Eating the Past: Chase's Cherry Mash
Hello, this is Tammy Proctor. I want to visit my home state and an iconic piece of goodness that was part of my childhood – Chase's Cherry Mash candy.
You are probably wondering what Cherry Mash is, especially if you didn't grow up in the region around Kansas City, Missouri. It is best described as a chocolate-covered candy with a center made up of crushed cherries and fondant. It's sweet, pinkish-red in the center, and really hard to ignore. The candy has been around for more than 100 years, and it is still made in the town where it originated, St. Joseph, Missouri, by the Chase Candy Company.
According to an article in "Feast Magazine," the company began when founder, Dr. George Washington Chase, came to St. Joseph from his home state of Vermont. He hoped to set up practice as a doctor in the town where millions of people started their westward migration on the Oregon and California trails. Instead of working as a doctor, however, he set up a mercantile store in the 1870s. Ernest, George's son, spearheaded an investment in candymaking for the wholesale operation, hiring some experienced confectioners to travel west to work for the Chases. By the early twentieth century, the Chases were manufacturing hundreds of candies and patent medicines.
However, their fame came with something called the "Cherry Chaser," which was first produced in 1918.
Very quickly renamed the Cherry Mash, this chocolate became a staple of the candy business. While ownership has changed over the years, the Chase Candy Company still operates from St. Joe and still makes Cherry Mash today.
In a region that is known for boxed chocolates – think of Russell Stover candies, which has been headquartered in Kansas City since the 1930s – Chase's Cherry Mash stands out for its unique flavor and appearance.
The ingredients in the candy today are still the same ones from a century ago, although the company has upgraded its equipment and process. A little bit.
So what goes into Cherry Mash? Sugar, corn syrup and water are the base ingredients for the fondant, which is whipped to look like cake frosting. Then crushed cherries, food coloring and wild cherry flavoring are added to the fondant. The outer shell is a mix of ground peanuts and milk chocolate – and the pink center is dipped into the outer coating twice. They are wrapped in their distinctive old-fashioned looking white and red wrapper.
Cherry Mash is hard to locate in Utah, although sometimes you'll find them stocked in a big box store. You can order the original Cherry Mash online from chase or you can try their mini-mash candies, which are smaller and have fewer calories.