Synergy, Symbiosis, Coincidence. And Taffy

Kage Baker was a connoisseur (connoisseuse? Gender endings in French translate hilariously in English) of that phenomenon where you mention something obscure, and then suddenly a dozen references to it bombard you from all over. There is undoubtedly a clever name for it, but I don’t know what it is – I only know it does happen, and it happened to Kage a lot, and it always fascinated her when it did.

Like discovering that sea salt and lavender are wonderful flavourings in everything from dinner rolls to chocolate bars: and then suddenly getting dozens of gift baskets and emails and supermarket coupons for sea salt/lavender flavoured stuff. So you could sit in your bath soaking in sea salt/lavender bath oil, eating sea salt/lavender chocolate melted over sea salt/lavender bread …with a lavender candle burning in a sea salt candle cup. (Disclosure: this scenario is based on a true event.)

Why, Kage would cry out, does the universe want me to know about this suddenly? And she might never find out, but in the meantime things tasted and smelled pretty good and life was just generally enriched. And usually a story point came out of it.

A couple of blogs ago, I mentioned Kage’s fascination with old candies, and the amount of time we sometimes spent discussing them. I’m not sure why, but the candy that sprang to mind was Bonomo Turkish Taffy. The stuff came in 4 flavours – brown, white, pink and yellow. They purported to be chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and banana, but believe me – they tasted like colours. Possibly made of melted crayons. The taffy was some sort of complicated plasticine, I think, because its biggest claim to fame was that it would shatter when struck sharply against a hard surface – but if chewed slowly, it remained soft and malleable. Relatively soft and malleable, as Dear Reader Mr. Gillan commented; teeth were still at severe risk.

Anyway, whether or not you ever lost a filling to this stuff, it was an old candy. I haven’t seen any in years. But in my email inbox this morning was my monthly newsletter from The Vermont Country Store – a wonderful source of household goods presumed extinct but somehow obtainable from VCS: Tangee lipstick. Herbal Essence shampoo. Garibaldi biscuits. And what are they featuring in candy this month? Bonomo Turkish Taffy.

Go to their site – http://www.vermontcountrystore.com . There it is, and they are even insisting it is the original recipe. Mind you, if it is, either this is the oldest taffy in the world, or NASA has re-invented it as a superior sealing material for rocket valves … but there it is.

And yes, I know that Google and every other search engine in the world targets my ads with references to what I have recently visited or said. It’s still rather wonderful and strange to get this reference delivered to me over my morning coffee – not in an ad on the side bar, but in correspondence from a third-party merchant from whom I have never bought any of it. (Especially the banana … wow, that was horrible.)

It was like a little wave from the Vast Unknown, letting me know that weapons grade weirdness is still out there. It was a reminder that things remain wonderful and strange and mysterious and they need to be chronicled. It was Kage cocking snooks at me and telling me to pay attention.

Because life is lovelier and odder than even Kage ever imagined; and as long as that is so, there is a point to being alive. Live to be surprised, live to be amazed, live to notice the interconnected High Weirdness the universe is concocting on every hand.

Okay, climbing arthritically off my soapbox now. I must go assemble some archaic legal forms that no one uses anymore except (apparently) the Germans, so as to prove that Kage is dead and I am her heir and it’s perfectly all right to buy her book and pay her Estate … more High Weirdness. If a Munchkin shows up with a Scroll from the Coroner, I will let you all know.

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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5 Responses to Synergy, Symbiosis, Coincidence. And Taffy

  1. Perhaps if it is original taffy, it has been mummified within a twinkie. I always thought that banana flavored was made of a reduction of nail polish remover. Why should something called “pear oil” taste nothing like pears, nor bananas and be the basis of confections and a solvent?

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  2. Kate says:

    Well, bananas contain acetone. Many kinds of fruit do. It may be what lends banana and pear flavouring their unique taste.

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  3. Kathy says:

    The only kind of TT I ever ate was White. Those other ones made me run and hide any smaller children in the vicinity, especially the Banana Flavor of Doom. Big doings, being allowed to ride one’s bike up to the drugstore on Larchmont and buy a rectangle of vanilla TT and smack it good. The ultimate best LA place for candy, though, was on Balboa Island. Every kind of candy necklace, dots on paper, horrid colored syrups in wax bottles, wax lips, candy cigars, jujubes…known to man or womanchild, was sold there. It’s a wonder we kids of the 50’s grew up, between that candy, helmetless bikes, and Flexie Flyers.

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  4. Kate says:

    Kathy – how the heck did we survive? Man, we’re harder to eradicate than cockroaches. Good thing, too. I remember the good candy on Balboa Island, too; one of my uncles lived there. I loved the horrid wax candy syrup things, though! Especially at Halloween, when they came in wax witches, pumpkins and skulls … Kimberly collected a whole necklace of the skulls one year and wore it with her ghoul costume.

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  5. David says:

    Ohmigoodness!!! I took the family on a trip through Gold Country last summer, and what did we find but those very same wax bottles with the gross syrup in them. They gave me such flashes of childhood, but the rest of the people I was with….well. They looked at me with horror at what they had just put in their mouth, but smiled so big at what a kid I was being. That made me feel all sorts of loved. :o)

    I never enjoyed the taffy brand you refer to, but we had Charleston Chews at my local 7-11, and they must be siblings of some sort. (There is fun stuff in the two articles on wiki, btw–did you know that BTT was actually dark for twenty years, and only just resumed production last year? Bully for you and for nostalgia, and bully for me and taste tests!) I remember riding my bike to 7-11, buying several of them with my coins saved from my allowance, then riding back to put them in the freezer for destroying my teeth after a day in the pool. Ah, life.

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