If I had to make a list of my top ten favorite candies, gumdrops would not be on that list. You would not find gumdrops on a list of my top fifty favorites either because (1) they are not covered in chocolate and (2) they are not filled with chocolate. In fact, my most memorable gumdrop moment did not even involve eating them; it was when I landed on Gumdrop Pass and passed through the Gumdrop Mountains while playing the board game Candyland. I had never spent a significant amount of time thinking about gumdrops and could never imagine myself blogging about the intricacies of a gumdrop…until now.
My son’s kindergarten class was having a Gingerbread House Workshop and he came home with a list of supplies they needed to construct their gingerbread houses. Each student was instructed to bring a can of vanilla frosting as well as one additional ingredient. Highlighted in yellow was our assigned item –
4 pounds of gumdrops
Gumdrops? 4 pounds of gumdrops? I must have glanced over the list too quickly, it must have been 4 bags of gumdrops. Yes, my eyes must have been playing tricks on me. I stared intently at the highlighted words and read them again –
4 pounds of gumdrops
The good news was that my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me and I didn’t need eyeglasses. But the bad news was that my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me and I had to buy 4 pounds of gumdrops! Where was I going to find 4 pounds of gumdrops? I looked at the complete list of supplies wondering why I couldn’t have been assigned something easy like the 4 bags of pretzel sticks or the 4 boxes of Nilla wafers. Well, at least I didn’t get assigned the 4 pounds of red licorice Nibs (I’m not a fan of that candy nor the word “nib”) or the 4 pounds of chocolate chips which at first sounds like an easy item, but ended up costing that mom $15! The gumdrops were placed near the top of the weekend “to do” list and my quest to find 4 pounds of them began.
Obviously, the simplest way to find 4 pounds of gumdrops would be to go to a store that sells candy in bulk. Several decades ago, the Dominick’s by my house sold candy in bulk. Since the Dominick’s that was near my childhood home was the same Dominick’s that was near my current home, I figured Dominick’s was a logical place to start my gumdrop search. When I got to Dominick’s I learned that the large bulk candy section that I recalled from my youth was gone. Dominicks did have a few containers of some candy in bulk but, as any Las Vegas oddsmaker could have predicted, gumdrops were not one of those candies. Finding the gumdrops at the first place I looked would have been way too easy.
The next stop on my wild gumdrop chase was Costco. When you need a food item in a freakishly large size, Costco is the place to go. A warehouse club that sells 3 pound bags of M & Ms (which always seem to mysteriously jump into the cart when my husband shops there) was sure to have a giant bag of gumdrops, especially during the holiday season, right? Wrong! No gumdrops to be found. With Costco, finding the products you need is sometimes hit or miss. For example, my search for gumdrops was a failure, but if for some reason I had been looking for an animatronic, life-size baby dinosaur named Kota, I would have found a surplus of that (poor Kota, another innocent victim of the poor economy). So far I had tried 2 stores and was 0 for 2, but the gumdrop game wasn’t over yet.
Target was the next store on the list but this time my husband was assigned gumdrop duty. He received his marching orders and was told to report back to me. The phone rang and this is the absurd conversation that took place –
Joel: I’m in the candy section and they have Dots on sale.
Lori: I need gumdrops. Dots aren’t gumdrops. Dots are Dots.
Joel: The box says they are gumdrops.
Lori: No, Dots are not gumdrops. Dots are Dots. Dots are more like Jujubees that gumdrops.
Joel: No, Dots are not Jujubees. Jujubees are Jujubees. Dots are Dots.
Lori: Yes, Dots are Dots. Dots are like Jujubees shaped like a gumdrop. I don’t care what the Dots box says, Dots are not gumdrops. Gumdrops are sugarcoated. Dots are not sugarcoated so Dots are not gumdrops.
Joel: Sugarcoated? Like Chuckles?
Lori: Yes, but Chuckles are not gumdrops. Chuckles are Chuckles and gumdrops are gumdrops.
Joel: Well, if Dots are not gumdrops, then all Target has is one puny 9 ounce bag of gumdrops.
Another swing and a miss – this search for 4 pounds of gumdrops was turning into a major chore. Besides not being able to locate 4 pounds of gumdrops, now I was questioning what made a gumdrop a gumdrop. I had always assumed that gumdrops were coated with sugar. Candyland shows sugar coated gumdrops and a board game that has been around as long as Candyland must be right. Based on that criteria, Dots would not be considered gumdrops. But the Dots box clearly stated that Dots were “fruit flavored gumdrops”. If I categorized Dots as gumdrops, I could buy 4 pounds of Dots and my gumdrop searching days would be over! Since I didn’t have an answer to the “are Dots gumdrops” question, I decided to seek out the opinions of my Facebook friends. I posed the question as a status update but only received 2 responses – one person said Dots were gumdrops and one person said Dots were not gumdrops. OK, that didn’t help (sure, Facebook friends are quick to comment on my status updates about lost tampons, but not on serious issues like gumdrops and Dots). How exactly do you define a gumdrop? Eureka! I’ll check a dictionary. After consulting 5 different dictionaries, a gumdrop was defined as –
- brightly-colored gelatin- or pectin-based pieces, shaped like a truncated cone and coated in granulated sugar
- a small piece of candy of a firm, jellylike consistency, made of sweetened gum arabic or gelatin, usually colored and flavored, and covered with sugar
- a jellied candy coated with sugar crystals
- a sugar-coated candy made usually from corn syrup with gelatin or gum arabic
- a small candy made of gum arabic, gelatin, or the like, sweetened and flavored.
So it turns out that 4 out of 5 dictionaries defined gumdrops as being coated with sugar. True, it wasn’t a perfect 5 out of 5, but they always say that 4 out of 5 dentists recommend Crest toothpaste and no one seems to dwell on the one dentist that didn’t recommend Crest (I suspect that the dissenting dentist and Colgate were graduates of the Rod Blagojevich school of bribery and were involved in their very own “pay-to-play” deal). Those 4 out of 5 definitions were enough evidence for me to conclude that a gumdrop must be sugar-coated to be called a gumdrop and since Dots were lacking that sweet coating of sugar, Dots were not worthy of the gumdrop title.
I took great umbrage that on their box Dots were being referred to as gumdrops (I also took great umbrage that I was using words like “umbrage”). Was this libel? False advertising? An undiagnosed psychiatric disorder combined with too much time on my hands? Maybe a phone call to the company that produces Dots would provide an answer. I placed a call to Tootsie Roll Industries, explained the Dots dilemma, then demanded to speak to the CEO. The CEO must have been on vacation because instead of being transferred to the CEO, I was connected to the Consumer Relations department. I proceeded to state my case as to why Dots were not gumdrops. I also suggested that the company, no matter what expense may be involved, omit the word “gumdrops” from the Dots box so consumers will no longer be duped into purchasing Dots when what they really wanted were gumdrops. The woman on the phone insisted that despite what 4 out of 5 dictionaries said, gumdrops did not have to be coated in sugar to be called gumdrops. She assured me that, as the Dots box states, Dots are fruit flavored gumdrops and the company was not guilty of any type of fraud. Then she thanked me for my call and hung up. OK, I didn’t really think that Tootsie Roll Industries would alter the packaging of a well-known product based on my suggestion, but a coupon for a free Tootsie Roll product would have been a nice consolation prize, don’t you think? Alas, I was dissed by Tootsie Roll Industries, denied free products and I still had to find 4 pounds of gumdrops!
Still in pursuit of the elusive gumdrop, I made a trip to Walmart. I could hear the candy gods laughing at me as I perused the candy aisles and found pretty much every type of candy except gumdrops. Great, not only did I fail to find the gumdrops I needed, but now I was hearing laughter in my head. Maybe I really did have an undiagnosed psychiatric disorder. Treating the voices in my head would have to wait – finding 4 pounds of gumdrops was still the top priority. My expectations were low as I hit my next stop, Walgreens. I was fully prepared to experience failure once again but this time the candy gods were smiling down on me. Walgreens had gumdrops – 11 oz bags of gumdrops! My shock quickly turned to elation as I grabbed bag after bag of gumdrops. Success at last! I brought my 6 bags of gumdrops up to the Walgreens cashier. She looked at the pile of gumdrops then looked at me.
“Gingerbread house?” she asked.
“Yes”, I replied as I, and the voices in my head, just smiled and laughed.