Sactown Sweet: Chocolate Week

Old Sacramento is sprinkled with candy-fun demos, tours, and treats.

OLD WEST CANDY: When you think of the sugary sweets of the 19th century, what sort of candies do you picture? Maybe those penny stick candies, the ones swirled like a barbershop pole, and all of the traditional to "what exactly does that taste like?" flavors that spring to mind (sassafras and horehound chief among the latter examples). Sugar-dipped fruit slices, or chalky peppermints, or caramels shaped in the palm of a hand also represent the era, as does chocolate. True, true, things were apt to get melty if a bar of chocolate sat too long under a saddle -- or sat under a saddle at all -- but a number of major chocolatiers, the names we still recognize today, were on the rise around the country from California's Gold Rush boom into the late 1800s (hello Ghiradelli, hello Whitman's, hello Hershey). Thus placing a palate-pleasing modern chocolate event around the streets of Old Sacramento, one of the Old-West-iest of all destinations around the Golden State, does not feel anachronistic or out of time. Perhaps the people of the 19th century did not have our vast aisle of snacky choices, but to say they had no sweet tooth is to not know your sugary stuff. So get on your horse and ride for the first-ever...

OLD SACRAMENTO CHOCOLATE WEEK: Things are going to get melty-gooey-crunchy sticky from May 4 through 10. Join an array of special happenings like Beer & Chocolate Pairings (think High Water Brewing's Campfire Stout teamed up with cocoa bread pudding complete with two kinds of chocolate) and Tango and Treat Tastings (people shall dance and everyone shall chow down upon chocolates). Demos, tours, and other goodies await. Do you have to slide a bar or two of chocolate under saddle before clearing out the capital city? Probably not -- your purse or glove compartment is fine. But don't forget to pause and think of the West's cowpokes and gold seekers, and how a sugarplum was not just a passing goodie for many, eaten and forgotten, but something rather rare and delicious. There were no super aisles with four hundred candies back when Old Sacramento was lit by gas light. Was candy worth its weight in gold? Hmm. That's one for the historians to quibble over, cheekily.

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