Talk About a Slippery Slope

by Kenneth B. Lourie

I don’t need anyone to feel sorry for me, really I don’t, especially with Halloween around the corner. But while standing in the supermarket checkout line recently - one that still had a candy display - when taking inventory of confectionery availability, so to speak, it hit me! Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve eaten (consumed might be more accurate) a single-serving/vending-machine-size bag of M&Ms? (“What, two days, Ken?”) Very funny. No, weeks, maybe even months.
I wouldn’t say it’s been a conscious effort or even one that I deserve the least bit of credit for having made. Nor was there a bet or a dare or even a modest attempt to lose weight. And there certainly hasn’t been a shortage of product. Hardly. M&Ms are everywhere, and in more stores, varieties and colors than ever before. (Have you ever bought the two-pound bag? Sweet!) No, if I were to try to explain my non-purchases, I would have to say the increasing heat and humidity we experienced over the long, hot summer was most likely to blame. And even though M&Ms “melt in your mouth - not your hands,” that says nothing about how they melt in your car, or when hidden in a desk drawer or stashed away in a seldom-used but fairly accessible filing cabinet.
When I saw that 1.69-ounce bag of plain M&Ms sitting upright in the vending machine, it was like reconnecting with a long lost friend. The over-95-degree record heat stroke had broken, and all of a sudden, it seemed, chocolate was back in vogue, or perhaps I should say, back in my hand. Who says you can’t go home again?
Cradling that black wrapper in the palm of my left hand, ripping it open with my right (by pulling left to right across the top) then placing the open wrapper up to my mouth and pouring its contents down the hatch was pure ecstasy. I wouldn’t say it was a religious experience, but chocolate can sure be a very sensual one. And though it was only chocolate and almost the smallest size available - the “fun size” for trick-or-treaters - it sure hit the spot. I imagine, given my tendencies, there’s likely to be a spike in M&M/Mars’ third-quarter profits. I wouldn’t say I’ll be solely responsible, but it’s likely I’ll be a contributing factor.
And what concerns me even more is that the interval between this breakout bag of M&Ms and my previously acknowledged last bag - which I can’t exactly recall - pales in comparison with the interval currently ongoing dating back to the last Entenmann’s product I so heartily ate. No wonder they’re under new management. Their quarterly profits must have declined, or at least been below expectations, and not knowing what to attribute it to, changes were made at the top.
If only they had known that Kenneth Lourie had been refraining from his usual cupcake, cookie, donut and cake consumption, it would have explained away the apparent slump. Heck, it wasn’t the recession, it was the reception. The reception, that is, that my best friend, Cary, had for his third and final son, Jordie’s, bar mitzvah in February. When I had to stuff (literally) myself into my suit, I knew then something had to give. Fortunately, at least at the time, it wasn’t my zipper. First it was Entenmann’s, then it was M&Ms, and more recently, Hostess and Ben & Jerry’s. Nabisco is still a player (Double Stufs Oreos in particular), but I fear my restraint is weakening. After all, how much can a grown (and growing I’m afraid) man be expected to take? I have to take something for what ails me, don’t I?
Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.