Skip to main content

Candy and Me (a Love Story)

Review

Candy and Me (a Love Story)



Recently, Hilary Liftin told an interviewer that while most readers
understand that her book is about memories, they also think it's
about candy. (They can be forgiven, can't they? Look at the title,
not to mention chapters focused on Skittles and marshmallow eggs.)
However, here's a different take: I think Liftin's light but
filling (just like circus peanuts) tale is all about taste --- not
just the various tastes she describes, but individual taste and
discernment.

Like the recent COOKING FOR MR. LATTE by Amanda Hesser, Liftin's
CANDY AND ME uses a conceit (in Hesser's case, themed recipes; in
Liftin's, different eras of candy consumption) to tell a real love
story. Unlike Hesser, however, whose book is all about meeting,
wooing and cooking for a single person, Liftin takes us through her
life and loves. Her early devotion to Bubble Burgers is a mere
fling, as is an affaire de coeur with her former camp
counselor, Finn; in both cases, anticipation is followed by a
short, happy period of consumption and ends with transition. Liftin
wisely writes: "One person moves away, or the other gets bored, or
they run out of things to talk about. Our desires start young, are
unreasonable, and can't be trusted. But there's always another box
of Junior Mints."

Thus, Liftin always knew what she really wanted --- Junior Mints,
Rocky Road ice cream, bottle caps (more on those in a moment) ---
and also what she really disliked, such as Mary Janes ("the bane of
piñatas"). Yet she still allows herself to be surprised,
delighted, disappointed and hurt, both by candy and by boyfriends.
A lesser person might have settled early on for the tried-and-true:
Hershey's Miniatures and an investment banker. Instead, Liftin
holds out for bottle caps and a fellow writer (Chris Harris, author
of "the world's first anti-travel guide," DON'T GO EUROPE!).

Amazingly, due mostly to good genes, the dizzying amounts of nearly
pure sugar Liftin ingests over the course of her thirty-odd years
have not rotted her teeth, ruined her waistline, or stunted her
intellectual growth. She makes it through Yale on Smarties and
through dotcom hell with Skittles. While a child, Liftin devours
candy, inhaling packet after packet of dry hot cocoa mix and
nipping off the tops of wax bottles like a female praying mantis
devouring her partner; as she matures, she candy-hops less
frequently, and instead spends her time and effort finding just the
right candies in just the right (read: enormous) quantities. Are
miniature bottle caps worth the trip? Read on to find out.

Youth, they say, is wasted on the young --- but Hilary Liftin seems
to be one of those people on whom nothing is wasted. Each mouthful
of candy she chews (she prefers the dive-right-in method of candy
intake) provides a memory, sure, as her readers have noticed. But
the most astute will see that Liftin's soda-pop-flavored,
fizzy-textured bottle caps are more than Proustian madeleines.
Those dense little disks of sugar also function as diskettes of
desire, candy paving stones in a life's highway. Reading CANDY AND
ME is a delicious escape that makes a lasting impression.

Reviewed by Bethanne Kelly Patrick on January 21, 2011

Candy and Me (a Love Story)
by Hilary Liftin

  • Publication Date: June 3, 2003
  • Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • ISBN-10: 0743245733
  • ISBN-13: 9780743245739