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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ribbon Candy

This post is a bit different from my usual casual description of whatever... it's an essay, a memoir, if you will.

lights reflected on a wet roadDriving home in the rain and dark last night the lights of the car ahead trailed streaking, wiggling reflections in their wake. It must be because it’s December that I was reminded of ribbon candy. It’s seldom raining here this close to Christmas. Usually at this time of year my thoughts are swirling with snowflakes.

But suddenly I found myself remembering ribbon candy, something I haven’t tasted, haven’t even thought of, in years. Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t even like it any more. Yet, it was a seriously important part of my family’s Christmas tradition when I was a child. Each year my father bought one box.

As I recall, my father’s contribution to Christmas celebrations was minimal. Dad was serious, precise and liked routine. There was a right way to do everything; Christmas was messy and temporary. I think he tolerated the tree and candles and decorations primarily for my benefit. And, he always brought home one box of ribbon candy.

How is it that ribbon candy tastes different from other candy? It’s made from sugar, corn syrup and flavorings, the same as a thousand other candies. And yet, it is different. There’s something about the way those thin strips of hard sugar crunch, and the way the flavors of the stripes blend together.

Do the red and white ones really taste different from the green and white ones? Why are some of the ribbons shimmery, while others are in clear primary colors? How do they make those perfect squiggles?

Why did my father choose this as his contribution to the festivities? Was there some tradition from his childhood that he never shared? He was adopted when he was four by a hard-bitten, Irish immigrant farm couple. I doubt that there was much extravagance in that family. Why did I never think to ask him about any of his Christmas memories?

Yet, as I write this, I can see Dad smile as I tear the cellophane off that flat, rectangular box. Did he know that I silently cheered when he bought the big box, the one with two layers? We would set a date each year when the bottom layer could be uncovered, to make the treats last longer. The last broken crumbs were savored some time before New Year’s Day.

A long red and white ribbon of memories flowed down the road, beckoning me to follow, last night. Dad, if I never thanked you for the ribbon candy, I hope you can hear me now.

ribbon candy

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Lin said...

Sweet post, Sharkey!

I wonder if your dad liked it because it was something you and he shared together? I'd like to think that is the reason he bought it each year. :)

Funny what we remember, isn't it? And how it comes back to us in the oddest of moments.

Michelle Devon (Michy) said...

I never liked to eat ribbon candy, but I always thought it was pretty. I hadn't thought of it in years until your post. Great memories...

Ratty said...

My grandpa always used to have ribbon candy around during Christmas. I don't even remember the taste, but I always think of ribbon candy at Christmas time.

Duxbury Ramblers said...

Never heard of ribbon candy, from the picture I would never have guessed it was candy or toffee as we would call it here, I understand what you mean about memories being triggered by certain things especially from our childhood.

Anonymous said...

Lovely memory - and yes, ribbon candy is kinda magical...maybe because it only comes once a year!

Cyndee said...

What a beautiful memory!

Glynis said...

What a lovely walk down memory lane. Thanks for sharing with us.

Secondary Roads said...

A sweet memory. I may have seen or even tasted ribbon candy but have no memory of it.

Anncash16 said...

I love ribbon candy too. Whenever I see this thing I remember my childhood.

Sharkbytes said...

Lin- that's an idea, although Mom enjoyed it too.

Michy- thanks for your comment- I really appreciate it!

Ratty- it must sell more at Christmas- everyone seems to think it goes with that holiday

Carole- now you have me wondering if it's really an American thing. Not toffee flavor though.

Grace- the shape alone is magical- so unique

Cyndee- thanks so much for stopping by!

Glynis- once in a while, my friend

Chuck- really? I wonder if it's more common in the East

Anncash- thanks for stopping by- Perhaps it was more popular in the 50s and 60s.

Everyone has raised so many questions, I'll have to find out more info!

Ann said...

ah the magic that is Christmas. It always brings back memories of the past and this one is a treasure. Thanks for sharing the story, I loved it

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