The Death Valley Nut & Candy Company
After catching up with Lindsey and Jacob for the last hour in Lindsey’s Beatty trailer, she asks us what Beatty attractions we’re planning to visit today.
“Hot springs, brothel, Rhyolite…” I start listing. “But I need some candy first.”
“Eddie World,” Jacob says in response to my sugar-request.
“Yeah, Eddie World,” Lindsey agrees.
We pile into Jacob’s truck and head to a magnificently large building attached to a gas station a couple miles up the road. The Death Valley Nut & Candy Company, also known to us as Eddie World. Due to offering food and refreshments, as well as gas considerably cheaper than anything inside Death Valley, Eddie World is a major stop for national park visitors passing through Beatty. It’s always fairly busy with both locals and tourists.
Three years ago when I was working for the National Park Service in Death Valley, the occasional weekend trip to Eddie World was always the highlight of my week. I’d stock up on candy and proceed to gorge myself on it every night after work until it ran out, giving myself stomach aches in the process, and wondering how I’d forgotten the kindergarten-aged wisdom that candy makes a poor dinner.
Once I step back inside the cavernous candy store I’ve been dreaming about during my recent years of absence, I go wild running up and down the aisles grabbing bags of sweets. They have virtually every kind of candy imaginable, and also sections featuring nuts, toys, soda pop, a Subway sandwich shop, a beef jerky station, and an ice cream parlor featuring ice cream made on premises. I make a mad dash for the malt-ball department, then later progress to the chocolate-covered honeycomb section. Oh, how I have missed this unhealthy indulgence.
Next I meander over to the beef jerky station. The jerky cashier encourages samples, and I take advantage of his friendliness to try about a dozen different flavors, including varieties made of turkey, venison, and buffalo. I end up picking one of the beef flavors, and ask for a quarter-pound.
The jerky man is friendly enough, but quite talkative. He talks all through the transaction, and keeps talking after he finishes ringing up the sale. I try to excuse myself from the conversation politely so I can pay for my candy and start eating. Jacob and Lindsey join me at the jerky stand and join in the already-established conversation. Their presence makes me feel slightly less guilty for turning to leave abruptly as the jerky seller is in mid-sentence.
At the check-out counter, the middle-aged female cashier tells me this candy store was built in 2000 by a man named Ed, hence the name “Eddie World” featured on the roof of the gas station outside, next to a photo of him as a child. Apparently, Ed owns the gas station/candy store compound, plus the Stagecoach, a neighboring hotel and casino. “And he owns some other properties around town,” the cashier adds. “He owns a lot around here.”
“Where do you get all the candy?” I ask.
“They order it in bulk from a candy manufacturer in California and then they measure it out and price it all here. I’m not sure where they get the beef jerky, must be from somewhere around here, but the ice cream, well that’s made all right here in-house.”
After paying for my bags of candy, I check up on Jacob and Lindsey. They’re still standing at the jerky station, being talked to by the loquacious jerky man, mostly about recreational activities in Beatty.
“The only thing worth doing around Beatty is four-wheeling,” he states authoritatively, then laments that he no longer has his own truck.
He goes on to tell us a story of how he took a baseball bat to his ex-wife’s Jeep.
“I beat the hell out of my ex -wife, yeah, her Jeep, just trashed it,” he tells us with a wide-eyed stare.
His slow drawl and slight pause between “wife” and “her Jeep” is enough to horrify us for a brief instant that he’s confessing to domestic abuse. Jacob is shifting impatiently and looking doubly horrified that this man, whom he will later refer to as “Mr. Talky-Talk,” will not keep quiet long enough for him to buy jerky.
Soon Mr. Talky-Talk switches subjects to workplace culture. “I work with a couple other girls here, and they like to mess with me. If I’m going to be working the next day, they’ll rearrange all the stuff here at the checkout area and they’ll put all the jerkies in a different order, so it’ll take me a while to figure it out and put everything back in the right place.”
“Wow,” I say, “that sounds kind of mean. But maybe they’re just kidding around with you?”
“Yeah, I don’t know,” he shrugs. “They’re just a bunch of jokers.”
Eventually we all extricate ourselves from the jerky man, whose conversation was as sticky as bubblegum on a shoe. “I wonder if those girls that he was talking about, the ones he works with who rearrange things, do it because their arrangement makes sense to them and works for them,” Jacob speculates as we walk out. “And this guy just takes it personally.”
“Lindsey,” I turn to her as we walk out, “are a lot of Beatty people similar to him?”
“Umm…” she starts diplomatically, “well, a couple. But I think he’s extra special.”
On the way out to the truck, Lindsey spots a couple of children playing with a tortoise outside and motions us over to watch. The tortoise moves slowly away from the children, and they giggle and pick it up, turn it around, and make it start its journey again.
“I hope that’s not a desert tortoise,” Lindsey says, looking concerned. “They’re endangered and they’re really vulnerable to human-borne bacteria, and that can be transmitted pretty easily by touch.”
“Hey!” she approaches the kids with a friendly smile. “Whatcha got there?”
“A tortoise!” the little girl says happily.
“Where’d you find it?”
“Mommy bought it for us at a pet shop,” the boy says, and his sister clarifies, “In Las Vegas!”
Satisfied, Lindsey wishes them well, and the three of us head to the truck. “Yeah, that wasn’t a desert tortoise,” she says. “I could tell once I got closer to it. I’m not sure what I could’ve done if it had been one, though. I doubt most people around here would be bothered if the kids were playing with a desert tortoise. There’s not much love for wildlife conservation in Beatty. Or maybe just not much awareness of the reasons for conservation in general.”
Once inside Jacob’s truck, I open the bag of mint malt balls and pass them around. Lindsey refuses at first, saying she shouldn’t be eating so much junk, but within one minute, by the second passing of the bag, she digs in with the rest of us. I tear open the bag of chocolate-covered honeycomb and pass that around as well, disregarding whatever damage this might be doing to our teeth.
“What’d you get, Jacob?” I ask as he starts the car.
“I got the last malt balls on the shelf. And I also got some turkey jerky once the jerky guy shut up long enough to ring up the sale.”
Death Valley Nut & Candy Company/ Eddie World
900 E Hwy 95 N
Beatty, NV 89003
Lindsey Newhall first left her home state of California when she was 20, and has since called China, Thailand, and Alaska her home. You can check out more of Lindsey’s writing on Fightland.