America’s got issues right now, y’all. The citrus in chief is about to get us nuked. Racists are racisting harder than ever. Shrimp went off sale at Publix.
In the words of a great Detroit poet, how the eff do we ’pose to keep peace?
One word (OK, two): candy corn.
For the uninitiated, candy corn is the orange, yellow and white, kernel-shaped goodness that peaks in popularity each Halloween.
Now, I happen to be a lover of candy corn from way back. I’ll snatch it clean out of a child’s pumpkin. I’ll pick through your WHOLE candy dish to get three of ’em. Shame is not an emotion with which I am familiar when it comes to these buttery jewels of tastiness.
In other words, candy corn is life.
So imagine my shock when it recently came to my attention that the deliciousness of candy corn is a controversial, nay, divisive issue! There’s seemingly no in-between—you either believe candy corn tastes like kitten whiskers and baby smiles, or you consider them vile hell nibs implicated in at least one political assassination.
It’s obvious who’s right (!), but families and Facebook friendships are being ruined over this, and I just don’t believe that’s what Martin Luther the King intended. Let us set aside our differences and fight the real enemy—all of the other scientifically proven, conclusively nasty candy that has slipped under the Halloween radar for many years.
I’m talking Tootsie Rolls, Mike and Ikes, and them hard-ass colored things that perpetually haunt church-lady handbags. Here are four more of the world’s most evil candies, ranked in ascending order of ability to induce sadness. Prepare for solemn reflection.
4. Red Vines
I believe it was one of the low points of candy-making history—after the horror of ribbon candy but before the joyful age of Butterfinger—that gave birth to the senselessness of Red Vines/Red Nibs. I theorize that this illusion of candy emerged during the Depression, when people were so distressed that chewing a faintly flavored polyethylene derivative was actually an enjoyable distraction. But today we know these are just wax pieces that would normally be molded into tool handles. You’re OK with that? Then eat these. But know that you can cut the middleman and just eat a pillar candle whenever you’re ready.
3. Tootsie Rolls
I was over 25 when I learned that these were being marketed as “chocolate.” The lie detector test determined that was a lie—no other chocolate ON EARTH has the consistency of these things. Hard yet somehow soft. Flavored yet somehow flavorless. They have the exact viscosity and taste of wood putty. Who decided this material should stop being something used to grease train wheels (clearly its original intent) and start being packaged as a delightful treat? Who is eating these and where are they purchased? These little pellets of despair are the Jheri curls of candy: Nobody knows how they keep happening. Yet every year, there they are.
2. Mary Janes
Sometime around the turn of the 19th century, I suspect, rogue beekeepers began collecting bee shit, blending it with moldy peanuts and selling it as the bricks of sorrow they call Mary Janes. The mere smell of this “candy” makes my larynx spasm. Even the packaging is depressing. It looks like something you got once a week as a treat with your porridge at the orphanage. Better yet, something you got when you acted out at the orphanage—punishment candy! By the way, candy should not have angles. Naturally these candies are brought to us by Necco, makers of such (air quotes) favorites as nonpareils and those weird chalk wafers that come in a roll of wax paper that you always mistake for Tums, except Tums taste way better. Necco is clearly effin’ up.
1. Black Jelly Beans
There’s simply no other way to put it: Black jelly beans are actual Satan. There should be an entire branch of psychology dedicated to the complex, troubling emotions induced by black jelly beans. Make no mistake—black licorice is bad in general, but it’s easy to avoid; you simply don’t go to the candy shop in Hades. But black jelly beans are more insidious.
Who among us hasn’t thought they popped a grape jelly bean in their mouth, only to learn—when the taste trifecta of cinnamon, fennel and motor oil began to take hold—that they have, in fact, been catfished into eating Lucifer’s tears? Next come the involuntary physical sensations—wincing, shuddering, grimacing and finally benign placidity when you realize that, much like getting soap in your eye, accidentally eating a black jelly bean is a sensation you simply have to wait out. I know three people who love these things, one of whom is my very own father. Our relationship has been appropriately strained by this awareness.
Let’s lock arms and war no more—unless it is against nasty-ass candy. Honorable mentions for Baby Ruths, dark chocolate (I said what I said!) and anything foreign, such as the ball of salt and dirt my Dutch friend gave me and that became a three-day challenge to finish. I learned a lot about the roots of terrorism during those three days. I now think that several international incidents could have been prevented by Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. But nobody asked me.