In case you were wondering...
'Tis the season for candy conversation hearts, so I'm just now mulling over a practice that I find a bit mystifying: verbose food.
I've known for some time that it's possible to print up custom M&Ms that exclaim very short messages. And I'd bet that anyone who's attended a few trade shows or weddings may have encountered personalized candy bars or chocolate coins, but I'm still not sure that I fully understand what drives the custom candy urge.
Marketers will throw a logo on anything, but what are Robert and Barbara really trying to say when they offer me a commemorative Bob&Barb chocolate-almond slab at their reception? Does a mass-produced novelty represent their union? Am I supposed to keep it until their first anniversary? Do I munch it, dreamily, after the party, thinking all the while of how sweet and nutty my friends are? What if I only eat dark chocolate? Am I symbolically shunning their symbolic generosity with my food snobbery? Should I feel guilty about that?
Etiquette complications aside, if one thinks of sweets as more like inexpensive blank surfaces than tasty delights, using them as inexpensive signage becomes understandable. Those who savor higher-quality bonbons don't generally scrawl "Happy Birthday, Marge!" across La Maison du Chocolate treats or the cache of treasures snagged at Richard Donnelly's shop of tasties.
By comparison, chalky little pastel Valentine's hearts are fair game for proclamations. The practice reminds me of restaurants that boast killer views. In my experience, if the scenery is stunning, the food surely won't be. (Though rest assured, the tab generally matches the view in its breathtaking qualities.)
So perhaps candy communiqués really deliver two messages... one spelled out across the sweet and a quieter, less savory tale told by the presence of the former.
I'll think I'll take my candy messages in virtual form. Those undisturbed by chatty sweets can follow these links to find DIY candy bar wrapper templates and more information on customized candy.
Late-Breaking Newsflash: Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories not only sports an irresistable name, they've also done an investigation of a pen with food-safe ink, for yes, yet more scribbling on food. At least they have the good sense to question whether the valentine hearts on which they write are actually food.
Though it might be a little late in the game to secure a food-safe pen for your Valentine's Day doodles, you can always fall back on my favorite 2nd grade trick... ballpoint pen messages/drawings across the skin of an unpeeled banana. Cheap. Fun. Nutritious. Apply allusion of choice here.