hen I was younger, I believed that there were two standards for candy. First and foremost, there was candy that us kids enjoyed. These were typified by the Snickers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and other similar brands that we purchased with our meager allowance and hoped beyond hope to receive on various Halloween solicitations.
The second standard applied to candy was the one that we applied to any candy that our Grandmothers offered us. These candies were ones that were never instantly recognizable, and it was common for us to be reminded by the adults in the room that what we had in our hands was candy, and that we liked candy and why were we looking at it in such a strange manner?
We looked at it with skepticism because it was unrecognizable to us. My one grandmother had a predilection for purchasing hard candies from other countries that had words from far away lands plastered upon them, and none containing the word “chocolate”. Often these candies were made with honey, licorice, or some bizarre amalgamation of honey and licorice. Once put into the mouth it was quickly determined that the candy was meant to be sucked upon like a Lifesaver.
My other grandmother made her own candy, proudly boasting that it was “Hard Tack Candy” which made it seem all the less appealing.
And missing from all of the Grandma candy was any mention of the words “Chocolate”, “Nougat”, “Fizzy”, “Sour” or any other candy word that would throw a child into such a fit, that it would make any parent reconsider allowing their kid from even looking at sugar again, let alone consuming it.
But we ate the Grandma candy anyways, for two reasons.
1) We never, ever wanted to disappoint Grandma. Because in the battles of “kids versus parents”, a grandmother was often a worthwhile ally.
2) Because when you’re a kid, eating candy…any candy…is better than not eating any candy at all.
I bring this up today, because now that I am much older, I find myself drawn away from the Chocolate bars and Pop Rock’s of my youth, but I still have this sweet tooth that must be addressed from time to time. I now find myself purchasing sweets that I would have quickly avoided back in the day. Sweets like licorice, hard tack, and even this cactus candy that I had purchased on two separate occasions on recent trips to the American Southwest.
And I mean no offense to the fine folks who produce cactus candy, but their product is nearly the textbook definition of Grandma Candy.
Someone once said that you know when you’re an adult when you can walk into a convenience store and have the means to purchase every piece of candy upon the shelves…and you willingly choose not to. I’d like to amend that statement a bit to include that when you do make a candy choice, you’re an adult when choose licorice, breath mints and yes, even cactus candy over the plethora of chocolate bars at your disposal.