Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Autumn Apple Traditions

Some of you may remember this caramel apple from my Halloween blog party a few weeks ago. Although it was served as a virtual snack, I actually made this at a "caramel apple bar" days earlier. Every year, my mom and I take part in the tradition of going out to the country and making custom caramel apples. This year we went to the Elegant Farmer in Mukwonago, WI.

As you drive up to the Elegant Farmer, you are greeted by the smiley face barn. There are lots of treats for sale inside the barn. There are plenty of pies, as well as cookies, cheeses, and frozen fruits.

Next to the barn is the tent where caramel apples are made. You start by choosing the type of apple you want.

Then you bring it over to a guy who either cuts it up or sticks a stick in it. The guy then dips the apple in hot caramel and hands it to you to decorate. You can roll the apple in peanuts and various jimmies. The caramel dries quite fast, so I was desperately rolling my apple in anything that would stick to it!

I wasn't trying to be a massive Packers fan with those green and gold jimmies - those are just the ones that would stay on!

Further fun ensued when I tried to eat the apple and got my hands all sticky. For some reason, the caramel wouldn't stick to the jimmies and peanuts, but it really stuck to me! I ended up with hay covered hands, from touching my caramel covered hands to the hay bale I was sitting on. Ah, the challenges of eating a caramel apple...

We discovered an old train caboose behind the barn. The paint was peeling off parts of it. I know that some of you are into old, abandoned buildings and machines, so I'm including a few photos of it:

The worn down lettering spells "The Milwaukee Road"


There was also a working train for the kids to ride:

Back to the apples... Lately, I've been discussing caramel apples with my blog friends who live outside of America. It turns out that candy/toffee apples are more likely to be found in other countries, than caramel apples. Candy apples are associated with celebrations and holidays in Europe and South America, the way caramel apples are associated with Autumn and Halloween in The United States.

One of these holidays is Guy Fawkes Day. I hadn't heard of Guy Fawkes until researching candy apples a week ago. Imagine my surprise to hear him referenced again and again this past weekend! One of my blog friends wrote a descriptive blog post about Guy Fawkes. This will teach you a little about him and the November 5th holiday: Voodoo Ghoul's Bonfire Night

Guy Fawkes

I always thought that candy apples were pretty, but I'm afraid of breaking a tooth on one! Maybe the coating isn't as hard as it looks. So, I have to ask those of you who have tried a candy apple, are they good? They probably aren't as messy as caramel apples!


  1. Ooo your caramel apples look so yummy! I'd be covering them with as many crushed nuts as humanly possible! They do sound rather messy to eat though!

    I had a toffee/candy apple last week! They usually start appearing here at the beginning of October but are definitely more abundant around guy fawks night! I remember as a kid holding a toffee apple in one hand and a sparkler in the other!

    They aren't too hard but can definitely get very very sticky once they have been slobbered on! I once picked up a chocolate apple last year which was poor in comparison to the toffee apples! I really fancy one now!

    It would be cool if there were places to go make the toffee apples like you and your caramel apples! It looks like fun!

  2. I had no idea candy apples were associated with Guy Fox day. I learn something new everytime I read your blog.

  3. Okay, first of all, I just have to say that you had me laughing with your description: "The caramel dries quite fast, so I was desperately rolling my apple in anything that would stick to it!" You had me imagining the 'I Love Lucy' conveyor belt episode, or an episode of 'Bewitched' where Uncle Arthur and Serena lose their powers and have to get a job making chocolate and nut covered frozen bananas!

    Secondly, what exactly are "jimmies"? Are they candy? Or are they "sprinkles" or "hundreds and thousands"? The reference to the Packers, and the green and gold, is making me think of 'That '70s Show' again, I'm afraid. We just saw an episode where Bob (Donna's Dad) dresses in a green and gold Packers tuxedo to renew his wedding vows.

    We don't celebrate Guy Fawkes in Australia, although we did have "Cracker Night" when I was little (such a ridiculous name!), which would have been based on Guy Fawkes, when people had bonfires and fireworks, or fire-crackers, hence the name. That all died out a long time ago when fireworks became illegal here. Only pyrotechnic professionals are able to put on fireworks displays now. Actually, even though I lived in England for a while, I don't know much about Guy Fawkes Day. I still remember some kid holding his hand out for money, to Danny, and saying "penny for the Guy?". I still laugh when I remember Danny saying "What guy?" Maybe, VainGlorySinner can shed more light on that tradition.

    Toffee apples aren't associated with Guy Fawkes here. At least not as far as I know. They are sold at country fairs, carnivals, and school fetes, like cotton candy, or as we call it here "fairy floss". I've never had one. They're pretty, but caramel apples look tastier to me.

  4. Little Gothic Horrors - Penny for the guy has no real significance to Guy Fawkes and the gun powder plot at all. It just became a tradition for children to make a effigy of Guy Fawkes and take it out on the street and ask passing people for a penny which they would then spend on fireworks or sweets.. maybe even candy apples!

    The tradition has mostly died out now as you'd probably need to ask for a 'pound for the guy' to have enough money to buy fireworks nowadays! A penny was worth a lot more back then.

    I don't really understand why people burn the effigy of Guy Fawkes either. I mean he wasn't burnt at the stake like a witch, he was sentenced to death by being hung, drawn and quartered which was the reserved for those who committed treason, although Guy Fawkes jumped from the scaffolding with the noose around his neck and died almost instantly to avoid being drawn and quartered.

    For those of you who don't know what being hanged, drawn and quartered entailed, I will spill the gory beans..

    The person who was to be executed was tied to a plank of wood and drawn (or dragged) through the streets by horse to the place they were to be executed. There they were hanged until they were nearly dead (but not quite dead) and then emasculated (castrated), disembowelled, beheaded and then finally cut into quarters.

    Not a very nice way to go.. but still not as gross as the Chinese slow slicing or death by 1000 cuts!

    I don't know how I changed the subject from a childhood past time to torture and death.. oh well! x

  5. @Justine: I really enjoy the style of your blog posts with the photos and descriptions. It's like a mini-vacation in cyberspace.

    You haven't seen candy apples until you travel to one of the major theme parks. They are a meal unto themselves! I don't know where they find the mutant apples they use but they are huuuge.

    @LGH: Jimmies and sprinkles are the same thing. Just depends what part of the world/country you're in. I was actually surprised Justine used jimmies as I thought that was more of a New England thing.

  6. Sounds like you ahd a sticky-fun time with your mom. all those candied apples are making me hungry.

    Love the picture of the caboose. I could make a small home out of that.

  7. I guess I'm a caramel apple sissy. I prefer mine sliced and dipped. As to the candy apple, I have had them several times at a local carnival in my home town. They are good, but MAN are they sticky messy! Much more so than caramel in my opinion. Really like your posts! Keep them coming!

  8. Those caramel apples look soooooo yummy! I want one!

    That building is super cute! It looks like you had an awesome time with your Mom. You guys are always doing awesome activities.

    I love the way you take pictures of the festivities you attend. :)

  9. I love caramel apples but sadly with all my dental work, I can't eat anything chewy and sticky. I really like the picture of the old train.... very nice.

  10. That old train would make a great backdrop for a photo shoot!

    I love love love caramel apples...double yum!!


  11. Thank you VainGlorySinner and Dex1138 for answering my questions! Wow, it's like Justine has a really cool Halloween-themed hangout for us all to chat. Maybe it's lack of sleep but I'm amusing myself with the idea of someone walking in and the rest of us yelling out their name, the way everyone greeted Norm when he entered the bar on 'Cheers'! Haha.

    The whole "hanged, drawn and quartered" thing reminds me of the scene in Braveheart showing William Wallace being executed. Very disturbing! Human beings can certainly be cruel, vile creatures. I didn't realize that castration was part of the process. That's really adding insult to injury!!

    Okay, there's no appropriate segue from "hanged, drawn and quartered" to caramel apples, so I'll just dive in... jimmies. I'll tuck that word away in my memory. I'm always fascinated by the names of the candy that Americans eat at the movies (according to TV shows, anyway), as well!

  12. Wow! I love all these thoughtful comments! We're all learning a lot about different cultures tonight, hey?

    VainGlorySinner ~ I'm writing back to you in two parts to match both your notes. Yeah, I was trying to cover the apple in as many crushed nuts as possible! They wouldn't stick, so I ended up with sort of a hardened puddle of caramel and nuts. It was a little like a sheet of peanut brittle!

    The thought of kids holding sparklers and caramel apples is so wholesome and nostalgic ~ Even though it's not my nostalgia! Guy Fawkes night does sound like a fun celebration, even if it's based on something a little darker. How long has that night been celebrated in England?

    Oh, a chocolate apple sounds pretty good too! I'm surprised to hear that candy apples are messy. They just look kind of crispy.

    So, you guys don't have places to build custom apples? Do you buy them in candy shops and at the supermarket? I guess I've never seen a candy apple with sprinkles and nuts stuck to it.

    Jessica ~ Thanks! I'm glad that you're learning something by reading my blog. :) That makes me feel good. I learn a lot in the process of writing this and also from the comments you guys leave me!

    Little Gothic Horrors ~ Haha! Yeah, it was kind of a funny experience to go through too! It was a very Lucy moment. :) I can imagine a whole episode in which she'd get stuck to everything! I actually was reminded of the National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation movie. Have you seen that? There's a part where Chevy Chase's character cuts down his own Christmas tree and get's covered in sap! He climbs into bed in gets stuck on everything from the pages of the magazine he's reading, to his wife's hair! I'm not familiar with that episode of Bewitched, but that sounds funny. What a goofy show!

    Bob in a green and gold tux! Yikes! I'd like to be able to continue saying that we're not like that, but... There are a lot of "Bobs" around here who would happily wear a green and gold suit! People are fairly obsessed with the Packers, although after last year's Superbowl even I'm starting to care. :) That and our team got cuter... Yeah, I always felt sorry for the Donna character with those crazy adults in her life! She was the most mature character in that household. :)

    Cracker night, eh? When I first read that, I was thinking that you all ate crackers that night! Haha. It's a tricky thing about fireworks being illegal. You can still buy them around here, although you're not supposed to use them. Go figure. I saw a bunch of people setting them off right in front of the police at last year's 4th of July celebration and no one seemed to care. It's sort of a silly rule, although I guess some fireworks are dangerous. It's hard to take away people's traditions.

    "Penny for the guy" I love Danny's answer! I think that's what I would have said too! How funny. You need to eat a candy apple and give me a review. :) Or search out a caramel apple, because those are pretty good. "Fairy Floss" that's cute. I haven't had any cotton candy in years. I think the last time I did was at the Wisconsin State Fair. There was a guy selling all sorts of products made from maple syrup. He gave me a sample of some maple syrup favored cotton candy. It was pretty good!

  13. VainGlorySinner ~ Yeah, "Pound for the Guy" might make more sense nowadays! So, that tradition is a little like trick-or-treating, except the kids would get to pick out and buy their own candy! I'm seriously learning a lot today...

    That was smart of Guy Fawkes to jump from the scaffolding. It sounds like he spared himself a lot of pain! Who even thinks this terrible stuff up? Ewww....

    Chinese Slow Slicing? OK, I don't even want to know about that one!

    Yeah, from childhood traditions to torture and murder. It's funny how conversations can go! :)

    Dex ~ Thanks! "a mini-vacation in cyberspace" I love that! A mini-vacation is exactly what I'm trying to offer. It's fun for me to re-experience the things I do by writing about them. It's further fun to know that you guys enjoy what I'm sharing!

    Mutant apples? Are they like the size of a watermelon or something? ;) That sounds pretty spectacular to me! I bet those theme parts offer a buffet of exotic dipping choices. Did you get an apple at Disneyland?

    Jimmies are a New England thing? I'm feeling all posh and East Coast now! It so happens that saying jimmies is also very Milwaukee. I just googled "jimmies" and learned that it's a "northern term". So, if anyone Southern is reading this, I'd like to know if that's true! I was curious about why they're called Jimmies, and here's what I found on the Urban Dictionary site:

    "Jimmies were first developed by Just Born Candy Company, which was founded by Samuel Born, who immigrated to the US from Russia around 1910. Born opened a small candy-making and retail store in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1923. Soon after opening the Brooklyn store, Born invited his brothers-in-law, Irv and Jack Shaffer, to join him in the business. With his capable partners handling the factory and growing sales, Born was free to direct his energies to his many candy-related inventions.

    In 1930 James Bartholomew was lucky enough to acquire a job at Just Born, Inc. Bartholomew operated a machine that produced Born's latest invention, tiny hot-dog shaped chocolate sprinkly things. But what to call them? Born briefly pondered that question before deciding to accredit the name to the producer, Jimmy Bartholomew. The new product was named JIMMIES, which is still a trademarked name, but no longer made by Just Born.The dictionary definition for JIMMIES used to be "decorative things." They have also been called toppettes, shots, fancies, trimettes and sprinkles."

  14. Vivienne ~ We did have a great time! I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. :) You could make a home out of the caboose? Well, I have a feeling you'd have a little cleaning to do... That thing was peeling apart! I guess you are in a serious fix-up mood. :)

    wicKED ~ Haha, well maybe you just don't like a complicated eating experience. :) At some point, I might grow up and eat a cut up caramel apple. It makes me feel like a kid, while I'm gnawing at the gooey thing. The candy apples are messier than the caramel apples? I'm surprised to hear that. Did you eat the candy apple on a stick? Maybe that's why it was more of a mess! Thanks ~ I'm glad you're enjoying my posts. :) It adds a lot to have you guys responding to what I write!

    Real Queen of Horror ~ Well, maybe it's not too late in the season for you to get a caramel apple! Actually, I'm not sure where you are, but there should at least be some for sale at a grocery store. They were pretty yummy.

    Yeah, my mom and I have been doing lots of fun things together this fall! I love to take photos and document everything I do. It might drive the people I'm with crazy. :) I'm always needing to take photos of food before I eat it, and photos of buildings before I go inside! Yeah, that barn is adorable. It acts as a real landmark around here too. When people give directions, they'll say "go past the smiley face barn" etc.

    Adsila ~ No sticky food, eh? That's too bad! It's also ironic with your toothpaste costume. :) You're part of the reason I posted the train photos! I thought you might enjoy that rustic, old piece of history! It's actually still pretty colorful. I remember that you took some cool photos of a train once. It was more industrial, and Steampunk than this.

    LuLu ~ That's so true! I'm sure it would be cute as a backdrop, if you had a group of kids to photograph. Or maybe for a family portrait. It's just kind of rustic and fun. Yeah, caramel apples are something I really look forward to in the fall!

    Little Gothic Horrors ~ Haha! Oh, I love that! A little virtual Halloween Cheers. :) The thought of my blog as a friendly hangout where everyone knows your name, makes me very happy. Cheers is such a great show. I think we are all getting to know one another by this point!

    So, why are you low on sleep?

    I actually haven't seen Braveheart, although it seems to be a classic. The whole torture thing is pretty gross, hey? I can't imagine what kind of sick minds sit around thinking this stuff up! Yes, people can be cruel to one another. I really don't understand why that has to be. When I see people being mean to one another in daily life, I question what the point of it is. But this stuff! Insult to injury is right.

    "So I'll just dive in... jimmies" :) Yes, a quick change of subject is needed! I left a note to Dex about the origin of jimmies above. What kind of candy are Americans eating on TV shows? I'll tell if you if any of that is accurate. :)

    Erik ~ Thanks! It's nice to see you around my blog. :)

  15. Here's a link to the scene from 'Bewitched'. It's very corny, but you'll see what I mean!


    It's funny, 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation' is one of those movies I've never seen all the way through. I'm always catching bits of it on TV. I'll have to make an effort to watch it next time it's on.

    "After last year's Superbowl even I'm starting to care. :) That and our team got cuter..." Haha. Yep, that'll do it!

    "Cracker night, eh? When I first read that, I was thinking that you all ate crackers that night!" You made me laugh so hard with that one! I didn't even think of that, but I guess that would be the first thing anyone not familiar with the name would think. I told you it was a silly name! Haha. Some people here think it's terrible that fireworks are banned (not sparklers!), but generally, I think it's a good idea. Of course, idiots still manage to get hold of fireworks, and injure themselves or others, and even worse, hurt animals. We have loads of public fireworks events here, so I don't think anyone misses out. The professional displays are always amazing!

    Oh, the lack of sleep is just some late nights and early starts. Plus, we're having some very hot weather for Spring, and lots of storms, so the humidity and heat makes it hard to sleep at night.

    This post and the comments have been so educational. I won't forget about "jimmies" now. We call the little stick-like sprinkles.. er... "sprinkles", and the tiny multicoloured balls, "Hundreds and Thousands". LIttle kids have "Hundreds and Thousands" on buttered white bread at birthday parties (or they used to... they probably go to McDonalds now), it's called "Fairy Bread". (We seem to have a thing about fairies in Australia.) I'll have to pay more attention to the names of the movie candy and note them down when I hear them. "Milk Duds" is the only one I can think of at the moment. I know about "Junior Mints" from Seinfeld, and you can actually buy them here now (thanks to Seinfeld fame) from specialty food shops.

  16. I nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award. :)

  17. Haha! I liked when Paul Lynde basically threw a bunch of nuts in the cabinet! That was a lot like the old Lucy chocolate factory episode. Thanks for sending that. :)

    You've never seen the National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation movie in its entirety? That's a classic! I watch that movie every Christmas. That and A Christmas Story. So I tried to find the tree sap scene for you and managed to find it in the middle of a bunch of classic clips from the movie. If you go about 2 1/2 minutes into this, you'll see what I mean. :) Although, I think the whole thing is worth watching!


    That movie is so quotable!

    Haha! Yeah, cute football players can suddenly make me care about sports... I have a crush on Aaron Rodgers and my friend's aunt likes Clay Matthews, so we're always trading the photos we find of them in magazines or online. :)

    Yeah, I thought you guys were sampling crackers like with a cheese sampling tray or something! That actually doesn't sound too bad either... I'll agree that the combination of idiots and fireworks is not a good thing. Plus, kids always manage to get into them and injure themselves. Are fireworks being sold all over, even though they're illegal? That's how it is here. So weird. I have a friend who actually lives next a fireworks store. I enjoy the professional displays too! They always seem to be coming up with new shapes and colors. I like the gold and silver glittery ones best.

    It's strange to think of you having hot weather, because we just had our first snow of the season here!

    Yeah, I learned a lot from reading the comments here too. "Hundreds and Thousands" is new to me. "Fairy Bread" How cute is that! So, I guess it's like a fairy cast their magic wand over the bread and sprinkles appeared? That's how I imagine it anyway. :) Yeah, it seems you guys are big on fairies.

    Milk Duds are for real and pretty good. I have a few mini boxes of those left over from trick-or-treat, since so few kids showed up. Ah, yes the Junior Mints episode is a classic! How funny that you can just get them at specialty shops. You can grab those at Dollar Tree or drug stores around here. They must be like a cult candy in other countries! I wonder how much they're charging for those in a specialty shop? I'm sure Australia has some candies that I've never heard of too.

    Madame Jen ~ Thanks so much for the award! :)

  18. Justine - Your pictures of these events are really good and interesting and even inspiring. I'm thinking that you could put them together into a book! Very good, thanks for sharing..

  19. Matt ~ Thanks so much for the kind words! It's funny you say that, because I've been thinking of putting together a book. I've taken so many Halloween related photos over the years and I've practically written a book already with all these blog posts. :) Your book suggestion encourages me to give it a try!

  20. I love Paul Lynde. Yeah, that's so funny when he just gives up and starts tossing the nuts. I love all of Uncle Arthur's comments like" "Of course we've got it. How unskilled do you think we are?" or "Of course I got it! You're not explaining the Theory of Relativity you know!" or "My good fellow, we find that we can both dip AND wave!" Hahaha.

    Thanks for the link. The clip was funny, although as someone who loves things to be clean, it was rather disturbing too. Haha. I laughed at the bit before it when the tree crashes through the window. My Dad actually loves that movie. I'll definitely watch it all next time. It's bound to be on TV in the lead up to Christmas.

    Fireworks aren't sold openly here, but I suppose there's probably a black market for them. Plus, the internet makes anything possible. (Actually I think they may be legal in just a couple of states.)

    I've emailed you some pics of Fairy Bread.

  21. Ha! I know. Those were some great lines! Yeah, dipping bananas isn't exactly brain surgery. Unless the conveyer belt starts moving that fast!

    Oh, the mess a family would be left with after that Christmas vacation is hard to imagine. Dishes smashed, windows broken, food all over, fires, sap, etc. The events they go through are enough to drive anyone crazy! I'm sure it will be on TV sometime soon, because it's such a popular movie.

    It's true, anything can be found online! It seems that if a person wants something enough, they will find it.

    Thanks for sending the fairy bread email! I responded, but my first email to you was all jumbled. I was trying to send some photos and that messed things up. So just read the second email I sent you!

  22. Generally when I travel it's to Florida, California or Colorado so my exposure to regional names for things is a bit skewed I guess =) I presumed Jimmies was a "local" thing because I've never heard them called that elsewhere.

    Just like around here people will say bubbler when most other people say water fountain.

    I know there must be blogs out there based entirely on the idea of local slang around the country.

  23. Dex ~ OK, this is just getting crazy! Calling a water fountain a bubbler is such a Milwaukee thing. If you call it a water fountain or drinking fountain around here, people will assume you're visiting from another place! I'm starting to wonder if we had a bunch of people from your state settle in Wisconsin or something. :)

    I bet there are blogs dedicated to colloquialisms. I might have to search for blogs with that theme...

  24. Okay, just jumping in to say that water fountains are called "bubblers" here, too! How weird! I thought that was a real "Australianism"!!!!

  25. Oh how funny! We're busy debating which of the states in America use the word bubbler, while on the other side of the world people are saying it too! I guess the world is smaller than we know. :)

  26. Smiling barns. Yummy treats! I have to visit. All the building in NYC have frowny faces.

  27. Your apples look lovely, and candy/toffee apples are lovely as long as you get fresh apple ones nom nom nom

    You've won an award =) http://cherrynekostw.blogspot.com/

  28. Copyboy ~ Aww... Are you serious? There must be some happy buildings in NYC! Yeah, you outta visit Wisconsin in the Autumn. There are lots of fun events going on and it's a great time to be out in nature.

    Cherry ~ Thanks for the award. :) Well, I suppose the apples would have to be fresh. I can't imagine an old rotten apple covered in caramel! Ewww... Although, who knows how long some of those have been sitting in the grocery store.