Growing up in the middle of nowheresville, dark chocolate was a nonexistent entity — except for Halloween. My grandmother always bought at least one bag of the mini Hershey’s bars to pass out and those, of course, included the Special Dark. I’m pretty sure that most people thought there was something wrong with them. I certainly never had any competition for them. Even with no point of reference, I knew that the bitter, (slightly) more complex taste was somehow better than that milky stuff. I never ever saw a Special Dark bar not in the mini-size and kind of hope not to.
Candy is so important when you’re a kid. The best reward, the unfailing sugar high, part of its own complex bartering system for good behavior and favors from siblings.
Anyway, this year for Halloween, we picked up a bag of the Hershey’s. I’ve been successfully picking out most of the Special Darks (Christopher has the same taste for them, it seems) — and, no, they aren’t great as chocolate, but they are wonderful as nostalgia. They completely live up to the memory. The taste is still complicated, but not very. If this were a secret agent, it’d be a standard Mr. Grey, not a glamorous Valerie Plame.
Consider this an ode.