Candy Breaking Party
In her autobiography, Dessie mentions going to a candy breaking where she met my grandfather. Below are some descriptions of this activity I found by searching the internet.
Basically, "candy-breaking" constituted nothing more than the breaking of small pieces of candy into smaller pieces. Only the manner in which this was accomplished made it entertaining.
First, the household head would have to make one of his twice-yearly trips into town. Among the needed supplies he brought back would be a dozen or so sticks of hard candy; or more, according to the number of expected guests. These would be stored safely away until the neighbors could be summoned for a social.
At a convenient time, word went out over the hills that the Yandells, Ellisons, Moores; of some neighbor was having a "candy-breaking" next Saturday night. If school was in session the message circulated rather quickly. The postmaster could also be counted on to spread the news. Travelers on horseback would be sure to mention a Saturday night "candy-breaking" before they left. Socials ranked high in news order, along with a "burnout", and Zeke Taylor's plow-horse getting foundered.
On the night prescribed, every hill and hollow in the school district would have shed its occupants for the party. Even so, the gathering might not number more than three dozen people, for there were more hills than occupants in those days.
Though a "candy-breaking" by its name, might seem directed toward the younger group, it was never limited to children, or even to young people. Everyone in the family came along, including an occasional cautious hound who managed to trail his owners through the woods.
In preparation for the party, beds were taken down and removed from the living room. Extra chairs, stools, and trunks were brought in and placed against the walls. As a final stretching measure, the boys brought in a couple of long boards, and laid them across two chairs. Grandma placed folded quilts over these boards. They became quite satisfactory benches unless a boy got too rowdy, and spilled a group of young ladies on the floor. There were times, then as now, when boys chose unfortunate ways of getting attention.
Groups began arriving before dark, carrying lanterns for the return trip late in the evening. Those from farther away came in wagons. The young bucks usually came on horseback, galloping up in a dash - making a daring display of horsemanship. For effect, it was much more satisfying than the screech of brakes, and spinning of wheels displayed by their modern counterparts.
When the party began, young folks seated themselves around the living room wall, and the older folks took a chair in the kitchen. The host would usually have the candy in a shoe box, take it out, and break it into as many pieces as possible. The shorter the pieces, the more interesting the action thereafter.
The game would begin at some point in the circle, usually with one of the younger children. Youngsters usually chose the longest pieces, and "broke" with friends of the same sex. Friendly wrestling ensued among the boys as each tried to get the most candy. Hands and heads bumped together after stray chunks. While older children enjoyed the competition, smaller children received their pieces without breaking.
But the fun began when the bold young men got a turn. With a certain young lady in mind, the young man chose the shortest possible chunk of candy, and the young lady for his partner. The candy was, of cours, too short to be broken with their fingers, and would have to be divided in the next prescribed manner. They would have to bite it in two. In a very strict moral society this was a tantalizing bit of permissiveness, and brought on a good deal of horseplay and lively reactions.
Unfortunately, back then the prettiest girls and handsomest boys got chosen first, too, but everyone had a turn, and it was considered a breech of etiquette to refuse to "break" with anyone.
A generous fire in the fireplace, with popcorn frequently passed around, combined with the candy to create a procession to the waterbucket. The young men, especially, developed an intensive thirst, for as the water dwindled a couple was chosen to go to the spring for more. Since it was quite dark on the way to the spring, this was a very desirable chore. However, little courting was accomplished on these trips for several youngsters were loosed out the back door, by watchful mamas, to scare the couple along.
Often the breaking culminated in a songfest of hymns and old hill melodies. At a fairly late hour small children, sound asleep, were slung over their papas' shoulders for the trip home. Young men offered the ladies rides home on the backs of their horses. Lanterns and cheery voices faded into the dark hills. (The Ozarks Mountaineer December 1976, p. 24)
Almost any occasion called for a party. Teenagers and young adults usually were the guests along with a few older adults. Singing, dancing and some games were the main activities of the affair. This was also a good opportunity to meet a girlfriend or boyfriend and if the party included a candy breaking, the chance of becoming acquainted was even better. Different kinds or colors of stick candy were broken in smaller pieces. The broken candy was put into a pan and covered with a cloth so no one could see the kind of candy they were getting. A boy would choose a girl to draw candy with him. They reached in together and, if they both chose the same kind, he got to kiss her. In another variation, sometimes called a candy biting, the boy would choose his partner as before except only he would draw out a stick of candy. Then they each put one end of the stick in their mouths and tried to bite the pieces in half. The boy usually picked the shortest piece he could find and sometimes the girl would almost get her lips bit. (Springfield-Greene County Library -- Bittersweet)
I'm going to ask if you know anything about candy breaking? We got different colors of stick candy. We'd break that in two and put them in a dish pan. We'd cover them up and you would get somebody to draw candy with you. The one that you had chosen would reach in there and get a stick. If you didn't match her, well that was it, but if your reached in and got a piece that matched her candy, you got to give her a nice sweet kiss and squeeze her around. It was fun. Springfield-Greene County Library -- Bittersweet)
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