling hills along the Ohio River.

It was fifty years ago today (Valentine’s Day) that the Reinhardts, who met growing up on adjoining farms in Grant’s Lick, Kentucky, a farming community just south along the river from Alexandria, opened the bakery. After a first date at the Alexandria Fair, they married and settled into farm life. But, after 27 years of milking cows, tending chickens, and hauling hay, they had to find an easier way to make a living. Mary had been involved in baking for church bazaars to earn money for her two sons’ – Marc and Mike – school books. People complimented her on her baking and said she should open a bakery.

So, when a friend offered them three months free rent, they jumped on the opportunity. None of them thought the bakery would survive, but due to Mary’s hard work and hard line management they did. Mary became the first female president of the Greater Cincinnati Baker’s Association in 1980.


Country Cousin’s City Glazed, a tongue-in-cheek nod to our region’s City Chicken.
I am a fan of the methodology they use for donuts. Instead of cutting donuts in a round shape, they use octagonal cutters, so there is no waste between donuts. They also use the donut holes to make what they call “City Glazed” – a nod to our region’s City Chicken. Like city chicken, they take the donut hole cubes and skewer them on a stick, press them down, fry them, resulting in a bear claw like donut. They use the octagonal donuts to make knots and twists, and then use square forms for the jelly filled donuts, and their long johns, again saving on wasted dough. They are not afraid to use sprinkles or jimmies. In fact, I know of no other bakery in Greater Cincinnati who uses so many sprinkles for their donuts. They will sprinkle jimmies of your school colors on iced or glazed for a fundraiser. They’re also known for their coconut yeast roll, their decorated cakes, and coffee cakes.

I’ve stopped by there almost every time I visit the Campbell County Historical Society across the street.  I’m a particular fan of their maple glazed, cream filled long johns, which I like to dunk in their fresh made coffee.

Their donut making video on YouTube has attracted so much buzz that two men from Slovakia came to the bakery to learn their techniques from owner Michael, so they could open a Country Cousins bakery in their hometown.
Do yourself a favor, the next time you’re in Alexandria – get a donut and coffee from Country Cousins Bakery!

In Cincinnati, the Pre-Lenten Polish Paczki is Essentially, a Berliner



A paczki from Bonomoni, the winner in Cincinnati’s first Best Paczki contest.

When Fat Tuesday rolls around, all those who pledge to give up something for Lent indulge for one last day.      That’s the whole premise behind Mardi Gras, the French term for Fat Tuesday, or Fastnacht, the German version.   Both days are marked with carnevale type celebrations, parades, bead throwing, moon pie eating (in Mobile, Alabama, the birthplace of Mardi Gras).      And, around all that reveling, a European tradition of delectable donuts arose several hundred years ago.    One tradition was round and cream filled, and another was square and sugar dusted.

The Polish have their paczki, the Austrians have their Krapfen, the Pennsylvania Germans of Lancaster, Berks, and York counties, have their Fastnachts; parts of Maryland have their Kinklings, or Kuecheles; New Orleans, has its beignets, brought by the French Acadians or Cajuns, King Cakes brought by the French Creoles, and its Catholic African Americans descended from West African slaves, have their fried rice dumplings, the calas.     Italians have their castagnoles, fried cake puffs soaked in liqueur ; and cenci, crispy strips of fried pastry like funnel cake.

It’s interesting that even though Cincinnati has a huge German population, that the paczki is the pre-Lenten donut that is made, rather than the Fastnachts or Kuecheles of Germany.     Fastnachts and Keucheles are different than the paczki, which is a dense, round, deep fried, sugar coated, jelly or custard filled donut.   They are square, deep fried, and not typically filled, but powdered with sugar and sometimes cinnamon.    The Austrian Krapfen is round and thin, but more like the Fastnachts and Keucheles.

But, somehow the Keuchele in Cincinnati was associated with Halloween.     In German immigrant neighborhoods of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, kids used to say “kigele, kigele” while trick-or-treating at Halloween, indicating that at one time those donuts were made.       But, there is no Greater Cincinnati bakery today that makes a keuchele donut.

The reason is probably that a paczki, is essentially what the Germans call a Berliner – a deep fried jelly filled donut.      The Berliner is not in the U.S. associated as a pre-Lenten donut – it’s to be enjoyed all year round.   The paczki of Poland were typically filled with prune paste, or rose hip cream, not the jellies or custards that we fill them with here in the U.S.    And the local bakeries that make them are all German in origin.   Cincinnati really didn’t have a huge Polish immigrant community like Northern Ohio and the upper Midwest.   Those that came to Cincinnati from what would become the country of Poland were essentially German-speaking Europeans who lived in the duchy of Pommerania or the Prussian Empire.


This was the first year that the Polish Federation of Cincinnati judged the local paczkis at area bakeries.   Bonomoni came in first with their strawberry filled, Regina for their raspberry filled, and Graeters for their custard filled.    Other contestants were Servatti, North College Hill, Busken, and Holtman’s.   My favorite is the lemon-filled paczki from Busken, but I also tried Servatti’s strawberry cream filled, which didn’t seem authentic.

So, when you’re enjoying your Cincinnati jelly or custard-filled paczki, you’re essentially eating a Berliner.

Kentucky Cream Pull Candy and Cincinnati’s Version

Kentucky cream pull candy has a long legacy in the Bluegrass State. More candy lovers are probably familiar with the boozy Bourbon Ball, or even the caramel coated marshmallow Modjeska of Louisville. But those in the know, love the rich butter cream, melt-in-your mouth texture, and the buttery vanilla flavor of cream pull candy. Some people claim the taste is reminiscent of cake frosting.

While no one knows when exactly the cream candy was born, it seems to have come out of family recipes of Central Kentucky some time before 1900. It appears in several Kentucky cookbooks from the 1880s and 1890s.

The candy is sort of like a taffy, but not pulled as much. If you pull the same ingredients to make taffy till it’s shiny and leave it to set and ‘cream’ it becomes Kentucky Pulled candy. If you pull it further until the shine becomes dull, then it has the texture of taffy. That’s a simplistic rheology lesson. Some mistake cream pull candy with Vinegar Taffy, but the latter is just that, a taffy, not a cream candy.

The basic ingredients of cream pull candy are heavy cream, sugar and vanilla. The candy is cooked to a hardball stage, poured on a marble slab to cool, then pulled to the shiny stage. When pulled to a thin rope, the candies are cut into bite sized pieces and allowed to set to the cream stage overnight.

One famous fan of the candy was the mother of Kentucky Fried Chicken founder, Colonel Harlan Sanders. Margart-Ann Dunlevy Sanders had a family recipe for Kentucky cream pull candy that the Colonel sold to Don Hurt of Old Kentucky Chocolates, a candy store in Lexington , Kentucky, that still sells the candy today.

Four Kentucky women are known for their cream pull candy. Before inventing the bourbon ball, Louisville teachers Rebecca Gooch and Ruth Hanly Booe began pulling their own cream candy in the early 1920s. They formed Rebecca Ruth Candies in Frankfurt, Kentucky.

Ruth Hunt in Mt. Sterling took the Kentucky Cream candy to another level by inventing the Blue Monday, a mint flavored cream pull candy coated in chocolate. She named it after a Kentucky itinerant preacher who stopped in her candy store and said he needed something sweet to cure his blue Monday. The fourth Kentucky belle famous for the candy is Maxine “Mom” Blakeman of Lancaster, Kentucky, whose shop has been making the candy since the 1940s.


Cincinnati’s Fawn Candy has their own version of it called the Savanah Cream. The Fawn Company bought the recipe for the original Suzanne Cream, from Nick Sullivan of Suzanne’s Candy Kitchen in Ft. Wright, Kentucky. Originally their recipe of Kentucky Cream Pull Candy was named after Nick’s daughter. So, when Fawn bought the recipe and rights, they named it after one of the granddaughters of the founder – Savanah. So even though it’s a Cincinnati favorite, the Savanah Cream has a long legacy as a Kentucky cream pull candy.