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Aunt Bill's Brown Candy is a holiday tradition

The Food Dude Dave Cathey shares the original recipe for Aunt Bill's Brown Candy as it was first published.
by Dave Cathey Modified: December 13, 2011 at 1:16 pm •  Published: December 14, 2011

If you find yourself rockin' around the Christmas tree, then clearly it's time for Aunt Bill's Brown Candy.

A holiday tradition in The Oklahoman since the late 1920s, this timeless recipe dates back to The Oklahoman's Aunt Susan, Susan Adams.

Her daily column featured more than recipes; it included fashion advice, product testing and words of encouragement for the lovelorn. Most of all, though, Aunt Susan was a cook. And the recipe that's stood the test of time is her Aunt Bill's Brown Candy.

Adams, author of the “How-to-Cook Book,” once wrote in her column: “You would hardly feel like you were ready for Christmas if you hadn't made some candy to tuck into your boxes, would you? Well, I should certainly feel I failed you if I didn't give you our grand old recipe for Aunt Bill's brown candy. You know I've always told you this is my memorial to a dear courageous friend who was Aunt Bill to all of us and who never was too occupied to give of herself.”

We've run a microwave version (see Swap Shop, below) of the recipe, half-versions and food blogger Molly Wizenberg's modified version. This year, we will run the recipe as it was first passed along before the advent of Sooner Magic, starting in the Roaring Twenties, through the Great Depression, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Watergate, the Murrah Building Bombing, 9/11, the entire run of “Gunsmoke,” the birth and death of the eight-track player, the birth, death and rebirth of the record player, a moon landing, The Beatles, perestroika, Elvis in all his phases and Al Gore's invention of the Internet.

This is a word-for-word version that ran in the Dec. 19, 1931, edition of The Oklahoman.


3 pints white sugar, divided

1 pint whole milk (or cream if you feel that way)

1/4 pound butter

1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 pounds nut meats (preferably pecans)

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by Dave Cathey
Food Editor
The Oklahoman's food editor, Dave Cathey, keeps his eye on culinary arts and serves up news and reviews from Oklahoma’s booming food scene.
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