Tuesday, March 21, 2006

At Last! A Post with Some Substance

Sorry I've been flooding you with trifling concerns such as pharmaceutical greed, global women's health and nutjob cults posing as legitimate religions. I was just warming up for the real story, which is the mysterious transformation of the Goldenberg Peanut Chew.

I was trolling the candy aisle at the Rainbow Grocery Outlet, which is my favorite grocery store. Honey once called me from the Outlet to say there was a container of mahi mahi ceviche in the fresh section that had expired the prior day and should she buy it? Of course she was kidding. Her stomach is notoriously sensitive; she might as well drink directly from a river downstream from a goose farm. No less than two weeks later I saw the same ceviche with the same expiration date, now in the frozen aisle. Now that's something even I wouldn't buy. But there are some amazing and non-lethal bargains to be had there, and I love a bargain especially since I have no job.

Back to the story: I was looking for Kashi Go Lean bars, which are all full of protein and fiber and taste pretty good, which I had found the prior week for 33 cents! What a bargain, right? Anyway, I found them but they were now 79 cents. That's life at the Outlet, though. You gotta go with the flow. I put three in my basket. Then I see a red packaged candy bar, called "Peanut Chews" but it looks all wrong. The package seems too big and the font is an obnoxious "we're hip to the kids" faux graffiti. It also says "original" on the rapper. Incensed, I turn it over and by God if it doesn't say "continuing in the Goldenberg tradition" on the back. Someone bought Goldenbergs? My stomach sinks ...

Last year I read a great book called Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America by Steve Almond, which starts off about one man's obsession with candy but sort of turns into this interesting documentary style narrative about how all these local family owned candy makers are being bought out by the giant candy companies like M&M Mars. Hell, they're probably all owned by Philip Morris, or I'm sorry The Altria Group, this ridiculous company Philip Morris created to divert us from the fact that a tobacco company owns like 9/10ths of the products available in mainstream grocery stores. In case you wanted to know this includes Kraft, Nabisco, Oreo, Maxwell House, Miller Brewing, Oscar Mayer ... please don't make me go on.

I had to find out whether my beloved candy has fallen into the clutches of a tobacco company, so I log on to their website. Odd. The new owners, Just Born, Inc., seem to be trying to make this candy, which I associate solely with old Jewish men like my Dad and candy freak vegans (No dairy in the dark chocolate version. The new milk choc version probably does, but who would want to eat that? Vile) like my friend Sarah, young and hip. The website features jarring music, loud graphics and a skateboarding kid. We are also informed that the Peanut Chew is the official candy of the Dew Action Sports Tour. I have no idea how they pulled this off; there is absolutely nothing hip or cool about Peanut Chews--they are total grandpa candy.

What else does Just Born, Inc. make? While no candy heavy hitters, they're also no slouches: Mike & Ike and Hot Tamales: two very respectable and upstanding candies. Peeps: revolting but traditional. Zours and Teanee Beanees. No idea what a Zour is and Teany Beanee sounds like a Jelly Belly rip-off. The Goldenberg will be a proud addition to their stable, unless they mess with the formula. But I am happy to report it tastes exactly the same.

I dig a bit more and I am shocked to discover that the Goldenberg family sold to Just Born in 2003. Where the hell have I been? Who knows? I only just learned how to bold words in this blog using html tags, which is something they now teach in nursery school.

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