The Sweets Issue
Everyone's got kinks, those complicating twists en route to pleasure that make the journey all the sweeter. For some, it's a leather hood with a zipper across the mouth. For others, it's a love interest that comes on aloof and disdainful and is methodically thawed into devotion. For me, it is candy that tastes like poison.
It started in the early '80s, when I first experienced Brach's Christmas Spicettes, red and green gumdrops that crossbred the inside of jelly beans with the inside of a medicine cabinet. Red Spicettes were cinnamon (like the most delicious toothpaste). Green Spicettes were mint (like the second most delicious toothpaste). Both were intoxicatingly delicious, the heavy sweetness cut with a sharp slash of spice, instantly enslaving me.
When the winter holidays were over, Christmas Spicettes disappeared, leaving me in need of a fix, which I found in the drugstore candy aisle. Among the available-year-round candy-spice blasts: Hot Tamales Cinnamon candies (miraculous), Red Hots Cinnamon Imperials (fine in a pinch), and Spice Drops, the nonseasonal spicy gumdrop with an expanded flavor palate. Beyond the Christmassy red and green, Spice Drops involve orange (clove), yellow (lemon menthol), white (spearmint), and purple (air pollution?). All are delicious.
But for reasons I can only presume have to do with the Catholic appreciation of combining sin and salvation, medicine candy is inextricably linked with the seasons of Jesus. Beyond the Christmas Spicettes, Easter brings the awesome monstrosity of Spicy & Tangy Jelly Bird Eggs, normal-looking jelly beans whose flavors span the breadth of the medicine cabinet, featuring all the colors of Spice Drops listed above and going even further. White Spicy & Tangy Jelly Bird Eggs taste like someone stripped all the minty wax from a spool of dental floss and rolled it into a ball, while orange ones taste like God knows what. Orange marshmallow Circus Peanuts soaked in kerosene? The smell of a stinky bathroom sprayed with concentrated citrus transformed into a taste? Pass me another, I'll figure it out.