Sunday, November 11, 2012

Halloween candy from Hershey

Everybody knows the best thing about Halloween is the candy.  Everything else is just a means to that end.  But, to be more accurate, the best thing about Halloween is getting better candy.  You know how it is... You buy the standard fare for passing out to the neighborhood kids, and you conveniently save the best stuff for last knowing full well that you're going to keep it.  Then, when your children come home from their own trick-or-treating, you quickly filter through their candy to put the standard fare into the bowl and swap out with the better stuff.  Get the uninteresting stuff out the door, get the better stuff into the house.  That's the name of the game.

And every year the various candy makers of the world try their own tricks to bring out the better treats.  But is there really anything new under the sun?  One likes to think that there's something left to still be discovered, but hasn't everything already been invented in this arena?  Hasn't every combination of chocolate and peanut butter been thoroughly explored?  Or does Willy Wonka's factory still have something new to show us?

This year we stumbled upon a few things we hadn't seen before.  They weren't necessarily "new" per se (that is, they weren't candy balloons or everlasting gobstoppers) but they were at least something.  They were attempts to set one's confection apart from the rest.  And, at least for that, a chocolate lover such as myself is very grateful.

First was the Cadbury Screme Egg.  It's basically a Cadbury Creme Egg, but with green filling.  What I admire most here is the attempt to break out of their type-cast market.  A Cadbury Creme Egg in October?  Is it... Is it left over from Easter?  What kind of upside down world is this when we're eating Cadbury Creme Eggs in autumn?  Normally I would yell at this confection to get off my lawn and get back to its own holiday season.  After all, in my day Cadbury Creme Eggs stayed in the springtime where they belonged.  But it's a brave new world, and it's apparently now one in which I genuinely risk walking in snow (uphill both ways, of course) to get a Cadbury Creme Egg.  I suppose I can accept that, because eating the ones that we've hoarded since Easter was starting to feel a little unsettling.

Second was the orange Kit Kat bars.  No, I don't mean the wrapper.  I mean the bar itself.  The chocolate was orange.  It's a simple enough trick to apply to a treat, what with artificial colors and preservatives and whatnot.  The weird part wasn't that the chocolate was orange.  The weird part was that the chocolate and the wrapper are orange.  And that should just never happen.  I can't really explain why.  So I won't.  Now, were these as good as regular Kit Kats?  I think I was distracted by the fact that the bar matched the paper, so it's tough to say.  But they do hold their own in a double-blind study, also known as a bowl of candy.  Having Kit Kats is always a good thing.  Having a mixture of regular and novelty Kit Kats adds some texture to the scene, which is nice.  By themselves they were stunningly "alright," but mixed in with the genuine article they provided a nice break from the ordinary.  And wasn't that a slogan of theirs at some point in antiquity?

Finally was the pumpkin spice Hershey Kisses.  You heard me.  Yes, it's October, which means that everything apparently needs pumpkin flavor.  While it's a bit much, I usually don't complain.  If I could eat fresh pumpkin pie all year long, I would.  Anybody who says otherwise is a communist.  But just because something is good doesn't mean that it needs to be added to everything else.  Two good things can mutually make each other... less good.  Oxygen is good, we need it to survive.  Too much will kill us.  Fire is good, it's one of the pivotal discoveries of ancient hominids.  Mix it with a lot of oxygen all willy-nilly-like and you're going to make the fire worse.  (Or, I suppose, better... depending on your predisposition to fire.)  The same can be said of chocolate and pumpkin spice.  It ends up not really tasting very pumpkin-y, since it's a chocolate candy and not a pumpkin.  And at the same time it also doesn't taste very chocolate-y, since it's polluted with an attempt to make it taste like something else.  There are many variations of the classic Hershey Kiss, and they are often quite good.  Classic, mini, peanut butter filled (my personal favorite), caramel filled, mint... to name a few.  But don't get carried away, Hershey.  The pumpkin ones are not necessary.  I hope not to see turkey flavored chocolate candies next month.  Nor will I long for pine tree flavored candies in the following month.  Stick with the candy, leave the gourds out of it.
(NB: I realize that this account referred to "October" in the present tense, and I equally realize that this is inaccurate.  Look, Halloween is at the end of October.  It's not only on the last day, but it's at night.  It's as late as it can possibly be in October while still being in October.  So one can naturally assume that any stories of Halloween will be told in November, when the rest of society is thinking ahead to the heartier foods of the next holiday.  I did intent to write this earlier, but I lapsed into a bit of a candy coma.  The doctors, by whom I mean the cashiers at the local convenience store, say that I should be fine if I slowly step down my doses.  The last thing I need is to relapse into what has become known as the great peanut butter withdrawal episode of 2011.  By the way, did I mention that Halloween candy is sold for pennies on the dollar in November, simply because the wrappers are different?)