Feed on


I was coming back downstairs to my desk this morning, after collecting the day’s paperwork and my morning cup of coffee, and I realized that, “hmm, some plain chocolate M&Ms would taste really good.” Plain chocolate M&Ms are probably my favorite common, easy-to-find candy. The only problem is that they’re not that easy to find at my office. There’s a junkfood machine in the lobby, and one in the ground floor break room, but they only have peanut M&Ms, which I detest. The main reason I hate peanut M&Ms is that I always seem to catch at least one rancid one per packet of candies. Yuk! Then, I’m tasting nasty, rancid peanut for ages thereafter. It’s a stinky, horrible flavor that seems to creep up the back of your sinuses. Horrible!

I could easily walk down to the convenience store a couple of blocks away on my lunch hour and buy a packet of horribly overpriced M&Ms (honestly, do you think it is worthwhile to pay $0.75 for an ordinary-sized packet of plain chocolate M&Ms, because I don’t. No PMS, no matter how severe and craving-laden could impel me to pay more than $0.55 for my portable choccy fix) Besides, by 11:00-ish, I’ll probably not care about the M&Ms anymore, especially when I only have a half-hour lunch today and would prefer to just hole up in the breakroom with my book and pasta salad.<lj-cut text=”Don’t read this if you have chocolate cravings or any other sort of munchies”

When I was a little kid, I didn’t like chocolate. I also didn’t like soda. Chocolate made me too thirsty and seemed kind of cloying, with a weird aftertaste, and the fizz in soda made my mouth sting. When I was about 11 or 12, I started to like Pepsi, but only at room temperature. I still like the occasional Pepsi, and it must be at room temperature. I feel the same way about ginger beer (which I discovered in college) and Jarritos brand tamarindo soda, which I learned about after we came back to the US in ’00. I started liking M&Ms when I was around 13, I think. I remember that I started liking them after getting a pack of them at the racetrack one Sunday afternoon, and letting them get hot on the aluminum seat of the grandstand, then eating them, one by one, sucking the bland, sweet candy shell away, then savoring the oozy chocolate.

M&Ms are a confectionary that takes me quite a while to eat. A pack of M&Ms can last me the better part of the day. It’s best when I’m wearing a jacket or a pair of baggy pants, so I can keep the bag in my pocket and get the chocolate a little bit melty. I still prefer to suck the shell away, then smash the chocolate core against the roof of my mouth with my tongue. Obviously, because M&Ms are such an involved and lengthy snack, I don’t get them very often.

Granted, I tend to take my time with candies, and do eat things in vastly peculiar ways. For example, Snickers. I really hate nougat. I see absolutely no good reason for nougat. Hatessss it, my preciousssss. I do, however, like the caramel/peanut bit quite a lot. If Snickers were solid bars of caramel and peanuts with a chocolate coating, I’d be a big fan. As it is, I’m lukewarm about Snickers, but if someone gives me one, I will eat it. Now the way to eat a Snickers bar, in my opinion, is to unwrap it and turn it upside down. I’ll carefully crack the chocolate off the nougaty part with a thumbnail and eat it, sliver by sliver. Then, I’ll peel as much of the nougat off the peanut/caramel part as I can and roll it up in the wrapper. Then I’ll happily eat the chocolate-covered peanut/caramel strip. Yay!

I eat Twix in a similar upside-downy fashion. I have to nibble the bland, powdery cookie bit off first. If I have the time and privacy to enjoy my snack in my own freakish fashion, I’ll spread the wrapper out flat like a little placemat and set the de-cookiefied caramel on it until both pieces are divested of cookie. Then, I smash them together, then nibble the solid bar of choco-caramelly goodness slowly, sucking it as I do the M&Ms to melt away the chocolate leaving a morsel of pure, mooshy caramel. If I’m among other people, I’ll take a small nibble of candy bar, then covertly disassemble it in my mouth. The cookie part must go away first. That’s just the way it has to work.

When I was a kid, we didn’t get candy very often, since it’s not really nutritionally useful and it’s bad for your teeth and all. Therefore, sweets were a big deal, and my sister and I handled them quite differently. I was a hoarder. My Easter candy could stretch until about the 4th of July, and I’d still have a tiny reserve of Halloween candy by Christmas time. My sister, on the other hand, would make short work of her seasonal treats, often being out of candy before the end of the week, and then would turn to me and start pestering for bits of my stash. Sometimes I’d give her the candies I didn’t like especially, sometimes I’d tell her to get lost. I’m almost certain my peculiar candy-eating habits are an outgrowth of my make-it-last childhood habits. Not only did I hoard my stash of treats, I had a ranking system for my treats, and would eat the things I liked least first, saving the best for last. I did the same thing within packets of assorted-flavor candies, with the top preference being for either “green-apple” or “watermelon” if available, then grape, orange, lime, lemon, and red. Don’t try to tell me that there is a “cherry” or “strawberry” or “raspberry” or “fruit punch” flavor, because to me they all taste the same. Red. Vaguely fruity, vaguely medicinal, sweet, and highly undefinable. Not that any “flavor” of candy even remotely resembles the fruit it’s intended to mimic, because I’ve never tasted one that I could really identify as having any notable similarity to its namesake fruit.

I eat a LOT of fruit. Easily do I get my recommended 3-5 servings per day, generally before noon. The older I get, the less and less able I am to enjoy “fruit” flavored candy. A few years ago, when we got the New Beetle, Todd and I took a roadtrip back to Nebraska to put my car into storage at my parents’ place until I could recoup my losses from the Scirocco and afford to get my car painted. We took off out of KCMO, me leading in my 1959, Todd following in the new car. It was a long, long, boring drive across Nebraska, one in which I amused myself by singing along badly to AC/DC cassettes, loudly popping my Doublemint gum, and wondering what Nebraska had ever done to deserve its landscape. While rifling through the glovebox looking for more tapes, I encountered a pack of “Wild Berry” Skittles that Todd had left there; an abomination of the noble substance known as Sugar if ever one there was. Because I was hungry and bored and there was at least another 112 miles to the next town, I ate the Skittles, but it was rather like eating the candied contents of a Bath & Body Works store. I swear to you, I’ve smelled those same flavors in their pre-teen bath products section, where everything is Bloo Berry Bubble and Wild Melon Slice, the colors are garish, and the scents are the nasal equivalent of a three ring circus with a surplus of psychedelic clowns.

I think my inability to appreciate fake-fruit flavors set on around the same time that I stopped finding Doritos to be even remotely edible. I don’t know if it is from eating healthy for so long, or if it is being over 25 or what, but a lot of junkfood doesn’t appeal to my palate anymore. Ah well, as long as I can still enjoy some M&Ms, all is not lost!

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