A Tribute To the Christmas Nougat

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Halloween has come and gone, just like my sleep the day that Stranger Things 2 dropped on Netflix. In America, certain holidays are celebrated with sugar. Massive, gigantic amounts of sugar in the form of candy.

We start in February with Valentine’s Day. Everybody wants a SWEET-heart, right? The candy industry floods stores with red and pink wrapped treats for the first two months of the calendar year and the only way to swoon your prospective love is with heart-shaped chocolate.

Then…Easter. Holy smokes does that bunny love candy. Cadbury eggs are my guilty pleasure, but each has their own including some weirdos who claim to like Peeps. What color do those stores switch to for the Resurrection of Jesus? Pastels. LOADS of pastels.

There is a general lull in between Easter and Halloween, but because of Memorial Day, the 4th of July and Labor Day, the candy aisle generally has a star-spangled look during the summer.

Then…Halloween. The candy holiday of all candy holidays. What’s the color? ORANGE. You don’t like it? TOOOOOO BAD. Halloween will take over half of Wal-Mart each year for months at a time from costumes to pumpkins to candy to anything else you need for a two-hour stretch that kids knock on strangers’ doors for free candy.

Thanksgiving gets a pass on the candy front — it’s mostly a savory holiday with the turkey and dressing. Besides, stores have to prep for CHRISTMAS and NEW YEAR’S. I think if the candy companies could get away with it, they’d take the candy they didn’t sell at Halloween, slap a red and green label on it and re-sell it in December. Regardless, Christmas candy has its own special flavor, and one of those is the point of this blog post today.

The Christmas Nougat. 

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Look at it. Isn’t it beautiful?

I love this thing. First off, let’s look at the design. Striped along the outer edges. White and red. Red and white. Immediately it evokes feelings of candy canes, and with good reason. The inner portion is a white field, much like the snowy fields that many picture when they think of winter and the holiday season. Finally, the tree. Just look at that magnificent green little tree. And it would be SO easy for the candy makers to simply make the tree trunk green as well, but if you look closely it is brown, as it ought to be. Is the tree artificial or a real tree? Much like Schrödinger’s Cat, it exists in both states and is a perfect representation of the season for people who get their tree at Hobby Lobby or from nature.

Then, we unwrap the candy.

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Just…wow. 

It comes off clean. Whatever Brach’s has done to the consistency and texture of the candy, if the product is fresh and at the right temperature, it won’t stick. Best of all, it’s ready to eat. Small enough to pop right into your mouth, it goes from being semi-hard to soft thanks to the saliva working through your mouth. The peppermint flavor rushes through and takes you towards Christmas, even if the holiday is two months away. It transforms in your mouth to something not quite akin to chewing gum. Right when you are content, the candy is dissolved and gone. Ready for another one.

Eventually the bag is gone, and then the holiday season as well. On to Valentine’s Day and another year away from the Christmas Nougat. I’ll love you while you’re here, and miss you when you’re gone.

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Reader Requests #4 — Bilbies, Donuts, and Peeps

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I put out another call for blog ideas from my Facebook friends and family tonight and they did not let me down. Most of those ideas contained a kernel of similarity – food. Let’s kick it off, shall we?


 

Easter Bunnies.

Cute, adorable, giver of chocolate and hard-boiled eggs.

Except…maybe not.

Every year, numerous well-meaning parents in the U.S. adopt rabbits around Easter as gifts for their children. According to an article on Chicago Now:

“Too many families purchase a rabbit on impulse for Easter gifts and they don’t realize how complicated rabbit care can be,” says Marcia Coburn, President of Red Door. “We get so many calls from people that see rabbits running lose that don’t appear to be wild rabbits and we end up going out and rescuing them. Domestic rabbits just aren’t cut out to survive out there.”

These rabbits end up either killed by natural predators or rescued by local humane societies. This problem with bunnies isn’t just an American problem.

Looks like there is way more chocolate to a Bilby than a Bunny.

Looks like there is way more chocolate to a Bilby than a Bunny.

In Australia, rabbits have been a problem for a couple centuries. Rabbits are not native to the continent, but when settlers came from Europe and North America a few hundred years ago, they brought rabbits, foxes, and domesticated cats – all of which are now feral species that have harmed the Australian environment. From an article by Dr. Ian Gunn, an Adjunct Senior Associate at Monash University:

Australia has a sad history of importing European animals — rabbits, foxes and cats, for example — that now pose a great threat to the survival of our native species. Feral rabbits are Australia’s greatest pests, currently costing agriculture, and hence the community, about $200 million annually, in addition to untold costs to the environment.

The article goes on to suggest that instead of Australians going for the traditional Easter Bunny, they should instead an Easter Bilby. What is a bilby? A marsupial, the bilby is a type of bandicoot that lives in the desert of Australia. With large ears that help keep it cool in the hot arid climate of the Australian mid-section, the bilby is the natural replacement to the rabbit in Australian Easter folklore.

Credit to Scott Robert Glazier for the Bunny topic.


 

On other food topics, our friend Michael Bunker had a few food topics to address and I will do so in the following bullet points:

  • Ice Cream Sandwiches. Pro or Con? What? How is this even a question? Pro of course. The sandwich part by itself could be called a cookie. Sesame Street named one of their main characters the COOKIE MONSTER. On the inside is ice cream. Wonderful, amazing, creamy ice cream. How does the saying go? “You scream, I scream, WE ALL SCREAM for Ice Cream!” Put those two together and you have magic. In your mouth.
  • Steak: Pro or Con? Pro. You can’t beat a well-cooked steak. The trick is the well-cooked part, of course and that in itself drives some people away. Even pricey restaurants don’t always cook steaks well. I went to one of those pricey restaurants a few years ago – where their steaks are graded on a separate scale than the USDA – it was heaven.
  • Donuts and donut holes. I’ll just quote the bearded master here: “How do they get away with cutting a part of the middle of your donut away and selling it as a “donut hole” to someone else? If they did that with Pizza, there would be an uprising. And shouldn’t we demand that we get the middle part for free?” Absolutely, Mr. Bunker. The middle part should be our right. This is a food slippery slope. Sometime in our past, there was a pastry. Then someone took out the middle and called it a donut, forgetting that we still deserved that middle deliciousness. That simple act has spawned an entire industry on just donut holes. It’s like when Hitler demanded Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia. Neville Chamberlain thought – “we’ll just give it to him and he’ll be OK.” Except he wasn’t. We all know how that ended. We need to demand our holes back. Our HOLES!

Credit to Michael Bunker for the various food topics


 

And to close this one out, here is a brief editorial on Peeps.

Peeps. Peeps. Peeps. Just keep saying it out loud. After a while, you start sounding like 1/3 of a 90’s hip-hop group. At best.

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What do you think this is? Some kind of game?

Peeps, if you are not familiar, are pieces of marshmallow shaped into chick or bunny forms and coated with colored sugar. There is no nutritutional value. There is no spiritual value. There is no redeeming value.

If you’ve had a Peep (and if you have, you may not want to raise your hand), have you ever sat back afterwards and said, “Oh boy self, that sure was a mighty fine decision to eat that sugar-blasted, chick-shaped marshmallow?

You know what Peeps are good for? Dioramas (there are HUNDREDS of them. That is why they sell – so people can make scenes from their favorite movies with Peeps.)

In closing, pitch the Peeps. There is so many better things you could have.

Oh look – a Peep in a donut!

Thanks to Carrie Gillette for the Peeps