by Penny Crane

My week in Louisville was filled with wonderful, informative events. On Wednesday, I joined other conventioneers on a tour of Schimpff's Confectionary, just across the bridge in Indiana. It was a visit to the past!

Schimpff's is a family-owned candy-making outfit which has been in business since 1891. The state of Indiana has designated it as one of its hidden treasures.

Our tour included a demonstration of how they make cinnamon red hots. All the ingredients are natural. I found it interesting to learn that the red hots are made from cinnamon oil, which costs $50 for one little bottle. Cinnamon oil is an extract from the interior of the cinnamon tree in Brazil. The cinnamon powder we sprinkle on our toast is made from the bark of that tree.

Most days, the public can view a demonstration of candy-making. The Schimpffs make candy on turn-of-the-century equipment. They use different- sized copper bowls according to the size of the candy batch, and a metal table, with cooling tubes under its surface, to bring the candy to the right consistency.

Schimpff's is mostly famous for its "Fish Candy" in 18 flavors, horehound drops made from horehound (an old-world plant of the mint family), and their original cinnamon red hots. Their red hots are square in shape, about the size of your thumb. They also make all kinds of chocolates.

The room behind the candy-making demonstration area is a candy museum. It has displays of thousands of artifacts concerning the American candy industry. When we left, we were all loaded down with our sweet purchases, as well as a few quotes to rationalize eating that sweet wonder called chocolate.

"Chocolate causes certain endocrine glands to secrete hormones that make you happy. Be happy!"

"In 1728, the Swedish botanist Linnaeus classified the cacao plant, from which chocolate is made, as 'food of the gods.' If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for you!"

"Chocolate helps you sleep. Why else would fancy hotels put a chocolate on your pillow?"

"If you eat chocolate in a forest, and no trees fall, the calories don't count!"

"Chocolate is God's way of making up for okra."

I know you can think up some more rationalizations!

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