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Candygram? What does it mean? I read this entry, but it didn't make sense.

candy that can be ordered by wire for delivery with an accompanying message, as on the recipient's birthday or anniversary.

The caption on the image says:

A: Assault happened sometime after they closed, a little after 2:00. Bodyguard Luis Lopez was hit first. Frankie Adkins, he's the owner of the bar, he was hit next. We ID'd the body as Isaac Proctor.

B: Proctor? Name's familiar.

A: Isaac is the son of cirminal defense attorney Amanda Proctor.

B: I dealt with her. She's kept a lot of bad people on the street.

C: So someone kills her son. Is someone trying to send a message?

A: If they are, it's a pretty brutal candygram.

B: Sword. It's pretty old-school.

C: Any witnesses?


  • It would probably make more sense if we knew what they were looking at. Is candy somehow involved in the crime scene? More context would be useful. (Although I'll assume that there's candy on the ground; in which case, the given answer is appropriate.) – Jason Bassford Jul 31 '18 at 15:20
  • @JasonBassford No, there is nothing about candy in that scene. – AmirhoseinRiazi Jul 31 '18 at 16:34
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    In that case, it's being used in a very figurative way, and there is a lot of "dark humour" around the fact that the dead body itself is being referred to as "candy." – Jason Bassford Jul 31 '18 at 16:37
  • What's the show? – Anton Sherwood Aug 1 '18 at 4:16

Candygram a derived form of the word telegram, where the suffix -gram means "sent from someone else".

Officially, NOAD says that the suffix -gram means:

in nouns, denoting something written or recorded (especially in a certain way):
cryptogram | heliogram.

However, at least informally, the suffix -gram has come to be used by companies that deliver things other than messages, presumably because candygram sounded more catchy than telecandy. Other quaint forms I've heard include pajamagram, a website that lets you order pajamas online and send them to someone else as a gift. There are websites called flowergram and candygram as well, and kissograms have been around for some time.

If I sent you a candygram, it might look something like this:

enter image description here

That explains what a candygram is. In the crime drama you are citing, a pun is being made on the phrase "send a message.” In the criminal underworld, when we send a message to someone, that means we are warning them about something we don't appreciate, often under a threat or act of violence. (As an example, there's the famous horse head scene in the movie The Godfather.)

So when they see the victim on the street, one investigator asks, "Are they trying to send a message?" meaning, "Are they trying to intimidate someone, or maybe warn some group about more potential violence?"

The other makes a grim joke, because one way to send a message (like a nice message, to a close friend) is a Candygram. He may have just as well said, “If so, it’s a pretty brutal message indeed,” but I assume the writers thought the use of the word “Candygram” would make the dialogue seem more clever. This sort of verbal exchange is not uncommon on television crime shows.

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    "where the suffix -gram means "sent from someone else". " - side note: etymologically it's the tele part of telegram which indicates remoteness, while gram refers to it being written down (after all, an "angiogram" does not involve sending arteries via mail). So while words like "candygram" and "kissogram" have been accepted in English in favor of "telecandy" or "telekiss", it's not a general rule that "gram" means "sent from somewhere/someone else". – Maciej Stachowski Jul 31 '18 at 11:27
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    @MaciejStachowski. Historically, you are right. But J.R.'s point is that now, in current English, the -gram suffix does mean exactly that. – Colin Fine Jul 31 '18 at 12:59
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    The joke here may relate to the use of "Candygram" in the movie "Blazing Saddles", where an exploding candy-gram is delivered to one of the movie's principal villains. – Bob Jarvis Jul 31 '18 at 15:06
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    @J.R. You know dear J.R. as far as I'm aware the word pun means : an amusing use of a word or phrase that has TWO meanings, but actually I don't think that the words "CANDY" or "CANDYGRAM" are commonly used with these two meanings in everyday English: 1. a sweet food made from sugar or chocolate a ___gram of these foods 2. a nice message, to a close friend – AmirhoseinRiazi Jul 31 '18 at 21:29
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    @AmirhoseinRiazi - You misunderstand where the pun is; the pun is not in the word “candygram”, but in the phrase “send a message”. In the criminal underworld, send a message means deliver a stern warning. That’s meaning #1; it only becomes a pun when the other character says the message is a “brutal candygram”, which is another kind of message altogether. But my original answer didn't delve into all that, because your original question was insufficiently detailed. Answer amended. – J.R. Aug 1 '18 at 9:59

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