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Turkey Joints That Taste Like Candy

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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 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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