A & W Chinese Box#1Brides in the mid 70’s had basically two options for wedding favors: Jordon Almonds, candy coated almonds in a variety of “baby pastel” colors–or groom’s cake, a fruitcake concoction I barely recall. The world of wedding favors today is limited only by imagination along with a plethora of ideas found on pinterest. Homemade “oh so delicious lemon bars” and made-from-scratch maple-syrup caramel corn were the two front runners for Anna’s reception. After taking into account the flavor of her cake, caramel corn was chosen to be the delectable delight to present our guests. With the recipe well in hand, all that remained was to create an eye-appealing wedding favor that would lend a “Martha Stewart” touch to the tables.

Cellophane bags filled with caramel corn are an unwieldy combination if you need something to “stay put” and not disrupt the over-all arrangement of a table. Once placed, they seemingly have a mind of their own as they tip, roll, and end up sitting at every conceivable angle. But on the other hand, Chinese take-out boxes are ultimately cooperative in such a venture… but how to decorate them so they don’t look like a child’s party favor was another hurdle all together.

Near the end of my six-week wedding planning marathon, my emotional tank had run dry of the energy required to create something wedding appropriate that could also serve as “eye candy” on the tables. Thankfully, my dear friend Jennifer, who is incredibly talented as well as particularly precise when creating paper art projects graciously agreed to design and assemble the embellished boxes. With the wedding favors safely in her capable hands, I was able to rest knowing the final result would be amazing, and begin making the needed caramel corn.

My brother and sister-in-law arrived from out of town to assist in the preparation of numerous batches of the crunchy caramel confection. Gathering my necessary supplies, I began by popping popcorn the old fashioned way… in a pan on the stove with only corn oil. After filling an enormous bowl with 40 cups of the white puffed kernels, I began assembling the ingredients for the caramel topping one batch at a time. The maple syrup, butter, and salt were measured into the pan and placed on the stove. I set the heat to medium, positioned the candy thermometer in the gooey mixture and adjusted it to rest slightly above the bottom. With the thermometer clipped securely to the side, the hard part then began: waiting… Waiting without stirring until the hot and bubbly syrup reached 300 degrees, which can take quite a while. Heat it too quickly it burns and makes black tar… I did that once. Heat it slowly and it can seemingly take forever, at which point my brother Donald kept announcing, “I think you need to stir it. Here, let me stir it.” Having made numerous batches over the years, I responded time and time again, “No, it doesn’t need to be stirred. In fact, that will ruin it.” This exchange of  “helpful advice” always led to his wife firmly yet sweetly saying “Donald, she’s done this many times, just leave it alone.” On and on it went, until the first batch was finally complete and I was able to utilize his helpful service on something else…

My brother who is a CPA, along with my daughter who is an economist (they work well together) bantered as they used their analytical skills to carefully and meticulously fill the cellophane bags to just the right level so as not to cause a bulge when placed in the takeout box. With nearly forty boxes filled, closed, and stacked in paper bags to await transport, Jennifer’s gracious husband picked them up and delivered them to her skillful hands… and the result was spectacular simple elegance.

After all was said and done, the cost of assembling the “thank you” favors was fairly small. However, the creativity and labor that went into the final product was the result of a tremendous investment of time, energy, ideas, and most of all love… and the results were sensational…


My dear family and friends… I couldn’t have done it without you!