I blame red “licorice”. At one time, licorice was black. It was made from licorice extract (a legume). They added extra flavoring, beeswax for a shiny surface, and molasses to make it black. Some licorice candy was flavored with anise oil instead of or in combination with licorice root extract. Note that it contained molasses to make it black (and add sweetness). Then someone decided that the licorice extract wasn’t necessary and started making it in raspberry, cherry, strawberry, and cinnamon. Now you can even get it in apple, mango, black currant, and watermelon. Pretty much all I can find are Red Vines and Red Twizzlers. But I digress.
In the Dark Ages when I was young (don’t you hate things that start like that), we had sugar plums and marzipan. Just kidding. But candy canes were peppermint, and came with red and white stripes. If you added a green stripe, it signified spearmint.
I went to the dollar store with my daughter this afternoon (I love the dollar store). While she was shopping for supplies to send to a child overseas she adopted for the holidays (you’d swear the holiday had something to do with love and charity), I looked around. The only full-size candy canes I found were blueberry and cherry. I’ve also seen sour candy canes (seems like an oxymoron), Jolly Rancher candy canes, and lime candy canes. They are candy, and they are cane-shaped. But it just doesn’t seem right.
I have also noticed that a lot of candy bars now come in Christmas versions. A Christmas Snickers bar is a regular Snickers bar with a special wrapper. If I dress a dog as a sheep for Halloween, it does not become a sheep. The only difference I can see is that the manufacturer needs to throw away all the candy that didn’t sell because it won’t last til the next holiday season (it probably would, but it would be embarrassing if they got caught changing the wrappers to pastel for Easter). You can buy Christmas Butterfingers, Almond Joy, Kit Kat, etc.
I won’t talk about chocolate except to say that some of what is masquerading as chocolate candy better make sure no one ever asks for its family tree. You can get chocolate-flavored and vanilla-flavored stuff for covering your Christmas goodies, like dipping your Rice Krispie treat in fake vanilla candy coating
All of this was traumatizing enough. Then I saw the Peeps boxes. You know what Peeps are – those bright yellow, pink, and blue (?) pseudo-marshmallow candies they sell at Easter in the shape of bunnies and chicks (peeps – get it?). Well now you can get brown peeps in the shape of Christmas trees. They are chocolate-mint flavored. There are probably others out there but I don’t have the heart to go over to the display. It was bad enough when they were stealing good candy ideas. Now we can get bad seasonal candy at all holidays.
So if you’re a traditionalist, you’ll want to look into the real barley candy at the Vermont Country Store. Of course, you’ll have to buy it on-line. There is no actual store.