Monday, April 3, 2006

The Saga of the Valomilk in Five Parts

The Fascination

Ever since reading Candy Freak by Steve Almond, I’d been hoping to try a Valomilk. In Candy Freak, Almond goes on a journey to visit the last great independent candy factories in America. Among them are Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, Idaho Spud, Twin Bing and Rocky Road. While I haven’t tried all of these candies (those without links), there was only one I really wanted to try because of the book. It was Sifer’s Valomilk.

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Many of the “small manufacturer” candy bars aren’t very appealing to me. Sometimes it’s just because they’re not a good combination for me, marshmallow or cherries aren’t really my favorites. Part of it has to do with the ingredients they use. I prefer real milk chocolate to the waxy substance many of them use because of costs and I like a consistent bar. (Goldenberg’s are the only candy that violates that rule.) Most are referred to as nostalgic or regional candy bars.

The Description

Valomilks are the opposite. It’s as if the Sifer’s have gone out of their way to bring the most expensive and elusive ingredients (for a consumer bar) together into one little brown fluted cup. Real milk chocolate, premium egg whites, cane sugar and vanilla. Started in 1931, the Valomilk has an amusing and quaint history, which you can read more about in Candy Freak or on their website. The most important thing to know is that the Valomilk is a tall milk chocolate cup filled with a strong vanilla flowing marshmallow cream.

Now, Valomilks are by no means the only marshmallow cup, but oddly enough there are no plain chocolate and marshmallow candies made by the major three: Hershey, Nestle & Mars.

Each cup is about one ounce and swaddled in the brown fluted paper cup where it was born.

The other similar candy bars would be the Rocky Road, which is an actual bar containing fluffy marshmallow in a long and large plank covered in milk chocolate and cashews. Next there is the Boyer’s Mallo Cup (made in Pennsylvania - review sometime next week), which is a simple, flat milk chocolate cup filled with a flowing marshmallow cream with some coconut in the chocolate. This is not unlike the slightly larger Cup-O-Gold, which is made here in Los Angeles by Adams-Brooks. The Cup-O-Gold also has coconut in it. Then there’s the Idaho Spud, which is a chocolate flavored marshmallow covered in faux dark chocolate and coconut shavings. Naturally, it’s shaped like a potato.

Of course all bets are off on holidays as everyone seems to have a chocolate covered marshmallow shape of some kind.

But no one makes a candy cup like the Valomilk. Which probably explains why it exists to this day. Over the next four days, I’m going to take you on my journey through the world of the Valomilk.

Tomorrow’s episode: How I got a hold of my Valomilks.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:07 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry     ValomilkFun StuffNews

Comments
  1. I just finished Candyfreak (grad school put all recreational reading on hold for a few years) and it really made me want to seek out many of these candies, including Valomilk.  I can’t wait for your take on it. I’ll now also be on the lookout for local candies when I visit places.

    Comment by g on 4/04/06 at 3:57 am #
  2. Valomilk is one of my favorite bars.  Mallo Cups are a close second. 

    Goldenberg’s Chews are now apparently part of the Just Born empire, as the label now says “continuing the Golderberg’s tradition”.

    Comment by Miguel on 4/04/06 at 5:26 am #
  3. The Valomilk is such a fun candy.  I attempted to eat mine on a bus, and would never recommend that.

    The Idaho Spud is one of the weirdiest candies I have ever tried, but is strangely compelling.

    Cybele, have you heard of the Big Tips Candy box?  It is many of Steve’s Candies brought together.

    Comment by Colleen on 4/04/06 at 6:26 am #
  4. Cybele's avatar

    Miguel - I picked up some Mallo cups when I was in PA as well, I’ll have a review. It’s hard to compare them as they’re kind of different because of the coconut.

    Colleen - I’ve seen the BigTips box and I’ve tried about half of them already at one time or another (thought they’re not all here on CandyBlog).

    I think the only ones I haven’t tried are the Mountain Bar, Twin Bing (and I don’t like cherries), Old Faithful, Idaho Spud and the GooGoo Cluster and the Nut Goodie (which I’m told is pretty much the Bun Maple).

    g - definitely pop a note or comment when you find stuff! I love hearing everyone’s take on regional bars.

    Comment by Cybele on 4/04/06 at 7:03 am #
  5. When I read Candyfreak last year, I was salivating (literally) over his description of the Valomilk.  And listening to Lynn Rosetto Casper eat/review one while interviewing Steve Almond was pure torture.
    Finally, a friend brought me a couple from a Cracker Barrell in South Carolina or somewhere like that.  They made it all the way to Oregon and my.. it was worth the wait.  Looking forward to your Valo-tales.

    If you really want to try an Idaho Spud - I’ll gladly send one your way.  They’re fairly ubiquitous up here.

    Comment by Joanna on 4/04/06 at 7:20 am #
  6. I’m so glad that you’re covering Valomilks!  I grew up in the area where they are made and have loved them since I was a child.  I can’t wait to hear about what you think of them!

    Comment by Jackie on 4/04/06 at 2:35 pm #
  7. Cybele,

    Sounds delicious! One more candy I’ll have to put on my list of must tries. I haven’t read Candy Freak yet (gasp!), but your mention of the Idaho Spud made me laugh. When I was in college (i.e., in the late 1980s), I drove cross-country with a friend who had little tolerance for my candy addication (which I fed every time we stopped for gas).

    At one rest stop he demanded to know what I’d bought “this time,” and I pulled out an Idaho Spud (which, if I remember correctly, had a tag line that said something like, “the candy that made Idaho famous”). “We’re in Idaho,” I told him. “How could I not buy it?” He looked at me, rolled his eyes, and replied, “We’re in Iowa, not Idaho.” (I’m usually not that much of a ditz, and I’ve become much more familiar with my Midwestern states since then.)

    Comment by Jen on 4/04/06 at 4:18 pm #
  8. Cybele's avatar

    Jackie - have Valomilks changed at all over the years? I heard that they were bought at one point and they ceased production ... are they the same now?

    Joanna - thanks for the offer! I’m heading to NYC this weekend, I have high hopes for finding every candy known to humankind.

    Jen - That’s too funny about Idaho/Iowa!

    Comment by Cybele on 4/04/06 at 8:34 pm #
  9. I’m not that keen on marshmallows in candy (i like them lightly toasted over an open fire), so this has never appealed to me. But now that I know more of the story, I’ll have to look for it. And if I can’t find them around here, I look next time I visit my sister (who lives near Kansas City, where they are made).

    Comment by Tricia on 4/05/06 at 8:04 am #
  10. I loved Candy Freak too. I was obsessed at trying Valomilks after reading it.  I had a friend from Texas pick me up a couple at her local Cracker Barrel.  And, indeed, as described in the book, they did explode a little from going over the Rocky Mountains.  They were still yummy!

    As an Idaho native, I’m begging you to try the Idaho Spud Bar.  Any of the Owyhee Candy Company candy is good..but there is something special and dear to my heart for the Spud Bar. 
    Here’s the website
    http://www.idahospud.com/index.htm

    I’d be happy to send you a couple if you’d like?  Another great candy company from Idaho is Farr’s candy from Idaho Falls.  Their black walnut chocolate(I can’t remember the exact name)is SOOO good.  Sadly, they do not have a website.

    Comment by margi on 4/05/06 at 8:25 am #
  11. Whoops, I wrote too soon.  Farr does have a website.  Rather limited..but at least it will give you an idea of what I’m talking about
    http://www.farrcandy.com/

    Comment by margi on 4/05/06 at 8:32 am #
  12. I still say Valomilks are too sweet, quality ingredients notwithstanding.  My favorite treats from Cracker Barrell are the raspberry and blackberry gummy nonpariels and the peanut pillows.

    I have a friend who can use the best ingredients and still turn them into a terrible meal.  Don’t forget that.

    Comment by Dave on 4/05/06 at 1:38 pm #
  13. My mother loved the Twin Bing when I was growing up, but it doesn’t do much for me. the chocolate is waxy and not very chocolate flavored—given what I’ve read on this blog, I’m not sure that you’d like it. But if you want to try some, let me know and I’ll send some to you—there’s easy to find here. 

    Less easy to find, but preferred by some when you can find them, is Cherry Mash by Chase Candy http://www.cherrymash.com/ in MO.

    Comment by Jim Kosmicki on 4/06/06 at 5:18 am #
  14. We do not sell a lot of Valomilk by themselves but they are popular in our retro 50s and 60s candy gift baskets. I think its because Russell Sifers does not advertize and people just forgot about them. The company should start a Facebook page and let everyone know that Valomilk is still available and made by the same company.

    Comment by Scott on 2/27/10 at 8:55 pm #

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