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Why Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Make Me Love Living in America

Why Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Make Me Love Living in America

Occasionally, a visiting friend would bring a beautiful flat of Reese's in a suitcase. I'd usually get one or two before my father would smuggle them away in some drawer under socks or handkerchiefs (he still does this). At the time I didn't understand, but now I do -- if I were in a world where Reese's were hard to come by, I'd hoard them as well. Just knowing they were there in case you wanted one would be a comfort.

When I was 7, we returned to the United States so my father could teach for a semester. I remember landing in New York, and staying up all night that first night in a tiny NYC apartment, my mother and I gorging ourselves on Reese's, jet-lagged and confused and blissfully happy. Returning to Australia six months later, the pain of loss was worse than ever.

My grandmother took pity and decided she'd make me peanut butter cups. In her small kitchen, she produced these lumpy things that tasted nothing at all like Reese's -- too sweet, too salty, too crunchy, too gooey. I smiled wide and told her they tasted perfect, but never asked her to make them again.

I've lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years now, but two things still stop me in my tracks and make me think "America," like I'm surprised to be here. One is the way LAX smells. The other is the candy isle of any supermarket, when I see that bright orange packaging. You'd think I eat a ton of Reese's now, but I don't. It was such a treat when I was a kid that I don't want it to ever become normal or un-special.

Today, however, is another story. Reese's were made for Halloween (the packaging is even the right colors!) and on Halloween I eat all the Reese's I want. After a childhood of no Halloweens and no Reese's, this is the day I celebrate my American life with a belly full of chocolate and peanut butter.


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