Ah, the diversity of the candy necklace—part snack, part plaything. Its multifaceted qualities make it as popular with kids as peanut butter (also known to youngsters as a quick-drying spackling compound or hair gel for unsuspecting younger siblings).
Recently, while considering the seemingly perennial allure of the candy necklace, I began to wonder if there wasn´t something more to them than meets the eye. Is there some indefinable quality that extends beyond the novelty of portable food made up of dozens of nectar-sweet, donut-shaped beads threaded through a stretchy white string? After careful consideration, I believe there is.
It´s a phenomenon I refer to as the “Punishment Prevention Polka.”
Quite simply, candy necklaces allow kids to dance around every centuries´ old culinary commandment discharged by a parent since Moses and his brethren discovered their progeny eating manna with their fingers (and wiping their mouths on their clean t-shirts afterwards, too).
Parent: "Quit playing with your food."
Child: C´mon Mom. It´s candy. It´s a necklace. It´s two forms of amusement in one. There isn´t a kid out there who wouldn´t whip it around their neck like a ring toss game at the county fair.
Parent: "Take that thing out of your mouth, you don´t know where it´s been."
Child: Actually, I DO know where it´s been--around my neck. Can´t you tell from the sticky black ring of dirt that orbits my throat, which was brought about by the necklace´s spit-drenched string?
Parent: "Remove that from your mouth before you choke on it."
Child: Well, where else would I put it? Besides, it could not possibly pose a choking hazard, since it´s attached to my body by this incredibly durable length of thin stretchy elastic string.
Parent: "You can´t eat that until you´ve washed your hands."
Child: Actually, I can. All it takes is a certain adeptness of neck and chin muscles, a little jaw stretch and the ingenuity to reach down with my tongue and lower lip and jack the thing directly into my mouth without once having to touch it.
Parent: "Chew with your mouth shut"
Child: Out of the question. In fact, it doesn´t matter what the food, it is simply not possible to chew quietly and politely until I am at least 14 years of age. You really do ask too much.
Call me crazy, but I swear that´s part of the appeal. At least it was when I was a kid.