Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Even Worse Candy News

I spent three months backpacking in China in the early nineties, and one thing I remember fondly about that time is Cadbury chocolate bars. Cadbury isn’t the best chocolate in the world, but all the other “chocolate” products sold in China in those days tasted like brown crayons in colorful wrappers, so I was grateful for it.

I was so grateful, in fact, that I used to buy one or two every time I saw some for sale, reasoning that I never knew when I would next get the chance to have good chocolate.

It wasn’t until very close to the end of my trip that I realized that Cadbury was pretty much everywhere, and that I was actually consuming candy bars at a far faster rate than I did at home. I had somehow convinced myself that I was experiencing a chocolate famine, when in reality, I was putting away three or four bars a week.

I don’t eat Cadbury that much anymore, but when I do, I have a Proust-like memory of traveling on Chinese trains, and I can remember how good it made me feel to taste something sweet and creamy and familiar so far from home.

I am thinking of all the Cadbury chocolate bars I have eaten in my day because I just read that the company is recalling its Chinese-made chocolate because of fears that it might have been made with tainted milk. I’m not concerned for myself—this was a really long time ago—but I am a little sad to think of all those backpackers out there now, scrunched up on hard-sleeper bunks somewhere in the Chinese countryside, scribbling in their journals after an unsatisfying train dinner, and not being able to pop an overly sweet, oddly light colored piece of mediocre chocolate in their mouths.

They’re probably all sipping Starbucks mochas and not missing mass-market candy at all, but that’s a sad thought in its own way, too.

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