Kentucky Cream Candy Is the Ultimate Southern Treat
Cream candy (also known as pull candy) might not be widely known throughout the South, but in certain parts of Kentucky, it is a beloved treat that has been passed down for generations. Made with heavy cream, sugar, vanilla, and boiling water, the candy is plain to look at, but has a surprisingly smooth, melt-in-your-mouth texture and intensely sweet flavor.
This candy may be easy to eat, but it’s quite a production to make. Food blogger Cindy Gibbs of My Country Table provides an in-depth how-to on making cream candy. It starts as a thick, sugary mixture that is poured onto a cold marble slab. The mixture quickly hardens into a shiny, sticky taffy, which is then pulled by hand until it gets lighter in color and forms ribbony layers. The taffy is then cut into small pieces with kitchen shears. At this point, the candy is too hard to even eat, so it rests overnight. Magically, instead of getting harder, it turns airy and tender.
Kentuckian’s love of cream candy can be traced all the way back to the early 1920s. Two separate businesses—Rebecca-Ruth Candy and Ruth Hunt Candies—were created by women who made candy and were encouraged by family and friends to sell their treats. Ruth Tharpe Hunt of Ruth Hunt Candies operated a small store out of her home in Mt. Sterling, KY, which she eventually outgrew and opened a factory to produce the treats, which are still sold today.
Similarly, Rebecca-Ruth Candy was started by two friends and schoolteachers, Ruth Hanly and Rebecca Gooch. The two women started selling their homemade candies from a local hotel, and although the business stalled and even shut down for a time due to personal and financial challenges, Rebecca-Ruth Candy still continues today in Frankfort, KY.
Other confectioners, like Mom Blakeman’s Candy (established in the 1960s) are also known for making cream candy. According to the company, Maxine Blakeman was encouraged to go into business by none other than Colonel Harlan Sanders, of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame.
Whether you make it or buy it, cream candy is a little bit of Kentucky history that will satisfy your sweet tooth.