Updated: Jun 18
My brother and his family recently visited me in NYC. We covered an impressive amount of the city in just under two days. From the Upper West Side to Battery Park and a million places in between.
One thing I’m always aware of is food.
From where and when we will eat to what I will be able to eat, it’s always part of any plan I put in place. Additionally, unique food places are often tourist attractions. And, sugar is an attractive ingredient in these tasty treasures.
The family arrived a little after 2 pm on a Tuesday afternoon. Within two hours, we were at the Hershey’s store in Times Square. I have never seen so many chocolate flavor options in my life. Since giving up sugar almost three years ago, I don’t keep tabs on the latest and greatest chocolate combos, but this was next level!
Two of my nieces were sucked in by a sensational saleswoman. She really was fantastic. Super fun, light-hearted. And, she dished the goods regarding this wall of chocolate bars. You pay for the bag, and you can have as much chocolate as will fit in the bag. And it doesn’t have to close! So long as it will balance on top, it’s yours.
I have honestly never been good at estimating how many pennies in the jar, but I’ll wager a guess that the bags held forty pieces of chocolate. All individually wrapped, like you would get trick-or-treating on Halloween.
By the time we arrived at my house at 8 pm that evening, I figured the bags would be empty.
Half-empty, at least.
Mine would have been.
But they weren’t.
Not only were they not empty, they were still so full they couldn’t close. They had eaten maybe three pieces of candy. All day.
The next morning, we went to Grand Central Station. During a previous visit, my nieces discovered a Sugarfina in Grand Central and had made a mental date to visit again.
While the store had moved out of Grand Central and a few blocks down, they still held up their end of the commitment.
More sugar. This time it was these cubes of flavored gummies. And a deal! Buy three, get one free. But, the free item was this flavored candy gelato thing. Score!
One niece decided the nicely wrapped purchase could remain in the bag, but she would keep the free candy gelato thing out.
I would have, too! You don’t buy candy you don’t plan to eat. And there’s no time like the present to get started.
Next stop - Levain Bakery. The best cookies I’ve ever tasted in my life! Crispy on the outside while still doughy in the middle. And huge! Like the size of my fist.
Each person got their own cookie.
And ate it.
The whole thing.
I mean, who could blame them? They’re amazing.
An hour or so later, I noticed my niece was still carrying around the “get one free” gelato from Sugarfina. I asked how it was.
She hadn’t opened it yet.
She had been carrying candy in her hand for hours and hadn’t eaten any.
I knew then we were not cut from the same cloth.
I have never been able to hold onto sugary foods for longer than it took to eat them.
The whole reason I knew about Levain Bakery was that fifteen years ago, I worked for a company that gave each department a box of Levain cookies at Christmas time.
I was new to the city and had never heard of them. After the first bite, I spent the rest of the day planning when I would get another taste. How I would make it look like I wasn’t eating more than my fair share. Negotiating with myself how much work I would do before sneaking another mouthful.
And, of course, I had to take some home “for Judah”, my husband. He was lucky if any actually made it home for him to taste.
When I was in college, I had a container of chocolate icing in my dorm refrigerator. My roommate asked what I ate it with.
I don’t need a vehicle for the good stuff. I just put it right in my mouth.
I’ve never been a big cake person. It’s dry. Dense. I’ll just take the icing, thank you.
I’ve decided that if heaven is what we want it to be, then for me, the streets are paved with icing, and we all walk around on our tongues.
Eleven years ago, I was in a production of Pinkalicious, the Musical in NYC. The roles were double cast, which means more than one person has been hired to play every part. I performed in some shows and someone else played the same part in others. To make money, I helped sell merchandise before and after the performances I wasn’t performing in.
Pinkalicious is the main character, and she loves the color pink. She eats too many pink cupcakes, against her parents’ stern warnings, and turns pink. I won’t spoil the rest of the plot, but suffice it to say, selling pink cupcakes was a no-brainer.
The bakery that supplied the cupcakes had this amazing pink icing that was almost as tall as the cupcake. After each show, whatever cupcakes hadn’t been sold were fair game.
My brain raced to come up with convincing reasons to benevolently take them off everyone’s hands.
We were having friends over who could eat them.
I was going to a party and could share them.
My husband might want one.
On more than one occasion, I found myself on the subway, headed home, with a box full of cupcakes.
And, on more than one occasion, I found myself inhaling the pink icing off the top of the cupcakes and dumping the uneaten cake portion in the nearest trash can.
The thinking behind the dump was to get rid of the evidence. But who was I hiding it from? My body already knew I’d eaten the icing!
It’s been three years since I last had sugar. I don’t crave it anymore. Yes, it was hard to sit with my family while they devoured the most amazing cookies. But, it was mostly hard because I wasn’t getting to share the experience with them.
But, I was.
I was with them while they had the experience.
In the moment, I did wish I could taste my favorite Levain cookie - chocolate and peanut butter. But, I also knew that if I did, I would be unleashing the mental beast that comes with sugar for me. The negotiating. The bargaining. The consuming and stashing the evidence. The work of appearing as though I’m in control, not the food.
It’s honestly not worth it.
My nieces, thankfully, don’t seem to be addicted to sugar like I am. One was able to carry a container of candy in her hand for hours without eating one single bite. Their luggage would be filled with delicious delights from their travels. Not just wrappers.
I can’t do that.
And, that’s okay.
And, I’m thankful for the reminder that I’m better off without it.
I’m happier. Healthier. Saner.