There have been very few innovations since the candy bar when it comes to the business of crap we eat today. Sure, we’ve got space ice cream and lollipops served on plastic rings. I’m no fool -- I make it my business to stay abreast of the candy-goings-on here in the world.
But even those playing-card-sized boxes of Nerds by Wonka haven’t had the same sort of earth-shattering impact that those bars of chocolate did when they were first received by the general populace. There’s been nothing like it since. Imagine it: A time where you couldn’t feast on a chocolate brick while reading an Us magazine, just because.
Forget vaccinations, antibiotics, and carb-counting: Rapidly produced, affordable, creamy chocolate? That’s revolutionary.
The advent of factories and grocery stores are in large part responsible for the birth of a lot of the chocolates we still nom on to this day. I know this to be true, because I harassed my friend Jesse (who basically has her PhD in confection, art, and biology) and she confirmed this as being so. See, you guys? I’m becoming a real journalist: I interviewed an expert! And by “interviewed” I mean “g-chatted with my best friend.” And by “an expert” I mean “one of the smartest people I know who also happens to be well-versed in the history of candy." J-school, eat your heart out.
She and I went through the more popular candy bars of today, and, with a few notable exceptions (I’m looking at you, Nutrageous), most of them haven’t changed much since their births in the 1920s and ’30s. That said, if you are a candy connoisseur (and I am one -- if you doubt me, allow me to paraphrase Shakira: look to my hips, they shall not deceive) you also know that while they’ve been around for ages, there are candy bars that sadly still get the short shrift. So if you’re looking for a passionate ode to Baby Ruths or a genital-tingling endorsement of Snickers, move along. I’m here today to preach the gospel of under-appreciated chocolate bars.*
1. Zero Bars
Dude. Zero bars. Basically these are the tits-pressed-to-the-glass of the candy bar experience. They don’t hide behind the pseudo-science of chocolate being “good for you." Here white chocolate is the name of the game.
And white chocolate? It is zero percent real chocolate. This bar ain’t even trying to be something it’s not.
They were invented in 1920! Which blew my mind. I was sure they had to a product of the ’80s, the same decade that brought us the splendor that was Crystal Clear Pepsi. Nope! Zero bars are like, official OGs of the candy world! They are nougat, caramel, and almond, doused in white fudge. I like the idea of buying a Zero bar, staring at its packaging and then quietly going “You are not a zero. You have so much value,” and then eating it in three bites. Rock on with your bad-self, Zero bars. I wanna be inside you....I mean, what?
2. PayDay Bars
This is controversial. Mainly because one of the first things I do when I’m drunk is start talking about how PayDays are just “broken chocolate bars” and how we, as Americans, are “being fleeced by Big Candy.” But I’ll be real -- if you’re into caramel and peanut, this is some awesome stuff. Let’s call it the basic bitch of candyland. Everybody needs a basic bitch.
Also, “PayDay” is what I call the miniature crowbar festooned with multi-colored ribbon that I was gifted with on my birthday last year. What can I say, I am sentimentally inclined.
3. 100 Grand Bars
I don’t even properly understand why everybody isn’t eating a 100 Grand Bar at all times. When I mentioned the idea of this post to Lesley, she was all about it -- though mildly concerned that 100 Grand wouldn’t make the cut. I was all “Gurl, u ain’t even gotta worry.” I was probably eating one while I responded to her email.
Additionally, 100 Grand Bars are like what you really hope it would be like if you ate a Hershey Bar and a bowl of Rice Krispies at the same time while someone poured caramel on your nipples (...). You can find my ad on Craigslist.
4. Charleston Chews
I just texted my sister Miranda the following: “CHARLESTON CHEWS THO." Back in our glory days she and I used to bike down the hill from our house to the local bodega, buy our weight in Charleston Chews, and just chill.
Flash forward and my teeth are just smoke and mirrors at the age of nearly 31. I refuse to accept a correlation. Nougat, you shall ne'er be blamed! Also -- have you ever tried freezing them? That noise is cray.
5. Mr. Goodbar
The other day I was in Rite Aid to pick up my Klonopin refill when I spotted the happy yellow and red packaging of the Mr. Goodbar. This approach is simple: Milk chocolate, peanuts. But something about it is damn near celestial. Stars align when you crack off a rectangle and hurl it into your gullet. It feels right the way only a cigarette, perfect cup of coffee, or really satisfying dump can. You bite into it and you think “This is what being human is all about.”
Also there is a film that makes use of the same name, but whatever, whatever.
Honorary mention to Chunky bars. What’s your favorite chocolate bar?
* It’s cool, I can make that joke, my dad’s a priest.