When Vern says, “If I could have only one food for the rest of my life? That’s easy…Pez…Cherry-flavored Pez,” in Stand by Me, I totally understand his line of reasoning. Not so much that he picked cherry Pez because I think that Pez candies are just Flintstone vitamins without character. The Pez dispenser though, now that is just innovative. But the idea that if a person could only have one food item for the rest of their life it would be candy, pure Einstein.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love candy. A lot. Maybe a little too much, as will show in my dental records. But I can’t help it. You know the saying that when someone is so excited they’re “like a kid in a candy store?” For me, that’s the excitement I get when I’m in a candy store.
When I go up north to see family, we go into Wisconsin to the Jelly Belly “factory” (Read: Distribution Warehouse that they’ve made into a tourist attraction by having a miniature train take you on a “tour” of how Jelly Bellies are made. Basically you get on these little linked-together golf carts, throw on a paper hat and they drive you around to various wall-mounted flat screens that have video loops of what happens at the real factory. I don’t care what they call it, at the end I get free samples so I’m good.) After you’ve been driven around the outer edge of the skyscraping towers of boxed Jelly Belly products, they conveniently drop you off at the exit, which is the entrance to their OUTLET STORE! You don’t get to leave the factory until you trudge through mountains of colorful candy. It’s pure brilliance! I’ve never made it out of there with less than four pounds of candy. Once I got adventurous and tried some of the Harry Potter beans. I even tried the one that was called “BOOGER” and while I can’t vouch for whether it’s flavor is accurate, I can tell you that it tasted like a sinus infection.
Candy is everywhere. What does every holiday have in common? CANDY. Christmas has candy canes, Valentine’s Day has nasty little nostalgic chalky hearts (that I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone actually eat.) Easter is THE marshmallow holiday and the most important Candy Holiday, Halloween. I know some fellow Christians call it a satanic holiday and don’t let their kids go trick-or-treating and that’s their choice. But I was raised by Christian parents who let me trick-or-treat and other than a few unrelated quirks, (Shut it.) I think I turned out OK. Because to a kid, Halloween is not about anything Christian or satanic. Halloween is about candy. Nothing more, nothing less. MUST.GET.CANDY. And honestly, if I could get by with it, I would still be trick-or-treating. I’d make a great Wonder Woman.
My parents wouldn’t let me get a job in high school because they were afraid it would weaken my very strong B- C+ average. I lived at home for the first two years of college to complete my Gen. Ed. courses and to save money to go to a university to finish my studies, and it was then that I got my first job.
Yay! I would no longer be totally dependent on my parents for everything! I could go out to dinner with friends without asking for money! I could buy my own clothes! FREEDOM!……FREEDOM TO BUY ALL THE CANDY I COULD EVER WANT!
I tooled around in a few jobs and ended up at K-Mart. I started out in the “Fashions” department (Seriously? Why not just call it the “Clothes that either fade or fall apart the first time you wash them” department?) and spent most of my time folding and re-folding sweatpants. I quickly was promoted (to this day I fold a mean t-shirt, retail style) to work checkout. And with that promotion came a task that was right up my alley: Re-stocking the candy at the front lanes. Sweet! Literally!
But still I hadn’t thought of the brilliance of a candy drawer….
So now a professed candy-freak had a little bit of money in her pocket, a backstage pass to every piece of candy in the store and six to eight hours, four days a week in which to eat and buy candy. Usually working eight hour shifts, I had two fifteen minute breaks and one half hour lunch. So on my first break, I would buy a Mountain Dew and some kind of candy, usually gummies. My second break was reserved for chocolate and more Mountain Dew. Sleep? Who needs sleep? I’VE GOT CANDY!
I had a desk in my room…why didn’t I think of the candy drawer?
When I went away to college, I worked in the mall. This put me in the same building as a CANDY STORE for thirty two hours a week. When I became a manager, a Dollar Tree moved in RIGHT BESIDE MY STORE. So now, not only could I get candy on my regular lunch break, since I was a manager and couldn’t leave the store, I could send my little worker bees out for candy! For a dollar! And the Dollar Tree has an entire AISLE DEDICATED SOLELY TO CANDY! I could buy sour gummy worms, Runts, Nerds, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Twizzlers, and Cotton Candy all in one fell swoop! FOR.A.DOLLAR! The Queen Bee was content and slightly buzzed from a sugar high.
I had my own apartment with lots of drawers and access to the cheapest candy ever and still I did not devote a nook to my candy…
I moved on to selling mobile phones with AT&T (And to those of you who wouldn’t spend the extra five bucks on text messaging because you thought it was ridiculous, I say to you in a Nelson-from-the-Simpsons voice: HA HA!) in a store that was located right beside a Casey’s General Store/Gas Station. Break time equals Candy time. As for the weight gain that took me three years to get under control, I blame the hours of TV Land, Chinese take-out and Little Debbie Snack Cakes, not my beloved candy.
At this point I was making enough money to build my candy it’s own dark cherry humidor, but alas, the thought never crossed my mind…
With a few moves here and there for short periods of time, I have now settled into my current residence. I moved in right before Halloween. As well as having a lot of floor space, my home has surprisingly large closets and drawers. The first thing I did after unpacking, and getting Yadi…Ok, the third thing I did was to go to Target the day after Halloween.
I may have gone a little overboard. But everything was ninety percent off! How can I pass up such a deal? I walked out with eighteen dollars’ worth of candy: Jack-o-Peeps, flavored Hershey Kisses (the candy corn ones are the best. Caramel apple, meh.) Bags of regular AND flavored Candy Corn, Gummy Fingers and Toes and Brains and Noses, Chocolate-flavored (It bears mention here that Chocolate-flavored and Chocolate are NOT the same thing. Made that mistake once.) Krispie-injected Pumpkins and more Willie Wonka than I knew what to do with. Every holiday since has followed suit.
So if you BUY eighteen dollars’ worth (at ninety percent off, so it’s probably closer to two hundred dollars’ worth) of candy at a time, it follows that you have to STORE two hundred dollars’ worth (just so you understand the magnitude of this purchase) of candy at one time.
And on this day unto me was born a candy drawer. The potholders would have to shack up with the forks.
By Christmas of the next year, the candy drawer had not only taken on a bigger residence in my home (the dishtowels moved in Three’s Company style with the potholders and the forks.) but had begun to make its importance known to the pot pies that it was slowly edging out in the freezer.
The thing with buying in bulk, is that once I come to the realization of how ridiculous it is to have three pounds of Sour Brite Crawlers, I tend to slow down on the stockpiling of candy. This realization smacked me in the face (more specifically, the mouth) about eight months ago at my dreaded routine dental check-up when Dr. Scrivello and I exchanged our usual pleasantries:
“How are you today, Miss Jennifer?” he says, settling on to the dental stool, letting out a barely heard burp. Onions. Nice. Note to self: schedule next dental exam BEFORE he goes to lunch.
“I’d be better if I weren’t here,” I reply, every time. And every time neither Dr. Scrivello nor his hygienist so much as chuckle.
“Let’s take a looksee, shall we?” he says, ignoring my lame attempt at humor. Despite the classic rock playing over the loudspeaker system (I kid you not, once I was in the chair waiting for a filling and Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” came on. Again, I was the only one who found this even remotely amusing.) he begins to hum something that is not recognizable as he gently pries my mouth open the same way you do a dog when you want to give her a heartworm pill.
“Da dee dee da da da dee dee dee DAAAAA! (The big finish of his solo hum.) Well kid, it looks like you’ve got a cavity. I thought we’d be past this point by now,” he speaks kindly.
Yes, KID, we probably should be past the point of having a cavity because we are THIRTY SIX YEARS OLD!
And it is with that one statement that my bulk candy days end, as swiftly as they begin although with much less fanfare. I still have the candy drawer and it is still always full but now I don’t spend a dime over ten dollars at a time.
But I still buy it for ninety percent off.