Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Another one bites the dust

It seems as if every time I fall in love with a food item, I jinx it.

I swear, the minute I say something like, “I just LOVE chocolate-covered Winky Blinkies!” you can bet that within a week, the company that produces Winky Blinkies either will cease production, file for bankruptcy or be struck by a meteor. And inevitably, this will send me on statewide search that ends up costing me about $500 in gas, just so I can stockpile as many of the last remaining Winky Blinkies as I can get my paws on.

Recently, I have had a sinking feeling that another one of my favorites, fresh-mint Skittles, also is about to bite the dust.

I first bought them about six months ago because I thought the little plastic flip-top container they came in was pretty nifty. Little did I know that the moment I popped that first spearminty Skittle into my mouth, I would be hooked. You see, these weren’t ordinary mints. These were shaped like M&Ms, with chewy, jelly-bean-like spearmint centers. I emptied the entire container in one sitting. I had to have more.

I got into the habit of buying five or six containers of fresh-mint Skittles every time I went into my local pharmacy. They were $1.19 there, as opposed to only 99 cents at the supermarkets, but I didn’t care. I figured that the money I saved on gas by traveling only three miles instead of 12, evened things out.

Throughout the day, I chewed on Skittles. I could feel the fillings loosening in my teeth and cavities popping up like gopher holes, but still I chewed.

Then I made the mistake of sharing my Skittles with my mother and my husband. They also became hooked. The three of us were like Skittles junkies, carrying them with us wherever we went. At first, we’d eat only one Skittle at a time, but soon, we were stuffing our mouths with five or six to get a bigger rush of flavor. There were times when I couldn’t even talk because my teeth were stuck together with a giant Skittles blob.

Then, a few weeks ago, the inevitable happened.

“We don’t have them any more,” the clerk in the pharmacy said to me the minute I set foot in the door.

My eyes widened and I stopped dead. “Don’t have what?” I asked, even though I already knew what he was going to say. After all, he’d rung up about 90 percent of my purchases and even had hinted that I might benefit from a stint at the Betty Ford Clinic to try to shake my Skittles dependency.

“The spearmint Skittles,” he said. “I think the company’s stopped making them. We still have the fruit-flavored and sour ones, though.”

My heart began to pound. “But I don’t want the fruit-flavored or sour ones!” I said, my voice coming out in a whine. “I want the fresh-mint ones!”

He shrugged. “Sorry.”

So I drove to the nearest supermarket and bought all of the fresh-mint Skittles they had. The supermarket never restocked. I cleaned out the supply in another supermarket. They never restocked either. I was becoming desperate.

A few weeks later, I received a call from my mother. Her tone was undeniably excited. “Guess what! They have our Skittles at the Dollar Tree store! And they’re TWO for a dollar!”

At first, I thought her words were cause for a “break out the champagne” celebration, but then I realized what they actually meant. If the Skittles were being sold at a discount store and no longer at regular retail stores, then their days were numbered. I rushed over to Dollar Tree and stocked up.

If I’d have been smart, I would have rationed them, eating only a few a day as a special treat and making them last for as long as possible. But instead, I ate two or three containers a day and acted as if I were trying to fatten up my body for hibernation.

And to make matters worse, my mother broke our sacred Skittles vow and shared some of the tasty treats with her friends…who also are trying to buy them now, adding to the competition.

So I did a search on my computer the other day and found a place that will sell me 16 packs of spearmint Skittles for “only” $25 plus $7 for shipping. That averages out to $2 per pack. And seeing that I need about 500 packs just to get me through the next month or two, I may have to go to the bank and take out a personal loan.

Either that, or I can hit up my dentist, Attila the Driller, for part of the money. I’m sure he’d consider it to be a good investment.

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