Novel Completion Queries, Day Seven

Is the novel finished? NO

Today’s question: Salted caramel. Thoughts?

My answer: I mean, I like it well enough when I have it. But I think the craze got a little carried away. Not everything has to be salted.


(Extra credit: Do you pronounce “caramel” as “Care-a-mel” or “car-mel”? I usually tend toward the latter.)

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

89 replies on “Novel Completion Queries, Day Seven”

Meh. I’ve tried salted caramel a couple of times and just wasn’t all that impressed. Not a huge fan of the “let’s salt EVERYTHING and charge twice as much for it” approach to food. Not a huge fan of caramel, either, for that matter.

Frankly, if I’m going to consume extra calories, they’ll be in the form of dark chocolate, or lasagna, or pie. Salted caramel? Not so much.

I generally pronounce the word CAHR-mel. Born and raised in the Midwest, which I suspect influences my pronunciation of words like this one.

It ought to be ca-ruh-mel by the traditional rules of English phonetics, which hold that most syllables should start with a consonant if there is one available. But Americans, and some Canadians, tend to take the “r” off the next syllable and apply it to the vowel of the preceding one. Then they suppress the robbed syllable into a schwa (the mini-vowel usually represented by ə). So “horror” (ho-ruh) comes out like “whore” (hor-ə).

Though my Canadian wife has been to Durham, England, and all her life has heard the name pronounced by UK-born folks (me, her parents, BBC newscasters), she can’t help pronouncing it “Dur-um” instead of “Duh-rum.” Linguistic habits die hard. Or not at all.

When I say the word in conversation I like to mix it up. Wait and watch to see if my conversation partners have a preference. Watch as my deliberate verbal mangling of the word grates on some people’s ears and not on other.

Salted caramels add a new and unexpected dimension to the mayhem. Now I can purposely torture another word in the “eng-lush” language. Otherwise, I have fillings so I’ll pass.

“Beautiful isn’t it? It took me half a lifetime to invent it. I’m sure you’ve discovered my deep and abiding interest in pain. Presently I’m writing the definitive work on the subject, so I want you to be totally honest with me on how the machine makes you feel. This being our first try, I’ll use the lowest setting.”

Not everything needs to be salty/sweet and far too many manufacturers jumped on that bandwagon.

I use both pronunciations because my parents insisted on care-a-mel and my Midwestern peers mocked me for not saying car-mel. I think I like care-a-mel better these days; it sounds more decadent to me and proper caramels are decadent.

Never been a fan of caramel (ca-ra-mel for me!) as it tastes pretty sour to my tastebuds. Salt – well, I am now borderline high blood pressure so trying to stay away from foods with lots of salt in them. Give me dark chocolate with almonds or peanuts instead….

Salted caramels? Edible, but really just plain silly. Anchovies should be salted. Caramels should be sweet. What’s the world coming to? Next we’ll have dogs marrying cats. And people saying “carmels.”

The few times I’ve tried it, I didn’t notice a significant difference between it and regular caramel. Maybe I’ve just been trying substandard stuff.


Car-a-mel. Not really a fan, and it’s just as well – due to a couple of large fillings on molars I can’t eat really sticky food so no caramel – salted or otherwise. My dentist would have a fit.

Yes, I like salted caramel – especially with chocolate, because a touch of salt enhances the flavor of chocolate in amazing ways. Trying to remember if I’d had salted caramel without chocolate, though….

I pronounce is “car-MUL” – no Idea where I got that from, given my family traveled a lot when I was growing up.

CAR-uh.mel, here.

I’m going to be the one to fly in the face of public opinion. I like salted caramel a lot … and I think it’s not nearly popular enough, yet. I find most desserts, especially in the US, to be far, FAR too sweet for my taste. Salted caramel, like the salted high-end chocolate bars that are starting to become popular, restores a little balance to the flavors.

We could, of course, just stop packing everything with massive amounts of sugar … but that seems too much for which to hope.

The Voice of Kraft didn’t pronounce it “carmel” himself, but did so for the ads because the CEO did. (Based on interview I heard/saw a gazillion years ago, anyway.)

Never had salted Care-a Mel, myself.

CarAmel. Carmel is a town in California, isn’t it?

As to salt caramel- I first tried it about 10 years ago, in a little ice-cream parlour on the Ile de Re in France; fabulous.

Not a fan of salted caramel. I do, however, have a fondness for rock-salt-coated bagels… go figure.

I’m afraid that Our Gracious Host has just killed off any chance he had of being a celebrity judge on any Food Network program. The hypertension among the judges must be astounding: One of their most common complaints is that food is “underseasoned” when running ingredient lists through databases shows that they contain over a day’s worth of salt…

What? Me consistent before the caffeine kicks in on a weekend morning?

I don’t like caramel (it stuck to my braces when I was a kid) and salt is bad for my high blood pressure. My choice is chocolate (“chok-lat”), or, better yet, Peppermint Patties (MMMMMM…..Pepppermint Pattiessssss! (heavy drooling commences)).

Caramel. But I also say say Oregon not Orgon. Not really a fan of salted caramel but dark chocolate Mo’s Bacon Bar is my salty sweet downfall.

I can’t say, as I’ve never tried it. Caramel, however it is pronounced, is seriously off my ‘possibly ok to eat list’ now. As for how I pronounce it, that’s tough. I grew up in a Care-a-mel region but have been living for quite a while in a car-mel region. I tend to use both, depending on who I am talking to.

Usually car-a-mel, but sometimes car-mel, depending on the context. Bad salted caramels are bad, but good ones are soooo good. Next time you are in Seattle you absolutely must try Molly Moon’s salted caramel ice cream. It’s so delicious. Mmmmm. Good thing I still have part of a pint in my freezer.

carAmel. It must not be salted! I hate salted sweets.

@readingSSF: It’s not quite true. You can find salted caramel and dark chocolate almost everywhere in Germany. Finding caramel icecream without salt is not easy!

The coastal town in California is pronounced car-MEL with the emphasis on the second half of the word. The sweet sticky stuff is CAR-mul, emphasis on the first half of the word. They are nothing alike. Although the place is a tad salty, being by the sea and all.

I’m from California and my Mom lived in Monterey for a bit. She used to sometimes hang out at Clint Eastwoods bar. I’m not sure if she ever met him. This is why I know how to pronounce car-MEL even though I now reside on the east coast in a state where Montpelier and Barre are pronounced Mont-pel-ee-er and Barry, instead of Mont-pel-ee-aa and Bar like I assumed they would be when I got here. I spent the first few months totally lost.

And now I have gotten a little far afield from the original question about what is essentially milk cooked with tons of sugar and salt.

I’ve had some salted caramels that I absolutely loved, but even though I am a big fan of salt (as in I eat rock salt as a snack) and of sweet, I don’t think the combo always work. In particular I am pretty much over the salted-chocolate thing. There’s usually too much salt so the flavors clash instead of blend.

And yes, it’s care-a-mel. Too lazy right now to look up how to put the schwa in the middle. I hear people say CARmelapples or CARmelcorn (usually as one word) and the back of my brain automatically reads it as a linguistic marker of less-educated. I’m trying really hard to eradicate that prejudice, I swear. It’s one of the stupider ones I’ve found rooted in my subconscious.

I’ve had some salted caramel ice cream that as out of this world, but usually it’s between “OK” and “pretty good”. If I’m going to take the calorie hit, I’d rather have dark-chocolate covered almonds with sea salt. Those are wicked good.

And my grandfather, who grew almonds for most of his life and was raised in N. California, always pronounced “almond” as a near-rhyme of “salmon”, i.e. “A-mond”. I picked that pronunciation up from the family and didn’t learn the more common “ALL-mond” until I was a teen.

Meh. I can take or leave it. It’s interesting, and I do like the interplay of sweet, butter, and salt. If it’s around, I could have some, or not. I don’t seek it out or anything. There are plenty of other flavors in candy, ice cream, etc., that I am more likely to seek out. A nice strong coffee ice cream, for example, is one I would choose over a salted caramel flavor.

As to pronunciation, I’m not a CARE-mel nor a CARE-a-mel person. car-MEL is a city in California. I’m a CAR-(a)-mel person, with the middle vowel almost nonexistent.

I prefer caramel with chocolate (preferably the chocolate-covered hard caramels which used to be called “Choccos” here in Australia when you could still get a 20c bag of lollies from the corner shop). Salted just sounds weird.

Oh, it’s car-a-mel (more of an “a” like in “hat” sound than “eh” like in “wear” for the first vowel, to get the Aussie accent straight).

Not a huge fan of salted caramel (ca-ra-mel) and, while we are sort of on the subject, YOU DON’T NEED TO ADD BACON TO EVERYTHING IT’S BACON IT’S OKAY BY ITSELF IF I WANT BACON LATTES I’LL LET YOU KNOW THANKS.

Provided the caramel is suitably mountainous, I’d say ‘Har HaCarmel’ just to be arch. And geographical. (Whereas, referenced place on the Monterey Peninsula isn’t a city so much as a twee-dom theme park, I’d say.)

Cah-ra-mel, like Sarah Mel. (The Sarah that rhymes with Farrah: first ‘a’ is like “hat”, second is closer to “uh”. Definitely not say-rah.)
Salty is fine. But not too much, please.

It’s good but not a particular weakness! I pronounce the candy as care-a-mel, no particular accent, though at Pacific Northwest coffee shops, when I order a care-a-mel macchiatto, the barista says “Carmel?” Apparently care-a-mel comes from somewhere else.

As others have pointed out, I also reserve carmel for carmel corn. Interesting.

@dave, I believe Leicester = Lester, ergo Gloucestershire = gloucstershur??

Linguistics is fascinating stuff!

I say it with a reduced schwa in the middle—how reduced depends on how quickly I’m speaking. However, even when I reduce it to nothing (which I do sometimes), I never pronounce it like the city in California, because that city’s name has the emphasis on the final syllable: car-MEL. Rhymes with “well”. The candy is CAR-(<tiny>ə</tiny>-)məl. Rhymes with “bull”, sort of.

As for the salt, I’m not qualified to comment, because I’ve never tried salted caramel. But I have eaten salt in Carmel, and it was good. If that helps. :)

CAR (like the automobile) uh (like the tiniest schwa you can still hear) mul (like a bigger schwa)
but Karmal corn and Karmal apples because you’re fated to overeat them.
Also, unsalted caramels can still have salt (sometimes terrible amounts of salt) in them, just not separated out to be all trendy on the top.

Salted caramel has officially run its course, at least in Canada. How do I know this? Tim Hortons jumped on the bandwagon.

Here in the frozen north, having Tim Hortons adopt a trend is like having suburban white kids adopt it: a sure sign that said trend is over.

I like salted caramel an awful lot. Savory+Sweet in one package, plus, being quite chewy, it has a natural rate-limiting factor, which my complete lack of willpower requires.

And it is definitely ‘car-a-mel’.

Meh. And I couldn’t hope to tell you how I pronounce it; that is a skill I don’t have.

catfriend99: A friend of mine tried the Molly Moon salted caramel ice cream and said “Mmm, tastes like 1923. Who wants some Teapot Dome scandal?”

So that’s some weird tasting ice cream, and I have some very strange friends.

I do not pronounce it “Car-mel” but neither do I pronounce it as three separable syllables. If we had, like, an RA with a swoop over it to indicate something like briefly rolling past the r into a vowel and then rapidly moving on, that’s what I do. and my ‘a’ for the first syllable varies, putting it on average halfway between “Care” and “Car. Basically our written language is deficient for representing how we speak, youhearwhatI’msayin?

I don’t like food with much salt mixed in. I don’t even add salt when I make bread. But I like a little bit of salt on the OUTSIDE. Even on caramel and other sweets.

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