February 28, 2011

Vintage 365: Capping off February with vintage violet candy


Day 59 of Vintage 365


By jove, is it really the last day of February already? This teeniest of months has a way of seeming exceedingly lengthy until, poof, it's suddenly time to kick off March in the blink of an eye! I was thinking about February this morning, reflecting on various holidays, famous historical events, foods, traditions, and clothing that tend to go part and parcel with the second month of the year.

February and its 28 (or, once every four years, 29) days is generally a slate grey month, peppered with snow storms and (sometimes) a few false starts to spring, which makes the fact that it's birth flower, the violet, is a cheerfully beautiful vivid shade of purple all the more fantastic.

Just as each month has its own birth stone, so to does they all have birth flowers, and Feb get's to call the violet its own. This pretty, understatedly elegant little flower is one of a handful of blooms that are edible for human consumption. Though edible flowers have come back into fashion to a certain extent in recent years (delish!), violets used to be a relatively common ingredient - especially in confectionary treats.

Candied violets have long been a popular way of enjoying this delicate bloom (for awesome how-to instructions for candying your own violets, see Cioa Chow Linda's instructional post), whereas the French make a seriously tasty violet syrup that can be used to add a hit of violet flavour to everything from custards to marshmallows.

Without a doubt one of the most interesting uses of violets has to be as a yesteryear Life Savers candy flavour (see lovely vintage ad below).

{Beautiful vintage Vi-O-Let Life Savers candy ad via Wikipedia.}

While today we tend to think of Life Savers as coming in various fruit and mint flavours, in the early years of their history Life Savers included a diverse array of unique flavours such as clove, licorice, cinnamon (all of which can be seen in this great Life Savers ad from 1930), and violet! (Or as the fine folks at Life Saver’s adorably called the flavour, Vi-O-Let.)

Though I've nibbled violets before, I've never had a Life Saver in this fragrant, surprisingly yummy flavour - and doubt I will any time soon, as that variety hasn't been produced for several decades now. Should it ever come back though, I'll be sure to pick some up to tuck away for February, when a pale purple flower and a candy made from it are just the thing to add a hugely needed dose of pep to this icy cold month.


If you'd like to try a violet flavoured candy, you can get your flower fix care of C. Howard's Violet Mints (which come in absolutely lovely vintage looking packaging, to boot!).


  1. Huh! Violet flavored candy. I am truly curious about this taste...might have to try that link you provided. Pretty ad!

  2. Ooh, that reminds me of the pastille candies I loved as a kid. I'm not sure the brand, but I know they had violet and rose flavors. I seem to recall I couldn't find them again for years until I was in the UK portion of Epcot Center and stocked up (long before the days of being able to order just about everything online). LOL

  3. ~ * ♥ * ~

    I adore violets ~ they are one of my favorite flowers and these life savers look delightful! I am really sad that they do not make these any more now...

    Oh well, at least we can still enjoy the pretty advertisement. Thanks for posting it up Jessica.

    bonita of Depict This!
    ~ * ♥ * ~