In Holiday Guide

Even candy canes these days aren't just peppermint anymore. (PHOTO: Neven Krcmarek/Unsplash)

6 holiday treats that bring on the nostalgia

The holidays are a time for treats, whether it be Christmas cookies, eggnog or candy canes. Everyone has a favorite item in which to indulge, and there are many traditions that seems to be as enduring as time itself.

But there are also other holiday treats that seem to come and go with the trends. Take, for instance, the white chocolate peppermint bark that's become so ubiquitous around the holidays. Or how about the holiday lattes – in flavors like gingerbread, eggnog and peppermint – which now show up on every coffee shop menu? Even candy canes – as common as they still are – now come in countless flavors other than traditional peppermint.

It also seems that, as we adopt newfound favorite items, there are bound to be others that fall by the wayside. For me, there are at least six treats which I grew up eating, but that I probably haven't purchased, or been gifted, in at least a decade.

1. Royal Dansk Danish Butter Cookies

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This is how we know #christmasiscoming 😍😍 my ultimate favourite! #danishbuttercookies #dabomb

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I remember a time when it just wasn't Christmas without a tin of Royal Dansk cookies (and a time when everyone's closet was filled with at least one or two recycled tins storing sewing supplies). My grandmother always seemed to have one around during the holidays (and for months thereafter), so a trip to her house was always a treat. We always argued about which cookies tasted better … the vanilla rings? The pretzel cookies with the crystallized sugar? We'd fight over the shapelier cookies and leave the plain ones for the adults.

I'm actually a bit surprised they're not more popular these days. After all (maybe a little known fact), despite their buttery flavor, they're actually vegan.

2. Giant popcorn tins

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You know it's the holidays when... #popcorntin #holidaycheer

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Do you recall heyday of the gigantic popcorn tin? The tins were fun and fancy and usually as big as a small child. And the best of them were filled with a combination of plain, cheddar and caramel popcorn. In fact, I distinctly recall the magic of "discovering" how to eat both the cheddar and caramel popcorn together to create a sweet and salty treat. I also recall people who collected the tins, sometimes re-using them as bins for holiday cookies, festive trash cans or containers for ornament storage.

In my case, the tins were eventually overshadowed by my craving for "Moose Munch," the Harry & David specialty featuring caramel, milk and dark chocolate popcorn. Speaking of things you don't see … when's the last time you got a gift basket from Harry & David?

3. Old fashioned ribbon candy

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Christmas Decorating #oldtimechristmas #ribboncandy #childhoodmemories

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Talk about something that's been around forever! Ribbon candy was a staple in my childhood. It showed up in candy dishes at my grandmother's house (yes, it seems candy dishes have gone away too) as well as in gift tins often given to my parents' over the holidays. I'll be honest, I don't remember ever really liking it, but it contained sugar so we all ate it just the same.

4. Whitman's Sampler

Ah, the Whitman's Sampler. They're still around. But when's the last time you were gifted one? For the better part of 20 years I received one – without fail every Christmas – from my Uncle Jack in Georgia. I recall being allowed to eat one chocolate per day (almost like an advent tradition) after dinner. I was smart and I always studied the map in the chocolate box so that I could save the best flavors for last (the boring little chocolate stamped with the photo of the Whitman's delivery guy got eaten first, natch).

I didn't realize it until writing this article; but there is apparently now a gigantic sampler featuring 84 different pieces of chocolate candy ... and an all dark chocolate sampler, as well. Mind blown.

5. Chocolate oranges

I can't recall when, but sometime in the 1990s everyone went nuts for the chocolate orange. The oranges were special because they only appeared during the holidays, and smashing them seemed to bring everyone a bit of holiday stress relieving joy (the theme of their commercials was "Whack & Unwrap"). The brand of the day (if I remember correctly) was Tobler, a company which seems to have since given up its chocolate orange biz. These days you can still find them made by Terry's, a company established in York, England, which launched (potentially the first) chocolate orange in 1932. There are also newer versions made by Brachs and Trader Joe's.

6. Spiced gum drops

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Oh what fun!! #gumdrops #candies #sweet #toothache 😂 #remindsmeofmygrandma #remindsmeofchildhood #fun #colors

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Gum drops are still alive and well. But these days they come in silly fruity flavors like orange, lemon, lime and pineapple. But I can't be alone in remembering a time when all gum drops came in spicy flavors like clove (orange), allspice (yellow), cinnamon (red), spearmint (green), anise (purple), wintergreen or peppermint (white) and licorice (black). I recall that my great grandmother kept a bowl of them next to her chair. I was a pretty big fan of the black ones, even as a child; but I usually snuck the white ones instead, since they didn't leave the telltale purple stain on my tongue.


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