Caution I Brake for Toffee

imageOne 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 imagewrapped 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 decidedimage 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 imagechocolate 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!

25 thoughts on “Caution I Brake for Toffee

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  1. Pictures – The top picture is the common candy dish in our office which appears to be on permanent hiatus. The third picture down is the book case in my office where my candy dishes sit. Go ahead, help yourself. As John ‘Bluto’ Blutarsky said in Animal House: “Don’t cost nothin”


  2. On the topic of sweets on the desk, many years ago when I had my trading room software company, I kept a dispenser of Jelly Beans on the desk. Now this required some money to get some sweet and everyone had fun putting in a penny and getting three beans out. It was a loss leader but it was fun. One day, the manager at our best customer’s came into the office. Now I used to work with this guy so we were good friends. He almost lost my friendship when he took the top off the dispenser and helped himself to a fistful of free jelly beans. Lucky we were good friends because my response would have killed any real commercial deal – big grin.


  3. Work to comfort ratio; love it. However, our ratepayers work to comfort ratio was not happy when we discovered what our city council employees had been up to last year “In the last financial year, council staff used their P-cards (purchase cards) to spend $187,680 on entertainment, gifts and catering. Ratepayers paid $94 for a council staff member to restock their lolly jar. ” I don’t know Heath bars :(


  4. This is a sweet piece, Dan. I love it! Unlike you, I prefer my Butterfinger in the min-bar. I probably eat the same amount as a full size bar though:) The candy bowls you crafted are beautiful- I bet they are great conversation pieces. About your co-worker digging to find the heath bars, that’s me with butterfinger. Have a pleasant week.


    1. Thanks. I’ve been amazed at the passion people have for candy and the way it should and shouldn’t be served. I haven’t found too many who font like if in some form. My wife tells me that there are now Kit-Kat minis. I might have to try those.


  5. I’m convinced that the mini Reese’s are made out of rejected ingredients. They never ever taste as good as the full-on-legitimate-full-and-proper-sized ones. And recently, a friend told me that the imitation Reese’d she buys at Trader Joe’s are just as good. HA! I just had to laugh at her.


    1. You raise a scary point about the minis but you’re right, they don’t behave like the real ones (where I’ve never had wrapper issues) and they don’t tastes as good. As for other brands being as good, that’s just crazy talk. I should mention that I also correct typos in comments, so I like that :)

      Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment.


  6. You are a candy pro! It took me a while to find candies I like in the States. My favorites are the Gummies (in all shapes and colors) and the Twizzlers. We have the equivalent of the gummies in France but the licorice is often black and less sweet. Here I avoid the cash registers where I know I can buy Twizzlers because I am really addicted. My kids know it and always add them to my birthday gifts and my Christmas sock. Fun to read you, as always.


    1. Thanks. A friend of mine in England got me hooked on a brand of Wine Gums. My wife has been able to buy them mail order here, but they aren’t always available. My favorite licorice is the chocolate Twizzlers but I can’t buy them often because I will eat them all.


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