I was nine or ten years old when my addiction began. My dealer: a strict, devastatingly sophisticated, Russian ballet teacher who walked with grace and commanded obedience in ever glance.
The candy was a break, a treat, a reward for finishing a particularly grueling set of exercises or mastering complex choreography.
Sometimes they were gummy bears. Sometimes they were jelly beans. I preferred the gummy bears, specifically the white ones. I think they taste like pineapple.
“You can take one,” she told us, subtly reinforcing the idea that sweets should be consumed in moderation.
One!? I didn’t want one! I wanted a fistful.
When I was old enough to buy the 99 cent bags myself, I would gorge sometimes. I could eat half a bag before my stomach would protest. But so often though those gummies would be stale. Seriously, it was like I was the only person who bought gummy bears from the drug store.
But not in Germany. No siree. Germany is where gummy bears come from. Haribo, the company which makes the original gummy bear (and the only one that matters), was born in a suburb of Bonn.
My cousin Grace spent a semester there. I am surprised she made it out alive.
I allowed myself to indulge during the few weeks we spent in Germany, buying two bags at a time of the freshest gummy bears in the world.