This is a very old recipe that was common years ago, not as common today, but still just as delicious. Gran's tattered copy in her old wooden recipe box is yellow, splattered and torn. Well used.
I looked online for a little help, as her recipe called for "butter, the size of a walnut" and had you using the cold water test which I have had little success with. I found an identical recipe online (assuming a walnut's worth of butter is a tablespoon) but this one gave temperature readings instead of dropping into cold water.
DATE LOAF CANDY
2 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1 T. butter
In a large heavy saucepan, cook and stir until it reaches 235*.
Remove from heat, add:
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cup chopped dates**
1 cup chopped pecans (Gran says walnuts, but I use pecans 'cause I don't like walnuts)
Stir, or better yet have someone else stir, for about 5 minutes. Have a damp tea-towell laid flat on counter. Form a log on the tea-towel, roll the tea-towel around it, and then wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate overnight. Slice. Dates are very good for you so this is considered health food.
** use whole pitted dates and chop them yourself, the pre-chopped ones are sugared and I think that would cause your candy to crystalize.