« The Leaves Song | Main | Star Wars, Star Peace »

Alaskan Range: Eat This, Not That

Columnist Greg Hill points out that sweet-eaters are ensuring that the Tooth Fairy is never likely to be unemployed.

A recent Scientific American article by scientist Harold Schmitz and his colleagues looked at the looming cocoa shortage and found reports indicating that “demand may outstrip supply in the near future.” They described how the cocoa tree is “delicate and difficult to grow,” thriving only in a narrow equatorial strip that’s being bombarded by climate change-fueled weather patterns, including droughts, floods, and high winds. Then there’s the cocoa pod borer moth, causing $600 million losses in Southeast Asia. As it stands, the demand for cocoa will overwhelm production, currently 3.7 million tons annually, by 2020. Think how this will impact Halloween, Valentine’s, and the Easter Bunny.

That fuzzy fellow left our family blissfully chocolate-saturated tribe and sanguine following the exertions of the traditional egg hunt. The happy languor was such, I just couldn’t tell them that chocolaty holidays may soon end. Being fond of hollow chocolate bunnies known as “Baby Binks,” I was rather blissed out myself and forgot to mention the Candy Hierarchy List that ranks Halloween treats into six “tiers”

For five years David Ng and Ben Cohen have informally researched this topic and presented their results on BoingBoing.net, a popular technology and culture blog. Last year’s top tier included cash, any full-sized candy bar, and bite-sized Caramellos, Milky Ways, Snickers, Rolos, Twix, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. The “Tier So Low It Does Not Register On Our Equipment” included healthy fruit, pencils, anything whole wheat, and “anonymous brown globs that come in black and orange wrappers.” They found candy corn completely unrankable, calling it “the ‘String Theory’ of candy.”

More serious researchers explored how some candies are particularly good at eating away tooth enamel. The study, titled “The Power of Sour on Your Teeth: Acid Levels in Popular Sour Candies,” was conducted by Dr. John Ruby at the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Dentistry. Lower pH levels mean higher acidity, and water has a pH of 7, and tooth enamel loss begins at pH4. Ruby found Spree’s pH of 2.5 was the least acidic of the 28 candies studied. Skittles was 2.5, Altoid Mango Chews 1.9, and WarHeads Sour Spray 1.6. Battery acid is 1.0.

That’s job security for the tooth fairy. However, Wikipedia reports that in other parts of the world tooth fairy functions are filled by pixies, dragons, ballerinas, dental hygienists, pairs of little old men, individual pot-bellied men smoking cigars while flying, bats, bears, blue mother-figures, or winged children. Mice have the tooth-buying business in France, Scotland, Italy, and Spain, and are known as el Raton Perez in many Hispanic cultures. Tooth fairying is an economic indicator; a UPI article from last February notes that a tooth only brings $2.60 in the U.S., down 42 cents.

Concerned parents should refer to the “Eat This, Not That” articles at MensHealth.com. The “Worst Kids’ Drink,” for instance, is SunnyD Smooth Style, which packs 260 calories and 60 grams of sugar, and recommended was Capri Sun Tropical Fruit Roarin’ Waters, with 35 calories and 9 grams sugar. On the subject of “Best and Worst Halloween Candy,” MensHealth.com is almost diametrically opposed to BoingBoing.net’s Candy Hierarchy, calling Butterfingers, Twix, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups among the worst nutritionally, while BoingBoing.net ranked them best for entirely different reasons.

I wonder what either would say about the author of a food blog (titled “Food Junk: Food That Is Bad For You”) sampling a 22-year-old unopened box of Batman cereal (“the air inside was thick with chemicals”), or the new $26 two-foot hot dog being vended at baseball games? We’ll probably never know, but everyone ought to be aware that food’s not allowed in the library. Covered drinks are OK, but when it comes to eats, a few people’s slovenliness leaves debris and stickiness behind. Most people are considerate, but some aren’t, and library rules have to be enforced uniformly. Remember: when we remind patrons of minor issues like this, we don’t enjoy it, but there’s always a good reason why we must.

As the great Nigerian author Chinua Achebe put it, “When old people speak, it is not because of the sweetness of words in our mouths; it is because we see something that you do not see.”


Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.