I had an epiphany this past Halloween. I was sitting alone, eating miniature candy bars from a giant bowl. I got my usual number of trick-or-treaters: four. Maybe next year I should leave the lights on.
That wasn’t the epiphany though. I already knew that. What I realized was that the overeating season doesn’t start with the Thanksgiving turkey and end with the New Year’s resolutions as I always thought. It actually runs from August to August with a couple of days of healthful eating in early January.
That’s because August is when grocery stores put out their Halloween candy. We walk by, think, “It’s too early for that,” then throw some in our cart. We’re going to need to buy it eventually anyway. We’re also going to need to buy it again eventually.
And so it begins. Friendly people set out dishes filled with candy corn and “fun-size” candy bars, though, if you ask me, a full-sized bar is way more fun.
I do admire people who have candy dishes though—full candy dishes. Anyone can have an empty one. If I were going to have a full candy dish, I’d have to fill it with something I don’t like. Maybe sardines.
You can find chocolate turkeys if you look hard, but Thanksgiving isn’t really about candy. Man—and woman—cannot live on candy alone. We need stuffing too. And pie.
Right after Halloween, the orange and brown candy wrappers are replaced by red and green ones—maybe by elves. Chocolate Santas and candy canes appear. By the way, if you ever give me Christmas candy, which would be a nice gesture, don’t give me candy canes. I haven’t liked those since a Christmas many years ago when I received a candy cane so big I’d probably still be eating it if it hadn’t picked up lint so badly.
By Christmas, the store-bought goodies are supplemented by homemade treats. I know people who regularly complain about holiday weight gain and getting their holiday baking done in the same conversation.
There are probably still Christmas leftovers in our fridge on New Year’s Day, but we make another giant meal anyway. Then we diet—until January 3.
It helps that there’s slim pickings for New Year’s candy. You can get gummy shot glasses and liquor-filled chocolates, but those aren’t suitable for candy dishes—or children.
It’s okay. The pink and red candies and chocolate hearts are in stores by New Year’s Day. Nothing says “I love you” like a giant box of chocolates, at least to me.
St. Patrick’s Day isn’t known for candy. But you can get corned beef and cabbage which is always a treat. Just don’t put it in your candy dish.
The lack of St. Patrick’s Day candy may be explained by the overabundance of Easter candy. Shortly after Valentine’s Day, candy corns go pastel and chocolate bunnies appear. If you plan to give me Easter candy, you should know I prefer solid chocolate bunnies to hollow ones. Apparently, to make a chocolate figure with no innards, you have to make it with brown crayons and I don’t think those are edible.
Hardly anybody gives May baskets anymore, but if I ever do, I’ll fill them with leftover candy canes and hollow Easter bunnies.
There are a few sweets that come wrapped in red, white and blue for Independence Day. And there are some peculiar candies that explode in your mouth, but those aren’t treats as much as entertainment. This is the season for ice cream anyway—and going to the dentist.
I’m not aware of any Labor Day candy, but no one misses it because the Halloween candy has been up since August.
And so it goes, through the year. Every holiday is followed by guilt, then resolve. “I really messed up. I’ll start over on January 2.” Or rather, August 1.
(Dorothy Rosby is the author of three books of humorous essays including Alexa’s a Spy and Other Things to Be Ticked off About, Humorous Essays on the Hassles of Our Time. Contact [email protected])