While easing circles of pâte brisée into aluminum pie plates, I have been overhearing the ladies around the bench discussing the Oscars. Having seen only one nominated film, I am once again woefully ill prepared to participate. Equally embarrassing is my limited knowledge of who will be wearing what on the red carpet. There is one category however, where I can hold my own. My vast experience with movie candy could very well place me in the running for Best Supporting of One’s Dentist category. This might explain my anxiety when faced with an entire aisle (I’m talking about you, CVS) dedicated to bright cello packages and cheery boxes of cavity inspiration. How clever of you to place these temptations in direct proximity of the check-out line.
Movie candy is a highly debatable and personal topic; one woman’s Buncha Crunch is another woman’s Raisinette. Or in the case of my father, one Goldenberg’s Peanut Chew. According to a man who has logged countless Saturday matinee miles, in the 1930s the price of a movie was 15 cents. Both Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews and Goobers Chocolate Covered Peanuts cost a nickel. “If I walked to the movies instead of taking the bus, I had a nickel for the candy,” my father explained. I wonder what his thoughts would be if he knew that movie candy now provides Thoughtful Portion specifics on the back of the candy boxes. I haven’t the heart to tell him.
According to Nestlé USA, their aim is to “help consumers make thoughtful food choices.” Apparently the age-old practice of hunkering down in a soda splashed, popcorn littered movie seat and consuming a box of confections during a two-hour feature film is frowned upon. In an effort to educate consumers, Nestlé gently informs us that a thoughtful portion of Sno-Caps, for example, is a mere 22 pieces and that the entire box contains two servings.
As the daughter of the man whose mantra is “everything in moderation,” I find it hilarious that a candy manufacturer thinks consumers are reading the back of the Sno-Caps or Raisinettes or Milk Duds packages in a blackened movie theatre, let alone counting out pieces of candy as the action unfolds on the screen before them. The moderation factor has already been subliminally tucked into the box by way of less chocolate, more box at a higher price. Which is why I continue to smuggle in my own movie treats in a small plastic sandwich bag that I tuck into a coat pocket. Twizzlers are obviously more sea-worthy than chocolates, but M&Ms with a hard candy shell travel remarkably well and make the transfer from plastic bag to hand to mouth seamlessly. Reese’s peanut butter cups are slightly more fragile, but well worth the effort. As for the Goldenberg peanut chew? The serving size indicates a mere 4 pieces are allowed before risking the wrath of the candy police. Considerably smaller in size than when they were first introduced in 1922, I’ll take the chance of stepping outside the 4-piece candy line. On a personal level, it’s interesting to note that 1922 was a banner year for peanuts and chocolate; H.B. Reese introduced the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup that year, a marriage of milk chocolate and peanut butter. It wasn’t until 1977 when Hershey rolled out Reese’s Pieces and 1982 when the movie E.T. dramatically increased popularity of the candy.
Say what you will about Thoughtful Portion suggestions but what really draws me in to movie candy is the visual of the packaging. The familiarity strikes a chord deep within my food memory bank. The deep reds and blinding yellows, the milk chocolate-y brown reminds of the joy and excitement of movie going when the theatres themselves were generously, not thoughtfully sized. When you chastised the people in front of you for whispering during the film or rattling their candy wrappers, rather than pleading with someone to stop texting throughout the movie. Might this explain why I have only seen one Oscar nominated film this year? Quite possibly. As for a need to know how much candy to eat or gain a little knowledge about when movies were movies, all I have to do is phone home.