Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Quality Without Compromise (or the Psychology of See's Candies)

I must come clean: I am now, and have always been, addicted to See's candy.  Others may choose Godiva (blech), or Lindt (no thanks), or even Hershey or Mars (meh), but as for me and mine, it's See's candy all the way.  And by addicted I don't mean I 'gotta' have it every day - certainly not (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), it just means that if I'm going to going to have chocolate, well, I'd just rather save all of those 'empty' calories for the BEST chocolate - not just something that is so-so.

I'm sure there are many of us out there - you know who you are - who feel the same way.  Whether you're a California native and were raised on See's candy, or your an import and you learned to love it along the way, we all have our favorite piece (or, ahem, pieces) of See's candy.

Years - and two houses - ago, I remember Kevin, our neighbor Ray, our contractor Chris, and myself standing out in the driveway with a brand new box of See's candy.  We were all chit-chatting about something, though I can't remember what, when suddenly a hush came over us.  Everyone watched as I removed the outer unmistakeable paper wrap, then the lid, and finally the little rectangle of bubble wrap to reveal the milk and dark chocolate treasures inside.  All eye contact was lost; each person looked quickly for their favorite hoping no one else would get to it before they did.  It was hilarious! Everyone was trying to be polite, but … when faced with such decadent temptation, polite only goes so far.  Finally, the first dove in - out went the milk chocolate bordeaux, followed quickly by the 'cup' of molasses chips (which is a utter ridiculousness since those 2" molasses chips have never fit in those 1" candy cups!).  I was still holding out hope for my piece which taunted me from the corner.  Kevin was up next: out went the milk cocoanut.  SAFE!  That delicious milk California Brittle was mine, all MINE!  The frenzy didn't last long, though it seemed to take forever!  Once we were each happily enjoying our faves (or at least our current fave…it often changes depending on your mood), we all chuckled about how everyone has their favorites and we were each hoping that OUR favorite wasn't SOMEONE ELSE'S favorite.

Shortly before Halloween I went to See's because, well, let's face it - certain holidays just beg for See's candy (happy to oblige).  While standing in a short, but intense, line of See's lovers, I was witness to yet more examples of just how important these little nuggets of chocolate joy are to so many of us.  There was a young man, probably in his very early 20's, waiting his turn to place his order.  It struck me that he didn't look like the sort of person I would imagine in a See's candy shop.  In fact, I'd go so far as to say he's probably the last person I'd expect to see there.  I feel terrible about it now, but at the time I couldn't help but think he looked like a gang member.  Heck, maybe he was and maybe he wasn't, BUT what I can say for sure is that he knew exactly what he wanted.  I didn't hear the selections, but it appeared to be 5 individual pieces and clearly, he'd done this many times before: he had the exact amount of money in his hand when it came time to pay.  He had it down to a science.  The man in line after him placed his order for his custom box and was dismayed to hear that they were no longer carrying his favorite piece of candy.  Poor guy.  He looked so hurt.  He asked when they stopped carrying it; apparently he'd missed it by a month.  He asked why they stopped carrying it; he was crushed to learn that fewer and fewer people shared his love for that particular kind of candy.  You could just hear the disappointment in his voice - he was crushed.  I completely understand how he feels!

I've often pondered the psychology behind the pieces of candy we choose from that little white box.  Are you a mixed chocolates fan?  Milk chocolate?  Dark?  Soft centers?  Or maybe you prefer the nuts and chews.  When choosing a piece from any of the boxes, what do you go for?  Dark chocolate raspberry?  Blueberry truffle?  How about a molasses chip or two?  Maybe one for now and one for later?  How do you buy it - by the piece?  By the pound?  Only around a particular holiday?  Or is it a whenever-you're-in-the-mood-for-chocolate treat?  Just like the candy itself, all of these things can say a lot about you.  Or maybe they just say one thing:  you are a person who stands for Quality With Compromise.  Just like the box says.

Oh drats!  Now I'm craving chocolate!

1 comment:

Vicky Weir said...

Yum Yum I can taste a piece of See's as I read this. Sounds like I will be stopping by the See's candy shop in Victoria Gardens really soon.