Tag Archives: Books

Book Release: Sweet Tooth – The Bittersweet History of Candy

The above is not one of my better photographs, but for one taken without caffeine, it’ll have to do.

That being said, I want to let you know that Sweet Tooth is here. Well, not yet, technically, but it is a thing, one that I’ve held in my hand and made me finally give a sigh of relief.  You too can hold one in your hand if you:

  1. Know someone who already has a copy, or
  2. Are willing to shell out some money.

I would be lying if I said that I had no preference for either, as “b” is more beneficial for me, unless you choose “a” and then become a disciple of either the book or myself.

But selling my book is not the real purpose of this post, just a happy benefit. Really, I’m here to point out some basic metrics for you to consider.

- The first idea for this book popped into my head in November of 2009. It is now May of 2012. That’s a time cycle of 31 months from the idea to the bookstore bookshelf.  In that time frame, someone may have (and likely) conceived and birthed two children. I’m not sure why, but this concept astounds me.

- The book itself was fun, but it did burn me out on candy.  99 Drams did the same thing to me with whiskey, and it took two years before I was able to drink whiskey for fun again.

- This was the first book that resulted in my first overseas police incident.

- Several trips did not make it into the book, due to my inability to work them into the narrative. These trips included a stop in Paris, Cologne, and Zurich.

- The one candy that caught my fancy? A well-made gummy bear. America, we are getting screwed on the quality of our gummy candies. The German and the Swiss really know how to make a good one; especially from here.

- As far as cheap candies are concerned, Jelly Babies were a revelation.

- I no longer hate black licorice, but I still don’t particularly like it. If I must have black licorice, I would prefer to have a well made bag of All-Sorts.

- American consumers are finally catching on what good chocolate actually means. I see the same patterns of business that occurred in the brewing industry in the eighties and nineties occuring in now in the chocolate industry.

- I wasn’t all that surprised to find that some chocolate companies are more than willing to take advantage of people’s ignorance on chocolate.

- Candy isn’t as innocent as its marketers would have you believe. If there’s a subtext to the book, it’s that the idea of “The innocence of candy” is, at best, a misrepresentation of both history and current consumption patterns; at worst, an intentional exploitation of our individual penchant for nostalgia. The truth is somewhere between these two points.

- Finally, what I’ve learned is that candy and confections are one of the cheapest luxuries on the planet, one which begs the question of “How little cost is too little to be paying for something that we don’t technically need?”

It was a great joy to research and write the book, and I do hope you enjoy it when you pick it up to read, whether you pay for it or not.  If you want to see more of my thoughts on the book, feel free to visit this page, and consider picking up a copy online.






New Book Topic Announced, kinda, sorta

This is a brief note to let you know that I am writing a new book proposal, which means a change in the book topic* that will be covered here. The new book proposal is actually an old book proposal – Beer and Beer history.

What this means is that you’re likely to see some posts on beer (other than pilsners) on this here site from time to time, until the proposal is finished and out the door.

The reason for the change is simply one of circumstance. An opportunity has arisen to take advantage of some of the ideas in the old book proposal and package it in a different manner, and try to sell it. If the proposal doesn’t sell to a major publisher, then there’s an alternative path that I want to take the book down. In essence, it’s a proposal that has a multitude of opportunities, with new challenges to face, and I couldn’t pass that up.

I will return to the Spice Trade book proposal after the beer book proposal project is complete.


*Note: For those not acquainted with the new policies on “topics”, see this entry.

My Big Announcement

Several years ago, after being laid off from my second job in less than two years, I told my friends that I was working toward a new goal, one that didn’t involve the terms “quality assurance”, “process management” or “synergizing the proactive accounting of production techniques” (a real phrase uttered by someone other than myself, without a trace of irony). I told my friends that I was going to try to become a travel and food writer.

It was a bit naive on my part, because this goal is a fairly common one amongst those who are more than a bit frustrated by the white collar world. But a fair amount of what I’ve done on this site, and the other paying gigs I’ve done over the past three years have been completed with this end goal in mind.

Over the past few days, I’ve been able to get as close to my dream as I’ve ever been able. Yesterday, I signed a book deal with St. Martin’s Press, and they’ve agreed to publish a book based off of the proposal I had written well over a year and a half ago. The book, called “The Search for the Perfect Shot” is about whiskey in all of its many forms. I hope to be able to discuss the history and present day status of Scotch, Bourbon, Irish Whiskey, and Canadian Whiskey. My goal is to visit several dozen distilleries, large and small, and interview folks both passionate and “all business”. The current thinking is that the book will be released sometime in the spring of 2009.

What this means for Accidental Hedonist is that you, the reader, will be seeing more whiskey type posts. It won’t be “All Whiskey, all the time” as that would drive a few of the reader away. But it is likely there will be at least one post a week that deals with whiskey in some form.

Additionally this means that I will be looking for input from the readers in regard to the topic. If you know someone in the industry, I want to hear from them. If you have a favorite recipe involving whiskey, I want to hear from you. If you have an idea about whiskey that I have yet to bring up, I want to hear from you. The goal is to create a wealth of information that supplements the book, much like the “bonus features” one might see on a DVD of their favorite movie. Part of the major selling point of my proposal was that I might be able to get the readership of this site involved in the development of the book in some form or manner. As far as I am aware, this has yet to be done with a food book, and it will be interesting to see just what we can accomplish.

This means there will be some changes to Accidental Hedonist. My hope is that they will be seemless, but there’s no promise of that. These changes include:

  • Moving this site to a new host. My current host has complained that I take up too much of their server’s processing time, so it’s now time to move to a Virtual Private Server. Hopefully this will result in quicker load times for this site.
  • A Forum will be added in order to discuss all things whiskey. Additional topics are certain to be added.
  • I’m going to turn Accidental Hedonist into a Limited liability company. The site has long since surpassed the point of being a business, and it’s time I started treating it as such.
  • When the fund become available, one or two more guest writers will be added.
  • A “Store” will be added – in order to create more site revenue, to help pay for the new toys, and new writers. The store will also be created to offset the fact that, in a bit of irony, I won’t be able to leave my current job, at least for two more years, if even at all.

Like I said yesterday, big changes are coming. Some will be implemented quickly, others over the next year.

And between now and 2009, I’m going to be working my toochis off, ensuring a good first book, and yet fretting about the second and third ones.

My hope is that y’all will hang out for the duration to see what becomes of all of this.

Upton Sinclair and The Jungle

Here’s a great NY Times piece about the historical place of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, the birth of America’s Food regulation and how it fits into today’s Food climate.

via Megnut

What to eat – Marion Nestle

Marion Nestle is one of my favorite writers and food thinkers. Her book “Food Politics” is the first book I believe everyone should read if they want to understand the influence agri-business and food corporations have on the Federal Government, especially the USDA and FDA.

She has a new book and is making the rounds doing interviews, including a recent one at Epicurious.com.It is here where she states two things that are the foundation of my own food beliefs.

You can describe a healthy diet in ten words: “Eat less, move more, eat lots of fruits and vegetables.” If that’s not enough, add “Go easy on junk foods.”

Note her choice of words here. She’s not saying “This is how you lose weight”, rather she is saying “This is a healthy diet”, a distinction that is quite important.

Second point:

No single food is good or bad: We’re designed to eat a variety of things…Remember that all over the world people grow, flourish, and do well as long as they get enough calories and variety. Marketers want you to think you have to eat their product to be healthy, but that makes no sense from a biological standpoint.

It’s a simple concept, but one that’s often forgotten when blindsinded by all the food marketers and press.

If you haven’t read Marion Nestle, you really should.

Technorati Tags: Marion Nestle, Food

Hershey sues publisher over candy bar on book about Hershey

One of the several points I disagree with corporatists is how vehemently some companies protect their trademark. While I agree that these companies are required to do so legally, morally speaking it still doesn’t make it right. Sometimes, in fact, their behavior seems downright silly.

Take for example, this story.

The company wants an injunction to prevent publisher Simon & Schuster Inc. from using Hershey-owned images to market “Hershey: Milton S. Hershey’s Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire and Utopian Dreams,”

Here’s the kicker: Hershey’s does not object to the content of the book, nor to the use of the word “Hershey” in the books title. Just the pictures of the candy bars.

Can someone please let me know why? By the company’s own account the content is fine, the use of the company’s name is fine, but the pictures of the candy-bars, invented by the guy who runs the company, is off limits? This makes zero sense to me.

Hersheys is quickly becoming one of my least favorite companies out there.

Technorati Tags: Food and Drink, Chocolate, Hersheys, Lawsuits

Autumn Omakase

I’ve gotten to meet Hillel Cooperman on several occasions, and have broken bread with him. It is very clear that the man loves his food. As someone noted to me recently, he has an obsession with food that would put Ruth Reichl to shame. This, I believe, is a good thing.

Last year he released, for free, All About Apples, a tasting menu from Scott Carsberg of Lampreia. It was a lavish cookbook done (via a .pdf e-book), going into great detail about how to create each recipe. The pictures were not only of the finished product, but also how the food should look throughout the process of the recipe instructions. The book was a big hit, even getting a write up in the New York Times.

Well, Hillel’s released his second book, Autumn Omakase, A Tasting Menu from Tatsu Nishino of Nishino. The write up on the web page states:

Our second book, also published electronically, is Autumn Omakase. A tasting menu from Tatsu Nishino of Nishino. Targeting the flavors and ingredients of fall, this gorgeous book is comprised of nine recipes, 124 pages, and 399 beautiful photos. The journey is as enjoyable as the destination with Autumn Omakase. The book also gives Tatsu Nishino’s background as well as the back story behind the making of the book

The cookbook is simply gorgeous. There’s no other word for it. It is also free. So if you want to make sushi at home, and are looking for a cookbook from a 4 star Sushi restaurant, this is the place to start.

NOTE: the cookbook is in Adobe’s Acrobat (.pdf) format and is readable on almost any home computer (Windows and Mac) using Adobe’s Reader software