Living with a chocolate allergy had always presented challenges. Candy options are limited. Eliminate citrus flavors and strawberry candies and I was left with a few kinds of caramel and Dots. Dots were the go-to candy for me. I got a big box or two every Christmas and a lot of the little boxes at Halloween. I only really like the red and pink ones, though. I would always try an orange or yellow or green one, but I hated the taste of them. I probably threw away more Dots than I ate now that I think about it.
But candy bars have always held a certain fascination for me. They were mysteries to me. I knew the jingles and tag lines of most of the candies advertised on Saturday morning TV, but I didn’t (and still don’t) know what is in them. I used to ask people to bite into their candy bar and then let me see the inside—it was the only way I could find out.
Though I couldn’t eat real chocolate, I could eat white chocolate. Over the years, I’ve had a wide spectrum of white chocolate, but since it is less popular, there weren’t that many options. There is a waxy substance made with an artificial vanilla flavor that is on the yuckier side of the spectrum. My dad used to (and probably still does) make pretzels covered in the stuff. It’s not great, but I think it’s cheap so many “white chocolate” candy bars are made with it. Nestle used to make a White Crunch bar with this stuff and rice puffs. I didn’t really understand the combination. Was it supposed to be like rice crispies in milk? It wasn’t. They could have called it Wax Crispies and that would have been a more accurate description.
Zero bars. They were called this because they sucked. On a tasty scale of 1-10, they were a zero. I already couldn’t eat real chocolate, but I felt like the candy industry was just trying to rub it in at that point. Luckily, they were only available on the east coast and I live in one of those middle states so I wasn’t constantly reminded of them.
People say what about carob? Fuck that. Just because I can’t eat real chocolate, doesn’t mean I don’t have
Sure, there have been a few OK white chocolate bars on the market over the years. I adored Nestlé’s Alpine White bars! I think they had almonds in them or something. They were discontinued in the 1990’s I think. I used to get the bite size ones at Christmas and I really loved those things. When they suddenly went away, I felt truly forsaken (or as forsaken as a ten year old in the suburbs can feel anyway.). I searched in vain for substitute for years. Toblerone has a white chocolate bar with almonds and honey. I like those. I always wanted to find one of those giant ones that they have in the airports, but I don’t think they make them.
Progressing towards the better side of the white chocolate spectrum there is a Danish chocolate that comes in little disks about the size of a quarter. They are as good as white chocolate gets. They are buttery and I loved the way they would slowly melt away on my tongue. My uncle used to bring me white chocolate back from Europe. Of course, they are addictive too, so a whole box had to be carefully rationed. I always assumed this was as close as I was ever going to get to a real chocolate experience.
Remember, this was all in a pre-internet world. No one was going to call Denmark (on a rotary phone no less—think of how long it would take just to dial!) just to order a couple boxes (I couldn’t eat a whole case by myself and who else was going to eat it?). Now I can probably hop on Amazon and have as many as I wanted shipped to me for free. But fuck that—I can eat real chocolate now!