Over the years, I’ve changed in my candy tastes. I used to like anything that was sweet, sugary, and totally bad for a little girl with baby teeth. My parents knew this, and they only allowed us to eat candy on the weekends. Because otherwise, we’d eat them all the time and that would be bad for us.
In fact, and my sister denies this ever happened, my sister ate too much candy when she was very small and threw up.
When my dad talked about it in church, she was not so happy.
However, when I got a bit older, things started to change. Candy that I enjoyed, like Laffy Taffy, were now intolerable. It was too sweet, too sticky. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I started disliking milk chocolate. KitKat bars were too sweet now. I couldn’t eat white chocolate because it made my stomach feel funny. At around that time, my devotion to dark chocolate began, and has persisted to this day.
However, something remained. My love for gummy bears.
My parents would buy a whole bag of gummy bears from the local BJ’s. At BJ’s, you can just about get anything and everything in bulk sizes. For a family of seven, that meant huge savings. Including candy.
The bag was huge. About five pounds in weight, it contained loads and loads of chewy perfection. Every single color of gummy bear was there. Red, yellow, white, green, and orange. For some reason, each bag contained more red gummies than anything else. My favorite flavor was the white one. (I think that’s pear? Not sure.)
In fact, it was pretty easy to eat a lot of gummy bears in one sitting, and not realize it.
The first bag of gummy bears we consumed took a year or more. The no-candy-on-weekdays ban was still in effect. Besides, we children went to a lot of extracurricular activities. The directors thought that candy would be the perfect reward for good behavior, so we ended up coming home with lots and lots of candy. (At that time I still liked Laffy Taffy.) Eating all that candy took a while, and often the gummy bears would sit in a musty closet, alone and forgotten, with only each other for company.
As a result, by the time we remembered to eat them, the gummies were hard. They didn’t have the stretch potential that they once had.
I still ate them gladly.
They still tasted good.
By that time, the ban had been lifted. We were free to eat candy any day of the week now, provided we did so with discretion.
Happily, no one threw up.
In fact, for my last birthday, my parents bought me a whole bag of gummy bears. I was so happy! Or maybe that’s a gross understatement. I was in ecstasy. It didn’t take me that long to finish up the whole bag. With the help of my family, of course.
However, my true appreciation for gummy candy didn’t begin until many years ago…
Every couple of years, my parents would take us all the way to Taipei, Taiwan to celebrate Chinese New Year with my mom’s side of the family. I loved it. Taipei was awesome. There were so many sites to see, including the excitement that came with having no idea what everyone else was saying. My Chinese is awful, at best.
And the awesome thing was that my aunts and uncles would take us sight seeing all over the place. There were temples, hiking trails, restaurants, malls, stores, and outdoor markets.
The outdoor markets.
Now those were amazing.
My aunt took us to this outdoor market which was unbelievably devoted only to candy and other snacks. Dried fruit, chewy pieces of squid, and MORE. What awed me was the stalls and stalls devoted entirely to gummy candy. It was gummy heaven! There wasn’t just the ordinary ol’ gummy bears that I had been used to stuffing myself with. There were little gummy sharks, gummy eggs, and gummy root beer bottles. You name it, it was there. Even better, they gave out free samples. I must have eaten dozens and dozens of gummy eggs, sharks, pizza, and bears.
Oh yeah, the bears. They had little bears, big bears, sour bears, and bears with little bits of sugar on top. Some of the bears were funny looking. Others were cute.
Seeing how much we all enjoyed the gummy candy, my parents decided to buy lots and lots of them. So we flew home from Taiwan with bags and bags of everything that you would ever imagine under the sun that were gummy.
I was 10 at the time.
Now I can’t find gummy eggs or pizza over here in the States. It’s been a source of much frustration to me. The drugstore shelves only have the regular worms, sharks, and bears. No eggs. No pizza. Definitely no root beer bottles. That saddened me. The nearest to exotic gummy shapes were the lobsters for sale at Bar Harbor, Maine. Those lobsters, however, cost a flipping three dollars for three lobsters. Otherwise I might have bought them.
Someday, I promise myself, I’m going to go back to Taiwan and find those outdoor stalls. And buy bags and bags of those heavenly gummies and come back to the States with those. Then I’m going to eat them. Slowly. Savor them.
And remember how it felt to be a 10 year old, mouth open, awed by the rows and rows of gummy candy in every imaginable shape and form. Remember what it was like to take joy in the simple things of life — like gummy candy.