Family recipe returns to its roots

3 mins read
Zeke’s Butterscotch uses only real ingredients and is the only butterscotch candy in the country of its kind.

PHILLIPS – It started as a competition of sorts. Which family member could take a jotted down recipe and follow it so precisely that their outcome was the best?

The recipe card, passed down from “Gram Woss” (Lena Worcester), was only brought out on special occasions. Holidays, birthdays, celebrations…everybody in the family knew how to make it. But nobody could make it as well as Uncle Zeke.

Uncle Zeke Worcester in his kitchen on Blake Hill in Phillips. He was about to demonstrate to Sheila and Jeff for the first time how to cook a batch of butterscotch. (Photo provided)

“It’s the best damn candy you ever slung a lip over,” he would claim in his thick Maine accent.

The lip slinging was the important part. Novices bite and chew. The experts know to hold the butterscotch in your mouth until it melts away, softening the ingredients to get every last flavor.

Zeke’s Butterscotch Candy uses only real ingredients, as Gram Woss’ recipe called for. Gram Woss discovered the recipe in a cookbook published in Chicago in the 1880s. With all of the simple ingredients in her pantry, she set about to try her hand at making butterscotch candy. It wasn’t long before her children starting making it for their families, and the tradition took hold.

Gram Woss, and her descendants who still follow the recipe, use only pure cane sugar, fresh butter, fancy unsulphured molasses, salt and water. The apple cider vinegar offers the chemical reaction that softens the butterscotch when warmed, creating a piece of candy that isn’t made anywhere else in the country. The Phillips family recipe has been featured on CNN, flown on Air Force One, sold at LL Bean and Vermont Country Store and was featured in Bon Appetite Magazine.

Most recently, Zeke’s Butterscotch has become available at Edmunds’ Market and the Coplin Co-op thanks to Farmington native Sheila Cotton. Cotton has been distributing the candy for more than 35 years alongside her husband and was excited to finally bring the product back home.

For more information about Zeke’s Butterscotch click here.

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