Monday, July 28, 2014

Roman Candy, A New Orleans Favorite Since 1915

Blogger's Note: A personal favorite of this blogger, and the highlight of any trip to the Crescent City, Roman Candy is a New Orleans tradition with roots that date back to the early 1900s.  Never on a set route, you may count yourself lucky if, on a perfectly sunny day, you find the Roman Candy Wagon parked alongside any of the historic New Orleans thoroughfares.  Do yourself a favor, and invest in purchasing at least one of each flavor, they are that good and you never know when you will be lucky enough to find this distinctive New Orleans treat again.

(Above): A video about New Orleans Roman Candy on Travel Channel's Food Paradise - Food Truck Paradise show.

From the Roman Candy Company's website:

"The Roman Candy Company began as a family treat with a recipe that dates back at least four generations. My great grandmother, Angelina Napoli Cortese, made the candy for family and friends at social and special events like Christmas and St. Joseph's Day. Her son, Sam Cortese, who was a street vendor by trade since the age of 12, would on occasion bring the left over candy on his fruit and vegetable wagon to sell the next day.

(Above): Roman Candy comes in three flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.  It would be hard to decide which flavor is the favorite, we encourage trying all three.

Roman Candy always sold very well and people began to ask for it, so Sam decided to try to sell candy on a regular basis. The problem however was that his mother didn't have time to make candy everyday and still tend to her other children and do all the things that mothers do.

(Above): Handmade taffy from the Roman Candy wagon has been a treat for New Orleans children and adults alike for many generations.

Sam realized he would have to find a way to make his Roman Candy as he rolled along and sold it. In 1915, he went to a wheelwright named Tom Brinker and together they designed the wagon that is still used today.

(Above): Still made by hand, the old-fashioned way, the Roman Candy wagon has even been spotted at such events as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

The Roman Candy gourmet taffy initially sold for 5 cents a stick and stayed at that price until 1970. After his death in 1969, Sam's grandson took over the business and it continues to this day. The wagon and mule can be seen rolling through the streets of New Orleans, uptown, downtown and occasionally even in the suburbs on an almost daily basis."