The All-Candy Diet

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I've long made no secret of the very prominent role sugar plays in my daily diet, particularly during the daylight hours (I stop caffeine at 1:00 p.m. and sugar by 6:00 p.m., or at least try to). I led a piece on high-fructose corn syrup as an unsatisfactory soda and iced-tea sweetener by saying,

Even someone who ingests indecent quantities of sugar on a daily basis, as I do, understands that certain things can be too sweet.

And my column this month in the print magazine--no link! subscribe!--is on the laudable effort to substitute the harsh, synthetic flavors and colors of decorate, sugary Necco wafers with natural flavors and dyes--something the Associated Press seems to have noticed only yesterday. (Yes, a monthly magazine can still get the jump on a 24-hour news gatherer, especially on stories of great moment.)

Candy is candy, and should dare speak its name.

A New York Times story today on Paul Rudnick's nearly all-sugar diet recapitulates a story my dinner guests brought up just a few nights ago. The context was the shocking-to-us refusal by the Asian-themed restaurant where we had torn through a very long parade of dishes--many of them so good we ordered doubles--to serve dessert. What a cheat! No green-tea ice cream, even. A consolation demitasse of chocolate melted with cream didn't console us much.

The subject of Rudnick and his nearly all-sugar diet then came up, as it often does among his friends. He is thin, strong, and perfectly healthy, as everyone including the Times writer notices with (I would say envious) surprise. As he was the very first person I met at the college I wound up going to (in the theater's green room, though he was memorably all in black and on a black sofa), I've long taken an admiring interest in his refusal to compromise--as I do every night, at full and sugar-free dinners. And now he has a new book, I Shudder, that will provide scary reading for parents and funny reading for all the rest of us fans, longtime and new.

This is the week to buy "junk" candy, preferably locally made ones like the Charleston Chews and Tootsie Rolls that are still made in a factory near me (the company's headquarters is in Chicago) that sends out marvelous chocolate smells in a new restaurant row in Cambridge. Not gourmet candy, which is wasted on trick-or-treaters and, as Rudnick I think rightly points out, on most adults. What's the point, really? Candy is candy, and should dare speak its name. But nicer flavors in the same familiar template--that's something worth tasting for yourself, as you do your supposedly-for-the-kids Halloween shopping.

What's your favorite candy? Share in the comments.

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Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." More

Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." Julia Child once said, "I think he's a very good food writer. He really does his homework. As a reporter and a writer he takes his work very seriously." Kummer's 1990 Atlantic series about coffee was heralded by foodies and the general public alike. The response to his recommendations about coffees and coffee-makers was typical--suppliers scrambled to meet the demand. As Giorgio Deluca, co-founder of New York's epicurean grocery Dean & Deluca, says: "I can tell when Corby's pieces hit; the phone doesn't stop ringing." His book, The Joy of Coffee, based on his Atlantic series, was heralded by The New York Times as "the most definitive and engagingly written book on the subject to date." In nominating his work for a National Magazine Award (for which he became a finalist), the editors wrote: "Kummer treats food as if its preparation were something of a life sport: an activity to be pursued regularly and healthfully by knowledgeable people who demand quality." Kummer's book The Pleasures of Slow Food celebrates local artisans who raise and prepare the foods of their regions with the love and expertise that come only with generations of practice. Kummer was restaurant critic of New York Magazine in 1995 and 1996 and since 1997 has served as restaurant critic for Boston Magazine. He is also a frequent food commentator on television and radio. He was educated at Yale, immediately after which he came to The Atlantic. He is the recipient of five James Beard Journalism Awards, including the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award.

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