I tasted potato candy for the first time last week at Watoga State Park, located in the mountains of Pocahontas County near Marlington, West Virginia. Before this trip, I never knew that this sweet confection even existed.
My Uncle Mike, Aunt Tawee, sister Mary, her family and I drove from Kansas City to Watoga for the Wagner family reunion. Mike and his siblings hail from Longacre, West Virginia, a small coal-mining town. This year, the reunion was held at a beautiful, peaceful state park where we saw black bear, deer and other wildlife, but that’s another story.
Shortly after we arrived at the park and unloaded, we made our way to a large cabin that served as the central gathering spot. I saw Wagner family members that I hadn’t visited in 20 years. Everyone exchanged greetings, hugs and handshakes. We dined on Al burgers. Again, that’s another story. Eventually, someone revealed that a stash of potato candy was in the refrigerator. I had no idea what this candy looked or tasted like. It sounded weird.
Potato candy is made from four ingredients: potato, peanut butter, confectioners sugar and, if desired, food coloring. I couldn’t find any source for the origin of this sweet, but it is found throughout the South, East Coast and even New England, derived most likely from West European recipes. It’s a handy way to use up leftover mashed potatoes.
Potato candy tastes sweet (not surprisingly) like fudge. Uncle Mike begrudgingly shared a piece with the rest of his immediate and extended family. I enjoyed a bite of one piece but stayed away from the rest of the batch. A few pieces would prompt instant diabetes or a sugar coma. This part of the country was the Land of Sweet Tea. Sugar is a staple ingredient and almost required ingredient in many recipes.
Uncle Mike did share the stash of potato candy throughout the week like a king passing out bags of gold. He hid the box deep in the crowded refrigerator to protect his stash. Of course, pieces went missing from time to time but it wasn’t me gobbling them.
Here’s a recipe for potato candy with vanilla extract added.