When I first saw an Idaho Spud bar in a convenience store in Grand Junction, Colorado, I had to try one. The concept was just so old-timey, so quirky and kitschy-cute that I had to have one. On the side of the brown wrapper a tag line was written in bold, black print: "The Candy Bar That Made Idaho Famous."
"Shit," I thought, flipping the shiny plastic wrapper around in my hands. "I've never heard of it."
In truth, the odd candy bar actually is a blast from the past, from a time when nickle
candy bars were all the rage (along with, I'm sure, pennywhistles and
moon pies). It's maker, the Idaho Candy Company,
got started in Boise, Idaho in 1901, and has been turning out
old-fashioned candies ever since. The spud itself, first
manufactured in 1918, is the company's best-seller.
Inside the shiny, brown package is an oblong puck of a candy bar studded in white flakes. The flakes are coconut, and next to the dark chocolate coating, they oddly (and sort of grossly) resemble the eyes of a fat potato. Inside the chocolate is a spongy marshmallow filling.
I took a bite and savored the spud for a moment. The result was something like if a Mounds bar and a Peep had sex (and had a child, duh). There was a strong coconut flavor, the dry tang of dark chocolate, and the moist textured marshmallow. The whole of it was sort of mushy and not very satisfying, but the flavor was OK. The bar was neither great nor bad; rather it tasted like something that would sit at the bottom of your Halloween bag for a few weeks while you ate the other more tasty candies. I offered a bite to my in-laws sitting near me, and they concurred. Each of them passed on a second helping, so I cleaned up the remaining Spud and shrugged. "Now I see why Idaho is so famous," I said.
Who should eat Idaho Spuds? Someone with state pride, candy freaks looking to mark another classic off their list, and people with a strange (and possibly sexual) affinity for Peeps.