Nightmare on Gourmet Street

Celebrated chefs and food experts confess their secret, sugar-riddled Halloween candy cravings

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Chefs dressed in their whites and apron cut imposing figures as they glide through restaurant dining areas. They happily talk about complex cooking techniques, wine pairing, and heirloom ingredients. We naturally assume these culinary professionals have much higher food standards than mere munching mortals. 

However, at least when it comes to candy, that ain’t necessarily so. We recently asked local chefs, bakers, and food professionals share their Halloween candy memories and whether they still craved those commercial sweets. Their candy confessions and rants reveal that at least some culinary pros still have the taste buds of a nine-year-old kid. 

Jeff Osaka, chef/owner, Empire Restaurant and Lounge, Louisville (and Sushi-Rama and Osaka Ramen restaurants)

“I love candy. I have such a sweet tooth. Growing up in South Los Angeles 90 percent of the houses in the neighborhood had their lights on and we had those lousy flammable costumes. I liked candy corn and Sweet Tarts. I’m a fan of peanut butter so I liked Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups—the big ones. My taste hasn’t changed that much. It’s a little embarrassing. If I snack now, it’s on Sour Patch Kids, gummy bears or Swedish Fish.”

Aaron Lande, chef/caterer, Boulder

“I was and still am partial to Swedish Fish and other red gummy stuff. I never understood why there were green ones. Lime gummies are awful and only used to punish children. I’m also a big fan of Nestle Crunch bars. Candy corn? What the !@#$? You made candy to look like a vegetable? To the guy who used to give us apples on Halloween: What’s wrong with you?!? You think it’s funny to make little kids cry?” 

Janet Johnston, Co-Founder Savory Spice Shops

“My favorite candy during Halloween was and still is candy corn. When I was young, I very carefully bit each colored section off one at a time. First the white tip, then the orange and then I would leave the yellow part until I had a whole pile of what looked like real corn kernels. Worst candy to get? Peppermint LifeSavers. They couldn’t be candy if Mom always had them in her purse!” 

Rob Corey, Seasoned—An American Bistro, Estes Park

“I craved, desired, and secreted away in several hiding spots, all the candies, any candies. Sugar was my super hero drug. When it wasn’t Halloween, Twinkies were the sought-after substitute. Fast forward several decades and I only crave organic dried mangoes.” 

Dakota Soifer, chef/owner, Cafe Aion and Brasserie Boulder: “Growing up in rural Maine with healthy hippie parents, Halloween candies were not a part of my childhood. We didn’t even go trick or treating. Now, I just loot my daughter’s candy stash (3 Musketeers!). However, as she’s a teenager and too cool for trick or treating, I don’t really get any. I could go to the store and buy myself candy. That would be kinda sad, right?”

John Hinman, owner, Hinman Pies, Denver

“Growing up in Rome, New York, we would always haul in a pillow case and half of candy on Halloween. We even went back to the same houses twice. My favorites were tart and sweet – Bottle Caps, Lik-M-Aid and Smarties. I wasn’t into chocolate so much, except for Tootsie Rolls and 3 Musketeers. I’m still good for a bag of Sour Patch Kids a week.” 

Ian Kleinman, Inventing Room Dessert Shop, Denver

“I have a sweet tooth that rivals small children so there is not a candy I won’t try and enjoy. Halloween was the only holiday when my addiction was okay. My least favorite candies are hard candies like Jolly Ranchers—they take way too long to eat. I have to keep the candy intake timing on high for maximum enjoyment.” 

Nancy Coppom, interim director, Boulder Farmers Market

“My favorite candy by far was a 3 Musketeers bar – that light fluffy filling covered in milk chocolate. Candy corn was also very welcome. I can still picture the glass candy jar that held those tri-colored bites of deliciousness! I was always trying to decide which color of the ‘corn’ tasted the best!” 

Alec Schuler, Chef-owner, Tangerine Restaurants “In the days of yore, I would say Snickers was my favorite. This may be dull, but here’s my truth: I no longer eat candy—not since the early 1990’s. I removed it from my desire and memories. I especially did not like hard candy. Something about sucking on sugar for so long seemed not good for my teeth.”

Ted Steen, co-founder, Pastaficio, Boulder

“Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Snickers were my favorites. I did not like Almond Joy at all and would pass them to my dad. My taste buds have evolved to appreciate less artificial and processed flavors. Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups and Tony’s Chocolonely have become new favorites.”

Local food news

Boulder’s Frescos took first place from the judges at Naturally Boulder’s Pitch Slam Shark Tank-style event on October 21. The company will receive extensive support to take their refreshing Guatemalan-inspired soft drinks to a national audience . . . The eateries formerly located at University Avenue and Broadway are starting to reappear. Tra Lings and You and Mee have relocated to 2850 Iris Avenue in the mall. Formosa Bakery & Kitchen has reopened at 4920 Pearl St., Unit C. Takeout and delivery with online ordering will be available. 

Words to chew on

“You can’t have a proper funeral without food. When someone dies, the food, the spread, the feast has to be right so people will say, ‘She had a proper send-off.’ Otherwise, they’ll talk bad about it.”—Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor, culinary anthropologist

John Lehndorff likes Payday, NECCO Wafers, Skybar, Jujyfruits, Goetze’s Caramel Creams, Junior Mints, British Smarties and Sugar Babies. He host Radio Nibbles at 8:20 a.m. on KGNU (kgnu.org)