A big part of my identity is eating trash chocolate. By trash chocolate, I mean highly processed, containing .02 percent cacao, and sold at gas stations along the New Jersey Turnpike. If it’s too fancy for the Vince Lombardi Service Area, it’s not getting near my mouth. Same rule applies in my dating life.
Only one junk candy has captured my whole heart: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. The original Reese’s provides the perfect chocolate-to-peanut butter ratio. Mess with that—add an extra filling, say, or turn it into an egg—and the whole sugar ecosystem collapses.
That’s why I rarely fall for any of the ninety-nine (yes: ninety-nine) other products in the Reese’s line. That said, I will never let my man languish in the discount bin. So when I saw the new Reese’s Big Cup with Potato Chips already in the CVS sale aisle, I had to rescue one. “Baby, give me a chance!” he seemed to squeak. “I have potato chips in me!” I’d been meaning to up my sodium intake anyway.
At home, I took a closer look at the packaging. On it, a rippled potato chip sits atop the peanut butter cup, riding it like a rodeo star. Yee-haw! But if the peanut butter, chocolate, and potato chip were engaged in a kind of edible threesome, where did I fit in? Did my addition make it a quad and, if so, was I in a polyamorous relationship with a potato chip? I scanned Reddit for answers. Finding none, I peeled off the orange wrapping and huffed milk-chocolate fumes to settle my nerves.
The smell took me back to Hershey, Pennsylvania, where, as a child, I vacationed amidst cocoa-scented clouds. My family made the three-hour trek each August with the car windows rolled up as my father indulged his two great pleasures—air conditioning and True Menthols—at the same time. (Luckily, all that secondhand smoke didn’t damage my exquisite palate.)
I recalled the story of H. B. Reese, who, in 1928, invented his namesake peanut butter cups after toiling for years in his basement. I suspect Reese was in that basement hiding from his sixteen (16!) kids. Imagine having sixteen fucking kids all hopped up on chocolate. Here I must pay tribute to Reese’s wife, dear Blanche, who surely suffered so that our taste buds could prosper.
Returning to my flavor orgy, I removed the crinkly brown liner and licked the peanut butter cup. No taste. I licked it again as my dog made horrified faces. (Hershey’s ads once declared, “There’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s!"—but tonguing it did feel wrong.) It was kind of like licking my own arm, except way less salty.
I moved on to exploratory nibbles. Peek-a-boo, where are you, potato chips? A bigger bite revealed chip flecks, along with an unwelcome texture. “Mmm, gritty,” I said to the dog. It was as though I’d been enjoying a Reese’s Cup at the beach, and suddenly some sand blew into my mouth. As I proceeded, the peanut butter and chip mixture formed a clump on my tongue that refused to dissolve. I expected to find it fully intact the next day, like a lump of gold.
Sadly, the upstart potato chip shards had brought nothing to the party while spoiling the timeless dance of chocolate and peanut butter. Also, the whole thing needed more salt.
“Another big-talking underperformer,” I said to the dog (as best I could with a mouth full of glop). I thought of Blanche and how she reared sixteen candy-crazed offspring so that we could have Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I think she’d want better for us.