Day 362 – National Milk Chocolate Day

The inventor of Milk Chocolate was Santa Claus. No, that’s not true, but it’s kind of how you want the tale to go. If not Santa, then Willy Wonka. Maybe even Jesus. You want the origin of milk chocolate to be mythical – a little magic, a little miracle, a little divine inspiration. As it turns out, milk chocolate was created by a guy named Daniel Peter. He was a Swiss candy maker but he did not work with Oompah-Loompahs nor did he drive a sled with flying reindeer. He was just a businessman looking for the next big thing plus he happened to be neighbors with Nestlé who had a pretty rocking creamery back in the day. In 1876, Peters came up with the first successful commercial recipe for milk chocolate using the Nestlé products and that changed everything. Prior to that, it was hard to find a recipe that was stable enough to create something tasty and marketable. Peter’s innovation changed all that and essentially changed how the world enjoys its chocolate. Today, on National Milk Chocolate Day, we leave stockings hung by the chimney with care in the hopes that Daniel Peters will come and leave us with bars of creamy, sweet milk chocolate bars. That would be joyous.

There were no stockings filled with chocolate today. I knew that my milk chocolate adventure would mean a visit to the store. Finding milk chocolate isn’t all that hard – it’s the chocolate of choice and almost all candy bars are made from milk chocolate. Hershey Bars are of course the leader in the clubhouse with their iconic bars with the chocolate covered wrappers and foil interior wrapper. The legendary Hershey logo written across the top and even engraved right into the chocolate. The way it breaks off into nice equal pieces. It’s kind of the perfect milk chocolate bar and most people see it that way. When I pictured myself buying chocolate today, that was my image. The only thing I had to decide was in what form I should buy it. The standard candy bar size? The minis? The Kisses? The 5 pound block? There is no shortage of ways to get that sweet Hershey flavor. After work I went to Clements to pick up some stuff for dinner and after picking up what I needed, I headed to the candy aisle. There I saw Hershey bars aplenty, but there was other chocolate bars too. Clements has a wide variety of gourmet chocolates so it’s always worth peeking at what they have. Most of the gourmet bars dabble in the dark chocolates and that wasn’t what I was looking for today on National Milk Chocolate Day (in truth, I never look for dark chocolate – I’m a milk chocolate fan). One bar caught my eye because it had some really bright packaging. There were a few different types of bars – Extra Dark Chocolate, Dark Pecan Coconut, Milk Caramel Sea Salt. All sounded great, but then I saw their Milk Chocolate bar. It had a screaming red label which caught my attention. I picked it up and it felt good in my hand with a nice heft to it. Then I read the label which proudly proclaimed it was 100% slave free chocolate. What now?

It was on the pricier side, as most things are at Clements, but I decided to pick up this candy bar as my celebration of National Milk Chocolate Day. When I got home, Lola was on the phone and I was unable to determine if it was the bank, a lawyer or a realtor. I tried to stay quiet in the background (which is not my forte). I unpacked my bag of groceries and got our steak marinating. I put the veggies in the fridge for our salad. Then I put the candy bar on the table. I was kind of hungry at this point and there was a giant candy bar sitting in front of me, so I decided to take a bite. I unpeeled the wrapper carefully. The outer wrapper had lots of info on it, so I put that to the side to read later. I peeled the foil slowly, like Charlie unwrapping a Wonka bar, and then I saw the beautiful brown color of chocolate inside. The company logo was etched into the bar and there were lines in the candy going in diagonal directions in which you could break off uneven pieces. It reminded me of the design on Eddie Van Halen’s guitar, but with the name Tony branded boldly over it all. The candy was called Tony’s Chocolonely. And it’s fan-friggin-tastic.

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I learned a lot by eating this chocolate. First, in regards to taste, it really was delicious. It was a taste that grew on you. When I bit in, I didn’t much care for it. It tasted like hippie chocolate – you could almost smell the pachouli oils in the air (that could have been a bias my tastebuds were holding onto). But then it got better as it started to melt in my mouth. The sweetness came through, the creaminess. It was really good chocolate. I wanted to share a piece with Lola but she was on the phone still and nobody on the phone wants to be interrupted by someone going, “try this!” I had another piece, then another. Then I started reading about it. Here’s what I learned today thanks to this chocolate bar:

  • Most of the cocoa that manufacturers get to make chocolate comes from West Africa specifically Ghana and the Ivory Coast. They farm about 60% of the world’s cocoa bean supply.
  • The farmers who harvest the cocoa use children as laborers and 90% of all West African children (about 2 million kids) who work on cocoa plantations work under illegal and dangerous conditions. That’s modern slavery.
  • Dutch investigative reporter Teun (Tony) van de Keuken did a report on the slavery on cocoa farms in Africa and it changed his life. He wanted to do something about it.
  • Tony ate a couple of chocolate bars and then turned himself in to the authorities as a chocolate criminal saying that by eating chocolate, he was complicit in slavery. While this was supposed to bring the issue out into the open, it was not allowed to be prosecuted.
  • In 2005, Tony decided to make chocolate using fair trade cocoa beans (thus being slave free). That’s where the company began and it has been growing ever since. Their mission is still to eradicate slavery in the chocolate industry.
  • The name Chocolonely comes from Tony who was feeling like he was the only guy in the chocolate industry that cared about eradicating slavery from the industry. He was Choco-lonely.
  • There is more to the candy being divided in uneven ways than just looking kind of cool. The unevenness of the bites represent the inequality in the chocolate trade. It’s also a mini-map of West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea.
  • Info here comes from Tony’s Chocolonely

And it tastes good. Later in the night, Lola had taken a piece of the chocolate and immediately said how awesome it was. She had no idea about the message and mission behind it all – it was just tasty chocolate to her. I really felt like I learned something today and I was moved by the efforts. of this company. That’s powerful chocolate. It was interesting to me too that Nestlé was at the beginning of the creation of milk chocolate and they are still here today as a perpetrator of the inequality addressed by this company. It was interesting to see Roald Dahl’s wife comment here too – a direct connection to the candyman himself, Willy Wonka. That was a lot to digest.

Today’s celebration was like watching a documentary to me. It shed light on something that I knew nothing about and suddenly I was full of knowledge. However this also came with a delightful tasting chocolate to make me smile. If we are celebrating National Milk Chocolate Day than you really have to salute the pleasure of milk chocolate. The sweet taste that lies beneath the foil of any good candy bar. The joy of chocolate at its best. Not dark and bitter – this is light, smooth and sweet. That led me to picking up the Tony Chocolonely bar just to try something different. That’s when my mind was opened up to bigger things. Learning has been one of the joys of this whole quest. I’ve discovered so many things I never knew before. Today’s message was a little heavier than usual, but you can’t just look away. There’s always something more we can do, and if that means eating really good chocolate, then I will do what I can.

Next up: National Chicken Wing Day 

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Day 361 – National Crème Brûlée Day

There are two textures when it comes to crème brûlée. The first texture is the burnt sugar that covers the top. It’s actually caramel which is made with sugar and is placed on top then torched with fire. That cooks the sugar and crystalizes. When you dig in you have to pierce through the top layer and when you bite it, you get the sharp, crystalized bites that are oh so sweet. It’s the same allure of a roasted marshmallow, but in a more candy-like form. The second texture comes from the custard that is underneath the sugar and that has the clammy texture that all custard has. Having worked in a place for a longtime that served flan, I came to realize over the years that the consistency of custard is essentially that of phlegm. Tasty phlegm, but phlegm nonetheless. It’s thicker than a liquid. It’s even thicker than Jell-O. But you can still squench it through your teeth as it bobs around your mouth. The two textures combine nicely however. The crunch of the sugar reminds you that you’re not eating a loogie. The creaminess of the custard protects your mouth from being overly sliced by shards of crystalized sugar.  The perfect balance. Plus it tastes good too. I’ve been a fan since I first tried it.

Crème brûlée comes from France and it first appeared in 1691 in a cookbook by famed chef François Massialot. It literally means “burnt cream” and you can tell where that comes from. It became extremely popular in the 1980s and was the dessert of choice at restaurants riding that wave of greed and self-indulgence. It was an opulent dessert and so all those Gordon Gekko types trying to impress each other. Then it started appearing everywhere and it eventually became too commonplace. Then it fell off dessert menus as people were demanding the next popular sweet (like flourless tortes and cake pops). But it seems to be making a slight comeback (as classic food will tend to do) and it is turning up on more and more dessert menus, this time with a little more foodie-flare. It’s actually on the menu at a few of the restaurants where I work. I haven’t really had the opportunity to enjoy our restaurants yet, so since it was National Crème Brûlée Day, I figured it was a good time to visit one.

I don’t think I have mentioned on the blog where I have been working, at least by name. It’s called the Newport Harbor Corporation. It’s a Rhode Island based restaurant company that owns and operates 14 properties. Most are restaurants although they also operate a world class inn and a wedding facility as part of the mix. They are the parent company of the Newport Restaurant Group which is made up by restaurants that are fairly well-known in the area. The Mooring, 22 Bowen’s and The Boat House to name a few. I’m a Marketing Coordinator for them which is similar to the job I used to do, although I’m a little lower in the ranks than from where I used to be. There’s an odd familiarity to it all. A Bizarro World where it’s the same, but different. The restaurants are definitely a class above what I was familiar with, but at the core, hospitality is hospitality. It’s a good company and I’m glad I was able to find a home here. Today Laura had an appointment late in the day in Providence and because we would both be in that area, we thought it might be nice to go to dinner. We needed a little respite from all the commotion in our life. One of the fringe benefits of the job is that I have an allotment I can spend at the restaurants every quarter. I haven’t used any of that yet, so tonight was a good chance to take advantage of that and go to dinner in Providence. We decided to go to Hemenway’s which is in the heart of the city right on the Providence River. And best of all, they have a Crème Brûlée for dessert.

Last year, Lola and I had gone to see the Waterfire in Providence. That’s an event that they hold every few weeks in the summer where they light little basins filled with firewood strategically placed within the river so the river is illuminated by roaring fires. It’s a unique experience and kind of magical. There are boats in the water too, gondolas mostly, slowly flowing with the tide alongside the flames. There is music playing throughout the area that adds to magic of the night as it blends with the sounds or crackling fires. The Waterfire brings in crowds of people to Providence and the areas and walkways surrounding the river are filled with people. There is food available at outside venues along the river and they even have beer and wine that you can walk around with. It’s quite the scene and really a unique experience. When we went (and we have since gone again), we spent our time strolling along and we came across a park that was illuminated with luminaries and lanterns adding more mystique to the night. We saw a couple get engaged there. At the end of the park, there was a big building that had giant glass windows and you could see that people were eating and dining inside. We saw the building but didn’t really know what it was. We weren’t sure if it was a bar, a restaurant, a coffee place or a club. It looked cool but we turned around and continued walking about the park. That building was Hemenway’s.

The restaurant has that classic city-restaurant feel – high ceilings, dark wood décor, white table linens. But there are also floor to ceiling windows which keeps the building well-lit and bright. There is a raised bar in the center of the room, a raw bar facing the street and the rest is filled with comfortable seats and tables. When we walked in we were greeted by the manager who I knew by name and through email, but this was the first time I had met him in person. He was very welcoming and took us to our seat. He even sprinkled some rose pedals on our table for a little extra touch. Clearly he knew National Crème Brûlée Day deserved extra touches of celebration. Our waiter came right over and was super friendly and helpful. He got us some drinks and then some oysters to start us off. We were following his recommendations and he was guiding us right.  The oysters were fabulous. For dinner, I went with the filet and Lola had surf and turf with crab and pork chops. Those were both top notch too. It was a fabulous dinner and just what we both needed. Then it came time for dessert. Our waiter suggested the Key Lime Pie and I scoffed. That day is in September. I proudly said I’ll have the Crème Brûlée, and to make haste with it. Lola however, always one to be tempted by a good Key Lime Pie, ordered a piece of that.

It was billed as vanilla bean Crème Brûlée with ginger madeline and candied almonds. I suppose the almonds were intended to be mixed in with the custard to add more flavors to the bites but I just popped them in in my mouth all at once. They were fantastic, covered in caramel and crunchy.  That was a good start.  The ginger madeline, which looked like biscotti but was soft in texture, I pushed to the side. Then I made that first dig into the Crème Brûlée which is as satisfying as the first scoop into a new jar of peanut butter. I tapped the crystallized sugar first and then plunged my spoon down to break through and get at the custard. It was as good as I wanted it to be, maybe even better. Delicately sweet, crunchy but creamy too. The vanilla bean flavor was prominent and you could see specs of the bean throughout the custard. This was the best I could hope for when going for Crème Brûlée. It turns out that a madeline is actually a small cake traditionally in the shape of a shell, so that explained the soft texture. I used it to scoop up some custard and that was a good combination. Your first bite would hit you with a very small hint of ginger but as you chewed, that flavor grew and it finished with a strong twinge of ginger.  It was unique and mixed well with the vanilla, and I’m not even a huge ginger fan (except for Lola). 

 

Fantastic. Simply fantastic. It was a night that we both needed and it all came together perfectly. We were both in Providence. We wanted to try one of the restaurants I am working for. We wanted Crème Brûlée. There are few better ways to celebrate this dessert. I got a good sense of the quality of the company I work for and the product.  It’s nice to be part of a place that brings so many smiles. It’s also nice to have the kind of perks that allow us to go out for meals like this. Our battle rages on and we were calling and writing and praying all day, fighting the good fight, but at  the end of the day, we needed a break. We got one. It felt a bit odd to be out celebrating in the midst of all this, but if I have learned anything about celebrating it’s that you need to do it every day.  Just a little. But every day. That’s what 361 days of doing this gives you, that and a crispy coated plate of delicious phlegm. 

Next up: National Milk Chocolate Day 

 

Day 360 – National Coffee Milkshake Day

For all those days when I have a tough time figuring out what to celebrate, there are days like today that give me two perfectly good occasions to celebrate. The day is even suited for celebrating two holidays: one in the morning, one at night. Today was National Coffee Milkshake Day but it was also National Bagelfest Day. I could do this.

On Saturday after I got out of work, I went to the store to get something for dinner (actually it was to get stuff for making fudge). In any case, when I went to the store I broke the cardinal rule of grocery shopping: I went there hungry. Very hungry actually after having been on my feet running around for the last ten hours. I had a Chipotle burrito waiting for me at home so there was a solution to my hunger, but it didn’t change the fact that I was roaming the grocery store with pangs of hunger in my gullet. That’s when I happened upon a bag of bagels from Elie’s. They are a bakery out of Brockton, MA that I was not familiar with, but their package of thick, fresh bagels looked very tempting. I saw it and in my hunger-hazed mind, I thought it would be nice to wake up on Sunday and have a bagel with my breakfast. It made perfect sense at the time. Sunday came and I did have a bagel with my eggs, but then I kind of forgot about them. They were stashed out of sight and out of mind in our bread drawer. When I saw it was National Bagelfest Day, I remembered them. In true Bagelfest fashion, I started my day with a nice toasted bagel with a smear of cream cheese.

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It wasn’t my finest work. It was just a toasted plain bagel with cream cheese. If I had my druthers, I would have added fresh tomato and red onion, maybe some fresh cracked pepper too. But I was out of tomatoes. This would do. I looked into what Bagelfest actually was and there wasn’t much guidance there. I couldn’t find any Bagelfest traditions. No Bagelfest carols. No Bagelfest Balls to take Lola too. No, it looked like it was just a day to celebrate bagels. and I have already celebrated bagels on this quest. That’s ok though. This is a food that deserves much celebration. To keep the fest in Bagelfest going, I decided to make my lunch and put my sandwich on a bagel too. At lunchtime, there I sat at my desk munching on a chicken salad sandwich nestled between the soft, doughy vessel of a plain bagel. For the record, Elie’s bagels are pretty good. They give you everything you want in a fresh bagel, although they are packaged. They have a good size too. Having grown up on Murray’s Bagels, I appreciate a packaged bagel that recreates the size and taste of a bakery fresh bagel. Elie’s does this.

There were no bagels on the menu for dinner. By that time, I had shifted out of Bagelfest mode and into National Coffee Milkshake time. Lola and I had another post-day debriefing. The fight goes on. Today we took some particularly tough punches – knocked us back a few. But like good Chumbawambans, we got back up again, brushed off the dust and got ready for more. We have come across a particular customer service agent who is assigned to us who I don’t think really understands the words customer or service. She seems to thrive off of self-righteousness and rudeness. We’re trying to get to her manager to see if we can get another person assigned to our case, but naturally no one calls us back. That’s another notch in the ridiculousness of all this. This is the bureaucracy of incompetency that we have to weave around. We’ve found a few genuine souls along the path – they’re not all bad – but the nice ones disappear. The soulless ones keep coming back. We chatted and hugged and cried until we found ways to smile, laugh  and look ahead. Then it was time to eat.

For dinner I grilled up some chicken and served it along with some mashed potatoes. It came out pretty nice and the chicken got nice and charred on the open flame. I figured that a nice coffee milkshake would go well with our feast, so I got the blender out and started piecing together my creation. I started with a cup of coffee that I had brewed earlier and set aside to cool. I didn’t have coffee ice cream so I had to create that coffee flavor. I was a little worried that the caffeine might keep us out, but it was a risk I had to take. I next added in some milk and then the Autocrat Coffee Syrup. That’s a Rhode Island thing that we use to make our coffee milk. It’s like chocolate syrup, just made with coffee. I squirted some into the blender cup and then topped it all with a generous amount of vanilla ice cream. It blended together nicely. It wasn’t too thick, but nice and drinkable.

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I wasn’t sure if I could create the coffee milkshake flavor without coffee ice cream, but I was wrong. This packed all the taste that coffee ice cream could ever want. The combo of the coffee and the coffee syrup made sure of that. It made a nice little beverage to accompany our dinner. And I liked the fact that it wasn’t too thick. It was easy to drink. I think if I was having it as a dessert that would be a different story, but as a drink with dinner, it was perfect consistency. That coffee syrup is kind of magical. I can see why Rhode Islanders worship it. It’s nice to know we have a ginormous bottle in our fridge which should tide us over until the end of the next decade.

For all those times I had to fall back to month long celebrations or holidays from out of date calendars, today was a day that was easy to celebrate not just once but twice. That’s how it goes. I really think that the gods that control the holidays like to throw me a bone every now and then. Today was Day 360 of this whole shenanigan. Wow. I don’t know what this all means. I don’t know where to go from here. I don’t understand the message the universe is trying to send me with this quest coming to a close and all that’s going on simultaneously, but I am trudging on. I can see the finish line. I am starting my final kick. I just hope I have enough gas in the tank to make it there. Right now, I’m running on fumes. And coffee syrup.

Next up: National Creme Brulee Day

Day 359 – National Hot Fudge Sundae Day

When I was planning for today, I had it in my head that it was National Ice Cream Sundae Day. But it wasn’t. It was National Hot Fudge Sundae Day. That’s not a problem. If I’m reaching for a sundae (and I do reach for sundaes), I will always reach for the Hot Fudge variety. But today I was planning to just roll with the broad category of sundaes. I’d pick whatever variety of sundae presented itself to me. Caramel, Strawberry, Snozzberry – whatever the flavor, I was game. I had sent a message to Lola earlier in the day asking if she wanted to go out for sundaes after work. I thought tonight might be the day I finally get her to go to Friendly’s. As the day marched on, things changed and going out for ice cream wasn’t going to happen. That was ok, it was going to be sundaes at home which is always more fun. I had plenty of supplies too. I had vanilla ice cream. I had strawberry topping and caramel sauce. I had oodles of chocolate sauce too and even had whipped cream. I was ready. Then, after we had settled in for the night and not in a position (or desire) to go to a store or an ice cream spot, were sundae-ready, I realized it was Hot Fudge Day and I was fresh out of hot fudge. This was a pickle. A sundae pickle.

Lola’s dislike of Friendly’s is deep rooted. To her, it is awful food in terrible settings served by overwhelmed and overworked teenagers. The place is always filled with dirty tables like a bus group had just left the restaurant all at once. It smells like a nursing home cafeteria. The food is greasy and tasteless. The ice cream is ok, but it takes twice as long to get that as it takes to get your meal. It’s just not her thing and the few times we have been there throughout our history, Friendly’s never failed to deliver on her perception. I like it however. I grew up with it being a special place to go. I like their food. It’s a bit of nostalgia for me and it tastes good to me. Yes, they have to work on service and cleaning up, but I still like them. It’s part of the classic New England childhood.  My vision for an ice cream sundae made me think of them right away. Sitting on the stools at the counter that spin. The ice cream served in giant goblets. It was the ice cream sundae of my youth. I knew convincing Lola to go on a Friendly’s trip wasn’t an easy conversion so I was really ok if we didn’t go there. I thought maybe we could hit the Newport Creamery instead, which is kind of the Friendly’s of Newport. It’s still not a favorite of hers but it was a suggestion that stood a better chance with Lola than Friendly’s. But it wasn’t to be. We had too much going on and we didn’t think that spending our time in mediocre places on spinning stools would be a good use of our time.

Today was a day that took its toll on us. We have been fighting the good fight against the Confederacy of Dunces that is our lending system. We have been fighting them on all fronts. We have been engaging lawyers, advisors, mediators, realtors, friends, family, spirit guides, conjurers, lottery agents, Beetlejuice and anyone else we can think of that could help us combat these cretins. It’s a tough fight and the fire is still in our eyes. It just wears you down. At the end of the day, we just need to take a deep breath. We are up early. We are not sleeping well. We are at it all day long, especially Lola who is on the phone and on the ground. When dinner time rolls around, it feels like someone needs to take this badge off of me because we can’t take it anymore. That’s the time when Lola and I have to find each other too. We need to recap the day’s events. We need to speak words to each other just to know someone is listening. We work out our anger, our frustrations, or sadness, our fear. We just brace each other up so we can get ready for the next day which always comes a little too fast. That’s our life these days and frankly, it’s not ideal for celebrating at ice cream parlors. But celebrating at home, that’s something we could do. And in fact, after dinner, as we slid back into the comfort of our couch, an ice cream sundae sounded pretty good. If only I had hot fudge

I almost just used chocolate sauce and not told you about it. But I couldn’t do it. A quest comes with a certain level of gallantry and pureness of heart. I couldn’t lie. I had to do what I could. Then I realized I had fudge. Cold fudge. I had a very small stash of homemade chocolate fudge. It was from a batch I had made recently (not the penuche fudge from Saturday). It had been in the fridge in a yogurt container and Lola was probably unaware it was even in there. I had heavy cream too. I could melt the fudge on the stove in the heavy cream and make my own sauce. Was this the way they made hot fudge? I don’t know, but it was my only shot. It melted pretty fast. At first I didn’t think it would work. The pieces of fudge just sat there in the cream like errant icebergs. It turned the cream slightly brown in color, but not thick and chocolatey. Then it started getting melty and I started whisking it all together. Soon it was thickened up and it had that dark fudge color that I was looking for. I scooped out some vanilla ice cream and poured the fudge on top. Then I finished it with whipped cream. I had made myself a Hot Fudge Sundae.

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I have to give Lola’s palette credit because when I gave her the sundae, she had no idea I was having an ingredient crisis. I gave her the sundae and she asked what the holiday was, I told her, then she started enjoying. She appreciated that the chocolate was warm. After a few bites, she asked me if I had made this sauce with my fudge. I told her I had. She said she knew it tasted familiar and that her mouth knew it was a taste she loved. That’s how sharp her taste buds are. She’s impressive. They were good sundaes too. Nice and simple. No nuts. No maraschino cherries. Just the ice cream and fudge. The sauce came out pretty tasty. If I were to do it again, I would let the fudge sauce cool more. That would have thickened it up a little and it would have worked better with the ice cream. As it was, the sauce was a little thin. But the taste was spot on. The deep chocolate sweetness. This was as good as a sundae could get and it was made better by being on our couch in each other’s company (and not spinning on squeaky red stools).

There’s nothing quite like the joy of a hot fudge sundae and now I know that they can get even better when you use a homemade fudge sauce. That was a new creation for me, created from one of my better recipes and turned into something more useful. It felt like we had our own Friendly’s right in our living room (without the smell and long wait). It was a nice way to end our night. Our nights are becoming somewhat precious to us. A time to really fall into each other and rejuvenate so we can be ready for the next day. There have been some sighs, some yells, some tears and always some laughs too. Our time together is getting us through the storm. The ice cream sundae helps too.

Next up: National Coffee Milkshake Day 

 

 

Day 358 – National Tequila Day

This is another one of those days like National Margarita Day that’s always a little bitter for me. Not that I have anything against tequila. In fact, I love tequila. It’s just a day that used to have a lot more significance for me and that will happen when you work for a Mexican restaurant company for more than 19 years. It’s been almost a year since we parted ways, but still there is a certain resentment in my heart for the way things went down. National Tequila Day was a day that we were working on over the years to make more of a celebration – an occasion to get more people in the door. Now it’s just a day that falls within my catalog of daily celebrations. It’s popularity has increased over the years and it was trending on social media today. It’s becoming a thing. But for me, it’s just another day and that feels a bit odd.

I know a few things about tequila. I’ve toured the tequila factories and the agave fields of both Sauza and Jose Cuervo in Tequila, Mexico. Those are part of the good memories of my past work life when I had those kind of opportunities and enjoyed them with friends. If I recall correctly, and my memories of those tours are shaky at best, tequila is made from the fermented fruit of an agave plant (which is at the bottom and resembles a pineapple). The man charged with tending to the trimming and cultivation of these plants are called Jimmadors and as part of the tour, they always let some lucky tourist trim a plant using the hand tools of his trade. The pineapples are then roasted and then pressed. The juice is that placed in barrels to age and ferment. The legend has it that the first tequila came from an agave plant that was struck by lightening which cooked the fruit which gave the natives this incredible new beverage. There are agave plants everywhere in Tequila but thanks to high demand, there are not enough so they are trying to plant more and keep up their supply. The problem is that it takes a 7 or 8 years for an agave plant to reach maturity. Tequila must be made in Tequila in Jalisco, Mexico to be considered actual tequila. If it’s made else where, it falls into the mezcal category.

I used to be surrounded by tequila. It was featured at the restaurants. We had bottles in our office. I even had samples that had found their way home. I find that once you move outside the world of Mexican restaurants, tequila doesn’t pop up in your daily life all that often. That’s a shame. At some point over this last year, I actually had to buy a bottle of tequila. That was another slight reminder of how things have changed. But upon a deeper dive into our liquor cabinet, I found a few bottles of old samples. I would use one of those to celebrate today. I had no plans to make it a huge celebration. I would just have a tequila drink after work.

Things have been hard lately for Lola and I as we are still dealing with some house issues. We are on a bit of a time crunch. When I got home, I sat down with her and we went over everything that happened today. We were working as a team today in many respects. Lola was leading the charge and had summoned up her best Erin Brokovich to dig deep into paper trails. She talked to bankers, realtors, lawyers, advocates and more today. I was working other routes as best I could from my office. There’s a fight going on over here and when we hit the end of our day, we are both pretty tired. Once we started talking, I wasn’t much in the mood for a Happy Hour cocktail. We were hungry however, so I grilled up some pork chops and we took a few minutes to relax with a nice dinner. That was nice as it brought us together and out of the pit of our dilemma, if just for a moment, but it also compounded our tiredness. After dinner, we cleaned up and went in separate directions. I had fallen behind on my blog posts which was on my mind, so I went into my office and tried to catch up. Lola started getting ready for bed but I knew she would fall back to doing some more research on the couch with an old episode of Game of Thrones playing in the background.

I had to write two days worth of blog posts and after I cranked out the first one, I went out to the kitchen for a break. Lola had gone up to bed at that point and our house was quiet. I pulled out a glass and then dove into our liquor cabinet. I found a bottle of Camarena Tequila which was a professional sample acquired at some point in my past. I vaguely remember getting this tequila. It was a company that helped sponsor an event we were participating in. They gave us the tequila, we made the margaritas. There were some leftovers from that day and one of the bottles found its way into our home. I grabbed it tonight and poured two fingers into a juice glass. Then I went back to my office.

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I’m not one who usually has a nightcap or even grabs a glass of hard liquor at the end of a day. It almost seemed foreign to me to sit in front of my computer with a bottle. But tonight, because it was National Tequila Day and because it had been a long day, it just seemed right. I can drink tequila. I don’t need it chilled. I don’t need the accoutrements like limes and salt. I like it just as it it. This is an acquired preference after years of training, but now I really enjoy it. With a  good tequila, there’s a smoothness to it so it just flows down your throat. I would say there is a smoky element to the flavor along with a slight hint of sweetness. It just goes down easy for me. If you mention tequila to most people, you usually get a quick reaction. They had a bad experience or they think it’s gross. But for me, it’s a sweet nectar and a great way to end the day.

I’m not sure when I can enjoy a day like National Tequila Day without getting that taste of bitterness in my mouth about days past. Not that my past was all bad – there are thousands of happy moments and joy as part of those collective years. But the taste of sour stays with you when you reflect on how it all went down. I like tequila and I am glad I can celebrate it. It just evoked some memories. It’s a strange time for me in regards to reflection. Within the next week I will celebrate the end of this year long journey. The end of the quest falls on the exact day of a major milestone in the issues we are dealing with, so that’s going to be a lot to process. Next week is also my birthday marking my last year in my forties and is also our ten year wedding anniversary. The week after that is the one year anniversary of losing my job. It’s all swirling together at once. I am not sure what the gods are planning and what this all means, but I am bracing myself. Winter is coming. Thank god I have tequila to make it all better.

Next up: National Hot Fudge Sundae Day

Day 357 – National Vanilla Ice Cream Day

Some days you have to go to great lengths to celebrate while others just seem to come right to your doorstep. Today was like the latter. I was ready for it. I am a huge fan of vanilla ice cream – always have been. In fact I would list Breyer’s Vanilla Bean Ice Cream in my top five ice cream flavors of all time, maybe even top three. There’s something about that particular brand, I think its the vanilla bean, but it’s rich and creamy. It’s magic in its simplicity and that’s the joy of vanilla ice cream.

My plan for the day was to go to work and then pick up some ice cream on the way home. Then I could enjoy a nice bowl of it while watching Game of Thrones. It wouldn’t matter when I got out of work because Breyer’s is available at Cumberland Farms, so it would be convenient too. I had the thought of enjoying vanilla ice cream in the back of my mind all day and it gave me extra energy to make it through work. I had something to look forward too. Then things changed. Today was our Nephew Ben’s birthday. He was turning eleven years old and the family was getting together to celebrate. I didn’t think I would be able to make it because I probably wouldn’t be out of work, but then I realized the festivities were not starting until later in the night after Ben’s basketball practice. I could make it. I got out of work at 7 pm and then headed right to Tara’s house to meet up with everyone.  When I got there, Lola was on the trampoline and had just completed a front flip.

Even though Ben is the oldest of the herd (outside of Molly), he still likes to be around all his little cousins. I think he likes how they worship him. He’s their hero. He’s faster then them all, stronger and more capable of interesting feats. He is the champion of the world around them and it makes him smile. And Ben has the best smile in all the world. It warms your heart. It was fun to be around the whole crew and watch the youngens as they ran around the house chasing Ben and having a fun summer night. Meanwhile, the adults were sitting around the outdoor table enjoying our taco feast and relaxing. When the night settled in, it was time for dessert. Ben is not a fan of cake but he is a fan of blueberry pie, and so that’s what we had for birthday dessert along with, you guessed it, vanilla ice cream. There it was. It had presented itself to me on it’s own special day.

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First let me say that the pie was fantastic. Tara had not made the pie (although Ben said that he prefers his mom’s homemade pie), but from whatever bakery she got the pie, they knew what they were doing. Tara had heated it up in the oven and it was perfect temperature. The golden brown crust nice and toasty with the puddles of blueberries oozing out the sides. That’s where the vanilla ice cream comes in. It brings the coolness of the ice cream to balance out the heat of the pie. The creaminess mixes in with the blueberries to make for the best of bites. It could be a perfect pairing. Better than peanut butter and jelly. Plus, it was Breyer’s ice cream too. The best of the best. That Ben has some pretty great birthdays.

It was just one of those days when the universe came to me and gave me this holiday. I just showed up and vanilla ice cream was there (my favorite kind too). Sure, I could have gone a little more crazy on this holiday. I could have made shakes or had a cone or anything else. But there was something especially rewarding about having it alongside Ben’s birthday pie. It was nice to see share the moment with all our family. It was nice to be part of that joy and to see the fun of playing on a hot summer night. Plus it was the perfect way to enjoy vanilla ice cream, alongside the perfect blueberry pie. That’s a win in my book and why I’ll always have a fondness for the simple things in life.

Next up: National Tequila Day 

 

Day 356 – National Penuche Fudge Day

Penuche fudge sounds intimidating but it’s really just a fancy way to describe fudge that is made with brown sugar and without chocolate. Fudge is normally made with white sugar so by making it with brown sugar (and without the chocolate), you get a flavor that recalls hints of butterscotch or maple. Because brown sugar is made from molasses, it picks up those deeper tastes. The word penuche is believed to be derived from the Spanish word “panocha” which is said to mean “raw sugar”, although when I put that word into my Google Spanish Translator, it translates to “Pussy.” I think Google is sassing me today. In regards to origins, there is no definitive story, however some folks believe the idea for penuche fudge came from former Boston Bruins player Mark Penuche in 1924, who had a known love for maple syrup. I have my doubts on that story. I think the fudge came from good ol’ Yankee ingenuity and necessity from candy makers who decided to use  brown sugar when white sugar was scarce or cost prohibitive. Regardless, Penuche Fudge has found a welcome place in fudgeries and candy stores throughout the land.

I had never had Penuche Fudge before but being someone that has some familiarity with fudge, I wasn’t that worried about having to make it. I just needed a recipe and for that, I had the internets. I really like the recipe I use for chocolate fudge and that comes from the folks at Fluff (the marshmallow spread). I think the Fluff adds a smoothness to the final product that I enjoy (and it is why people like my fudge). When I went to look for a penuche fudge recipe, I looked for one that called for Fluff and I found one from a blog called Dreaming of White Chocolate.com.  It was similar to my usual recipe in that it used butter, Fluff and vanilla. It just used brown sugar (naturally for penuche), white chocolate chips instead of the semi-sweet chips and then heavy cream instead of evaporated milk. I could work with this and luckily the only thing I had to pick up was the cream and white chocolate chips. My plan would be to pick that stuff up after work and then come home and make my fudge – an exciting Saturday night if ever there was one. I worked until about seven and then headed up the street to Shaw’s to pick up the supplies. I was going to pick up some Chipotle burritos for dinner too and that made it an easy one-two stop (Chipotles is next door to the Shaw’s lot).

I’m usually not that tired when I get out of work. I still have a lot of energy having been bustling around for the last few hours. However, when I jump in the car for the ride home and sit down for the first time in hours, it starts to catch up with me so by the time I get home, I am exhausted. That’s when the hunger catches up with me too. I had woofed down a lunch at around noon but only had a few wine crackers since that time and I was famished. When I got home, Lola was upstairs in our room – the only room with air conditioning. Our house had gotten super humid during the day and it was uncomfortably warm. The cool temp of our bedroom was too inviting so I plated our burritos, brought them upstairs and we ate our dinner in bed with the air conditioner cranked watching an old episode of Game of Thrones. Don’t judge us – it was hot, we were tired. Bed burritos are the next big thing. We enjoyed them and when we were done, we moved our plates to the side and then continued watching. That’s when we drifted off to sleep in a  burrito/tired coma. That was our Saturday night – we really have to stop living like we’re Kardashians. In any case, I woke up at about 10:00 and realized I still had to make the fudge. I went downstairs and started pulling together all the ingredients.

You make penuche fudge the same way I make my usual fudge. Melt the butter, stir in the sugar and cream and bring to a boil. The recipe said to add the Fluff at the end but in my usual recipe, it gets added in the beginning, so I decided to stick with what I know and added the Fluff in with the sugar and cream. I also added a pinch of salt. You bring that all to a boil and let it stay at a rolling boil for five minutes, stirring constantly. That’s not that hard of a task outside of the flecks of hot sugar that would pop out of the pot and hit me in the arm giving creating small burn. However, when you are cooking at night and are tired, that five minutes feels like forever. I stuck with it though and when the five minutes was up, I pulled it from the heat, added the vanilla and white chocolate chips and stirred until it was smooth. When it was smooth enough, I poured it out into a pan where it would need to set for a few hours.

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Fudge has to set because that’s how it takes shape and when it is in a warm, still moldable stage, it doesn’t taste the same as a fully cooled fudge. The flavors are still getting acquainted. However, because I wanted to try some on National Penuche Fudge Day, I took a spoon to the pan and essentially licked the bowl. It was warm, so it definitely had a different taste than the finished product would, but I could tell this was a damn good fudge. It was nice and creamy and all the ingredients had melded together perfectly. You really got that maple/butterscotch flavor from the brown sugar. It was super sweet as fudge should be, but this one felt more sweet that the chocolate fudge (perhaps because that is made with semi-sweet chocolate which adds some bitterness to the taste profile). I really liked it. It was a new flavor discovery and that’s always exciting.

Today was a reminder to me of what this quest has brought in terms of challenges. Penuche Fudge was not something I was familiar with but after a full year of doing this (and after years of making fudge), I didn’t worry about how to celebrate it. I could have bought some fudge – I think Clements sells Penuche Fudge – but making it was more of a celebration. It pushed my candy making abilities in a new direction, so I was up for the challenge. Today was also a lesson in reading the forces that work against you. In the morning, it was a simple plan. By the time night rolled in, I was asleep and had to actually wake up just to make the fudge in order to celebrate it time. Everything is in constant change on this quest and the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Today was not only a celebration of this fudge, it was also a tip of the cap to the challenges the quest has put me through. That’s why I know the next week won’t be a cake walk, but I just have to stay the course and jump the hurdles of challenges as they present themselves. The end will be filled with sweet rewards.

Next up: National Vanilla Ice Cream Day 

Day 355 – National Junk Food Day

Junk food Day? That’s just what I needed. I’m no stranger to junk food and one could argue that half the things I have celebrated over the last year have been junk food. But this day came at a particularly bad time. My stomach has been a bit off. I think I am still recovering from my Hot Wieners or maybe it’s the humid weather. I just have not been feeling well after some of my recent commemorations. But this is what I vowed to finish – my noble quest. I can’t turn back now.

Naturally, junk food is an American creation. It’s not just something we created but it is also something we lead the market in and probably always will. #MAGA  The term ‘Junk Food’ was first used in the 1950’s  when a Lima, Ohio newspaper printed the headline, “Candy, Cake, ‘Junk Foods’ Cause Serious Malnutrition”. It was a reprint of a 1948 article from the Ogden, Utah paper which was originally headlined, “Dr. Brady’s Health Column: More Junk Than Food”. In the article, the mysterious Dr. Brady identified junk food as anything made principally of (1) white flour and or (2) refined white sugar or syrup. The word grew to more common use in 1972 when nutritionist Michael Jacobson who was working for The Center for Science in the Public Interest used the term in some of his teachings and books. Now it’s a pretty common word and while we all may not know the exact definition, we all know that it’s not a term of endearment. It means you are eating food that you know is not good for you. But it’s usually delicious.

The first Junk Food is usually acknowledged as Cracker Jacks. That was invented in 1896 and they would soon package it and have it available for national distribution. Then they added in a toy surprise so if the sugar in the treat wasn’t enough of an allure, the toy would get you. That’s where most people say the junk food craze started – readily available prepared food that you can eat right away. You can trace the whole history of other junk food icons from there. Tootsie Rolls (the first penny candy), Twinkies, Pork Rinds, Potato Chips. You know ’em. you love ’em. The next biggest development in the world of junk food came in 1976 when 7-11 convenience stores started popping up. No longer was our shopping confined to the giant grocers, now we had stores in convenient locations open longer hours selling us everything we needed and didn’t need. It made getting your hands on junk food that much easier. It also introduced us to new junk foods too (I’m looking at you Slurpees). Now convenience stores are everywhere and every gas station seems to be attached to a store that specializes in food of junk. I am happy to say I have been a substantial contributor to that business model over the years, although maybe I shouldn’t be so happy about that fact.

Today I started my day in full celebration mode and on my way to work, I stopped at my convenience store of choice, Cumberland Farms, and made a junk food breakfast purchase. I don’t usually get breakfast in any form on my way to work, but today was a special day so I made the stop. When I was commuting to New Hampshire, eating convenience store food was a bit more of a norm for me. I would stop to eat something just to tie me over the long road. That led to some bad choices and bad living. It was odd stopping today. It took me back to the sense memories of that commute. The food in the car. The empty wrappers on the floor. The regret. Cumberland Farms is a pretty busy place in the morning. There are people picking up their coffee, their smokes, their breakfast and all the rest they need for the day ahead. In my opinion, there are far too many loud people in Cumberland Farms at 8 am, but then again I am one who likes to keep kind of quiet in the morning hours. When you bump into someone who cannot control the volume of their voice at that hour, it gets under your skin and you start feeling stabby. Simmer down fellas – he’s about three feet away from you – he can hear you. I digress. I made my way through the shelves and made a threefold decision. I went with my old pal Little Debbie for a true breakfast food – Donut Sticks. I stuck with Deb for some chocolaty treats and her Nutty Buddy bars. Then I decided to pick up some Buffalo Blue Cheese Combos because no finer junk food has ever been created than the filled pretzel Combo.

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These tasted exactly like junk food should taste – delicious and full of shame. Honestly, that’s how you feel after finishing this kind of stuff. I ate the Donut Sticks first and they were good in that packaged glazed donut kind of way. Packaged food is never as tasty as a fresh version – there’s something to the preservatives that you don’t get with a fresh made donut – but it was still good. The glaze got all over my fingers and I tried to wipe down my hands while driving through morning traffic. Usually on my way to work I get stopped in traffic right as I hit Providence and when that happened today, I decided to bust open the Combos. These were good too – it’s actually a nice flavor combination with the spicy Buffalo sauce and the taste of cheese mixed throughout. I finished that up just as I got to the office and now I was feeling like I had super foul morning breath. No worries – we have a bowl of Jolly Ranchers at the front. If I popped one of those in my mouth, that would balance out the Combo smell. I saved the Nutty Buddies for my midmorning snack. That’s always one of my favorites – the crispy wafer cookie, the peanut butter and chocolate combination. It was messy though and by the time I was done, it was all on my fingers. I had to go clean myself up afterwards lest I would have a keyboard strewn with melted chocolate.

I had plans to keep my junk food binge going and I actually found a list of the top ten junk foods which I was going to work my way through (Twinkies are number one). However, my belly was off after my morning snacks, so I didn’t have much interest in going all out on junk food. It was super hot today and as a result, at about 2:30, the power went out in our office. National Grid estimated it would come back at about 4 pm and that didn’t make much sense to wait around, so they sent us home. I got home about 3:30 and got to spend some time with Lola. It was nearing the end of a very long week for us. Lola had been on the phone with banks, realtors, loan officers, and more. Our family room is a sea of folders and notes with documents and official looking papers. Of all the weeks, this one was one of particular stress. We needed to escape and to do that, we decided to go out and see a 7:30 movie. The Big Sick was playing in Swansea which was the first movie that has come around in a while that we both wanted to see. It would be a chance to get lost in another world, hopefully get some laughs and just relax in the air-conditioned dark. Off we went and because we got there super early, we stopped at a Thai place near the theater for a quick dinner. We ended up splitting some Pad Thai which was good. When it was time to go to the movie, we had the leftovers packed up and Lola brought them with her into the movie (with some chopsticks).

The joy that Lola gets from bringing outside food into a theater is one of the funny things about her. It’s her inner-rebel. I have been with her when she brings in (on separate occasions of course) McDonald’s, Chipotle burritos and even sushi. I get too nervous (plus I don’t have a purse to sneak food in). But Lola loves this and today was a new milestone – Thai food with chopsticks. The container was perfect too – a pint container that fit nicely into her hands. I decided to keep up my junk food pursuits and I would finish my day with mini Kit Kats and a Snickers Ice Cream Bar. That’s how I roll in a dark theater.

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These were good too. The unwrapped mini Kit Kats are a good idea, although you can’t break off a piece. But they pop right in your mouth and you get all that Kit Kat flavor – maybe with even more chocolate. The Snickers Ice Cream is always a treat too. You have to eat it fairly fast when you are at the theater, but it’s a good combo with the a thick layer of caramel that was the star. We ate our junk food and enjoyed a night at the cinema. It was a good movie. On a scale of 1 to 10 it would get about an 8 from me. There were just a few things about it that made it a bit longer than it needed to be. But it’s a great story and an even better cast. I would definitely recommend to anyone. Plus it got us out of our world for a good two hours.

In true celebration of the joy of Junk Food Day, I went to bed with a belly that was full and a deep feeling of regret from what I ate. The things I do in the name of this quest. In my celebration today, I think I honed in on what makes junk food special. It’s quick and easy and it brings instant satisfaction. It may come with shame and regrets, but in that moment when you are hungry and just want something tasty, it’s always there for you. Maybe that’s the problem. With anything, moderation is the key. That is the lesson to learn on Junk Food Day. The other lesson is that it’s ok to let junk food take you away. We all need a break every now and then. And sometimes, on that break, we just need a Twinkie.

Next up: National Penuche Fudge Day 

Day 354 – National Lollipop Day

I felt that an appropriate way to celebrate National Lollipop Day would be to join the Lollipop Guild. I wasn’t exactly sure what that entailed but it sounded like a secret brotherhood dedicated to all things Lollipops. I’m not sure what it took to be a member (there may be a height requirement or I may have to audition with a little song and dance), but I figured the very least I could do was investigate. It turns out, there is no Lollipop Guild. If you are a fan of all things OZ, the creator of the land of Oz, L. Frank Baum, never envisioned such a guild. In fact, the Lollipop Guild that we see in the movie was a cheap ploy by the moguls at MGM Studios – an easy way to exploit technicolor, Hollywood productions, little people and our own sense of good taste. I’m sorry to report that the Lollipop Guild and all it stands for is a sham.

A guild is an association of craftsmen or merchants which would mean the Lollipop Guild would be an association of all the Lollipop makers. A union of sucker makers. I had to wonder what kind of land the Munchkins lived in that their candy makers were so powerful that their group would be allowed to attend such highfalutin affairs as a visit from Heads of State (Dorothy being the representative of Kansas). A society that held their candy makers in such high regard can’t be so bad. I guess the power of a Lollipop Guild never took off on this side of the rainbow.

If you consider a lollipop a candy on the end of a stick then you can trace its origins back to caveman times when they would very likely grab honey on the end of a twig and enjoy the sweet taste on the go. A modern version of the lollipop came around in the 17th Century in England when sugar became more plentiful. The merchants would boil sugar, flavor it and insert sticks into them to make them easier to eat. The word lollipop comes from this part of Northern England as well where “Lolly” meant tongue and “Pop” means slap, so the colorful street vendors would try to sell their Tongue Slaps to anyone with a sweet tooth. The current modern version of the lollipop came around the turn of the 20th century with the innovation of automation. There are a few different origin tales about the lollipop, but I’m going to be a bit of a homer and say it was invented in 1908 in New Haven, CT at the Bradley Smith Candy Company who began using a machine to add sticks into candy. The convenience and the novelty of it all took off. In 1931, they trademarked the term ‘lollipop,” and thus, much to the delight of all the Munchkins, the world was officially a land of lollipops.

A lollipop is an odd food for a 48 year old dude to celebrate without being creepy. I thought about making my own but that got a little too crafty for me. I decided that I should just buy some Lollipops, but where and what kind? There are all kind of versions. There’s the Dum Dum pop – the tiniest of all the lollipops. There are the lollipops with a surprise filling like Blow Pops or Tootsie Pops. There are Charms pops. I remembered the lollipops that used to be at toy stores where there was a smily face on the pop and they were sold in long strips connected by their wrapper. Those were the kind you always wanted as a kid but your mom, rightfully so, would never buy them. I decided that this purchase today would require going to a special candy store, so on my way home from work, I stopped in Warren, RI at a spot called Imagine Gift Store. Imagine bills itself as the largest gift store in New England and I’m not going to argue with them. It’s almost three floors of gifts, novelties, kitchenware, jewelry, gourmet items and more. We went there one day on a pilgrimage – when the largest gift store in New England is right down the street, you have to check it out. It’s a fun place with a ton of great things you won’t find many other places. It’s worth the time just to walk the store. I remembered that they had a penny candy section and I figured this would be the best spot to find an array of lollipops, and it was.

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The candy is right in the front section of the store. I got there at about 5:15 and I knew they were closing at 5:30, so I had to be quick. I walked the whole section and picked up every kind of lollipop I could find. The Dum Dum, the Tootsie Pop, the Charms Pop – they had them all. But then I found the pièce de ré·sis·tance: the giant rainbow lollipop. The one that was as big as my head. The one that the Lollipop Guild held onto while they welcomed Dorothy to Munchkinland. This would suffice. I propably bought about 8 different lollipops and it cost me about $10. That was way over my lollipop budget for the month, but this is how this quest goes. When I got home, I only had eyes for the big lollipop, so I asked Lola if she wanted to join me on the deck for Happy Hour. She poured herself a glass of wine. I grabbed a Zima and the giant rainbow lollipop (no greater sentence has ever been written).

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I grabbed the Zima because I wanted something to drink and we were out of the beer that I like. However, a giant lollipop and a Zima is a terrible combination. Way too sweet. I didn’t finish the drink, but I worked hard on the lollipop. I had never had this kind of lollipop before. In regard to taste, it was pretty flavorful. It was super sweet. I was surprised to discover that the color of the rainbow does not go all the way through. It’s just on top – a dye. When you lick it off, you are left with a bright white candy center. I tried to lick it as best I could, but I’ve never been one who could lick a while lollipop down to the center. I’m too impatient although I am jealous of people who have that talent and will power. For me, I just start to bite down and that’s what I did here causing splinters of lollipop to break off in my mouth covering my tongue in shards of rainbow. I was impressed with the stick because it was definitely sturdy enough to hold onto this behemoth of a candy. It was essentially a wooden dowel, but it needed that kind of heft to balance out the weight of the actual candy. I probably made it through 75% of the whole thing, but that was enough. I had enough sweetness. My teeth felt like they were dissolving in sugar. My tongue was covered in redness. I had pushed myself to my lollipop limit.

On behalf of the Lollipop Guild of Greater Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations, I declare that this day was celebrated. There’s only so much you can do with a lollipop, so I took the biggest one I could find and I battled it down to the stick. I did it. I felt like crap afterwards. I’m sure I lost some man-points from Lola who saw me sitting there holding a giant lollipop. I’m sure I am on the closed-circuit security footage at Imagine as a person to watch as any 48 year old man buying lollipops should be watched. But I did it. I celebrated the lollipop. My tongue was slapped with the joy of candy on a stick. It wasn’t my favorite day as part of this quest, but it had a sweet finish and I can say that I celebrated in style. That’s a win in my book and a win for all the Munchkins and their dependents.

Next up: National Junk Food Day 

 

Day 351 and Day 352 – Oops

EDITOR’S NOTE

If you have been keeping score, I goofed up on my tally. More on this in my next post. but if you were following along by the date, please note that my count was off by two. I had doubled up on two previous days. I’m adding this note for posterity and to catch up, but know that even though the dates were wrong, I have celebrated for 352 straight days up to this point. I just can’t keep score.