The new issue of the zine Put A Egg On It, the one with Justin Bond on the cover, is out now. I was asked to contribute an essay about an independent food brand from my hometown. I chose Goetze’s Caramel Creams, a true Maryland classic. Enjoy the essay and grab up a copy of the zine. It’s an eclectic mix of people, food, and stories.
My first job was in the summer of 1990. I was 14 and I had then, as I continue to today, a very, very severe sweet tooth. I worked as a cashier at High’s Dairy Store, a poor man’s 7-11. High’s dotted Baltimore the way Starbucks do now in every city. Everywhere you went you’d see a High’s store. High’s sold remarkably good hand-dipped ice cream. This separated it apart for the other Maryland convenience stores -the 7-11s, Wawas, and Royal Farm Stores. High’s, like any convenience store, also sold candy. Lots of it. Tastycakes and Twizzlers and Big League Chew. Hershey’s bars and Snickers and Peeps. Heaven. Pure heaven for a sugar addict like myself. I was a 14-year-old kid in a candy store. At 10PM or so, before we mopped the floors, but before we closed the doors, people would stop coming into the store at a steady pace. It was then that we, the workers, who made something like $5 an hour, would raid the candy isles! My favorites were wrapped in clear cellophane with red and white print. Goetze’s Caramel Creams. The packaging was old school and in complete opposition to the over-sweetened and over-marketed confections of the day. Their simple caramel rings, with powdered sugar dusting, sat lined in rows under the clear plastic cover. Within those caramel rings sat a chalky white filling. They were as simple as candy could get: all wheat flour, cream, sugar, and milk. I often times jones for candy. And the bodegas of Manhattan have plenty of candies, from Good-N-Plenty to Jujubes, to choose from. But only in Baltimore can I still find those caramel rings. The cellophane’s changed colors and the labels appear more current, but when unwrapped those caramel discs look, and taste, exactly the same. I still cannot have just one. They’re too good. Too simple. They’re made in Baltimore for Baltimoreans. And they taste like home.