I'm not a junk food junkie, but I have have my favorites when it comes to sweet tooth stuff. Lately my tastes have changed a bit. Or maybe I'm just old. Maybe both.

In recent times, I've noticed that my interests have spun towards older people choices when it comes to snacks, sweets and tasty treats. I suppose I am old(er) as I'm swiftly reminded on a daily basis by the tenth graders I work with, but am I old or just one of many that have a unique, nay, classic taste starting to bud?!

Don't get me wrong, I'm a nut for the combo of peanut butter and chocolate. Reese's PB cups are a hit record with me. MnM's, sure. The occasional Twix, ok. In the past couple years though I have seen a more sophisticated tongue and palate take over the man. The palate of an old man though perhaps? Cause otherwise, why am I loving the crap out of Junior Mints now!!


photo: tootsie


I had a great childhood. I grew up with the best parents and luckily I got to enjoy my grandparents for a long time. I loved to be around them. My grandparents were grandparents in the best ways. Funny and relaxed with all things in life. Happy and loving to their family. One would shove a dollar or two in my pocket as a little kid. Gramps walking to the store to get the newspaper. They got me to be an old foggy early on though first by playing alot of "music of your life" type music too; Perry Como, Paul Anka, Mel Torme, Sinatra, Connie Francis, etc. During visits and holidays around them, I'd be witness to sweets that really at a young age weren't so inviting. Hard candy, peanut brittle, plain cookies and other not so sexy goodies would occupy their candy dishes and pantry. I also had an Italian great grandmother who came here from Italy as a teenager. She made some sweets that didn't really shake my tree much.

photo: getty

Many years and sweet tooth trends later, I find those ignored treats calling me. A mere glance at an awkward item on a shelf or the "i'm so hungry I'll eat anything" moment at a family gathering seems to reunite me with some things I would have never touched as a kid.

Exhibit A: shortbread and Danish type butter cookies


photo: m.curdo


Last holiday season in the supermarket I saw these and a blast of memories flashed in my head. I remember seeing these as a kid and thinking, "Awesome, soon as my folks finish those things off I'm using that tin to put all my favorite rock band buttons in"! Fast forward many years and I'm actually interested in emptying the tin out myself with some green tea. Thats just what I did too. I might have a hidden English complex at times too. I'd pair these unexciting cookies up with some morning tea or at night. Holy s...! Tea and butter cookies before bed? What have I become?!

Exhibit B: black liquorice


photo: m.curdo


This one even took me big surprise recently. I was walking through a supermarket's "natural section" looking for the cashew/almonds bins and I see these. Now I've enjoyed those classic firehouse red Twizlers over my lifetime, but I've never really stepped aside for the black liquorice. Good n' Plenty? May have caught a couple in the Halloween bag that I chowed down on in the spirit of the times, but I never did make an appointment to seek them out ever. Next thing I know, here I am letting "Amber" or whoever at the checkout counter scan these puppies for me. Am I really going to eat these? Black liquorice!? And folks, these are big pieces here!


photo: m.curdo


I got home and this different palate of mine opened up and enjoyed the hell out of these things. These aren't the little string ones. These are like the mini cigar sized sticks. Chewy and lots of fun on a Friday! Now don't get me wrong, you can't down a bag of these like they were MnM's. Just a couple do the trick. This isn't chocolaty goodness here thats easy to pop one after the other. Its an old style thing from Asia or Southern Europe. "Sweet root" is where the name comes from not surprisingly. They haven an "anise" type taste though too right? Maybe I'm connecting a couple dots here.

Exhibit C: Pizzelles

photo: getty

This one has made the journey with me. My great grandmother, both grandmothers and my mom made these my whole life. I never ate them much as a youngster. Maybe once or twice if there wasn't anything else cool to have after dinner. All of a sudden a couple Christmas' ago, someone busts them out and I got all up in that business. Ever since I've been picking them up at Italian food stores every once in a while. LIke the other old school tastes, they're simple. Not sending a party to your palate. Just simple goodness.

Simple is good sometimes my friends. I think, in my granpa mind, I'm wanting a little more simple in life. Its a good thing right? Like, my phone was kick ass and problem free three updates ago. I don't think we always want more, bigger, better, faster. We don't always need version 9.0 We want to be content most of the times. Simple makes me content usually. Enjoying one flavor instead of three isn't a bad thing. My taste buds aren't being ripped off. They're just being allowed to think one thought.  

I took an impromtu office poll on some of the sweets in question and man, the black liquorice fired the place up. There was a few people who had a similar taste to mine, but many more made an, 'I'm gonna puke face' when I mentioned them. The black liquorice haters toppled the believers here about 70% to 30%. Not surpsingly. I noticed the younger employees not only made that sour face, but had follow up comments about how icky they were. I thought to myself, just wait. Just you wait. Your time is coming. You will be a confused young adult/rushed grandparent in spirit soon once you get tired of your smartphone updates and when your version 9.0 lifestyle seems silly.

Don't get me wrong though. I still enjoy other forms of sweets. I may have found a thing for shortbread cookies and black liquorice recently, but bring me to the movies and I'm all popcorn and Milk Duds baby. The liquorice stays home at my pad where I can be palatibly distinguised (or old) in private.

photo: m.curdo (& great grandmother)