Wednesday, January 2, 2013

'Twas the Season... Seasonal Food

If you're already feeling the post-holiday blahs, or if Santa didn't fulfill your every dream, you might treat yourself to some bargain shopping, particularly of the Christmasy stuff that will disappear until... well, Halloween.

I realize that this post is about a week late, since lots of the best stuff disappears the day after Christmas (like the better candy and cookies from Crate & Barrel and Williams-Sonoma — whoosh, gone). But that's not because I was so busy snarfing up deals that I ignored you.

No, I take that back. There were only two rolls of half-price wrapping paper in all of downtown Bethlehem, PA, so I had to get back here to stock up at Papyrus last Friday. They still had plenty of paper, tags, and cards, and I bet they still do.

And, over the weekend, we had to get out to the Brookline Trader Joe's to pick up three tubs of Mini Candy Cane Cookies before you did:

These small, seemingly innocuous cookies are covered in "white fudge" and dusted with candy cane bits. They are the most addictive item I've found there since the Sea Salt & Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Almonds, an ongoing obsession. These cookies are a good alternative to, say, the seasonal "white fudge" covered Oreo because, when you eat those, you do so with the awareness that it is a fat-filled nutritional nightmare with 5 grams of fat per cookie. And no one eats just one of those, oh no. These TJ's cookies have 6 grams of fat per five cookies. So there's just a little more than 1 gram of fat apiece. 

Five cookies are satisfying, and if you can keep it to one or two cookies, you can feel virtuous. My only concern is that the touch of peppermint is both refreshing and addictive, so you could easily eat a large quantity without feeling stuffed. Remembering that you won't be able to buy more until next November is a good deterrent, I've found. Storing them on a high shelf in your kitchen is another. I have arbitrarily set us a four-tub annual limit, but you can do as you please.

I don't understand why certain treats are available only during certain holidays. In the fall, it's all "Pumpkin Yogurt," "Pumpkin Ice Cream," and "Pumpkin Coffee" at Trader Joe's, for example, and then in winter it switches to Peppermint Everything (not to forget their concurrent Salted Caramel binge, running the gamut from Salted Caramel Chai Tea Latte Mix to the infamous Dark Chocolate Caramels with Sea Salt. I keep expecting Sea-Salt Caramel Ravioli to replace the Roasted Pumpkin flavor).  

My point is that I don't tire of eating pumpkin- or peppermint-flavored items all year round. I know we're supposed to eat seasonally and locally, and I tend not to buy asparagus in December. But the food I'm talking about isn't fresh, it's packaged, and any marketing department worth its sea salt should know that they can make more sales by offering peppermint or pumpkin items all year, since consumers crave them. I bake pumpkin bread using canned pumpkin all year long. Pumpkin pancakes are just as delicious in the spring. I was taken aback to learn that Trader Joe's Chocolate Peppermint Loaf Mix was a seasonal item; I have just one box, which I'll hoard. 

Overstuffed baking cabinet, featuring some seasonal bread mixes and Toffee.

It's the job of a marketing team to keep consumers buying, no matter how unhealthy or unwise, so I don't see why they won't indulge our pumpkin and peppermint whims all year long. We can get cranberry products, sweet potatoes, and whole turkeys all year long. What the heck?

Oddly enough — or fortunately — I do tire of Stroopwafels and Lebkuchen, those traditional European cookies that appear and disappear every Christmas. I'm happy to see them go. But they are not Mini Candy Cane Cookies. If you're going to invent something that good, you should sell the darn things all the time. Just change the shape to round or something. Anything else is just stupid. I rest my case.

Yeah, I know that the answer is to stock up for a year when seasonal items appear, but some of us have tiny kitchens and freezers. I can barely fit staples like dried pasta, cereals, and canned cat food into ours. I'm already forced to keep extra jars of a certain, hard-to-find iced tea mix in the trunk of our car.  I can't have my cats go hungry because I filled our cabinets with Candy Cane Joe-Joes. (Actually, I can't stand Joe-Joes, but that flavor has its own Facebook page, with 2,851 Likes so far. Come on, already.) 

I know that limiting the seasonal delights of fall and winter makes them more exciting when they reappear... in July and October. But I don't care; I want them when I want them, and this is supposed to be America. If one of my two unopened tubs of Mini Candy Cane Cookies survives long enough, it will be a spectacular cookie experience this summer, chilled from the freezer.  

There are still many tubs left at the Brookline store.

1 comment:

  1. oh man, I used up my Peppermint Treat quota with the Joe-Joes (which I like...) and skipped over the Candy Cane cookies. Now I want to try them. Life. Not. Fair.


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