By KIM POINDEXTER
We were in the store the other day, picking up a few items, when I spotted them. I knew they’d be on the shelves soon, but I was hoping something wicked wouldn’t come this way. Yet there they were, making their clarion call for attention: Satan’s favorite cookie, the white fudge-dipped Oreo.
Many people dread the holidays because they are powerless to resist seasonal treats. They’ll pack on a dozen pounds, consigning themselves to stretch pants for however long it takes to drop enough weight to squeeze back into the jeans. Sometimes it never happens, and the jeans wind up in next year’s donation pile – another size gone the way of the dodo.
It starts with Halloween, when the bags of miniature candy bars, dressed in orange and black wrappers, show up. They masquerade as sales items to entice you to stock up weeks before trick-or-treaters slouch toward Bethlehem or your door, whichever comes first. Of course, the candy’s really not on sale; it’ll be cheaper the day or two before Halloween – at which point you’ll have to buy more, anyway, because you’ve already consumed your initial purchase and have nothing left for the kids.
Some people crave Snickers; for some, Mounds is profound. Others fall prey to Milky Way, get fat via Kit Kat, or go to pieces over Reese’s. My weakness is the “scary pumpkin.” These are tiny, pumpkin-shaped lumps of tacky sugar – giant candy corn in gourd form. I always kick off the season with a bag of scary pumpkins. Technically, I think they’re called “Mellowcreme Pumpkins,” but the scary part is how quickly you can shove the whole bag down your gullet, and how you can’t button your pants for at least three days afterward.
My husband usually battens upon a bag of Paydays before he moves in for the Tootsie Rolls. This year, he found a giant bag of fruit-flavored Tootsies, but disappointingly for him, only a few vanillas were in the mix. After Thanksgiving, he announced he was tired of them, and took them to the office.
Just as Halloween is packing it in, the bane of many revelers arrives in the dairy case: eggnog. When I was a kid, it was only sold in December. Today, with voraciousness at an all-time high, the creamy-sweet drink makes its annual debut in a haunting bottle emblazoned with pumpkins, bats and witches, until it moves gratefully onto the cornucopia pattern for Thanksgiving, before it’s jingle all the way with silver bells, holly, and candy canes. Even in mid-January, there will be a few bottles souring on the shelves, but by that time, it’s mostly been absorbed by the general population in the form of a sea of saddlebags, spare tires and behemoth bottoms. I’m not a big ‘nog fan, and though my husband drinks it, he’s sporadic about it. He’ll buy a bottle, drink a quarter of it, put it in the fridge and forget about it until it clabbers itself into clumps. At that point, he’ll rediscover it like an old Monopoly game in the back of the closet, and holler, “Why didn’t you remind me that was in there?”
Nothing – not even the dozen different types of candy I make each year for friends, family, co-workers and potential targets for bribery – can match the temptation exuding from the “devil’s biscuit.” I can easily inhale the entire box, which fortunately only amounts to 12 cookies, in one sitting. I even gave myself a paper cut last year in my haste to rip into the season’s inaugural box, and then, trembling in anticipation, I practically swallowed the first one whole. I’m pretty sure Nabisco puts crack or another addictive substance in these cookies, but in any case, they are malignant. If I scraped the white coating off with a knife, I’m sure that instead of the trademark emblem on the chocolate cookie shell, I’d find an imprint of “666.”
The only edible iniquity that comes even close is the Seven-Layer Cookie bars I make each year. You’ve gorged yourself on them, I’m sure: graham cracker crumbs, slathered with sweetened condensed milk, then layered with chocolate and butterscotch chips, sprinkled liberally with flaked coconut and topped with chopped pecans before being baked into a gooey mess of transgression. While these may be the favorite treat for a lesser minion, rather than Old Slewfoot himself, they are nevertheless an embodiment of evil: One year, I watched a friend of mine eat nearly an entire 9-by-13 pan of these sinful squares before he pushed himself up from the couch, lurched toward the bathroom, and launched into an egregious round of heaving. An hour or two later, he polished off the last three squares.
Why do we spent an entire two months, bemoaning our distended bellies, praying for absolution, and swearing we’ll never do it again? No one knows for sure, but Americans are indeed gluttons for punishment – or perhaps gluttony IS our punishment. The really hazardous “open carry” scenario may involve a fist clutching not a .38 Special, but rather a greasy paper bag filled with five-for-$5 burgers.
I’m going to campaign for the elimination of all holiday treats except the infernal Peeps of Easter fame – in Christmasy colors, shaped like Santa, pine trees, stockings, yule logs, and for the spiritually minded, a manger or star. It may get me in trouble to say so, but I can’t imagine anyone craving Peeps.
Kim Poindexter is managing editor of the Tahlequah Daily Press.