Points of Ponderation…..Episode 8.17

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..






I was never an avid viewer of Tim Allen’s popular TV series Home Improvement, which aired on ABC back in the 90’s. If my memory is correct I believe Frasier (which I adored) was on at the same time, and neither DVR nor streaming video were a thing yet. Anyway, I’ve enjoyed Allen’s movies a little more, especially the Toy Story and Santa Clause films. When his second television show, Last Man Standing, debuted in 2011 I didn’t pay much attention, but it has slowly grown on me over the course of time. As a diehard conservative I am aware of and sensitive to liberal bias in media & entertainment, which exists whether one chooses to acknowledge it or not. Having said that, I do believe that multiple factors led to the recent cancellation of Last Man Standing. I’m a big sports fan and compare Last Man Standing to an offensive lineman that gets drafted in the 2nd or 3rd round, plays a decade in the NFL, doesn’t make any All-Star teams or get to a Super Bowl, but always holds onto his starting job and plays the position at a high level before quietly being cut by a team facing salary cap issues. Shows like The Big Bang Theory (love it) or The Walking Dead (never watch it) are like the star quarterback who gets all the glory & good PR. They create revenue for ownership and therefore enjoy a long lifespan. Conversely, shows like Last Man Standing are good but not great, so when it begins to get a bit too expensive its spot is given to a younger, cheaper alternative that might perform just as well. Do I believe that politics played a part in the show’s demise?? I can’t help but think that it was a contributing factor. Maybe if pop culture & the Hollywood left weren’t riding an anti-Trump wave Last Man Standing would have survived another season or two. At the very least it could have been moved to a different night. The fact that it was stuck in the traditional sitcom graveyard of Friday night indicates that it was never one of ABC’s top priorities. However, in a larger sense I think Last Man Standing is just one of hundreds of shows in the history of television that were slightly above average…good, but not good enough…and ended their run after 3-7 years. It is what it is, and it’s really not worth getting too worked up about.






Sometimes I just look around my kitchen at the embarrassment of riches in my stocked pantry, full refrigerator, & packed freezer and it hits me how blessed I am in so many ways.





Speaking of ABC…

I have mixed feelings about the announced revival of American Idol. I ignored the show during its first season on Fox in 2002, until the finale in which Kelly Clarkson beat out Justin Guarini to claim the original crown. After that I was hooked for awhile, but for a number of reasons began to disengage and hardly watched at all during its final few seasons. Now, just a year after leaving, American Idol is coming back. I always suspected that it would return since it is precisely the kind of television show that can easily go away then be resuscitated. However, my gut tells me that it’s too soon, that we haven’t had time to really miss it yet or view it thru the prism of nostalgia, an angle that has led to second lives for many movies & TV shows in the past decade or two. There’s a fine line between tweaking a successful formula and tinkering unnecessarily, a difference that can be blurred more easily with the passage of time. It is rumored that Clarkson will be one of the judges, which is poetic. There are a plethora of semi-successful singers whose main claim to fame traces back to being an Idol contestant that could serve as judges and satisfy wistful cravings for those halcyon days. Another name that has officially signed on is Katy Perry, which, in my humble opinion, is a terrible choice. Idol always teetered on the edge of cool factor vs. credibility as far as judges go, with some working out better than others. If it were me I’d skew toward gravitas, which would necessitate not catering to millennials whose musical palates are decidedly unsophisticated. One constant will be host Ryan Seacrest, who may be a tool but is undoubtedly perfect for this particular gig. As much as I hate to say it, he really is like a modern day Dick Clark, with maybe a little Regis Philbin thrown into the mix.






Though I don’t actively engage in sociopolitical debates on social media anymore I still…lurk. Or observe. Or maybe you prefer the term troll. At any rate, I have been pleasantly surprised at my level of self-control when coming across utter stupidity & ridiculousness, which is basically almost every day. For example, a friend of mine recently posted a query asking why anyone is still out there defending “Four Five”, which is his lame nickname for Donald Trump (if I have to explain the moniker then just please leave immediately). His gaggle of sycophants responded heartily and with their usual level of hypocrisy. I could have easily written a cogent, logical, & concise response, but it would have ended up with me being attacked by people who don’t even know me, ridiculing my physical appearance and any other criteria they could glean from my Facebook page. Been there done that…these are not nice people, and obviously they aren’t capable of critical thought or intelligent debate. What I found really interesting in this particular thread was a comment from a person complaining about how others are always calling them names like “snowflake” or “libtard”, yet in the same thread those with whom these folks disagree (like me) are referred to as mean, hateful, & mentally ill. One egregiously despicable woman referred to a 90 year old relative of hers as “spiteful, racist, horribly rude, & obnoxious”. This elderly lady allegedly “always has something ugly to say about everyone” and is “a misery to be around”. The poster “literally wants to cut my own throat to end the pain of being near her” (her, you’ll remember, being a 90 year old woman). And yet these are the folks who are offended by being called a snowflake. I wish I could say something witty and caustic, but I am honestly at a loss for words and filled with sadness for humanity.

Winning & Musing…Volume 4.17

I am well aware that some citizens of The Manoverse are not sports fans and skip right past posts like these. That’s okay, I understand, and stay tuned for other non-sports goodness coming your way. I also know that I just published the previous edition of W&M less than a week ago. But I’ve got more to say and I just can’t hold it in, so climb on, strap in, & ride the wave!!





In offering thoughts about the NFL Draft I neglected to address one significant topic of conversation…running back Joe Mixon. The Cincinnati Bengals chose Mixon in the second round, and the looks of disdain on the faces of the talking heads could not go unnoticed. In 2014…his freshman year at Oklahoma…Mixon pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault for punching a woman in a restaurant during the summer before the school year began. The details of the incident aren’t important and I am NOT here to defend Mixon. His actions were appalling…few would dispute that fact. Having said that, I have two issues with how the situation has been handled & reported. First of all, I fervently disagree with anyone who equates Mixon’s circumstances with those of former Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice, who you’ll recall was suspended from the NFL in 2014 after punching his fiancée (now wife) in an Atlantic City elevator. Rice hasn’t played a down of football since and probably never will again. The huge difference to me is that Rice was a 27 year old professional who should’ve known better. I have no problem with the fact that he hasn’t gotten another opportunity to play in the NFL. It’s a privilege to do so, not a right. Conversely, Mixon was a barely 18 year old college freshman. He was suspended for a year from the Oklahoma football program and caused no further issues after his return. Yet there were reportedly NFL teams that didn’t have him on their draft boards at all, and after he was drafted guys like ESPN’s Adam Schefter (who I usually like a lot) looked like they might actually cry, vomit, or do both simultaneously. Where’s the mercy?? Holy cow…if we were all held perpetually accountable for the idiotic things we did in high school and/or college I know a plethora of successful people who never would have gotten a job interview. Granted, punching a woman in the face is much more serious than the stupidity that my friends & I engaged in during our youth, but the point still stands. Joe Mixon did something truly awful as an 18 year old kid. He shouldn’t have to pay for it for the rest of his life. Admittedly it was a bit tone deaf for the Bengals, who’ve had more than their fair share of lawbreaking miscreants don the orange & black in the past decade or two, to choose Mixon, but that’s on them. I assume the young man will be under a zero tolerance policy, and rightfully so. If he even so much as looks angrily at someone he should be waived and forced to get a 9 to 5 job like the rest of us working stiffs, but if he stays on the straight & narrow I think allowing him to pursue a professional football career is proper. The other issue I have with this whole thing is the relatively new idea that professional athletes need to be model citizens. I have opined multiple times over the years that just because an individual can run fast or has superior athletic skill doesn’t mean they are a good person, and it didn’t used to be a requirement. The history of sports is chockful of drunks, junkies, bullies, & criminals of all kinds, from baseball’s Babe Ruth & Ty Cobb to football’s Joe Namath & Lawrence Taylor to basketball’s Dennis Rodman & Allen Iverson and many many other examples from every level of athletics. Some people ultimately ruined their careers while others were just branded as “colorful”, but because they were supremely talented all were given an opportunity…oftentimes numerous opportunities…and no one seemed to mind. However, in the ultra-PC 21st century there are those eager to toss aside someone who made one big mistake when he was barely 18 years old?? Again I ask…where is the mercy??



Add NFL Hall-of-Famer and favorite Steeler Jerome Bettis to the list of those dismissed in the much discussed ESPN bloodbath. I’m a huge fan of The Bus, but I’m not shedding too many tears for him because I happen to know that he’s involved in various business pursuits and will land on his feet just fine. To be honest he didn’t add all that much to the already copious amount of NFL coverage on The Mothership and likely won’t be missed.



I wonder if journalist Brian Windhorst gets down on his knees every night and thanks the Good Lord above for Lebron James?? Windhorst has parlayed a local career in his hometown of Akron, OH during which he covered Lebron’s high school games into a gig with the Akron Beacon-Journal, then the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, & now ESPN. He has basically been Lebron’s personal reporter for almost two decades, and now he has written a book that I just finished reading called Return of the King, about Lebron’s homecoming to Cleveland a few years ago and the Cavaliers’ failure then success in pursuit of an NBA title. The book is pretty good if you’re into those kind of books, which I am. Good job Windy!!




Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who gutted out a seven game series victory over the Washington Capitals to move on in the NHL playoffs. The Pens will have to take down the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Finals to earn a shot at defending their Stanley Cup championship.




Some ideas to “fix” the NBA:

*Expansion. It is necessary for my math to work. There are currently 30 teams in the league, but we need 32. Maybe you give Seattle a team back. Ditto for Vancouver. How about Vegas?? The NFL’s Raiders are moving there and the NHL is expanding there as well, so why not?? I’m a little partial to the idea of awarding a team to Pittsburgh. I don’t know…discuss amongst yourselves. All I know is that we need two additional teams.

*32 teams would allow us to reduce each team’s schedule from 82 games to 77. Not much of a decrease, but every little bit helps, right?? I’m tired of all the whining about resting players & such. The league would be split into an Eastern & Western Conference. Divide each conference into North & South divisions if you want…it doesn’t really matter. A team would play everyone else in their conference three times…45 games. They’d play each team in the other conference twice…32 games. 45+32=77.

*I’m not sure how you’d handle scheduling. My vote would be to play as many back-to-back games as possible to reduce travel just as they do in MLB, but basketball players seem to complain a lot about back-to-back games. I’ll leave it up to people smarter than me to figure out logistics.

*Even though we are expanding the league and reducing regular season games we’re still going to go ahead and trim the playoff field from 8 teams in each conference to 6. The top two teams in each conference (you could make these division champs) get a first round bye. Each first round series is just three games, as is each second round series. The conference finals are 5 game series, and the NBA Finals would be the only round with a 7 game series.

*Out of the 26 teams that don’t make the playoffs the BEST five go into the Draft Lottery to see who gets the #1 pick. Well…actually it’d decide the top five picks. If you still want to do the bouncy ball thing then each team’s number of balls would be equal to their number of wins. After that win/loss records would determine the draft order. So the worst team in the league would receive the 6th overall pick. This system would eliminate the ridiculous practice of tanking, which is a stain on the league. Not only would good teams be competing to make the playoffs in the waning days of the regular season, but not so good teams would be competing to get into the lottery rather than purposely losing. It would encourage competitive balance and wise management, because teams that just missed the playoffs are (theoretically) adding the best players, putting playoff teams on notice.



I said about a month ago that I would postpone offering an opinion on my Pittsburgh Pirates until a little further into the season. Well, we are more than 30 games in and the Pirates are dead last in their division and painful to watch. We Pirates fans endured two decades of losing until a few years ago, then had a couple of years when the team actually made the playoffs as a wildcard. But now it feels like we are right back to square one. I’ve never believed that pitcher Gerrit Cole is a true ace, but he’s the best they’ve got and there is chatter about him being traded. Outfielder Starling Marte screwed the pooch by getting suspended for most of the season for PED use, but I’m not sure his presence would make that much of a difference. There has been talk of trading all-star outfielder Andrew McCutchen as far back as last season, but even if they keep him it feels like his prime years are being wasted. I watch games and don’t even know who some of these guys are!! I am tempted to say that it’s time for manager Clint Hurdle to go, that he is too passive and the players aren’t listening to him anymore. That may be true, but I don’t think changing managers would help that much either. The problem with the Pirates is ownership. The business is profitable and fans continue to fill the ballpark because that’s just how dedicated & loyal Pittsburghers and fans from surrounding areas are. It’s in their DNA. Winning would be a nice bonus, but it doesn’t seem necessary to the powers-that-be. I don’t have any answers. I wish I did.

Points of Ponderation…Episode 7.17

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..





Seriously…does ANYONE prefer “Top Stories” over “Most Recent” in their Facebook feed?? Anyone?? Bueller?? Bueller??








I’ve come to the conclusion that, while I believe in the general idea of altruism, I am not very altruistic. Altruism, for those that may be unaware, is “unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others” and/or “behavior that is not beneficial to self but that benefits others”. Now, this does not mean that I am selfish…atleast I don’t think it does. I am reminded of a scene from the 1999 movie Office Space when the main character tells a couple of guys that he works with that “it’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care”, only in my case I am lazy and I do theoretically care…just not enough to actually do anything. My growing perception over the past decade is that most folks don’t care at all. This has created a situation in which I am generally happiest hanging out at home with Rocco and not bothering with or being bothered by the outside world. I really love the idea, if I were wealthy enough, of faking my own death and moving to some secluded location with Rocco…just me, him, internet access, cable TV, plenty of books, & grocery delivery. In the classic A Charlie Brown Christmas Lucy tells a depressed Charlie Brown that he needs involvement, which is terrible advice. When I was a kid I didn’t dream of becoming a doctor or firefighter or even a singer or an actor, but I did ponder the idea of going into politics. To paraphrase The Godfather, I could have been Senator Mano or Governor Mano or even President Mano, holding the strings that make everybody else dance. Obviously that never happened, and for that I thank God because power & authority don’t interest me at all these days. I’ve even lost my stomach for friendly debates about politics. I was a supervisor for almost seven years at an old job that I left over a decade ago, and have no desire to be anyone’s boss ever again. I’ve spent the last four years serving as President on the board of directors of a local non-profit organization. My term is up in a couple of months and I couldn’t be more excited. I remember running for class President back in high school and losing. Perhaps that is when things began to change. I realized that so many things are just a popularity contest, and in adulthood I began to understand that a lot of situations come down to people who are a little too eager to be helpful not being able to say “no” as others con them into doing jobs no one else wants to do. No thanks. I’m content…just me, Rocco, a good book, old movies that I’ve seen a hundred times, & whatever ballgame is on. Altruism is beautiful…it’s just not my thing.






Speaking of Ferris Bueller…..

I’m not a big fan of commercials. I typically mute the TV when they’re on. However, I really like current Domino’s ads that parody the 1986 John Hughes classic. Kudos.

Winning & Musing…Volume 3.17

For the past few weeks I’d been feeling really upbeat & blessed. Springtime. Sunshine. Birds chirping. Occasional use of the AC. But at the moment it is raining here in Appalachia and has been for a few days. There’s a November-esque chill in the air. I’ve had to wear a coat again and get the comforter out of the closet. I’m sniffling, sneezing, & taking antibiotics. I hate feeling this way. I hate this weather, especially since IT’S MAY!!!! Thankfully the sports calendar remains robust, and those hours of relaxation & delight ease the burden. Let’s unwind and have some fun.





NBA Playoffs Drinking Game: Do a shot or chug a beer (drinker’s choice) every time one of the announcers says “pick & roll”. You might pass out by halftime or possibly need to go to the ER to have your stomach pumped. Either way you probably won’t be around for the end of the game.




A few thoughts about the recent NFL Draft:

*I’m a traditionalist, so I wasn’t too sure about the NFL’s decision to move the draft away from New York to an outdoor venue in Philadelphia, but WOW…what a great idea it turned out to be!! The passionate fans in Philly showed up in droves…about 100k each of the three days…and really infused a ton of energy into the event. Kudos to those fans, and a tip of the cap to whomever decided to try something new after the draft had essentially been in the same comfort zone for a couple of decades.

*Speaking of stepping outside one’s comfort zone, I finally transitioned to the NFL Network as the home base for my draft coverage instead of ESPN, and it was a great choice. I found the talking heads on NFL Network to be much more focused & knowledgeable than their counterparts. Mike Mayock especially is multiple levels above ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. Whoever is running the NFL Network obviously knows what butters their bread and understands the kind of reporting fans truly desire. Perhaps they should ponder creating an all-sports network that actually concentrates on sports. Wouldn’t that be a novel idea??

*I’d give my Steelers a B+ on their 2017 draft. I love the first round choice of linebacker TJ Watt. If he’s anywhere near as talented as his brother JJ he’ll be an all-pro for the next dozen years, which would be nice. The Steelers did address concerns about the secondary with 3rd & 5th round picks of guys I’ve never heard of. I’d like to have faith in the braintrust in Pittsburgh, but my preference would have been to prioritize the position with potential starters rather than players that’ll probably need a couple of years to develop. I know a lot of Steeler fans are excited about second round choice JuJu Smith-Schuster, a wide receiver from USC, but I have an irrational disdain for people with hyphenated surnames, so I can’t seem to get psyched about the pick. I’m not knowledgeable enough to expertly criticize the choice of a long snapper in the sixth round, but it seems like a wasted pick to me. I really like 3rd round running back James Conner (even though he played for Pitt) and 4th round quarterback Josh Dobbs out of Tennessee. Conner should become an immediate contributor as a backup to Leveon Bell, and Dobbs can learn for a year or two or three from Ben Roethlisberger. Whether Dobbs settles in as a career backup, becomes a worthy successor to Big Ben someday, or is a complete bust, the pick itself is solid and could end up being much more.

*I’m really surprised that the New England Patriots didn’t trade backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a QB needy team. If I were Garoppolo I’d want out not only for an opportunity to start somewhere, but because it’s a bad idea to be the guy who replaces The Guy. When Tom Brady FINALLY retires the person replacing him will be faced with two options. Failure would further inflate (ha!) perception of Brady as “the greatest quarterback EVER!!” and pretty much stop the replacement’s career in its tracks. Conversely, if the Patriot train keeps on rolling even after Brady leaves then it would diminish his legacy while inflating (I just can’t help myself) the status of head coach Bill Belichick. Either way it’s an odd position to be in for Garoppolo.

*In my mock draft I opined that none of the available quarterbacks were first round worthy, yet three of them were taken. The Chicago Bears traded away two 3rd round picks & a 4th rounder to move up ONE spot for North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky. Seems a bit much to me, especially for such an unproven player. Kansas City traded a 3rd round pick and next year’s 1st rounder to move up for Texas Tech’s Pat Mahomes. I like Mahomes better than Trubisky, especially since he’ll be able to sit for a couple of years and learn from Alex Smith, but it still struck me as an expensive trade. The Houston Texans traded away next year’s first round choice to go up & grab Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, and I think it might actually be looked upon as a wise transaction in a few years. Watson will probably be the rookie quarterback pressed into starting the quickest, but he also has the best team surrounding him. If Watson fulfills the potential I think he has the Texans could win a Lombardi Trophy in the not too distant future.



A melancholy Happy Trails to The Sports Reporters, which has been cancelled by ESPN after almost three decades on the air. Admittedly I was not a faithful viewer of the show because it was usually on while I was on the way to church, and for some reason I never recorded it like I’ve done so much stuff since the DVR became a thing. However, I always enjoyed the program when circumstances allowed me to catch it. Debate shows about sports are a dime a dozen now, but I assume The Sports Reporters was one of the prototypes, if not the founding father of the format. Unlike many of the current shows on the air, Reporters was a more tranquil & erudite conversation. Though I am sure most of the “journalists” that appeared over the years were your typical leftists, sociopolitical issues or “progressive” bias never seemed to be a part of Reporters’ DNA. The focus…as it should be…was on sports. The discussions were thoughtful and intelligent, not reactionary. Perhaps the emphasis on sports and lack of brash & colorful personalities is what led to the cancellation, which makes it even sadder. Google “misplaced priorities” and you’ll probably get directions to Bristol, CT.





Unlike many folks I am not all that broken up about the impending retirement of Dale Earnhardt Jr. I wish him well in his new marriage and future endeavors, which I assume will eventually include being a NASCAR team owner. However, let’s be honest…Dale Jr.’s popularity has never been about Dale Jr. It’s about his name. It’s about his legacy. It’s about the tragic death of his father. Many cheered for the elder Earnhardt, so they transferred that loyalty to his son. But when Dale Jr. sold out that heritage to join a super stable at Hendrick Motorsports that included Jeff Gordon & Jimmy Johnson it felt…atleast to me…like Larry Bird leaving the Celtics to join Magic Johnson’s Lakers, or Peyton Manning spending his last few years in the NFL with the New England Patriots as Tom Brady’s backup. It left a proverbial bad taste in my mouth, and became the first of multiple factors that eventually led to me putting my NASCAR fandom on the backburner. Your mileage may vary, and that’s okay, but I’m just being honest.



Speaking of ESPN…..

Of all the talking heads that The Mothership recently canned, I must give a shout out to a special few. Baseball reporter Jayson Stark called in weekly to Mike & Mike, regularly stumping Greeny & Golic with difficult trivia questions. It was a fun & informative segment and I’ll miss it. Ed Werder added low-key gravitas to NFL coverage, while Andy Katz did the same for discussions about college basketball. I guess neither one is colorful or loud enough for ESPN now. NFL analyst Trent Dilfer & MLB analyst Doug Glanville are former players that got jobs in sports media, which of course isn’t unusual. Unfortunately it seems like they also were a little too cerebral in the eyes of whatever moron is making these decisions at ESPN. Anchors Jade McCarthy & Sara Walsh are both lovely ladies, but they’re both now unemployed. I first encountered Jay Crawford when he hosted Cold Pizza, which eventually morphed into First Take. He seems like a cool guy, but made the misstep of thinking that anchoring Sportscenter was the Holy Grail, which it no longer is. He should’ve stayed on First Take. Former Florida State quarterback & college football analyst Danny Kanell strikes me as kind of a tool, which makes his ouster rather odd since it seems like that’s what the network embraces now. Anchor John Buccigross had been around for a couple of decades and embodied the second generation of glib sarcasm popularized back in the Dan Patrick/Keith Olbermann days. Bucci seems like a good dude and I hope he lands a gig somewhere. The most popular target of fans upset by this bloodletting in Bristol has been Stephen A. Smith, as in “I can’t believe (insert fired person’s name here) is gone but Stephen A. still has a job!!”. That reaction was so vociferous & so ubiquitous that Smith actually felt compelled to speak up and defend his credentials. While he certainly isn’t my favorite personality I don’t necessarily take issue with Stephen A.’s continued employment. However, he does exemplify what ESPN is about now…ratings brought by outspoken personalities who aren’t afraid to let their sociopolitical agenda bleed into sports debate. It’s a bold strategy Cotton…let’s see if it pays off for them.



Favorite Candy Bars…Part Deux

Welcome back to Part 2 of the Candy Countdown!! If you haven’t already done so please peruse Part 1 to see if your favorite made the list…or if it might be yet to come. And definitely leave some comments!! I am genuinely eager to get inside the minds of other chocoholics. We’ve got to stick together, right?? Sure, we all know we’d be better off consuming tofu or spinach or kale smoothies, and I applaud those that are successful in leading healthy lifestyles. However, I like Shakespeare’s guidance “to thine own self be true”, so I won’t apologize for liking what I like. While I am trying to make smarter food choices and improve my overall well-being, the truth is that I can’t ever see myself completely giving up candy of my own free volition. I believe “everything in moderation” is wise counsel, and so that is how I shall proceed. Anyway, thanks for stopping by for the exciting conclusion. Enjoy.






14     Mounds / Almond Joy

An unavoidable tie because…well…sometimes I feel like a nut, and sometimes I don’t (come on…you know I just had to go there). These candies were created by a Connecticut confectioner named Peter Paul, which was bought out by Cadbury in 1978, who then sold it to Hershey a decade later. Mounds was first produced in 1921 and was a favorite of American soldiers in World War II. Almond Joy came along a couple of decades later. Both candy bars come packaged with two bite sized pieces. Mounds is simply coconut covered in dark chocolate, while Almond Joy includes a couple of almonds on top of the coconut that is then covered in milk chocolate. I am not typically a fan of coconut. It smells nice and I enjoy the flavor, but it’s usually too chewy and prone to getting stuck in my throat. However, with Mounds & Almond Joy the coconut has a creaminess that helps it go down smooth. My only complaint about these candy bars is that I typically have to eat a few of them to be satisfied. Perhaps that is part of a nefarious plot.



13     Whatchamacallit

Rejected names for this candy bar included Thingamajig, Doohickey, & Fiddle Faddle. Actually the latter moniker was already taken by a popcorn & peanut mix covered in caramel & toffee that was invented in the late 1960’s, about a decade before Hershey created Whatchamacallit. Anyway, this is a thick, sturdy hunk o’ candy consisting of peanut butter flavored crispies with a layer of caramel on top, all enveloped in milk chocolate. When one bites into a Whatchamacallit you know you’re eating something…substantial. It has width & heft, and its scarcity makes stumbling upon one a real treat. It’s the sixth man of candy bars…not a star player but something that’ll consistently come off the bench and give you some much needed points & rebounds. That’s a basketball analogy for all you non-sports types in The Manoverse. And by the way, Hershey did actually produce a companion bar called Thingamajig a few years ago that was essentially the same formula except it had chocolate flavored crispies in place of the peanut buttery ones. I’m sorry I missed out on that.



12     Peppermint Patties

When I bite into a Peppermint Pattie I get the cool sensation of skiing naked down a mountain in the Swiss Alps, only to awaken from my slumber and discover that I actually just left the air conditioner on in my apartment. Okay okay, I’ll stop. Let’s answer one burning question right off the bat…who is York?? It’s actually a reference to York, PA, where the candy was created by a local confectioner in 1940. That company was acquired by Peter Paul, who took peppermint patties national in 1972. And of course if you’ve been paying attention you’ll recall that Cadbury bought out Peter Paul in 1978 and Hershey bought Peter Paul from Cadbury in 1988. You remember the old 80’s TV show Dallas, about the cutthroat aspects of the oil business?? Maybe a show could be made about the seedy underbelly of Big Chocolate. That’s a million dollar idea I’m giving away for free. You’re welcome. At any rate, peppermint is a unique ingredient. It’s not uncommon in hard candies, especially around Christmas, but when paired with dark chocolate the combination is…as the kids like to say…off the chain. There are many imitators out there, and they all taste just fine, but never forget that the real deal still says York on the shiny wrapper. In case you are wondering, Peanuts creator Charles Schulz was indeed inspired by “a dish of candy on my desk” when naming a new character for his comic strip in 1966.



11     Milky Way

Okay, remember back in Part 1 when I explained that Forrest Mars created the Mars bar in England while estranged from his father?? That became an issue when Forrest returned to the family because here in America there was already a candy bar exactly like the international Mars bar. It’s called Milky Way, and it was introduced in 1923. Ingredients include a chocolate malty nougat topped with caramel and covered in milk chocolate. You might think that the candy bar is named after our galaxy…but you’d be wrong. The name was inspired by a popular malted milkshake. It was the milkshake…I assume…that got its moniker from the galaxy. You’ll recall that I told you that not all nougat is created equally, and this is a perfect example. Do I enjoy an occasional Milky Way?? Obviously. But I must say that the malty nougat isn’t my favorite. Now here’s an interesting nugget. In the early 1930’s each Milky Way actually consisted of two small bars. One had the chocolate nougat & caramel coated with milk chocolate, while the other had a lighter vanilla nougat & caramel coated with dark chocolate. In 1936 these became two separate candy bars…Milky Way and Forever Yours (an unfortunately weird & clunky name). Forever Yours was discontinued in 1979, but a decade later it rose from the ashes rebranded as Milky Way Dark aka Milky Way Midnight (a much cooler name). I actually prefer the Midnight. As much of a chocoholic as I am I seem to have a fetish for vanilla nougat. Oh, by the way…do you want to be confused a little bit more?? The Milky Way we all know & love is also a strictly American thing. There is an international Milky Way, but it is exactly like yet another candy bar that we haven’t gotten to quite yet. How in the world do those wacky Mars folks keep everything straight??



10     Reese’s Cups

Let us once again begin by answering a question everybody has even if they don’t realize it…who is Reese?? Well, he was Harry “HB” Reese, a dairy farmer in Hershey, PA whose farm was owned by Hershey as well. So basically he worked for Hershey, albeit in a rather idiosyncratic position. But ol’ HB was an entrepreneur, so eventually he built his own candy company and in 1928 created the chocolate & peanut butter concoction that still bears his name today. After his death his sons went into partnership with Hershey and their company continues to be a subsidiary of the larger corporation. I know there are a dozen or more variations of Reese’s Cups nowadays…caramel, dark chocolate, white chocolate, crunchy, etc….but I still prefer the original. So simple, yet so fantastic.



9       Bar None

This entry is unique on the list because the candy bar is now defunct. From 1986, when I was amidst the glory of my junior high years, to 1992, when I was in the midst of a four year frat boy drunken stupor, Hershey produced the tastiest yet most underrated candy bar of all time. About the same ample size as a Whatchamacallit, Bar None featured a chocolate wafer covered with peanuts & chocolate ganache, all covered with milk chocolate. It was…as the kids might say…the bomb diggity. And then, in 1992 they did the inexplicable…changed the formula. The new Bar None came in a bright yellow wrapper (modified from the original & appropriate chocolatey brown) and had two smaller bars made from kinda sorta the same ingredients, with the notable addition of caramel. I’m not sure who decided to make the change or why, but it was a monumental blunder on par with New Coke or Caddyshack II. Why mess with success?? Perhaps I am being naïve. One could reasonably assume that the original candy wasn’t selling well and thus the new recipe, but I just cannot fathom Bar None having poor sales figures. It was freaking chocolate nirvana!! At any rate, the revised edition was delicious enough, but just not the same, and so a few years later Bar None entered the candy graveyard. There is a company called Iconic Candy that once talked of a revival, but while they have resuscitated a couple of hard candies that I had never heard of in the first place the second coming of Bar None has yet to occur. Neither the website nor the Facebook page for Iconic has been updated for a few years, so I’m not even sure they’re still in business. I still hold out hope that Bar None will reignite its mission to “tame the chocolate beasty” someday, but that hope doesn’t satisfy a late night chocolate craving.



8       5th Avenue

In Part 1 we discussed Butterfinger and mentioned that there are four candy bars with a similar recipe… a crunchy peanut butter center covered in chocolate. Two of those have made this countdown, and 5th Avenue is the best of the bunch. It was created in 1936 by the same guy who invented Luden’s cough drops, and then acquired by Hershey in 1986. In my opinion the crunchy center is a bit smoother & tastes better than the competition, and the chocolate is more palatable. For reasons that I can’t seem to track down Hershey hasn’t done any advertising for 5th Avenue since 1993, which is really weird. However, despite this mysterious lapse in marketing the candy bars are readily available at almost any major retailer that I’ve ever been to, and occasionally you might see them in a vending machine as well.



7       Mallo Cups

Reese’s may get all the attention, but in my world the best cups aren’t filled with peanut butter…they have soft, gooey marshmallow cream. Mallo Cups were created in the 1940’s by Bob & Bill Boyer, two brothers in Altoona, PA, about a hundred miles east of Pittsburgh. Their operation was eventually acquired by a bigger company, and then that company sold out to a New York businessman in 1984. However, Mallo Cups are still produced in Altoona. I’m not sure how or why one of the biggies…Hershey, Nestle, or Mars…hasn’t gotten ahold of Mallo Cups, but I’m sure there are reasons. Availability is a real issue. One doesn’t easily stumble across Mallo Cups at many friendly neighborhood purveyors of chocolate. A few years ago I was jonesing for them so bad that I did a little research online and ended up ordering a case directly from Boyer!! Where there’s a will there’s a way, right?? If you’ve never had a Mallo Cup you have no clue what you’re missing!!



6       Chunky

A couple of previous entrants in the countdown likely would have been a few spots higher if not for issues with availability. The same goes for Chunky. A New York City candymaker created Chunky in the 1930’s. That gentleman happened to have a buddy named William Wrigley Jr., the creator of a certain well-known gum. Wrigley distributed his friend’s Chunky bar for him until Nestle bought the brand in 1984. Chunky is probably the most unique candy bar on this list. It’s about the size of the palm of your hand and is made in a trapezoid shape. Inside that smallish but still bulky hunk of chocolate hides raisins & peanuts. Raisins…in a candy bar. Genius!! As mentioned, Chunky is a rare, difficult to find gem. I used to buy it at a local video store back in the 90’s when renting movies was still a thing. I never see it in any grocery store or movie theater, which is a shame. I assume I could purchase Chunky online like I did Mallo Cups, but I’ve not taken that step…yet.



5       Nestle Crunch

Hershey has Krackel, Nestle has its Crunch bar. Both are essentially the same thing…Rice Krispies in chocolate…and in fact both were created in 1938. And while I am a big fan of Hershey chocolate I must opine that, atleast in this recipe, Nestle chocolate is better. Crunch is also more heavily advertised and accessible to the masses. It’s rather thin & flat, so one might need to consume a couple of bars to be completely satisfied.



4       Twix

Mars first produced Twix in England in the late 60’s and didn’t introduce it in America until 1979. The name is a portmanteaux of “twin biscuits” because those wacky Brits refer to the cookie that is the base of the Twix as a biscuit, and as you are undoubtedly aware each shiny gold wrapper contains two bars. Those “biscuits” are topped with caramel and the whole deal is covered in milk chocolate. In 1983 an alternative was created wherein the “biscuits” are topped with peanut butter instead of caramel. Now, if you put a peanut butter Twix in front of me it’ll be eaten, and I’ll enjoy the heck out of it. Having said that though, I much prefer the original caramel version. My only complaint is that sometimes one will bit into a Twix that isn’t quite as fresh as one would hope, and in those instances the caramel can be a bit…chewy…which isn’t how it’s supposed to be. It’s a small nit to pick though, and not enough to deter my affection for the product.



3       3 Musketeers

Prepare to be confused again. Let’s review. We already know that the American Mars bar (aka Snickers Almond) is different than the international Mars bar because the international Mars bar is the same as an American Milky Way. But wait…there’s more!! The American Milky Way differs from the international Milky Way because the international Milky Way is basically the same as…the 3 Musketeers. You got all that?? The 3 Musketeers that we Americans know & love was created by Mars in 1932, with the name obviously being inspired by the classic 1844 novel by Alexandre Dumas. The recipe is almost too simple…chocolatey whipped nougat covered in milk chocolate. Actually, for the first few years of its existence, there were three smaller bars in the package (hence the name), with chocolate, strawberry, & vanilla nougat. The popularity of the chocolate flavored nougat eventually forced a change in presentation, with the three bar concept as well as the strawberry & vanilla nougats being scrapped. When I think of nougat 3 Musketeers immediately comes to mind. It is so fluffy, light, & yummy!! As with most other candy bars there have been variations produced in numerous other flavor combinations, but like everything else it is almost impossible to improve upon the original concept. 3 Musketeers proudly pronounces on its shiny silver wrapper that it contains 45% less fat than other candy bars, and I have no reason to doubt the validity of the claim. At the very least it allows one to occasionally toss aside the ol’ diet and fool yourself into thinking a healthy choice is being made.



2       Kit Kat

Give me a break…break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar!! Kit Kat was created in England in the mid-1930s, with the name being inspired by a political club (seriously). The small confectioner that produced it was eventually bought out by Nestle in 1988, but there’s a plot twist. In 1970 Hershey had signed a licensing agreement with the small English candymaker to distribute Kit Kat in the United States, and when Nestle bought out that small company they had no choice but to honor the agreement. So Kit Kat is owned & produced by Nestle around the world, except for America, where it is made by Hershey. Remember that TV drama I pitched about Big Chocolate?? There’s an entire season right there!! Oh, by the way…Hershey’s agreement to produce Kit Kat in the U.S. is only legally binding as long as the company isn’t sold, so the popularity of the candy bar actually prohibited the company’s sale about 15 years ago. As far as the candy itself, there are four connected wafers covered in milk chocolate…simple yet unique. I am sure people exist who might only eat one of the wafers and save the rest for later, or even share the four wafers amongst friends. I am not one of those people. There are probably psychologists or food scientists that would be able to explain the science of crunch and why we humans are powerless to resist anything crunchy, but all I know is that Snickers can lay claim to the mantra of satisfaction all it wants…what really satisfies me is a Kit Kat bar…or two…or three.



1       Hershey Bars

There’s a well-worn but true acronym…Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS). I have found that it is a philosophy that works in most aspects of life…even candy bars. Hershey Bars were the first candy produced by the eponymous corporation in 1900. A version with almonds was created eight years later. I like both just the same, with preference changing as moods swing. Sometimes I feel like a nut, sometimes I don’t…which would be a great slogan if it wasn’t already being used for other Hershey products. Admittedly I am not a connoisseur of fine chocolate. I am certain that there are such aficionados, especially in Europe, that would likely scoff at the alleged quality of Hershey’s chocolate, and that’s okay. Everybody’s entitled to their opinion. But just as one can’t drink champagne on a cheap beer budget the average consumer in America has neither the money, the expertise, nor the exposure to “fine” chocolate for us to thumb our noses at what is readily available in the places we most often spend our money. All I know is that when I really want a piece of chocolate after a stressful day there’s nothing better than a good ol’ Hershey bar.