The episode “The Food That Made Seattle,” from November 2018, included this nugget: “We need to top [our survey] off with a treat, a locally made treat: The Frango. Frango is delicious chocolate candy … invented in Seattle in 1918. This is chocolate before chocolate was, like, cool.”
Mossback’s Northwest got a lot of response about this little candy. “I hardly mentioned it, but we got a lot of emails,” Berger says. “And they pointed out a mistake … the Frango was not invented in 1918, which is what I said. It was trademarked in 1918, but the candy wasn’t invented until the late 1920s at Frederick & Nelson’s department store.
“It started out as a frozen dessert – apparently, a very rich frozen dessert that they served in the Frederick & Nelson Tea Room … [Then] in the 1920s, they hired a guy named Ray Alden … an experienced candy guy [who] invented this chocolate truffle, a mint chocolate truffle. And they named it the Frango.”
Chocolate mint was the signature flavor, followed by hazelnut, rum and mocha, and the candies became particularly popular around the holidays – a magical time for grand downtown department stores, Hegg remembers; “quasi-Disneyland,” he calls it. And the Frango itself became a kind of avatar of these warm, sparkly memories, Berger says:
“It calls to mind Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, this epic memoir that was triggered by a petite madeleine, [a] little mini-cake. And I think Frangos are like that for people. They bring so much back. There’s even a book about Frangos by Robert Spector.”
“There’s just something about sweet confections,” Berger reminisces. “Frangos, Almond Roca, Nanaimo bars … We think of these things as relatively trivial, but the memories evoked can be powerful.”