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Jason Rice

My house in Farmington, New Jersey was the "no candy" zone. Strictly health foods. My parents wouldn't even allow me to have cold cereal with sugar in it. Imagine having your friends stay over for a camp out, and trying to believe their requests the next morning for Toasted Oat Flakes. I tried, but it was too hard. My friends were polite, but I knew better. I took to sneaking candy in, stealing it, buying it with stolen money, whatever it took. I once stored a two-pound bag of Smarties on the garage roof outside my bedroom window. There was one store that had it all: Full Foods Supermarket in downtown Farmington was a twelve-lane super highway of groceries. My mother would take me there to shop with her. She never let me buy candy, but when my parents bestowed a bike on me for Christmas, just before my ninth birthday, it was all I needed to get the candy I had so wrongly been denied.

In this mortal world of tangible objects, in the place where they display things to be bought or sold you'll find some of the most irreplaceably fantastic items ever. Of course you've got to know what those items are. They come in packs of fifteen, long rolls, boxes a half-pound in size. Individually wrapped in their own twisted plastic. Sometimes there will be two or three forms of one very popular item, and one will always be fat-free. For instance, the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, although up to this point there are no "fat-free" versions of this chocolate-coated peanut butter filled oral pleasure, there someday could be. But then again, things labeled "fat-free" aren't, if you eat the entire bag.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups come in several forms. The standard two pack wrapped in a brown form fitted wrap. Easily devoured in two bites. The plastic orange wrap surrounding the tray that they sit in rips open with a heartfelt "zip", and once revealed, the peanut butter cups sit like pearls just under the surface. Another form they can come in are individual smaller versions of the larger "cup". More wrapping than candy but a delight all the same. The best way to eat this version of the "the cup" is to unwrap all thirty-five and line them up on the kitchen table, get a glass of milk and slowly eat them all. Pushing with your tongue against "the cup" to the roof of your mouth, crushing it in a wave of saliva. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups also come in Reese's Pieces, which when eaten in small doses can be delicious. They look more like M&Ms and less like their brethren. There is something unique about the chocolate and peanut butter combination. After eating an entire bag, you feel like you've just had a small meal.

Continue through the chocolate branch of the candy world, you come upon a curiously named duo of candy bars, Almond Joy and Mounds bars. Both come in regular and bite-sized sizes, and there's even been Almond Joy bits circulating on select candy shelves across the country. Almond Joy is a two-part candy bar, each section containing an almond, which is submerged into a sea of coconut, surrounded by milk chocolate. Mounds bars are simply Almond Joys without the almond. Coconut surrounded my milk chocolate, but this time the chocolate is dark. The taste difference is slight, but noticeable. Mounds bars can be devoured in quantities exceeding four, or two candy bars. Again, you can easily eat four Mounds bars and still feel a hunger pang here or there, but ultimately you're not as fulfilled as you are when you finish an Economy Sized bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, bite size or standard size. Too much dark chocolate and coconut can be gag-reflex-inducing. A great snack all the same.

Hershey's Milk Chocolate, and its overlooked stepchild, Hershey's Dark Chocolate, are to be taken in very limited doses, although their offspring, Hershey Kisses can be consumed in lots of twenty or thirty. Unwrapping a Kiss can be troublesome; the little white slip of tissue paper can sometimes end up in your mouth, wandering around your back molars. The tin foil cover should be rethought, for it tastes worse than that slip of paper. Something about the teeth crushing consistency of a Kiss gives off the sensation of an oral challenge. Your teeth sort of sink into the chocolate before the Kiss collapses under the pressure. Finally after crunching down on three or four Kiss's you get the chocolate rush. There is a larger, pound sized Hershey Kiss that is sold around holidays or at the store outside the factory in Hershey, Pennsylvania that is by far too much chocolate for one sitting. High on the list of chocolate favorites is the Heath Bar, which when properly eaten, can feel like a true delicacy. Two inch-long, inch-wide strips of chocolate, which tightly encase a tough rectangle of toffee, and comes two to a pack. Two systematically efficient ways of eating the Heath Bar: 1. Slowly suck the chocolate off the toffee, until just the toffee remains, pull it from your mouth, examine it, replace, and begin enjoying the baked toffee rectangle. 2. As soon as you've placed the section of Heath Bar in your mouth, crunch down, and spend the rest of the day slowly picking difficult pieces of toffee out of your teeth. Either way, an extremely joyous treat. Other members of the chocolate candy bar clan, the Zagnut, a chocolate coated peanut butter, bar which can't be found in many stores outside of the Halloween season; Milky Way and Snickers are what they are, stable standbys in a time of minor to insane hunger; Baby Ruth is a candy bar whose time has come and gone (too many peanuts, which outweigh the taste of the chocolate upon your over worked taste buds. Good in a pinch, but not when other options are available); Three Musketeers bar, (besides having a silly and ridiculous name, is a difficult candy bar to qualify -- in its bite-sized form, delicious and in its normal size, comfortable, but alas, leaves you longing for more). Which brings us to the tennis racket handle sized King Size Three Musketeers bar. It's by far too much nougat and whipped up chocolate to enjoy properly. You can take two bites then put it in the freezer, but who would do that? General principle keeps you away from the Three Musketeers bar. The Mars company put out a brand of candy bar, which defies description, it came and went, called simply Mars Bar. Along with Whatchamacallit, a moronically named candy, which was accompanied by a similarly hideous ad campaign. To take the final step into the chocolate bar, Butterfinger seems to be the only real last hope for chocolate and butter nougat lovers. A tough, crunchy bridled bar of goodness, endorsed by none other than Bart Simpson, Butterfinger is a treat, day or night, under all circumstances.

The cream of the crop, when it comes to candy, the most enthusiastic endorsement that can be given towards a candy is this: if you were lost at sea, and had to choose one food to have on the island, you‚d have to choose Hot Tamales and Mike and Ike's, with a stable and healthy supply of Jugy Fruits. The hot cinnamon flavor of Hot Tamales mixed with the fruity, lemon, lime and cherry flavors found in Mike and Ike's are bar none the greatest candy combination ever. Hot Tamales come in several boxed sizes, the bite sized box, containing approximately eight to 10 pieces. The standard-sized box, containing 25 to 40 pieces. Ultimately you‚ll want the half-pound sized box, with 60 to 80 pieces in it. Jugy Fruits can last up to twenty minutes, if properly paced. You have to pick most of the remains from your teeth, but it‚s worth it. Jugy Fruit provides a taste sensation, which is reminiscent of a mild tart, or slight cherry pie, and their gummy, soft complexion of each piece makes them chewy all at the same time. One trick to prolong the enjoyment is to leave them out in the air for a while, toughens them up. Jugy Fruit can be enjoyed with Hot Tamales and Mike and Ike's but only in a pinch. The best way to serve Hot Tamales and Mike and Ike's is together, mixed in a Tupperware dish, and preferably left by the television. Hot Tamales are the one candy that can outlast almost everything else in the boredom factor. You wear Hershey's Kisses out, get sick of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, (especially if the foil wrapper gets in your mouth more than once) you can‚t get sick to your stomach on Hot Tomales. And at night, in the dark, when you reach into that Tupperware you have the wondering anticipation of which ones you‚ll pull from the container for your midnight snack. Finally the ace in the hole is Cinnamon Mentos. They come in a long roll, 12 pieces, and are a pure delight to hold between cheek and gum. They can be savored, sucked on until the piping hot cinnamon flavor wears off, and you‚re left with the gummy, chewy like substance which acts like short lasting gum. Or you can tear right through them, eating two three at a time, your mouth still left with room to breathe. One thing that makes Cinnamon Mentos candy exciting and fresh is they actually make your mouth feel better. They can be pushed from either side of their soft foil packing in two sections, shooting them right into your mouth. In the long line of candies that get introduced every year, or reworked, like Starburst Fruit Chews, a disgusting display of poor packaging, you end up holding 15 small wax wrappers, and a short lived mouthful of flavor, though the lemon is particularly tasty. Even more frightening are Lemonheads, the tart explosions, lemon filled overly sweet bits of what appear to be roasted lemon rind. If you‚ve got a sweet tooth you have to stick by your favorites. Look at it this way, of all the things you put in your mouth, these are the least deadly, by far. And if you find the Olympic Size Frisbee that you keep under your bed empty of Mike and Ike's and Hot Tomales, then keep a tin of Duncan Hines chocolate frosting mix in the fridge, next to the bottled water. This helps; for with a quick dip of the finger through that stuff, you will certainly fill the void. To this day I still have the Olympic Sized Frisbee that hold‚s two boxes of Mike and Ike's and Hot Tomales, which I keep under my bed, tucked under a winter sweater, for those late night snacks, the hunger pangs, the candy dreams which haunted me. Wake up, time for some candy.


Growing up in the States, attending an art school, dabbling in photography and ending up in corporate America. After a long stretch in the publishing industry in New York City, 9-11 and an economic downturn, Jason Rice sat down to wrote his novel, entitled The Murder Rule. Currently he is working in the retail book business. He reviews books under another name for several prominent websites including Ain't It Cool News and Bookmunch.

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