Friday, November 14, 2008

Idaho Spud®

Older, “classic” brands don’t always represent great products.

That seems to be true of the Idaho Spud, from the Idaho Candy Company in Boise: “Delivering the Finest Candy and Service Since 1901.” Laura Kamrath delivered these treats to Houston; she picked up several at a trade show in Louisiana. Patrick Fisher, writing on, calls it an “old-skool candy bar.”

The Idaho Candy Company started in 1901, built a new factory in ’09 and produced more than 50 different candy bars and many boxed chocolates (including Owyhee Butter Toffee) over the years. The website boasts a fan club with Idaho Spud recipes and not much else.

Like other older candy brands, its fame these days spreads more by word of mouth than formal advertising…enthusiasts who spot it lurking on the lower shelves of smaller grocery stores – or run across it a an oil industry trade show, for God’s sake. We (Kamrath and I) suspect that someone connected the brand name to the oilfield term “spud in” – to begin drilling, to start an oil well – and decided to use the bars as memorable handouts.

Sad to relate, the Idaho Spud is an unusual confection, an acquired taste like a number of regional candy bars. Its flavors…a wonderful combination of a light cocoa flavored marshmallow center drenched with a dark chocolate coating and then sprinkled with coconut (Sorry, no potato!)…are muddled and a bit stale.

There must be some nostalgia, and quite a lot of private-label manufacturing, to enable the Idaho Candy Company to remain in business. I wish ‘em success…but no one’s going to waste a formal marketing campaign on the Idaho Spud.

On the other side of the Spud is the almost equally classic Zero candy bar, created in 1931 by the Hollywood Candy Company in Minnesota and made ever since of “Caramel, Peanut, and Almond nougat covered with white fudge.”

Zero has a loyal consumer base (including me) and I ran across a fresh box as recently as this afternoon in a Huntsville, TX, Valero C-store. To repeat one candy retailer, I’m comforted that candy bars like the Zero, and yes, even the Idaho Spud, are merely “hard to find,” not “no longer in production.” Since the Zero is produced today by Hershey, I’m pretty certain it gets more channel attention that the stolid Spud.

But hey, you’ll want to taste-test these two traditional confections. Let me know how that turns out. Ta for the weekend.

Photo: Richard Derk/Los Angeles Times

1 comment:

Mary Jo Martin said...

OK, so who would want to eat a candy bar that they might tink would taste like a potato for Pete's sake?

Despipte a "rose by any other name..." may hold true for some things, this is a case of a need for branding!