Dining at Large: Top ten polarizing holiday candies

Neon colors and novelty shapes are not usually the hallmarks of quality food. So I was surprised last week when a colleague who is a serious foodie brought in a mix of peanuts, plain M&Ms; and candy corn.

I understood the M&Ms; -- along with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, they're the only things I'm even tempted to steal from my kids' Halloween haul -- but candy corn? Really?

"They just feel autumny," said John- John Williams IV, recalling how the tri-colored candies topped the Halloween cupcakes he had as a kid. "It reminds me of being young."

Years, maybe decades, had passed since I'd had candy corn, so I sampled one of John-John's. They weren't as sickly sweet as I'd expected. (I think they benefited from having been mixed with the salty peanuts.) But I still wouldn't seek them out.

That said, I truly appreciate the candy -- and John-John -- for inspiring this week's list:

Top Ten Polarizing Holiday Candies

1. Candy corn

2. Candy pumpkins

Same thing as candy corn, only shaped like a gourd and bigger. Sometimes less is more.

3. Cadbury creme eggs

The oozing fake-egg center inside the chocolate shell fascinates kids. To the rest of us, it's what tomatoes were to George Carlin: something that looks like it's "still in the larval stage."

4. Candied cherries

I have the same "larval" complaint about these chocolate-covered treats, which tend to show up at Christmas and Valentine's Day

5. Conversation hearts

If you have to say it through Necco wafers, the relationship is doomed.

6. Jelly beans

Dentists love their stick-to-your- teeth quality.

7. Peeps

Untoasted marshmallows are an abomination, no matter how cute they look. Their only redeeming social value is as a crafts project: peeps sushi.

8. Whitman's sampler

Pair it with a carnation-filled bouquet at Valentine's Day and watch your romance die.

9. Ribbon candy

My aunt and uncle always had this at their house on Christmas. We thought it was the height of elegance. I'm sure our sticky hands and faces were anything but.

10. Candy canes

As preschoolers, my kids learned a little ditty about how the canes were shaped like "J" for Jesus, with the white symbolizing his sinless life and the red standing for the blood he shed. Eew. Can't we just let the kids' teeth rot without bringing bodily fluids into it?

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