One of the secretaries in our office used to have a candy dish on her desk. She kept it filled with whatever kind of candy people felt like donating, or candy that she would buy with the money people were supposed to chip in. I had several problems with that dish.
First, the dish would disappear from time to time without notice. Sometimes it would disappear with notice, but that was usually a veiled threat to get people to pony-up some contributions. When it disappeared without notice, I would walk around in a candy-less funk. You can’t really complain that someone isn’t offering you free candy (even if you do contribute). The other problem with the common dish was that it would occasionally be filled with stuff I didn’t want to eat. Again, you can’t really complain.
My candy consumption is governed by a curious set of rules, established over more than 50 years. In spite of the modern trend to market all things in all sizes, I feel strongly that certain candy should be restricted to a single form. For instance, Butterfingers are great, but not in a snack-size. Butterfingers need to be consumed outside of the workplace, during a moment I can savor and they need to be the full-dime size.
When I was a kid, we had penny candy, a group of things like Milky Ways that were 5¢ and the big candy bars that cost 10¢. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were one of the things that crossed the line. You could get a single cup for a nickel or that gorgeous twin pack for a dime.
Reese’s would show up in the dish, but in the form of individually wrapped miniatures – I hate those. The work-to-comfort ratio is all wrong. Not only are they wrapped in foil, inside the foil they are still in the wax paper cupcake-like thing. Now, Reese’s Mini’s, the bare-naked mini peanut butter cups, those are excellent snacks but they don’t work for a common dish since people are concerned about germs. I think they make Butterfingers minis, but the chocolate-to-crunchy-stuff ratio is wrong there. Like I said, these are curious rules.
I joined this fray two years ago when I decided to try and turn couple of small hunks of firewood into bowls. The blanks were split, misshaped and missing a few pieces, but I figured I might have some fun turning them on my lathe. When they were done, I was faced with the problem all woodworkers face – what to do with the bowls. We don’t eat much candy at home. In fact, we don’t eat much of anything that can be stored in a bowl that leaks. Since I had always kept a supply of individually wrapped Twizzlers in my office, I decided that I could add some candy. People would be welcome to help themselves, no donation required, but the only candy in those bowls would be the stuff that I like to eat.
I lean heavily toward Hershey Nuggets as they have a good chocolate to crunchy stuff ratio. I prefer the ones with almond and toffee bits, but I also like the ones that just have almonds. Some people in the office like the plain milk chocolate and some like the dark chocolate but almost everybody likes the ones with toffee. So, I fill one bowl with the almond and toffee and one with assorted Nuggets. The two bowls empty at about the same rate. I have a third bowl. Actually, it was the first bowl but I never had anything in it and nobody ever seemed to notice.
Nobody ever said “why do you have a candy dish but no candy?” When I added the two wooden bowls, it became abundantly clear that the glass dish had no candy. Suddenly people started asking “what are you going to put in the other dish?”
I like caramel, so I filled the glass dish with individually wrapped Rollo’s – big mistake. Rollo’s in that form have an unacceptable work-to-comfort ratio. I eat them, but hardly anyone else does because “it’s too hard!” Even people who say they love Rollo’s won’t bother to unwrap one. There are Mini-Rollo’s now, but again, the whole common dish, germs and who-knows-where-his-hands-have-been thing is going on.
Recently, while shopping at Target for candy, I noticed Hershey Hugs. Hershey Kisses are one of the few individually wrapped bits of candy that have an acceptable work-to-comfort ratio. I think that’s because they are long established in that form and they are really easy to open. Being individually wrapped is part of what it means to be a Hershey Kiss. Hugs trade on the fame of their sister Kisses but they still couldn’t draw people to the glass dish. I thought maybe it was the location. People will sometimes sneak their hand in to pick up a Nugget even when my door is closed, but you can’t reach the glass dish without entering the room.
Last week, Target had miniature, individually wrapped Heath Bars on sale. I bought a bag of those and mixed them in with the Rollo’s and the Hugs. The Heath Bars vanished, scooped up by people who had no problem entering my office (even if the door is closed) and walking right past the Nuggets. People dug beneath the Hugs and the Rollo’s to get a Heath Bar. No complaints about having to work too hard, no complains about the wrappers. Heath Bars rule!