If you’ve never seen a Zagnut, you’re not alone. They’ve been on the International Candy Service’s list of critically endangered Sweets since 1979 and even the efforts of HERSHEY’S, which acquired the brand from D.L. Clark Company in 1996, have not been enough to pull the bars back from the brink that they’ve been teetering on for the past 30 years. And it’s a shame too, because the Zagnut is both unusual and delicious — a unique, but rapidly vanishing part of our American Confectionery heritage. While schools of the rare and beautiful bars — which are composed of crisp, thin layers of a kind of peanut brittle (almost mica like in consistency) coated in toasted coconut– exist in spacious reserves at some of the larger online candy websites, they are essentially impossible to find in their natural habitat on the shelves of local convenience stores.
While film and television stars such as Michael Keaton (Beetlejuice), Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte (48 Hours), Fred Willard (SCTV), Lisa Simpson (The Simpsons) and Jason Lee (My Name is Earl) have used their celebrity status to spread awareness of Zagnut conservation, the plight of the Bars remains desperate.
An anonymous poet has recently sent us a bit of verse in honor of the Zagnut, with the hope that his or her words might inspire Zagnut awareness in today’s youth. Touchingly, the paen is structured as a villanelle, an archaic nineteen line form nearly as rare and irrelevant in modern poetry as is Zagnut in modern confectionery.
Let us hope and pray that these words shall not soon serve as an epitaph.
The bar the world sang “Sighs! Wherefore such grace?”
Two nuts joined; pressed in rhomboid reverie
Stem and Root, whose fruits envy the other’s place
Glory shrinks from those who give it chase
Abiding on the less than likely tree
Zagnut: Peanut, coconut; this is grace
Where others clap for chocolate in the race
D.L. Clark, spitting, shouts, “It shall not be!”
“With this one I shall put them in their place!”
But every Saint’s a sinner if you trace
The arc whose course terminates in the sea
And find among the floating wrappers, grace
The sun sinks into rivers, swims with Dace
And schools of lesser stars sing out in glee
That they should gleam the brighter in its place
Yet still, the learned calling for the ace
Shall not drowned out by shriller voices be
Heed the peal of Zagnut: munch it in grace
Help the lost great reclaim its rightful place