Tag Archives: taffy

Debunking Stories my Grandmother Told Me – Volume 32

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Debunking Stories my Grandmother Told Me – Volume 32

Linda Knight Seccaspina

Debunking the Stories my Grandmother Told Me – Volume 32

Linda Knight Seccaspina

Thanksgiving has always been a festive day for everyone I know and been celebrated in lots of different ways throughout the years. One of those was for young men to dress up as women in the 19th century and make fun of authority. It was a “masculine escape” from the family, an opportunity to break rules and be outlandish. Honestly, we could do with some of that old Thanksgiving cheekiness right about now.

According to my Grandmother, she remembers her cleaning lady’s brother coming to our door in Cowansville, Quebec, in the 1940s.  The gentleman felt no pain sporting a wig and lipstick in a dress asking my Grandmother for treats. Grammy told me it was because of a French Canadian tradition called La Tire de la Ste-Catherine which is actually a way to celebrate pulled taffy. She said that it involved the whole family, feasting and drinking and making taffy in the kitchen, and men would get drunk and dress up and visit the neighbours for more drinks and treats. 

Well I am here to debunk Mary Louise Deller Knight’s festive holiday tales, because she was wrong–or half wrong. She’s not alive to argue with me now, and I’m going to come clean with everything I learned this week. One thing for certain is that La Tire de Ste. Catherine was, and maybe still exists in some parts as French-Canadian tradition. But Mary got her dates all screwed up and she was a month and half too early. It was never on Thanksgiving Day! Who also knows if the spirited gentleman that came to her door was still celebrating the 19th century ways?

The founder of the Congregation of Notre Dame, Ste. Marguerite Bourgeoys, made these candies each year in November beginning in 1868. The 25th of November to be exact, in hopes to attract prestigious young students to her school. Not to be outdone by Ste. Marguerite, the local young maidens also began making them on the same day to find a young man interested enough in their cooking skills to marry. Ste. Marguerite Bourgeoys and the young maidens also celebrated the day to remind everyone about poor Catherine d’Alexandrie who was tortured and executed in the year 307.

Catherine refused to marry an Emperor who she was promised to because she claimed to be spiritually married to Christ. How stories about taffy and death got intertwined one will never know. But, if this is the story about pulled taffy, do you really want to know how salt water taffy was conceived. Wait, salt water taffy got its name after a big flood in Atlantic City in 1884, but with no religious context, hats, or death and– really, it all tastes the same.

So, as we sit, pants unbuttoned and droopy-lidded, around the flat screen television watching other people work off their calories, one could imagine an inkling of Thanksgiving past with Uncle Joe. He might be dressed up in one of Madonna’s wilder costumes 19th century-style and making obscene gestures in the general direction of a provincial capitol of his choice.  I personally will not be insulting anyone. My family always celebrates Thanksgiving with a fast. The faster we eat, the more food we get.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Linda

 La Tire de Ste. Catherine Taffy

INGREDIENTS

1⁄2 cup molasses

1⁄2 cup corn syrup

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

1⁄4 cup butter

1 tablespoon white vinegar

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

⅛ teaspoon baking soda

DIRECTIONS

Place the molasses, corn syrup, brown sugar, white sugar, vinegar, cream of tartar and half the butter in a pot.

Bring to a boil over low heat until the mixture registers 140° C (260° F).

Stir for 5 to 10 minutes. The mixture has to reach the “ball” stage, meaning it’s ready when you drop a little of it into a small bowl of cold water and it forms a ball.

Mix in the baking soda.

Pour into buttered dishes and let cool slightly until you can pick the taffy up without burning your hands.

Butter your hands well and begin pulling: pull, fold in half, and repeat the process until the taffy is pale golden, and almost white. If it sticks to your hands, put a little more butter on them.

Pull one last time and twist up tightly in small lengths. Cut into pieces with scissors.

Place on a buttered plate or wrap in waxed paper.

Bon Appetit!

CLIPPED FROM
The Montreal Star
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
24 Nov 1920, Wed  •  Page 11

CLIPPED FROM
The Gazette
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
26 Nov 2007, Mon  •  Page 8

Thanksgiving Was Once a Day of Insulting Authority?

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vintage-halloween-costumes-1900s-20s-19


Thanksgiving was a Northeastern regional commemoration and it was celebrated in lots of different ways. One of those ways was for young men to dress up as women or in fantastic costumes and promenade, and mug, and make fun of authority. It was a “masculine escape” from the family, an opportunity to break rules and be outlandish. In our increasingly regimented national security state, we could do with some of that old Thanksgiving cheekiness, though we need both sexes now.


Thanksgiving in the nineteenth century in some parts of the country was a combination of Eddie Izzard (cross-dressing), Lady Gaga (wild costumes and breaking conventions), and Jon Stewart (mirthful insults directed at high political authority). Some historians suggest that the homey, nuclear-family Thanksgiving meal was a reaction against all this public rowdiness.

 

So, as we sit, pants unbuttoned and droopy-lidded, around the flat screen television watching other people work off their calories, we could get an inkling of Thanksgiving past if we imagined uncle Joe dressed up in one of Madonna’s wilder costumes and making an obscene gesture in the general direction of the provincial capitol.

 

According to my Grandmother she remembers her maid’s brother coming to our door, drunk with a wig and lipstick on in a dress asking my Grandmother for treats. Grammy told me it was a French Canadian celebration called “Tire Ste Catherine” which is actually pulled taffy. She said that it involved the whole family, feasting and drinking and making taffy in the kitchen and men would get drunk and dress up in woman’s clothes and visit the neighbours for more drinks and treats. This was in about 1945 in Cowansville, Quebec, Canada.

 

I stand by my comments :). Happy Thanksgiving!

Roy Bates and His Dog Named Taffy— ahh Paddy

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Roy Bates owned a spectacular Airedale dog. He was the pride and joy of the family, and Pat or Paddy as he was called, would follow his master every day to his office at the Bates and Innes mill. One morning on their daily walk, the Airedale came across a ball of taffy on a plate cooling on a back step. The dog had no idea it had to be fully cooled and needed to be pulled. He didn’t think twice, he  just grabbed it and ate it whole. However, the taffy never made it down the dog’s throat, and the dog’s jaw became clamped together. Paddy instinctively ran his head along the ground, but nothing was going to dislodge that sticky stuff.

taffyqq

When he saw his method was not going to work, the dog quickly ran home. As soon as Mrs. Bates saw him she was horrified and called Roy and told him to come home at once. It was immediately decided, and assumed, the dog had gotten into some glue. After repeated applications of warm water the dog was finally able to open his mouth again. A few days later Roy found out what had truly happened, and I bet that dog never touched taffy again.

Bates (1)

Roy Wallace Bates – 1887/1963

Mayor of Carleton Place – 1918 to 1920 – Textile Manufacturer.

Files from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place