Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:
We listen to music from Pink Martini …
Answer a question about actress Sandra Bullock …
And report about a sweet anniversary.
People around the world know and enjoy the chocolate candy from the Hershey Company. Company officials say they export Hershey's products to more than ninety countries. The Hershey Company celebrated an anniversary earlier this month in its hometown of Hershey, Pennsylvania. Faith Lapidus tells us about it.
The street lights in Hershey, Pennsylvania are shaped like the candies the company is most famous for -- Hershey's Kisses.
July seventh was the one hundredth anniversary of the Hershey's Kiss. The company held a birthday party in its honor. Part of the celebration was the world's largest Hershey's Kiss. The huge piece of chocolate weighed almost fourteen thousand kilograms. It was more than three and one-half meters tall. A representative from the Guinness Book of World Records officially named it the world's largest piece of chocolate.
Hershey officials say the huge chocolate Kiss took one hundred fifty-two people nine days to produce. And they say the chocolate in it is equal to that of more than three million normal Hershey's Kisses.
The company began producing the chocolate with the unusual shape in nineteen-oh-seven. Officials today do not really know why the new candy was named a Kiss. One possible story is that the name came from the sound or motion of the chocolate during the manufacturing process.
Workers used to wrap each candy in a small piece of silver foil paper by hand until nineteen twenty-one. Then a machine was developed to do that. Today, the company produces more than eighty million Hershey's Kisses every day. And modern wrapping machines finish the job. They can wrap more than one thousand Kisses every minute.
Some Hershey's Kisses have remained the same over the years. But there are also many new versions. There are Kisses with an almond nut inside. Dark chocolate Kisses. And Kisses filled with caramel or peanut butter. There are also similarly shaped brown and white candies called Hugs.
Hershey's Kisses are produced in Pennsylvania, California and Virginia. Recent news reports say the company will soon close one of its factories in California. The reports say the Kisses will be produced at a new Hershey factory in Mexico. They also say the candy company has closed at least three other factories this year.
Our listener question this week comes from Brazil. Anderlon Rocha de Oliveira wants to know more about actress Sandra Bullock.
Sandra Bullock is one of the most popular movie stars in America. She is especially famous for her work in funny love stories. But she has also proven herself a fine dramatic actress in movies like "Crash," and "Infamous."
Sandra Bullock was born in Arlington, Virginia in nineteen sixty-four. Her mother was a German-born opera singer. She died of cancer in two thousand. Bullock's father was a voice teacher and Defense Department employee. He now leads her production company, Fortis Films.
Sandra Bullock began performing as a young girl, often in music shows with her mother. She was involved in theater in high school. Then she studied acting at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.
Bullock lived in New York City for a short time after college. She moved to Los Angeles, California after winning her first big job, a part in a movie made for television.
Sandra Bullock has performed in more than forty films. She has played a police officer, an alcoholic, a witch, a single mother, a rich lonely wife and many other characters. Her most recent movie, "Premonition," was released earlier this year.
Next up is a romantic comedy called "All About Steve." Bullock will play a woman who decides a reporter she sees on television is her true love. She starts to follow him all around the country hoping to persuade him that he loves her too.
Sandra Bullock does not have to do this kind of thing in real life. Two years ago she married Jesse James, the star of a television show called "Monster Garage."
Sandra Bullock is also known for helping others in need. She witnessed the terrorist attack on New York City in two thousand one. She was staying at a hotel several blocks away when the twin towers were destroyed. She gave one million dollars to the Red Cross to help those affected.
Bullock gave the organization another one million dollars to help victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami in two thousand four. And she continues to give time and money to help the city of New Orleans. That city is still recovering from the severe damage that Hurricane Katrina caused in two thousand five.
Pink Martini may sound like a kind of drink. But it is really a small orchestra of twelve musicians. A classically trained pianist, Thomas Lauderdale, created the group. He says the members of Pink Martini are like musical archeologists. They like to bring together sounds from different periods and parts of the world. Barbara Klein has more.
(MUSIC: "Tempo Perdido")
That was Pink Martini's main singer China Forbes performing "Tempo Perdido" in Portuguese. It is from the group's latest album, "Hey Eugene!" The song was first performed in nineteen thirty-four by the famous Brazilian actress and singer Carmen Miranda. The beat of the song captures the sounds of another time period.
China Forbes and Thomas Lauderdale met in college. Several years later, Lauderdale asked her to join his new band.
Pink Martini skillfully recreates older songs from around the world in a modern and fresh way. Sometimes they find long forgotten favorites. Other times, China Forbes and Thomas Lauderdale write their own music and give it a special sound from the past. They have sung in many languages including French, Spanish, Japanese and Italian. At times they even sing in English. Here is China Forbes singing a song she wrote called "Everywhere."
Thomas Lauderdale says Pink Martini is very much an American band. But the band members spend a lot of time in other countries. He says his band tries to show that Americans are serious about being involved with the rest of the world.
We leave you with "Bukra Wba'do." This is Pink Martini's first song in Arabic. The song title means "tomorrow and the day after." A professor of Arabic helped China Forbes and the group of twenty-five singers learn the correct pronunciation. The resulting song shows off Pink Martini's musical as well as language skills.
I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today. It was written by Dana Demange, Nancy Steinbach and Caty Weaver, who also was our producer. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.
Send your questions about American life to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your full name and mailing address. Or write to AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C., two-zero-two-three-seven, U.S.A.
Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.