Tuesday, April 18, 2006

An Alternative to the Big Mac Index

Question: Is the quality of a country’s candy indicative of its economic greatness and the happiness of its people?

All together now: the answer is yes.

You see, the Moko has visited a fair share of countries, and has made a significant effort to do as much in situ research as possible with respect to candy quality. I’ve squatted in the dirt in Portugal with candy-hunting wild pigs; hid amidst schoolchildren during a chocolate factory tour in Switzerland; and spent my last dirham in Morocco on an ice cream. (FYI, the latter was a bad idea because a scoop of ice cream, while filling, will not hold you over for 24 hours while you try to convince your bastard (ex)boyfriend to lend you 50 cents so that you can buy breakfast.)

Anyway, it pretty much comes down to this:

• In the underdeveloped world, one can easily find delicious and traditional pastries, but little indigenous candy production.
• In the developing world, you get the traditional pastries of the 3rd world, plus some indigenous mints and suckers.
• And in the industrialized world, you get it all, minus maybe the nobility and pride that went into the 3rd world traditional pastries.

An interesting case: South Africa. A totally fascinating, wonderful, and depressing place to see, as the 1st and 3rd worlds exist within a few minutes of each other in places like Cape Town. In the city supermarkets one can easily find the big name candy and chocolates from American and European makers, plus some branded-for-South Africa sweets.

The pride and joy of the local scene are Endearments, which are 3,000x better than mint/white-flavor Mentos, but packaged to look as unexciting as Brach’s Star Brites, the most boring candy ever™. They’re made by multinational Cadbury Schweppes, but as far as I can tell, are only marketed in South Africa. Prove me wrong if you’ve got an hour to waste on the Cadbury candy calculator, but I tried the UK, Jordan, and New Zealand and was told Endearmints were nonexistent there. And I mean, if a candy’s not in Jordan, it’s not going to be anywhere.


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