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Ethical Eating

Evidently, 'Natural Nature' Tastes Like Soap

There's some sort of force in this universe that just doesn't want my taste buds to enjoy themselves. A few weeks back, I found a gaggle of treats from the Little Market Indian Grocery and Spice (3062 N. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale 954-561-8606). There was one in particular that I was looking forward to eating, so I stored it away for a rainy day. After choking down scotch bonnet peppers last week, I figured it was about time to break out the trump card and eat some candy for this blog. As it turns out, I might have been better off swallowing a few scotch bonnet peppers instead.

The label reads Pan Pasand Candy. It's a clear plastic bag filled with dozens of red candies wrapped in bright foil. How can I tell the candies are red despite them being wrapped in foil? Well, my x-ray vision is down, but a few of the candies aren't wrapped at all, a clear sign that quality control at the factory was lacking at best. Still, these are just little hard candies, and they can't possibly be that bad. Plus, the red and green wrappings remind me of my favorite candies from my youth: those little strawberry flavored hard candies with the red gel filling that were wrapped to look like... well strawberries. I tear open the top of the package and take out one of the wrapped candies. Before I unwrap the treat, I decide to take a glance at the ingredients on the back.

That's when things got weird. The first ingredient: sugar. Exactly as

expected. Glucose, the second ingredient, is also no surprise. It was

the third ingredient that raised a red flag: Natural Nature. Call me

crazy, but I think something was lost in translation here. As far as I

can tell, all nature is natural, and none of it should be inside a piece

of candy. The fourth ingredient: Identical. Not a repeated natural

nature, but the word Identical. I have no idea what Identical could

even mean when it comes to candy ingredients. The final ingredient is

flavoring substances, which I'm glad are in this candy, because without

them, I fear these might be a bit bland.

After reading the ingredients, I was more hesitant to pop it into my

mouth. Instead, I raised it to my nose and inhaled deeply.

Cologne. It smells like cheap cologne mixed with potpourri. Suddenly,

this candy doesn't seem so awesome. I hoped it might just be the

packaging, so I quickly unwrapped the candy and popped it into my mouth.

That's about the time my throat decided to close.

The first thing I tasted when the candy struck my tongue brought me back

to my childhood, just not in the way I'd expected. Rather than a sweet,

strawberry-flavored rush of sugar across my tongue, I was greeted with a

strong soapy taste. Yeah, rather than being transported back to the

penny candy stores, I was reminded of the time I used foul language at

the dinner table and spent the next 30 minutes swallowing chunks of

Ivory soap.

I hoped that the soapy flavor would subside after a few seconds, and it

did. Unfortunately, it was replaced by a woody, menthol flavor. And then

my throat literally started to close. My stomach had clearly had enough

of this vile substance and was sending signals to my brain to end this

torture. I spit the "candy" back into the wrapper and buried it in the

trash. For the next 45 minutes or so, a soapy menthol taste lingered on

my taste buds. The scariest part was how stubborn the aftertaste was. No

amount of Mountain Dew, Altoids, or Saltines managed to dispel this

foul taste. Around the time I'd resigned myself to taking a cheese

grater to my tongue, it started to fade.

Who should eat these candies? Diabetics who want to stop craving sugar and children who say "boner" at the dinner table.

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Brett Gillin

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