River Rock Candy

Written by Sarah Provost
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There's rock candy, and then there's river rock candy. Though the names are easy to confuse, the products are very different. Rock candy, also known as crystal candy, is produced by heating water and adding sugar to it to create a supersaturated solution. A string or stick is inserted into the syrup and left to cool. As the mixture returns to room temperature, the sugar forms large crystals on the string or stick, resulting in an irregularly shaped translucent candy.

River rock candy is something completely different. A semi-soft filling, either chocolate or gel, is molded into small, smooth, irregularly rounded shapes in several sizes. This center is then coated with a hard sugar shell, which is colored in speckled earth tones to look like actual river rocks.

A Regional Treat from Several Regions

River rock candy is marketed as a regional specialty, but there are several regions that lay claim to it. In Tennessee, river rock candy has jelly centers in lime, orange, grape, cinnamon and licorice flavors and is sold in their regional museum in Southeastern Tennessee. A Colorado company produces a fishing-themed gift basket which includes river rock candy.

An Oregon company claims river rock candy as "a Northwest specialty." Theirs is chocolate based and comes packaged with a chocolate fish. However, this "Northwest Specialty" is also available in 1.75-lb. tins from a site called "Tex-Mex To Go." I'll leave it up to you to decide which is the authentic region of origin. I don't care where it comes from, as long as it winds up in my mouth.

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