"Write about chocolate," my mother says. "It's therapeutic. The darker, the better."
Of course, she's right. What minor ailments of daily life does a dose of chocolate not fix? What maladies of middle-age are not made better by a square or two, or ten, of Cadbury or Dove?
But my latest love affair with candy only glances at the cacao bean. It's more of the jellybean variety.
While shopping at my wonderfully quirky Big Lots store, I came across a bag of heart-shaped candies called Cherry Lovers. The back of the bag promised contents flavored in cherry-vanilla, cherry-cheesecake, wild cherry, cherry daiquiri, cherry cola, kiwi-cherryand chocolate-cherry. "Made with REAL cherry juice," proclaimed the bag, which also announced "Fruit Chews High in Antioxidant Vitamin C."
After I popped the first one in my mouth, I knew I was hooked. The crisp candy shell gave way to a softly chewy center, and every candy in the bag was cherry. It wasn't your typical bag of jellybeans; there were no "bad" ones, no mysterious purples or weirdly spicy whites. No greens.
"What are those," asked my husband, whose jellybean etiquette leaves much to be desired. He's the type who will take a handful of mixed colors and put them all in his mouth at once. He doesn't take the time to appreciate a red, make an orange-yellow cocktail, savor the strawberry-pink.
I told him these were special candies and were mine, mine, mine. He cajoled and begged, and finally wore me down. I let him have a couple and accepted that he couldn't possibly be enjoying them appropriately.
I went back to the store, bought another bag and hoarded it. My husband begged me to share, so I gave him a couple more of the precious little hearts. But the rest were to be mineMINE!
I was a total brat about it.
I had never seen these candies at the store before and heaven knew if I'd ever see them again. And then it hit me: thank heaven for e-commerce.
I looked up the company and discovered that the Gimbal family has been making candy in San Francisco for four generations. The first candies filled Alexander Gimbal's store in 1898. The peanut-, dairy-, egg-, transfat-, soy and gluten-free candies are also kosher, and come in several varieties, including sugar-free.
Lovers candies come in not only cherry, but a Honey Lovers variety that I couldn't wait to try. There are also gourmet and sour jellybeans, cinnamon Lava Balls and Licorice Scotties, that are gummy candies shaped like little doggies. I sent for all of them.
Evidently, I am not the first to discover the wonders of these candies. YouTube offers several videos made when the Food channel visited Gimbal's. The video blog, Walking the Candy Aisle, offers an eight-minute review in which jellybean flavors are assessed individually
"Mmmm, that is serious," is the reaction to a flavor called Java.
"This is good. This is really good."
Not long after I contacted Gimbal's, the UPS man brought a box to my door. Inside was candy enough for a three-month sugar high.
I finished the Scotties first, and only hoarded them only slightly. I told my husband I was trying to be nicer, as I passed the bag to him. Even in a 30-year marriage like ours, there is room for improvement.
I am still working my way through the Honey Lovers and haven't broken into the jellybeans yet.
For now, chocolate is my second-choice candy remedy.