Last week, I learned that Trader Joe's discontinued their Mini Candy Cane Cookies, which were one of the great joys of my life last December... through August, since I'd sensibly hoarded several tubs of them after the holidays. (While the Boston and Brookline stores ran out around Christmas last year, the Memorial Drive store in Cambridge still had lots well into January, which makes me question the truism that 02138 and 02139 are the brainy zip codes. Maybe so, but that doesn't mean they know what's good for them. Surely Cantabridgians don't sit around eating raw vegetables on Christmas Eve? Or maybe they do, which would be one more reason why I really don't want to live over there.)
A moment of silence for the MCCCs, please. Or, rather, hours of despairing silence, devoid of the sofy, continuous crunch of white-fudge-coated sugar cookies drizzled with crispy candy-cane shards. This lovely sound emanated from the direction of me for many months. The quiet now is eerie.
Until I called the Brookline store and got the bad news, I'd been encouraged by the Boston staff to keep checking back in case some tubs of Mini Candy Cane Cookies finally appeared in the new stock they receive daily. This I did faithfully, since I shop there several times a week anyway. Optimism flows in that basement store; I bet they are still telling mournful customers that the MCCCs, like Santa, might yet arrive if only they believe.
Since I was going there practically every day, scanning the cookie displays with an eagle eye, I was able to stock up on Lebkuchen, the German gingerbread cookies my husband loves, which are $3 a pack at TJs and at least $6 everywhere else. I also got a big box of Mini Gingerbread Cookies. We enjoyed these last year; this year, we were less enthused. They taste the same, but the box is just too big. We were happy to finally finish them off last night. I should have gotten the equally huge box of dark-chocolate-covered stars, but I missed my chance. Lots of the TJs special holiday items disappeared early this year. It's such a drag. And I keep going in, hoping they'll reappear.
I was able to snag what I think was the last tin of Peppermint Bark from the Boston store. This is the only item that even partially consoles me for the loss of the MCCCs. What's odd is that I don't really like peppermint desserts, except for Grasshopper Brownies, which are in a class by themselves. To me, most peppermint desserts — ice cream, for example — taste like toothpaste is a main ingredient. Tom's of Maine is hardly what I want when I'm craving sugar. But the MCCCs, well.... they were an addictively sweet, crunchy dream come true. And a breath freshener.
So be warned for 2014: the moment they show up on the shelves in November, buy all the Trader Joe's holiday cookies and candy you want for the season. Because they will get snapped up more quickly than you can imagine, by clever old sugar fiends like me.