Day 235 – National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day

There are a few candies that I have never really understood the allure of. They are the old-timey candies that my parents would be excited about. The most confusing of these are Nonpareils – the little dark chocolate discs covered in tiny white balls of sugar. They always looked good but when you bit into them, you realized that you could have made better choices. My parents loved these bad boys. My grandmother did too. Maybe we are just spoiled and living in the golden age of candy. But really, have you tried a Nonpareil? My parents would also rave about Goobers and Raisinets too. I get Goobers. First off, they have the best name. But second, they are just milk chocolate covered peanuts. Those are two great tastes, so you can’t really go wrong. It was the allure of the Raisinet that has always confused me. I like chocolate and I like raisins, but together? What kind of cruel joke is this? You go to bite into one expecting a nice crunchy nut or chewy caramel and you get a juicy dried up grape which, if you think about it, could really be a chocolate covered dead fly if you aren’t paying attention. Really, do we need these? Have they even noticed some of the other candy options available to us and they’re still sticking with the chocolate covered raisins?

Today was National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day and Raisnets are the number one brand when it comes to this type of confectionary. According to Nestlé, makers of the candy, Raisinets were first introduced in 1927 by the Blumenthal Brothers Chocolate Company of Philadelphia. Chocolate covered raisins were around for may years before that, but it was the Blumenthal Brothers that got them distributed to the masses. The brand was sold over the years and in 1984, Nestlé acquired them along with Goobers, Chunky, Sno-Caps, Bit-O-Honey and Oh Henry! I’m not sure how that transaction made it passed the approval board at Nestlé. Were they hoping they could get Necco Wafers as part of that deal too and go for the worst candy deal ever? Raisinets grew in popularity in thanks to the movie industry and the many movie houses throughout the United States which became the place to go for entertainment. Early in movie making history, Raisinets were sold to theaters for 1.25 cents which meant moviegoers could buy a box for just a nickel. A cheap sweet treat for a day at the movies helped them grow in popularity and is probably why they hold such a fond place in the nostalgia filled mind of our parents. In fifty years, we will probably have the same warm feelings about War Heads or Skittles and the new generation just won’t understand. Wikipedia says that “Raisinets are the second largest selling candy in United States history” although they don’t really cite where this info comes from. I’m sure they are no longer the top brand in candy sales anymore, however their impact on the world of candy, concessions and chocolate is undeniable. They have truly made a mark on the world.

I do like chocolate covered raisins. I think as a kid I was grossed out by them, but as an adult with more sophisticated tastebuds, I realized that they are a good time. The sweetness of the raisin really mixes well with the smooth milk chocolate coating which gives it a firm bite when you bite in. The chewiness of the raisin makes the taste swirl in your mouth for a few moments and as it settles across your palate, you realize it’s a good time. I have never purchased Raisinets because if I’m reaching for candy, I can think of 50 other candies that capture my imagination better. However, if you end up eating a Raisinet, it’s a great and pleasant surprise. I should say that I have never bought Raisinets until today. Today I picked up a big bag of them in honor of the holiday.

I wasn’t exactly sure how to celebrate. My first idea was to go to the movies and eat them there. They seem so intwined with movie history it may have been appropriate. In fact, many people will tell you to mix them with your popcorn so you get a combination of sweet and salty. Maybe I should have done this. The new King Kong movie is in theaters and Lola has no desire to go see it, so maybe I should have gone for a solo matinee. Seeing a King Kong movie seemed kind of old-timey to me and it would have been the perfect fare for my Raisinet indulgence. I guess I wasn’t that motivated however and I skipped the movie. I then looked online to see if there was anything I could make using Raisinets. One of my favorite recipe makers had the answer.

Sally’s Baking Addiction had a recipe for Thick Oatmeal Raisinet Cookies. This almost seemed too obvious. How many times have you bitten into an oatmeal cookie and thought it was a chocolate chip? It turned out to be a raisin, which wasn’t bad, a raisin pairs well with the oats, but a little chocolate would have been nice. This cookie resolves that dilemma by giving you both – the chocolate and the raisin. Plus Sally  is a good cookie maker. I have made her cookies before and they are among the tops of my fan favorites. I can trust her recipes. In her description, she says she likes her cookies nice and thick with a slight crisp edge. That’s what made her cookies so good in the past, so I was in. I had my Raisinets and everything else I needed, so I got to baking. You start with butter and sugar which you beat together, then you add in the dry ingredients. You mix in some oats, and then fold in the Raisinets. You actually use lots of Raisinets which is good. When the dough is ready, you roll it into balls and then throw it in the freezer for five minutes to chill. After that, it goes in the over for about ten minutes. What comes out is beautiful looking cookies.

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These finished up about a half hour before our dinner was ready and I asked Lola if she wanted to try one. How do you turn down a fresh baked cookie? I gave her one which was still warm and the chocolate from the Raisinet was still slightly melting. I had a fan. Lola made all kind of yummy noises. I had to try one too and so I did. There’s something about Sally’s cookie recipes that gives you the best textures. It’s partly allowing the cookies to be nice and thick. You bite in and cookie is soft on the inside and chewy. The oats give it that oatmeal flavor so you are not just eating a regular cookie dough, but the star is indeed the Raisinet which delivers that chewy-chocolate one two punch. I was surprised how good it was. Lola was in heaven. We actually had another one later in the night as our dessert, Lola having hers with a glass of milk naturally. This was a big hit. In fact, as I write this on Saturday morning, Lola has already had another one with her morning coffee. That’s a win.

Maybe I have been a bit judgmental on my dislike of Raisinets. Whoever first thought about covering a raisin in chocolate was actually pretty smart. They are two great tastes that go great together. It’s actually a historic candy rooted in the annals of cinematic tales that brings us to a time at the movie house where newsreels and cartoons opened up every film, there were double features on the weekends and the concessions were Coke bottles, tubs of popcorn and boxes of Raisinets. I can honor any candy that has that kind of memory attached to it. Finding them a spot in a delicious cookie was just a little bonus, albeit a tasty one. Ok Raisinets, I’ll give you the respect you deserve. I’ll salute the star you deserve to be in the candy aisle. You deserve this day today and I am grateful for the joy you have brought the world. Just keep those Nonpareils away from me.

Next Up: International Waffle Day 

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