As fall comes tumbling, in so do the holidays. October has always been my favorite month. When I lived back East I loved the sweaters, the boots and the smell of the crisp air so full of earthy scents of leaves, and smoke from no longer dormant fireplaces and possibilities. Fall always meant beginnings; most people equate that with spring. Not me. The cooler weather means school, the coming holidays and most of all the Candy Season. Candy Season is my most beloved season of all.
What, you are not aware of a Candy Season? Oh come on now, surely you jest. There is a ski season, a bathing suit season, which ironically runs contrary to Candy Season, and other seasons that run through many months. Candy Season is the same deal. October starts Candy Season and kicks-off with giant bags of candy we buy for Halloween. We try not to burrow through them in all the weeks leading up to Halloween, only to buy new bags to replace the ones we devoured.
There are various methods we all have tried to not eat the Halloween candy prior to Halloween, such as buying the kind of candy we don’t love or like, like that is a real thing. We put it in a giant Tupperware tubs in the car, in the cellar, garage, basement, attic, and under the neighbor’s back porches. Sooner or later we are in our pajamas wearing a coat or hat and always slippers, grabbing a few handfuls/bagful’s. After you run out again and the neighbors call the police about a burglar they keep seeing in the backyard you wait a little longer before buying it again. We wait only a day or two before re-upping again, starting the cycle of love/hate with candy and Candy Season.
For me it is only love, no hate. I gave up hating food years ago. Even crap food. I eat pretty clean, like 80/20 or even better as I get older. Eighty percent good stuff and twenty percent crappy. I am okay with that and so are my Pilates instructors. Halloween is the first showcase in Candy Season! I buy candy I love, leave it in the car, and the day of Halloween I take some to work for my coworkers/ME. The bags follow me all day, allowing me to eat my body’s weight of candy for only one day. From breakfast to bed, oh yes Virginia there are gummy bacon and eggs that are divine! That plus coffee equate to toxic rocket fuel: no need to drive to work, you can roadrunner right there in nothing flat.
Then we move on to Thanksgiving. What, you think no candy, only pie’s at Thanksgiving? Pshaw, as much as I love pie more than color television, there is also candy. My mother would buy Andes’ Mints and try to hide them each year so we had them for the Turkey Day. She was good at hiding them: back of cabinets in the breakfront, behind the cans of veggies in the basement pantry, no matter where she hid them I found them and ate some. Eating just enough for the package to seem light but not empty. With four sisters, and a grandmother, she had no idea who to pin it on. There is also the hard candy option at this time of year, which is pretty, but nasty to eat. Good to suck on and throw at your sister’s head, causing a knot the size of Wisconsin in her hair, but other than that inedible. There are also those candy-corn-type things in the shape of pumpkins, squash and pilgrim hats, which is just wrong. Not only is candy corn disgusting at Halloween (sorry Kaelea) but shaping it like vegetables and historic clothing makes it creepier. At least when it stays in the candy corn shape you can bite the white tips off, stick them on your teeth and make your coworker snort her coffee at an inopportune moment. Needless to say there are some very good mints and chocolate to be had at Thanksgiving.
Then we move into the winter holidays, Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza: offer a bonanza of candy options right after you wrap up Thanksgiving. We have chocolate in the shapes of everything from nativity scenes and religious texts to bells, dreidels, stars, coins, anything and everything. There are candy canes, which are useless unless you add them to a cocktail, and then they are festive. Why do we buy them every year? Nobody eats them; they go on the tree and get packed with the ornaments. I have some from 1932 that my mother passed down. They are older than me and the closest thing I have to family heirlooms.
There is a world of giving and receiving candy that erupts through this part of the Candy Season that starts with hostess gifts in Thanksgiving and rolls right through the winter holidays, kicking-ass until spring. There is candy in the office and in shops by registers as the big winter holidays roll in. It is everywhere and we wash it down with eggnog lattes! Maybe the last part is just me. There are chocolate-covered cherries: some of us hate them, and some of us love them. No matter where you come down on the chococherriefest you have to admit the jelly liquid with the cherry is very saliva like, no?
We use New Years to try to stop the onslaught of candy, but it cannot be stopped. Oh yea, and that New Year’s celebration with cocktails, which is essentially liquid candy: sugar with alcohol is more or less crack. Our New Year’s Resolution to eat healthy lasts a few days or until Valentine’s Day, the mother of all candy days and candy buying.
During Valentine’s Day, the really expensive candy comes out to play. Fancy boxes filled with truffles. Some chocolates are filled with champagne, rum, again see the above crack comment. There are gold and red foil boxes in shapes of hearts filled with promise, regret and indigestion, depending on if you eat them all or just take exploratory bites to eat only the good ones. Chocolate shaped hearts, roses and thankfully no candy corn shaped anything to do with amore.
Lastly, the end of Candy Season comes with an extravaganza of spring indulgences like Easter and Passover. Again we have chocolate shaped everything, from barnyard chicks to deities and religious symbols. We have baskets of fake grass heaped with jelly beans, chocolate, some bad candy corns stuff again and peeps. I would like to address a few things here, one of which is the flooding of the market with wondrous type of jelly beans. They are all good and we need them. I have done taste tests from classic Braches to Starburst, and each fits a blessed niche like sneakers at a footlocker: there are a dozen for everyone and you will need a dozen sneakers after Candy Season to get ready for bathing suit season.
I want to spend a moment on peeps as well. We have seen the peep-creep in other holidays and I would be remiss if I don’t address it now. Like candy corn and chocolate covered-cherries, these are outliers in candy. People either love or hate them. We have seen the peep morph into zombies and orange pumpkins at Halloween, they turn into Santa, or stars at Christmas, maybe even hearts at Valentine’s Day. I am not a fan, though I do appreciate the marketing of the peep-creep into other holidays. The only good thing I have found to do with a peep is put it in the microwave for a short time and watch the fun unfold. I discovered this almost 20 years ago while working in high-tech. We had left-over candy: the dreaded candy dregs, having saved the worst for last essentially. And of course there were a lot of stale peeps. I was bored after a battery of meetings and grabbed a yellow peep, put it on a paper plate and nuked it for 5-10 seconds in the common area. It grew three times its size like hulk peep, it was crazy and funny. Make note here that you have to catch it before it burns and stinks the office up. After the discovery of hulk peep, I then grabbed my team and showed them my new neat trick. No eating peeps, just growing them mutant-sized and killing time with burnt sugar. The rush off all that candy sooner or later turns destructive.
This is of course where we see Candy Season come to a twisted puffed-up end, not unlike me at the end of Candy Season. After these last spring candy holidays a new season starts: Fruit Season. Memorial Day kicks it off and we see watermelon as the staple of summer holidays, with berries and the like. Sure you might go camping and make a s’more but really the work to get ready, go to the woods, and sleep on the ground with bears for a graham cracker ( not even a proper cookie) and a marshmallow with a smear of chocolate is not worth it. Good lord, you have to caveman it up and make a fire to get a candy-like substance. No thank you, I will enjoy the fruit for the daiquiris and dream of fall, of October. Each good thing in its own time, and in the absence of Candy Season my heart grows fonder, my appreciation more, and my dress size less. Here’s to Candy Season y’all, enjoy!