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The open-office concept is a reflection of ba as a design principal. Japanese offices are often very open with many workers sharing a large table and workspace. This arrangement allows for the rapid sharing of information, sometimes by accident. The Japanese also prioritize interdisciplinary teams because they believe that the concentration of different ways of seeing the world will lead to breakthroughs. There is often a lack of efficiency when bringing together different specializations, but ba requires shared space for different relationships and experiences to be brought forward. To endow our lives with ba, we might follow social media accounts that are outside of our experience or tastes, attend events or conferences outside of our specialization, and meet and interact with people we might not normally meet.
Ba asks us to be open to interruptions and distractions when our temptation is to be closed and focused. The assumption is that what we know is only valuable if it rubs up against what other people know. Tokoro is used to describe the location or site of something, but it is also used to describe a state of being. In Japan, the idea of place is indistinguishable from the historical, cultural, social, and other connections contained within it.
The idea of tokoro therefore implies the idea of context, as the place is inevitably connected with all the activities around it. If wa configures your relationships in space, tokoro situates that activity within a bigger story. Western concepts of space have an inside and outside and a boundary between the two. This makes it easier to think about things as being contained within larger things and containing smaller things: An office is in New York City, which is in the United States.
The sales team is inside the office, and Jules is a member of the sales team. Japanese concepts of space are ambivalent about boundaries, so being a part of a place means being in dynamic relationship with it. Ma is often translated as negative space. However, ma is better understood as a free zone that allows for dissimilar things to co-exist. When we communicate something, we like to assume that the person will receive our message and understand it in the way that we intended.
This is often not the case. The Japanese idea of ma is that we need to create interruptions or absences that allow for difference to be reconciled. Designing for ma is about creating moments of awareness and quiet. For example, in Japan, shrines are often built at the end of long uphill hikes; the long and tiring walk prepares the mind to enter the shrine and leave behind other distractions and worries. Cities are scattered with small parks that appear suddenly and offer winding trails for quiet reflection. Even conversations in Japanese are marked by long pauses that would be unsettling for Western ears.
Being intentional about creating spaces that allow for reflection and integration might allow us to better address some of the contradictions and tensions of modern life. Difference of opinion rarely seems to coexist peaceably, and transitions from home to work to home again are often marked by crowds and stress. There are therefore many ways we can make room for more ma in our lives. Meditation is a wonderful way of collecting oneself during a busy day.
Visits to the library can prove a worthwhile respite from an increasingly commercial world. In our homes, we can restrict technology from certain areas. Where is the empty space in our day? Building spaces that deepen relationships wa , generate new knowledge ba , connect to the world around us tokoro , and allow moments of quiet and integration ma can enrich our experience of the world and that of those around us.
Skip to navigation Skip to content. Ideas Our home for bold arguments and big thinkers. We agreed that it smelled like some sort of fruit leather and tasted sweet, salty, with tamarind and chile and a little grit to the texture. She was right — every single taste bud in my mouth was firing simultaneously.
The sensation was utterly delightful. As we made our way through the massive pile of candy, I started to feel more confident about my ability to notice nuances. We started to move through each evaluation more quickly, easily arriving at consensus. At one point I even wondered, Is this what it feels like to be good at meditation?
Days later, I found myself thinking of that aflatoon again. I looked up recipes for it. Nearly every one called for semolina flour and raisins. Back home in California, I found myself craving tamarind candy, so I went to my own Mexican grocery in search of several varieties, including my new favorite, Pulparindo. On the front of its package was what looked to be a cartoon-character version of the candy: a bar of tamarind paste with a jolly face and a tongue sticking out of its seemingly salivating mouth.
Acid corrodes the enamel on our teeth, so we only need to think about eating something acidic and our mouths will begin to produce saliva to neutralize the acid. Clearly, the Pulparindo guy knows that sour things make our mouths water. En route home with my haul, I bumped into a couple of friends. I excitedly doled out Pulparindo, certain they would love the salty, spicy, sour, sweet treat as much as I did.
They were both suspicious. One carefully opened the wrapper, sniffed the bar and took a minuscule bite before recoiling. He might have even grimaced. Pulparindo bears a striking resemblance to it. I love biting through the crunchy coating of sugar and citric acid on the way to the gummy center. I love the almost punishing wave of sourness that lingers for a second too long on my tongue.
And yet I remember being a young cook in a fancy restaurant, where admitting that my sweet of choice was chock-full of corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors felt potentially disastrous. The chefs I worked for instructed me to slow down and think about everything I ate, even when it was just a deli sandwich or a slice of pizza or a scoop of ice cream. A version of sensory, though no one would have called it that. Dutiful young student that I was, I took the time to thoughtfully taste even my secret gummy candy, and for the first time I noticed that the sourness was only on the surface.
I realized it was the same granulated white powder I used to can tomatoes: citric acid. What if, I wondered, I added citric acid to the sugar in my next batch?
I could make my own natural sour gummy candy! And I did. Recently, I bought a bag of candy — Haribo sour gummy bears, of course — and brought them to my desk to conduct a quick, informal sensory evaluation. I pulled out one bear of each color: red, clear, yellow, orange and green. Clear, my childhood favorite, was pineapple, tangy and tropical.
Yellow was lemon; orange orange. Red was some sort of generic artificial berry. I fished a second green bear out of the bag. Then a third. I put them in my mouth and let the sour coating dissolve away. Then I chewed. Worldwide, nearly 70 percent of cocoa beans come from Africa, and Ghana is the second-largest producer in the world, with a G. Even so, Ghana has few producers of actual confections. Cocoa Processing Company Limited in Tema is one of them. Every year, the company says it processes 65, metric tons of cocoa beans, but it also has a line of chocolates and candy bars, including its lemon-flavored Akuafo Bar.
Of all the candies in the world, Chupa Chups might have the most famous designer. In , a married candy maker named Luisa Spagnoli decided she needed to do something with the leftover nuts at her chocolate factory.
She put a whole hazelnut atop some milk chocolate whipped with chopped nuts and covered it in dark chocolate. The result looked like a fist, so she gave it the name cazzotto, or punch. The two renamed it bacio, or kiss, in These chocolate-covered caramels get their name from the celebrity trivia on their wrappers — quite literally, fan tales.
Lokum picked up the nickname Turkish delight when it reached Britain in the middle of the 19th century and, years later, made a cameo in the C. In its year history, the candy has become popular around the world. In , when an incident involving melamine-tainted milk shook China, production shut down for several months to ensure the candy was safe to eat, though in Singapore, consumers were told they could eat 47 pieces daily before experiencing ill effects. Ten years later, the company makes the candies with only imported milk powder from New Zealand. Born in a San Francisco licorice factory in the s, the twists have been the favorite of moviegoers and kids who like to bite off the ends and make a straw for more than half a century.
The brigadeiro, a fudge truffle, is a classic in Brazil and frequently served at parties. The story goes that the treat gets its name from Brig. Eduardo Gomes, a candidate in the presidential election. To create your own, make fudge balls by combining sweetened cocoa powder, condensed milk and butter, then top with sugar or sprinkles. Or take inspiration from the hipster versions you can find from New York to Brazil that include pistachios, coconut or matcha.
Back in , a Milwaukee man named John Flaig created a petition asking the company to bring the candy bar to the United States. Savoy, the original candy company behind Cri Cri, was founded by four immigrants in a Caracas garage in One of them, John Miller, had brought a chocolate-making machine with him from Scotland, and they used it to create the Savoy chocolate bar. Almost 30 years later, the company created a puffed-rice version. In , that candy bar got its own name, Cri Cri, thanks to a formula the founders picked up by talking to friends, neighbors and kids: The name needed to be short and easy to pronounce.
Today Savoy is one of the leading candy companies in Venezuela, and its products are often given in December during Amigo Secreto, which is essentially the Venezuelan version of Secret Santa. Confiteca, the Ecuadorean company behind it, designed it for the extreme palates of Gen Z candy lovers. The S. What Zuckerlwerkstatt calls rock candy is about as far from the American version as it gets.
A Bon o Bon is a milk-chocolate shell over a crisp wafer filled with a flavored cream. Every day, factories in Argentina, Mexico and Brazil produce 3, of the sweet treats every minute, and 70 percent of production is exported throughout the world. In , the brand helped establish Sweetness Week in Argentina, a clever marketing campaign that encourages candy lovers to exchange confections for kisses. It worked: Candy sales in Argentina rise about 20 percent for a week every July.
Hikikomori: Applying Culture-bound Theory | Maree Sugai
Pastillas are popular milk-based candies, originally from San Miguel in the Philippines. In the Bulacan region, the wrappers, called pabalat, have become a bit of an art form with cut-paper designs.
Pastillas are a celebratory candy and are often given for birthdays and weddings. According to lore, what a 19th-century candy maker meant to be a jelly bean ended up looking more like a baby, so a confectioner called them unclaimed babies — like the ones frequently left on church steps in the era. Edinburgh Rock, a confection that looks like a stick of chalk, was invented by a Scotsman known as Sweetie Sandy in the 19th century, when, as the myth goes, he found that old trays of candy developed a pleasingly crumbly texture.
But a local businessman named James Anderson stepped in, and Edinburgh Rock is still manufactured in Scotland. Flavors include peppermint, raspberry, orange, lemon and vanilla. Cadbury has produced the candy in Lagos since Cadbury reigns over the chocolate market in Pakistan; in , Mondelez, its parent company, accounted for 66 percent of sales, in part because of the ultrapopular Dairy Milk chocolate bar. But CandyLand, the biggest candy company in the country, owns half the market for other confections.
An animated commercial for the candy has real-life kids swirling animated clouds and rainbows to create the pastel-colored sweet. The traditional version of gaz, a Persian nougat studded with nuts, gets its sweetness from the excretions of a bug called the tamarisk manna scale, which is found on tamarisk trees in central Iran. Originally, people believed the excretions to be sap because they dried on tree branches.
Not so. Good news for the squeamish: Most versions you find now are made with other sweeteners. Lacta chocolate started in the s as Galacta, named for gala, the Greek word for milk. It received 1, stories and made a minute video, with more than 11, people voting online to choose the actors, character names and wardrobes; some even served as extras. Today Lacta is one of the best-selling milk chocolate brands in the country. Wedel started making the treat at the family factory in After the invasion of Poland, the company was forced to produce chocolate for the Germans, and Wedel was sent to the Nazi camp in Pruszkow.
He survived the war, but the E. In autumn, they are cafe latte and peanut butter. Trade Kings, a Zambian-owned company founded in , manufactured Boom Detergent Paste and imported foreign candy. But when its trade partnership fell through, the company decided to produce its own candy in Zambia. Now, its Amazon Pops are a signature product, and the company manufactures tons of candy a year.
The pops are also popular in Tanzania and South Africa, where Trade Kings claims that it opened the largest candy-manufacturing line in the Southern Hemisphere in The treats come in flavors like black cherry, strawberry and pink lemonade. He needed to figure out what to do with a bunch of leftover pineapple-flavored marshmallow from another product, so he covered it in chocolate and christened it the Pineapple Chunk.
Over the years, Pineapple Chunks — or Pineapple Lumps, depending on the manufacturer — became a classic candy in New Zealand, and Cadbury manufactured its own version until ending production of it in the country earlier this year; now Rainbow Confectionery makes Pineapple Lumps. Tamarind, a pulpy, sweet-and-sour fruit, is a common flavor of candies in Latin America. Pelon Pelo Rico hit the market in and sells several hundred million units a year in Mexico. Today the candy is also distributed in some countries in the Maghreb region North Africa and in parts of Europe. Taichiro Morinaga, the founder of the company behind Hi-Chew, grew up poor in Japan.
In , at 23, he moved to the United States, where he experienced candy for the first time and decided to become a candy maker. Eleven years later, he opened the Morinaga Western Confectionery Shop in Tokyo, and in it was the first Japanese candy company to produce chocolate. Years later, while searching for a gumlike candy that you can actually swallow so as to avoid the rude act of removing food from your mouth, he came up with the predecessor of the Hi-Chew, a Starburst-like candy with a softer texture. Since , more than Hi-Chew flavors have been on the market. The company was originally started by a Lithuanian immigrant who began his business making chocolate in the s.
Originally available only in licorice flavor, the packs of candies now come in four varieties. Centuries later, monks in Flavigny began making candies with the seeds, attracting fans, including, reportedly, Louis IX. Today, the process is basically the same, with candy makers covering a single, two-milligram anise seed with layers of sugary syrup until it builds up into a hard candy that weighs a gram.
Shokolad Para, which translates as cow chocolate, was introduced in as Shamnunit but in the s was renamed because of the picture of a cow on its wrapper. Originally only available with milk chocolate, it is now available with everything from nougat to puffed rice to popping candy. Elise Craig is a freelance writer and the managing editor of Pop-Up Magazine. At one point in the article, Strode visits a Finnish town near the Russian border and meets the local sheriff.
For sentimental reasons, this sheriff carries around a dagger, which he hands to Strode. Apparently a previous owner used the blade to fend off six attackers. I saw the finish of the fight — it was a glorious display of sisu. The sheriff slips the knife back into its leather holster and gazes to the east. I smiled at the pleasing symmetry. Granted, my surname does not double as an active verb, not even in Italian. Also, I was going to Finland to report an article on salty licorice. But otherwise, our tasks were not dissimilar.
Strode had introduced his readers to a word that explained a distant country and its underlying values. I would try to do the same, only with a really weird flavor of candy. Or umami, for that matter, This adds. Not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice.
Certain brands packaged themselves like breath mints, in stylish cardboard packs, to appeal directly to adults. Which is saying something, because tiny Finland tends to punch far above its weight when it comes to candy appetites over all. A study by the London-based market-research firm Euromonitor International ranked the country fifth worldwide in per capita candy consumption. Three other salty-licorice countries, Sweden, the Netherlands and Norway, placed third, ninth and 10th. Americans, meanwhile, came in at a dismal 18th.
Correlation does not mean causation, but come on, this is totally causation, right? All those salty-licorice countries clustered at the very top? Annala had offered to arrange a salty-licorice tasting for me in Helsinki, as well as convene a meeting of the F. The first gala took place in , shortly after the founding of the F. What can I say?
We dug whips. By Nordic standards, however, my licorice palate lacked sophistication. The house specialty, fried Baltic herring, comes stacked like kindling on an oversize plate. Annala greeted me from a booth. In picturing him, a middle-aged professional obsessed enough with his favorite candy to start a fan club, I expected some combination of zany and plump, but he turned out to be a trim man with a neat, graying beard, pale blue eyes and a slight air of Nordic melancholy.
He apologized for his low energy: He was just recovering from the flu. In the book, Annala traces the origins of salty licorice to earlyth-century pharmacies, when chemists in Finland and parts of Scandinavia began selling salmiakki as a cough medicine. Ammonium chloride acts as an expectorant, which adds credence to the commonly cited theory that the people in certain colder climates were initially drawn to salty licorice for health reasons.
The salmiakki most often came in powdered form in little envelopes, though syrups and diamond-shaped lozenges were also available. Salmiakki , like traditional licorice, is made from licorice root, which is mixed with wheat flour and turned into a paste that is generally dyed black. The natural color of licorice-root extract is closer to the ocher shade of powdered salmiakki. Even before the addition of ammonium chloride, licorice root had been used as a respiratory and digestive aid for millenniums.
After our meal, Annala unzipped his backpack and removed a jar of salty licorice produced by one of his favorite salmiakki manufacturers, Namitupa, a small-batch label out of Ilmajoki, a town in southwestern Finland. The licorice was in powdered form, in the old pharmacy style, which Annala adored. The F.
Annala unscrewed the lid, instructed me to hold out my hand and tapped a modest pile into the center of my palm. Then he shrugged, apologetic. Not so aesthetic. I glanced around anxiously, feeling as though we should have maybe skulked off to a toilet stall before getting into this part of the interview. The powder was extremely fine and looked like ground cumin. But then a friend heard about the article and ended up bringing some Dutch salty licorice — a gift from a Scandinavian ex-girlfriend — to a bar one afternoon, so I broke down and tried it. Having seen a series of YouTube videos involving non-salty-licorice-country children being tricked into eating salty licorice, I have to admit: I expected worse.
The Dutch candy, a coin-size black disc, had a mild saltiness that canceled out the licorice flavor, but just barely, leaving me feeling as if I were gnawing on a savory leather button. Quite strong stuff. Had I expected things to proceed more in the fashion of a genteel tasting at a Lexington whiskey distillery and less like, say, a scene from a William S. Burroughs novel in which the characters ingest weird, made-up drugs? Yes, I had. I licked it. The salmiakki tasted as if someone had made a bouillon cube out of a briny licorice stock, then crushed it into a powder.
My tongue immediately tingled. It was pungent, in a saltier-than-salt way that brought some heat. Across the table, Annala seemed lost in a reverie. Over the course of the next seven hours, at multiple locations, we consumed a considerable, perhaps unhealthful, amount of salmiakki.
I tasted brittle black tokens strong enough to make my eyes water. Annala placed a mixed bag of loose salmiakki in the center of the table and tore down its sides so they looked like the petals of a giant flower, the pile of licorice now a teeming black bulb.
Choosing a subtly flavored Swedish fish, Annala twisted it between his fingers, then took a bite and nodded approvingly. And the structure is very good and playful. But a reliable defender on the team. Annala tried one and determined that the belly was, in fact, marshmallow. No one else does it. Tar candy! Finns add tar, derived in their country from wood rather than coal, to various foods as a smoky flavoring agent. He had pushed up the sleeves of his cardigan and was rooting around in the licorice pile. At a certain point, I hit a wall. When someone shook a couple of strong salmiakki mints into my hand, I popped only one of them, palming the second and slipping it into my shoe while pretending to scratch my ankle.
Someone brought up a move by the European Union to sharply curb the allowable per-gram amount of ammonium chloride in food, which would have effectively banned salmiakki and possibly triggered a Finnexit. A Finnish E. Annala invited the bureaucrat to the F. Fazer is the unofficial candy brand of Finland, the national equivalent of Hershey or Cadbury. His father, a Swiss immigrant, worked as a furrier, but Karl, the youngest son of eight children, always loved baking with his mother, and after an apprenticeship in St.
Petersburg, he opened a French-Russian confectionery shop in Helsinki in The country achieved independence from Russia five years earlier. The company remains in the hands of the Fazer family, with 15, employees worldwide. Fazer is also the largest producer of licorice in the country.
In , the company bought a British-Finnish biscuit-and-licorice company and released its signature line of sweet licorice the following year. Looking back, it is easy to say that we moved far too late. All these treats are made at the Fazer complex in Lappeenranta, two hours from Helsinki by train and about 16 miles from the Russian border. The factory is a century-old redbrick building with a series of modern additions, built along the shore of the largest lake in Finland. It has employees and runs three to five shifts, depending on the candy needs of the nearest holiday.
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The factory was very much a typical factory in certain ways vast, noisy and more specifically a candy factory in others my shoes stuck to the floors from the sugar, and there was a pleasant, lingering odor of fruit more or less wherever I went. Stamping presses pounded candy shapes into sheets of starch powder; licorice or sugary fillings were squirted into molds; robot arms hoisted trays onto drying racks. In one room, a lone human employee manually plucked misshapen candies from a conveyor belt, tossing them into a plastic hopper at his feet.
I found myself hoping the belt would accidentally speed up and force him to begin gobbling candy, Lucy-and-Ethel-style. Hawaiian poke is no longer served solely on the Big Island; Detroit-style pizza has migrated well beyond Eight Mile Road. Nashville hot chicken, East Harlem chopped-cheese sandwiches — we could go on. Why not salmiakki? We were eating bowls of salmon soup in the cafeteria of a different Fazer facility near Helsinki, a building whose curved glass walls and blond wood ceiling made it look like a U. He told me Fazer was planning to introduce a line of premium dark chocolate called Nordi in the United States next year and gave me a sneak preview of the bars.
The sleek packaging nodded toward chic, aspirational Scandinavian lifestyle trends, featuring scenes of Nordic splendor: pristine mountain rivers, the candied glow of smoke from a cozy sauna. I kept pushing on salmiakki. Secretly, I pictured a series of alternate sleeves for a Nordi brand of premium salty licorice, scenes that might reflect the darker side of Scandinavian culture, thus preparing potential buyers for what they might be getting into. A black-metal band burning down a church? Max von Sydow playing chess with Death? He shrugged. The worst licorice I tasted during my epic night with the Salmiakkikonklaavi turned out to be a candied heart.
It turned out to be the saltiest and most abrasive item on the menu, a flavor assault only heightened by the dissonance of the delivery mechanism.
Reijo Laine, the founder of Namitupa, the producer of the hearts, had recommended that I make a present of the candy to my wife. That had struck me as a poor idea. But back home, as I struggled to account for the appeal of salmiakki , I thought, again, about sisu. Was the defining Finnish attribute really as noble as Hudson Strode made it out to be? What if, in fact, it merely represented a national tendency toward masochism, some understandable but aberrant quality born of endless winter nights that wound up manifesting itself in a fanatical love of saunas and Turkish Peppers?
To pathologize such a love felt narrow-minded, unfair. So maybe the answer hinged on flipping the question. Forget about the salty-licorice countries for a moment: Why does salmiakki feel like such a category error to the rest of us? And was the answer to that question right in front of my face? Could one of the secrets to Finnish happiness simply come down to not always expecting hearts to be sweet? Dumping the bag of licorice onto my desk, I began to dig around, pushing aside a Super Salmiakki lollipop, a packet of Dracula Piller salmiakki with a creepy vampire mascot , a box of peppered salmiakki pellets actually called Sisu!
And what do you know? I mean, certainly no worse than any of the rest. I resealed the bag of hearts and replaced them in the shopping bag. Like any good immigrant, I know on which bodega shelves to find the food portals to my childhood. But the one food item I cannot find in San Francisco is the candy of my childhood. I grew, as we say in Colombia, a punta de Bon Bon Bum. In much of Latin America, the phrase has become shorthand to describe a body type big butt and skinny legs , and all lollipops, no matter the brand, are known as bon bon bums.
Shakira has been known to carry a few Bon Bon Bums at all times in her purse. At the start, 20 workers were responsible for the production of four million lollipops per month. Today, in that same factory, workers produce more than 40 times as many.
The first candy was a flat sucker made out of cane sugar and natural juices. My father liked them, but his absolute favorite was the caramel drop infused with Colombian coffee. For my older sister, Francis, the palm-sized plastic tray of chocolate-hazelnut and vanilla spreads was a necessity. She spent half an hour with the tiny spatula, meticulously eating and selectively mixing the halved creams. For my little cousins, the powdery marshmallows that looked like soft, pastel corkscrews were the most fun. They waved them in front of us like fishing poles until we caved and took a bite.
Colombina was born in the Cauca Valley, where the land is hot and humid. The air smells of sugar cane and pineapple, which grow abundantly in the region. The vision for Colombina came to the founder, Hernando Caicedo, in the s as he tended his small sugar-cane mill.
In Japan, the Kit Kat Isn’t Just a Chocolate. It’s an Obsession.
It was at this mill that the idea of candy with a tropical flair took hold. In just a few years, Caicedo rounded up the funds, readied a warehouse and traveled with a flat lollipop machine from the United States to the town of La Paila. The factory in La Paila has become perhaps the largest hard-candy plant in all of South America.
Two thousand three hundred people work there, and it is not uncommon to find families where three generations have worked on the factory floor. Colombina provides day care for its workers, offers student scholarships and even holds a national soccer tournament where, this year, 34, young players had the chance to be scouted by the professional clubs.
When the company bids the old year goodbye, it does so in a nearby coliseum, with the help of a salsa brass band, a generous spread of nourishments and refreshments and much dancing and revelry. A look inside the Colombina plant shows how this old-fashioned corporate philosophy extends to the factory floor. In part to keep more workers employed, many of the hard candies at Colombina are still mixed and prepared by hand. The large vats, where workers stir cane sugar until it boils and takes on a glowing amber color, date back to before Bon Bon Bums had been created, as do the iron caldrons where the fruit extracts and amber sugar combine into highly pigmented neon globs.
Workers in white aprons and brick-red rubber gloves hand-turn the candy — called caramelo at this stage — with long rods in order to cool them. The neon goo will be used to make Bon Bon Bums and Fruticas, candy drops sometimes shaped like hearts and lemons. Machines — a mix of old and new — take over once the caramelo has set. One of the new machines might churn out small armies of bright red gummy bears, injecting them with candied syrups and bathing them in hot chocolate that will dry into a soft shell in seconds.
This is the process for the Grissly ChocoSplash, a favorite among the workers on the factory floor. But even the old machines keeps precise, hypnotic movements, spitting out strings of molded candy at regular intervals. The candy fresh from one set of machines will then travel down moving belts, awaiting hand inspection. In gloves and protective glasses cinched over their hooded jumpsuits, workers add the final touches, discarding flawed specimens or steering the candies into the best position on the belt, almost ready to be packaged.
It had been 10 years since I last had a Bon Bon Bum. When I turned 24, I deemed I was too old for them. Recently, the hankering returned, and I deemed I was old enough to have them again. I scanned the bodega shelves in San Francisco one more time before placing an order online. We all have our rituals for consuming candy, but I had forgotten what ceremonies I performed when consuming a Bon Bon Bum.
Soon my mouth became full of familiars — the sweet and tart making my tongue surge, the accidental clack of the hard candy against the back of my teeth. I remembered that I used to try to make the orb perfectly round, sucking selectively, taking the Bon Bon Bum out to check my progress. I continued the old task, until the very first champagne-pink edges of the gum broke through the surface. Then, the sensation jolted childhood memories from me I did not know I still possessed. The ruby globe shrank and shrank until all that was left was the heart of gum. This was the metronome of our childhood.
Once the Bon Bon Bum was gone, we ironed out the wrapper, and I held onto one end and Francis held onto the other. We would make a wish, then pull. Whoever got the longer wrapper got the wish. I wished for peace on earth, the survival of all whales, my first kiss.
My first kiss came at night in the middle of the street. It was bookended by my taking a Bon Bon Bum out of my mouth and putting it back in. At slow hours, I held my Bon Bon Bum to the sun, watching the translucent red planet glow from within. There were air bubbles trapped inside, in the dazzling undersurface of the lollipop, which itself was striated like the radial veins of a banana leaf.
Nona pushed against the balled-up masa in her kitchen, and I on the floor used the slow and steady force of my tongue to eat away at the candy. He would stand with his rifle at the edge of the jungle and fire just once up at the sky toward the palm trees, just as my grandfather used to do. And then, in the startled silence after the shot, I would unwrap another Bon Bon Bum.
Christopher Payne is a photographer who specializes in architecture and American industry. Please upgrade your browser. Site Navigation Site Mobile Navigation.