"What?" my girlfriend said, flabbergasted. "Explain that again?"

"Okay. Let me see if I can break this down." I took a deep breath. "Okay, you know Hugs?"

"Yeah...."

"So, imagine Hugs."

"Okay."

"Now imagine that they replaced the brown part with red stuff. So instead of chocolate and... white stuff...."

"White chocolate?"

"Instead of chocolate and something disgusting that may be white chocolate but could just be 'white,' now it's... red something and white something. And, I think, it's mint-flavored."

"The red part, or the white part?"

"Probably the whole thing. And inside of that, there are crunchy pieces of candy cane."

"What?!"

"Like, hard peppermint candy bits. Mixed up in it."

"Why?"

"Let's not get into WHY. 'Why' is just going to take us to the crazy place. Maybe... there was an accident of some kind. So, they took the white part of the candy, colored some of it red, swirled it together, flavored it with mint, mixed in some other crushed candy, and... which is also mint... and then they called it STRIPES."

That's how the conversation went when I tried to convince my friend of what I had seen at the grocery store. Hershey's Stripes. They've since renamed it... well.

Someone clearly realized that "Stripes" was a ridiculous name for a piece of candy. First of all, it tells you nothing. Secondly, it just reminds me of Fruit Stripes gum, which is... not going in my mouth anyway and certainly not going in disguised as a Kiss. No way, nohow.

But they stuck to their guns as far as keeping the name confusing was concerned. The labels more or less call them something like "Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses," which is a reasonably inspired name, although it does seem to imply the presence of actual chocolate. Which is just cruel. Candy Warehouse, however, boldly says, "This holiday, be sure to bring home Hershey's Kisses Brand Candy Cane Mint Candies with Stripes and Candy Bits."

It also claims that the candy involves "a peppermint-flavored chocolate with red stripes." They have to know that they're riding straight for trouble with that one. Even if they can claim that the white stuff is white chocolate, how many millions of people insist that white chocolate is not chocolate, it's just cocoa butter? Rub it on your skin, maybe. It could make you minty and smooth. Hey - I bet those candy bits are really exfoliating! I think I could be on to something here. Maybe if I bought a bag, melted the candy down, and repackaged it as one of those massage bar things....

According to Slashfood, though, it's not bits of candy cane. It's tiny red nonpareils with "no discernible flavor of their own." That's... gross.

So wait. They already have mint chocolate Kisses. And then they wanted to make one that looked like a candy cane, and they had to toss out the actual chocolate aspect of the whole thing. That's... fine. I wouldn't do it, but it's fine. I like mint by itself. But when they could have crushed up something that actually tasted like mint, and instead they just tossed in some hardened sugar, they lost me. What is the point of just making it crunchy?

I want to see this as an ode to the candy cane. A tribute, if you will. Hershey's makes a semisoft candy, and this was the way that they felt they could best use that medium to... um... re-envision the traditional peppermint holiday sweet. It's like if someone was known for painting in poop, and they rendered the Mona Lisa in poop. Who am I to complain that their Mona Lisa smells funny? There's a history behind it! Hershey's has a history of using things that aren't food to, uh, in the pursuit of their weird artistic visions. Who am I to complain that they painted the candy cane (or, as one reviewer suggested, the peppermint bark) in poop?

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