Friday, April 8, 2022

Insight: And away we go to Candyland

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

Did you ever hear the one about the kid in the candy store? Well, I’m certainly no longer a kid in terms of physical age (although some family members will disagree with that assessment in terms of mental maturity) but I did find myself last week in the Easter candy aisle of a big box store and my how things have changed. 

When I was small, the size of jellybeans was almost about as large as a prospector’s gold nuggets and the plastic bags they were sold in appeared to contain about 50 percent of black licorice-flavored ones. Now there are so many kinds, shapes and sizes of jellybeans that it makes it a difficult choice to select one specific kind or brand.

There are Starburst jellybeans in mini and regular sizes, Jelly Bellies in specific flavors, jellybeans the size of Chicklets chewing gum and even SourPatch Kids and Warheads jellybeans. Not to be outdone by the competition, apparently this year there are new marshmallow Peeps jellybeans, Lemonheads, Jolly Rancher, Lifesavers and Sweetarts jellybeans up for grabs.

And as an aside, can anyone answer why jellybeans are not affected by supply chain shortages and manufacturing delays like many other grocery products? This year it seems there is so much Easter candy available in a post-pandemic economy rife with inflation and rising food costs that it may leave you scratching your head.

Last year my Easter candy shopping excursion for our 2-year-old granddaughter Olivia in Connecticut was a major hit. Along with a few of the other treats that made it into the shopping cart was something called “Krabby Patties” which sent her into a sugar-rush Nirvana being an avid SpongeBob Square Pants fanatic.

I decided to see if any other Sponge Bob-related Easter candy is available this year and hit the proverbial jackpot at the store I visited.

This year Olivia and her new baby brother Leon (although at just five months old he’s much too young to appreciate Easter candy) will soon enjoy a multitude of Sponge Bob sugary delights when the package arrives in the mail.

For 2022, along with Olivia’s favorite Krabby Patties, I found her Sponge Bob peanut butter eggs, Sponge Bob milk chocolate eggs, Sponge Bob gummies and something called Sponge Bob gliders which resemble small cheeseburger sliders except made up of marshmallow and chocolate layers.

When I was a child growing up in the 1960s, it used to be such a treat to find my Easter basket included a Cadbury cream egg. Now Cadbury has been joined in the Easter candy extravaganza by Reese’s, who are offering white and dark chocolate peanut butter-filled eggs in various sizes and Snickers, Almond Joy and York Peppermint Patties who are also selling candy shaped like Easter eggs. At the store I visited, the intricate and detailed box that “Star Wars, The Mandalorian” Easter eggs comes in caught my attention and surely will be a collector’s item someday.

As a kid the best part of my Easter basket always turned out to be the solid chocolate bunny but on this shopping trip solid chocolate bunnies were impossible to locate. I did see a plentiful assortment of hollow milk chocolate bunnies including such monikers as “Bunny Big Ears,” an “EB Hopsalot” or “Binks” and even “Peter Rabbit.” I did find it curious to see a Fred Flintstone Fruity Pebbles cereal bunny and wondered if the Easter Bunny existed way back in Stone Age Bedrock.

Among the most unusual Easter candy I looked at this year were Dunkin’ coffee-flavored jellybeans; Kit Kat and Chunky’s soft caramel popcorn flavored eggs (also comes in cookie dough flavor); something called Whoppers’ Bunny Tails; Jelly Belly’s Sparkling Bunny corn (rainbow-colored easter candies shaped like Halloween candy corn); and Pancakes and Syrup Marshmallow Peeps.

For fans of the music of Prince, Brach’s is selling bags of Tiny Purple Jellybeans, and Brach’s also has bags containing nothing but red jellybeans. Butterfinger, Tootsie Roll, Skittles and Swedish Fish and Oreos also had egg-shaped products in plentiful supply in the Easter candy aisle for sale on the day I made my visit.

After some concerns about potential pollution and a nationwide shortage during the pandemic, plastic Easter basket grass is back in an assortment of colors in 2022 much to the dislike of environmentalists. They recommend using colored shredded paper as Easter basket lining instead of the plastic variety that they say ends up polluting the ocean.

I picked up and looked at a package of pink-colored paper Easter basket grass and was unaware until I read the label that it could also be used as confetti for birthday, anniversary and graduation celebrations.

Of course, there were baskets of Easter candy ready made for those who find it challenging to select individual candy items from the vast variety available. I like to pick and choose what goes in the grandkids’ Easter basket and prefer doing it that way.

My mother had a tradition every year where she would buy a Paas Easter Egg coloring kit and our family would dip hardboiled eggs in colored dyes at the kitchen the night before Easter. Ah, those were the days. <

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