In Praise of 5th Avenue, Best Intersection of Peanut Butter & Chocolate
As a man in his (early) 40s, I’ve put quite a few of the bad habits of my youth behind me.
Never one to guzzle pop in the first place, it’s such a rare presence in our fridge at home, the kids don’t know to even drink it. It sits there, flattening flatter than its flat dead color, for months till it finally hits the trash, flattened.
McDonald’s, that treat of treats growing up, is considered by my body, on the rare occasions I consume it, to be an unwelcome invader, quickly expelled. (Sorry.)
Even ice cream, that staple of my early marriage, when my wife and I would close down the day with a Blockbuster marathon and several scoops from the duo gallons we always had stocked, topped by chocolate syrup, is mostly confined to a Dairy Queen run every other month or so.
But I’ve got a lingering soft spot in my heart for chocolate. Specifically, the greatest candy bar known to man or beast: the 5th Avenue bar.
Never a staple of Halloween night — the finer things are rarely revered in their own time by the peasantry, who don’t have the leisure time or educational foothold to appreciate the finer things (ahem, ahem… cough!) — I can’t remember when I first came upon God’s gift to candy bars, but it was a firm favorite before I graduated high school.
In college, my dad would visit campus bearing gifts: a case of 5th Avenues and a case of Dr. Pepper (greatest soda known to man or beast). These didn’t last long, and fueled many an all-nighter, not to mention a firm Freshman fifteen.
God’s Gift to Candybars – A History
5th Avenue was started in 1936 by Luden’s cough drop company of Reading, Pa. — incidentally, a Foutz family stomping ground. William Luden manufactured tens of thousands of pounds of candy annually and sold it door-to-door and from his shop at 35 N. Fifth St. The name 5th Avenue, though, was meant to evoke New York City’s renowned thoroughfare.
Often compared to (the inferior) Butterfinger of Nestle’s fame (which was also produced by independent candy maker Curtiss in Chicago), both feature layers of peanut butter and toffee flavor coated by chocolate. The old Luden’s version even had almonds on top. 5th Avenue is said to carry more of a molasses flavor, while Butterfinger is more, well, buttery. (And less, well, great.) Butterfinger also faked its chocolate taste for awhile, but 5th Avenue has caught up there and yes, the world is going to hell and I’m just going to choose to stick my head in the sand on that one.
For a while, I was shaken by the rumor that Hershey was discontinuing the 5th Avenue, much like the Clark Bar from NECCO, a Pittsburgh staple, but never enough so that it shut out my beloved 5th Avenue during my college years there. (Thank God.)
But apparently Hershey just doesn’t advertise the 5th Avenue bar anymore, at least not since 1993. But it’s still listed on its website, even labeled by Hershey as “hard-to-find,” which makes the earth shudder just a slight bit for me, but hey, Rolex throttles shipments of its in-demand timepieces, too, so I’ll just consider the 5th Avenue in good company.
I’ve been able to track down a good source at the local market in Hill City, SD, when visiting my in-laws, and discovered a trove of them at a gas station just down the street here in Sioux Falls, so for now, my occasional hankering is well supplied. They just go great straight outta the fridge with a few fingers of my favorite scotch. Or even a lesser variety — it’s single malt, how bad can it be?
How good can 5th Avenue be? Merely the best. Bank on it.