Today was National Candy Day and to celebrate, I tried to take a rainbow and wrap it in a sigh, but that proved to be a little more challenging than you would imagine (and yes, I even tried mixing it with love too). This was my dilemma today because I wasn’t exactly sure how to celebrate candy day. The problem is that the day falls so close to Halloween and most households are still working their way through bags of trick or treating loot, so we are inundated with candy. I was going to try to do something special for my nieces and nephews and surprise them with a candy delivery, but I realized that they are still on a candy high from Monday, so my efforts wouldn’t be really appreciated. My next idea was to binge on our favorite candies, but that too seemed a bit ominous. It would mean way too many sweets and where do I even begin? 100 Grands? Caramello Bars? Old school Marathon Bars? It was a conundrum.
That’s where the idea of favorite candy started to sink in. Everyone has candy in their life that makes them think of certain people who had a particular fondness for that candy. You just hear the name or see the wrapper, and the thought of that person pops in your head. We’ve been thinking about certain people a lot this week too. You see today is the anniversary of the last day Lola spent with her Mom, so she has been on our minds all week. Because National Candy Day was on my mind too, I asked Lola what candy makes her think of her Mom. Without much pause, she said Twizzlers. Apparently Twizzlers were one of Gigi’s favorites and I could picture her taking a chewy bite of the red licorice as she watched a Lifetime movie on the couch after she got her kitchen all cleaned up after dinner and then naturally sharing some with her family too. She would just enjoy the simplicity of it all.
This gave me an idea for my National Candy day celebration. I would celebrate the favorite candy of the people close to us who are no longer with us. Not to be morbid, but it seemed fitting. It gave my celebration a theme that wasn’t just eating random candy. Plus it gave me the opportunity to think about some people I love. I headed out to the store and picked up my supplies.
This was probably the most unusual assortment of candy ever assembled.
I started with the Twizzlers naturally. Not much I can say about a Twizzler that you don’t already know. They’re chewy, fruity and delicious. There’s something fun about having a big piece of licorice too (unless of course it’s black licorice which is the devil’s candy). It’s fun to peel them out of the package and to twirl them in your hand. As far as candy goes, Twizzlers are in the top echelon. Gigi knew good candy. I tried to imagine the smile she would give me if I came in with a bag of Twizzlers for her. She’d be so excited, not just for the candy, but that we were thinking of her. For a person that made so many people happy, she never took for granted how other people could bring her smiles too. She’d probably laugh with us as well, and that would so make the day that much brighter.
The next candy was Canada Mints which is always the candy I think of when I think of my grandmother. If you’ve never had them, they are chalky little disks that taste like sweetened wintergreen. My grandmother would have them in her candy dish. Gram was a big believer in always having some kind of hard candy at the ready. She’d use them so her mouth wouldn’t get dry and I assume to keep her breath fresh. Most of her grandkids did not much care for Canada Mints because they’re really not candy that kids typically like. They are not chocolate, not gummy, not sour – just minty. I always liked them though, and Gram knew that and always made sure they were there for me. At least I thought she bought them for me, but I just found out that they were a favorite of my cousin Annie too and Gram would always make sure she had them on hand for Annie as well. I guess I was riding Annie’s Canada Mints coattails. Regardless, Gram always made me feel like Canada Mints were a little treat we shared and made me feel special. That’s why I will always associate them with her. Eating one today after not eating them for over twenty years was a flashback. They still taste the same and they are still not going to take the candy world by storm, but they brought me back to being with my grandmother, taking a break from looking for hairpins on the floor and snacking on a delicious treat that we shared a mutual admiration for (as did Annie).
Lola’s dad was a big fan of Chunky bars. I knew that because I remember him picking them up from time to time as a special treat. That stuck out in my mind because I never knew anyone that liked Chunky bars. They still sell them in the candy aisle, so they must have their fans, but they always seemed a bit weird to me. They are a great shape for a candy bar (Wikipedia calls them trapezoidal which they are, although I would not have come up with that term). Getting a nice chunk of chocolate rather than a piece of a bar has its merits. I think it’s the raisins that put me off. I don’t want raisins in my candy bar. I feel like I’m eating bugs. But, in tribute, I decided to share a bar with Lola. They don’t smell great, as far as chocolate bars go. I’m not sure what it is, but that was my first impression and it wasn’t good. The bite however was better. It’s really the chunk of the bar that wins you over. The raisins weren’t bad and along with the peanuts gave the whole bite a nice flavor medley. It wasn’t bad at all and it made us think of Barry as we shared our treat. He’d be excited too if we bought him a Chunky bar. He’d save it for his Saturday night boxing on television or whatever Netflix disc that came in the mail that day. He’d woof it down and probably end up with a smudge of chocolate on his face, but he’d be happy and enjoy the moment. He was big on enjoying the moment.
The last candy on the roster for today were Circus Peanuts, a favorite of my dad. I think my dad would always get a bag of these as a present for Father’s Day or his birthday, but it would give him such simple pleasure. He’d sit in his recliner watching TV with the bag by his side and munch on them throughout the night. I hated them. Not sure if it was a texture thing or just a bad flavor, but I never cared for them. They looked fun, but once you bit into them, I’d react like Tom Hanks eating caviar in Big. My brother actually likes them although I’m not sure how often he has them. In my dad’s honor, I bought a bag today and tried one for the first time since I was probably ten years old. Nope. They are semi-soft but the outside has a firmness to them that creates a weird texture thing. The flavor is like an unnaturally sweetened creamsicle that has melted down and was soaked up by a stale marshmallow. Not for me. But still a memory of my Dad. I don’t think I’ll ever see them and not think of him. That makes them pretty special.
My lesson that I learned today is how we connect with people through food and in this case candy. Food can bring memories to life and bring old friends into the forefront of our mind. That’s pretty powerful. Trying these four unlikely pairings of candy today brought back some smiling faces into my heart. Anytime we can bring back those we love as part of a celebration certainly makes it an occasion worth celebrating. Gigi, Barry, Gram and Dad are so much more to me than candy, but today gave me these small morsels of their memory upon which to feed my soul. That’s why every day is still worth celebrating.
Next Up: National Doughnut Day