They say you catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar. While this idiom used to be understood as a statement on kindness, it’s now morphed into a whole new meaning at the heavy hands of Big Sweets, the lobbying arm for the sugar industry. According to a 2012 U.S. Department of Agriculture study, the average American consumes 57 pounds of sugar each year. Yes, you read that right: 57 pounds! The honey seems to be working.
Let’s be clear; there are no “sweeties” in the sugar game. Like Big Tobacco, Big Sweets has known the power of its powder since long before the Silk Road was established. At one time, Big Sweets held their secret saccharine back from the rest of society and only allowed it to be the delight of the rich and powerful. Eventually, Big Sweets realized the rest of us dolts would literally eat it up and stuff their pockets with wads of cash for the pleasure of doing so and an industry was born. They don’t call them 100 Grand bars for nothing.
Once the rest of the world got a taste, there was no turning back. Big Sweets calls it lollies in some places, sweets in others, but most of us know it simply as candy. Few of us have the strength to turn it down because, dammit, there are so many different and delicious ways to eat it! I have seen full-blown junkies practice more self-control around free heroin than a professional office full of people who are told there is free candy in the break room. Don’t get it twisted; Pam from accounting will cut a bitch over the last fun-size Snickers!
It’s a dangerous business for the consumer and never more so than at this time of the year. With the passage of Halloween, we have just begun a five-month journey into the depths of the candy bowl with no plan on how to get back out after Easter. Each major holiday between now and then carries with it a mammoth portion of sweet treats designed to make you slower, fatter and more content to sit around and eat another bag of Peanut M&Ms.
The conspiracy against us stretches far and wide. For example, Costco keeps selling me five pound bags of candy at Halloween even though we never get Trick-or-Treaters at our house. Now it’s on me and my wife to eat all of these Twix, Kit Kats and Milky Ways. By the time we finish, it will be Christmas and we will have to start all over again. And when we finish that, Big Sweets will be there to get us on Valentine’s Day with boxes of chocolates and again the day after Valentine’s Day with discounted boxes of chocolates. We can’t seem to get away from it.
You could call your candy “filthy slops” and people will still eat it. People already eat Harry Potter Jelly Beans that taste like farts and boogers. Big Sweets knows I’m going to buy whatever sugary, syrupy substance they put in front of me, no matter the cost or name. Do they have no regard for my health or safety? It’s like the Mars Company doesn’t really care about me or my well-being at all. What the fuck, Mars? I thought we were friends!
Candy and I have been through so much together. Whenever I was down or when times were tough, candy was there to lift me back up with a rush of sugar. Whatchamacallit nursed me back to life when I got dumped for the first time. Gummy worms and Sprite helped me survive high school. Chasing the ice cream man down my block to buy candy cigarettes is one of my fondest and most vivid childhood memories. Sugar has inserted itself into some of the most critical times of my life. It’s no wonder I can’t quit it.
If we aren’t careful, the reach of Big Sweets is going to continue to expand. How long will it be before we are giving each other candy for Independence Day? I’m surprised they haven’t already made “Liberty Candy” a thing, but perhaps they just haven’t figured out the right flavors to push. They haven’t had that problem with pushing earlier into the year. Their pumpkin spice campaign has been quite successful. Now, nearly every object on earth can be made to taste like pumpkin spice. If we don’t draw a line in the sand with a cinnamon stick soon, we might never look good in our bathing suits again.
The struggle is real. I’ve made myself sick from eating Hi-Chews several times in the last year and I will probably do it again because they are delicious and I can’t stop eating them. I’m eating a mango one even as I write this. If you told me I could replace my teeth with Chiclets gum I might do it so long as it didn’t impede my ability to eat other candy. Look what you’ve done to me, Big Sweets! Look at what I’ve become! I’m a monster and it’s all your fault. Now, would you pass me that Butterfinger …?