I was thinking about candy today, like I do most days. After Halloween a few people brought in their leftover candy and dumped it in a bowl behind my desk. So now at lunch I’ve been eating those one-bite Musketeers and Snickers and avoiding the Smarties. I shouldn’t be eating any candy. I’ve written at length about my wretched, soft teeth, but I don’t know. I’m not ready to live in a world without my sweets.
I used to eat so much rock candy growing up. You could only buy it on field trips, in the gift shops at historical reenactment villages. Which begs the question, why was I going to so many historical reenactment villages? I’m not sure; it was public school. They had the budget to bus us out to Sturbridge Village, a living museum reenacting life in rural New England at the end of the 18th century, but not enough resources to continue the lesson back in the classroom. I literally remember nothing educational about life in rural New England in the 1790s except that you could buy rock candy for dirt cheap which was pretty sick.
A year later, I became friends with a girl from my gymnastics class and she always hooked me up with candy. This girl was rich based on my 6th grade understanding of wealth. She had a sleeper van, meaning the seats folded down into a “bed,” and the windows had little car curtains on them. It was an RV if you squinted and I knew those house cars were only for the ruling class. It wasn’t the family’s primary mode of transportation, but at least once I rode with her and her family to pick up Pizza Hut and obviously it was royal.
Also she had gigantic bowls of Skittles, casually placed on side tables around the house. Rich, right? Those family size bags are expensive and she had multiple. Leaving that amount of candy out where kids could get into it seemed wild and reckless too. She lived in a big new development at the end of a cul-de-sac so it was easy to feel like you were living in some bizarro parent-less universe. This idea terrified and thrilled me. Once I was over there for a sleepover and the power went out and we were alone with heaps of Skittles to comfort us and I was like WHAT IS THIS HELLSCAPE UTOPIA? We made up a choreographed dance to Barbie Girl in that house.
Someone mentioned Runts at work the other day and I legitimately got excited because somehow, I forgot about Runts. Everyone always hated the banana runts but not me. Runts and the superior Nerds (and the MUCH superior but slept on, Nerds Rope) were the kind of cool girl candies sold in big movie theater boxes at Limited Too. Also Chupa Chups, designer lollipops that were like $18,000 a piece but held so much social currency you didn’t even care they tasted like giant, marble, hunks of butter plastic.
I made a bold claim recently that Caramel Apple Pops were my favorite candy of all time. I’m having a hard time committing to that statement because they’re pretty gutter, lowest-shelf, bag candy with trashy branding their parent company, Tootsie, likely wants to distance itself from. BUT I am a sucker (yes, I am!), for the combination of sour and sweet and creamy? It’s a really satisfying journey from sweet caramel shell to bitter green apple center, just like knowing me!
In middle school, my JV field hockey coach would buy the pops and hand them out if we won a game. It didn’t matter that I was the worst player on the team because if the team won, every player got one! So I attribute them to teamwork and the fall and the comforting thought that no one can take my candy away.