Tag Archives: candy

Hey Bill, did you ever watch Storylords?

Dear Bill Simmons:

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this before, but when I was in the second grade, our teacher, Mrs. Cosgrove, she used to show us these educational videos every now and then. I’m sure teaching a bunch of little kids has got to be a physically and emotionally draining way to spend a day, so I don’t really begrudge the fact that she’d phone it in once in a while by turning on the TV and telling us to be quiet. But while everyone else would get all excited whenever the maintenance guy would knock on the door to wheel in one of the school’s TVs, my heart would stop.


I went into school every single day with a pit in my stomach, a constant fear. Would today be the day? Because there wasn’t a schedule. It wasn’t like, “OK class, it’s 10:30 on Wednesday, so you know what that means, educational TV time.” No, it was just whenever the teacher felt like it. Sometimes we’d go months without so much as a spotting of a VHS tape. But then maybe we’d watch TV for two or three days in a row. I couldn’t rest. There was no escape from the fear. Every day had the potential to turn into a TV day without any warning.

And it wasn’t the TV that I was afraid of, it was this one particular show that we had to watch. It was called Storylords. It was about this little kid around my age and his younger sister. Each episode, they were visited by this wizard guy from another dimension. His world was overrun by this crazy warlord named Thorzul.

Thorzul as a screen presence wasn’t that scary. It was really bad, cheap acting, just some guy in a black cape. He kind of looked like my dentist. But it was his character, this dictator of that other world, he had powers. He could turn people into stone. I’m not sure that it was a central part of the plot, I’m pretty sure the show was all about teaching kids how to read, but every episode, it’s like they didn’t have anything else to fall back on, and so he’d zap someone into a statue.

And I was terrified. Like sitting there, sweating bullets, looking around at all my classmates, unable to understand how they were all just sitting there, smiling, watching TV, all while I was trying my best to keep it together, to not freak out and start screaming, terrified.

I’m a little fuzzy on the specifics of the show, but for whatever reason, that wizard that I was talking about earlier, he would always need the kids’ help. So he teleported them to his home dimension where they’d have to confront Thorzul and, well, they’d have to basically take an oral spelling and grammar quiz. “Spell this word correctly or I’ll turn you into a statue! Just like I turned these two guys into statues!”

And yeah, they always got it right, and then not only would they be spared an eternal hell, a life trapped in living stone, but the other statues would usually be restored back to life also. But man, for whatever reason, the idea of it, of being forced to ace a pop quiz, the pressure of getting it wrong, of feeling my insides harden as my skin turned grey. And what would it look like? What would be the last thing I’d see before my eyes cemented over? Would I be dead? Or just trapped forever?

I’d barely make it through each episode, just quivering in my seat, hands clenched tightly around the sides of my desk, unable to shake that feeling of having just been mentally violated. What was the point of these videos? Why was my school trying to reinforce my already pretty decent reading and writing skills by terrorizing me into never making any mistakes?

And so that’s what most of my year was like, just praying that it wouldn’t be a TV day, that I wouldn’t have to watch Storylords.

But it always happened, maybe not immediately, but eventually, there’d be a knock at the door, everyone would get all excited, the maintenance guy would drag in that set, an old fashioned box mounted on top of a rolling dolly. It all came to a head one day midyear, Mrs. Cosgrove popped in the Storylords VHS, and instead of the usual introductory exposition, this particular episode skipped straight to the terror.

The kids were sitting in school, in a classroom not that different from the one I was currently sitting in. Then, a flash of light, and there they appeared, Thorzul and his little henchman, they had somehow crossed over into our reality, taken the fight to us, a surprise offensive. He skipped the normal pleasantries and used his powers to partially turn the little boy into stone. He could look around, but he couldn’t move or talk. Then the dark lord turned to the sister, “All right! Answer my phonics questions correctly or your brother’s a statue for good!”

At this point I couldn’t take it anymore. I broke down and started screaming, running out of the classroom and straight into the boys’ restroom. Crouched in the corner with my hands covering my eyes, I tried to get myself together, to stop myself from crying at least, hoping that nobody had seen where I’d run.

But of course they knew where to look. And it was a huge deal. Mrs. Cosgrove was like, “What’s wrong with you?” completely unable to make the connection between Thorzul’s wrath and my little episode. They took me to the principal’s, my mom was called in. I remember sitting there in the office while my mom and Mrs. Cosgrove watched the program that had caused my rather extreme reaction.

I felt like such a baby. And this wasn’t the first time my mom had to be called in to quell an emotional panic. A year earlier, one of my classmates brought the whole room some candy for her birthday. I was passed this little yellow box of JujyFruits. I’d never seen this candy before, and on the box was this illustration of a cartoon girl. It was a poorly drawn almost stick-like figure, pale white skin with a little squiggly line for a mouth. For whatever reason, I made eye contact with the drawing and this wretched creature pulled me into some sort of a void. I couldn’t identify the feelings at the time, but they’re the same exact responses I get now as an adult when I’m occasionally lying in bed wide-awake at four in the morning thinking about how someday I and everyone I know will …


Well, there’s no reason to get too morbid here. But it was that same feeling again this time with Thorzul, only now the fear wasn’t as abstract as it was the year before. I sat there and worried if I was going to be in trouble, if all the other kids were going to make fun of me for running out of the classroom.

But no, my mom finished up her talk with Mrs. Cosgrove, she took me home, and that was it, really. There wasn’t anything to talk about, and nobody in school mentioned it when I came back the next day. Also, we never watched Storylords ever again. So there was that, I didn’t have to sit there and worry every day, that was definitely a relief.

Anyway, the only reason I bring this up is because, well, I was just imagining what it’s going to be like when you finally give me a call and ask me to write for Grantland. I thought, what if Bill asks me one of those interview questions, like, “What’s your biggest weakness?” or “Tell me about a situation in which you overcame a great obstacle.” And I thought about this, about the second grade, about Storylords. That story would work for either of those questions. Right? Because I overcame it. Or, I caused a huge scene and got my way. That took initiative. Right? Don’t you want that in an employee?

OK, well, that’s it I guess. Give me a call.

Hope you have a great weekend,

Rob G.

I hate breakfast

I hate breakfast. Everybody’s always like, “Better eat a good breakfast! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” Fuck breakfast. There’s no way it’s more important than lunch or dinner. Hell, even a decent midafternoon snack is of more consequence than breakfast. Even if you don’t have anything in the house, just an apple maybe, a glass of juice. I’ll take a half-eaten bag of pretzels over breakfast any day of the week. Because breakfast sucks.


OK, take a second, close your eyes, imagine all of your favorite foods. Yeah, that’s it, OK, you’ve got them all there, now throw them all away, because we don’t eat any of that stuff for breakfast. Sorry, it’s just eggs and toast, bowls of cereal and yogurt, maybe some pancakes or waffles if your lucky, but even that’s kind of a once-in-a-while treat.

It’s terrible, because I wake up every morning and I’m starving. All I want to do is sit down and eat a full meal. But we don’t do that here. No, you’ve got to eat breakfast, a sorry excuse for what should be one of the three most pleasurable and delightful experiences of every day.

Most people don’t even bother with breakfast, simply because it’s not worth all of the time and trouble for something that’s ultimately not worth it. Better to just slog through the first part of the day on coffee alone and hope that you’re not too famished and pissed off by the time lunch rolls around.

Isn’t it like engrained in our culture? It’s almost perversely celebrated. It’s that scene that you always see in commercials for those Toaster Strudels or Go-Gurts or Eggo Waffles, where a family is running around the house like a bunch of lunatics in the morning, struggling to be wherever it is they’re supposed to get to time. “Don’t forget your breakfast!” the mom calls out to the dad who ran out the door with his tie undone around his neck, the little kids with their backpacks unzipped, homework flying everywhere. And then they stop for all of three seconds to stuff some hyper-processed piece of frozen garbage in their face, “Gee, thanks mom, you’re the best! You and Pop-Tarts!”

What’s there to look forward to? Get up every day, much earlier than you’d ever wake up if you had any real say of how you’d like to live your life, you barely have time to go to the bathroom and brush your teeth, let alone consider what you’ll ingest as a means of early morning sustenance, not that it matters, not like you have much of a choice.

Ninety percent of breakfast is just dessert dressed up like a full meal anyway, trying to weasel its way closer to the bottom of the food pyramid. And don’t get me wrong, I love dessert, I love Dunkin Donuts. But you give them to me for breakfast, the entire trajectory of my day is ruined. Now what am I supposed to eat for actual dessert? How am I going to be able to satisfy my ever intensifying sweet tooth when the stuff I’m being presented as a treat bears little difference to the four pieces of frosted cake I’ve just eaten this morning for breakfast?

No, I’m throwing in the towel on behalf of breakfast. Let’s just give it up, OK, we’re not doing anything productive in the morning, and we’re not fooling anybody by telling ourselves that the giant bowl of Waffle Crisp I shoveled into my mouth this morning is doing my body any nutritional good.

I blame the workday. I blame the morning. Do you think anybody wants to wake up and go straight to work? No, nobody does. And then by the time we get home, we’re exhausted, way too tired to even think about making something decent for dinner. You know what? Screw dinner, that’s not a meal either, it’s just a daily struggle not to feel guilty about all of the money we’re throwing away every night on take-out.

Just give me lunch, OK, that’s all I need, a giant lunch, like three sandwiches, I want a whole bag of chips. Right, chips aren’t exactly that healthy, but whatever, it’s the middle of the day, it’s my only real time to myself, out in the sunlight, feeling like an actual human being. I’ll eat whatever I want for lunch, all right, just don’t talk to me about breakfast anymore. Most important meal of the day? Ha. More like least important meal of the day. Ha.

I don’t want green apple in my Skittles

I’m actually a little disappointed. I just went out and bought a bunch of candy. I love candy. There wasn’t much time wasted once I got home, I started right in on my box of Whoppers, those heavenly chocolate covered malt balls, whatever that means, malt, I don’t even care, not really, I’ll eat the whole box before my stomach signals my brain to maybe tell me that this isn’t going to make me feel too great.


But my brain wasn’t able to really make any sort of connections, because it got distracted. I was looking at the whole candy lineup, to see what was on deck after the Whoppers. It was Skittles, a classic. Obviously I’d have to have some sort of a drink, you know, cleanse the palate from all of that chocolate to allow the fruity burst of Skittles flavors to be experienced unrivaled on my tongue.

The packaging caught my eye though. Everything looked normal, your typical Skittles red background, the fruit rainbow arching underneath and then up above the Skittles logo. But there was something else, a little yellow bubble on the upper left corner. “Now with Green Apple!” it said next to a picture of a green Skittle.

Green apple? I don’t want green apple in my Skittles. Green apple is always the worst of the artificial candy flavors. It’s way too sour, bringing back unwanted memories of being a little kid and getting peer-pressured into eating all of these gross candies that nobody really liked. Remember Warheads? They were either really hot, or really sour, and nobody liked them.

Why were they so popular? I have no idea. It’s like, one day at recess, some kid showed up with Warheads. And it became this weird group hysteria, like if you didn’t claim to like Warheads, then something was wrong with you. The first time I encountered Warheads, I thought, OK, it’s candy, and everyone seems to like it. So I popped one in my mouth.

It was incredibly sour, so sour that I couldn’t help but to make a face while all of my classmates laughed. “What’s wrong Robbie, you don’t like Warheads?” which culminated in me putting six of them in my mouth at the same time, three fiery and three sour, while running around the schoolyard in circles, I guess to show how tough I was or something. I don’t know, now that I’m thinking about it, little kids are really stupid.

Green apple, it’s gross. It doesn’t taste like anything. No, scratch that, it tastes like apple juice. And apple juice doesn’t taste like anything. I never understand why parents give their little kids apple juice. It’s nothing more than sour sugar water. Every time I’m waiting tables on a family with little kids, it’s always the mom that asks me, “Do you guys have apple juice?” before ignoring me and turning right to the little kid, “Sweetie, do you want apple juice? Huh? Apple juice?” all while I’m basically screaming at the mom, trying to grab her attention back toward me, “Excuse me, we actually don’t have apple juice. No apple juice.”

Everything apple flavored is nasty. I guess I just always took for granted the fact that Skittles were one area in my life where I didn’t have to worry about being bombarded by the disgusting taste that is artificial apple. But not anymore. I put a handful of candy in my mouth, hoping maybe there’d be like a Fruit Loops affect, where as long as I ate everything in big enough handfuls, I wouldn’t be able to pick apart any individual flavors. But no luck, there it was, amidst the delicious fruit medley, the unmistakable grossness of green apple,

And what about lime? Lime’s a great flavor, both in its real and artificial manifestations. Not only was I physically repulsed by the addition of apple, but I was actually saddened by the loss of tangy lime. I guess I just can’t eat Skittles anymore. Which is too bad, because like I’ve already said, I used to really like Skittles. I guess I can still eat Tropical Skittles, or Wild Berry Skittles, or Dark Side Skittles. Yeah, but it’s not the same. Nothing will ever be the same.

My three favorite candies

I love candy. I know the my tastes change and sometimes I’ll get bored of certain things, but I’ve got to say that my favorite candy is definitely Sour Patch Kids Watermelons. Don’t get me wrong, regular Sour Patch Kids are good, but after a few handfuls, they don’t taste sour anymore. A few more bites after that, and they don’t taste like anything at all. It’s just sweet, which eventually turns to not so sweet, but you can’t stop eating. You shouldn’t have bought the big bag, but the little bag doesn’t really cut it, doesn’t satisfy the Sour Patch craving, but justify the big bag purchase all you want, all you’re doing now is ruining the fun, each bite further and further diminishing your tongue’s ability to distinguish sweet from anything else, and you’re thirsty, but the water’s making you nauseous, and there’s all of the Sour Patch residue wedged deep in the spaces between your molars way, way back. It’s a mess.

sour patch watermelon

With Sour Patch Watermelons, yeah, there’s a similar progression of problems, but they’re delicious, the watermelon flavor totally outweighs any of the negative consequences associated with regular Patch. I say bring on that stomachache, I’ll gladly skip dinner because I ate too many watermelons. And you get to the end of that bag and, while you still have that last mouthful only partially chewed, you tilt your head back and pour all of the leftover sour crystals down your throat, that last sour kick, man I’m salivating just imagining it, I have to ball my hands into fists with my jaw clenched, I’m shaking my head from side to side just thinking about the flavor.

What I don’t get it why they don’t incorporate the watermelons into the regular Sour Patch mix. Yes, the Sour Patch kids are noticeably different from the watermelons, the former being in the shape of actual kids and the watermelons a little bit more realistically formed in the shape of freshly cut watermelon slices. But I wouldn’t mind the disruption in shape consistency. Maybe a few watermelon wedges would eliminate all of those Sour Patch Regular problems I was talking about in the first paragraph.

My second favorite candy is definitely Sour Gummy Lifesavers. I’m sure you’re noticing a pattern here, the gummy-like consistency, the sour crystals. I just want to make myself clear though, there are two types of Sour Gummy Lifesavers: regular, and then mixed reds. Personally, I like the regular. I like reds too, but I don’t like all reds. I’m not saying that I’d like to eat a bag of only yellows or just greens, but I find it’s through that mix that the flavors really come alive. It’s like when you’re eating Skittles (seventh favorite candy) you don’t pick out all the purples, greens, etc. It’s meant to be enjoyed as a fruit medley.

The title of third favorite candy goes to the Slim Jim. Ha, I bet you feel pretty silly for assuming that I only liked things gummy and sour. To those of you saying Slim Jims aren’t candy, I say, that’s crazy. They’re right there in the candy aisle. They go great with sweet snacks, you know, that whole sweet and savory combination that’s so popular lately.

Slim Jims are great because, while candy satisfies your primal urge for sugar, it doesn’t really get at the simultaneous need for meat. And the whole point of eating snacks is usually because you’re in between meals and you’re trying to hold yourself off until lunch, dinner, or dessert. Slim Jims are perfectly spiced, just the right amount of vinegar, of heat, and of course beef. They’re amazing. They’re like little sausages on the go. And they come in so many different flavors: classic, mild, habanero, Tabasco.

I was at a gas station the other day and I saw a new variety: classic, but jumbo. I don’t know if they called it jumbo or something else, but it was awesome, like as long as a regular Slim Jim, but also as thick as a breakfast sausage. I was skeptical at first, I wondered, will the subtle vinegary moistness of a regular Slim Jim be overpowering in a thicker shell? I’m glad to report that the answer was no. It’s even better, even more satisfying. Wouldn’t it be cool to have like a hot dog, but instead of a hot dog, you could just have two of those jumbo Slim Jims? That sounds delicious.

Anyway, those are my favorite three candies. Just thought I’d go ahead and write them down and put it on the Internet.

The Candy Aisle

I was at the grocery store the other day and I when I got to the checkout, for some reason, I don’t know why, I turned my head to the side, right at that wall of candy they always put next to every cashier. That’s so lame, what a cheap trick. It’s like, we’re already shopping at your store because, well, we have to. This is where we get food. And we’re just trying to do our thing, get our meat and veggies, our bread and juice and milk, whatever, take the money. But then we have to wait on line and get taunted by candy?


And I can’t even imagine what that’s got to be like for a mom or a dad, like if they’re raising little kids and can’t find somebody to watch them while they get the grocery shopping done. I remember being a little kid myself, I would be super bored having to walk through the whole grocery store with my mom, not watching TV, not playing with any of my action figures or Legos.

And once you finally get close to the end, you’re on line to check out, this time the waiting is worse, because you have to stare at this whole wall of candy taunting you, it’s saying, “Hey buddy, why don’t you ask your mom if you can buy some of us? We’re so tasty and sweet! Come on do it!” and you’re like, “Hey Mom. Mom? Mom. Mom! Mom! Mom!” and she’s like, “What? What is it?” and you’re like, “Mom. Can I get some candy?” And she’s like, “How many times do I have to tell you to stop asking me to buy candy? We’re not buying any candy!”

And then you look back at the candy, at those sugar covered peach rings and Skittles and giant peanut looking pink gummy things, and you’re like, “Sorry guys, my mom said no.” But they don’t stop. They start giggling, taunting, you’re thinking, what’s so funny? Are they laughing at me? They say, “No, we’re not laughing at you. We’re laughing because it’s so simple, just pick us up, put us on the conveyor belt. Your mom’s not going to see. And then after she pays, just take us out of the shopping bag and bring us up to your bedroom.”

So you look to your mom, she’s counting coupons or helping bag the groceries and you think, yeah, maybe I can get away with it. Maybe I’ll just go for the Sour Patch Watermelons here, and as long as the cashier slides them into the bag before … “Hey!” your mom saw you moving your arm toward the candy, “Don’t even think about it!”

And that’s the end of that. But I’m an adult now, I’m a man. I was at that grocery store the other day, I looked at that wall for the first time in I don’t know how long, and I heard the candy again, they were like, “Rob! What the hell man? You’re an adult now! You’re a man! You can buy all of us! Come on dude, don’t be such a pansy, buy every single one of us, go home, open all the bags at once, and start eating until you throw up. Do it! We’re not fucking around here!”

So I was like, all right, all right, I’m going to buy some candy. It was weird though, it all looked so much brighter and better when I was a little kid. None of this stuff was even name brand, it was all just random loose candy in a generic plastic pouch, nothing even had any labels on it, it was like these grocery people bought the stuff in bulk and put it out for sale in cheap-o individual packets.

And while, yes, the selection was huge, when you go to inspect just what’s available for purchase, it’s all kind of weird stuff. Like one of the bags were these individually wrapped colorless, clear hard candies. With no label, I couldn’t figure out what they’d taste like. I took the bag and brought it close to my face, seeing if the individual labels might not provide a hint. They said, “menthol.” That was it, menthol. What the hell is that? Isn’t that a cigarette flavor? It’s like, it’s not mint, but it’s cold like mint, and that’s it. What kind of a psychopath buys a whole bag of plain menthol hard candies?

I was getting a little freaked out, so I went for a trusted classic, some sour gummy worms. At least, I though it was a trusted classic. I got home and opened them up, they didn’t really taste like sour gummy worms. They tasted like cotton candy. Not even. They tasted like cotton candy flavored bubble gum. And the consistency was all off. Instead of being like chewy and gummy, they were soft and gooey, like fruit snacks, like a really warm fruit roll-up.

But I still ate the whole thing. And now my mouth hurts. It’s all dry. I drank like three glasses of water but it didn’t quench the thirst, it just made me overly full and nauseous. I went online and started searching, seeing if there wasn’t anything that might help alleviate my discomfort. “Try some menthol hard candies!” it said, and I was like, no fucking way, this ends right now. But the next time I was at the grocery store, I turned toward that candy wall, and the menthol candies started screaming out to me, they were talking in this hoarse old-lady voice, “Come on Rob! You know you’re going to do it! Don’t make me ask twice, because I’m in your head now, get ready, it’s all menthol for you from here on out! Pucker up baby!”