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How Carob Traumatized a Generation

If you were a kid in the 1970s, you probably remember the horrors of the health food craze, when carob was said to be a perfectly good substitute for chocolate. So what was wrong with chocolate? It was grown and harvested by mistreated farmers, enriching companies that did other nefarious stuff, and it was expensive. But the word going around was that it was unhealthy, especially the edible sweetened version, for having too much sugar and caffeine. So conscientious mothers made "healthy" cookies, candies, and desserts with carob instead, and we were all cheated of anything resembling the taste of chocolate.

In the nineteen-seventies, carob infiltrated food co-ops and baking books as if it had been sent on a COINTELPRO mission to alienate the left’s next generation. “Delicious in brownies, hot drinks, cakes and ‘Confections without Objections,’ ” the 1968 vegan cookbook “Ten Talents” crowed, noting, too, that it was a proven bowel conditioner. “Give carob a try,” Maureen Goldsmith, the author of “The Organic Yenta,” encouraged, but even her endorsement came with a hedge; in the note to her recipe for carob pudding, she confessed that she still snuck out for actual chocolate from time to time—though less and less often! No one under the age of twelve could stand the stuff. Not the candy bars that encased a puck of barely sweetened peanut butter in a thin, waxy brown shell, nor the cookies—whole wheat, honey-sweetened—studded with carob chunks that refused to melt in the mouth, instead caking unpleasantly between the teeth. My mother—who, to her children’s lasting gratitude, never compromised her pie recipes, even during her peak whole-foods years—told me recently that she was never that fond of carob, either.

Years after the backlash died down, people started to realize that carob was okay if you used it as carob. It's nutritious, has its own taste, and doesn't melt on a long hike. But treating it as chocolate caused youngsters of that time to hate it forever. Read about the rise and fall of carob at The New Yorker. -via Metafilter

(Image credit: Cari Vander Yacht)

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