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Tricky Treats

October 29, 2014

Life is hard. Vices make it better.

My life is easier than most. I’m very very lucky. But that doesn’t mean it’s without countless daily struggles. And sometimes after a battle over homework, or an unexpectedly difficult trip to the shoe store, it feels good to sit down with a cocktail.

I don’t begrudge people their vices. If cigarettes make it better, so be it. You want to bury your feelings under an avalanche of food at The Cheesecake Factory, go right ahead. Roll a joint. Pop a pill. Run a marathon. It’s your body. Your rules.

Last week TC Paris hosted a one year anniversary party for their Saratoga shop. It was my first time in this new space. I shudder to think how much fat, sugar, carbs and calories I consumed in the form of mini eclairs, mini Paris-Brest, slices of chocolate cake with salted caramel buttercream, prosciutto and cheese sandwiches, and cheese and jam canapés. Chef Paul sent me off with a few treats to go including his toffee, a bag of duchilly hazelnuts, and a couple of black olive sablé cookies.

Dammit, I’m an adult. If I want to gorge on fat and sweets, that’s my right. Kids only get a handful of days each year when this kind of self-destructive binge eating is acceptable. One of them is coming up on Friday.

I have no problem with sugar. Candy is dandy. But these days it’s more tricky.

You probably don’t know Jillian O’Connor. She’s an old friend of mine and a talented writer. Her new blog is called The Old Shoe and her first post is a takedown of PGPR in chocolate.

Hopefully, the blurb below will entice you to click on the link to her full story:

On its Web site, Hershey’s explains that it uses PGPR “to improve processing characteristics of chocolate.” It also helps in molding chocolate. Right. Because we know that there were such difficulties with that before 2006, when Hershey’s altered the formula by giving us less cocoa product — and more chemicals that had to be studied in many labs so companies would know how much they could safely feed to us.

It makes you think. How did Hershey’s ever manage to mold chocolate for the 106 years before that? It couldn’t have been that difficult.

Instead of trying to instill panic and fear like some other bloggers railing against additives in food, Jill is hoping to make you as indignant about the matter as she is. Most Halloween candy isn’t what once passed for chocolate. She has turned the language of the FDA back on itself, and has coined the phrase, “generally regarded as chocolate” to describe this oily version of the form.

Last year I tried handing out the UnReal Candy to kids. That didn’t go over well at all. Anyhow, this year the brand has retracted and seems to be having some kind of distribution issues. I had really wanted to get a box or two of the Equal Exchange chocolate minis to give to trick-or-treaters on Friday.

It’s too late for this now, but Mrs. Fussy and I were philosophically divided on the issue.

She thought it was horribly pretentious to hand out miniature dark chocolate bars to kids. She thought the quality would be lost on them, and most likely these treats would be tossed or traded away for something more brightly colored and more artificially flavored.

And she’s probably right. Which is why I had wanted to slip a “Why Fair-Trade” leaflet in each child’s Halloween bag. I figured kids might have a bit of empathy for other kids their own age who are forced to work for the cocoa growers.

That idea didn’t go over so well.

Which means once again it looks like I’m going to cave in for the sake of my family’s happiness. But I am totally drawing the line at PGPR.

Really what I want is something without chocolate, artificial colors, soy, and preservatives. I’ll have to look carefully at the ingredient labels, but I’m sure that I’ll be making some serious compromises along the way, just so my family can participate in this annual rite without being perceived as the freaks we are.

Perhaps the answer is simply handing out packets of cane sugar. As crazy as it may sound, it’s probably better for kids than anything else out there. Although something tells me that’s not going to fly either.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 29, 2014 10:09 am

    If you handed my kid a fakakta leaflet I would personally egg and TP your house.

  2. Billy permalink
    October 29, 2014 12:14 pm

    Directly across the street from me is a retired woman in her 60s. She doesn’t have many visitors and she doesn’t get out much. She does a lot of strange things. She’s kooky. And I’m convinced it’s because she spends way too much time alone.

    The moral to the story: listen to your wife and kids, they are keeping you from going off the deep end.

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