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Turkey Joints That Taste Like Candy

Nov 23, 2011
Originally published on November 24, 2011 11:01 am

Part of an ongoing series on unique holiday dishes

Each fall when it turns cold, a candy maker in Rome, N.Y., kicks into production on a confection known as turkey joints.

And each year as Christmas approaches, I receive a jar of these bone-shaped candies in my shoe. My mother-in-law, Miriam Ganze, claims that leaving gifts in your shoes is a bona fide European tradition for the 6th of December — St. Nicholas Day. But the turkey joints are a uniquely upstate New York twist. She was first introduced to them when vacationing with friends from Rome, about three hours east of where we live in Rochester.

"So through the years we had this celebration where we had the exchange of the regional culinary treat," she says.

The families would apparently sit around the campfire and swap weird local foods. "I guess it's a signature candy for Rome, and so when we invented this nonsensical game, they just knew that turkey joints would be the thing to bring."

That's because turkey joints are so utterly strange. They're about half a foot long and have a silvery sheen. They get their name from the knobby little "joints" that run up and down their length. Those are the Brazil nuts embedded in the bone's "chocolate marrow," according to the website for Nora's Candy Shop, the company that makes them.

"They're really good. The outside is, it's sweet. It almost tastes like cotton candy or something, it like really has a sugary flavor," says my friend Britany Salsbury. She came to visit me in Rochester, and I told her that I wanted to introduce her to a "poultry-themed candy." So I took her to Stever's Candies, the only place I know of that sells joints locally.

"They're good enough that I can overlook the fact that they look like bones," Salsbury says.

Kevin Stever, who sells turkey joints shipped in from Nora's, says the handmade candy is extremely vulnerable to humidity, so it has to be packaged in glass, bumping the price up to almost $20 a jar.

Rachel Ward of member station WXXI reports from Rochester, N.Y.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And now, let's go from Planet Money to Planet Food, to New York State, where this time of year, a candy maker is making a confection known as turkey joints. They are bone-shaped candies, and every year, as Christmas approaches, Rachel Ward of member station WXXI receives a jar of them.

MIRIAM GANZE: I usually get the turkey joints for St. Nicholas day, but I often then will save another jar for little Christmas.

RACHEL WARD, BYLINE: This is my mother-in-law, Miriam Ganze. She claims leaving gifts in your shoes is a bona fide European tradition for the sixth of December. But the turkey joints are a uniquely Upstate New York twist. She was first introduced to them when vacationing with friends from Rome, about three hours east of where we live in Rochester.

GANZE: So, through the years, we had this celebration where we had the exchange of the regional culinary treat.

WARD: The families would apparently sit around the campfire and swap weird local foods.

GANZE: I guess it's a signature candy for Rome, and so when we invented this nonsensical game, they just knew that turkey joints would be the thing to bring.

WARD: That's because turkey joints are so utterly strange. They're about half-a-foot long with a silvery sheen. They get their name from the knobby little joints that run up and down their length. Those are the Brazil nuts embedded in the bone's chocolate marrow, according to the website for Nora's Candy Shop, the company that makes them.

BRITANY SALSBURY: They're really good. The outside, it's sweet. It almost tastes like cotton candy or something. It, like, really has a sugary flavor.

WARD: When my friend Britany Salsbury came to visit me in Rochester, I told her that I wanted to introduce her to a poultry-themed candy. So I took her to Stever's Candies, the only place I know of that sells joints locally.

SALSBURY: They're good enough that I can overlook the fact that they look like bones.

KEVIN STEVER: They're a very unique piece of candy. I don't know anybody else making such a thing with the chocolate and the nuts inside the candy.

WARD: Kevin Stever runs this shop where he sells turkey joints shipped in from Nora's. He says this handmade candy is extremely vulnerable to humidity, so it has to be packaged in glass, bumping up the price to almost 20 bucks a jar. I told my mother-in-law I thought that's a lot for novelty item, and she sort of got offended. So when you get the turkey joints in your shoe on St. Nicholas Day, is it a joke?

GANZE: No. Turkey joints are very serious. There's nothing humorous about them. It's a true gesture of affection.

WARD: A gesture that I expect to find in my shoe in about a week or so. For NPR News, I'm Rachel Ward in Rochester, New York.

INSKEEP: Just a reminder: We asked for your unique holiday dishes a few weeks ago, and now many of those recipes and photos are available for you at npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.