Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Princess of CandyZonia

The only entertaining thing about spring cleaning is that I tend to find things that have been lying around forgotten for years.

Last week, I came across a manila envelope that contained a fairy tale I’d written back when I was about 14. I still can remember the day I wrote it. I’d just returned from my annual dental checkup …and the dentist had found 11 cavities. Had I just been given the death sentence, I couldn’t have felt more miserable.

So here is the story, just as I wrote it.


Once upon a time in a kingdom called CandyZonia, there lived a young princess named Caramel Almond Nougat Doublemint York (Princess C.A.N.D.Y. for short).

The unusual thing about the kingdom of CandyZonia was that the people who lived behind its great walls ate nothing but candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For breakfast, they ate big bowls of jelly beans instead of cereal. For lunch, they feasted on candy-bar sandwiches instead of ham and cheese or tuna. And for dinner, when most kids in other parts of the world were eating mashed potatoes, chicken and peas, the kids in CandyZonia were dining on fudge, marshmallow Peeps and green M&Ms.

Growing up, Princess Candy hadn’t minded eating only candy for every meal. In fact, she thought she had to be the luckiest girl on earth. There was no disgusting liver or broccoli to choke down, no threats from her mother, Queen Good ’n Plenty, to eat all of her Brussels sprouts or she’d have no dessert. Life was just one big dessert every day in CandyZonia.

But then one day, Princess Candy was invited by her father, King Raisinets, to accompany him on a trip to another kingdom called Healthytopia, many miles away.

Healthytopia was a shocking place for Princess Candy to see. All of the women there were thin with smooth skin, pink cheeks and pure white teeth. They drank juices squeezed from fruits and ate greens that sprouted from the ground. The men were muscular with flat stomachs and liked to lift things a lot, even when there seemed to be no reason to lift them.

Princess Candy stared at her reflection in the looking glass for a long time that night. Her face was as round as a plate, her skin was dotted with blemishes, and her teeth were full of holes. And her figure! Suddenly she realized why her father affectionately had nicknamed her “Princess Tootsie Rolls.” She did not look anything like the girls her age in Healthytopia…and this disturbed her.

“Father,” she said to the king, “do you think I am pretty?”

“Of course I do!” King Raisnets flashed a toothless smile at her and moved to slip his pudgy arm around her shoulder. “You are the loveliest young woman in the land. And one day soon, you will marry a prince who is as handsome as you are pretty.”

“You mean a prince who looks like the men in Healthytopia?” she asked.

“No, silly girl, one who looks like me!”

A month later, Princess Candy ran away to Healthytopia. There, she learned the ways of its people. She ate salads, apples and fresh fish. She worked hard toiling in the gardens and orchards. She made frequent visits to the village dentist, who miraculously filled the holes in her teeth and gave her a brilliant white smile. Her skin cleared and her cheeks glowed. Her figure slimmed and her rolls of fat disappeared. Soon, she looked just like all of the other lovely young women in Healthytopia.

“I am going to return to my kingdom now and teach my people how to live as your people live,” Princess Candy announced to the Healthytopians one day. “I shall miss all of you deeply, but I shall never forget you.”

Upon her return to CandyZonia, Princess Candy was not recognized by anyone there, not even her parents.

“What on earth have they done to you?” King Raisinets asked. “You look terrible! Were you held captive? Did they starve you? I shall go there and have all of them beheaded!”

“No, Father,” the princess said. “I have been learning the ways of the Healthytopians. And I intend to teach them to the people of our kingdom.”

“There is no time to discuss such nonsense right now,” the king said. “There is a prince here who eagerly has been awaiting your return. His intent is to make you his bride.”

Before Princess Candy could comment, a tall, dark-haired young man with deep brown eyes and brown velvet clothing entered the room. He approached her, made a sweeping bow, then took her hand into his and placed a kiss on the back of it.

The first thing Princess Candy noticed about the prince was his scent. It was absolutely heavenly. In fact, it made her mouth water.

“Allow me to introduce myself,” the prince said. “I am Prince Hershey. I wish for you to become my wife and return to Pennsylvania with me where together, we shall rule my kingdom and feast on mountains of delicious chocolate every day.”

Princess Candy accepted his proposal so fast, she surprised even herself. “To heck with the ways of the Healthytopians!” she shouted as she and the prince headed hand in hand out of the castle door. “Let them graze like cows! Long live chocolate!”

And she and Prince Hershey lived very happily (plumply and toothlessly) ever after.