Monthly Archives: February 2015

Frozen in Salem

Seeing as it’s Valentine’s Day, we thought we’d bring you a little something sweet to celebrate (we admit it – we’re notorious procrastinators when it comes to Valentine’s gifts).  Last year, we brought you on a delicious field trip to Harbor Sweets.  This year, we took another field trip to Salem to explore Salem’s So Sweet Chocolate and Ice Sculpture Festival, an annual event that celebrates February’s defining characteristics: cold weather and chocolate.

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DSC_0472Every year, just as love starts to warm up the chilly February air, Salem shows off its sweet side.  Kicking off with a Chocolate & Wine Tasting event, Salem’s So Sweet brings 2 weeks of sweet, savory fun to help you fight off the harsh winter weather.  The Golden Ticket, available at many participating businesses, is your key to special discounts and offerings throughout Salem.  Receive 15% off your purchase at Harbor Sweets, fabulous discounts in the Salem Witch Museum’s gift shop, or try the delicious Salem’s So Sweet Special at Finz.  Don’t forget to have your ticket validated – you can enter to win the wonderful Salem’s So Sweet gift basket.  Could it get any sweeter than that?

Well, yes, it can!  As you walk around the city, enjoy the ice sculptures placed around downtown.  Sponsored by local businesses and attractions, these sculptures range from the whimsical to the humorous, thought-provoking, adorable, and fun.

Unfortunately for us, the frequent snowstorms this year had delayed our trip to the festival.  This cloud has a silver lining, however; thanks to the extremely cold weather, the ice sculptures have been wonderfully preserved throughout the event.  So, why not spend Valentine’s with your sweetheart and explore all that Salem has to offer this winter?  The Festival runs through this Sunday, February 15th.  For more information, please click here.

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Massachusetts Must-Trys – Candlepin Bowling

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This looks inherently wrong to us… (http://woodlandstringband.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/bowling-4.jpg)

The internet has introduced us to a world of unknowns – we’ve learned some great things and even more scary ones.  Most importantly, though, the internet has taught us that there is a big, wide world out there where people bowl rather strangely.  This is something we learned first-hand on our first trip to Kings in Lynnfield- alongside the fantastic food and fun atmosphere is a version of bowling not well-known in Massachusetts.

You see, bowling is a little different here…

In post-Civil War America, bowling became very popular  There were many different pin types and shapes to suit a bowler’s preferences.  Shockingly, most bowlers preferred the fatter, bottle-shaped pins which were easier to knock down.  Easier bowling meant that the game easily became boring, so around 1885 billiard room-owner Justin White (of Worcester, MA) sought to make the game a little more interesting by using thinner “candlestick” pins (pictured below) and a smaller, 4-inch ball.

Another Worcester man, John J. Monsey loved the idea and ran with it.  He upped the ball size to 4.5 inches (today’s standard ball size) and popularized the new “version” of bowling throughout the city.  Candlepin bowling quickly spread throughout New England.  According to one source, candlepin bowling tended to be confined to dark basements of buildings.  In the 1950s, a 12-lane alley (with a rollers skating rink) opened in Newburyport.  It was bright, fun, and utilized the new automated pin setting technology.  Other bowling proprietors saw this bowling alley and used it as a model for building similar establishments.  Today, candlepin is played throughout Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Canada’s Maritime Provinces – New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.  It’s a Northeast thing.

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(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/97/Candlepin-bowling-usa-lane25-rs.jpg)

 

So what makes candlepin bowling different from “big ball” (as we call “tenpin”) bowling?  Well, for one, it’s harder. Much, much harder.  The game is played with a smaller, solid ball (a little larger than a softball) and the tall, thin pins are spaced farther apart.  “Wood,” or pins that have been knocked down during your frame, is not removed between each time you bowl (they’re quite helpful in knocking down more pins).  The player bowls 3 times per frame, not 2 as in tenpin, and the maximum score is 300.  The highest recorded score in candlepin bowling is 245 (set in 1984 and matched in 2011).  We average a 60. On a good day.

So, if you are visiting the North of Boston region and are up for a challenge, we highly recommend you try your hand at candlepin bowling. It’s a lot of fun and, in our opinion, one of those hidden gems in the treasure chest of Yankee tradition.

Sources:

http://www.bowlimperial.com/history.php
http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2012/07/17/candlepin-bowling-bids-keep-rolling/hGYtuDF8z817Zb6fPGZw6L/story.html
http://www.candlepinbowling.com/#!history/c15t9
http://www.vikingrecreationcenter.com/candlepin_history.htm
http://www.mainecandlepinbowling.com/history.htm
http://www.masscandlepin.com/history.html