As a child, I loved See’s Candy. (Full disclosure: I still do.)
See’s is a California chocolate company, founded in 1921, with shops throughout the Western United States. To this day, if you enter a shop, they’ll give you a free piece of candy – a fact I adored as a candy-loving child. The adult version of me likes it, too. (I recently bought some of their foil-covered chocolate balls for my son and his roommates as a Halloween treat.)
The distinctive white box, with its delightful chocolate smell, brings back memories of standing in my parents’ kitchen, tiptoeing to see the chocolates on the counter. My mother’s rule was “you take the first one you touch” so my cream-center loving heart learned quickly to think first and grab later.
Anyone familiar with boxed chocolates knows that the difficult part is figuring out what lies beneath the inscrutable chocolate covering. Many a child has been burned by fruit-and-nut nougat masquerading as chocolate cream.
See’s doesn’t come with the “treasure map” common to some candy manufacturers, which left me without a written trail to finding my favorite types. As a result, I found myself bypassing the dangerous hunt for chocolate and vanilla creams (which looked almost identical to nut-filled nougats and cherry-vanilla nightmares) and selecting Bordeaux creams – which taste a lot like coffee and had the advantage of a sprinkling of chocolate jimmies over the top. Only bordeaux and mocha have the jimmies, so picking them meant 100% success.
I figured out another (though less polite) method of determining what lay within the tantalizing chocolate bites. A sharp kitchen knife could bore a tiny hole in the bottom, revealing the center without disturbing the top and sides of the chocolate. Don’t like it? Put it back – and hope nobody else picks it up and turns it over. (This, too, burned me more than once, though fortunately my mother never accidentally offered my “test-bored” chocolates to company.)
Ultimately, I ended up falling back on a combination of memory and personal choice. I’d rather have a slightly less-favored candy than end up with a mouthful of fruit and nuts, so I learned to pick the ones I could identify without fail. To this day, I can “read” a box of See’s with better than average accuracy … and to this day, if I can’t be certain there’s a butterscotch square in the box, I’ll probably pick Bordeaux.
When in doubt, go with the jimmies.
What are your favorite boxed chocolates? Do you have See’s where you live? (And if so, which flavor is your favorite?)