The 2018 Sammy Awards – Part II

Welcome back to the 2018 Sammy Awards as we continue our fond farewell to the past year. After some amusing observations from host Michael McIntyre it’s time to move forward with the show.






The Sammy Awards doesn’t shy away from controversy, and we tend to lean in a rebellious direction. So to present our next award please welcome two of the more successful actors in Hollywood. First, he’s a two time Academy Award winner and has come out as gay, although that may have possibly been a weak PR attempt to divert attention from “sexual misconduct” allegations (for which he was fired from his successful TV show House of Cards). Please give a pensive & slightly confused round of polite applause to Kevin Spacey!! Joining him is a young man who has starred in about a dozen lightly regarded & easily forgotten alleged comedies in the past few years. He was all set to host this year’s Academy Awards until politically incorrect jokes that he tweeted several years ago were suddenly discovered by ill-humored old curmudgeons who compelled him to quit. Give a warm welcome to Kevin Hart!! And the nominees are:



The Twitter Award for Most Interesting Water Cooler Topic


Tide Pods

I love Tide Pods…to do my laundry. But in 2018 some folks had a different idea & decided they’d make a good snack. Stupid people are the best job security doctors will ever have.


Stormy Daniels

She’s a stripper & a porn star, and apparently she got busy with Donald Trump many years before he ran for President. Those of us with critical thinking skills couldn’t possibly care less, but the media has made Ms. Daniels famous. No one is saying Trump is a saint, but that’s not really breaking news. Everyone knew about his shortcomings from Day 1, and the vast majority of folks outside of the heathen strongholds of New York, California, & Chicago decided he was still a better choice than Hillary Clinton. But kudos to Ms. Daniels for making the most of her 15 minutes.


Roseanne Barr

I was never a fan of Barr or her eponymous 90’s sitcom. The reboot of that show didn’t interest me in the least, despite her “coming out” as a Trump supporter. The reboot did monster ratings, but ABC cancelled it in a fit of self-righteous rage after Barr tweeted a comparison between Obama disciple Valerie Jarrett and a character from the recent Planet of the Apes films. The tweet was deemed racist, even though it clearly wasn’t meant to be. Jarrett actually does look eerily similar to the movie character. At any rate, ABC quickly realized their mistake and gave the show new life, albeit without Barr. The Conners has struggled in the ratings and will likely be cancelled, meaning no one in this unnecessary melodrama wins.


Mueller Investigation

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller was appointed to investigate alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election almost as soon as the results were announced. Nearly two years later a handful of indictments & a few convictions have occurred, but as far as the election goes it seems like the best he can come up with is that the Russians may have posted some anti-Clinton propaganda on social media. Oh the horror!! If that kind of thing is deemed “interference” then perhaps all campaign advertisements & TV commercials should be banned. The simple truth is that The Establishment hates Trump and has conducted a witch hunt to destroy him since the day he became a legitimate threat to their power, and the sad part is that someday their plot just might work.



Last summer people were legitimately stunned when restaurant chain IHOP announced they were changing their named to IHOB. Of course what many seemed to miss was that the restaurant was never actually going to change their name at all. It was simply a marketing campaign to promote a renovated lineup of burgers on their menu. About a month later the chain announced that they were “changing their name back” to IHOP, and still a lot of folks just didn’t get it.


Fleetwood Mac

Lineup changes & squabbles amongst bandmates are nothing new to music, so I suppose that it shouldn’t be a total shock that 70’s supergroup Fleetwood Mac recently tossed aside longtime guitarist Lindsey Buckingham after he’d been with the band for four decades. One would expect more mature behavior from 70 year olds.



I don’t know. It’s some sort of video game that the kids are into. I don’t care.


Bill Cosby

Cosby was nominated for this same award back in 2014, at which time it was stated that “nothing has been proven and it never will be because the things that allegedly occurred happened far enough in the past that statutes of limitations have all run out”. That was wrong, because in April 2018 he was convicted on three counts of aggravated indecent assault and sentenced to 3-10 years in prison. What a sad fate for the 81 year old comic legend.


Water On Mars

Back in the summer researchers discovered a lake about 12 miles wide under the south polar ice cap on Mars. Previous research found possible signs of intermittent liquid water flowing on the Martian surface, but this is the first sign of a persistent body of water on the planet in the present day.


Papa John

John Schnatter, founder & CEO of the pizza giant, stepped down about a year ago after allegedly controversial comments made about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his poor handling of the infamous anthem protest. He then landed in hot water again last summer after using a racial slur in a conversation about the anthem protests. The truth?? Schnatter is a Republican & a Trump supporter, and the things he said wouldn’t have been that big of a deal if he wasn’t.


Yanny or Laurel??

Last May social media & other outlets were abuzz due to an audio recording in which a person heard a voice say either the word “Yanny” or the word “Laurel”. I heard “Laurel” clear as a bell, as did the majority of my friends & family, though there were exceptions. The whole thing is an auditory illusion, as both sounds are on the recording. Some people focus on the higher frequency & hear “Yanny”, while others zero in on the lower frequency of the word “Laurel”. At any rate, it was a frivolously fun bit of conversation for a day or two.




and The Sammy goes to…..




Roseanne Barr. Do I care that her show was cancelled? Not at all. Do I care about the fate of The Conners? Nope. However, I do believe it is sad how overly sensitive we’ve become in America. I think Barr should have been smarter, more aware of how tenuous her position was (given her “controversial” political opinions), & mindful of the fact that comedy has…unfortunately…been put under a politically correct microscope. I don’t consider what she tweeted to be the least bit offensive, and it actually has elements of truth, but one must understand how The Game is played in 21st century America. One must be ready to conform or suffer the consequences. Social media is a minefield, and the punishment can be swift & harsh…or even catch up to a person many years later. The rules are rather fluid.




To present our next award we are proud to introduce a young lad who became somewhat famous this past year after being discovered by talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. He is a YouTube sensation whose brutally honest videos critiquing odd recipes are absolutely hysterical. Jesus take the wheel…it’s Kalen Allen!! And the nominees are:




The DB Cooper Award (For the Person Who Most Needs to Disappear)


Don Lemon

Is there a bigger douchenozzle in the media than CNN’s Don Lemon?? Since he’s black AND gay he is beloved by leftists everywhere, but what strikes me is just how angry & bitter he seems. The man is 52 years old, has a great TV gig, & the world is his oyster. What’s his freakin’ problem?? Remember the days when the folks reporting the news were atleast pretty good at hiding their bias?? Those days are gone, and Lemon is the poster child for everything wrong with his profession.


Samantha Bee

Full disclosure…I’ve never watched an episode of Bee’s TBS show Full Frontal. However, I watch enough reruns of The Big Bang Theory on that channel to have seen multiple ads for the show, and I just don’t get it. Okay okay…I understand political humor and the fact that Jon Stewart made such shows cool, and I can be as snarky as anyone. I have no issue with any of that, even if I disagree with the views being expressed. But humor…like great music & good food…requires a certain dexterity & finesse. Bee’s brand of bombastic sarcasm seems to be turned up to 11 all the time, and I can’t imagine sitting thru thirty minutes of that is enjoyable for anybody. It’s the same issue that has ruined late night talk shows. You want to go after President Trump?? Okay, that’s fair. But full throttle?? Every day?? At some point the beatdown becomes tedious and people want to laugh at different jokes.


The Obamas

Most former Presidents & First Ladies fade away into the sunset, shunning the limelight & letting their successors do their thing, whether or not they agree politically. Not these two. They seize every opportunity to soak in the adulation that people still inexplicably shower upon them, and never miss a chance to criticize & undermine the current Administration. It’s disgusting.


Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

I cannot believe that the people of New York actually voted this imbecile into Congress. Let’s face it…there are two political parties, and depending on one’s education, background, lifestyle, etc. there are going to be some politicians that we agree with & some we don’t…but generally we can all concede the fact that the folks representing us in cities & states nationwide as well as those populating Washington DC are reasonably intelligent people regardless of philosophical differences. I’m not sure that’s the case with this one. She’s the youngest person ever voted into the United States Congress and it shows. She seemingly has a very tenuous grasp on economic reality, common sense, & critical thinking, and appears to have the maturity level of the drunken sorority babes that I used to chat up in bars at 1am twenty-five years ago. I’m not familiar with Ms. Cortez’s district or the circumstances that led folks there to believe for a single solitary second that she was a reasonably good choice, but it is difficult to fathom that they could’ve have had worse options.


Robert DeNiro

Not only did DeNiro stop making good movies over a decade ago, but now he fancies himself a political commentator & socioeconomic expert. The truth is that he’s just a foul-mouthed, washed up, angry has-been like so many of his Hollywood friends. Stay in your lane Bobby.


Omarosa Manigault-Newman

I don’t watch reality television, and that includes Trump’s old show The Apprentice. Apparently this woman was a controversial contestant on that program over a decade ago, and then she became a staffer on the Presidential campaign a few years back. After Trump won the election he hired her to be part of his staff at the White House, but she lasted less than a year before resigning or being forced out (depending on who you believe). Since her departure from The White House Omarosa has gone completely off the rails, publicly turning against her old boss, releasing tapes of private conversations, & writing a “tell-all” book that the President’s staff has said is basically a load of poppycock. I have always been amazed by how some reality TV “stars” are successful at remaining in the spotlight far longer than they deserve, and in this case President Trump has to share part of the blame for helping the woman retain a shred of relevance before she used his kindness against him for her own gain.


Oprah Winfrey

For a brief moment in 2018 there was actually a movement afoot to persuade Oprah to run for President in 2020. Please…give me a freakin’ break. She’d be ten times the nightmare Donald Trump has been at his very worst.


Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, & Jimmy Kimmel

I’m over the whole late night TV thing. Oh sure I get a bit nostalgic occasionally & miss the good ol’ days of Carson, Letterman, Leno, Snyder, Costas, & Ferguson. I might even tune into Fallon for 5 or 10 minutes once in awhile. But for the most part I have become quite comfortable spending time after the late local news reading a bit, watching a movie, playing a game on my phone, catching up on whatever I’ve DVRed, chillin’ with some tunes, or even going to sleep at a decent hour. And it’s all because of these guys. Sadly they are all young enough that they’ll probably be hosting their shows for another two or three decades, but it’d be nice if they’d all just disappear from television and be replaced by hosts who would return the format to its former glory and decide that being funny is more important than being a political hack.


Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

I wish no ill will toward Justice Ginsburg. I hope she lives until she’s 150. But the fact is that, at 85 years old, she no longer has the mental capacity to sit on The Supreme Court. A Supreme Court justice should be one of the sharpest individuals with one of the keenest minds on the planet, and there are very few people that age that meet such criteria, no matter how brilliant they once were. I am a strict constructionist when it comes to The Constitution, so I hesitate to advocate for a mandatory retirement age or term limits for The Court, but one would hope that Justice Ginsburg will do the right thing sooner rather than later, despite what she may think about the current President or feel about his power to replace her with someone with whom she might not agree.




and The Sammy goes to…..




All of Them. Y’all know the drill by now. These people just need to shut their pieholes. Go away. Get out. Good riddance. Don’t let the door hit you where the Good Lord split you.






To present our next award we are honored to welcome a big screen legend who began his career on television and has the perfect voice for radio. He is an Academy Award winning actor who has starred in classics like The Shawshank Redemption, Deep Impact, Now You See Me, Christoper Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, & Bruce Almighty. Let’s raise the roof for Morgan Freeman!! And the nominees are:





Favorite TV/Radio Program


This Is Us

After winning this award in its first two seasons I feel like This Is Us has kind of slacked off in its third year. Now that the mystery of how & when patriarch Jack Pearson met his demise is in the rear view mirror some of the luster has worn off for me. It’s still a well-written & performed program, but I must admit that I lost interest a few episodes into Season 3 and still need to do a bit of catching up before the show returns from its “winter break” this month.


Pardon the Interruption

Tony & Mike continue to represent curmudgeons & cantankerous old fogeys everywhere in the glut of sports debate programming. One or both are absent with some frequency, but “Fill In” Frank Isola has become a decent substitute.


The Young & the Restless

I’m really going to be interested to see the direction Y&R heads in during 2019, because this past year was a bit of a roller coaster. Too many new characters, too many familiar characters absent without explanation, and plots that drag on far too long are some of the key issues the show faced in 2018, although it was still entertaining enough for me to DVR on a daily basis and catch up on late at night at a time when I used to be watching talk shows that were once funny.


WV MetroNews Hotline

Dave Weekley is back!! The original host of West Virginia’s late afternoon statewide radio show returned in 2018, and he hasn’t missed a beat. The program is still a potpourri of sports, news, current events, entertainment, & whatever else one might deem interesting. I need to make more of an effort to catch the podcast this year…it’s not like I have anything else better to do.


Highly Questionable

The only other show on ESPN besides PTI that is worthy of space on my DVR. Dan, Papi, & a rogue’s gallery of co-hosts offer intermittently biting, mostly irreverent, & always entertaining commentary on hot sports topics, and they throw in the occasional goofy video of random people doing something completely stupid. It’s a great formula with the right personalities.


General Hospital

I love my DVR, and one of the few shows that I record on a daily basis is GH. A big reason that I have been unable to pull the trigger on giving up my soap operas completely is because GH is still such a well-written & entertaining program with solid performances & compelling stories.




and The Sammy goes to…..



Highly Questionable. This might be considered somewhat of an upset, but amongst the competition HQ has become the most consistently entertaining program on a daily basis. I think what I like best is that it is a show that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The problem with ESPN the past several years is that so many of its reporters & hosts want to make sports more important than it really is. I love sports. Football, baseball, basketball, golf, & all the rest of it has been an essential part of my life, but at the end of the day it’s a game…frivolous fun designed as a distraction from the rigors of real life. Dan, Papi, & their revolving door of itinerant co-hosts understand that. They are comfortable with their relatively low spot on the television totem pole and have fun with it rather than try to convince the masses that the next thirty minutes will be life changing. I respect that, and more importantly, I laugh almost every single day at a goofy video shown on HQ or the hosts’ reaction to it. Shouldn’t that be the goal of a good TV show??






This seems like the appropriate place to take another break. Please join us soon for the exciting conclusion of the 2018 Sammy Awards!!

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!!

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 6.15

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

PopeI’m not Catholic, so I don’t get the whole Pope thing. He’s just a guy. Okay okay…he’s a preacher. I like preachers. I respect preachers. I believe that they are called into ministry and serve an important function in God’s Kingdom. However, it seems silly to me to weep in the dude’s presence or to think that touching his robe will somehow bring about a miracle. The Pope isn’t necessary for a miracle. Jesus is present anywhere & everywhere His presence is welcomed and He can make miracles happen. I won’t get into my personal opinions about the current Pope in particular, but I will say that I find the hero worship…especially by politicians & “journalists” who routinely advocate killing innocent babies, propagate racial & economic rancor, promote deviant & sinful lifestyles, and consistently ridicule The Bible & its teachings…to be more than a little bit disingenuous.



I think I would like autumn a lot more if it were followed by spring. Pumpkins, falling leaves, bonfires, flannel, hot soup, ghost fallstories, candy corn, hayrides, & apple cider are all undeniably quaint & enchanting, but the fact that they are a gateway to long, cold, snowy winter is depressing and sort of kills the mood.



Facepalm computerYou know that thing on Facebook where you “like” or “comment” on someone’s crazy status and then they message you basically saying it was a trick and now you have to post some kind of crazy status or do something wacky?? Yeah…I don’t play those kind of games because…well, I’m an adult. Your mileage may vary and that’s okay.



The resignation of John Boehner is a step in the right direction for Congress, but it’s a bit bonerlate in the game. He should have never been re-elected Speaker of the House after the last election. And I am justifiably concerned that another RINO will be chosen as his successor, which will just bring us back to the same predicament we’ve been in all along.



Oh…speaking of Facebook…..
For the love of God people…PLEASE stop posting statuses saying that “Channel 13 News” has said that we’re all going to be charged $5.99 to keep our stuff private but one can avoid the charge by copying & pasting a big paragraph full of legal mumbo jumbo. First of all, this hoax has been perpetrated a few times before. I can’t believe that people facebook-147are still dumb enough to fall for it. Secondly, Facebook’s business model has always been to make all their money from advertisers and the last time I checked Mark Zuckerberg was a billionaire so it must be working. And lastly, if/when this business model changes I am confident that we’d all be told about it well in advance thru proper channels, and one would either pay the money or leave Facebook. Do you honestly believe that simply posting a status would give you a free pass on any kind of user fee?? That’s idiotic. It’d be like going to McDonald’s and being given the choice to either pay for your meal or dance a jig on the roof of the restaurant. When you copy & paste this faux status you look like an uneducated, illiterate, ill-informed fool with absolutely zero common sense. Everyone is laughing at you. Just stop it.



I’m not scientifically inclined enough to fully understand the potential significance of water being present on Mars, but it sounds marsrather cool. Once upon a time in America we were excited about space exploration…eager to find out “what’s out there”. We walked on the moon. We sent shuttles up frequently. And then over time the populace started to get bored. People began to whine & complain about all the money being spent on the space program, in part because they were afraid of losing their free ride from the government, and also because the powers-that-be did a poor job of focusing on objectives & defining the mission to the public. Just a few decades ago this latest news from Mars would have been the lead story and cause for much buzz & excitement. America’s love for sci-fi…franchises like Star Trek & Star Wars, writers like Ray Bradbury & Robert Heinlein…was built on the foundation of a fascination with space and its mysteries. It is probably true that our nation has collectively gotten lazier & less curious, more interested in The Bachelor than The Enterprise. However, let’s not sell ourselves short. We should continue going boldly where no one has gone before & exploring strange new worlds. America needs to lead the charge…not be mildly interested spectators.