Yes you heard me right. Potato candy. Sounds weird I know. But it is so friggin' good. So good. I have gotten so many people addicted to this simple candy, just like it happened to me.
Picture this, and remember I lived in a small, tiny town.
Little, fat Rebekah at the school Fall Festival. Now our town was tiny when I was growing up. We had one school, K-12. So when the school had a festival nearly everyone came to it. And everyone contributed something. We had mazes, cake walks, bingo, pie eating contests, tug of war contests, a haunted hall (my parents usually ran that), class art exhibits, a show of the award winning science projects, and of course a bake sale. Every year I would bake for it. I was always trying to take something new, something that stood out, something original that no one else was bringing. But what I always wanted, what I craved every year, were those peanut butter swirl thingies. I didn't know what they were called. I didn't know who made them. I asked every year but no one told me. But they were my yearly crack fix.
And I loveded my precious. I would save up my pennies just to buy them every year. I would even sacrifice some book money in order to get them. One year I saved and saved and I bought three bags! But I had to hide them. Because they weren't just crack to me, they were crack to my three older siblings too. And they were not frugal enough to save up. Instead they would follow me around and then steal the candies right out of the bag as I was holding it! But I am devious too. I was the youngest and weakest for a long time, I had to learn to be devious. So I would lose my siblings, run through the haunted hall, out the door, around the back side of the school, then in the front again, and make my way to the room with the bake sale. If I saw a sibling I would run again and take a different path. Or go to the used book room and lick my fingers as if I had just finished a tasty sticky peanut butter treat while hiding my candy money in those terrible thick socks that were all the rage in the 80s.
And as soon as I was alone I would sneak into the bake sale room and snag a bag. The year I snagged three bags I thought my heart would explode with happiness. I hid two of the bags in my bookbag, between my books. I knew they would get squished, but they were soft candy and tasted just as good squished so I was ok with it. And if I only took them out at lunch my siblings couldn't steal them. It was a perfect plan! I thought.
But alas, it was not to be.
Because even though they were "candy" and they were in a ziplock bag, they were not hard candies. And soft candies mold. On the third day of my illicit candy smuggling operation, I pulled out my bag, mouth watering, thinking about how good it would taste after the school pizza. It was going to be the best school lunch EVER! But my delicious, delightful, happiness inspiring water and brown swirl of squished sugary goodness was instead a viscous blue/green with peanut butter glop.
Oh the tragedy!
I pulled out my second bag. The one that had never been opened, that had slid down to the bottom of my book bag and had book lines crushed into it. It was even worse! And might have, in fact, been looking back at me! My diabolical plan had all been for naught. I took them home that evening and showed them to my mother who laughed at me for not knowing they had to be refrigerated. She told me that next time I should put them in the freezer if I wanted to keep them. The freezer that I could not reach, not even with a chair, but all of my older siblings could.
Oh the humanity!
And my brother laughed.
And I punched him in the nose. Then I asked my mother if she knew how to make the peanut butter swirl things. But she had no idea. And we had never been able to track down the maker so we didn't even know what they were.
But there was light at the end of the tunnel for this little fat girl. Because that year I hit a growth spurt. The fat turned to height. And over the summer it turned to strength. And the next fall it turned to steely resolve. At that Fall Festival I boldly walked into the bake sale room. I purchased two bags, the last two!, of the deliciousness. But then my now shorter brother walked up. He was with his friends and liked to showoff by bullying me and taking my things. It didn't work very well any more, but he tried. He grabbed the back of my arm and pinched it hard, trying to force me into giving up my recently purchased candy, I punched him in the face. And knocked him down right there in the hallway. And my mother saw. And so did everyone else. And I looked like a bad kid. Because no one knew he tormented me like that every time I bought a sweet. He would pinch my arm to make it weak, then snatch the bag and run while lying that mom said I couldn't have sweets because I was fat.
Mom came storming up, and I quickly gobbled the first bag of candy, sad because I couldn't savor it, but determined not to give it up to my lying brother as punishment. My brother saw mom and started to fake cry, to get sympathy, before he realized he was surrounded by his school friends. And then, like an avenging angel, my daddy reached down and snatched him up. Dad put him on his feet and demanded an explanation. My brother started his lie. I had a mouth full of three soft candies and couldn't say anything to dispute his lies!
My brother finished his sad tale and quiet as a mouse my father bent over him. And held up one finger directly in front of his nose. The finger! We all knew the finger! It was dad's way of getting your attention right before judgement came down on your head! And it was directed at my brother not me! "I'll give you one more chance to tell me the truth." Dad said, in his scary quiet voice. And behind me I heard one of the mothers say, "He was standing there the whole time. He saw it all." I whipped around and stared and she nodded in response to me. I whipped back to watch my family drama happening in front of everyone, certain my brother would confess. The one sin dad never let slide was lying. If you confessed he would angry. But if you lied on top of the previous lie, he would get ANGRY.
And in front of God, Mom, Coach, and even the principal, my brother lied right to my father's face.
He was snatched up by his arm and frog marched right out of there. People parted to let them through. My brother protested his innocence. My mother ran after sputtering, not knowing what was happening. And I stood there in shock. It was the first time my brother had ever been caught bullying me. And it happened in front of everyone. One of the women from the bake sale brought me a baggie of ice for my arm. A large purple/black lump had started to form and I hadn't even noticed. It didn't even hurt until I put the ice on it. I finally manged to swallow the lump of sugar and peanut butter and thanked her. She motioned to the baggie I still clutched in my other hand. "I'm glad you like my candies." Then turned and left.
I was in such shock I couldn't say anything. I had met the master chef! The woman that made the peanut butter Heaven I lived all year for! And she disappeared into the crowd. I looked but couldn't find her. Then my mother came and got me. My brother had made such a scene in the parking lot that we had to leave early.
I swore that next year I would spend the whole time waiting at the bake sale booth so I could find the woman and thank her. And hopefully learn at least the name of the candy. But she didn't show up that year. Nor did the candy. And the following summer we moved.
Every fall my mouth would water with the memories. And my heart would yearn to be reunited with my first love. But I didn't even know his name. I tried all kinds of concoctions but nothing even came close to my childhood memories.
Then the internet was invented. And the world was turned on it's head. And Google burst into existence. And one fall, a few years back, I did a search. And I found the strangest recipe. "Potato candy? That looks right. But it sounds too weird." So I searched more. And more and more. Until finally I went back to the original recipe and tried it.
This was it!
It was real! I had found it! I made a giant batch. And I handed it to my friends, and my husband, and my parents! This is the candy I always told you about! This is the wonderful creamy goodness of my childhood that I loved so much! This is it!
But the best part? I didn't let my brother have any of it. But I did give it to his kids.