I was at a flea market in Cape Cod with a good friend of mine this summer. We split up for a few minutes. Maybe I needed a pocketknife or something equally useless; she went to get a snack.
So she texts me…. “I just saw the funniest thing…” and I reply “What?” She says “Pic coming.”
So the picture arrives on my phone. It’s the snack counter. Jujubees. Starburst. Junior Mints. Sour Patch Kids. Twizzlers. The works, right? Fairly typical of your run of the mill flea market-slash-drive-in-theater. Not so fast….There is a handwritten sign in close proximity to the boxes of Mike and Ike that reads:
“Milk Duds available upon request.”
First of all, this is VERY funny. If you don’t think so, you shouldn’t continue reading. Go catch up on your back issues of Scientific American and Utne Reader.
Second of all, this raises many issues.
1. Is this a geographic phenomenon? Is there a malted milk emergency in eastern Massachusetts? Are Bostonians and their suburban counterparts obsessed with cheap chocolate surrounding blackboard chalk?
2. Is there a scientific correlation between flea markets and Milk Duds? Are those who seek to buy 10 pairs of scratchy socks for $8 somehow hardwired to cause a public ruckus due to the presence of chocolate balls?
3. Are the Milk Duds readily available at night, during the drive in? And if so, do they hide other sweets? Do movie goers have Twizzler cravings? Do guys named Ike clean out the candy counter because they feel they have not been properly compensated?
4. What would happen if the Milk Duds were out for all to see? It all comes back to the basic question: Why do you need to keep them BEHIND the counter? What has happened in the past that has resulted in such severe tactics? Has there been gang-related Milk Dud activity? Or if we put them out, do the terrorists win?
5. If they keep the Milk Duds in the same place as the Playboy magazines, do you really want to eat them?
So since that day I make a point to scour all the candy counters I pass. Are there Milk Duds? What else is missing? I don’t have a sweet tooth (though I can suck down a big bag of Twizzlers pretty quickly. But not the chocolate ones. That’s just plain gross.)
And, don’t you know it, on occasion, the Milk Duds are missing. But there has yet to be (another) sign that you must ask nicely (say the “Magic Word”) to acquire said Duds.
So while this is not a matter of national security, as far as we know at least, I would like you to join The Great Milk Dud Caper. I have trouble letting things go, but please amuse me here, as I try to solve the Milk Dud Conundrum. Scour your local candy counter. Ask the movie theater clerk about candy trends. Hang back and observe at flea markets. Use the word “milk” in casual conversation. Note the reaction. Ratchet it up to “dud” or, if you’re really confident just blurt out “Milk Duds” and observe. Join the fight for answers. Join our quest. Free the Milk Duds!