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The Candy Project

Candies are part of almost everyone’s infant imaginary and when carefully analysed show us that it shouldn’t be considered only a risk factor for obesity, diabetes, tooth decay and other health issues that plague modern society, but actually a subject with many opportunities of studies. Under this premise starts The Candy Project that challenges the preconceptions about it and tries to dignify it: reverse or neutralize any charge of negativity attached to them, thus exploiting their potential.

Chef Andoni and the sociologist from the University of Basque Country Iñaki Martínez de Albeniz take front of the research: Candies as a topic has not yet been seriously addressed because it’s believed that there is little substantial: it’s associated with meaningless, almost irrelevant subject, except from the perspective of food science, which has almost demonized this food as for the risks involved for children specially. You need to leverage this stigma to invert it, explains Martínez de Albeniz.

The Candy Project will trace the different perceptions of candies through time. Historically the candies were used for nutritional value, as many other things, and had evolved into a way of rewarding and praising others, specially children. Over time, though, candy has lost its social utility and ceremonial context, being compulsively consumed in all circumstances and occasions across different cultures.

It was during Andoni’s and his team’s many trips around the world that they observed a strong connection between culinary cultures and candies for children. What are candies? When and how they are consumed? What is the predominant flavour of the candies in your country? Where and how they are sold? What candy marked your childhood? There are endless questions about the subject and still there are none rigorous study about it. Candies are strongly present on our day-to-day life nevertheless, as many other truly interesting things, go unnoticed. The Candy Project seeks to answer these questions and rescue the true meaning of candies through a systematic study of its textures and flavours. The project will trace candy’s historical evolution, will analyse the incidence in childhood and trace the relation it has in children’s formation.

The Candy Project consists of two parts, one theoretical, which aims to generate basic knowledge about candies and other applied to more concrete contexts involving social innovation in the form of gastronomic education. The research counts with the support of the global movement Slow Food International – Universidad del Gusto Slow Food, which counts with 100,000 members worldwide, from chefs, to suppliers, journalists and other people from the gastronomic world. Its members are spread around 150 countries and have received a questionnaire about what is the meaning of candy in their countries.

The material generated from the responses will help in the production of a data collection and subsequent analysis and catalogue of candies in a conceptual, organoleptic and nutritional level. This data will provide information needed to develop a world map of candies cultural diversification. The project will show weather globalisation has caused a loss of diversification or a homogenization process in the way of consuming candies; if globalisation means as well as a reduction of the food spectrum in which it gravitates it also implies a standardisation in certain social-cultural processes and social etiquettes involving candies : the prize and chantage and the game fomented by some candies, the encouragement of children’s imagination, the relationship with money, war, etc.

The goal of this project is to foment the decline of positive enforcement with candies and present them as a vehicle for a balanced and healthy diet. With this objective in mind we see candies transformed into a vital tool for the cataloguing and therefore creating awareness of nutritional aspects. From there, defining new social applications spanning for example the therapy of neurological disorders.

Aduriz, Martínez, Slow Food International and the University of Gastronomic Sciences will take the results of The Candy Project and create a world map of candies, tracing the parallels and differences between cultures, societies, traditions and people’s imagination (www.thecandyproject.org).