Wonder Woman gets Milk Duds at the Charcoal Pit

In today’s Zippy, Bert and Bob talk movies at the Charcoal Pit:


The topic is the new movie Wonder Woman, the candy Milk Duds comes up in passing, and the locale is the Charcoal Pit in Wilmington DE.

The movie. From Wikipedia:


Wonder Woman is a 2017 American superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is the fourth installment in the DC Extended Universe. The film is directed by Patty Jenkins, with a screenplay by Allan Heinberg, from a story by Heinberg, Zack Snyder, and Jason Fuchs, and stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, and Elena Anaya. Wonder Woman is the second live action theatrical film featuring the titular character, following her debut in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. … The film tells the story of Princess Diana, who grows up on the Amazon island of Themyscira. After American pilot Steve Trevor crashes offshore of the island and is rescued by her, he tells the Amazons about the ongoing World War. Diana then leaves her home in order to end the conflict, becoming Wonder Woman in the process.

… Diana is an immortal Amazon princess, demigoddess, the daughter of Queen Hippolyta and Zeus, and the half-sister of Ares.

Yes, there’s a lot of (moviefied) Greek mythology, and it does end with a monster fight, Wonder Woman vs. Ares.

The candy. Slang background, from GDoS:

noun dud-1: [ety. unknown] an article of clothing, esp. a cloak, made from rough, coarse cloth [first cite c.1440]

pl. noun duds: [< dud-1] clothing [first cite 1542]

noun dud-2: [? dud-1, thence rags and thus one who dresses in them, esp. a dudman, a scarecrow] 1 of a person, a failure, an incompetent, a weakling, a bore [first cite 1825] 2 anything that lit. or fig. ‘does not work’ [first cite 1901] 3 of a thing or event, a failure, a disappointment, a ‘flop’ [first cite 1905]

Yes, this is relevant. Now from Wikipedia:

(#3) Recent packaging of Milk Duds; note chocolatety, which makes no claims about chocolate content

Milk Duds are a caramel candy, enrobed with a confectionery coating made from cocoa and vegetable oil. They are manufactured by The Hershey Company, and sold in a yellow box.

According to the manufacturer, the word “Milk” in the name refers to the large amount of milk in the product; the use of “dud” came about because the original aim of having a perfectly round piece was found to be impossible. Milk Duds were first created in 1926 by Sean le Noble.

… The Hershey Company, in 2008, changed the ingredients of some of its products, in order to replace the relatively expensive cocoa butter with cheaper oil substitutes. This was done to retain a current product price, rather than having to raise prices in the marketplace for products containing cocoa butter.

Commerce marches on.

I grew up not far from Hershey PA, in major chocolate country. Also firmly in the midst of pretzel country So I am indeed familiar with chocolate-covered pretzels, though I can’t say that I’m fond of them. Milk Duds, however, were prime movie-going food.

The burger and malt place. The sign outside the original Charcoal Pit in north Wilmington DE:


The entire place has a 50s feel to it.

From the Charcoal Pit’s own accounting of the place (reproduced here without editing):

The Charcoal Pit Tradition dates back to September 1956 when it first opened its doors. The “Pit” – referred to by loyal customers, became such an instant success that only after three months from the grand opening, it was decided to build more room for its long line of hungry customers. The “Pit” went from a small four table and a counter burger joint to a 115 customer-seating establishment.


Our award-winning burgers have been a tradition in Delaware ever since. The recipe is secret and has kept Delawareans craving the “Pit” for generations. Those who first patronized the “Pit”, are today bringing their children and grandchildren to enjoy the same tasty experience.

Our famous Ice Cream Creations celebrates our local high school teams and make delicious memories. It is worth a trip to the “Pit”

And Jane and Michael Stern’s review on their Roadfood website:

We were tipped off to the Charcoal Pit by a roadfooder named Amy, originally from Delaware, who accused us of missing what she called “the most Roadfood-esque place in the state”: the Charcoal Pit. Amy told us that she took friends from all over the country to the Pit and they loved it … and we would too! After Amy’s note, we got another strong suggestion from Steven Green that we needed to try this place. Steven said, “Everything has all the cholesterol (and taste) from the old days”; he recommended the burgers, French fries, and malts.

Sure enough, a Charcoal Pit burger exudes mid-century Americana: a modest patty with a charcoal taste served on a spongy bun either plain or in the deluxe configuration, which adds lettuce, tomato and pickle. For those who crave extra meat, there is also a double-size eight-ounce hamburger. French fries are normal-size twigs with a tough skin and soft potato flavor. Milk shakes come in silver beakers that hold at least two glasses full. (The shakes are so thick that a long-handled spoon is provided to help you get it from the beaker into your glass.) We even enjoyed the crab cakes, which were a couple of hardball-shaped spheres with crusty outsides and a fair measure of crab filling the interior.

It’s an old-fashioned kind of place with comfy maroon booths and vintage menus decorating the wall. Waitresses go about their job with aplomb and attitude that make customers feel part of a cheap-eats ritual that has gone on forever.

Just the sort of joint that Zippy and Griffy like to hang out in.

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