October 27, 2006

The Great Candy Round Up

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Halloween is just around the corner. What does this mean for you? It means that you don’t need to buy candy for a few weeks or months (depending on how sweet your sweet tooth is). While most college students gave up on trick-or-treating six or seven years ago, some brave souls (myself included) will continue to beg for free food in the company of 10 year-olds and their parents. If this is your first time in half a decade back on “the circuit,” you may be surprised by new and updated candies. So without further ado, I present the 2006 candy round up.
Candy can basically be broken down into two categories. First, we have chocolate-based candies, like Kit-Kats, Hershey bars, Twix and Crunch; second, we have candy “for the nurses” — and by nurses, I mean the ones that work in mom’s hospital. Every year, the candy would be split into two piles and the nurses would get to keep all the Sweet Tarts, Smarties and the Mike n’ Ike’s family — which, by the way, includes Mexican cousin Hot Tamales and flamboyant Uncle Good n’ Plenty. The nurses are like the Grinch of Halloween — they’ve stolen half of my candy for the last 10 years. To be fair, nurses’ candy is second-tier and lacks milk, which makes candy healthy.
What about new candies? In the past few years, the candy market has been blown wide open, as classics take on new colors and flavors, and entirely new genres of candy are created. I have a favorite from both nurses’ and chocolate-based categories. My new nurses’ favorite is Nerds Rope and its colorful friend, Nerds Rope Tropical. Some candy pioneer had the insight to take the deliciously crunchy nerds and string them together with … what is that stuff? It doesn’t have a specific taste, but it is defiantly red. It has the consistency of wall tack, and I think it might be slightly used gum. My favorite new chocolate candy is the Take5 from Hershey’s. The aforementioned five are pretzel, peanut butter, chocolate, peanut and caramel. Peanut and Peanut Butter!? A pretzel as a base instead of wafer or nougat?! It takes balls to have the slogan “the greatest candy bar ever” — but this baby backs it up big.
Sometimes snacks get a special Halloween makeover, or only appear during the October holiday. Tootsie rolls — which shouldn’t even be sold anymore as nobody likes them, even in the middle of a lollypop — take on all colors and flavors during Halloween. They become lemon, cherry, lime and blue thick, chewy, nasty, flavored-chocolate abominations. On the other hand, Oreos become orange and even more delicious. Some candy only gets eaten because it was collected, and is given away by dentists. Milk Duds, for example, seem to be made of stale Raisenets, and have been unscientifically proven to rip teeth right from their gums.
Halloween is not all fun and games, as I unfortunately learned at the young age of 11. I was about to enjoy a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, which up to that point was one of my favorite candies. I unwrapped and enjoyed the first half immensely, as peanut butter is delicious and chocolate with peanut butter is delightful. (Pro Snacker Tip: Take your largest spoon, fill half with chunky peanut butter and half with Nuttella, the Kobe Bryant endorsed chocolate almond treat. I dare you to not drink milk after). My life was forever changed when I found a worm in the other half of my peanut butter cup. I don’t even know how a worm can get through a wrapper and into a cup, but it can and did happen. I was on hiatus from all Resse’s products until the Nascar-themed Fast Break made it onto the scene. The Fast Break is more like a Butterfinger and doesn’t evoke the memory of spitting out half a worm in the Hebrew school bathroom.
Not all Halloween snacking has to do with candy. The other 2 percent of Halloween snacking is derived from pumpkins. Carving pumpkins allows you to make a delicious treat of pumpkin seeds. During my freshman year, my hall carved pumpkins and made a snack of the seeds. All you need to do is wash them and put them in the oven. We still managed to mess this up. (Note: We were in a freshman dorm where nobody can even make microwave popcorn or Easy Mac without the fire department being alerted; those places are seriously the Bermuda triangle of cooking.) For anyone looking to make a pumpkin seed snack in time for Halloween, here is a veteran tip: Soak the seeds in salt water overnight, let them dry for one day and then bake them for an hour at 275 degrees. If you are in a freshman dorm, go and buy some pre-made at Wegmans, because your RA has enough to worry about.
A snack-themed holiday is coming up. How will you celebrate? Even if you can’t afford a costume, you can get by with such college classics as a mystery-stain-ghost-made-out-of- sheets — or — Stop shaving, live outside over the weekend, drink a few beers and trick-or-treat as a loveable homeless bum. No matter how you decide to celebrate, be safe, look out for apples with razor blades or candy with poison in it and don’t wear red or you’ll get killed (according to various legends). Also, make sure you trick-or-treat until you have twice the candy you need, because the nurses always get half.