My mum was always very particular when it came to food. She was constantly looking for healthy alternatives to lollies and chocolates. Not that I wasn’t allowed to have candy, or the occasional treat, just that she made sure that when I did have something sugary or fattening, that it was just that – a treat.
I on the other hand, never understood why a treat shouldn’t be something you can have every day, or three times a day for that matter. Truth be told, I still don’t completely understand the problem with it, though I am sure that would change if I had my own children. Maybe.
Mum used to stash all the junk food, so that I couldn’t get into it when I woke up early hours of the morning in search of entertainment. She always changed her stash spot, to ensure that I never figured it out. Sometimes she would stash them in the cupboard, right up the top, behind other pantry items. Sometimes she even stashed them in the freezer, or in her room, depending on how cunning I got.
One morning I woke early, as per usual and I was craving sugar. I searched high and low for lollies, but I couldn’t find any. Eventually I tried the cupboard. It was rare for mum to stash candy in the pantry, but it did happen every now and again, so I gave it a shot.
I looked on every shelf, dragging over a kitchen chair to see what was on the higher shelves. It wasn’t looking good. Then, just as I was about to give up, I spotted three small silver wrapped packets that looked like lollies, stashed right up the back on one of the higher shelves.
I crawled onto the shelf, knocking off a lot of the contents, but totally oblivious to the mess I was making. I was on a mission. I grabbed the packets and made my way to the lounge room. It was the safest spot in the house. There were plenty of places to hide the wrappers if I heard mum making her way down the hallway.
I opened the first packet and a handful of individually wrapped squares fell to the floor. I proceeded to unwrap the first square and popped it in my mouth.
It was horrible. Not just yucky, but truly horrible.
I spat it out instantly, not allowing myself time to find something to put it into. The horrible brown glob landed on the carpet. I sat for a moment, looking at it, with my hand to my mouth. What the hell was that?
I was obviously desperate for something sweet by then, so I figured I would try the next one. Perhaps it was just a lolly that had gone bad. Surely they couldn’t all taste that horrible.
By the time I heard mum’s footsteps tip toeing down the hallway, I was onto the third packet, with only three squares remaining and there was a pile of horrible brown globs stuck to the carpet.
Mum walked in the lounge room and looked at me for a moment. I knew I was going to be in deep trouble, but I proceeded in unwrapping the next square.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“I’m trying to find a good one. These lollies are yucky.” I braced myself. She was going to yell at me, or ground me, or ban me from candy forever. Whatever happened from here was not going to be good, that I knew.
Mum burst out laughing. I stopped, the last square only inches from my lips. This was certainly not the reaction I had expected. Mum raised her hand, motioning for me to continue. I put the last square in my mouth, screwed up my face as the now familiar taste filled my mouth and spat it out on the pile with the others.
Mum burst into laughter once again, slapping the palms of her hands on her thighs, before cradling her ribs.
“What did you think they were?”
I looked at her, then at the brown mess on the carpet.
“Lollies.” I began to sulk, as I realised the whole lot had been bad and I had missed out on getting my sugar fix.
“They’re not lollies Bub, those are stock cubes, and you use them in cooking.” I had no idea what that meant at the time. I was just grateful that not only did I not get into too much trouble, but I wasn’t grounded or banned from sugar either. Though I never heard the end of it. For days mum told anyone and everyone – and they all thought it was just as hilarious as she did.
I still have a sweet tooth, though I am a lot more selective these days.
Just because there is one ‘bad apple’ doesn’t mean they’re all the same. Never judge a book by it’s cover – or in this case, never judge a candy by it’s wrapper.