During this June, National Candy Month, let’s look in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections at an order placed in October 1847 by Bowling Green druggist Joseph Younglove to a New York manufacturer of sweets. Included were 4 pounds each of Peppermint and Lemon Lumps; 2 pounds each of Peppermint Braid Candy and Ginger Lozenges; 4 pounds of Sugar Almonds; 2 pounds of Sassafras Lozenges; and 2 pounds of “Mottos, with verses” (sweets wrapped in tissue with mottoes enclosed). Younglove passed up the “French Jujube Paste” (a concoction derived from a date-like fruit whose name survives today in the gummy drops we buy in boxes), but his other purchases would have filled the jars and bins of his store, which changed little during the combined 60-year proprietorship of Joseph and his brother John.
Younglove preferred to sell his candy ready-made, but everyone of a certain age remembers homemade candy. In the 1970s, WKU student Laura Hooe researched candy-making and candy pulling in Warren County. She collected recipes for stick, molasses, sorghum and taffy candy, and also picked up some culinary tips along the way, such as “If you have sugar in anything cooking, always add salt.”
Candy-pullings, of course, also offered a wholesome excuse for young people to socialize. “I was at a candy pulling last knight [sic],” wrote a young man to his cousin in 1858, “and we had some fun shore.” In 1896, an invitation went out to the Misses Page of Hart County, “respectfully” inviting them to a candy pulling on Christmas night.