December 17, 2014

What's that candy?

"The candy is mentioned in two episodes of the AMC series Mad Men and displayed in others. In 'Three Sundays,' we learn it was Archibald Whitman's favorite candy. In 'Far Away Places,' Peggy — who has an important presentation that day — anxiously searches in vain for her pack and explains to Abe that Donald Draper once gave it to her before a presentation. She dismisses Abe's suggestion to buy a replacement, because it 'wouldn't be the same.' When she finds it in her desk drawer at work, she tells her SCDP colleagues, 'Oh. Thank God. I couldn't take one more omen of doom.' In season six, we see that she continues to keep the candy in her desk drawer, even at CGC."

It's C. Howard's Violet Candies, described above in Wikipedia. You can buy some here. I just did. I was thinking about them — after not thinking about them for 40 years — because we were talking about something that I remember as The Great Edible Flowers Trend of 1990.

Wasn't it circa 1990 that it was a thing to put flowers in food? There were a lot of interesting flowers with a variety of flavors. I remember planting anise hyssop in the garden one year. But the trend played out. It became routine to throw a handful of violets into the mesclun. It had to end. Too many violets!

But — hey! — remember that violet candy? It tasted like perfume. I haven't thought about that in 40 years. But you can buy it on Amazon. I wonder if they brought it back because of "Mad Men." I don't know, and obviously, I haven't been watching "Mad Men," or I would have thought about Violet Candies more recently than 40 years ago.

I don't watch "Mad Men," despite all the word of (violet scented?) mouth, because I lived through the 60s, I remember the sex roles of the 60s, I'm a 60s-sex-roles survivor, and I don't need to see young actors of today pretending to deal with all that (whether they get it wrong or right).

But I did try to find a video clip of Peggy looking for her Violet Candies, and I found this "Evolution of Peggy Olson":



So I did watch that. It's the sum total of all the "Mad Men" I've ever watched... and ever will watch. But I do want my Violet Candies, not that I'm anxious or superstitious about them. Just a little nostalgic... and a little anosmic... and looking for an old sensation.

Bonus nostalgia nostalgia: I was blogging in back in 2005, watching an episode of that old TV show "American Idol" — "My #1 goal for Season 4 is: Carrie must fail!" — and the theme was songs from the year of your birth. What would I pick from 1951?
Here's the list from my year, and my song from that list is "Sweet Violets." I remember hearing it once. I was in bed and overheard my parents playing it. I loved it deeply and the next day asked my parents about it. They told me, it was not for children and I couldn't hear it. Was it about sex? Death? Oddly, though I've always remembered it, I have never bothered to find the song and listen to it. I can still hear it in my head from that one listen, but I've never heard it again. I rush over to iTunes. The Dinah Shore hit is not there (only a Mitch Miller version). Ah! here are the lyrics. It's a bizarrely veiled filthy song from the past! Good thing my parents protected me, or protected themselves from having to deal with my questions.
Speaking of the past... that post was written before YouTube (or, actually 2 months after YouTube started, so I didn't think to look there). Here's the Dinah Shore version in YouTube now (not that you get to see Dinah in it). And here's the Dorothy Collins version, which was also a hit in 1951 and could just as well have been the record my parents played:



AND: From the Wikipedia article on "Sweet Violets":
"Sweet Violets" is a classic example of a "censored rhyme," where the expected-rhyme of each couplet is replaced with an unexpected word which segues into the next couplet or chorus. For example, the first couplets go:
There once was a farmer who took a young miss
In back of the barn where he gave her a...
Lecture on horses and chickens and eggs
And told her that she had such beautiful...
Manners that suited a girl [etc.]
From the link at "censored rhyme":
Mind rhyme is the suggestion of a rhyme which is left unsaid and must be inferred by the listener. Mind rhyme may be achieved either by stopping short, or by replacing the expected word with another (which may have the same rhyme or not). Teasing rhyme is the use of mind rhyme as a form of innuendo, where the unsaid word is taboo or completes a sentence indelicately.
As kids we were quite familiar with that in the form of "Hello, Operator." There are many regional versions of that rhyme, which you can see here, and they don't have one for my home state, Delaware, but what looks closest to what I remember is Alabama's:
Miss Lucy had a steamboat
The steamboat had a bell
Miss Lucy went to heaven and
The steamboat went to

Hello operator,
Give me number 9
And if you disconnect me
I will kick you from

Behind the refrigerator,
There laid a piece of glass
Miss Lucy slipped and fell on it
And hurt her big fat

Ask me no more questions,
I'll tell you no more lies
This is what Miss Lucy said
Right before she died, died, died.
ADDED: Overheard at Meadhouse:
ME: Did you see my post?

MEADE: Which one?

ME: About violets?

MEADE: Violence?

ME: Violets. Violets against women.

34 comments:

chickelit said...

Althouse, have you ever tried Creme de Violette? It's said to remind of those violet candies. It's used in some very nice cocktails such as the Aviation.

Gahrie said...

I remember the sex roles of the 60s, I'm a 60s-sex-roles survivor,

Good for you!

I assume you managed to avoid FGM and child marriage? I bet that was a close call!

Of course you were probably forced to wear a burka at work, and obviously weren't allowed to drive yourself to work.

What was it like training to be a lawyer when you couldn't even testify against a man in court?

If you were married off as a child bride how much did you Dad get for you?

#firstworldproblems

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ha! My sister had that candy at the tables in her wedding reception (there was a white with purple accent color scheme) and I have a really good screencap of the candy in Peggy's drawer on my old computer.

It's not bad tasting but it's not my favorite.

Ann Althouse said...

"Althouse, have you ever tried Creme de Violette? It's said to remind of those violet candies. It's used in some very nice cocktails such as the Aviation."

Interesting. No, I haven't. Seems like something to order in a bar, rather than to commit to a whole bottle.

I still have the bottles of creme de cacao and creme de menthe I bought years ago to recreate The Grasshopper, a drink my parents let me sip circa 1960, the greatness of which made me want to grow up so I could get full access.

Needless to say, The Grasshopper turned out to be pretty bad as a drink to sip as an adult. And now what am I supposed to do with all that creme de cacao and creme de menthe?

Anyway, with my anosmia, which isn't complete, I never know what amount or aspect of taste/smell will work on any given thing that I haven't had recently.

But if violet turns out to be something that gets through to me in my weakness, I might become a Creme de Violette devotée. I could be the Aviatrix.

Sofa King said...

One of my favorite censored rhyme songs is "Shaving Cream":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8ffkDf0ol4

I have a sad story to tell you
It may hurt your feelings a bit
Last night as I walked into my bathroom
I stepped in a big pile of...
Shaving cream, be nice and clean
Shave every day and you'll always look keen

I think I'll break off with my girlfriend
Her antics are queer, I'll admit
Each time I say, "Darling, I love you"
She tells me that I'm full of...
Shaving cream, be nice and clean
Shave every day and you'll always look keen

Our baby fell out of the window
You'd think that her head would be split
But good luck was with her that morning
She fell in a barrel of...
Shaving cream, be nice and clean
Shave every day and you'll always look keen

My old lady died in a bathtub
She died from a terrible fit
In order to fulfill her wishes
She was buried in six feet of...
Shaving cream, be nice and clean
Shave every day and you'll always look keen

When I was in France with the army
One day I looked inside my kit
I thought I would find me a sandwich
But the darn thing was loaded with...
Shaving cream, be nice and clean
Shave every day and you'll always look keen

And now folks my story is ended
I think it is time I should quit
And if anyone of you feel offended
Push your head in a bucket of...
Shaving cream, be nice and clean
Shave every day and you'll always look keen!

Beth said...

I had totally forgotten about those types of rhymes.

I mostly watch Mad Men for Peggy and love Elizabeth Moss.

Beldar said...

In 1979, on my second date with the woman who'd eventually become my wife and the mother of my four children, we went to a dinner-theater production of "Fiddler on the Roof" in Austin, where we were asked before the show to place our orders for the after-dinner cocktails to be served at intermission.

My date was a "rum-and-Coke" girl, unfamiliar with any after-dinner drinks whatsoever. Having been reared myself in the late 1950s and early 1960s in a family whose parents drank, entertained, and owned a blender, and wanting very badly to impress her with my sophistication and consideration, I immediately volunteered: "Oh, I know just the drink for you! Let me order for you, please?" She consented, whereupon I ordered her a Grasshopper.

It was the last drink she ever permitted me to order her. To this good day (after 13 years of marriage and an even longer spell of co-parenting that still involves the occasional cocktail order), I am careful never to either order her drink nor suggest anything for her to order. It's a standing joke among my kids.

I'm quite surprised, though, that you have no interest at all in "Mad Men," Prof. Althouse. I would have guessed that the historical authenticity of its sets and costumes alone — so NYC in the '60s! — would have appealed to you.

But then again, you also don't like Grasshoppers.

chickelit said...

Althouse: Thanks.

BTW, I noticed some great Palladian links from your blog on my second link.

One 750 mL bottle of Creme de Violette make ca. 100 Aviations. It's really used sparingly.

madisonfella said...

Gahrie is right. Nobody should even THINK about complaining about any situation unless things are the very worst they could possibly be.

Which is why Gahrie never complains about anything. Ever.

John Burgess said...

Violet is still one of the flavors used in Jujube candies, along with lilac.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jujube_%28confectionery%29

Meade said...

Grasshopper walks into a bar. Bartender: Hey! We have a drink named after you. Grasshopper: That's ridiculous. Whoever heard of a drink named "Ted"?

lemondog said...

This morning according to Philly traffic reporter, the 4 major food groups are:

Candy, cane cane, candy corn and syrup.

Violet candy not specifically mentioned.

Robert said...

Is it Choward's? They have them at World Market.

Also: (http://chowardcompany.com/)

Creme de Violette is very nice, but a bottle will last you a very long time (use too much in a drink and your drink tastes like soap). It's only really used in an Aviation.

CatherineM said...

You can buy them at most news stands/stationary store news stands. My cousin introduced them to me as a way to cover up any evidence of smoking. They are strong.

I had flowers petals on my sushi in an "it" place in the village while on a date in 1997.

Gahrie said...

Which is why Gahrie never complains about anything. Ever.

About my life?

Shit no.

I am a History teacher. I understand how God damned lucky I was to be born in the United States in the second half of the 20th century. I realize I have it better than 99% of all the people who have ever lived.

Even Althouse, has it better than 99% of all humans who have ever lived.

Ann Althouse said...

"Gahrie is right. Nobody should even THINK about complaining about any situation unless things are the very worst they could possibly be."

Reminds me of how my mother would respond to complaints:

"Well, if that's the worst thing that ever happens to you..."

mezzrow said...

Back to the 50's indeed. The first controversy I can remember being discussed in front of the TV was when they fired all the Hit Parade singers. I guess I was four.

I've spent the morning listening to Raymond Scott's music and reacquainting myself with him. All because you embedded that video. A lot of our childhood sounded like Raymond Scott, Ann.

I'll have to look for those candies - not on my radar.

madisonfella said...

I realize I have it better than 99% of all the people who have ever lived.

And yet most of your comments are complaints, whines, and temper tantrums.

Ron said...

Mad Men also refers to Creme de Menthe, Epi 10, season 1, "Nixon vs Kennedy"

They fill a water cooler with it!

mrs.e said...

I'm with Beth - I mostly watch Mad Men for Elizabeth Moss's Peggy.

Oh, and Kiernan Shipka's Sally.

Gahrie said...

And yet most of your comments are complaints, whines, and temper tantrums.

Which makes me different from anyone else on here, including you and Althouse, how?

I would obviously dispute your characterization, but will only note that my posts are about politics and issues in our society, not my personal life.

Jake said...

You really nailed Carrie Underwood. And, boy Constantine, what an amazing artist. LOL ;)

eric said...

Grasshopper walks into a bar. Bartender: Hey! We have a drink named after you. Grasshopper: That's ridiculous. Whoever heard of a drink named "Ted"?

One of my favorite jokes to tell! My wife gets sick of hearing it.

However, my version goes like this.

Grasshopper walking into a bar and the bartender says, "Hey, I have a drink named after you!" and the Grasshopper says, "You have a drink named Irving?"

eddie willers said...

Althouse...you are just as right about Mad Men as you were about Breaking Bad.

Its a slow-burn through the first five episodes and then it will click for you.

After Don's Kodak presentation that closes season one, you will wish that slide projectors never left.

And then you will rush to catch up so that you see the last episodes along with the rest of us.

Roger Sweeny said...

Rosie had two boyfriends.
They were very rich.
One was the son of a doctor.
The other was the son of a
Band bang Rosie.

JSD said...

I was a reluctant viewer of Mad Men. But it’s great. Character driven drama about people trying to reinvent themselves, sometimes not for the better. The nostalgia trivia mainly serves to mark time in the story arc.

Peggy Olson is the best. She is escaping her provincial roots to become a sophisticated New Yorker. I was hooked when she explains it to the people she’s left behind. “Those people - in Manhattan - they are better than us. Because they want things they haven't seen.”

I have a friend who’s a bit of a serial cheater. He found some episodes too painful to watch.

madisonfella said...

but will only note that my posts are about politics and issues in our society

In other words, firstworldproblems is all you ever talk about.

RecChief said...

I'm a 60s-sex-roles survivor,

Oh, FFS

Never underestimate the ability of the pampered top 5% to describe themselves as a "survivor" of something or other. Why, mid-century America is the same as Afghanistan today! Are you just careless with your speech, or trolling your readership?

RecChief said...

speaking of sex roles in the 60s, anyone seen the picture of Bill Clinton and the...uh....lady in the red dress that is making the rounds of the internet today?

Gahrie said...


In other words, firstworldproblems is all you ever talk about.


No actually.

I spend some time talking about the true war on women in most of the world.

I spend some time talking about the genocide of our young through abortion.

I talk about poverty, here and abroad, reasons and solutions.

I talk about the assault on our civilization by the Left and Islam.

I never characterize myself as a victim or "survivor".

John E. said...

I put all my money in rubles,
because I thought Putin was smart.
But now my big bubbly investment,
is starting to smell like a... foully aromatic raspberry tart.

chickelit said...

Russia's economy lies in ruble.

Smilin' Jack said...

I don't watch "Mad Men," despite all the word of (violet scented?) mouth, because I lived through the 60s, I remember the sex roles of the 60s, I'm a 60s-sex-roles survivor, and I don't need to see young actors of today pretending to deal with all that (whether they get it wrong or right).

Another insightful critique from the woman who informed us that Breaking Bad was just another boring show about a midlife crisis.

Michael McNeil said...

Grasshopper walks into a bar. Bartender: Hey! We have a drink named after you. Grasshopper: That's ridiculous. Whoever heard of a drink named….

Grasshopper's name was Kwai Chang Caine (played by David Caradine), not Ted or Irving.