Running my fingertip along the wrinkled peak of thin, gold foil, I find an edge. I insert a nail under the delicate lip and lift the sheet, hearing it crinkle as it expands like an accordion. I pause a moment, just long enough to pinch the end of the tiny paper strip, and tug it free from its host.
Satisfied that the sheath has been removed intact, I crumple the shiny square of foil and paper strip into a ball, and discard it. Popping the freed morsel into my mouth, I let it sit on my tongue for a few seconds, and feel my body’s heat react with the sugary drop. As it melts, a fragment of almond is revealed. In a sudden movement of tongue and teeth, I swipe the nut between my molars and feel it crack under pressure.
As I swallow the delicious mixture, my fingers search the bag for my next Hershey Kiss with Almonds. . . .
More than I should, I find myself reaching for chocolate. One might think the rich texture and undeniably delicious flavor of this popular confection tempts me, but I have a different motivation for eating chocolate.
Like a baby, I crave something soothing and repetitive when I’m stressed, tired or bored. Since Gerber doesn’t make pacifiers for 44-year-olds, and my husband isn’t inclined to rock me in a rocking chair, I opt for sweet treats.
I’m not talking about gorging on devil’s food cake, or slurping up Hot Fudge Brownie Delights. While I have been known to indulge in those delicacies from time to time, I find more comfort in chocolate treats that lend themselves to a prolonged ritualistic enjoyment of the process of eating chocolate.
Stressing over the logistics of this particularly complicated move has caused a flare up in my need for comfort, and as such, I’ve been hitting the chocolate pretty hard. Hershey Kisses with Almonds have been my recent remedy of choice, mostly because eating each tiny morsel involves several repetitive steps that I find quite soothing.
When I can’t get my hands on those, I turn to other chocolaty treats for my therapy. Most recently, I have eased my stress with Girl Scout’s Thin Mints Cookies. Regardless of the nutrition label, an entire sleeve of these delectable disks is really needed to calm the nerves.
Extracting a cookie from the top of the stack, I place it on my tongue and allow it to steep. The chocolate coating slowly melts, and then my saliva soaks into the crisp center, dissolving it into a mouthful of minty mush. I chew any remaining crunchy bits and swallow, as I lift another disk from the sleeve.
Usually, one sleeve will do the trick, but on particularly stressful nights, I’ve been tempted to take the second sleeve from the box. I resist this urge, knowing that the guilt of eating so many Girl Scout Cookies will only add to my stress and thereby increase my need for confectionary comforts.
Even as a child, I remember ritualizing my consumption of treats. I never understood a kid who could take a bag of M&Ms, tear open the top, and pour the whole thing into his upturned mouth. What a waste!
I, on the other hand, would maximize my enjoyment, spreading the contents of each bag out, and separating the candies out into their colors (which were, back then, orange, green, yellow, dark brown and light brown.) I would then analyze each pile, eating only the most flawed morsels. Those that were misshapen or had an imperfect “M” were goners. I continued this process until I had whittled the lot down to one of each color. Those five, the Chosen Ones, would be scooped up together and ceremoniously sacrificed in one final chomp.
This may all sound nuts, but in times of stress, everyone turns to something for relief, and I figure that three-quarters of a bag of Hershey Kisses with Almonds is measurably better for one’s mental and physical health than three packs of Camels and a pint of Jose Quervo.
So why not dissect a dozen peanut butter cups, nibble the chocolate off the nougat center of a Three Musketeers Bar, or methodically pick apart a pair of Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls? It tastes good, it feels good, and stress melts away as fast as a chocolate Kiss on your tongue.