Sweet stuff

Three candy bulletins from the last month: the news (which came to me from Scott Schwenter on Facebook, reporting exultantly from Pickerington OH) that Trix Fruity Shapes (from General Mills) are back on the shelves; today’s Wayno & Piraro Bizarro cartoon with cotton gin ‘gin(-flavored) cotton candy’; and the Sunday 10/28 NYT Magazine Candy Issue.

The Trix saga. Scott’s grocery-store photo:


Posed in a bowl:


The story from Wikipedia:

Trix is a brand of breakfast cereal made by General Mills in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the North American market and by Cereal Partners (using the Nestlé brand) elsewhere in the world. The cereal consists of fruit-flavored, sweetened, ground-corn pieces.

… The cereal originally used spherical cereal pieces, but in 1991, these were changed to puffed fruit-shaped pieces, presumably to avoid clashing with Berry Berry Kix upon the latter’s 1992 introduction. In 2007, they reverted to their original shape in the United States.

… On September 21, 2017 General Mills announced that the six color [orange, yellow, red, purple, blue, green] version of Trix cereal would be reintroduced back to the market . [This was done in October.]

(Note that the 6 colors are the 3 primaries and 3 secondaries in the artist’s color wheel, and the 6 colors of the rainbow Pride flag. Each cereal color has a shape, representing a fruit: orange, lemon, raspberry, grape, blueberry, watermelon, respectively.

The competition. See my 5/17/16 posting “Pebbles”, on Post’s Fruity Pebbles, with a Flintstones connection. Also brightly colored and achingly sweet — this stuff is really candy in cereal form — and open to gay plays on the adjective fruity (in the Pebbles posting, in a Mother Goose and Grimm strip with a cereal called LGBT Pebbles).

The fruit(y) ‘fag(gy)’ connection. Hard to resist, though the cereal makers seem determined to sidestep it. In most contexts, the noun fruit is untainted by intimations of queerness, but fruity seems to be more loaded, inviting things like this meme template:


(Some discussion in my 11/18/17 posting “Fruity Fruit Froot”.)

Mascots. A parrot (as in #3) seems not to have been chosen as mascot for any major American breakfast cereal. The Trix mascot is a rabbit. Cocoa Puffs has Sonny the Cuckoo Bird, who’s cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. Froot Loops (with a name that flirts with the slur fruit — some discussion in my 3/12/16 posting “Fruit loops”) has Toucan Sam. But no Peter Parrot (and of course no Polly Parrot, since cereal mascots are virtually always male).

On to Cotton Gin  2.0. The Bizarro strip:

(#4) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page.)

The name Cotton Gin 2.0 is a somewhat odd (complicatedly portmanteauesque) combination of the N + N compound cotton candy (referring to a candy that resembles cotton), the noun gin (referring to the alcoholic spirit), and the N + N compound cotton gin (referring to a machine for deseeding cotton fibers), all this manifested in a confection that’s also a combination, of ingredients: a kind of cotton candy infused with gin (and garnished with an olive, as in a martini).

On the contributing expressions, in order. From Wikipedia:

(#5) Plain cotton candy tends to look somewhat pinkish; the candy is commonly tinted and/or flavored

Cotton candy (also known as fairy floss in Australia and candy floss in the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, India and Sri Lanka) is a form of spun sugar. The confection is mostly sugar, with small amounts of either flavoring or food coloring often being added.

Cotton candy is made by heating and liquefying sugar and spinning it out through minute holes. It resolidifies in minutely thin strands of “sugar glass” [a resembloid, rather than subsective, compound]. The final cotton candy contains mostly air, with a typical serving weighing around 1 ounce or 28 grams. It is often served at fairs, circuses, carnivals, and Japanese festivals, and sold on a stick or in a plastic bag.

… Machine-spun cotton candy was invented in 1897 by the dentist William Morrison and confectioner John C. Wharton, and first introduced to a wide audience at the 1904 World’s Fair as “Fairy Floss” with great success, selling 68,655 boxes at 25¢ per box (equivalent to $6 per box today). Joseph Lascaux, a dentist from New Orleans, Louisiana, invented a similar cotton candy machine in 1921. In fact, the Lascaux patent named the sweet confection “cotton candy” [a subsective compound in which (N-hd)′ resembles (N-mod)′] and the “fairy floss” name faded away, although it retains this name in Australia.

Then from NOAD on the alcohol:

noun gin-1: 1 a clear alcoholic spirit distilled from grain or malt and flavored with juniper berries. … ORIGIN early 18th century: abbreviation of genever.

noun genever: Dutch gin. ORIGIN early 18th century: from Dutch, from Old French genevre, from an alteration of Latin juniperus (gin being flavored with juniper berries). The variant spelling is due to association with Geneva.

Finally, on the machine:

noun gin-2: 1 a machine for separating cotton from its seeds. … ORIGIN Middle English (in the sense ‘a tool or device, a trick’): from Old French engin (see engine). (NOAD)

A modern mechanical cotton gin was created by American inventor Eli Whitney in 1793 and patented in 1794. Whitney’s gin used a combination of a wire screen and small wire hooks to pull the cotton through, while brushes continuously removed the loose cotton lint to prevent jams. It revolutionized the cotton industry in the United States, but also led to the growth of slavery in the American South as the demand for cotton workers rapidly increased. (Wikipedia link)

(#6) 19th-century print illustrating Whitney’s cotton gin

Candy Sunday. Sunday was National Chocolate Day, but the NYT Magazine went way beyond chocolates. A set of fascinating articles, including an odd one on describing flavors (“Taste Test” by Samin Nosrat) and a magnificent survey of favorite candies from around the world, several dozen of them, spread over six pages (“Home Sweet Home” by Elise Craig). Plus “Salty Tooth”, on salmiakki, Finnish salty licorice; “Big in Japan” by Tejal Rao, on Kit Kat bars; and “Sugar Works” by Christopher Payne, on the Columbina candy factory in La Paila, Colombia.

From Craig’s world survey:

(#6) Beacon Allsorts (South Africa)

Allsorts aren’t a South African concept — the jumble of colors and shapes was invented by a British company called Bassett’s, supposedly after a salesman dropped all his candy and a potential buyer loved the idea of the jumble — but Beacon’s version is a best-selling licorice candy in South Africa. The company was originally started by a Lithuanian immigrant who began his business making chocolate in the 1930s. Beacon pitches Allsorts as ‘‘the original play-food’’ because of the different shapes and colors that you can stretch and stack and mess around with. Though Allsorts are meant to be played with, they are popular among what the company calls ‘‘big kids’’ — those from 18 to 54. Originally available only in licorice flavor, the packs of candies now come in four varieties.

From Wikipedia:

Liquorice allsorts are assorted liquorice confectionery sold as a mixture. Made of liquorice, sugar, coconut, aniseed jelly, fruit flavourings, and gelatine, they were first produced in Sheffield, England, by Geo. Bassett & Co Ltd. [in 1899]

Allsorts are produced by many companies around the world, but are most popular in Britain and continental Europe (especially the Netherlands where they are called Engelse drop, meaning English liquorice). They are also common in Scandinavia, where they are called Engelsk konfekt. South African confectionery giant Beacon produces substantial quantities of the product, selling it locally and exporting it to Australia, Canada, and Portugal.

When I lived in the UK, I was inordinately fond of Bassett’s liquorice Allsorts.

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