Our latest guest writer deserves a grander-than-usual introduction. Kate Hopkins is the celebrated author of the book Sweet Tooth: The Bittersweet History of Candy, released this year by St. Martin’s Press. A few weeks back, we asked her to write a bit about her new book, as well as share her perspective on candy. Never one to miss a chance to talk about candy, she took us up on the offer.
There is a “thing” about candy which most of us fans are aware of, but to which we rarely put words. In the course of my travels in writing the book, I believe that I’ve been able to come up with some of the reasons why confections resonate with us.
For one, it is, at its heart, a treat. There’s no nutritional value of note for the regular consumption of candy, making it one of the few foods out there that makes it an affordable luxury item. When we look at candy, we’re not thinking “I was thinking I needed to get my daily allowance of carbohydrates and Antioxidants.” No, we’re thinking “Oooo…caramel with marshmallow! I need to have some of that!”
And for those brief few minutes that we consume the candy, we’re separated from the moment. Whatever stresses we may have had, whatever worries we may have been carrying with us, are temporarily put aside. Yes, life may be difficult, but it’s made less so knowing that there’s chocolate- coated peanut butter out there.
Secondly, it’s nostalgic. While scientists may focus on the components of the candy bar, they ignore what are not there – the memories that come with them. Every fan of candy that I’ve talked with has a story that transports them to their youth, whether it’s the piece of candy that their grandfather would “sneak” to them, or the baseball coach who gave little leaguers Bazooka Joe before taking the playing field, everyone who loves candy has a memory surrounding it that they treasure. Nostalgia is a powerful motivator, and a romantic one at that. Eating candy is its own time machine, transporting us back, however briefly, to when we were seven years old, and nothing was more important that the day we had a dollar in our pocket and the permission to buy our own treat.