Friday, July 18, 2014

Midwestern Candy Review: Cherry Mash

It's like an orgasm in my mouth and everyone's invited.  Oh yes.

This bad boy is a midwestern-only specialty from St. Joseph, Missouri: Cherry Mash, a regional discovery whose greatness outranks both Zero bars and Ruby Red Squirt.  Like all good early 20th century packaged foods (the label proudly boasts "Since 1918"), it still retains its cute cartoon mascot: the Chase Cop. 

Inside the wrapper hides this chocolatey ball of nugget.  It's misshapen, bumpy, and resembles a small turd, the least attractive candy I've seen in an age where candy bars come with smooth outer chocolate shells (sometimes with that wisp fused to the top where the machine dripped a final line of melted chocolate back on to the bar.  Funny how what started as a natural twist of the baker's spatula can be reproduced so precisely by a machine).  This effect causes the candy to resemble something made at home with baking chocolate and a bag of nuts rather than in a factory using the artificial flavors listed on the wrapper.

I can't believe how good this candy is.  The inside consists of a thick cherry fondant, a mix of maraschino cherries and that cherry flavoring one finds in popsicles and Life Savers.  I love cherry cordials, but this - the inside of this compresses all the flavor of a cherry cordial into a marshmallowy ball of sugar goodness. It's richer than a regular nougat-based candy (think Snickers or Milky Way), which it can get away with due to its small size (I finished mine in four and a half bites); a full bar of this would yield a sugar overload and cost as much as a small cake.  I paid $1.29 for mine at an outmoded convenience store/car wash, a haven for these kinds of regional treats.

Those driving (or residing) in the Midwest would be wise to check out Cherry Mash (the Chase website offers a location map).  Others can try making Cherry Mash at home - your hand-rolled mashes shouldn't look much different than the ones made in the factory.

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