Andes Mints

My Grandpa loved Andes Mints.

I am not sure if this is a fact that I actually remember or one of those fake memories that you think you truly remember for yourselves but really you have carefully crafted a fantasy of remembering because everyone tells you it is so. I don't think I have ever eaten an Andes Mint in front of my mother without her telling me that they were Grandpa's favorites and so naturally I cannot remember a time when I didn't know this.

As a matter of fact I have many treasured memories surrounding my Grandpa that I am not sure really happened.

I know he was creative and brilliant when it came to engineering and that he invented many things for my Grandma. New sprinkler systems, gadgets to make life easier that kind of thing. So of course I see him tinkering in the yard, on the carport, in the Florida room of their home in Tampa. I am not sure if he tinkered when I was alive or not, but in my mind he is wearing a short sleeved button up shirt, yellow I think.

I know that he used to babysit me when I was very little. I know that when it was nap time he would lay down with me and that he would fall asleep and I would get into mischief. I have heard the story of my parents arriving home to find me with cookies that I had retrieved for myself by climbing on the kitchen counters while my Grandpa napped. I can see myself in my Grandparent's kitchen shimming up onto the counter and poking around to find something yummy. I have spent many summers in that house and I have never been shy about climbing on counters no matter where we are. However, I am not sure if that 3 year old curly headed brunette eating Maria cookies in the kitchen is a real thought or an imagination .

I know my Grandpa taught me to spit orange seeds. There is a large orange tree in my Grandma's backyard and I know how good the oranges are and I know how to spit the seeds pretty far. What I don't know is if the picture of him and me standing in the backyard spitting seeds is real or solely in my mind.

I know that my Grandpa was a patient man. I know that I am a picker, which amounts to me being unable to leave any raised object on my skin or those close to me alone. C can vouch for this fact because I frequently make him bleed when I pick off a scab or something from his skin, C is also a patient man. My Grandpa would have liked him. If I had a dollar for every time I have heard the tale about me sitting in Grandpa's lap and picking a mole off his arm (chest?) until he bled I would be a rich women. I can see myself sitting on his lap, this time his shirt is plaid, in the armchair that he always sat in, picking away. Is that a real remembrance? I will never know.

My Grandpa had Alzheimer's for over a decade before he passed away. In those years he slowly mentally left the family but in the solid memories that I have he is still there physically. He sat in his armchair watching TV during the day and he was wheeled to the table for meal times (the table was raised on bricks to accommodate his wheelchair = many stubbed Jen toes) he went with us to the beach in the summers when he could.

I have heard so many stories about what an amazing man my Grandpa was that I often feel cheated that I had so little coherent time with him that I must doubt my own memories.

However, I also love Andes Mints. I love the versatility of eating them. I can pop a whole one and let it melt, I can bite it into pieces like a little mouse, I can shave off slivers with my teeth and watch the striations of mint and chocolate reveal themselves.

And I know that I love Andes Mints because they were my Grandpa's favorite.



Everlasting Gobstoppers

High school. Camp week. No kissing allowed. Counselors must set a good example.That's unthinkable to both C and me. Young love requires constant lip to lip contact. Making 10 days 9 1/2 days too long.

A game?

Tiny, color changing jaw breakers, no bigger than a marble. Not much time to exchange a sweet kiss in passing. But the candy lasts a little longer in your mouth. Reminding you of that kiss.

Sitting side by side. Legs touching but hands clasped properly to ourselves. I am chewing on a gobstopper. I like knowing that he sees me eating this candy. I imagine that later we will kiss and he will have some candy to take away with him. I hope he is thinking the same. One glance confirms it.

Everyone wins.

Kissing is fun. Was then. Is now.

Everlasting Gobstoppers for our everlasting love.


Candy Cigarettes

My sister and I spent our formative years in West Chester, Pennsylvania. We were but a mere 45 minute drive from Independence Hall, Betsy Ross' House, the Liberty Bell, Franklin Science Institute, those famous art museum steps that Rocky ran up and delicious cheese steaks (I am a Pat's fan and you will not sway me you Geno's loving blasphemers). And while I harbor fond memories of taking every family member who ever visited on multiple city tours and yearly field trips to these fabled places I also have memories from another near-by area.
Amish Country.

We lived relatively close to Lancaster county, I am not sure how close because I was not old enough to drive and every car ride over 20 minutes seemed like 3 lifetimes. Maybe once or twice a year, usually during the summer, we would visit this area. The Amish do not have electricity or buttons or cars and they do not allow themselves to be photographed because they believes photos take a piece of their souls. Despite these things they do know how to cook, oh man can they cook. So as a result the Amish Farmer's Market was always my sister and my favorite destination.

The other markets were fun too, we would look at lovely quilts, wooden toys made by hand and beautifully layered and sculpted candles. So many options for spending hard earned allowance money! However, we never ever spent all our money before we got around to the food. I am sure the gourmet selection went on forever but as I was still young I will only touch on the things that stand out in my mind.

First- PICKLES. If you know me then you know that pickles fall second on my list of favorite foods (right below popcorn). The Amish markets were home to gigantic pickles in gigantic jars and I never failed to enjoy one. Yummy. In fact I am going to go get a pickle out of my fridge right now......


Second- Beef Jerky. I don't mean any old preservative laden, bought in bulk at Sam's club jerky either. I mean the "I was a cow a week ago" kind of jerky. I am a huge fan of salt (my mother will be happy to tell you the 80 ways my sodium intake is going to slowly kill me if you would like) and this is classic salty, meaty deliciousness. Way to go Amish people!

Third-Rock Candy. Pure sugar on a stick with delightful colors and flavors added, could it get any better? I think not. Also, cheap enough that buying rock candy did not entail begging Mom for some more money. As an added bonus the raw sugar will quickly render your tongue too raw for any additional food that day....

and Finally-Candy Cigarettes. Did anyone else reading this see a little movie called Mrs.Winterborne? (besides my sister). If so then you can imagine where this is going. If not I will tell you. In said movie a young unmarried pregnant women meets a couple on a train. The couple is also expecting a child and are on their way to the man's home to introduce his bride to the family. Rudely the unmarried woman asks to try on the married woman's ring (I would have said no but this lady said yes...go figure). At that exact moment the train crashes (talk about a downer) and the married couple is killed. BUT, since the unmarried lady is wearing the ring of the fellow the family thinks she is his wife and takes her in. She of course knows the truth but is enchanted by the lifestyles of the rich and famous and goes to great lengths to conceal her true self. In one memorable scene she is smoking a cigarette (which is forbidden in the fancy-schmancy house of her fake in-laws) when her false-mother-in-law walks in. The women deftly flips the cigarette into her mouth thus concealing it from the prying eyes of the houghty toughty women.

My sister and I were way impressed. No one in my family smokes but whatever.

We would sneak around and buy packs and packs of candy cigarettes at these markets (though I don't think we would have gotten in trouble for purchasing candy cigarettes) and then we would sit outside and practice our Mrs. Winterborne cigarette flip move. It is WAY harder than it looks by the way. We would also pretend to smoke them as people walked by. Though I am sure we were slightly less convincing then we thought we were (being that we were 9 and 7 years old and candy cigarettes do not emit any smoke.... but what's childhood without imagination?)

Over the years my sister and I have run into candy cigarettes and we always buy a pack just to see if we can still flip them into our mouths. I think actual cigarettes should be illegal but I could totally support a pack a day candy cigarette habit!


Tic Tacs

I have a secret.

It will be surprising to some people and not so much of one to others. Here goes....

I am an addict.

Now you may be thinking, "this mild mannered, slightly silly woman is an ADDICT? No way". You may doubt my claim but I am here to say that it is true and it impacts my life. I have a serious addiction to dark green tic tacs. I like the hard stuff, not your tamer gateway light green tic tacs that anyone could enjoy.

The problem with my addiction is that since not everyone finds the call of the spearmint irresistible the way I do these little beauties are increasingly hard to locate. I mean lets look at the facts. Most people can't handle the intense rush of minty goodness let alone the dark green stain left on your tongue. Most grocery stores and Targets carry orange and white tic tacs. What in the world do I need an ORANGE tic tac for? If I want an orange flavor I will buy gum, don't be foolish. The white or "freshmint" variety will sustain me in a rush of tic tac induced fervor but it only calms the beast. What I really want is dark green.

I have learned to search for my drug of choice whenever I am in a strange place where the selling of candy seems silly. When in college the only dark green tic tac dealer in town was my local Ace Hardware store. To think I originally thought they were only good for nails and wood and replacement filters for my fine particulate matter mask. Jackpot!

One spot that is always hit or miss is the gas station. It is like scratching off a lottery ticket to see if you won. I walk in, I look around for the candy isle, my eyes scan for the familiar rectangular plastic cases...orange...light green...white....damn. Recently when my car broke down in Alpine, CA my vigilant search was rewarded. Not only did this local Shell gas station carry dark green tic tacs but low and behold they had cinnamon too (refer to Atomic Fire Balls to understand my love of cinnamon candy). If I thought dark green was hard to find then the hopes of seeing cinnamon tic tacs again in my lifetime was simply an urban legend. I think my impulse to consume tic tacs is so great that is outweighed the misery of the car repair costs I was about to incur in Alpine.

I am no longer phased my the looks I receive as I approach a cash register with ten packs of tic tacs in hand. I never know when the next lucky strike will be so I have to stock up when they present themselves. I have also learned that with the advent of 53 different types and flavors of gums and about a million varieties of mints that tic tacs are considered by most to be out dated. On a recent car trip I generously (but not without wishing they would decline) offered my tic tac container forward to the other passengers in the vehicle. Thank goodness they declined my offer, but also asked inquisitively,"You still eat tic tacs?". YES, I do.

That leads into my other tic tac issue. Not only do I still eat tic tacs but I cannot stop myself. Once the seal is broken on that little plastic flip top the tic tacs inside have maybe 30 minutes to live. Once they hit my tongue it is all over. I eat one....I eat two....I can't help but pop one more...ok last one...well maybe one more, I will suck on this one instead of chewing it and that will make it last....on and on this goes until the sad sound of one lone tic tacs rings out from the plastic receptacle. Well, I might as well finish the pack, right? I have made myself feel a little ill on more than one occasion simply because I ingested one too many tic tacs in too short a time period. Pathetic, I know.

It is my burden to bear.

In conclusion I will say that step one is admitting you have a problem. Alright, I admit it and also admit I have no plans to get clean. Let me know if you find my next great dark green tic tac dealer.....