Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bulk Candy II: Irksome Pricing

I have written here on my ambivalence toward bulk candy. On the one hand, bulk displays are impressive, and the variety of choices is undeniably enticing; on the other hand, there are issues of germs, staleness, and overall expense per pound. To add to this latter point, I will tell you about my latest experience with the local candy store:

I went there today to purchase some candies that are simply not available elsewhere. While there, I expected to be gouged by boutique-store prices (and I was) but I was not fully prepared for the ridiculous amount of stratification among the prices of different 'levels' of candy. There were, in fact, 5 different color-coated price levels assigned to the myriad candies in the store, ranging from about $7/lb to $11 per. While I can understand a little difference in price between powdery, chalky offerings like bleeps or "sweetart" (not SweeTart, but in that ilk) bears and chocolate-covered cashews and the like, I do not see how Jellies are a dollar more per pound than the sweetart items or how gummis are a dollar more expensive still. In fact, generally, in standard .79-.99 pre-packaged candy price rates, one can get almost twice the weight of gummis compared to SweeTarts, and twice that of gummis in jelly form. That is, one can get over three ounces of gummis and over 5 ounces of jellies for the same price of a 1.8 ounce roll of SweeTarts. However, in boutique land, these prices are flip-flopped, as soft chewables are given prime status.
Do these kinds of things make you want to buy lots of candy?

But this pricing per se is not what bugs me most. The real pain in the ass is that if you want to buy candies across the 'classes,' you have to get like five different bags and carefully manage not to put different 'colors' on top of one another. The added expense of different levels is one thing, but not being able to add all candies together into one, glorious sac and have them intermingle from the moment you turn the scoop into the bag is untenable. I want my cinnamon bears chilling with the sour patch kids, getting to know each other while I peruse the rest of the offerings. I want the Smarties to say "hi" to the licorice and the sour balls.

These chewy Sprees were appropriately priced at the lowest level.

Has our society not learned from our past mistakes? Haven't we moved past the need to segregate candies into categories based more on some idea of cachet than taste or consumer desires? As for me, I'd be happy if the store averaged out the candies to 9.50/lb and just let me pile it all in one bag. Since I could not do so, I conscientiously objected to the system and left the store without all the candies I went to buy. Oh, I got a small bag (I'm not crazy) but they were all of one class, one price level.

And I feel kind of dirty eating them.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Xmas Candy

I still get a Christmas stocking. Yeah, that's right. If I get home for Xmas, there is a stocking full of candy goodies there for me. It's one of the joys of the season. Turns out you can go home again.

The thing I love about Xmas candy is the themed packaging, especially of chocolate morsels. Sure, it is good to get some good chocolate-- Dove's, Cadbury, Lindt, etc. -- but it is also nice to get some of the absurdly foil-wrapped chocolates made for the holidays. Oh, it's not very tasty-- usually chalky and stale-- but there is something about it that screams "Christmas." To cite a couple of Marxists, there is a "ruthless unity" to it all, in aesthetics and flavor... but not in the pernicious sense. Of course, there's the standard Santa and reindeer types, and there are always Hershey's and Reese's bells. But I especially like the other themed candies that are not really Xmas related, but that also appear around Christmas time.

This is the standard Santa fare. We've all had it.

For instance, this year, I got a golf ball. It was not particularly flavorful (though the white cream in the middle was pretty solid) but it was the exact size of a golf ball, and it even had a standard set of dimples. I have also in the past gotten footballs and tennis rackets. Such gendered candy theming makes me wonder if there is a set of feminine candies and what they would be? Do girls get little chocolates that reflect what marketers think they like? My Little Chocolate Ponies? Barbie Bittersweets? It's not a burning question in my mind, but something to think about.
The golf ball I got was not this fancy and had the ubiquitous foil wrapper on it-- and on the wrapper was a landscape of someone playing golf. Brilliant.

I am just happy that my step-mom still thinks of little things like how I play golf and makes the stocking reflect that. It sure helps me keep up the whimsy. I'll be expecting that stocking every year until I die, and I hope my expectations are not dashed.