The other day some comment by a passerby triggered some nostalgic memory long buried under layers of work, relationships, one bout of strep throat, and three seasons of Lost. That memory was that of the Summit candy bar.
Many of you may not remember the Summit bar. In all actuality, I don’t, either. I vaguely recall it being somewhat peanut-butterish in nature, wrapped in chocolate and perhaps chopped nuts, though to be perfectly honest it could just as easily be nougat, kitten fur, and cabernet-flavored licorice bits. But I do remember, rather vividly, that this was the candy bar that, as a child, I often craved, begged for, and demanded upon completion of significant childhood tasks, such as raking leaves or not letting the dog eat raw hamburger out of the kitchen crisper drawer.
I remember the wrapped being navy bluish with a graphical depiction of a sunrise on it, the “Summit” part of the name being more along the lines of a beautiful theoretic act of nature and not of the Reykjavik variety. Again, this could be the altered logical conclusion of my rose-colored hindsight, and the wrapped could just as easily been a surrealist collection of migrant workers and swastikas as far as I know. But like most things with my memory I tend to block out the stuff that I dislike and glorify those that I love, which would explain why peanut butter is so prominent in my memory and nougat not so much so.
So, like most things, the vague thought of something I haven’t eaten in probably twenty years or so forced me to dedicate about four minutes of my life determining how to procure a Summit candy bar, a quest of glory no doubt unrivalled since the race to discover cold fusion or a contented female. I assumed its existence was regional and, just like the Boo Berry cartel set up in the former Confederate states, a kindly gentleman of a tender nature would supply me with a humble package of wistfulness for a nominal fee.
About three minutes into my four-minute devotional however, I was let to an unsettling and painful realization—the Summit candy bar was no longer in production. A rather alarmingly comprehensive list of discontinued candy bars put my perspective in black and white—the Summit Bar was no longer in print, as it were. In addition, other fondly remembered confections are no longer in existence except through the remembered mirror of progressive age, such as the Bar None candy bar, a product that I believe is the only one that is less kosher than divine, and the oft-forgotten PBMax bar, a treat I’m pretty sure never quite lived up to its name of colon rupture due to the maximum amount of artificial peanut flavoring it delivered into my system. (I was also pleased to learn that the Powerhouse bar is gone forever, in what may be a misplaced sense of justice; I am 90% certain this was a bar covered with that Communist invention of white chocolate, but my memory isn’t clear enough to make it a certainty. Still, guilt by association isn’t entirely unjustified in many cases.)
The worst part of it, though, is that I was also introduced to some other candy bars that are no longer in production that I was unaware of, and do not even have the benefit of a unclearly recalled childhood memory to claim a bastardization of. There’s the mysteriously named Cherry Hump, something no doubt is best left remembered either as clear as a bell or not at all. There’s Lifesavers Tangerine and Clove flavor, a combination I have a feeling was cooked up after the marketing department tried a combination of Lifesavers Cannabis and PCP flavor. Apparently there at one point was a Reese’s Chunky Peanut Butter Cup line, a product I equate with cultural significance somewhere between the Ark of the Covenant and the finale of M*A*S*H. There’s the Denver Sandwich bar, a rather confusingly named item I can only assume is the world’s only candy bar with egg, ham, and cheese flavoring. The Jingles Candy bar was apparently the pioneer in a generally accepted candy marketing rule of never naming a candy bar after something that could either be the name of a clown or a monkey. And, of course, there is the Yoo-Hoo chocolate bar, which either was the single greatest candy bar ever, or the single worst candy bar ever. We will never know, now.
It’s kind of a discouraging statistic that 99% or so of all new candy bars are rejected by the marketplace, and even most of those that succeed are simply variations of candy already established. There’s only so many ways that peanut butter, chocolate, nuts, nougat, and caramel can be combined, solidified, chopped up, and then given an absurd name unrelated to their content or taste. Still, one hopes for improvement. Perhaps tomorrow there will be that revolutionary candy that I will eventually forget, fondly remember, and distort its attributes decades from now, much like I do with sitcoms and ex-girlfriends. If it works for them, I don’t see why it can’t for me.