(Photo: Margit Detweiler/TueNight)
I’m not sure that the consumption of dark chocolate peanut butter cups is quite a vice, but some days when I’m really focused on devouring them, I have to admit it all feels a little shady.
My sugar consumption has ramped up since I got sober last year. My body was suddenly robbed of all of the sugar in wine and, um, whatever else I could find.
I discovered cupcakes first.
I swore that my suddenly very smart car started driving itself directly to the cupcake store. I was so embarrassed by this that I called a friend to discuss it. What adult woman needs a daily cupcake (or three)? Who checks the flavors on Facebook at a specific cupcake store because if you ask for the secret one they’ll give it to you like it’s your birthday? Who considers an empty parking space on a busy street directly in front of the cupcake store a sign from her higher power that she is meant to have one? Who goes broke buying fancy cupcakes — the chocolate coconut ones especially?
A woman who recently quit pouring wine down her throat, nice people told me. They also told me not to worry, that it was normal, that my body was doing what it needed to do, that for now cupcakes were my friend, because a. Cupcakes were not the very bad idea that is alcohol is, and b. Cupcakes. Come on.
The cupcake thing passed, but the sugar thing is still a thing.
Recently I’ve set my sights on a new girlfriend: The dark chocolate peanut butter cup.
If I post unprompted and positively about a food on Facebook, the relationship is real. This is a sad, but true fact. Last week, after I got back to my desk from a lunchtime trip to the local market that I lied to myself was solely for some of their excellent kale salad but turned out to be an excuse to pick up a Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cup, I turned that corner.
“These are the best thing in the history of things,” I posted,.
“Obsessed!” a friend posted back. “The best!” “Love!”
Anecdotally, Justin’s appeared to be the best, but I needed (needed!) to try some other brands so I could draw an informed conclusion, for science. So I went to Whole Foods the other night and bought every variety of dark chocolate peanut butter cup they had in the store. There are a surprising number of brands — food scientists apparently have their priorities in order.
The cashier eyed my five kinds of candy on the belt, along with a bottle of sparkling water and an individual serving of orange juice.
“Candy party? Wow! Looks good,” he said.
“I’m, uh, taste-testing, because my job is weird,” I said.
“Looks like a good job to me. You’ll have to eat one an hour to make the right decision, though.”
I hadn’t thought about that. Momentarily concerned because I was running out of time to get this done, I pointed at the water.
“Do you think that will help?”
“Yes. Palate cleanser,” he said, making a swishing motion with his mouth and laughing at my candy. “Come back and tell me who wins.”
Give that man a raise because he understands processes and priorities.
You have no idea how many varieties of dark chocolate peanut butter cups there are until you go on a tear like this, honestly.
There were the Theo cups which I wanted to love because they are organic and fair trade, and I can think of no better way to validate a candy obsession than the knowledge that I’m supporting a fair trade chocolate product. Also they are soy-free, palm-free and non-GMO. And the kicker: they are heart-shaped.
Heart-shaped, fair trade organic free-of-everything dark chocolate peanut butter cups. Let’s genuflect and take that in for just a sec, shall we?
Alas, although I would give them to someone for Valentine’s Day in a second, they were not my favorite, and neither were Newman’s Own or the Trader Joe’s version in the bags by the checkout where all of the other insanely good candy lives. The TJ’s cups are also mini, and anything mini automatically goes up a notch on my snack list for reasons I can’t explain.
I need to go back and tell the cashier that, yup, Justin’s still wins. This is not an ad, just truth. (Hi Justin. I don’t know who you are, but I love you. Thank you also for your maple peanut butter. Super good.)
Justin’s just gets it, which I translate to them getting me. What they lack in heart-shapedness and miniature they completely own in texture, weight in my hand (What? Important!), biteability (ditto) and deliciousness. I also tried their white chocolate version because by the time I’d thrown five kinds in my cart I’d completely lost my standards about dark chocolate purism, but that’s another story.
I am told that all things too shall pass, and I’m sure that will happen with peanut butter cups. Maybe faster now, because I told you, and when I tell the Internet anything? Progress generally follows, like a sugar crash, or magic. It’s hard to find anything as magical as these babies, though, so this wicked behavior may stick around for awhile.