Counting down to Easter with our favorite Easter candy: Whitman's Sampler
We're using the arrival of Easter Sunday as an excuse to gobble up -- I mean, research -- some of our favorite candies, the ones that just sing spring and Easter. First up: The 12-ounce Whitman's Sampler assorted chocolates (with special Easter wrapping).
Where you can buy it: CVS drug stores, for one, or www.russellstover.com
Claim to fame: The Whitman's Sampler, a favorite of drug stores everywhere, with the easy-to-spot cross-stiched designs on the box lid … just like … a … sampler.
How has it changed?: Whitman's Chocolates opened its doors in 1842 in Philadelphia, and its first box of packed chocolates appeared in 1854. Seemingly, someone -- maybe Mr. Whitman himself -- anticipated America’s love affair with chocolate and sugar and packaging. The company prospered for decades, adding such new-fangled trappings as cellophane overwrap and advertising in publications such as the Saturday Evening Post. The first Sampler appeared in 1912. (Do we feel a centennial Sampler coming on?) During World War I, chocolates were packaged with "vest-pocket" editions of "classics by well-known authors" and sent to troops overseas. During World War II, the company reportedly received special allotments of tin to send 6 million pounds of candy to servicemen. Even the Smithsonian has Whitman’s artifacts.
Sales figures: Whitman's was acquired by Kansas City, Mo.-based Russell Stover in 1993. One source listed (2007) sales at the family-held company at $575 million.
But what does it taste like?: We'd like to quote a Village Voice blog that recently evaluated Valentine candy (samplers) under the Whitman's and Russell Stover labels (Whitman's was the winner): "The overall selection is better with more distinguishable fillings as opposed to that general sweet corn syrup flavor that marks the Russell Stover choices. The English-style toffee chocolates were pretty good, plus the signature branded chocolate was a nice touch.... At the end of the day, though, they both still taste like $5 chocolates chock full of artificial flavorings."
The bottom line: Four pieces will cost you about 230 calories.
-- Alice Short
Photo: Whitman's Chocolates