First rain in Sunday February 14, 2021 editions of The Times and The News Star.
(Psst… Hey, my man… Today is Valentine’s Day, and if you’ve forgotten maybe you can hustle to Circle K and get a candle or a couple of Milky Ways before she wakes up…)
Better Homes & Gardens told me this week that Valentine’s Day is all about the candy, that “Americans will spend a whopping $2.4 billion” this month so that—I think my math’s close here—our sweethearts will gain a collective 8.7 trillion pounds, give or take a Hershey Kiss.
Sweets for the sweet.
Also “the candy experts” at CandyStore.com studied a dozen years of data to find out the most popular Valentine’s Day candy in each state. In Louisiana, the dependable M&Ms were third, Heart-Shaped Box of Chocolates second, and Conversation Hearts No.1. Those are the little sugary orange and mint and grape and cheery flavored hearts with “Hug Me” or “Be Mine” or Love You” or “Are You Gaining Weight?” chiseled into them.
Not surprising that Conversation Hearts would be No. 1 in our state since a 14-ounce box costs just $2.99 and since most of us in Louisiana have the one thing money can’t buy: poverty.
I’ll list a couple more for you, the Top 3 Valentine’s Day candies in each state:
Alaska: Heart-Shaped Box of Chocolates, Cinnamon-Covered Walruses (Walrii?) Bites, Heart-Shaped Space Heater.
Iowa: Corn M&Ms, Chocolate Cobs, Whole Kernel Chocolate.
Oklahoma: Conversation Hearts, Heart-Shaped Box of Wind, Chocolate Gusts up to 80 MPH
Texas: BBQ Hershey Kisses, Heart-Shaped Box of T-Bones; Wild Berry Skittles ’n’ Spurs.
Wisconsin: Conversation Cheese Hearts, Cheese Kisses, Beer.
South Carolina: Chocolate Fatback, Fried White Perch, Ghirardelli Toothpick and Floss Set.
If you don’t think “fried white perch” counts as candy in Carolina, you haven’t lived it. I have.
But if candy isn’t your significant other’s thing, and if you’re a man and you want to make your wife happy beyond her wildest dreams, and if you’re a man and at wit’s end (which is redundant, especially at Valentine’s Day), your problem is solved. Check this:
To illustrate how backward and weird the past year has been, this might be the only Valentine’s Day in history when a guy could buy his wife a kitchen appliance and be treated like a king instead of a loser.
Until 12 months ago I had never heard of COVID-19.
Until six months ago I had never heard of an air fryer.
Now one has taken over the world and it seems the other isn’t far behind.
For months, I’d heard of the mythical air fryer. Somehow they blasted hot air around French fries and chicken and stale pizza and made all these things come to life with either a fresh taste or the crispiness of fried food without the grease or the tedious cleanup.
Who knows how automatic banking and a flying airplane and gravity work, but those are mere child’s play when compared to the modern version of sliced bread, the air fryer.
Not since the George Foreman Grill or William “Refrigerator” Perry of the old Chicago Bears have we witnessed an appliance so popular.
Must have been what it was like back when some man or woman discovered the spoon or the can or the can opener. (I did some research and the can was actually invented before the can opener. I know: it’s the craziest thing. The can invention was highly praised until … well, you know. So it just sat there for a year and a few days until some guy came along and, in what can only be described as a flash of genius, said, “Wait a minute. I think I can invent something to open that.” Thus the birth of the lucrative but now long-defunct Sharp Rock Kitchen Company. Truth is stranger than fiction.)
But back to the present. . .
For Christmas we acquired an air fryer, complements of a good-hearted relative who’d been beaten down by our requests. I have not been near it other than side-stepping it when in the kitchen since it’s the size of a dorm-room refrigerator. But my spousal unit, thrilled beyond compare, has slowly experimented. I’ll keep you in the loop because soon, she will Try To Cook Something, probably using one of the dozens of recipes born of a tiny Facebook post.
Trust me: these air fryer disciples are everywhere. Hopefully one of them knows a decent recipe for Fried Conversation Hearts.