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Owyhee Idaho Spud

Submitted by on October 12, 2009 – 11:32 pmNo Comment

Idaho SpudBy Susan McKee
The Road Trips Foodie

Driving through Colorado earlier this month, I stopped along I-70 to pick up some refreshment, and saw a candy bar I’d never noticed before: Owyhee Idaho Spud. In the interests of research (of course!), I bought one to review for all you Road Trips Foodies. Bottom line: don’t bother. Unless it was horribly old (or mistreated in transit), the taste of the, ummm, “potato” just wasn’t worth the calories (180 in the 1.5-ounce package).

It does (sorta) look like an actual Idaho spud: the candy bar was (sorta) potato-shaped, and (sorta) looked potato-ish, with tiny coconut shards covering a dark chocolate shape filled with some sort of tasteless, unidentifiable filler. There was almost no chocolate taste, and no coconut flavor. It wasn’t even very sweet. In fact, I can’t think of anything to recommend it.

Which, I must admit, is strange — since it’s been selling for almost a century. The Owyhee Idaho Spud, first produced in 1918, is the premier offering of the Idaho Candy Company, which began in Boise, Idaho, back in 1901 (the founder, T.O. Smith, started in his garage, selling door-to-door, before building a factory in 1909). According to the company website, the Idaho Spud is a combination of a light cocoa-flavored, soft marshmallow center drenched with a dark chocolate coating and then sprinkled with coconut — and it is the company’s best-selling bar. (I never woulda guessed!)

In this same factory, over the years the Idaho Candy Company has produced 50 different candy bars and many varieties of boxed chocolates. Three of those candy bars are still in production: Idaho Spud Bar (1918), Old Faithful Bar (1925) and the Cherry Cocktail Bar (1926). They also produce three varieties of Owyhee Butter Toffee (1925), available in original chunk style, bite-sized and chocolate-covered.

If you’re cruising the highways near Boise consider stopping by (if it’s Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.). The store and factory are still located at 412 South 8th Street, Boise, Idaho. Maybe you just gotta taste it fresh!

I know, Road Trips Foodies, you’re all wondering about Owyhee. This was the name given the Sandwich Islands by Captain James Cook when he came upon them 1778 because they were “owyhee” — “delightful, beautiful, satisfying”. (We know them better now as the Hawaiian Islands.) The association of Owyhee with a river, a range of mountains, and a county in Idaho came about through the activities of the Hudson Bay Company. They brought three Sandwich Island Indians or Owhyees to the region in 1819. The three were trapping on the river that now bears the name when they were attacked by a band of Snake Indians and killed. After this time the river was known as the Sandwich Island River and was later called the Owyhee River; the mountains and the county were subsequently named from the river. (Why not?) The Idaho Candy Company uses Owyhee as a registered brand name.

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