The trick or treaters will be out in force at the end of this month, and the only defense against the invasion is to lay in a generous supply of Halloween treats.

To defend against the danger of eating the candy myself, however, I start off the month of October with a two-fold plan:
1. Wait until the day before Halloween so I have less time to be tempted by the treats.
2. Don’t buy candy that contains chocolate so I won’t hear it calling my name in the middle of the afternoon.

By the time the 31st approaches, I have an attack of remorse because I remember what it was like to be a kid and I want to be one of those houses that give out "The Good Stuff". Regardless of my earlier plans to the contrary, I end up buying chocolate and lots of it. The kids get some too…

Despite my personal addiction, chocolate isn’t the only Halloween treat. A friend of mine was talking about the candy she remembers collecting as a kid. We compared notes, and I canvassed a few more people, including family members, for their input. There are lots of favorites but turns out there’s ONE candy that almost should have been named in my blog on villains a couple weeks back!

UNIVERSALLY HATED? --- That chewy molasses candy that looked so cute in its bright Halloween paper wrapper was good for exactly that – looking. (In fact, you can look at it now in the photo, LOL) When I was a kid, my treat bag felt like a sack of gravel by the end of the night. That’s because a third of it was made up by these petrified molasses kisses. No filling, no coating – what you saw on the outside was what it looked like all the way through. The exact color of wet cardboard, the candy tasted like pureed tongue depressors with a little scorched sugar mixed in. In fact, I’m fairly sure a secret deal had been struck between candy manufacturers and the pulp and paper industry.

Why these were called “kisses” I can’t imagine. A kiss is something gentle, soft and pleasant. A molasses kiss usually had the consistency of hardened Gorilla Glue to begin with and only toughened with age. And speaking of age, I’m sure that some of the kisses I collected were old enough to be carbon-dated. If the trick or treaters didn’t take it all, I personally knew neighbors and relatives who used to keep the candy for the next year. And the next... This candy would have made an excellent emergency storage item – it lived forever and it would take an emergency to make you desperate enough to try to eat the stuff. It might be more useful as kindling in a crisis.

However hard a molasses kiss became, however, you never had to worry about breaking your teeth on it. That’s because it eventually reacted to saliva by suddenly cementing itself around your teeth like some sort of sedimentary mouthguard. You could box or play football in perfect safety, but it might be days before you could pry your jaws apart.

People talk about how things were built to last in the good old days – cars, appliances, furniture, etc. Believe me, some of those Halloween kisses outlived Buicks. In fact, there are likely thousands of the fossilized things still lurking in china cabinets, upper kitchen cupboards, dusty candy jars on mantels and boxes in the attic all over the country. Lying in wait like the Undead...

I ran across an ancient handful in my mother-in-law’s house not long ago. The sight of the happy little Halloween wrappers gave me a wonderful burst of nostalgia – then I recovered myself and shook off the spell. Acting quickly, I took the kisses outside and threw them into the burn pile.

“Hey, is that candy?” called a cousin.

“That’s what it wants you to think,” I said, watching to make sure the flames consumed every last one of the Halloween kisses. “I’m saving us.”

He shrugged. “You gals take your dieting way too seriously.”

Exactly. I’m going to go and buy some nice, safe mini chocolate bars now.

Dani Harper

Now it’s your turn. What were your favorite Halloween treats as a kid? What do you like now? What do you give out on Halloween night? Did the infamous molasses kiss play a role in your childhood trick or treating? (And is there anyone out there who actually likes them?)

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