French Burnt Peanuts and Other Disappointments of Life

French Burnt Peanuts

How could they.  Just quit like that, I mean.  Perhaps this has not really impacted your life, but Brach’s Candy Company has stopped making French Burnt Peanuts.  And it is a problem for me.

A hundred years or so ago, something like this would have never been a problem.  Someone in your household or your town made everything you ate, drank or used.  So, unless someone died unexpectedly without passing on a recipe, you never had to do without the stuff you were used to in your life. But today, we rely on these big companies who make things for us.  Until they don’t any more.  Like Brach’s.

When I was a kid, my father had a tremendous sweet tooth.  He always kept a cupboard stocked with all manner of sweets and goodies.  Chocolate covered grahams, devil’s food cookies, Cracker Jack, and all kinds of mass-produced sugar-charged bliss.  Brach’s French Burnt Peanuts were usually in that cabinet, and were favorites of mine.   You know, the little peanuts covered with the artificially reddish-pink candy with the little granules made of Lord-knows-what.  My college roommate grew up calling the stuff gorilla food.

I loved those things.  Yes, other confectionary companies made their versions of them, but Brach’s was the gold standard.  They had the perfect flavor, the perfect texture, and I never had any that were better.  Whenever I saw them haning in a store display, something in me would light up and I would often buy a bag.  Then the challenge would be to make that bag last for longer than twenty minutes.  Sometimes I made it, sometimes not.

Then I noticed that they became harder and harder to find, so that whenever I did find them, they became even more of a treat.  Then, nothing.  Ahh, thought I, this is the age of the internet.  Somebody has surely bought this product line from Brach’s and is making these under some other brand name.  But nope.  Gone.  Vanished.  Withdrawl.

I thought about this because I found another brand of them a few days ago and tried them.  Not even close.  How bad is it when you start wishing that you had one of the other brands that you dislike less?  I actually did find some that come pretty close, but they are a private lable from a local farm market that is a bit of a drive.  So, they are inconvenient to buy, and they cost something like $6 (plus an hour and a half of time and gas) for a small bag.  Not optimal.

This isn’t the first time.  Another taste I inherited from my father was a product called Crosse & Blackwell Date Nut Loaf.  It was date-nut bread in a can.  A weekend ritual with Dad was to watch him slice it up and spread cream cheese on it, then make little sandwiches.  It was like having candy for lunch.  It was fairly pricey (and likely quite bad for me) so as a young adult, I would only buy a can or two every once in awhile.  Until . . . . Yup, stopped making it.

I know, I know – if I didn’t like such weird stuff, I wouldn’t have these problems.  I thought that too, until Hostess stopped making Twinkies..  Actually, Hostess stopped making everything.  Another company brought them back, but they are not the same.  Twinkies and their ilk are now smaller and they taste slightly different.  Or at least I think they do, and  I quit buying them.  And have you tried a Klondike Bar since the Isaly Dairy Company was bought out by Unilever?  Never again.  Life is too short for inferior ice cream.

Listen here, Capitalism – nobody has said more nice things about you than I have.  And this is the way you treat your friends?  We have to talk.  Product after product has gone away.  Space Food Sticks.  Quake cereal.  Seyfert’s Potato Chips (the real ones from Fort Wayne, made of nothing but potatoes, peanut oil and salt).  Nobody told me that I would outlive many of my favorite foods.  But you can buy all the stupid Smarties you want?  It’s just not fair.

I suppose that it is unavoidable, though.  Something has to give in order to fit yet another flavor of Doritos on the shelf.  Have you tried the Firey Burrito Grande yet?  I’m just making this up, but just you watch, something just like it will be along soon.  But I am drawing a line in the sand, and am not trying another new flavor until they bring back the Taco flavor from the mid ’70s.  Call it extorsion if you want, but that’s where I am.

There are still a few old standbys still out there.  Like the Goldenburg Peanut Chews that my father grew up eating in Philadelphia.  You can still get them, and they are the real deal.  They are chocolate and peanut candy pieces that are made with molasses, and are not as sweet as more modern candy.  They date back to before World War I, and are said to have been included in the Doughboys’ ration kits “over there.”  There really is nothing else like them.  But just wait.  I am probably the only person under 80 who buys them, so they are likely to go away too.  Am I doomed to a future with nothing but Laffy Taffy and Sour Punch Straws?  Gad, I hope not.


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23 thoughts on “French Burnt Peanuts and Other Disappointments of Life

  1. Jim, great story! I have to buy my dad’s green leaves mint jelly candies online. The local stores carry them, but they just don’t taste right. I order them from where they taste just like my dad remembers them tasting. Their shipping is expensive, but fast. Their candies and nuts are pretty yummy. They are a Christmas staple for us. I looked, and they do sell french burnt nuts for $4.29 a pound. Let me know if you try them.


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  9. I have the same story about many foods, notably Coffee Break cookies from Christies. They stopped making them in about 2010, and I kept the last wrapper that I ever bought in memory of those delicious cinnamon raisin cookies. Then Mrs. P was out shopping and found Dare cinnamon raisin cookies just this past month or two and I have found them to be equal to the task of my old standby.
    I also remember as a kid eating “cow candies”. They were called such (by me) because there is no name on the wrapper except a picture of a cow. Then I couldn’t find them any more until by chance I stopped in to a Polish bakery in our area and – boom – there they were. I bought several, (maybe half a pound) having not remembered that they don’t store well and stay fresh in their yummy soft texture. No matter, I enjoyed what I ate and now I know where to find them.


  10. I am devastated! These peanuts were part of my childhood and I ate them while I was pregnant with my first child. I was obsessed. They got me through 4 years of chemo. I have called the company several times and then I’ve written. Nobody’s tastes like theirs did. Why won’t they make them again…WHY!!!!!


    • Well, I guess we have another JP here? Clearly we share a love of Brach’s FBPs . I will also join you in your sorrow that your efforts at convincing the company to salve our hurt ended in failure.


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  12. JP, I loved your Blog. Funny how you wrote it in 2015 and I’m just seeing it. In 1979, I took a sales job in Detroit. I was in my car in MI, OH & IN 4-5 days a week calling on hospitals. My lunch was on the run most days, and you guessed it. Two bags of Brach’s French Burnt Peanuts. For 4 years, I was religiously addicted to them. I love them. Easy to take a bag or two in the car and drive to the next city or appointment. I’ve tried to find them over and over, but the closest I found was a brand at Walgreen’s. NOT as good as Brach’s, so I stopped eating them. Now if you want a great recipe for Date & Nut Bread, that my mom & grandmother made in the can. Then here you go. Try it. It was the “best.” 1 cup dark raisins, 1/4 tsp salt, 2 cups boiling water, 3-1/2cups flour, 2tsp baking soad, 1 cup pitted dates (cut into 1/4 or 1/2 pieces) 1 cup broken walnuts, 1 1/2 cup sugar. Put all dry ingredients except flour & sugar, into large bowl. Pour boiling water over the dry ingrdients. Stir mixture. Let stand to soften. Mix flour and sugsar – add to above. THEN: Mix together in another bowl. 2 beaten eggs, 2 tbs. melted sweet bteer, 1 stp. vanilla, 1 tbs grated orange rind. THEN: Bake in well-greased coffee tins (do not fill to the top – only 3/4 of the way) or bread loaf pans at 350 for about 1 hour. Let cool for a while in cans before removing (Great for freezing). Enjoy.


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