Christmastime evokes so many memories, many of which revolve around food. In my infinite affection for the holidays, I wanted to pay a small homage to the treats near and dear to me, to the tastes upon which many of my memories were made. I've got my favorites (and not so favorites), and I'd like to share them with you.
So, without further ado, here are my the best and worst Christmas treats of all time!Hot Cocoa
Image: Hot Cocoa via Shutterstock
Hot cocoa is the mother of all Christmas treats. Granted, we've gotten right fancy over the years with gourmet packets harboring more powder than fits in a cup, cocoas you mix with milk, ones you mix with water, and cocoas featuring giant red and green star- and tree-shaped marshmallows. Despite all that deliciousness, I dare you to resist a crusty packet of old-fashioned Swiss Miss with marshmallows. Whether it's from Starbucks or discharged from a giant aluminum cylinder, we love our hot cocoa. There's nothing that goes with ice skating, tree lightings, or caroling quite as well.
NEXT: CHRISTMAS SUCKERS -->
Image: Candy Canes via Shutterstock
Candy canes, the quintessential Christmas treat, have diversified impressively over the years. You've got your traditional peppermint, then there's cherry, and from there, we just dive right off the deep end into sour grape and garlic Parmesan. No matter what your age, there's no denying the satisfaction of sucking a candy cane down to a lethal point. It's the ideal Christmas treat for the entire family, as long as you come to accept the fact that your child(ren) will never actually finish one, and you'll be cajoling whatever's left off the sleeve of his coat. Furthermore, whatever you've decided to hang from the tree (if you're into that sort of thing) will mysteriously disappear, never to be found again, long before Christmas arrives. Where do they go, anyway? (They're also great dipped in cocoa.)
NEXT: COOKIES! COOKIES! COOKIES! -->
Image: Courtesy of Stephanie Bernaba
Cookies, for me, are the very heart of Christmas. When I was young, my aunt would make a vast and varied assortment of cookies and bars--all of which we had to try. There's a size, shape, color, and flavor for every taste. One of my oldest favorites is the Magic Bar. Graham crust, chocolate, coconut, and give or take some nuts, permanently solidified with sweetened condensed milk. How can you go wrong? From Snickerdoodles to Peanut Butter Kisses to good 'ol chocolate chip, there's something for everyone, young or old. I've never met a cookie I didn't like. Except for sugar cookies. I hate sugar cookies. Always have.
NEXT: THE FLUFFY STUFF -->
Image: Snow via Shutterstock
I’m not talking about nonpareils here. Not sno-cones or Icees or those yucky pink marshmallow snowballs (Hostess is still open, right? They still making those?). I'm talking about snow, the stuff that falls from the sky. Precipitation. Now, I know what you're thinking: 'What a copout. She must have run out of treats!' But, go ahead and tell me you've never reached down, grabbed a heap of the fluffy stuff, and raised it to your lips, and I'll call you a liar. I will. Because we've all done it, and we do it every year. Melts on contact, tastes like rain. It's delicious.
NEXT: AND NOW FOR THE BAD -->
Now, there are a few holiday treats I could live without. I'm sure you have your list (and your reasons), but here are mine.
Image: Yule Log via Shutterstock
There are so many things wrong with the Yule Log. Take the name, for example, the butt (no pun intended) of many an uncle's joke. Then you've got the shape, color, and in some instances, probably the taste. Now, we all know a Yule Log is supposed to look like a log one would throw on a fire on a cold December night. The fact is, it, more often than not, doesn’t. (Just Google “Yule Log” and click “Images.” I'll wait.) If you're planning to bring a Yule Log to my place this year, we're not home.
NEXT: THE HARD STUFF -->
Image: George (Patti) Larcher via Flickr
I love ribbon candy and I hate it. I love it as an idea, as a concept. I love how pretty and flavorful it is. What I don't love is that, since the beginning of recorded time, people (I'm looking at you, Granny) have placed the ribbon candy out in a bowl, uncovered, for indeterminate periods of time, making a mockery of anyone who tries to pick one up. The proper method of eating ribbon candy is breaking a piece off the flavor you prefer and eating it, like a hard candy. The procedure, however, seemed to have (in my childhood at least) evolved into gnawing on a large, sticky bowl-shaped cluster, in an attempt to chisel a piece off with your teeth. When that fails, especially when you're a kid, and there's candy just out of reach, you simply lift it up, lick it a few times, and put it down. Come to think of it, there's probably a reason we don't see it around much anymore.
NEXT: AND THE WORST HOLIDAY TREAT EVER -->
Image: Fruitcake via Shutterstock
I'll be the first to admit that fruitcake has gotten a bad rap. I don't know how it started, besides the fact that it lasts, untouched, for about 150 years, or that I'm not certain whether it's a solid or a gel, or that one is generally unable to identify its contents by visual inspection alone. I'm just not sure. Yes, we've all heard rumors about the "good-tasting" fruitcake, the "moist" fruitcake, and the "nothing-at-all-like-the-store-bought" fruitcake, but have you ever happened upon one in person? I even casually canvassed my family, and no one was able to recall a fruitcake they actually enjoyed. Fruitcake should be in the same category as the ugly Christmas sweater. It bears a mention, it's good for a chuckle, but you don't have to bring it with you anywhere. Really.
Whatever you love (or avoid), don't forget that though the treats may be sweet, but there's nothing sweeter during the holidays than your memories.
Happy Holidays and Enjoy!
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