It’s back to school time again, and you know what that means! Nerds!
Not my intellectually curious brethren (copy editor pride, yo), but the Willy Wonka candy staple. I’ve been hooked since I bought my first box at a convenience store near my Winnipeg elementary school. I still occasionally buy them when I need a pick-me-up, or when I feel particularly nostalgic.
Why do I love them? Let me count the ways:
Simple flavours: This package contains both strawberry and grape flavours, both of which are artificial and tangy. The strawberry is more tart than other strawberry candies, and has a distinct flavour beyond the stock artificial strawberry notes. The grape flavour is like a sour version of grape Dimetapp, a taste I knew well as a kid. They’re not fancy, but they’re good, and have a unique, memorable flavour.
They look awesome: Like shiny little nuggets of coloured sugar, glommed together in meta-nerds of various shapes and sizes. Sometimes they’re tiny, and sometimes they’re almost too big to get out of the box. A bite-sized treat? Yes, indeed.
The pairing: Each package contains two flavours, which presents some interesting options. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a box with two flavours you love. Otherwise, you’re stuck choosing the box with the most agreeable also-ran flavour. A box with two decent flavours can beat a box with one great flavour and one meh flavour. Why? Because you’re going to have to eat both compartments, so you’d might as well find both palatable. There are life lessons here.
The unique packaging: Sure, it often hardly works, especially when glue gets into spots where it shouldn’t, but the Nerds packaging has become candy-shop iconic. Each cardboard box has two compartments, each one of which has a sliding opening flap that extends outside the box to open and close the hole that provides access to the candy inside. The downside? I nearly had to rip open the box to get it open, a not-uncommon problem. But it really is a unique bit of industrial design, more whimsical than reliably functional. Having to slide the paper flaps open so you can pour out the Nerds makes for a brilliant user experience.
Yin-yang: In every compartment, a Nerd of the other flavour is invariably present. Draw your own deep philosophical conclusions.
RATINGS AND DETAILS
Cost: About $1 at Toys R Us (I think).
Value for cash money: Great.
Availability: Convenience stores, candy shops, grocery stores and pharmacies. Varieties are not always plentiful, but chances are good you’ll find one two-flavour box hanging out on the candy rack.
Nutrition?: Per 15 mL (15 grams): 60 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 mg of sodium, 0 grams of fibre, 0 grams of protein.
The verdict: So good. Seek them out for retro fun-times.