Steve Cotler

Steve Cotler

Are Milk Duds Duds?

I think this will bring a curl to your lip…you tell me whether it’s a smile or a sneer.

I am working on the website for the second book in the Cheesie Mack series: Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel. The book will be released later this month.

In this book, Cheesie wonders…since the word dud is so negative, why would a candy company name its product Milk Duds?

This is the box I remember holding onto in movie theaters

My research led to: The company that invented them (back in the 1920s) wanted perfectly round caramels coated with milk chocolate…and no matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t make them that way. So “duds” they became.

That satisfied Cheesie, but in my researches, I learned something that made me even more curious.

Further digging revealed that FDA regulations no longer permit the confection to  be advertised as “chocolate-covered” because cost-cutting demands encouraged Hershey’s (now the owner of the brand) to change the formula from cocoa butter to vegetable oil. According to the FDA, this means they’re not chocolate; the best Hershey’s can do is call them chocolatey.

Seeking confirmation, I went to the Hershey site and found this:

No ingredients list available. But it must be public information, I thought. It’s printed on every box. Then I found this on the same page:

Can they really call it “chocolate- covered”? (I’ll overlook the extra space.) So I called Hershey’s as instructed for an explication of chocolate, chocolate-covered, or chocolatey covered. (I’ll overlook the the missing adjectival hyphen.) The phone rep, upon hearing I was an author, demurred answering my question, instead informing me that the PR department would be calling me to respond.

“This has nothing to do with what I wrote,” I explained. “What I did in my book was give a plug to the candy I loved as a kid. Nothing else. Forget I’m an author. I’m just a consumer who wants to know the ingredients.”

“I’m sorry, sir. But you’ve already told me you’re an author, so I have to have PR call you back,” she countered.

I gave her my number, a vestigial 60s-radical snicker (excuse the pun) tingeing my response. “You must have a flotilla of nervous lawyers.”

I await the call.

My wife thinks it strange, but I enjoy and encourage such interactions.

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Update: One month has passed. No call back from Hershey’s PR department.

2 Comments

  1. Jesse says:

    In the past month, I’ve eaten, on average, one large (10 ounce) box of Milk Duds per day.

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