Strangest State: Dispatch From the Great Candy War

Weird news from far-flung Texas.

“The Reese’s team believes records, even those just a few weeks old, are meant to be broken.”
“The Reese’s team believes records, even those just a few weeks old, are meant to be broken.” Drue Wagner

Weird news from far-flung Texas.

“The Reese’s team believes records, even those just a few weeks old, are meant to be broken.”
“The Reese’s team believes records, even those just a few weeks old, are meant to be broken.” Drue Wagner

WACO // A candy factory created the world’s largest chocolate bar, only to have the title stolen by a rival. Workers at the Mars Wrigley Confectionery in Waco unveiled a 12-foot-long, 4,728-pound Snickers bar—the equivalent of 43,000 regular-sized Snickers, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald. A judge from the Guinness World Records certified it as the biggest chocolate-and-nut bar ever made. Two weeks later, however, a Hershey’s plant in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, struck back with a 5,943-pound Reese’s Take 5 bar. “The Reese’s team believes records, even those just a few weeks old, are meant to be broken,” a spokesperson told Food & Wine.

DRIPPING SPRINGS // When people started using Tito’s Vodka as hand sanitizer in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, the company took to social media to tell them to stop—Tito’s Vodka is 40 percent alcohol, and hand sanitizer must be at least 60 percent, as Tito’s warned its customers on Twitter. But soon the company tweaked its recipe, and by press time the distillery had begun manufacturing 24 tons of sanitizer, with plans to make more in the coming weeks.

EL PASO // Stuck at home during the coronavirus lockdown, a woman celebrated her birthday with a surprise parade of friends and family members. Connie Puente, 78, was wearing pajamas and feeling lonely when her grandson suggested she get dressed and walk outside. From her front lawn, she watched a convoy of loved ones driving by. “All the cars [were] passing, honking, yelling happy birthday,” Puente told News Channel 9. “It was very emotional, especially during this time that we’re going through.”

FORT WORTH // Like many small-business owners, Tareka Lofton watched sales plummet at her bakery, Loft22, as coronavirus spread. Finding creativity in a difficult situation, she began baking cakes in the shape of the most in-demand grocery store item: toilet paper. Lofton’s highly realistic 6-inch cakes, each modeled after a single toilet paper roll, sell for $50 and feature vanilla icing (naturally) and a Funfetti filling. On Facebook, Lofton reported that the cakes are selling out, with one customer going so far as to buy a 12-pack. “It turns out even in cake form tissue paper is in high demand,” she wrote. “So grateful these quarantine cakes are selling and keeping us in business another week.”

LEAKEY // A man nearly escaped in a police chase on foot—until a sneeze gave him away. Pulled over for reckless driving, the man “was acting very nervous,” according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s “Field Notes” newsletter. While an officer was checking his license, the driver sped away. A 5-mile car chase ensued, followed by a chase on foot and in water (the man reportedly swam back and forth across the Frio River). The search ended in a field of tall grass, where a game warden who’d been called in to assist heard a sneeze and followed the noise to a ditch where the man, who was reportedly out on bond, lay hidden. “He also had two bags of marijuana stuffed in his boots,” the newsletter concluded.

MCALLEN // When packages started disappearing from doorsteps in a McAllen neighborhood, homeowners suspected thieves. Surveillance footage soon identified the culprit: a stray dog. A video posted by KRGV shows the pup waiting until the mailman had driven away, then trotting up to a door and carrying a package away in his teeth. “It’s kind of funny, ’cause nobody would ever expect a dog to steal a package,” said 10-year-old Abby Garza. The dog, who Garza nicknamed Cody, made off with her Easter basket (she eventually got it back after another neighbor retrieved it).

COLLEGE STATION // The world’s first cloned cat died at age 18. Copy Cat, or “CC,” was the pet of Dr. Duane Kraemer, a senior professor at Texas A&M University’s Reproduction Sciences Laboratory. Kraemer helped bring Copy Cat into being in 2001, when animal cloning was in its early days. According to a news release, Copy Cat lived a long, happy life with her mate, Smokey, and their three kittens in a two-story, custom-built cat house in Kraemer’s backyard. Cat lovers can now pay $35,000 to have a beloved pet cloned by a private company based in Cedar Park.

Visit texasobserver.org/strangest-state for more “Strangest State” and links to original stories. Got a local oddity or some small-town news to share? Tips are welcome at [email protected].

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Rose Cahalan is managing editor at the Observer and also edits the magazine’s arts and culture coverage.


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