Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

original

I’m deciding between the large cotton balls and the jumbo-size ones when I hear a woman an aisle or so over say, “Where are the turtles? They used to be here, but now they’re not.” She sounds a bit flustered, like she can’t believe that they’ve been moved under her watch.

Then I hear another woman say, “That’s what I’m looking for too.”

“Jeanette, Jeanette, where are those DeMet’s TURTLES?” I hear the first woman ask. A minute later I see a cashier leading the two candy seekers down the center aisle of the store. How many times does this woman come here to buy turtles anyway, I wonder, if she knows the cashier by name?

“They’re over here in the fancy candy department,” Jeanette says, pointing at the pretty display. “Fancy candy,” she mumbles, shaking her head and walking back to the register.

I decide to follow the two women, wanting to know what candies I’ve been missing. I love turtles, but I have never thought of pharmacies as the center of all things turtle.

The women shriek with joy as they find the hidden turtles. I’m surprised to see that CVS has distinguished between the have and the have-nots of the chocolate world. The trendy Ghirardelli and Lindor brands are displayed proudly at eye level. The DeMet’s have been relegated to the bottom shelf, so you have to bend down to get them. But they are on sale: two 7-ounce bags for $7.

“So these are the famous turtles?” I say to the women.

“Yes, yes,” they say to me and they each grab two bags. Then I reach for one. I have to see if they are really better than the average turtle.

A tall, angular woman appears from the shampoo aisle. “I overheard you all, and where are those turtles? I’ve got to try them.” She said it like she was missing the party and didn’t want to be left out. I liked her immediately.

At this point I’m practically laughing aloud at how one woman’s turtle quest is influencing the buying habits of what appear to be the only three other shoppers in the store. Jeanette, however, still does not appear to be impressed.

Back in my car, I rip open one of the miniature, individually wrapped turtle candies and eat one, then another.

Curious person that I am, I decide to check on the history of DeMet’s TURTLES, and Google the company on my phone. After all, there aren’t any famous candies named after lions, tigers or bears. I find out that TURTLE is a trademark of Johnson’s Candy Company, which became DeMet’s Candy Company in 1923. Turns out that these candies got their name in 1918, when a “dipper” commented to a salesman that they looked a lot like, yes, turtles. All these years I didn’t know that I wasn’t really eating TURTLES, only imitations.

I unwrap one last TURTLE. They are small, so I don’t feel too guilty. The heat from the sun envelops me and the pecans, caramel and chocolate melt in my mouth. “Soooo good,” I think.

And then I wonder, are they really that good, or is it the influence of a TURTLE-impassioned stranger?