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Editorial Reviews

Part memoir, part exploration of the candy industry, Steve Almond's Candyfreak is a treat for both confection connoisseurs and occasional nougat nibblers.

Like Charlie on his first visit to the Chocolate Factory, Almond is a wide-eyed narrator who truly appreciates the magic of candy. He wants to know how it's made and how he can get his hands on it. And like the Willy Wonka in us all, he dreams up extraordinary, imaginary candy concoctions that'll make your mouth water.

Oliver Wyman portrays Almond's freakdom to pitch-perfection - comic when recounting an embarrassing Halloween episode, nostalgic when reminiscing on his favorite candies of the past. The combination is heartfelt, quirky, and absolutely delicious.
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Publisher's Summary

Steve Almond doesn't just love candy, he unabashedly worships every aspect of confectionary culture, from the creation of an exceptional malt ball through the tragic demise of a badly conceived candy bar, from the emotion-laden memories stirred by a bite of chocolate to his near-drooling anticipation of spotting a new package on the candy shelves. Almond, who claims to have between three and seven pounds of candy in his house at all times, set out to uncover the inexplicable disappearance of the Bit-O-Choc, the Caravelle bar, and other delights. As he documents his visits to candy factories across America, he reveals the true nature of the industry, with hilarious asides examining the role candy plays in our lives, and often confessing his own near-obsessive cravings. Almond's wry writing style is undeniably addictive and impossible to put down until every last bit has been devoured; listeners should be warned to keep a ready supply of sweets on hand.
Hear Steve Almond on the May 28, 2004, edition of Splendid Table, the weekly radio show that explores food, cooking, culture, and more.
©2004 Steve Almond (P)2004 Highbridge Company
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Critic Reviews

Alex Award Winner, 2005
"Strangely endearing." (Publishers Weekly)
"I devoured Candyfreak. Steve Almond writes about chocolate with the passion of a man in love and the wonder of a wide-eyed kid in a candy store." (Tom Perotta, author of Election)
"An entertaining book full of repeatable tidbits about the candy industry." (The New York Times Book Review)
"Wry, self-deprecating, and darkly funny." (The Village Voice)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By inearthsha on 05-29-04

Pure AudioTruffle, diabetics cautioned

I've never heard anyone verbally describe candy with such lust and consideration; this guy thinks about candy more than once an <i>hour.</i>

He has considered it so much that he is credible to write a book on the matter which covers a breadth of issues; here are my favorites: globalization of candy-producing markets, why he uses candy as an emotional crutch, and what to do when your favorite confection gets pulled off the market.

The reader is easy to listen to and has better verbal inflection than your average reader. The only cautions I have for this book are that some groups of people are going to be more sensitive to the material because this guy <u>really</u> made me want to eat candy while listening to the book. If you are on a strict diet or diabetic and are trying to avoid just this type of thing, then skip this book. But, if you are a passive fan of candy or even an emotional overeater that needs to confront candy issues, this book might help you to understand how candy lures you in, time and time again.

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14 of 14 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Lori on 01-06-12

Sweet fun with bitter undertones

I have to start by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed most of this book. This was like a romp down memory lane as the author reminisced about Pop Rocks, Lick-a-Sticks and discovering the joys of Goo-Goo Clusters, a southern specialty that my Mississippi-born mother-in-law used to purchase by the case. It was rather difficult to believe that a book about candy could keep me entertained for hours since, even though I do enjoy my sweets, I would definitely not classify myself anywhere in the realm of Steve Almond, Candy freak, but this one did - for the MOST part.

When he was listing the favorite candies and trinkets of his childhood, I was right there. When he was describing the black market that developed as the demand for pop rocks exploded beyond the suppliers' ability to supply them, I was engaged. When he sought out various local "boutique" candy makers and visited their production lines to see, smell and taste first-hand their creations, I wanted to call him up and BEG him to take me along on a return visit. I may not be a complete "candy freak" but I do enjoy good food and his descriptions of stepping out of the car and smelling chocolate and imagining that there could be little else better than arriving at work every day to a place that smelled like heaven had me saying, "Amen!"

Then, he stopped short and stopped me with him when interviewing one of the owners of one of the small boutique companies, an entrepreneur, and speculated with dismay that this guy probably voted for George W. Bush, horror of horrors! In other words, up to that point, he had really liked this guy (the entrepreneur) and had become appreciative of the hard work and business sense that it took to get the independent candy maker to this point but if this entrepreneurial schlub had actually been stupid enough to vote for W, he couldn't be a human being worth much more consideration. This little rabbit trail rant unsettled and distracted me for about 15 minutes, but hey, there aren't many authors/screenwriters/reporters/newscasters these days who don't feel it their moral duty to constantly put in a jibe wherever they can no matter how inappropriate or irrelevant the comment or setting may be that basically categorizes all such creatures somewhere on the level of one-celled amoebas - and THEY call US judgmental and intolerant!

Anyway, his initial political digression made me realize that, much as I had wanted to come along with him to chocolate heaven, he had just made it very clear that if I voted for Bush, my ranking as a sentient human being had just dropped significantly, so much in fact, that he would have no desire to have me along for the ride. That is a rather unfortunate position to take when you are an author of a non-fiction FOOD book and are asking your readers to come along - UNLESS you don't happen to agree with him politically. So, because I was listening while gardening and didn't have the clean hands to stop the audiobook in progress, I continued on when, about three quarters of the way through, he did it again. That's the kind of commentary we need & want in a candy documentary, right?!!

In truth, his diatribes against the "rich" as well as anyone stupid enough to have any leanings towards conservative ideals probably lasted only a few minutes total. I don't expect authors to hide their political ideologies and I am willing to forgive a lot. I am very capable of enjoying a book or film by people I know are politically on the opposite side of the spectrum from me. However when they assume (and we all know what happens when we ass-u-me, right?) that anyone holding differing political opinions is not only less humane or intelligent, but someone not worthy of further consideration, I do tend to become personally offended at that. A book like this is an intimate adventure between the reader and the author and this author, spoke directly into my ear exactly what he thinks about people like me and, honestly it left a pretty bad taste in my mouth for what was otherwise a very sweet read.

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8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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