Cheap and Cheerful Children’s Chocolate

Dearest Rachel –

For the longest time, All Souls’ Day and Easter Monday were holidays for us as an immediate family. Not as a religious observation, of course, but more as a shopping event. Assuming we – and by ‘we,’ I mean you – could remember to do so early enough in the day, you would head out to the local grocery store (or drugstore), and pick up bags of candy that had gone unsold from the previous holiday, which now were marked down to ridiculous levels.

And thus, we would stock up on candy for the next few months – ideally. In reality, we would wind up building veritable strategic reserves of candy that would hang around for years – some, only to be thrown out (rightfully, I’m forced to admit) as part of Jan’s purges.

It’s not something I’d pin entirely upon you, mind you, so please don’t think that I am. Particularly after Halloween, my family had this tradition of ‘afternoon candy,’ where, after getting home from school, I was allowed one piece of candy from my Halloween stash. As a result, I could make that haul last until well into December, depending on how many houses I’d hit and how generous the neighbors were with their offerings. So, post-holiday candy came perfectly naturally to me; I just hadn’t had to buy it myself back in those days.

I also made a point to make sure I ate the candy and chocolates I didn’t care for as much first – or, in certain cases, give any the ones I particularly loathed, such as anything with nuts in it (unlike my sister Jenn, I wasn’t allergic to the stuff; I just didn’t like it. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I realized just how tasty macadamia turtles could be. Of course, that realization went hand-in-hand with the understanding that the fat and calorie count of macadamia nuts rivalled – and possibly even surpassed – that of the chocolate and caramel it was bathed in, so yeah…) – so that I would enjoy everything that much more as I came to the end of the stash. There’s nothing so awful as ‘giri-choco.’

I should explain that term to those who are reading this, because I don’t mean it quite the way the Japanese do. The phrase literally translates to “obligation chocolate,” and it refers to their tradition of schoolgirls buying and molding chocolate to give to people on Valentine’s Day (to which boys are expected to reciprocate the following with white chocolate on what they refer to as White Day – although the boys aren’t expected to melt and mold their own confections, as that’s apparently women’s work). While it’s basically intended to be given to one’s… intended, it’s kind of morphed into a situation where the girls are expected to give at least some to all of their classmates, and even teachers, much the same way valentine cards would be distributed to all classmates here in the States back in the day (although our tradition has, I think, been scaled back or even eliminated in many places, due to the potential injury to certain kids’ self-esteem). The chocolate thus given out to people other than their crush is done more out of a sense of duty than actual affection, hence ‘giri-choco.’

Of course, the obligation on the receiver’s part becomes that of eating the chocolate. And you’d think that wouldn’t pose any difficulty. Who doesn’t like chocolate, after all? Yeah, about that… I don’t know if it’s a factor of age or taste or maturity, but I’ve discovered that, while I still have a prominent sweet tooth, I prefer my chocolate with a little more nuance. Dark chocolate, I’m all over, but milk chocolate does next to nothing for me anymore. And wouldn’t you know it, most of the stuff being sold for these holidays (and thus on sale after said holidays) is milk chocolate. Jenn actually presented Daniel and I with a couple of chocolate rabbits yesterday after the family had gone out to eat.

We chatted for a while when we came by to pick them up, and Daniel kind of mashed his flat while we were talking.

Understand, it’s not that we aren’t going to eat them, but it wouldn’t have been something we would have gone out and gotten for ourselves. I think that’s part of the reason why, when we would stockpile bags and bags of bargain candy after the holidays, it would all sit around rather than being eaten; eating it became more of an obligation to consume rather than something we sought out, or even felt like eating. I know I’ve expressed dismay over the fact that we’ve had to throw so much out, but it does go stale over time – particularly the peanut-butter cups that used to be a favorite of Daniel’s, but bringing them to his attention nowadays doesn’t get much of a reaction out of him at all, let alone a positive or enthusiastic one.

And this phenomenon isn’t exclusive to chocolate, either. While we were visiting with Jenn, she asked if I would like her black jelly beans as well.

And she had a bagful all made up for me, too. I can only imagine the size of the original bag of jelly beans these had come packaged with, to have this many of this particularly despised flavor.

It seems I’m literally the only member of the family that eats licorice, or anything thus flavored. Note that I said ‘eats,’ not so much ‘likes’: I will eat the stuff, as well as licorice-flavored spice drops, but they aren’t even my favorite flavor (I think I lean toward cherry for your standard jelly bean, and clove for spice drops). But, like you, I can’t countenance throwing out perfectly good candy – although I guess it all boils down to how one defines ‘perfectly good.’

The amusing this about this situation is that it would seem that excess isn’t limited to these holidays, nor is it limited to candy. When Logan came over on Saturday, he mentioned that his family had bought way too much matzo for Passover, and would we be interested in a spare box that he’d brought with him to fob off on whoever he could find?

Naturally, we said ‘sure’; you’d be so proud of us, even though I’m sure that Jan is facepalming as she’s reading this.

So, it looks like I will, in fact, be going shopping on my way home from the ‘office’ today. Not so much for bargain candy, though, but for pizza toppings, or maybe barbeque sauce, canned chicken and jack cheese. Broil those up on one of these, and that could be some decent eating before club tonight. Whaddya say?

Until later, honey, wish me luck. I’ll probably need it; that, and a little self control.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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