I have a soft spot for unusual foods that are only available in a single, out-of-the-way location, and Nora’s Turkey Joints sure fit the bill. I heard about them from colleagues on the upstate boards of Yelp when somebody wanted recommendations for “uniquely New York” items to take to a themed New Year’s dinner.
Turkey Joints! Roger K suggested and immediately I was on their website to find out more. Here is a candy that looks like … a turkey joint. Some ambiguous part of the bird, some out-of-the-way element of the carcass, except they are actually a soft and sweet center inside a hard candy stick. I knew I had to have a turkey joint and I was immediately scheming ways to get myself to Nora’s Candy, the source and virtually sole outlet for Turkey Joints in Rome NY.
Rome is itself pretty obscure… a small city that was left off the interstate plans and today hunkers down about 15 miles north of I-90, the New York Thruway. You have to take a diagonal exit way before Rome to get there which makes it a REALLY long detour even if as I did you have some business or personal reason to be tooling across NY in winter.
I took the detour, watched my avatar crawl up my GPS, got to downtown Rome, and was STILL miles away from Nora’s which is in a residential area. More driving, wondering if my navigation is flawed, then finally I find Nora’s and it is a low one-story building nestled among modest houses. We enter. Inside it is a simple, undistinguished candy store. They sell gummies, and fudge, and “turtles” type things with chocolate poured over nuts. That’s about it except for the Turkey Joints. Nora is not groveling for your business. Take it or leave it, especially since she’s only open from 10 to 4.
I asked about the Turkey Joints and the counter person pulled a jar from underneath a counter. They are on display but on a shelf behind the counter, removed from the main candy. Can I sample? No. Can I take a look at the kitchen where they are made? “They don’t allow anybody back there.” My guess is they must have had a bad experience with a bunch of frat guys from nearby Syracuse University cavorting with the product. Or maybe they really do have turkeys back there… no, can’t be.
So I buy my product, which comes in a jar and costs $14.95 for about 10 ounces of Turkey Joints plus some green tissue paper. They now sell several flavors in addition to the “original”; can I mix and match? No, I cannot. I pay for my jar as well as a single cashew chew for a broader perspective (nothing interesting to report about it, except the poor value: $1 for a couple of dabs of chocolate poured over a nut) and slink into the parking lot to bite into the Turkey Joints.
The outside is a thin layer of hard candy with a streaked, satin-ribbon appearance. Inside is a “marrow” (Nora’s term) consisting of Brazil nuts in a complex chocolate-y base. The candies are in stick form, with a handmade and rough appearance, and some have the Brazil nut chunks poking out through the exterior as irregular knobs which give verisimilitude to the “turkey joint” concept.
The nougat is rich and tasty and the topping provides a satisfying crunch as well as serving as a staging mechanism for the candy. This is the M&Ms paradigm… very thin outer crust that protects something soft and velvety inside. And with Turkey Joints you get a much more complex, homespun shell which also contributes to the entertaining visual appearance of the “joints”.
Did I enjoy my Turkey Joints and share them only reluctantly with my family. Absolutely. Would I make a future detour to Rome, NY to get another jar? Not likely.
And how you know about Turkey Joints. If you want to try them and pay a rather steep shipping fee you can order on the website. They are only sold in the cooler months, however, because they don’t travel well in the heat. We’re talking about turkey parts, after all.