When slogging uphill with a boulder of a backpack and thrashing through alders, my mind drifts.
I remember the buffets, mostly the ones that got away. The times I didn’t have that second piece of cake. And of course, candy. I always return to candy.
I would pick candy over chocolate and booze. I refuse to do a backpacking trip without the sugary treat,. I’d much rather forego toilet paper.
The only time my dad spanked me as a kid was over candy. When I was five, the shopkeeper caught me stuffing sweets down my pants. After the punishment, my dad and I made cookies. I learned to refrain from stealing (other than the occasional ‘mislabeling’ of parmesan cheese as baking powder in the bulk section at Superstore) candy, instead saving and scrimping all my pocket money for sour worms, Swedish berries and fuzzy peaches.
Not all candies are created equal. I prefer soft, chewy gummies, particularly those covered in sugar. They are best when slightly stale or kept in the freezer as the cold brings out the flavour and makes them last longer.
When traveling, I make sure to check out the confectionery aisle. According to my not-so-extensive travel knowledge, the best candy in the world comes from Scandinavia.
It’s so good in fact, this region of the globe eats the most sweet treats. In a 2016 study by the Swedish Board of Agriculture, it found the average Swede eats 35 pounds per year of candy, which means the average person eats over half a pound per week.
When I lived in Iceland for a period, I soon discovered that their food was dreadful, bland and reminiscent of war times. For example, I lived near a bus station that served sheep’s head. The hair was burnt off with a blow torch, severed down the middle and boiled.
No spices, no sauces, no sides. Just a head on a plate with a lone eyeball watching.
However, each Saturday candy was 50 per cent off. It was probably the reason I gained 10 pounds that year. I would gorge on salted black licorice stuffed with marzipan, Coca Cola bottles and rainbow strips. I would count the days until the weekend, waiting outside the supermarket until it opened.
I’d compete with school children for the sugar-coated bootlaces and sour keys. Saturdays made up for boiled sheep’s head. We all have our addictions, items that infiltrate our dreams and kept hidden in the desk draw at work.
While my doctor might want me to give up Jelly Babies, I try to reserve candy for backcountry adventures only. However, perhaps after watching for work a particularly ‘exhilarating’ council meeting on proposed parking restrictions and a liquid waste management plan, I’ll mumble an excuse to use the ‘bathroom’ and sneak out the backdoor for the pick n’mix section at Malones.
Because some days we all need a sweet escape, especially during a pandemic.
Liam Harrap writes for the Revelstoke Review. For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.