A puzzling ban on licorice
The letter carrier brought one of those Figi's catalogues that
comes every year before Christmas, selling candies and cheeses and nuts and cookies and such temptations. One offering was
those little Licorice Scottie Dogs. They come in black or red.
But there was an asterisk beside the word black. It led to
a footnote: "Cannot ship to CA." I know that California is excessively fussy, but I wondered what the problem is with little
Licorice Scottie Dogs.
I e-mailed the Figi people in Marshfield, WI. I got a prompt,
friendly but clueless reply, suggesting, "When the item can't be shipped to a certain state it is usually because the product
is manufactured in that state. We apologize that we are unable to send those to California."
Assuming that a nutritional issue is involved, I investigated,
and found one medical web site that defines:
"Licorice root extract: A substance prepared from dried roots
of the plant Glycyrrhiza glabra. It is used as a flavoring in medicines, drinks, and sweets, and it is being studied in the
treatment of cancer. Licorice root extract contains several compounds that reduce inflammation, kill certain bacteria and
viruses, act like estrogen and other hormones, and may cause cancer cells to die. It is a type of antioxidant."
Many other sources say that licorice has anti-cancer possibilities.
But California lists licorice as a known cancer risk, and bans it in the California Health and Safety Code, Section 25249.6.
I e-mailed the California Office of Public Affairs, but haven't heard from them.
Just don't let anybody attempt to outlaw licorice in Philadelphia,
the home of licorice candy.
was a time when you could smell the piles of licorice root on the Delaware River docks, imported by MacAndrews & Forbes
in the days before Ron Perelman bought the company and used it as an umbrella for other companies he bought and sold.
Young & Smiley started spinning licorice ropes in 1845,
and Philly was full of chewers of what came to be called Twizzlers. Y&S also made medicinal hard licorice sticks that
had to be broken to pieces with a hammer.
In 1893, Quaker City Confectionary created licorice lozenges
coated in pink and white hard sugar, and called them Good and Plenty, the first ever registered candy brand name. When I was
a kid, the factory was on Germantown Ave. near 6th and Susquehanna. Also in '93, Thomas D. Richardson created after-dinner
Philly was a chocolate town, too. Stephen Whitman was making
chocolates in 1854. Henry O. Wilbur started his chocolate business here in 1865, and Milton Hershey had his first candy shop
in Philly in the 1870s.
And then there were the Goldenbergs, starting in 1890. They
invented the Peanut Chew in 1917. My grandfather, after he retired, worked as a night watchman in the Peanut Chew works. I
think the plant was at Second and Wyoming then.
Grandpop tried to convince me that licorice was made from the
sweepings off the candy factory floor. That's the kind of dumb thing grandfathers think it's funny to tell their grandchildren.
So, maybe somebody's grandfather told that to the Californians,
and that's why they won't let little Licorice Scotties into the state.
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