Monday, November 10, 2008

Banana Laffy Taffy as family heirloom

All that’s left of Halloween now is memories and Jolly Ranchers, the candy made of fruit-flavored glass. The little zombies and gangsters took all of our good candy, like the peanut M&M’s and the Reese’s cups, leaving us with a bowl full of petrified candy that only organisms with shark-like rows of expendable teeth could ever possibly enjoy.

Last year, our hard-sell candy was banana-flavored Laffy Taffy, a large mound of which still sits, calcifying, in a basket in our laundry room, celebrating its first birthday and serving as a testament to our inner twelve-year-olds, who recoil in horror at the thought of throwing away perfectly good somewhat-edible candy. Somehow, banana candy, like coffee soda, just doesn’t quite work. I imagine we’ll pass the Laffy Taffy on to future generations of our family, along with our drawer full of near-dead batteries in the kitchen.

On Halloween night, I was amazed at how the words, “Go ahead and take a small handful,” could turn a small child’s hand into one of those magnets that pick up cars at the dump. Several of the five-year-olds in our neighborhood could probably palm regulation-szied basketballs.

I was most surprised, though, at the enduring popularity of Swedish fish, a candy that was coveted when I was a kid, but which I figured had probably been supplanted over the years by some sort of futuristic sweets with LEDs that lit up when you chewed them. When we mixed the packets of Swedish fish into our big bowl of attention-deficit enhancers, I thought the first kid would come to the door and say, “Swedish fish? Hey, guys, get a load of these old fogies! They think Swedish fish are still cool!”

But the Swedish fish were the first to go. This is either due to the lasting appeal of an age-old recipe, or the fact that high fructose corn syrup can turn your average child into a less-discerning gourmand than your average goat.

Our puppy Memphis didn’t know what to make of her first Halloween. The bursts of excitement at the door, during which she wriggled with glee and smacked pillowcases full of candy with her tail like they were piñatas, would end quickly, and then she’d be stuck with her boring old housemates again. The door would shut and she’d look at us with eyes that said, “How could you let those little pirates leave?”

At least she didn’t have to suffer the indignity of being dressed up in a doggie costume, if only because the little red lobster outfit we bought for her had a manufacturer’s defect that accidentally transformed her into a bucking rodeo bronco instead. Besides, Memphis can effectively portray a magician without any costume at all; she can just walk into a room, say, “Gaaaaaaack,” and make a wet tube of Chapstick appear out of thin air.

My wife Kara and I briefly joked about the idea of resuscitating the Laffy Taffy to give away this year, but then figured that if we did that, we might as well run around the yard toilet-papering our own trees. Little ghoulies, especially teenaged ones strapped with eggs in their ankle holsters, are not to be trifled with on confectionary issues, lest punitive measures be faced.

As we drove through the neighborhood the following day, we saw a few of our neighbors’ trees that had been toilet-papered.

“I guess we know who was giving away Necco wafers last night,” Kara said.

We also noted that our mailbox had been spared the shaving cream treatment it had received last year, which, while making our cleanup a little easier, also made it that much harder to shave that little hard-to-reach spot under its flag.

You can make Mike Todd smell your feet or give you something good to eat at


  1. What are Necco wafers anyway? I've never known anyone that has consumed them willingly.

  2. Allover -- I think they're poker chips wrapped in wax paper.

  3. As always, Wikipedia comes through.

    Necco wafers are often used as stand-ins for communion wafers by children who are practicing for the Eucharist.

  4. Allover -- Dang, I've never heard of that. Do they wash it down with orange Fanta? And I didn't think that the Eucharist required that much practice. Really, if you can handle eating a cracker, you're pretty much good to go.

  5. Mike,

    You disappoint me --

    All these weeks you've been coming to our house... *without* Banana Laffy-Taffy? Not only is the candy delicious, but the jokes are hysterical!

    Also, it's decided (well, by me anyway) -- next year we're going to your house to give out candy. Somehow, giving candy to 3 kids who all came together just didn't cut it for me.

  6. Speaking of Eucharist, I was at a wedding rehearsal at a church (Julie was rehearsing, I was just sitting there) when one of the other significant others who wasn't in the wedding asked what a Eucharist was... I proceeded to whip out my cell phone and look it up. Who says cell phones in church are a bad idea?

  7. Sergey -- I have a serious question for you.

    Why was the cat such a sourpuss? Because he ate too many lemons.

    Also, what is the hottest day of the week? Fri-day.

    How far did the witch fly? Ghost to ghost. I can't believe I just laughed a little. Shit.

    How does every baseball player get a hit? He sings a song. That one doesn't even make any F'ing sense.

    Okay, that's enough, but I hope any rumors that we don't actually have Laffy Taffy in our laundry room have been sufficiently debunked.

  8. Ah hah!!

    A Banana Laffy Taffy conspiracy -- I have a TON that I totally didn't buy that made it into my many of bags of entirely appropriate mixed candy that I thought I was buying.

    Don't get me wrong, I loved it on occasion as a kid - but BANANA? and Banana ONLY?

  9. Yasmina -- I'm not the only one! Coolness. But if we're being honest, the banana ones were left because I ate all the raspberry ones last year. MMMm mmmmm. Laffy.