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Zagnut Bars and Other Freak Candies

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“My dad was obsessed with the strange coconut and peanut butter confection called a Zagnut--the chocolate bar without the chocolate. I inherited his fascination, and now I buy them whenever I can find them. I wanted to give Zagnut bars to trick or treaters this year, but the only store in Houston that sells the vintage candy bar is Candylicious on W. Alabama, and they are all sold out already.

Obscure candy bars are the subject of a wonderful book called Candyfreak by Steve Almond. I heard Almond speak at the Miami Book Fair some years ago. He said his favorite lost candy bars were the Marathon and the Caravelle, neither of which is produced anymore. While researching the book, Almond visited small candy makers all over the country in search of hidden gems. His sweetest discoveries include Goldenberg's Peanut Chews, Twin Bing, Valomilk and Five Star Bars. You can only find most of these on the Internet, though Candylicious will order anything you’re looking for.

As for the more immediate problem of Halloween, the Candylicious clerk I spoke to on the phone recommended good old-fashioned wax lips with fangs. Nice idea, but pricey--they sell for 99 cents each. Gummi hamburgers and gummi hot dogs at 39 cents each was a little more like it. There were also gummi spiders and gummi brains to consider. Candy cigarettes, a favorite from my youth, are no longer politically correct. “How about Tootsie Roll Pops?” the candy man suggested. Safe, but boring.

Maybe I’ll bewilder the neighborhood kids with an assortment of out-of-date candies like Good & Plenty, Kit-Kat, and Clark bars. Candylicious still has all those and lots more candy freak favorites available. – Robb Walsh

Candylicious, 1837 W Alabama St, 713-529-6500

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