We've been having a candy-fest here at the Food Channel—only appropriate, given that today is Halloween. And, thanks to our ace producer, Dan Fromson, we've had some ace posts by the Candy Professor herself, Samira Kawash, who has been particularly thoughtful and provocative on my favorite Halloween candy and hers, candy corn—which, to extend her discussion of its history and marketing and into the (don't laugh, though I'll admit it's arguable) culinary realm, I value for the same rush of softly melting sugar that makes me love all kinds of fondant, the technical name for what's in the middle of Peppermint Patties. The flavor hardly matters—in fact, there really isn't much flavor. It's the sugar sensation and the texture.
As it is with my other favorite Halloween candy, Peeps. Yes, I know, it's an Easter candy. But the manufacturer of course wants to extend the season and the sales, so as I write this I methodically go through one garish little orange pumpkin after another, in the paper-doll joined way of the unapologetically mass-produced, flavorless, survive-nuclear-holocaust marshmallows. Yes, I also know that, as with Kawash and her finding candy corn irresistible where apparently others shut their eyes and think of happy trick-or-treaters, people loathe Peeps. When I was talking about candy before going on CNN's "American Morning" on Friday, a poised, professional television producer and host of her own series suddenly became incredulous and impassioned when she said, "You don't like marshmallow, do you?"
Well, yes, I like sugar, as I have freely admitted in an Atlantic piece on the new and improved Necco wafer, in a related post praising my college pal Paul Rudnick's all-candy diet, and as I did on the CNN show the other day—which was a lot of fun. (Transcript here, and we hope to get a video link soon.) There was something of a serious point, too: The sugar you see in front of you, and your children will tonight and tomorrow, might put you and them on a sugar-overload rush, but you see it and know what you're consuming—just like salt in the shaker on the table, and unlike sugary sodas and fruit drinks and the sodium that overwhelms so much processed food. So monitor yourself and your children but don't deny yourself or them—and work for industry regulation to keep unseen and unwanted levels of sugar and sodium out of our diet.
The producers had laid in a lot of Halloween candy for the set, which made a lot of crew members very happy the second we finished the segment. And I got to bring home some Charleston Chews, another favorite that is a regional candy, a continuing glory of American penny candy even amidst constant consolidation (it was even discussed in the Massachusetts legislature as a possible state candy bar), and several gratifyingly long rolls of Necco wafers (also discussed as state candy).
All of them and more set for tonight's trick-or-treaters! And, as is the real gift of Halloween, for us to eat, just to use up the leftovers of course, for weeks to come. Happy sugary Halloween.