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The Seattle Times | Pacific Northwest

Portraits CeCe Sullivan

Candy Corn | Sweet memories of a tricky little treat

In my other life, Jimmy Aylward shot me in the face with an ink-filled squirt gun on a dark Halloween night. I was brave, though, comforted by the thought of the little bags of candy corn I had collected in my brown paper sack.

And in that other life, when a sophomore high-school crush unceremoniously dumped me at a sock-hop for another girl, I sat on my closet floor all night, a small lamp and large bag of those sticky sweet triangles by my side, pouring out my grief in a red diary.

Is it any wonder that candy corn is one of my favorite treats? With their Crayola colors and one-note flavor, they're a simple pleasure, requiring nothing yet giving aid and comfort in full measure.

At least, that was the case in my other life — the mostly carefree years of childhood when others often did the thinking for me.

In this adult life of a thousand small and large choices to be made every day, I have to do the thinking for myself. To be sure, doctors and dentists will have their say, threatening the loss of teeth, a depletion of energy, or bad skin. Ultimately, though, the decisions are mine. And yes, I do pay the price for them.

I've recently discovered I have a sensitivity to sugar. But, and here's the catch, I had already agreed to write this ode to candy corn. How to do such a piece without research? In-depth study was required. Nothing less.

I bought a pound of my beloved corn for visual inspiration. Perhaps I would taste just a few to tease my flavor memory. I'd set aside the rest to be photographed. That was my plan.

But this wasn't just any drugstore-variety candy corn, the sort most likely stashed in a warehouse since last fall. This was special-ordered through The Confectionary at University Village, and it was as fresh as the young girl with the blue-inked eyes in my other life. It was a revelation, and it was irresistible.

In a few short weeks, my stash was diminished, and I ate the last two handfuls with a cup of coffee on a bright morning last summer. As a breakfast, I wouldn't recommend it. The pain in my stomach stayed with me 'til noon.

Wisdom is supposed to come with age. But letting go of a childhood treat is stepping fully into this adult life, when a part of me still craves the other. There's no going back, of course. My body has spoken. It's time to listen. But, oh, the sweet memories.