Linus Torvalds's picture

So, I wrote about election season in the US, without getting more than one or two "go back to where you came from" comments.

That clearly means that I need to ratchet up the controversy level, and bring up an issue near and dear to my heart - and given the times, possibly even more relevant than the election.

Yes, Halloween is almost upon us. That most holiest of holidays, when the whole country comes together, and without regards to race, religion or age, people join a common cause. Namely the gluttonous eating of candy.

It's a holiday without the stress of finding presents (or feeling alone if you have nobody to find presents for). And not even the crazies will go on national TV to complain about the "war against Halloween" - they'll be in WalMart, Target, and Costco, buying candy by the metric ton, exactly like the rest of us.

But there is a dark underbelly to even this friendliest of holidays.

No, I'm not talking about the binge eating ("I bought 15 lbs of candy, but I'll sit in the dark the whole evening so that nobody will ring the door bell, so that tomorrow I'll have the excuse to eat it all") and the inevitable diabetic shock and amputated limbs that follow.

Nor even about the pre-teen girls dressing up (or rather, down) as sluts, because it's the one night of the year when it's cute to look like a under-age hooker.

No. I'm talking about the horrible quality of candy in the US.

Because if you eat three times your body weight in candy in one day, shouldn't it be at least good candy?

Oh, I'm not expecting Belgian chocolate truffles (which really are way over-rated anyway, and a sure sign of snobbishness rather than any appreciation of the better side of life). I'm just talking about stuff that has some taste rather than being just colored sugar with corn starch.

In other words, I'm talking about the sad - and almost total - lack of ammonium chloride.

As every dietician worth his (or her) title knows, you need to balance the sugars with some taste. No, it doesn't really have to be ammonium chloride (NH4Cl), but any self-respecting candy should be mostly something that makes your taste-buds go Whee!

Because that's the whole point. Sure, the diabetic shock may a fine way to weed out the weak, and while you could probably see Halloween as some kind of Darwinistic ritual of survival of the fittest (because it really is a holiday that works for all people, regardless of beliefs or lack there-of), I'm sure that in the end we can all agree on the whole taste-buds-go-whee-factor.

But most US candy really does seem to be more about thumbing your nose at diabetics than it is about taste buds. And this needs to change!

I realize that I can drag my sorry ass off to the nearest Finnish store (yeah, there is one in Portland), and I also realize that the Dutch store also is an excellent source of candy that actually tastes like something. And yes, sometimes you can even find Licorice Allsorts (an acceptably tasty treat) even in regular stores. So I can get my fix.

But I'm saddened how the biggest feast of the year seems designed to perpetuate the lack of any real taste in candy.

I've tried to introduce Americans to some real candy. Most of them just spit it out, because they've been indoctrinated in the whole "sugar with some bland taste" religion of candy eating. And I blame Halloween.

We need fun-sized bags of ammonium chloride, or at least licorice!