THE NEFF ZONE -- BY JIM NEFF
CADILLAC NEWS -- SEPTEMBER 29, 2018
Life should be lived in balance. That's why I love this time of year. With freshly picked apples in abundance and apple cider flowing freely you can feel the health coursing through your body.
I balance that with my annual bag of candy corn, a taste treat that has no nutritional value whatsoever. Candy corn is pure food evil, but that's why it's so good and why it's essential to consume apples. Balance is the key here. One cancels out the other.
I am not alone in my consumption of pure sugar disguised as kernels of corn. According to CandyStore.com, Michiganders will eat more than 150,000 pounds of candy corn this year. It's the top selling Halloween candy in the state. (Starburst and Skittles are next in line.)
Halloween candy is big business. “This year, the National Retail Federation is estimating that shoppers will spend $2.6 billion on Halloween candy. They will spend about $27 on average. Over fifty percent of parents will stash some Halloween candy to enjoy later in the year.”
CandyStore.com has identified the top candies. “We gathered eleven years of data and made a map of 2018's Most Popular Halloween Candy in America by state.” You can see the cool interactive map and a state-by-state listing at: https://www.candystore.com/blog/facts-trivia/halloween-candy-map-popular/.
Candy information is not the only food-related topic in the news because Merriam-Webster just announced that 850 words have been added to its dictionary. Among those are twenty-five new food terms. Appropriate for any discussion about favorite candies is the word “hangry,” which means “you're irritable or angry because you're hungry.”
If you're hangry, perhaps you should eat some “zoodles” (long, thin strips of zucchini that resemble a narrow ribbon of pasta) and wash that down with a “mocktail” (iced drink made with any of various ingredients but without alcohol). Candy corn for dessert? (https://www.freep.com/story/life/food/2018/09/04/merriam-webster-new-words-food-avo-guac/1192121002/)
Thinking of Halloween, Ranker.com asked people to rate: “The Worst Things to Get in Your Trick-or-Treat Bag.” The list includes: a toothbrush, pencils, pennies, coupons, and packets of hot sauce. The top candies kids don't want are: circus peanuts, liquorice, wax lips, Mary Jane peanut butter kisses, and Necco wafers. (https://www.ranker.com/list/worst-halloween-candy/chef-jen?)
This time of year the kidlings might be thinking about a Halloween haul, but adults might be more interested in tailgating and football parties. A full report on the “Most Popular Game Day Snack in Every State” has been issued by WideOpenEats.com.
You might start your game day with some pancakes (Arkansas) or Eggs Benedict (Kansas), then munch on some mozzarella sticks (California) or a Hawaiian cheese ball (pineapple, guava, coffee and nuts), have a baked chili cheese dog for the main course (Kentucky), and finish it all with a slice of pumpkin pie (Utah).
Here in Michigan, you might substitute a big burger for that chili dog. “Michigan has a roster of restaurants famous for their burger game. Some version of meat on a bun is a must at a Michigan game day celebration.” A nifty game day snack graphic is at: https://www.wideopeneats.com/game-day-snacks-for-every-state/.
While each state has a favorite game day snack, one thing that is ubiquitous at any party is the chip and its companion the dip. So what are the favorite chips? It's no easy task to determine this. “How do you rank the greatest chip of all time? Do you go by dip-ability? Or the flavor of the chip by itself? Do you go by the size of the chip? Do healthy chips make better chips? All these very important questions could have mind boggling answers that shake the very foundations of science, snacking, and reality!”
Voters on Ranker.com came up with 76 varieties of chips and crunchy snacks. The top ten are: Cheetos, Cool Ranch Doritos, Lays Classic Potato Chips, Lays BBQ Potato Chips, Ruffles Cheddar Sour Cream, Original Pringles, Pringles Sour Cream and Onion, Fritos, Sunchips Harvest Cheddar, and Ruffles Sour Cream and Onion. My favorite, pretzels, finished number seventy. In a head-scratcher, Chip Ahoy cookies finished at fifty-eight. I wonder what the dip for those would be. (https://www.ranker.com/crowdranked-list/best-chips-in-the-world?)
Finally, I have a food question for you to ponder. If you had to pick one last meal in your life, what would it be? This brings new meaning to the phrase “to die for.”
Well, at the risk of being a tad creepy, death row inmates have to make that decision. “It's captivating to see what real death row inmates picked as their final meal. From four-course meals to a simple cup of coffee, final meals on death row allow criminals to enjoy one last indulgence of the world they're leaving behind. Some states put caps on how much an inmate's gourmet prison food will cost, but such wasn't always the case. What would your final meal on death row be?”
The top ten death row requests are: an entire pizza, steak and baked potato, alcoholic beverage, hamburger/cheeseburger, milkshake, chicken wings, ice cream, mac and cheese, chocolate chip cookies and milk, filet mignon.
In a bit of an oddity, Fondue made the list at number forty-eight. Coincidentally, Fondue also made another list – The Most Comforting Comfort Food. “Makes you feel better when you're down or just need your food to give you a big hug.”
Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at CadillacNews.com or NeffZone.com/cadillacnews.