Vote For Necco!


Photo by Iwan Bagus

The Boston Globe reports that a committee will hold hearings to consider the sort of state namings that seem more appropriate to silly season than post-Labor Day agendas: the Fluffernutter as state sandwich, Charleston Chew as state candy bar, and Necco wafers as state candy. They would join the current list of five state foods, which unsurprisingly include the baked navy bean and Boston cream pie, and somewhat more surprisingly the corn muffin and chocolate-chip cookie (completely generic, it would seem to me) and the Boston cream doughnut, which I don't recall seeing in a long time.

It's actually the exact season for Fluffernutters, because this Saturday is the annual Marshmallow Fluff festival in its birthplace of Somerville; it's still made in Lynn, both cities near Boston. I've always wanted to go and will try, as it's also perfect timing to rack up some last-minute reasons to repent on Yom Kippur, as David Sax writes deli owners will in his very funny post.

I don't repent advocating the new and improved Necco wafers, though, as I do in this month's issue of The Atlantic, which I churlishly don't link to because--you should subscribe! I got into the super-secret headquarters in Revere, adjacent to both Somerville and Lynn (what is it about sugar and Route 1, I wonder?), though not as far as the yet-more-secret production floor, and found that just in time for Halloween, the company had removed all artificial flavors and colorings from Neccos, which was harder than you might think. The result is subtler and better on all counts.

Yes, I know that stuffing pure sugar into children's mouths is hardly a way to improve their health. I won't defend it, though I will defend choices made by sentient adults--and Neccos, I learned, are an adult candy (the company actually hopes to appeal to concerned mothers by putting in natural flavorings and colors). Now we just have to hope that we don't see a "Smart Choices" logo slapped onto the label, though I'm sure nothing would surprise Marion Nestle.

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Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." More

Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." Julia Child once said, "I think he's a very good food writer. He really does his homework. As a reporter and a writer he takes his work very seriously." Kummer's 1990 Atlantic series about coffee was heralded by foodies and the general public alike. The response to his recommendations about coffees and coffee-makers was typical--suppliers scrambled to meet the demand. As Giorgio Deluca, co-founder of New York's epicurean grocery Dean & Deluca, says: "I can tell when Corby's pieces hit; the phone doesn't stop ringing." His book, The Joy of Coffee, based on his Atlantic series, was heralded by The New York Times as "the most definitive and engagingly written book on the subject to date." In nominating his work for a National Magazine Award (for which he became a finalist), the editors wrote: "Kummer treats food as if its preparation were something of a life sport: an activity to be pursued regularly and healthfully by knowledgeable people who demand quality." Kummer's book The Pleasures of Slow Food celebrates local artisans who raise and prepare the foods of their regions with the love and expertise that come only with generations of practice. Kummer was restaurant critic of New York Magazine in 1995 and 1996 and since 1997 has served as restaurant critic for Boston Magazine. He is also a frequent food commentator on television and radio. He was educated at Yale, immediately after which he came to The Atlantic. He is the recipient of five James Beard Journalism Awards, including the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award.

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