What the Hell is a Nougat?

For centuries, moms all across the world have slaved away in kitchens, loviningly combining various proportions of eggs, sweeteners, nuts, berries and extracts, baking them into fantastically designed cookies, cakes, and pies.  It’s been the traditional role that moms have played for years.  Yet, with those simple ingredients, over all those years, I can’t think of one single mom who’s even once attempted making a good honest nougat!

I’m not really mad at mom.  Honestly, in all my sweet ladened experiences, nougat never once entered into my crave zone.  It’s that stuff in a Milky Way right?  I really only ever thought of it as candy filler.  That probably doesn’t make a ton of sense, now that I think about it for half a moment. “Filler” is never something that is actually promoted.  You don’t hear dog food advertise, “Canine Crunchies is choc full of delicious filler and chicken!”  Cigarette companies never used to promote their product as, “20-sticks of carcinogen laced filler!”

Yet, whenever I heard a Milky Way candy ad, they would say, “Thick creamy nougat, covered in rich milk chocolate!” So, I’m not real sure where I leapt to that assumption.  I guess maybe it’s not just filler. Maybe after all these years I should give the stuff a second look.

The Vital nougat company, which has since 1926, been making the stuff for their nougat bars and supplying it to other dessert companies, says that nougat can be traced back to the Byzantine empire.  Translated from its original latin as nut cake, it goes by other regional names like, nux garum, torrone and jijona.

Alright, so I’ve been sufficiently humbled by the vast history and scope of this stuff.  Now, I was ready for a fresh take.  In the past, I’ve only ever been a Kit Kat or Clark Bar man, but today I bought the three candies that listed nougat as their primary ingredient.   These three, Milky Way, Baby Ruth and Toblerone would do the deed.  I actually never had a Toblerone before. I’ve seen it.  I knew it was a triangle box.  Baby Ruth and Milky Way, I’ve of course had, at least once a year from inside my daughter’s Halloween bag.

But, this time, focusing on the nougat, I could really tell that the Milky Way and the Toblerone bars were really the ones that stood out.  I honestly couldn’t say it had anything to do with the nougat, but good lord that’s good chocolate inside that Toblerone bar!  The Milky Way Dark is also fantastic, but that’s mainly the dark chocolate working itself silly in there. Baby Ruth’s alright, but I’m just not big on such big nuts in my chocolate… and nougat.

I’m still not real sure that in America nougat is anything more than a filler for candy bars, but that’s our hang up and not world consensus.  If I’m ever in one of the more refined countries, I’ll be sure to look for nougat on the dessert tray and give it one more shot.

See you Tuesday for National Spanish Paella Day!


About Jim Clark

"If it was worth doing, then it is worth writing!" -- Jim Clark -- Someone else probably said that before, and I'm sure that each semester she starts her Creative Writing 101 class by writing it on the board, but I never took that lady's class so I am taking her quote! I work in the world of advertising, but I write for a living. Here in the second decade of the '00s, we find ourselves in a culture where virtually everyone writes for a living. With all the clicking and clacking on Facebook, Twitter, emails and texts, our lives are more than ever intertwined with writing. At the same time, it's also become increasingly more important to shorten our thoughts down to as few characters as possible. So, now, more than ever, I think it's also important to hold a place in our lives for expanding and honing our thoughts through writing. This is my place for that.
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