Charms Candies: Background information when reading Lost in Shangri-La

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Lost in Shangri-La

A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II

by Mitchell Zuckoff

Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2011, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2012, 400 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Megan Shaffer

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Charms Candies

Print Review

It seems that Tootsie Roll Industries would have little to do with Mitchell Zuckoff's book Lost in Shangri-La. However, since acquiring the Charms Candy Company in 1988, this business has been the producer of Charms - the very food that provided the Gremlin Special's passengers with enough sustenance to survive in the jungle.

Charms candy "Breakfast was water and more Charms, still their only food on the third day after the crash," writes Zuckoff. "They separated the candies by color, eating the red ones until they tired of them, moving on to yellow, and so on."

The Charms Candy Company began producing Charms (their first product) in 1917. Due to the hardiness of the candy; its ability to withstand the elements; its light, small size; the burst of energy its sugar provided; and its colorful packaging, which was thought to boost the troops' morale; the sweet became a standard part of American soldiers' military issue around the start of World War II.

In the 1940s, the individually wrapped candy squares were made primarily from sugar and natural and artificial flavoring (though now they are also made with corn syrup). They came in an assortment of fruit flavors: lemon, lime, grape, orange, raspberry, and were a staple of soldier's MRE ("Meal, Ready-to-Eat") rations.

Meal, Ready-to-Eat The treat that was meant to sustain military forces has taken on a more ominous tone in recent years. "The Curse of Charms Candy" is of unknown origin, but superstition claims that if a soldier eats, or even keeps the candy in their possession, it brings bad luck.

In an article entitled "US Marines Ditch Their Unlucky Charms," one sergeant warns, "Chew on a lemon Charm and you're heading for a vehicle breakdown. Suck on a lime, and it rains. Raspberry - for the highly superstitious - means death."

Journalist Ashley Gilbertson of the New York Times found the same beliefs among forces in Afghanistan. "Never eat the Charms, the troops say; they're unlucky. It's just a superstition, of course - I've never met a soldier who could tell me why they were unlucky - but the G.I.'s take it seriously. I sometimes think that if I ever got separated from my unit in the field, I'd just follow a trail of discarded unopened Assorted Charms to find them again."

Antique MRE photo credit: User:Skiff

Article by Megan Shaffer

This article was originally published in September 2011, and has been updated for the April 2012 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access become a member today.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hunger
    Hunger
    by Roxane Gay
    In this penetrating and fearless memoir, author Roxane Gay discusses her battle with body acceptance...
  • Book Jacket: The Black Witch
    The Black Witch
    by Laurie Forest
    In The Black Witch, Laurie Forest introduces her readers to an immersive fantasy world where ...
  • Book Jacket: See What I Have Done
    See What I Have Done
    by Sarah Schmidt
    Sarah Schmidt's historical fictionalization of the Lizzie Borden story is a tsunami. From the ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

Cruel Beautiful World examines the intricate, infinitesimal distance between seduction and love, loyalty and duty.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Heart's Invisible Furies
    by John Boyne

    A sweeping, heartfelt saga set in Ireland from the author of The Boy In the Striped Pajamas.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Hame

Hame by Annalena McAfee

A rich, sultry novel about a young American fleeing a crumbling marriage for a remote Scottish island.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A F Out O W

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.