If you have not had a Needham, you have not had candy. Needhams(A Brand Name) came I think(I cannot remember because you could not get these outside of Maine as far as I know and it has been years since I have even seen one.)in a black and orange bag, folded at the top. They may have had a clear window in the front, but again, I can't remember. I know that the original candy had a more complicated recipe than this, but this is the version I remember from my youth.
Houlton, Maine is something of a potato growing center. The entire county(Aroostook is larger than any other whole state in New England)was a potato growing area. I think that they have been heading into a number of alternative crops for a quarter century or more, including sugar beets, mustard, and (I think) broccoli. There have been potato celebrations all over the county for many years. The Houlton Potato feast was what I grew up with.
Houlton had a very large community park, with tennis courts, baseball diamonds, race track, hockey facilities and a huge grandstand till it burned down in the late sixties+-. There were circuses there, carnivals etc.. My favorite event though, was the Potato feast. The feast preparations started with the excavation of a hole, perhaps 8 feet wide and 30 feet long. A roaring fire was lit in the hole, and when it was reduced to coals and stones, beef, wrapped in foil was layered in. They may have also put in pots of baked beans as well(I do not really remember). A banquet was served from this with all sorts of potato dishes.
One potato "dish" that I loved were these Needhams.
3 1/3 cups coconut(confectionery, not fresh)
3 1/3 cups confectioners sugar
scant 1/2 cup mashed potato with nothing added
semisweet chocolate bars or chips melted
1 Tablespoon shortening(melted paraffin is better)
Beat together the coconut, sugar and potato. Press into a buttered pan or a pan lined with foil or waxed paper, to about 1/2 inch thick, OR
Form into patties about 3 inches across and 1/2 inch thick, OR
Roll into balls about the size to pop into your mouth whole.
(If doing the pan method, cut into 3 inch squares before proceeding.)
After melting the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave, add and stir in the shortening or wax. Dip the portions of potato mixture into the chocolate and place on waxed paper or a buttered surface to cool. Seal to store in a cool place, wrapped individually in waxed paper. Wrapping is not necessary if using soon or storage is cool but not cold.
Here is a better variation from My sister's childhood best friend, Marie Clark Moran. She was from Houlton, knows all our dirty secrets and was much loved by the family. This recipe came from her sister, Dorothy Clark Cook.3/4 cup mashed potato
1/2 t salt
2 lb. confectioner's sugar
1 stick melted butter
1 pkg coconut(7 0z.)
2 t. vanilla
Mix all together and press into a greased or wax papered and greased(Non stick spray will work). jelly roll sheet.
Chill or freeze. Cut in squares or divide as above.
Keep chilled to coat.
4 squares unsweetened chocolate
12 oz choc. chips
1/2 bar Paraffin
Follow directions above.