“Sweet Tooth? Keep Societe Hard Candy Handy”: Candy Purchasing and Consumption at the Kooskia Internment Camp

Hi, my name is Shea Henry and I am a first year Masters Student in Anthropology. Although the main focus of my academic and masters thesis research lies with faunal remains, the candy wrappers found in the Kooskia collection intersect with my most favorite of subjects, food.  I came across these candy wrappers last semester while volunteering in the lab for Professor Camp’s Historical Archaeology class.  I had originally thought they were simply crumpled tin foil, which there is a large amount of in the collection. Upon unwrapping and finding the letters “C-A-N” printed on the first section, the lab rang with my exclamation “Candy!”  My interests were sparked.  How, in this isolated and institutionalized landscape, did candy make its way into the hands, and stomachs, of the Kooskia Internment camp residents?  Who was consuming the candy, the internees or the employees? And where did this candy come from?

Figure 1
Fortunately, the later question was quickly answered with one of subsequently unwrapped foil which reads “Imperial Candy Co. Seattle USA.”   The imperial candy company was founded in Seattle Washington in 1906, serving the local community for 68 years before going out of business in 1974 (Humphrey 2006:87).  In that time, the candy company made mostly hard candies sold in collectable tins.  The tins are still collectors items and can be found on online auction houses (figure 2).  Part of my project for Professor Camp’s Historical Artifact class will include sorting the tin cans in the Kooskia collection and attempting to identify any of them as candy tins.  The most popularly advertised candy made by the Imperial Candy Company was Societe` candies (figure 3) and were in fact the candies found in the Kooskia collection!

Figure 2

As for the first question, who is consuming candy at a WWII Japanese Internment camp?  Surprisingly, the men at the camp were following along with 20 years of aggressive advertising campaigns meant to expose men to the previously female only candy market.  Prior to the First World War, candy and chocolate advertising was directed exclusively to women, stressing the leisure aspect (and sometimes medicinal properties for “female concerns”), of eating candies (Dusselier 2001).  Archival research, including purchasing records and historic photographs of the canteen, will hopefully show who was purchasing the candy and for what reason.  Were the candies being purchased for personal consumption, or to be sold in the canteen to the whole camp?  Either way, the men at the camp, regardless of place of birth, were clearly participating one of the most American of pass-times, eating candy.

Figure 3

Look forward to the completed project presented in a poster at the Northwest Anthropological Conference in April.

Cheers,

Shea Henry

References

Humphrey, Clark (2006). Vanishing Seattle: Images of America. San Francisco, California, Arcadia Publishing Company.

Dusselier, Jane (2001). Bonbons, Lemon Drops and O’Henry! Bars: Candy, Consumer Culture and Construction of Gender 1985-1920.  In Kitchen Culture in America, Sherrie A. Inness. Philadelphia PA, University of Pennsylvania Press.

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8 thoughts on ““Sweet Tooth? Keep Societe Hard Candy Handy”: Candy Purchasing and Consumption at the Kooskia Internment Camp

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  1. My Mom has an old Imperial Candy Co.tin. with the name Jane Adare Chocolates, Seattle, Washington in the side of the lid. It’s a black tin and has pink orchids and a lime green bow on the top. She is interested to find out more about this. It’s 3 lbs net weight. It belonged to her Mother-in-Law. We haven’t been able to find out anything about it. Can you help?

  2. I recently came across an old Societe candies ad. it has aelf or something on it. it says “your choice 10c”…it is made out of cardboard 18 7/8″ wide and 7” tall. Any info would be cool. thanks

    1. Michael,

      My name is Kali Oliver and I will be a TA for Dr. Camp this fall semester at UI. Since my time will be devoted to lab responsibilities, perhaps Dr. Camp will task me with looking into this for you. We do have some additional candy wrappers that have not been researched, but may provide some info for you as well when they can be looked into. I won’t be back in the lab until the end of the month, but after I check with Dr. Camp I will let you know.

      Kali

  3. I have tins. 35 pounds ea. Full of candy. The tin says Department of Defense. Survival Supply. Societe candy. Tins are still sealed. Anyone know what they might be worth?

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