Sweetest Day

October 13th, 2011

Ready to satisfy your sweet tooth? For me, the answer to that question is always a resounding “yes.” Vending machines are my friends, and confection is perfection. So this week, in honor of Sweetest Day on Saturday, I am dedicating my column to the Willy Wonkas of the world.

And how better to do this than by listing some of the sweetest things I can think of in this world.

Chocolate! This is the king of sweets. There is nothing better than savoring that perfect piece of carefully confected chocolate. In fact, did you know that the melting point of chocolate is just below the normal body temperature, so it is actually designed to melt in your mouth? What’s more, chocolate is its own food group, so combined with caramel and milk, it can act as a complete and nutritious meal (at least according to my slightly distorted food guide pyramid).

Hershey itself is headquartered in my home state of Pennsylvania, so if the decadent taste of chocolate isn’t convincing enough, then you can still appreciate the fact that it comes from the keystone state of the union. Even the flowerbeds in Hershey, Pa. are mulched with a mouth-watering, aromatic cocoa bean mulch. Yum.

And now that your taste buds are thoroughly stimulated, let’s move on to that other high – calorie craving – candy.

Everyone loves candy. It just makes us happy. In many ways, candy is a metaphor for life. Sometimes it’s sour; sometimes it’s sweet; and sometimes it gets us really sticky, but it’s totally worth it. And, much like candy, there are plenty of suckers in life, and occasionally it feels like an everlasting gobstopper. But at the end of the day, if you take it piece by piece (like Reese’s Pieces), it’s pretty good.

Lollipops. If chocolate is the king, then lollipops are the king’s juicy scepter. I learned this in grade school: “L-O-double L-I-P-O-P, you see. It’s a lick on a stick, guaranteed to make you sick, that’s lollipop for me.” Between Blow Pops and Jolly Rancher pops, I’m a happy boy. But I never did figure out how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. I guess the world may never know. Moving on.

Gummy Bears. Do I need to say more? Didn’t think so.

Reaching a bit further into the dustbin of history, I remember when NECCO wafers were on every shelf. They were like the Starburst of hard candy – so many flavors; sometimes you got one that you didn’t want, but it still tasted good; and sharing was out of the question. Unfortunately, it seems that these delectables have largely fallen to the wayside.

Eventually, maybe these and other forgotten snacks like Charleston Chew and candy cigarettes will come back to the shelves that they once occupied so we can enjoy them yet again.

Until this happens, though, I will be happy with the delicious dessert diversity that we already have.

Because perhaps the sweetest thing of all doesn’t come from a chocolate factory or a caramel kitchen. It comes from the heart (the real one, not the candy ones you get on Valentine’s Day). Perhaps Sweetest Day is just a candy maker’s ploy to boost sales between holidays, but we might as well embrace it. Use this cute little holiday as a diversion. Go out and buy some sweets; give them to someone who is your sweet.

Each of us has a candyman – that person who knows how to make you feel the sweetest. So this Oct. 15, find out who that is and make them blush.

Remember the answer to this eternal question: Who can take a sunrise, sprinkle it with dew, cover it with chocolate and a miracle or two? The candyman can. The candyman can because he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good.

Who is your candyman?