Thursday, June 16, 2005

Shall I Compare Thee to an M&M

That would be wrong, for who could measure up?

Now don't be getting all chocolate snobby on me. I love the 5-kilo blocks of Callebaut bittersweet as much as (and probably a lot more than) the next guy, but you can enjoy an expensive Bordeau and still have a place in your palate for Merlot. (V. loves Merlot; he got all snippy when he saw Sideways; I'm not a big wine expert, but the scenery sure was pretty.) My flirtation (to the extent that buying the two-pound bag from Costco can be called a flirtation) with the little dots of bliss goes back farther than I can remember. I suppose that my mother must have given them to me when I was still in my high chair. (That last sentence is likely a slander, but it's not like she's going to be able to correct me, the way she corrects my sister whenever my sister introduces herself as my parents' favorite daughter: "she's our ONLY daughter!")

Of course, when I was in a high chair would have been right around the time of the JFK assassination, so I would have been dealing with a limited palette: brown, red, green, and yellow. And that would have been fine with me. Does anyone really care about orange m&ms? (I apologize in advance to the orange m&m fetishists among my once and future readers, and also take this opportunity to say, "Ew!") And don't even get me started on blue. What marketing genius thought that up? Probably some guy who sat around stoned in college for three hours trying to think of a blue food. I used to know people who would go around and tell you that there were no blue foods because blueberries are, in fact, violet (God only knows what color blue corn is; indigo, perhaps), but there have always been edible blue flowers, at the very least.

One can only presume that the buffeting winds of puberty had my psyche otherwise occupied in 1976 when the idiots at m&m/Mars decided to remove red from the lineup. There is no other explanation for my failure to take my place at the side of my comrades-in-arms at the great chocolate rebellions. If they tried to pull the same crap today, I'd have to immolate myself in protest. Or perhaps write my Senator. (I can't see Barb Mikulski taking the removal of red m&ms lying down. I'm not sure about Sarbanes.) As you doubtless know, during the early 70s, the FDA (I think) pulled a number of red food dyes from the market when they were found to be carcinogens. None of the suspect dyes was used in red m&ms, but the makers pulled them anyway so as to avoid confusing the public. (I'm not making this up [except maybe for the chocolate rebellions]; you can go to their website and see that nonsense about not confusing the public.)

In any case, our long national nightmare came to an end in 1987 (oddly enough, right near the end of the Reagan administration; as a rule, I don't discuss politics on this site, but I'm a gay Unitarian Universalist: you do the math) with the reintroduction of red. Our lesser national nightmare started up again in 1995 with the introduction of blue, but I've almost learned to live with that.

As an aside (I generally don't bother acknowledge that I'm going off on a tangent because I'm nothing but tangents, but what the hell), I would like to reminisce for a moment about a girl I knew in college. She was actually my boss' sister when I worked at the Student Employment Office. With a blindfold on, she could tell, by taste, what color m&m you had placed in her mouth. She must have been very popular at frat parties.

As another aside (there he goes again!), one of the truly great marketing slogans of all time has got to be "melts in your mouth, not in your hands." Show me a guy who's never said that with a lewd smile to another guy, and I'll show you a breeder.

Peanut m&ms are, of course, an abomination, but that doesn't stop me from eating them when there are none of the plain variety to be had. Almond m&ms are brilliant, but they are not really m&ms. On philosophical grounds, I object to both the Valentine's Day red and white and the Easter pastel color palettes. It's a tough call, though, because with the Valentine's m&ms, you get half red, and that's a good thing.

You didn't hear this from me, but if you have m&ms, a little sugar, and some heavy whipping cream on hand, you can make a quick mousse: Whip 1 cup of cream until it is halfway between cream and whipped cream, then sprinkle in a quarter cup of sugar, and continue to beat until the cream is fully stiff. Fold in a half cup of m&ms. Serve. Unless your friends are on acid, you may want to consider using only one color of m&ms, or colors that won't look weird when they mix (red, orange, yellow, perhaps) because the dye from the shell gets into the whipped cream. Actually, this is the sort of thing that no sane person would serve to guests, anyway. No sane person would admit ever having eaten such a thing, but I hear from a very reliable source that it's just the ticket when you've been stood up or, heaven forefend, dumped.

I assume that you can make it even more easily with just a small bag of m&ms and an aerosol can of whipped cream, but I don't even have a reliable source to verify that. Of course, if you've had the sort of romantic trauma that would make you want to eat aerosol whipped cream, then I suggest just popping a handful of m&ms into your mouth and following it with a squirt of whipped cream. Then chew. And remember: anyone who made you feel bad enough to do that is someone you're better off without.


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