Friday, December 4, 2020

Insight: Confessions of a Christmas candyholic

By Ed Pierce

Managing Editor

When it comes to the sugar-filled holiday season, I confess I’m probably the poster child for dentistry.

Be it Christmas ribbon candy, milk chocolate Santas, peppermint cream patties, pecan divinity or old-fashioned gumdrop nougats, I find the holidays to be one huge rush of pure sugar adrenaline. Whether it be Hershey’s Kisses adorned in green and red foil, Christmas M&Ms, candy canes, an enormous Nestle’s Crunch bar, LifeSavers Christmas Story Books, or even those enticing chocolate oranges, I’m down with it all.

This magical time of the year brings a wide array of caramel treats, gummies molded into the shapes of snowmen and reindeer, and a rainbow of hard candy, gumball, jelly bean and salt water taffy  Christmas mixes sure to please anyone secretly tempted by sugar. Christmastime also marks the return of extra-large Snickers and gigantic Hershey bars primed to be stuffed into stockings on Christmas Eve. It’s all good.

And thanks to my late mother’s sweet tooth addiction and holiday sugar indoctrination, I even welcome those annual last-minute gift contributions of a box of chocolate-covered cherries or as she would call them “Walgreen’s Specials,” Whitman’s Sampler boxes of assorted chocolates purchased on the way to her home for a Christmas Day visit.

I once asked my mother why she loved candy so much and she told me it was because one of her first jobs after graduating from high school was working at a Fanny Farmers candy store where her taste buds were  bombarded daily by multiple kinds of fudge, toffees, marshmallows, truffles, walnut clusters, dark chocolate and molasses cordials, and raspberry and coconut parfait delights.  

I never turned my nose up when I received a Santa Claus or Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer Pez dispenser or a huge half-pound Sugar Daddy in my stocking on Christmas morning. Those special treats and the oversized Peppermint Patty along with the holiday Andes Mints were usually gone by the time the Christmas turkey was cooked and served.

No matter if it’s Ghiradelli Peppermint Bark, Swiss chocolate gold coins, Christmas-glittered nonpareils, peanut brittle, Peeps gingerbread men, Brach’s fruitcake nougats, Jordan Almonds or holiday fruit-flavored Tootsie Roll chews, count me in. And although I’m not a big fan of sour flavors, I make an exception and gratefully accept Jolly Ranchers, Smarties, Sweet Tarts, Red Licorice, Mentos and Sour Patch Kids just because it’s Christmas.

Even though I’m well past middle age, a smile comes to my face when I go through my Christmas stocking and discover a Lindt Milk Chocolate Bear wrapped in shiny gold foil, brightly colored holiday lollipops or a Raffaello coconut bar. Be it white chocolate shaped like Santa’s elves, Christmas-tinted spice drops, a bag of Celtic sea salt caramels, or my all-time favorite Mallo Cups, I refuse nothing if it contains sugar. 

There’s usually a regional twist for me regarding Christmas candy, depending on where I’m living when Christmas arrives. When I was in the Air Force stationed in Germany, I loved German holiday marzipan teddy bears. In Florida, I made a special trip each year to a store that sold creamsicle fudge. In New Mexico, each Christmas I had to have pinon candy, a brown sugar center surrounded by caramel and then rolled in crunchy pinon nuts. 

For much of the past 25 years or so, I’ve observed some trendy novelty Christmas treats creeping into stores, such as bags of black jelly beans that are labeled as “Santa’s Coal” or whimsical Green Pickle or Yellow Macaroni and Cheese flavored candy canes. There’s even a “Sooper Dooper Reindeer Pooper” that dispenses root beer candy pebbles when its antlers are squeezed.

Every holiday season I look forward to any holiday packages arriving in the mail from our friends Phil and Christina Buck in Cleveland, Ohio. They know how much my wife Nancy and I enjoy treats from Malley’s Chocolates, a premier local candy store there. One Christmas they sent us a holiday Malley’s “survival” box filled with peanut butter Christmas trees, wrapped Malley Oh’s (chocolate-covered cookies), a bag of fruit-filled Gummi Bears, two chocolate-covered pretzel twists and milk-chocolate covered Pretzel Crunch and regular Crunch bars.

And sadly, when the Christmas holidays wrap-up for yet another year, it’s safe to say I turn my sights to the arrival of Valentine’s Day candy in stores and then patiently await the candy extravaganza that the Easter Bunny brings in the spring. But for now, I’m geared up and ready for the onslaught of my holiday Sugar Fest and subsequent dismay stepping on the scales thereafter. <

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