See's Kisses

crunch.jpg Candy has been a bond between me and my pal Joy since we first became best friends in sixth grade at Beverly Vista Elementary School in Beverly Hills, California.   Sure, there’s been humor, loyalty, shared heart-throbs, and tears…but from the get-go, there were shared Nestle Crunch candy bars filled with crinkly chocolate that we bought every day as we walked home from school together.  It became a ritual, peeling off the blue and white wrapper, then the foil, and eating the crunchy bar while hysterically laughing over some inside joke that was funny only to ourselves.  But it was better that way. 

As our friendship grew, our candy camaraderie also expanded.  At slumber parties, we hid under make-shift sheet tents in Joy’s living room, scarfing down big bags of M & Ms.  We were close but not identical, we insisted; Joy went for M & M plain, and I was the M & M peanut gal.  Truthfully, I liked them both and I bet she did, too.  But even in girlhood pre-teen/early teen years when conformity ruled (with our tight jeans and straightened hair), we felt compelled to differentiate ourselves the teeniest bit.

0800lady.jpg And ‘See’s Candy Store’ was a sweet spot where we could flash our individuality.  It was, and still is, an old-fashioned cheery candy store with endless choices displayed on glass-covered shelves.  In our childhood, there were several candy stores like this that have since shut down, but See’s is a chain that still survives.  Then, as now, we could go in and get a free sample or two or even three. 

When we entered ‘See’s’ as we called it, the entry bell rang.  Then there was a person (actually always a woman) in a See’s starched uniform, who offered samples from a tray with a doily as I recall.  I loved the See’s ‘Scotch Kiss’ which I often confused with See’s Butterscotch Chew.  The Scotch Kiss was mostly marshmallow with caramel outside, whereas the Butterscotch Chew was soft caramel through and through.  The Scotch Kiss also was uniquely wrapped in wax paper. 

1207molchips.jpg Joy liked the Kiss also, but I always felt that she ‘did this for me’ in a way…like I indulged her love of banana cream pie or 31 Flavors Rocky Road ice cream.  See’s Candy Store also featured caramel and chocolate suckers that we pretended to have outgrown, and molasses chip candy that we all thought was bitchin’ at the time, although it was a challenge for those of us with braces and other torturous headgear.  

And then, there were the deep See’s candy boxes full of varied chocolates that we’d poke our fingers in when gripped with late-light munchies to determine if they harbored the desired crème or jellied filling.

scotchkiss.jpg My friendship with Joy has survived decades since those days.  From time to time, we still get each other Nestle Crunch Bars and diss the ‘new Nestle types’ on the candy racks. We occasionally buy M & M’s with the other in mind, even though we rarely buy them for ourselves. And we still bring each other Scotch Kisses from See’s candy store as tokens of friendship endearment when one of us is feeling blue or sick or having an occasion or a breakdown or even a breakthrough.  

I rarely allow myself the lovely luxury these days of eating candy or of going to See’s except when I want to get a present for my friend. Then, I head inside the familiar, old-fashioned front white and glass French door, get in line (there always is a line!), and look around for a free sample but also to make sure that the Scotch Kisses are in the display case; they often run out because they are so totally popular like Joy and I wanted to be in the days when we first bonded over candy.  And as I creep forward in line, I feel settled and warm.