A Florida lawmaker wants to make coconut patties, a candy most prominently promoted by Orlando-based Anastasia Confections, the official state candy of Florida.
There’s just one problem — they’re kind of hard to find in the state of Florida.
Unless, that is, you’re traveling through one of the state’s airports or staying in one of the many hotels that help shape Florida’s massive tourism industry.
State candies aren’t common. New Jersey has tried to make saltwater taffy its official candy and Washington has gone back and forth with a few candies. Ohio, the Buckeye State, unofficially has the Buckeye Ball.
What, then, should the official state candy of Florida be? Tell us.
Sen. Lauren Book, a Plantation Democrat, recently filed SB 38 for the upcoming legislative session, a bill that would make coconut patties — “both chocolate-dipped and nonchocolate varieties” — a state symbol along the likes of key lime pie, tupelo honey, horse conch, Myakka fine sand, the mockingbird, dolphin, panther and American alligator.
But the treats are not exactly what one would call ubiquitous.
Walk the candy aisle of your local Publix and you’re likely to find about six different kinds of Hershey Kisses, five varieties of Dove chocolate and countless forms of Reese’s peanut butter cups and pieces. You’ll even find some that are cups with pieces.
You can walk the bakery aisle and buy coconut flakes and chocolate dip to, theoretically, make your own patties. And maybe you’ll get lucky and find some Mounds or Almond Joys (one’s got nuts, one doesn’t) at the checkout line. But that’s as close as you’ll get to readily available coconut patties.
So why, why, would they be deemed the official state candy of a state that already has so many wildly unique products and attributes when you can’t even find it at the state’s unofficial grocery chain maven?
Anastasia, which manufactures its candies in Orlando and has been in the candy game since 1983, markets the candy to tourists using colorful, Florida-themed packaging featuring state maps, palm trees sea shells and alligators. Company founder Mike Constantine told Candy Industry Magazine in 2011 that his goal was to “create a product line related to the tourist industry.”
And according to the company’s website “Anastasia started by developing confectionary products for the Florida tourism market. Today, Anastasia offers its unique Travel Retail line (Coconut Patties, Salt Water Taffy, Choc-O-Gators, and more) for a broad range of tropical destinations.”
It also claims coconut patties have been one of Florida’s “staple” treats for more than a half-century.
Constantine told Candy Industry that travelers from other countries might not know what a coconut patty is, but would pick up the candy as a souvenir because of its Florida-centric packaging.