Monday, October 27, 2014
Twizzlers and Red Hots and Mounds, Oh my!
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Hallowe'en is almost here, and among the changing fashion in decorations, parties, and costumes, one part of the holiday remains constant: candy. Or, as my younger self would have put it, Candy!!!
As a kid, Hallowe'en was a highlight of the year. My mother had firm ideas about nutritious eating; stuff like candy and soda was a rare treat in our house. So although our creative home-sewn costumes were a thrill, and our small town Hallowe'en parade was a blast, the best part of the evening came at the end, when I would upend an entire pillowcase of goodies on the dining room table. My sister and I would score big when we went out - she was adorable, I was articulate, and we were both (thanks Mom!) very polite. We inevitable got invited to take another one or two pieces, which would then be sorted and swapped and saved at the table later on.
There was a clear hierarchy of Hallowe'en candy every kid knew. At the very apex were the full-size name brand chocolate bars, followed by the junior or snack size version of the same. Further down were the tasty single-serving candies: sourballs and lemon drops, caramels and Sugar Daddies. Near the bottom were the sweets that sounded a lot more fun than they were, like Pixie sticks, Bottle Caps and candy cigarettes (which, I'm sure, aren't made anymore.) At the very bottom, along with the occasional baggie of pennies and religious tract, were the weird old-people candies: Necco wafers and wax bottles of "cola" and Laffy Taffy in hard, inedible slabs. (Full disclosure: my husband loves Necco wafers. I think it's a New England thing.)
Today, as an adult, I still get a thrill out of stocking up on candy, because just like my mom, I don't usually keep it in the house. I went for several years when I couldn't eat chocolate, and even today I need to be judicious in its consumption, so picking up a bag of Hallowe'en M&MS makes me feel like a teetotaler on vacation where no one can see me slugging down Pina Coladas. I'm not the only one, either - I've learned I better get two bags of each kind, because one of them will be mysteriously half-devoured before the actual Fright Night!
How about you, Reds? What were the candies you loved in girlhood? And what are the ones that can tempt you from the whole grain/organic/locally sourced diet we all strive for today?
HALLIE EPHRON: I have a confession to make. I *love* licorice. I know, I know, black licorice whips and jelly beans are always the very last candies left in the bottom of the bags but they're my favorites. Red hots, too. And anything with coconut.
Chocolate? Meh. Peanut butter cups? Patooey.
So you can imagine I got along pretty well, trading candies with my sisters after we'd drag home our haul and spread them out in carefully delineated piles on the floor (Mine. Yours.)
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Twizzlers! Yay, love Twizzlers. And I agree, I am a big black licorice fan, too. Mounds, too. Almond Joy! And I am very pleased they decided to make those little sizes. Two bites is just the right amount. Jelly beans, all kinds. NECCOs (New England Candy Co) SHOULD be good, but they just aren't. Chocolate, take or leave. I am baffled by sour things, and hot things. And candy that DOES stuff. Who would eat a Sour Parch kid or (whatever those are) that only makes you pucker? Or anything that fizzes, hisses or blows up in your mouth? I protest any candy that fights back.
And of course, Julia, One must buy the TEST bag to make sure the candy will be okay for your guests.
JULIA: I like that, Hank. I'll use that in the future. One does want to be a considerate host.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: I don't remember getting anything I much liked. Tootsie Rolls by the dozen. Ugh. Same for Bit O Honey. And so sorry, Hallie and Hank, that I don't share your passion for licorice. Or Twizzlers. Not Red Hots. Oh, and I HATED candy corn, and there was always lots of that. And I agree, Hank, I protest any candy that fights back.
I do like good jelly beans. These days we don't have many trick or treaters, but I usually buy Hershey's kisses, knowing that I'll have a few and hubby will snack on the rest until Christmas. Geez, we sound candy-boring... I have discovered on this book tour, however, hungry late at night with nothing but hotel mini-bar snacks, that I like Kit-Kats. Maybe I'll add those this year. Oh, and I LOVE peanut M&Ms, so not a complete candy flop!
LUCY BURDETTE: My older sister and I tried our best to bamboozle the best candy from the younger kids, but my parents kept a close eye. I do love red twizzlers, but never the black stuff. I used to like Good 'n Plenty, but over that now. Debs, I will take your Bit O Honey, Hallie, your peanut butter cups, and anybody's Nestle's crunch. Wasn't it the worst when someone decided to give out apples? Or worst of all, toothbrushes!
I don't buy any candy now, because we are not on trick or treater's routes. And I would just eat it. Whether I like it or not...
RHYS BOWEN: I didn't grow up with Halloween but I went through my kids' bags with something like paranoia--was that box of Good and Plenty slightly unglued at one end? I'd confiscate the gum and anything that was questionable, then I'd allow one evening to pig out before the rest got put away for occasional treats.
I live on a hill now and very few kids walk UPWARD to get candy but I do keep a good supply of Snickers, Kit Kats, M and Ms just in case!
(And oh dear, if there is some left I hate wasting food...)
JULIA: That's the spirit, Rhys. Uneaten candy is sad candy. How about you, dear readers? What candy did you love or loathe at Hallowe'en? And what do you give out to the little ghouls and goblins (or more likely, Elsa and Captain America) today?