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OP: Candy Hits

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by ZaSu Pitts
ZaSu Pitts (1894–1963) was a star whose film career spanned the silent era, talkies, and television. It might be a shock to know that with hundreds of film and stage performances to her credit, the actress also had enough spare time to be an accomplished candymaker.

Having witnessed her mother making candy from an early age, Pitts was well-versed in the craft, and this is a serious work, immune to total novelty. Legitimate technical advice like how to gauge temperature in the absence of a thermometer and how to temper chocolate is offered with both sincerity and a bit of humor.

We are emboldened by her expertise when she encourages prayer before working with chocolate (fair guidance for professionals and amateurs alike) and ends with some troubleshooting advice and a note:

“If the coating hardens immediately and stays dark, smooth, and glossy, you have followed directions perfectly. But for this first success, give all the credit to fate. You probably can’t do it again right away. This is a delicate art, and can’t be mastered in a flash. However, you’ll continue to punish yourself until you are successful. Once your ambition has led you this far, there is no turning back.”

Published posthumously in 1963, Candy Hits had a surprisingly short publishing life, and there are not many good-looking copies to be found. Ours, a first printing, is a stalwart, Good ex libris copy. It bears all the usual scars of library copies—stamping, a card pocket on the rear free endpaper, a few closed tears or folds, light pencil ticks in the margins, stains from the adhesive tape used to hold down the mylared jacket, food spotting, a soiled case, and prominent shelfwear.

The jacket is present and intact, though showing similar signs of a life well-lived—dampstains and creases, discoloration from the aforementioned adhesive, and a few tears. High quality paper stock must be credited for giving a book that has no doubt spent plenty of time next to a pot of boiling sugar a longer life than it might have had otherwise.

Not for the stringent collector, but handy to use and delightful to read. A whole lot of value in a small package (93 pages, 8.25” x 5.75”). Black and white photographs and autobiographical material of the star accompany 40 succinct recipes. A real sweet [groan] treat.

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