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.

Favorite Candy Bars…Part 1

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” –  Charles Schulz

 

On a lovely November day 17 years ago I moved into the apartment building in which I still reside. That night I discovered that downstairs, right beside the mailboxes, is a vending area consisting of a pop machine (as we say here in West Virginia) and another machine filled with various snacks of both the sweet & salty variety. I knew at that moment that I was in big trouble. Now I’m really not a huge fan of potato chips or pretzels, but I am most certainly a chocoholic, which Webster defines as “a person who craves or compulsively consumes chocolate”. My family knows this about me, to the point that last Christmas I received a five pound chocolate bar as a gift (it was gone within three days…and that was me pacing myself). In doing my usual lackadaisical research for this ode to candy I ran across articles like Struggles Only A Chocoholic Would Understand and Signs You’re A Chocoholic that describe me so accurately it’s a little disturbing. Alas, all good things must come to an end…or atleast be scaled back to a reasonable level. Bloodwork indicates that I am a pre-diabetic (shocker!!), and since I am not a fan of medication, needles, comas, or death I am attempting to eat a bit healthier (for the 700th time in my life). That doesn’t mean I’m giving up chocolate…just that perhaps, going forward, I’ll refrain from consuming five pounds of it in less than a week. At any rate, Willie Wonka once stated that “invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple”. I’m not sure about butterscotch ripple, but pondering peanuts, caramel, & nougat (whatever that is) has inspired me to dive into a discussion of my favorite candy bars. As you’ll see, I’m not a chocolate snob. I understand that there is high quality chocolate out there for sophisticated palates, but for me most of that stuff isn’t really…accessible. I have nothing against Godiva or Ghirardelli or anything with a fancy European name, but I’m a simple guy who’s just fine eating whatever candy is available at the grocery store, movie theater, ballpark, or arena concession stand. As always I’d love some feedback. What’s your favorite candy?? What do you think is missing here?? Let me know your sweet thoughts in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

25     Zero / Payday

Not only do we start out with a tie, but we begin with two non-chocolate candy bars. Sometimes one just craves something off the beaten path, right?? Zero bars were conceived in Minnesota in 1920. The name is supposed to be indicative of it being cool…as in really cold cool, not jazz or Rat Pack cool. I guess it was a Minnesota thing…it’s not like the candy is frozen or anything. At any rate, like so many candy bars we buy today Zero, thru a series of mergers, buyouts, & takeovers, eventually became a product owned & produced by one of three chocolate giants…in this case Hershey. The candy bar itself consists of caramel, peanuts, & almond nougat covered in white chocolate. Nougat is officially defined as “candy made from sugar or honey, nuts, & egg whites”. It’s a broad definition, and not all nougat is created equally. The almondy nougat in Zero is…different, which of course is exactly why one picks up a Zero bar in the first place. The other defining characteristic is the white chocolate, which, as all chocoholics know, isn’t actually chocolate at all. Whereas chocolate is made with a mixture of cocoa solids (from ground cacao bean powder) & cocoa butter, white chocolate is made without any cocoa powder or solids, just cocoa butter mixed with milk & sugar. I’m not typically a fan of white chocolate. It just tastes a bit…off…to me, and it’s not aesthetically pleasing. However, it does help make Zero a unique alternative. Payday has been around since the 1930’s and is also a Hershey product after following a very similar path to Zero. Payday consists of a firm, chewy nougat center covered in caramel & salted peanuts. Salty & sweet are flavors that can go well together, and the balance of nuts & caramel is perfect in a Payday. I suppose it’s forbidden to those suffering from a peanut allergy, but for the rest of us it’s a great way to satisfy a sweet tooth when you’re just not in the mood for chocolate.

 

 

24     Baby Ruth

Depending on which story one believes, Baby Ruth is either named after a candymaker’s granddaughter, the daughter of President Grover Cleveland, or the Hall-of-Fame baseball slugger (with the President Cleveland story contrived to avoid paying The Babe royalties). Who knows?? It’s a fun debate. The candy itself, first produced in 1921, is now owned & produced by one of the other chocolate conglomerates…Nestle. It consists of peanuts, caramel, & chocolate nougat covered in chocolate. The bar is visually unappealing for reasons I won’t detail, but…well, you know. Baby Ruth has never seemed, to me, to be all that commonplace. I suppose it’s there, we just don’t pay it as much attention as we do some other choices, probably because the ingredients & flavors are so familiar but done slightly better in other candy bars. It’s a nice occasional change of pace though.

 

 

23     Dove

Silky. That’s the word I associate with Dove. The history of the brand is rather curious, originating as an ice cream bar in Chicago in the late 1950’s, long before the candy was invented. Today it is owned by the third multinational chocolate corporation…Mars. There are still ice cream bars, as well as chocolate milk, hot cocoa mix, & cakes, but we’re here to talk about candy. Several varieties…dark, caramel, peppermint, etc….are produced, but I like to keep it simple, so I love the milk chocolate and sometimes the dark. More often than not one sees bags of little bite-sized individual chocolates in the store, which is great for those who are trying to diet but just can’t resist cheating every once in a while. You can have a couple of pieces of Dove and not feel all that guilty. I like to unwrap some Dove chocolates and throw them into a container with nuts & dried fruit for a tasty trail mix. It’s an excellent way to consume dark chocolate, which is far healthier than milk chocolate. As mentioned, the flavor of Dove chocolate is smooth…rich yet subtle. It is definitely an underappreciated brand.

 

 

22     Krackel

Milk chocolate & Rice Krispies…a simple yet fantastic combination. Krackel was first introduced by Hershey in 1938. Interestingly, from 1997 to 2014 regular sized Krackel bars were not available. The only way one could get your fix during that time was by buying a bag of Hershey’s Miniatures, with Krackel being one of four chocolate varieties in the pack. That is probably how most folks are familiar with the brand. If you’re going to be a Krackhead this is the way to go.

 

 

21     Butterfinger

There are four candy bars out there that have a really similar formula…a crunchy peanut butter center covered in chocolate. You won’t be seeing Zagnut or Clark bars in this countdown because…well…that’s just how I roll, but Butterfinger does make the cut. It was created in 1923 and has been owned by Nestle since 1990. I’ll give Butterfinger credit…one doesn’t feel cheated when buying the huge bar. It’s a good sized piece of candy. Butterfinger is aptly named, as the filling does have a buttery taste. My only complaint is that it can be a little dry. Still, it’s a great way to satisfy a peanut butter craving, and there’s something so…pleasurable…about eating anything with a bit of crunch. In the 1990’s television’s Bart Simpson became a memorable spokesman for the candy, which probably did a lot to increase its pop culture cool factor. More recently Nestle has introduced Butterfinger Cups, which have less crunch than the candy bar but more crunch than a famous competitor that we’ll get to later. The chocolate in Butterfinger Cups tastes a little smoother than the candy bar, and that’s a good thing. If you haven’t tried Butterfinger Cups I’d highly recommend giving them a whirl.

 

 

20     Mr. Goodbar

You may be vaguely familiar with a 1977 film called Looking for Mr. Goodbar, a gritty drama about a promiscuous teacher who is eventually murdered, starring Diane Keaton, Richard Gere, & Tom Berenger. Well, the candy bar came way way way before the movie. It was first produced in 1925 by Hershey. The concept is, once again, uncomplicated…milk chocolate & peanuts. A couple of decades ago they added even more peanuts, and it was a fantastic change. Like Krackel, you are probably most familiar with Mr. Goodbar as part of the Hershey’s Miniatures pack that is really popular at Halloween and, for some reason, in jars alongside the cash register at restaurants, right there with the toothpicks.

 

 

19     Snickers

You might be surprised to see Snickers this low in the countdown. While I like it just fine, I have to admit I’m not as in love with it as most seem to be. Unlike many of its competitors, Snickers is far from simple. There’s a lot going on in that candy bar…chocolate, peanuts, caramel, nougat. It was first produced in 1930 and is owned by Mars, who named the candy after a beloved family owned horse. The marketing folks deserve a tip of the cap because Snickers ad campaigns have always been fun &…durable. I’m not sure, from a nutritional & scientific perspective, if Snickers “really satisfies” any more than other candy bars, but I’ll be darned if they haven’t done a fine job of convincing the masses of its power to do so.

 

 

18     Caramello

Caramel is an interesting candy ingredient. It seems to come in two distinct forms…firm & chewy or soft & gooey. I prefer soft & gooey. I don’t think eating a chocolate bar should involve work, so I’m not a fan of candies like Rolo or Tootsie Rolls that involve lots of chewing. I save that effort for meat. At any rate, Caramello is produced in the United States by Hershey thru an agreement with British confectioner Cadbury, which created the product in the late 1960’s. I love how the chocolate is in sections, each with a pocket of ooey gooey caramel. Theoretically allows a person to eat just a bite and either share with others or save the remaining sections for later, but that’s not how I roll. Caramello doesn’t seem to be as…ubiquitous…as other candy bars, which just increases its appeal.

 

 

17     M&M’s

Yes, technically M&M’s aren’t a candy bar, but really…how could I leave it off the list?? The origin of the name can be a little confusing, but stick with me. Forrest Mars Sr. was the eldest son of company founder Frank Mars. Forrest & Frank had a falling out, with the son going out on his own and doing quite well. After working for competitor Nestle for a bit Forrest went the independent route and created a couple of candy bars that we’ll get to later, as well as Pedigree pet food & Uncle Ben’s Rice. During the Spanish Civil War (ol’ Forrest got around) he was inspired by soldiers that were eating Smarties, candy with a hard shell which prevented the chocolate from melting. Upon his return to America Forrest went into a partnership with Bruce Murrie, the son of Hershey President William Murrie, because chocolate was being rationed during World War II. So that’s where the M&M comes from…Mars & Murrie. Eventually Forrest reunited with his father, bought out Murrie’s stake, and M&M’s became property of Mars. Today there are multiple varieties of M&M’s…peanut butter, crispy rice, dark chocolate, pretzel. However, I pretty much stick to the original and M&M’s Peanut, which is my favorite. There is a place in Vegas called M&M’s World, and if/when I make my long awaited trek out west it is one of the places I plan on visiting.

 

 

16     Hershey’s Kisses

Sometimes one just needs just a bite of chocolate…a small piece of nirvana to make it thru until lunch or quitting time or to get over whatever hump might be in front of you. Kisses are a perfect way to indulge a sweet tooth without spoiling dinner. First produced in 1907, it is said that the sound of the machine depositing the small teardrops of tastiness onto a conveyor belt inspired the name. I’m a sucker for any candy or other food product in a shiny foil wrapper, an inclination that I am sure a psychologist could explain (and enlightenment I’d love to hear). At any rate, a wide variety of Kisses with flavors ranging from cookies & crème to pumpkin spice are made today at different points thru the year, but I’m a traditionalist so I prefer the original milk chocolate, although dark chocolate & milk chocolate with almonds are delicious as well.

 

 

15     Mars (Snickers Almond)

Well, I guess I don’t have to mention which company makes this one. But, I do need to make a clarification. There were two different versions of the Mars bar…one made in the United States and one produced internationally. The international Mars bar still consists of nougat & caramel covered in milk chocolate. If that sounds familiar it is because another candy bar in America is essentially the same thing, but we’ll talk about it later. Remember the falling out I mentioned between Frank Mars & his son Forrest?? Well, that’s part of this story, as the Mars bar is basically Forrest, during his travels, copying in England a product his father was already producing in America. So when the two men reconciled a different Mars bar was made for this country, with nougat & almonds covered in milk chocolate. It’s hard to explain (although you’ll totally understand if you’ve eaten one), but the nougat in the American Mars bar is different. It’s lighter, both in color & texture, and I really like it. It’s…fluffy. To add to the confusion, in 2002 the American Mars bar was discontinued, or rather rebranded, as Snickers Almond. A Snickers Almond is the same as the old American Mars bar except it also has caramel. The Snickers Almond, in my opinion, is superior to original Snickers because almonds are better and less…intrusive…than peanuts, and of course because the lighter, fluffier nougat is awesome.

 

 

 

This seems like a good place to take a break. Stay tuned for the delicious conclusion!!

Poll: What Is Your Favorite Comfort Food??

spagh Your humble Potentate of Profundity has been on a weight  chocolate-chip-cookie-and-milkloss journey that I’ll write more bout at some other time, but one of the things that I have realized is that I am an emotional eater…something that I am sure is not uncommon. I have also discovered that winter, for various reasons, is a season that lends itself to a certain level of weakness for we folks who tend to overindulge. So my icquestion for The Manoverse today is simply…what are your go to foods?? What do you tend to treat PotChili1yourself to when you are some combination of hungry, lonely, bored, sad, angry, frustrated, etc?? Please select up to three choices and leave me a comment about  your particular treats & temptations.

My Lenten Sacrifice – 2011

A year ago I wrote about my search for a genuine spiritual experience instead of the superficial, hypocritical, half-hearted religiosity so common in 21st Century America. This wasn’t…isn’t…meant as a criticism of any particular group or individual, for I have been known to be as guilty as anyone of being a “7th Day Christian”, meaning one who only plays at being a Christian for a couple of hours each Sunday morning. Am I doing better?? I think so, but I am always striving to do more…..to be more. I certainly don’t lack in good influences, including my great friend The Owl, my buddy Don (whose blog, Citizen Don, is linked on this page), and several folks with whom I attend church. As part of this progress last year I decided to take Lent seriously, and the results were pretty good.

To review…for the heathens among you and those in Mingo County…Lent is the traditional time of preparation beginning on Ash Wednesday and culminating in Holy Week, which of course is the remembrance of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Typically Lent lasts 40 days, similar to the forty days Jesus spent in the desert resisting the temptations of Satan (Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13), the forty days & nights Moses spent on Mount Sinai receiving The Ten Commandments from God (Exodus 19:1-25), the forty years the Jewish nation spent wandering in the desert, and the forty days & nights rains fell upon the Earth while Noah and his animals were holed up in The Ark (Genesis Chapters 6-9). 40 is a very important number in The Bible, and is used by God to represent a period of testing or judgment.

Traditionally Christians sacrifice, or give up, something during Lent. I used to make light of this tradition, cracking jokes about giving up various frivolities or things that I didn’t really utilize anyway, but Lent is about conversion, turning our lives more completely over to Christ and cleansing our life of sin. Our goal should not be just to refrain from something meaningless during Lent but to take a major step toward ridding our lives of sin forever. Conversion means leaving behind our old ways and embracing new life in Christ. Galatians 2:20 says “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me”. That verse has haunted me for years not just because I wonder how many people’s old lives have truly been crucified so that Christ now lives in them, but more pointedly I ask myself if I have truly become that new creation God wants me to be. Maybe the fact that I even ask myself the question speaks volumes about how short I fall on a daily basis. At any rate, I decided in 2010 to take my Lenten sacrifice more seriously, and I am doing the same this year.

Last year I decided to give up Facebook during Lent. On the surface that may seem like a meaningless, frivolous sacrifice, but in reality it was very difficult. Facebook is how I stay in touch with all sorts of friends & family, and to be honest I’d much rather spend a rainy day reading a book and mindlessly perusing Facebook than watching almost anything on television. I missed staying in touch with folks during that forty day period, and it truly was very hard, but I did it and was very happy. I read more, prayed and studied The Word much more, and even got some tidying up done around The Bachelor Palace. However, I will not be giving up Facebook again. Been there, done that afterall. It’s time for a new challenge.

After some brief contemplation regarding the 2011 Lenten Sacrifice, the answer became clear fairly quickly. I am 38 years old and if I’m being perfectly frank, probably not nearly as healthy as I should be. Genetics are against me, as obesity and diabetes are present on both sides of my family. I am a paraplegic due to a birth defect called spina bifida, which means I use a wheelchair and don’t get a lot of exercise. Environmental forces don’t help either, since I live in one of the nation’s most economically challenged states & don’t exactly have a large bank account myself, and studies linking poor eating habits to lower incomes are easily found. However, putting all those factors aside, I am the one who goes through a drive thru or has greasy, carb-o-licious food delivered to my home atleast 3 or 4 times per week. I am the one who invades the snack cabinet at work every night and eats 2 or three candy bars. I am the one who lost thirty pounds just 5 short years ago (albeit while locked up in a “skilled” nursing facility) and gained it all back. So legitimate reasons/excuses be damned, I am the one who needs to take the initiative to regain the proper perspective on my health and well being.

A confluence of events has lead to this moment, and I can see God’s hand at work. First, as mentioned, I lost 30 pounds in 2006. The odd thing is, I was literally laying in bed for those 6 months. Was the food at The Home atrocious?? Absolutely. I wouldn’t feed that crap to my worst enemy. But my Dad and my crazy perverted Cousin Robert both visited daily and brought me food, whether it was leftover homemade lasagna, 

Dad

Cousin Robert

fried chicken from the grocery store deli, or a cheeseburger from Wendy’s. So I didn’t starve, but still I lost the weight. And despite everything I’d been through emotionally and physically I felt about as healthy as I’d been in years…and I liked it. Secondly, in January of this year, within a couple weeks of each other, both of my best buddies…Greg & The Owl…both landed in the hospital with previously undiagnosed diabetes. They are both alive only by the unfathomable grace of God, and I am so very thankful. But for two people whom I consider like brothers to become that ill…with the same disease, both in the general age range as me, and with similar body types…well, it was eye opening. And if I am truly being honest with myself both of them are far more physically active than I, so that likely makes me even more susceptible to a corresponding fate. And finally, there has just been a general malaise that has befallen me in the past several months. I’ve always been lazy, but my energy level isn’t where it needs to be. I’m older, but I’m certainly not old. I find it more difficult to do things I once did with ease, like transferring in & out of my wheelchair or even getting dressed. More & more I look for easier, streamlined ways to do something…or even not do it at all if there is physical exertion required and it can somehow be avoided. I find myself needing not just a quick catnap but a deep snooze after eating pasta or other carbohydrate heavy foods. Never one for vanity I am increasingly uncomfortable with my heaviness. It’s time to make some changes, and Lent seems like the perfect opportunity.

What I have decided to do is give up both fast food and chocolate. That might seem superfluous to some, but I can assure you it is a large chunk of my diet. I frequent Wendy’s, Hardees, and Burger King so much I could drive to any of them in my sleep. I have Domino’s, Papa John’s, and a couple local places (Dagwood’s and Smitty’s) delivered so often their delivery guys might score spots as groomsmen in my future wedding. If I ever make it to Hershey, PA I think they may award me the key to the city. That all stops for the next 40 days beginning Ash Wednesday. Does that mean I will NEVER eat fast food or chocolate again?? Never say never. But I do plan on using the time to develop healthier eating habits and detox from all the bad stuff I know I have been putting in my body for years. I trust in God to show me the right path, and it will be up to me to follow it over the long haul. Rome was not built in a day, and I find it highly unlikely I will ever be considered buff & sexy, but I’ll settle for a little lighter, more energetic, and comfortable with my choices.