Wednesday, December 28, 2005

On Vanishing Foods

Nora Ephron (who I may have linked to before, so there you are) has a post on vanishing food.
FOOD vanishes.

I don't mean food as habit, food as memory, food as biography, food as metaphor, food as regret, food as love, or food as in those famous madeleines people like me are constantly referring to as if they've read Proust, which in most cases they haven't. I mean food as food. Food vanishes.
I, too, have lost some favorite foods. Most notable for me is something that the Herman Goelitz Candy Co. calls (or called) Snowballs, and I used to know as Cream Filberts. They look a little like mothballs, and consist of a hazelnut with a creamy sugar coating about 3/16" thick.

I used to be able to get them easily when I was much younger, but they disappeared from view. About 1980 I remember being delighted to find them in a store in Hanover, NH, then we moved away.

A local candy distributor here in Buffalo would have been willing to order a case for me about twelve or thirteen years ago, but that would have set me back forty dollars, and I could not bring myself to spring for that much at the time.

I once stopped in at a big candy store way south of Buffalo, it may have been in Irving, NY. After I described what I was after, the proprietor explained to me that the reason the candy is not sold much anymore is that it is very time consuming to make. The process, he told me, involves rolling the nut around on a sheet of liquid sugar, and thereby building up the thick coating. So it's expensive to make, and not a big seller, and has a limited shelf life to boot.

I found them once in a big candy store south of Cleveland. There was a sign visible from the highway announcing the presence of the store, and after passing it a few times visiting my daughter at Oberlin, I finally stopped in. They had them, and for a few years after I would try to schedule my trips so I would pass when they were open. But they had them only seasonally for a time, then not at all.

Goelitz (now Jelly Belly) made them as a specialty item, and so I wrote to them asking about local suppliers. I probably still have the letter they sent back, but it was not very helpful. They did send me a couple of packages, though. That was a nice treat.

A store in the Maine Mall had them one year when I was up for a visit, so I bought a pound there. That may have been the last time I had them.

Now, I have not seen my Cream Filberts in a few years. Perhaps if I poke around on the Jelly Belly web site I'll find them, but I'm not sure I would order them. There is some fun in the chase, and the finding. I still stop in nearly every candy store I pass, just to see if they have them.

Did I mention my Ginger Altoid quest? You see, said daughter once brought home a tin of Ginger Altoids from said Oberlin. They verily explode in the mouth - and ginger is by far my favorite spice ...

Update: Alas, "Snowballs" are nowhere to be found on the Jelly Belly web site. Although they have a specialty confection group, they don't provide a product list. A quick Google search also found nothing helpful. I'm not even sure what to call them, anymore! I'll have to see if I can find another confection purveyor who can help.

Further Update: I found a recipe in a candy cookbook on my own shelf that may come close. They call them Snowballs, and it's a nut wrapped in fondant candy, which is basically sugar and cream of tartar. Maybe I'll try making them sometime.

Yet another update: I have kept looking, and have found they seem to be gone for good.

See also:
Cream Filberts Forever
No Cream Filberts To Be Found

Late Update:
Cream Filberts found at Vermont Country Store and Stevers Candy
Cream Filberts are Indeed Back
Better Price for Cream Filberts


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too have been looking for "mothballs" as I used to call them. I recently called Log Cabin candy store in Fallston Maryland, they said they will have them "maybe" during Easter. They said they will not deliver though. You were my first stop in my hunt. Glad someone else knows what they are!

February 06, 2006  
Anonymous Rev. Carl Chamberlain said...

The last time I saw cream filberts was at the Allegany County Fair in Angelica, NY. Marie's Candy from somewhere in Maine had a set up there and sold several varieties of fudge cut to order and a large variety of candy displayed in gallon and two gallon glass lidded jars. I have been on the look out for them too.

February 12, 2006  
Anonymous Moonmaiden Kaila said...

Ahhhh. The quest for the elusive Cream Filbert. I too stalk the 'net looking for the sweet confection. Why do these treats conjure such sweet memories for virtually everyone who has ever had the pleasure of experiencing one of them melt onto their tastebuds? My earliest memory of them instantly brings back a dusty roadside souvenir store somewhere just outside of Phoenix in the very early '60s. The store was full of exotic, eye-cathing items that stopped this road weary 7 year old big city cowboy boot wearing little girl in her tracks - Kachina dolls, turquoise jewelry, bronze ashtrays (when people actually bought ashtrays), and horehound and sasparilla drops in paper bags. Truly a garden of earthly delights. But then, just as I thought I had taken in all that my child's eyes could, rolling around in my daddy's palm sat the glittering enigma that I have never forgotten. Daddy gleefully said "mothballs" as if to answer my little girl's questioning gaze (could they really be those stinky things that my grandma had in the back of her closet, I wondered) and popped one into his own mouth as if to show me that they really were edible. Then he popped one into mine and my world has never been the same. This little gem is, indeed, quite magical and undoubtedly the holy grail of all candy. If anyone ever finds them (I have been looking for them for years) I would be delighted to not only support the cottage industry genius who has them for sale, by buying them, but would be willing to distribute them as well. Please contact me if you know where to buy them, or are interested in making them for widespread distribution.

March 16, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was able to order them through the Vermont Country store a couple of years ago. They have a request page for items you'd like to see.

March 25, 2006  
Anonymous Marianne-in-Ohio said...

A friend just recommended contacting The Vermont Country Store for these globular treats, and a visit to the website put me through to a live person for an internet Q&A session (how often has THAT happened) who informed me that they have been trying for at least a year to get Mothball Candies with no success--I guess lots of folks want this item. I believe it has vanished into history with other good things from our childhoods.

April 02, 2006  
Blogger Pheidias said...

Yes, indeed, I also contacted Vermont Country Store and got the same answer.

April 05, 2006  
Blogger Stonewall said...

To all mothball/creme filbert lovers: The oldest candy store in America in downtown Philadelphia still has these candies for sale and will ship them. I just bought some a couple months ago. Shane Candies @110 Market St. 19106 #215-922-1048

August 03, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too, have a yearning for "Mothballs" or Cream Filberts. Experienced first as a small child in Miami, Florida. My mother (born and raised in Dayton, Ohio) viewed them as a very special treat. My grandmother would bring them with her on the plane each time she visited. We later discovered could purchase them by the pound in the candy kiosk area in the Sears Dept. Store on Coral Way(Near Miracle Mile/Coral Gables late 1950's.)

Adapted from source: Taste of Home Magazine
Yield: about 5 dozen

These are also referred to 'moth balls' because of their size and appearance.

1 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whole shelled filberts or hazelnuts
2 cups confectioner's sugar
3 Tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Granulated sugar or about 60 crushed sugar cubes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar. Add egg and vanilla; mix well.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and add to creamed mixture. Roll heaping teaspoonfuls of the dough into balls; press a filbert into each and reshape so dough covers the nut. Place on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.

Combine first three glaze ingredients; dip entire top of the cooled cookies into the glaze. Roll in sugar.

August 25, 2006  
Anonymous Cheri from Indy said...

I can't thank you enough for this wonderful recipe for one of my all time favorite candies,"Cream filberts or Mothballs. I too have been looking everywhere for this candy and now I am going to buy some filbert nuts and try to make these myself. We have a local candy shop that sold these at Christmas time only and as soon as I saw them in the big glass candy container I bought several pounds because I knew they wouldn't last long. I never imagined making them myself as I realized they had to be rolled in sugar many times to get that nice thick coating. WHAT A SUGAR HIGH! I can hardly wait to taste this homemade version. Thank you so much! Cheri

November 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shanes Candy in Philly. DOES NOT carry
the elusive MothBall

December 06, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vermont Candy Store just sent me this e-mail:
"I'm happy to tell you we plan on carrying this candy in our Winter 2007 catalogues, which should arrive in home around the second week of January 2007. This item will be available to order on line at the same time."

YIPPEE!!!! I'm going to place a BIG order. My mouth is already watering just thinking about them.

Hope you will all join me in placing orders to keep this item alive.

December 06, 2006  
Blogger Pheidias said...


This is Great News! Thanks for the tip!

December 06, 2006  
Blogger Pheidias said...

We'll just have to wait and see. Vermont Country Store proved unresponsive to my request for confirmation.

December 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cream filberts/Mothballs ARE available as of today, Dec.11, 2006 from
The Vermont Country Store

I just placed an order!!!!

Look under Old fashioned candy. They're at the bottom of the page -
the last item on the right. Listed as Cream Filberts.

Here's the link:

What a great Christmas present - a great candy from my past. (< :

December 11, 2006  
Anonymous giniaruth said...

I contacted the Vermont Country Store and received two answers: (1) They had no source and no plans to carry it, and (2) it will appear in their Winter Catalog (late Dec. or early Jan.) and they WILL BE CARRYING IT. (It being, of course, MOTHBALLS!)

December 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The item # is 48012. They do have it. I placed an order yesterday.

Here's my conversation with their online live help today:
ME: I placed an order yesterday for item #48012 and was told it was available. Now, I'm told differently. IS the item available?
Marianne: One moment please, while I look this up for you.
Marianne: The Creamed Filberts #48012 are available.
ME: Could you tell your phone people it is available? I have friends on the internet who are not placing orders because they're told you don't carry it.
Marianne: We didn't carry them for about 5-6 years but we found a supplier and we have 210 bags in stock & more coming in in January.
Marianne: There are about 55 candies in each 1 lb bag.
ME: Wonderful! Plenty to go around for a little while anyway. Thanks again. You answered my questions. Now, if you can spread the word to all reps I know people will be placing orders.

Hope this clears up any confusion and you insist on placing your order when you call. (o:

December 12, 2006  
Blogger Pheidias said...

Vermont Country Store catalog page here.

December 12, 2006  
Blogger Pheidias said...

Stever's Candies in Rochester, NY has a better price. Look here.

December 16, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I'm the one who said Vermont Country Store had Cream Filberts. They did have them in stock, took my order on 12/11 and said they'd ship in 2-3 days. Needless to say, I'm still waiting for the order which I consider lost. They are sold out of the candy and do not expect to receive any more until the middle of January, 2007. I'm disappointed and frustrated that I counted on them to get my order to me and that I encouraged any of you to order from them.

Be careful if you do place an order. This experience has left me very wary of their customer service.

I did call Stever's Candy today, but they sold out yesterday. The woman I spoke with did say they would have them the day after Thanksgiving next year and to give them a call - which I definitely will!

Pheidias - would you be willing to share with me when your Stever's order arrives? (< : No? then just think of me when you're enjoying your candy.

Cream filberts for everyone next Christmas! Stephanie

December 23, 2006  
Anonymous Liz in Phx said...

I also had been looking for "mothballs" for several years. I used to get them 50 years ago at the Sears in Salt Lake City on Main Street. My mom would give me a quarter and I would buy a bagful. This winter I happened to see them offered in Vermont's Country Store catalog and ordered 2 lb. They arrived yesterday and I am enjoying one now as I write. It brings back so many memories. I may try freezing a few since they are a seasonal item so I can enjoy them throughout the year.

January 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just ordered 2 pounds of creamed filberts from the vermont candy store - it was on their website as plain as day and the customer service people couldn't have been nicer. I hope I receive them now that I've read some of the comments.

April 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Snow balls are back! Yes, it is true and you can order them from the Vermont Country Store. I ordered some at Christmas and they were just like the old ones and so fresh! The link is below. They call them cream filberts.
Well worth it!!!

February 03, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MothBalls/Cream Filberts are available from Candy Kraft Candies
2575 Western Avenue
Altamont, NY 12009 (518) 355-1860
Handmade and just as remembered...maybe even better. Great people to deal with the and price is the best I have found, even having them shipped across the country.. I think they are the only candy co. that still makes them.

August 30, 2008  
Blogger Carroll said...

here I am chiming in a year after this original discussion because a random Vermont Country Store catalogue arrived at our house today and happened to flip open to the listing for these candies. *My* childhood memory of something tantalizingly similar, however, was the delicious thick white coated almonds my father used to bring back from business trips to...(where? I have no idea!) You folks have inspired me to continue the quest, and if all else fails, I will certainly try the recipe you have unearthed. I tell ya, the internet is a fine and wonderful thing!

Greetings to all my fellow sweet-toothers out there!

September 10, 2009  
Blogger Pheidias said...

Carroll, you may be looking for Jordan Almonds, which may be a New England confection. In addition to white, they are sometimes made in pastel colors.

September 10, 2009  
Blogger Carroll said...

Hah! You do still check for/receive comments on old posts!

Nope, these were very specifically thick-coated like the hazelnut ones you and your fellow-fans are describing, and they looked identical to the image of those found in the current Vermont Country Store catalog, except that they were oval because of the almond center, not round. I suspect they were made in very small batches by some devoted little old candy person somewhere, and the description of the process in the VCS catalog "we found a small company that still copper kettles until each (nut) is encased in crystallized sugar" would seem to support this theory.

Jordan almonds, although delicious in their own right, are what every candy store invariably suggests when I've asked this question. I can't imagine that the recipe posted above in these comments, which involves flour, would produce similar results, but I did track one down elsewhere on the 'net last night which suggests wrapping the nuts in fondant. Again, not the aforementioned "panning" process, but if I try that and it's anything close, I will definitely let you know.

Meanwhile, cheerful best wishes to you from California!

September 11, 2009  
Anonymous Susan said...

Mothball candies (cream filberts) are available from Nashville Candy Store in Nashville. Good price for old fashion candy and excellent service!!

October 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Used to buy them in a little shop on Lexington Ave in NYC opposite Bloomingdale's..they were called mothballs. Moved to CA in 1986 and found them at CountyEast Mall in Antioch. They discontinued them in 2005. Now get them through Vermont Country Store and they are quite good. Nashville Candy has them too. Anybody know where I can get Loft's PARLAY bars?

November 28, 2009  
Anonymous TexasRed said...

Hi! I just found a website that has Cream Filberts/Snowballs/Mothballs. You have to call them or send your order for them in an email. Here's the info:
Candy Kraft Candies
Route 20
Guilderland, NY 12009
Phone: (518) 355-1860
They charge $9.95 per pound of the Cream Filberts. I will call them later today to place an order.
I have been looking for these for eons. I used to buy them at the Sears candy counter, but they stopped carrying them a very long time ago. Hope this helps you purchase them. LOL!
Phyllis Manahan

September 19, 2012  

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