I mentioned once before that I test software for a living, and when we do our final testing before a software release goes out our group gets some candy to keep our spirits up and keep us going. We usually get a few bags of the “fun size” bars (why those little ones are called fun size, I’m not sure; I’d have more fun eating a regular size candy bar) and sometimes some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Without sounding like an old man with the “Back in my day…” speech, the candy today just doesn’t measure up. At least not in my mind.
I used to absolutely love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. After not eating any for a long time, I had some two times. Both times I had them, they were poor excuses for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. The chocolate had the look and feel of plastic, although it did still taste like chocolate. I wonder if I held it in my hand, would it melt. Then what passes for peanut butter today is this dry, grainy stuff. Disappointing would be an understatement. I know they could make it like they used to because we bought some peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s and there was a huge difference. No plastic on the outside and real peanut butter on the inside.
One of my other all-time favorites is Snickers bars. My complaints against them are that they are much smaller than they used to be, the chocolate on the outside is paper thin and the layer with peanuts and caramel is skimpy at best. As with the Reese’s, they are disappointing. I know, I know, things change. I know the argument that they’re cutting costs by doing what they’re doing. And I know that some people may even think, “Who cares? It’s just a stupid candy bar!” But think about it for a moment. Don’t we all have pleasant memories of eating candy bars? I do and here are two things I think of when I eat candy.
The first goes back to my childhood. At Halloween, we could take a little candy for our private stash and the rest went into a community bowl for the family and under the control of Mom. I would always take as many Snickers bars as I could. However, since they were limited I devised a way to make them last longer. I didn’t just take huge bites out of them and be done in a minute or two. Oh, no. Not me. I took my time and enjoyed them. As a matter of fact, I enjoyed every layer of them. How did I do that, you may ask. By eating the layers one at a time. (NOTE: The squeamish may skip the next paragraph. Parental discretion is advised.)
First I would eat all the chocolate off the sides, the ends and the bottom by carefully biting off small pieces and letting them melt in my mouth; I did not attempt to eat the chocolate off the top at this time. Next I would slowly eat the nougat center, being careful to not bite into the caramel and peanuts. By this point, which could be anywhere from 20 – 30 minutes later, I was left with a piece of funky looking caramel, peanuts and the chocolate on top of that layer. It was like seeing a chicken ripped open and seeing the insides! You may not want to eat it after seeing that. Just knowing that it grossed out my sister was enough to make me want to continue eating my Snickers bar that way. However, it tasted great eating the individual parts and it lasted a lot longer than eating it the conventional way. Only after I was sure that all the nougat was gone did I slowly eat the final stage (and what I considered the best part!) – the caramel, peanuts and top layer of chocolate. Yum!
The second memory comes from when my wife and I lived in California. We lived there for about 18 months and were pretty much broke the whole time we were out there. My in-laws were horrified when they came out to visit us and saw how little food we had in the house and how thin we had gotten because of that. There were no extras. Well, one time we found an extra 50 cents and we went next door to the convenience store and bought a candy bar…to split…between the two of us. We ate that candy bar like we’d never had one before and we savored every small bite we took. We each ate our half slowly, enjoying the flavors rolling across our tongues, feeling like if that was the last candy bar we ever bought, we were going to enjoy it. And we did. Believe it or not, that is one of my happiest memories of our time in California. Forget the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, forget all the “beautiful people”, forget the sunny-almost-every-day lifestyle. That one day, sitting in our apartment, broke, my wife and I shared a candy bar and a memory that we will never forget. We may not have had much, but we had each other.
We all know that too much candy isn’t good for you, but here’s something a lot of us forget. Sometimes just a little candy, eaten slowly and with happiness, is just enough.