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A Sugary Salute to National Candy Month

FARAI CHIDEYA, host:

Just in time for bathing suit season, we find ourselves in the middle of National Candy Month. But commentator Betty Baye says there's no reason to feel guilty about something that can make you feel so good.

Ms. BETTY BAYE (Columnist, Courier Journal, Louisville, Kentucky): Squirrel Nuts were my number one favorite sweet growing up. And my second favorite was Sugar Daddy's, those milky caramels on a stick.

Back then - oh, am I telling my age? Squirrel Nuts cost two-cents, and a Sugar Daddy cost five. Now, some kids were given allowances, but I raised my candy money largely by cashing in my mother's soda bottles. My mother was a Pepsi freak.

At the movies, my favorite candy was Junior Mints. But I had a lot of other favorite candies, too. Red licorice sticks, candy lipsticks, Milky Way and Almond Joy bars.

Now, I paid dearly for loving candy so much. I had cavities and toothaches -forget about it! And my mother would go wild when she'd find candy stuck in my clothes and sometimes stuck in my hair because I'd fallen asleep while eating a piece of candy under the covers.

Now that I'm grown, I'll even confess that there were times when, if I dropped a piece of candy on the ground, I'd pick it up and loudly kiss it up to God, ostensibly to kill the germs, and resume eating. And if I didn't want to share my candy I'd say to my friends, no haggies(ph), no haggies! I have no idea where that expression came from, but if you said no haggies, everybody knew that it meant, don't even ask.

Now, if you're wondering why I'm blabbing on about candy, then you must not be hip to the fact that June is National Candy Month. Oh, I can hear some of you saying to yourselves, America is in the throes of an obesity epidemic and some fool is on the radio talking about National Candy Month. But hey, don't knock candy. It's a multibillion-dollar industry. It's the source of thousands of jobs.

In fact, candy apparently is so important to the economy that one month isn't enough. Would you believe that there are days set aside throughout the year to celebrate individual types of candy? For example, January 26th is National Peanut Brittle Day. April 22nd is National Jelly Bean day. And December 7th is National Cotton Candy Day.

And what would Halloween be without candy corn for the trick-or-treaters?

So lighten up America. Like any other food, candy is best indulged in moderation; I've learned that as an adult. So have at it. Rip that paper off that Snickers bar, which incidentally is the number one selling candy bar in America. Bite off a good-sized piece, but don't rush your pleasure. Become a candy connoisseur. Roll that piece of chocolate sweetness around in your mouth. Savor the taste, and think about the good ol' days when you weren't a round mound, didn't worry about calories, and Weight Watchers was a far out idea.

CHIDEYA: Betty Baye is a columnist for the Courier Journal in Louisville, Kentucky. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Betty Baye
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