Help I’m being held…#4 – Candymaking at Disneyland

Sugar used to come in 100 pound bags.  No ergonomic design in those days.  Desiccated (dried) coconut came in 100 lb bags also (huge).  Now everything comes in 50 or 25 lb bags.  The Disneyland candy kitchen had all of its raw material storage downstairs.  Access was by an old fashioned freight elevator or a wrought iron spiral staircase.  You know, the real skinny kind designed to save space.  We were too manly to use the elevator, so, we used to carry 100 lb sacks of sugar on our shoulders up a narrow spiral staircase back behind a candy case and through a narrow (2ft) doorway.  I have the sore joints to prove it.

I remember the time one of the cooks had just weighed up a batch of candy (divinity, I think).  We used to weigh every each ingredient by placing the copper kettle onto a balance beam scale (if you don’t know what that is, ask your Mom).  Corn syrup was pulled out of a five gallon pail by wetting the hands and working the dense syrup into a ball and throwing it into the kettle.  (A good candy maker could pull over five pounds at a time.)  Sugar was scooped on top of the corn syrup and other ingredients were usually added later.  So this guy carefully weighed out his ingredients and set the kettle on the fire ring.  You have to get the picture to appreciate this.  A big plate glass window; hundreds of wide eyed tourists on one side and a quaint, serene little candy kitchen on the other.  In the kitchen sits a big, round bottomed copper kettle sitting on a low stove filled with ingredients topped with a mountain of sugar.  The tourists crowd the window as the candy maker pours a pitcher of water over the sugar and as the mountain melts away, three big cockroaches scurry out of the sugar, fleeing for safety.

You can imagine the rest of the scene.

I’ve got to get back to work now.  By the way, we don’t have any cockroaches in Vermont:  too cold.