Whitman's Samplers vs. See's

Non-Gumpians stick with Whitman’s

An unmarked lid allows Mrs. See and her customers to free-associate, sweets-wise.
  • An unmarked lid allows Mrs. See and her customers to free-associate, sweets-wise.
  • Image by Rick Geary

Dear Matthew Alice: Why is it See's chocolate boxes do not have a grid deciphering the flavor of each piece of candy? Is this some kind of perverse experiment Mary See perpetrates on the unsuspecting masses, or is this her idea of some sick, twisted joke? — J.R. Mason, Cardiff

Pa Alice once marketed a line of chocolates already bitten into so people could tell what was inside. This unfortunate elaboration on the “grid” idea went nowhere. So for those without a Gumpian sense of adventure toward life/chocolates, stick with Whitman’s Samplers, machine-made sweets always packed in predictable combinations, clearly identified inside the box lid. Preprinted boxes are economically feasible only when you sell millions of identical units.

An unmarked lid allows Mrs. See and her customers to free-associate, sweets-wise, and put whatever they like into a box. If this idea seems frivolous or frightening, here’s another solution. Make a note of the shape of each piece of candy and the configuration of its decorative topknot of chocolate coating, then identify what’s inside. Next time you confront a piece with that same shape and decoration, consult your chart. Confectioners have flavor-coded the tops of their dipped chocolates for decades. Each maker has his own patterns, so you’ll have to analyze every brand. But for the easily startled and overly cautious, I’m sure it will be time well spent.

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