Chestnuts Roasting…Hardly

Chestnut vendors in Manhattan

Once a plentiful sight year-round, roasted chestnuts are now difficult to find, even during the holidays. Vendors sell them mostly in high-tourist areas. > (Keivom/News)

New Yorkers are reportedly losing their taste for chestnuts. Less and less are buying these once-upon-a-time traditional treats, let alone roasting them on an open fire. Where once the fragrant scent of roasting chestnuts (along with exhaust fumes) emanated from the stoves of sidewalk vendors throughout the city each Christmas season, that delectable fragrance is quickly becoming a mere memory.

Roasted chestnuts appear to going the way of baked sweet potatoes, another once-ubiquitous sidewalk snack that went extinct in the 1950s, said New York food guru Arthur Schwartz.

“The simple answer is that few people have the taste for roasted chestnuts. Not Americans anyway – not even New Yorkers,” he said. “Hence the chestnuts are in the touristic areas of the city.”

Nevertheless, some New Yorkers (like my wife and I) buy them more for the memories they inspire rather than for the taste. Like the out-of-towners, we’re often willing to pay any price (and chestnuts are expensive now) to retrieve the invaluable Christmases of song and of childhood; many of us are in constant search of such precious morsels.

NY Daily News