Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sweet Treat of the Week: Michael Utzinger!

You're in for an extra special treat this week, dear Yumsters! This week’s Sweet Treat is Michael Utzinger, an Elliott Associate Professor of Religion at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, and author of Yet Saints Their Watch Are Keeping (2006).
Perhaps even more importantly, he is Madame Yum Yum’s soulmate when it comes to pop culture, convenience store foods and stories of dysfunctional families.

What is your favorite candy?
My favorite candy is “sea foam,” an airy sugar confection covered with dark chocolate. I grew up eating this candy in my hometown at McDonald’s Hand-made Candies 1064 S Getty St Muskegon, MI 49442; (231) 773-0319. Yes, this is an unapologetic endorsement. I should also add that they make a killer wintergreen chocolate-covered cream.

Share with us a childhood candy memory.

I remember buying ten packs of baseball cards, stacking all the gum, and trying to bite through all of the sticks. (I actually remember when they had gum in the packs). I also remember how much fun Pez dispensers were. And can anyone forget Pixy Sticks? You could even bite off both ends and blow sugar at your brothers.

Favorite fruit flavor in candy?

OK, I like sour apple. I don’t think it actually tastes like apple, but my kids hate the flavor, so I can eat in peace.

Which do you prefer: gummies or hard candies?

My grandfather gave up smoking after years of hard work at the C & O Railroad. He did it by replacing cigarettes with hard candy. I suspect I had a lot more years with him because of that. Plus, in Greece last summer my wife and I found ouzo flavored hard-candies. I like that anise flavor, even if they are colored blue.

What’s your favorite candy holiday?
Easter. I’ll admit that I love Cadbury eggs. Perhaps, I am simply the victim of brilliant marketing, but how can you resist them (and they are only here once a year). As a religion professor I also noticed that Walmart was marketing candy crucifixes this year. I suppose this is a candy version of “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” I ponder, however, what this suggests about American spirituality that a chocolate cross is a cultural retort for the commodification of a sacred holiday (all for only $2.95)?

What’s best: milk, dark or white?
Dark chocolate. Like wine and coffee, too much sugar destroys the natural goodness of the cocoa flavor. However, I have one caveat: milk chocolate and peanuts are a winning combination.

Circus Peanuts: yay or nay?
I know this is a trick question since marshmallows in cereals developed from the same technology as Circus Peanuts, and I like my Lucky Charms. Truthfully, however, if I wanted a candy that tasted like sweet chalk with the texture of Silly Putty, then Circus Peanuts would be the best way to get my fix.

Thanks Mike! We’ll look forward to the release of your next book, “Spirituality & Candy: Beyond Loaves and Swedish Fishes,” available soon at Walmarts everywhere.

Hey you! Yeah you! How would you like to be a future Sweet Treat of the Week? Come on, it’s fun! Just send an e-mail to and say, “Hey, I’d like to dish on some candy!”

1 comment:

Pam Walter said...

I love it: "sweet chalk with the texture of Silly Putty" -- my sentiments exactly.