Do you know why there is no peppermint stick ice cream in Germany?
Because there are no peppermint sticks! No starlight mints, no candy canes, none of the novelty-sized 2-foot-long peppermint logs that get packed, post-Christmas, into cardboard boxes along with the tinsel and the lights.
I clued into this after visiting three grocery stores that had astonishingly varied displays of Toffifee and Ritter Sport instead of candy canes. I asked Herr R where I should get candy canes, and he was puzzled. To wit:
Me: I’m going to need a kilo of white chocolate to make peppermint bark!
Herr R: It’s okay to eat a little sugar every day, but…
Me: I’m going to make it and it’s going to be delicious! It will be so Christmassy!
Herr R: What do you mean?
Me: Like peppermint stick ice cream but harder!
Herr R: Like what?
Me: Peppermint stick ice cream. With the hard red and white peppermint candies crushed into it.
Herr R: I don’t know these.
Me: Surely there is some confusion. The round, white, pepperminty candies with red streaks that are crunchy and about this big?
Herr R: I only know soft mints.
Me: Or the pepperminty crunchy sticks of white candy with the red swirl and the hook at the end?
Herr R: I don’t know those.
Me: They are hard and white and crunchy and pepperminty and they are everywhere at Christmas.
Herr R: I think you mean After Eight Mints.
And to think that there are hundreds, nay, thousands, of sticky, lint-covered, partially-licked-down-to-the-white peppermint sticks discarded every year.
After some early holiday-season success with homemade caramels (complete with self-made corn syrup replacer,) coming fresh off a terrific five-hour cooking class, and with a slight overconfidence about my ability to find peppermint extract and appropriate food colorings, I hereby announce to you, Germany, that I am about to get all Martha Stewart on your ass. By trying to learn how to pull sugar into peppermint sticks my damn self. Be warned.
Note: the next entry may well be a cry for care packages containing both commercially produced peppermint sticks and burn salve.