Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Buttercrunch: A #Wartime Delight

Butterfinger Crisp Split by Bodo

January 20


Happy Buttercrunch Day! Buttercrunch is a type of candy that is made from toffee dipped in chocolate.  It has a crunchy texture and a caramel taste. Sometimes almonds are added to recipe. Creating the candy takes some patience and good cooking skills. In order to create the toffee you have to caramelize the sugar at a high temperature. The process requires precision, correct timing and the right tools in order for the toffee to come out just right. 

It All Started With WWI

Buttercrunch candy wasn't made famous until American candy company, The Brown & Haley, created the Almond Roca Cookie Bar in 1923.  The Brown & Haley Company was owned by Harry L. Brown and  J. C. Haley of Tacoma, Washington. The two men had met in church in 1908. Brown already owned a small confectionery company and enjoyed experimenting with candy. Haley worked for a spice company known as Shilling and Company. He had a passion for advertising and sales. The two men created a partnership in 1912 and incorporated their company in 1914. World War I erupted the same year the men incorporated their business. Camp Lewis, an Army base located close to Tacoma, soon swelled with dough boys training to fight in Europe. The soldiers had a sweet tooth that needed to be satisfied. The Brown & Haley Company suddenly found themselves in a candy business boom. Throughout the war they supplied soldiers with all kinds of tasty treats from taffy chews to butterscotch balls. One of their biggest hits was a bar of candy they had created in 1916 known as the Mt. Tacoma Bar. The Mt. Tacoma Bar was a candy bar made of a combination of chocolate and nuts with a vanilla cream center. It was later renamed the MOUNTAIN® Bar.

With the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918, the population at Fort Lewis soon returned back to it's prewar population.  The Brown & Haley Company struggled in candy sales. The only thing that was keeping the company afloat was their Mt. Tacoma Bar, which had become a popular local treat.  Brown and Haley worked for years in trying to create a new candy that would generate more sales. In 1923, they came up with solution - the ALMOND ROCA®. The ALMOND ROCA® was a crunchy log candy made of butter on the inside dipped in chocolate with diced almonds on top.  The ALMOND ROCA® bar was popular locally but company had to expand their product throughout the United States. The problem was retaining the candy's freshness long enough so that it could be shipped and taste as if it has just been created. In 1927, Brown & Haley solved that problem by packaging their creation in an airtight pink tin. 

When World War I broke out in 1941, candy manufactures struggled due to rationing limitations placed upon the use of sugar. Brown & Haley had been manufacturing at least 25 different types of candy before the war. When they learned of the sugar rations they stopped manufacturing all but their two bestsellers, the MOUNTAIN® and ALMOND ROCA® bars. Brown & Haley signed a contract with the U.S. War Department to provide their ALMOND ROCA® bars to military personnel stationed overseas. The ALMOND ROCA® bars were a huge sensation with American troops. American troops in Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific enjoyed this delicious treat. It became so popular, at one point in the war an American general refused to hand control of an occupied country to allied forces until the General could guarantee three rail cars full of ALMOND ROCA® bars could be taken with his troops. After the war, the American soldiers returned to their homes and craved the taste of the ALMOND ROCA® bars. Brown & Haley's business continued to boom.  

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