How to Pair Halloween Candy With Roman History This October
Yes, I am aware that it is only September. And yet the local grocery and drug stores have suggested to me that I already need to be buying Halloween candy. That is why I am taking it upon myself to explain how to be a bit more erudite in your candy selection this year by choosing candies that correspond with Roman historical figures.
Rolos finished off with Lemoncello Almonds paired with the emperor Tiberius (r.14-37): As everyone should recognize, Rolos are an under-appreciated yet effective chocolate and caramel candy that has not been adequately written upon by modern candy critics. This is, well, a lot like the Roman emperor Tiberius, who sadly had to follow on the heels of the celebrated princeps Augustus (r.31 BCE-14 CE). People often give Tiberius a lot of crap, but he was really not that bad and, after all, he was forced to divorce a wife he really loved in order to marry his stepsister. After eating some Rolos and reading about Tiberius in the more positive light transmitted by the historian Velleius Paterculus, switch to some delicious Lemoncello almonds. Lemoncello is the official drink of the island of Capri, where Tiberius would retire to after a little over a decade of ruling in the city of Rome. You deserve a self-imposed almond exile on a Mediterranean island! You earned it. Just remember not to leave an tyrannical intern to rule over the office when you close the door to binge quietly on these yummy candies.
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If manna had tasted like Lemoncello white chocolate-covered almonds from Costco, the children of Israel may never have reached Canaan. #Yum
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups paired with the emperor Constantine (r.306-337): Much like the fourth century Roman emperor, this candy has had a long reign and fought hard to get to the top of the hierarchy of Halloween candies. Although there is no word on whether Reese’s Cups similarly killed their son for having an alleged affair with his second wife, the Reese’s Cup has killed off a number of unsuccessful versions over the years (hazelnut, marshmallow, and crunchy peanut butter) that could not compare to the original. Whether frozen or not, the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup has lasted because it is able to be many things to many people. Much like Constantine, it is perhaps more celebrated than it actually should be considering there are so many other delicious peanut butter and chocolate candies. Its iconic nature has grown to such an extent that you can no longer assault it in front of friends and family without people shouting you down, but you know deep down it is a little over-hyped.
Candy Corn paired with Claudius (r.41-54): Candy corn is never the first choice for Halloween candy and yet it is always there for you, hoping to be chosen and always being overlooked. It doesn’t really change but will do in a pinch, much like the emperor Claudius. This candy is best enjoyed after eating a large plate of mushrooms while huddled behind a curtain and watching I, Claudius on your iPad.
Poisoned Apples paired with Livia (58 BCE-29 CE): Long before Snow White got a poisoned apple from her stepmother, there was the ultimate evil step-mom: Livia. I have never fully believed that she did as many nefarious things as male ancient historians like Suetonius would accuse her of, but there is no doubt that Livia was a woman packaged as wholesome fruit with a cold-hard (and sometimes deadly) core.
Banana Laffy Taffy paired with Caligula (r.37-41): Much like Caligula himself, this candy was a mistake. We thought it would be okay but then things took a turn and now we really just regret ever having chosen it. But, let’s face it, you probably won’t learn your lesson about the evils of banana flavoring after eating this Laffy Taffy and thus will have some banana Runts while pondering the last Julio-Claudian emperor, Nero. Then maybe you will learn your lesson about all banana candies: they are just never going to work out well and are nothing like a real banana (=Augustus), you guys. But we all have to learn from mistakes.
Toothbrush and Toothpaste paired with Nerva (r.96-98 CE): Look, it may not be the most popular thing to get in your Halloween bag, but it is certainly necessary after a lot of corrupting sugar and evil (i.e. Domitian). Similarly, the emperor Nerva came in after the turmoil of the last Flavian emperor and set things right for the next century or so. The old senator would usher in the golden age of Rome under the Nerva-Antonine dynasty of the second century CE. Nerva cleaned out a lot of cavities and addressed some serious plaque in the Roman empire. He set a good example carried forward by his successor, Trajan.
Not eating candy paired with Saint Anthony (ca.251-356 ) and, like, all the male and female monks of the late Roman Empire: Want to turn off your porch lights and abstain from eating candy altogether? Clearly you are better than the rest of us and just want to show all of us you are closer to God because you have no sugar in your diet. Fine. Congrats on your self control. You are definitely gonna like reading the life of Saint Anthony, who kicked off the monastic movement by becoming an ascetic hermit that retired to a cave in the Egyptian desert. Everyone else will be in awe of your ability not to eat sweets as you read an account of his life, but you are totally gonna miss out on a lot of parties in doing so. Sure, you will probably outlive us all, but will have never indulged in the majestic full-sized Snickers bar or even a single Junior Mint.
These are just a few fine pairings I would suggest in the Halloween month that is about to descend upon us. If you need me, I will be in my office secretly eating Twix Bars and reading about Romulus and Remus.