How Do You Like Your M&Ms?

My secret stash of M&Ms

I keep a secret stash in my desk drawer. It varies from week to week. Recently, it has been M&M candies. I’m not much of a sweet tooth. In fact when it comes to snacking, I’m generally pretty good. I like to occasionally have chips, for instance. When I have them, I’ll eat a handful or so and then put the bag pack in the pantry. Apparently, this is aberrant behavior, at least in my family. If I go back to that same bag a day later, there will be nothing but crumbs.

So I took keeping a secret stash in my desk drawer–which I am happy to share with the kids on occasion. But unlike the snacks in the pantry, they can’t just go into my secret stash and take it whenever they want. It means that the stash tends to last a while. The 19 ounce bag of M&Ms that currently resides in my drawer is already more than a week old, and it is more than half full. When I snack on M&Ms, it is usually just a handful, and I am satisfied.

I think there is a reason for this. When I was a kid, my grandfather had an old-fashioned candy machine in their house. The machine took nickels and he kept it supplied with M&Ms. The candy machine sat on an antique sewing table. There were narrow drawers in that table. One draw contain fistfuls of nickels that could be used for feeding the machine. The other drawer contains small bags for Triple S Blue Stamps or something like that. They were small bags. What you did was take nickel and a bag. You inserted the nickel into the slot, turned the thick metal dial, and you’d hear a fistful of M&M’s drop into the slot. You then put the mouth of the bag at the slot, and opened it. Presto! You had about a dozen or maybe 20 M&Ms.

I got used to that portion and that’s about what I eat today when the craving strikes me.

Thinking back, there were fewer colors of M&Ms back then than there are today. I don’t recall there being red M&Ms for a time. The rumor among the neighborhood kids (about as trusty in the late 70s and early 80s as the Internet is today) was that they dye for the red M&Ms caused cancer. I wonder if they referred to this as the Red Scare? There are red M&Ms in my stash today.

At some point, there were also peanut M&Ms. I don’t ever recall my grandfather stocking the machine with peanut M&Ms. I didn’t like them back then, and always eschewed they bright yellow bag they came in. Yellow wasn’t chocolate. Brown was chocolate. I wanted the most chocolate I could get. Today, I don’t mind peanut M&Ms if there is not other option. They also make peanut butter M&Ms now, but if I wanted peanut butter M&Ms, I’ll just have Reese’s Pieces.

The slogan I remember from M&Ms is “melts in your mouth, not in your hands.” I used to try to get them to melt in my mouth as a kid. They would also melt in your pocket on a hot summer day, despite what the slogan said. Indeed, it may have been through M&Ms that I first learned that just because the advertisers say something about the product, doesn’t mean its true.

Today, I’m still not convinced. The chocolate center may not melt in my kids’ hands, but the dye seems to. I don’t know why they hold onto M&Ms so long in their sweaty little hand, but their fingers come away from the experience stained every color of the rainbow.

The current bag of M&Ms sitting in my drawer has a sell by date of September 2021. Slow as I may be, I think I’ll finish the bag before then.


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